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April 24, 2014

Jim Silva: Pacing continues to be main focus in marathon preparation

I watched a live stream of the Boston Marathon on Monday. Watching American Meb Keflezighi was incredibly inspiring. So were all of the other amazing stories that came out of the marathon.

News and notes from the marathon training journey:

• I watched a live stream of the Boston Marathon on Monday. Watching American Meb Keflezighi was incredibly inspiring. So were all of the other amazing stories that came out of the marathon.

One thing that stood out for me, beyond all the emotion and drama of the amazing day, was a comment one of the announcers made early in the men’s race.

It was only a few miles into the race and the elite men were running at under a 5-minute pace. (Yes, that’s under 5 minutes per mile!). Joining the elite runners was a runner who had qualified for the race, but didn’t belong up at the front of the pack with the elites.

“Pretty soon along the course, someone is going to hand him a piano,” one of the race announcers said.

That is why pacing is so important in a race: so that at some point you don’t feel like someone’s handed you a piano.

It’s the feeling I got at about Mile 24 of my second marathon. Poor pacing and poor hydration left my body feeling incapable of finishing the race. Like I was carrying a piano over the final 2 miles.

It’s the reason that I’m so concerned about being able to pace myself when I run my next marathon in five weeks in San Diego.

The struggle for me is to find the right goal for my overall time based on my fitness level and my ability. If I underestimate my goal time, then I’m worried I’ll be disappointed that I could have run faster.

If I overestimate my goal time, then I’ll struggle to finish like I did last year.

Once I find the right overall goal, then I can break down the pacing plan.

I continue to work on my pacing, and trying to figure out a strategy for the race. I hope to have the plan in place in a few weeks.

• Last week I increased my training miles to 51. Seems crazy that over the past three months I will have put in nearly 500 miles of running so that I can complete 26.2 on June 1.

The best part is that despite all of those miles, my body remains in pretty good shape. I have occasional soreness in my feet and the usual tired legs after the long runs, but other than that I’ve been feeling really good. My allergies picked up a bit last week, but I’ve worked through it and continue on track with my training.

Compared to last year, in which I missed several key training runs and was struggling with a foot injury, I’m in good shape. I just hope it stays that way until I begin taper mode, in which I begin decreasing mileage before the marathon.

• I watched SportsCenter on Monday night to see ESPN’s coverage of the Boston Marathon and was struck by something: The highlights were whittled down to the start and the finish of both the men’s and women’s races.

There is so much more to a marathon than the start and the finish!

A lot happens during those 26.2 miles – and so much goes into the weeks and months before training. It’s the hard work you put into training that pays off on marathon day.

You simply cannot condense the marathon down to a 20-second sound bite.

• One incredible side note from the Boston Marathon. According to reports, the men’s second-place finisher, Wilson Chebet, ran the 24th mile of the marathon in 4 minutes, 32 seconds.

That’s incredible.

• Do you have questions or comments about your own fitness journey? Have a topic that you’d like me to discuss in a future column?

I welcome your questions. Send them to me at

Turlock students complete 26.2 miles

The Physical Education department at Turlock High school recently completed its marathon program, in which students spend a quarter breaking up 26.2 miles of running into smaller segments. This year the school had 25 students that participated in the “P.E. Marathon.”

Brenden Caulkins was the first to finish. Joining him in this great accomplishment were Liliana Bento, Lily Ody, Jacynda Harp, Alyssa Holly, Sierra Beas, Nuvia Garcia, Sophia Gemperle, DeAndre Jones, Sean Ray, Leo Urbano, Elbra Younano, Monica Cardenas, Alex Odey, Brandon Gutierrez, Weston Miller, Anthony Aguiniga, Akashdeep Singh, Ruby Soto, Alex Ryan, Clifton Foster, Jorge Guzman, Araly Martinez, Justin Singh and Derek Keckler. Way to go!

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