Friday, May 17, 2013

Sub 4

The Sub 4 Hour Marathon Dream

 This is only my opinion and not a judgment of others.

I've run nine full marathons to date and all have been on the plus side of 4 hours.  When I first planned my marathon debut (2005) my "A" goal was to finish.  My second "B" goal was to run the distance and finish under 5 hours.  Why 5 hours?  Nothing against runners who run marathons in excess of 5 hours, but to feel like a true marathon runner, I wanted to finish under 5 hours.  I pulled this number out of the air after reading numerous running magazines, and training books.  I based the sub 5 hour goal off of nothing more them my own opinion of where I wanted to be.  My "C" goal was to finish in under 4:30.  I was able to reach all three goals with the first marathon.  Since then my running and my finishing times have been up and down.  I've run a personal best of 4 hours 10 minutes and 3 seconds.  And now I'm looking at a sub 4 hour goal, but why?

Finishing that first marathon in under 5 hours allowed me to feel like I could be considered a recreational marathon runner.  Anything slower then five hours and in my minds eye I would feel like I hadn't validated myself as a runner, maybe a jogger or a fast walker but not a runner.  The three marathons where I have been on the higher side of 4:45 I knew that I had not put in the work to really perform over the 26.2 miles.  With a time closer to 5 hours I kind of feel like I fall into the slow recreational runner group.

The three marathons finished in the 4:30 to 4:45 time zone left me with the impression that I was a slower then average recreational runner.  For myself 4:30 is the standard of an "average" marathon finish.  Not sure if this a fact, not even sure what the average finish is, but to me 4:30 is the mark.  In my mind 4:30 seamed the bench mark fitness wise where I could tell that I trained at a point to get myself ready to RUN the marathon challenge.

Three of my marathons have times quicker then 4:15, and after each of them I felt validated.  I believed my time testified that I was slightly faster then the avg. marathon finisher.  And my standing against the field validated this, sub 4:15 put me in the top 50% of the finishers.  I know that I'll never compete for a marathon win (the Elite group), a top 10 or even an age group award, but I feel like I could line up against the majority of the field and hold my own.  Maybe that's true or maybe it's not, but a sub 4:15 makes me feel that way.

The 4 hour marathon standard for me is the bench mark of performance elevating me from a fast recreational runner, to a slow but serious competitive runner.  And this is the goal I hope to reach.  Although I will tell you I'm competing against no one but myself, and I respect anyone who challenges themselves with the marathon distance.  But I want to put a stamp on my running, I want to put myself in the competitive group, if only in my own mind.

In my wildest dream...I'm running with the Elites in the sub 3 hour category, and I'm just about to dump Ryan Hall, but then my wife wakes me up and it's time to go to work.


  1. Love it! When I first had the idea of running a marathon I told my friend (who ended up being my first running coach that I was hoping to run just under 4 hours. Anything that starts with a 3:?? seems super speedy to me so I thought it sounded perfect. You will get there. I am rooting for you!!

    1. Kris,
      Thank you....hope it's my day. 3:59:59 will work ha ha ha