I like you have reached the great age of 55 and started this marathon stuff later in life. I don't have a great deal of experience, but have started and finished 4 now. If the weather is great for me (40's to 50s'), I have found the computer projections to be reasonable. Ran 3:59 when projections said 3:54 and 3:41 when projections said 3:38 (Both cases the actual time was faster than I felt my training times allowed). But between these 2 ran a 4:26 when the projections said 3:50 (Race temps were in the upper 60' and 70's). The heat killed me. Make sure to allow for the weather.
Goal #1-finish proudly, you have done something special. There were only about 480K finishing times posted in US and Canada in 2009 from a tot. population of 400M. Goal #2-shoot for your 10:00 pace-good weather you have this is hand. If everthing is great, temp, wind, health, sleep, hydration, go for the 4:00 barrier.
Whatever you select, start out slightly faster (10 sec) than pace, see how long you can comfortably maintain with understanding you will most likely slow down as the race progresses. After 20 find someone who seems to be running your pace smoothly. Tuck in behind them, watch their shoulders and go with it. Last time I found a relay runner who was still fresh when I connected with her. This helps greatly in maintaining form when tired.
One final word-I have found hydration to be my greatest limiting factor after 20 miles. I learned my absorption rate over 15 min. periods and drink (50/50 water/sports drink) to that level from the begining of the race to the last two miles. Helped greatly.
I hope this helps. You are going to do great. Good luck.
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