I know this is getting way off of the topic that started this strand, but here's my opinion regarding marathon timing.
My first race since middle school (yeah, so I wasn't much of a runner for a bit over 15 years) was a half marathon in January. I really didn't give my self any goals beyond seeing what running in such a big race would be like and finishing the darn thing w/o injury. I'm happy that I met my two goals. Then I set a new goal, finishing a marathon. During my training I actually didn't keep track of my pace until I started running my really long runs (18 and 21 miles). My wacko reason for doing this was because I wanted to try to predict my marathon time so that I could tell my husband around when to expect me at the finish line! In short, I personally never cared about time until say the last 4 or 5 weeks before the marathon, that's when I started trying to figure out what I thought my finishing time would be.
In a nutshell, I really wouldn't even start worrying about predicting time until you're closer to the race (like say a month or so). Otherwise to me it would get to easy for running to become more of a chore as opposed to being a great way for getting some fresh air and some stress relief.
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