A marathoner for over 20 years, I too make it a habit to establish 3 goals on race day.
OK fine. But at what pace do I go out at?
What seems to work for me: I try to run the second 13.1 no slower than 5 minutes of my first half split. Simple math for a 3-hour marathon is thus: first half 1:27:30, second half 1:32:30. If I have to slow down more than 5 minutes in the second half, I've probably run into poor weather conditions, or my conditioning wasn't what I thought it was.
Racing the half any faster than 1:27:30 will risk my 3 hour goal. Going through the half closer to 1:30:00 will also risk that goal.
Experts say that even-pacing or negative-splits is the most efficient, but it is actually very hard to achieve. (The Boston Marathon, for example has had only one winner in its entire history to run the second half faster than the first.)
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