Running at "pace", as Hal Higdon puts it

Can my training get me here in 2014? 

Today’s run (treadmill): 3.2 miles

Today’s workout, per my training program, was 3 miles at “pace.” I like Hal Higdon’s site because he leaves nothing to interpretation. He explains it clearly on the training schedule page: “What do you mean by ‘pace?'” I mean “race pace,” the pace at which you expect to run the half marathon. That of course prompted me to ask myself, what I am targeting for race pace?

I ran my last Half in 2:08:47 which is approximately a 9:49 pace. In order to break 2:00 I would need to pace 40 seconds per mile faster. That’s a stretch for me, but crazier things have happened. My 2:08 finish in 2012 was a full minute per mile improvement over my 2011 time. Still, I have little expectation that I’ll break two hours this year. As a practical point, I have slipped in my race performance and didn’t break 9:00 on any of my 2013 10K’s. It will be interesting to see if my recent rebound, coupled with a focused half marathon training regime, will make a difference in May.

This morning was busy and that forced me to wait until 10:00 AM to start my run. My wife said that rain was expected mid-morning, so I decided to do my 3 miles @ “pace” on the treadmill. I chose 6.3 MPH which, if sustained for 13.1 miles, would yield a 2:03 finish time. I am feeling much stronger since last weekend, but I still have far to go before I can manage goal pace throughout a long run. The race pace training plus the weekend base runs will theoretically bridge my stamina and endurance enough to at least break my 2:08 PR.

Tomorrow is my second Sunday base run and I plan to meet the Runsketeers for 6 miles of fun. SIOC will be running Boston in April and needs to cover 17 miles tomorrow. We plan to meet at her 11 mile point and do the rest of the distance as a group run. TPP is still battling a respiratory issue and is forgoing a five mile race tomorrow in favor of our easier paced run. It’s supposed to be cold on Sunday, so I need to figure out the right combination of gear. I’m dreading the hills on the Bethpage trail, but I know there’s no easy path if I want to reach my goal time.