On Sunday I improved my marathon time by over an hour compared to my first race at that distance last fall. Unfortunately there is a bit of uncertainty over my exact time. Officially my time is listed at 4:36:34, but this is inconsistent with the on course timing that indicated that I was two minutes faster. Either way it was much quicker than my previous marathon.
My plan to stay with the 4:30 pace group for the first 10k really did not work out. Crowding at the starting line forced me further back than I had hoped, and I went out a bit quicker than I planned anyhow. Planned 10 minute miles turned into 9 minute miles, and I passed the 20k mark on pace to finish the first half in under two hours. This both placed me ahead of how I started my previous marathon, and also my time running the half on the same course last year.
One of the main strategy differences I used for this marathon was taking the time to stay hydrated. Beginning at mile 6, I walked through each water stop usually taking two glasses of water. As a result I felt much better in the second half despite the faster start.
Last marathon I was struggling by mile 15, while this time I made it past mile 21 before feeling any pain. The final few miles were certainly slower, but not by enough to really ruin my overall time. Hopefully I can push through a bit farther next time, and finish below four and a half hours.