My first marathon was the Stephen Talkhouse Marathon in 1982. A point to point marathon from Montauk NY to Southhampton NY. It was 40 degrees and sunny with SW winds at 15 – 20 kts (almost a direct headwind) My goal was to finish in sub 3 hours. I had been training to run for about 6 months. Before that, I played soccer. I had also put in 7 100+ mile weeks in before the race. I showed up to the race overtained nursing what turned out to be a stress fracture. I DNF'd after 21 miles roughly on pace though 17. My next marathon was in 1988. I ran a 2:39. My goal that time was to finish around that time. In preparation for the second run, I never went past 20 miles on my long runs or did more than 80 miles in a week. I did do a couple of “hard” 20 milers in less than 2 hours as part of my preparation. My training included three quality workouts per 10 day cycle with the rest just being easy filler miles. Hard runs included; a long run of 18 to 20 miles fairly briskly, one interval session usually 4 – 5 miles of intervals of 800 to 1,600 meters at just sub 5 minute per mile pace with short rest intervals, and one hard 11 mile run. During the build up I also ran 2 tune up races a 15 K (49 minutes and change, still my PR for the distance) and a 10 miler (57 + minutes, blew up on that one!).
I always considered marathon way outside my best racing range. In longer races, I have trouble keeping up with fluid losses which has tended to limit my performance as well as discouraged me from doing really long training runs. On a moderately cool day, I routinely loose more than 2 liters of fluid per hour just running at a moderate pace. Since I'm not fast either, I always thought that 10 to 15K was my best distance.