1. Your first marathon is a special thing. I wouldn't have changed a single thing about my first marathon. Except for strength training on my legs, but I didn't know that going into my first marathon. Everything went right. Got perfect weather. Started out conservatively. Ran a smart race. Knew I was going to reach my A day goal at mile 20. Almost ran negative splits. Reached my A day goal of finishing in under 4 hours.
2. The only good thing about my second marathon was finishing in under 4 hours. No big PR. Everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong. I take that back. I never thought I wouldn't finish and didn't get caught up in negative thinking, so that went well. Learn and move on.
3. My third marathon is my current PR. I did a lot of things differently in my training. Got a Garmin, did yoga, added strength training, increased mileage, ran faster, etc. They paid off. Mostly. I got a PR by 2 minutes 30 seconds. Recovery was very easy. Extremely easy. There was one big mistake. I made a miscalculation about the temperature. I checked the hourly forecast right before I left. 60 degrees. Except it was Chicago and there's one problem with temperature readings in cities. It was at least 5-10 degrees warmer than I thought it was. The temperature reading was probably taken somewhere in the suburbs. Cities hold heat. Even though it was 60 somewhere in the Chicago area, it was probably closer to 65-70 in downtown Chicago. That's enough of a difference to need to slow down or adjust expectations. Well, I didn't do that because I didn't realize it was that warm. Note to self. The next time you are not cold while wearing a tank top and shorts, it means it isn't cold. OK, done beating myself up. Learn and move on again. A PR is a PR.
All of my marathon times were within 5 minutes of each other. What's going on?
1) I trained correctly but got the wrong day in Chicago.
2) I ran within my ability but near the top of my ability.
3) I am reaching beyond my ability and don't have the miles/speed to get there yet.