Having realistic expectations is the first step to marathon satisfaction.
In the case of Tierra Verde's Ian Payne, his initial goal at Sunday's Disney Marathon was to dip under 2 hours, 50 minutes, for the first time. His previous best in 13 runs at that distance was a 2:50:47 that won last year's Gulf Beaches Marathon in Clearwater.
A sub-2:50 effort requires a 6-minute, 29-second pace per mile. Payne ran through Disney's four theme parks in 2:52:18, averaging 6:35 a mile. His performance was good for 22nd place among 12,000 runners and first among bay-area athletes.
"Although I didn't achieve my goal at Disney, I was happy with my performance given the conditions," said the 5-foot-7, 137-pound Payne.
"It got hot out there after the sun rose, and especially after 20 miles," the 37-year-old said. "Let's see what happens in two weeks."
Payne was referring to the fact his times have improved in marathons soon after Disney on four occasions.
Not only is he going to defend his Gulf Beaches Marathon title Jan. 23 but will run the Feb. 6 Bank of America Marathon in Tampa. In between those maximum efforts, Payne will run the Miami Tropical Half Marathon on Jan. 30.
At Disney, Payne started fast with a 6:18 mile. He went through 10 miles in 1:04:10 and the halfway point in 1:24:23.
If he could have maintained that pace, he would have finished his 14th marathon in 2:48:46. But, as always, the second half of a marathon is tougher than the first.
"After the first 13.1 miles, where half the field peeled off since they were running the (concurrent) half marathon, I was virtually on my own with no one around me to pace with," Payne said. "Then after 20, I was in a survival mode but still passing people, including a Kenyan walking at Mile 24."
Payne said he would continue to follow the training schedule planned for him by Forerunners coach Joe Burgasser. It consists of 65 miles a week, with 20-mile runs on the weekends.
"I'm confident I can improve," said Payne, a native of Manchester, England, who works as a physical therapist at St. Anthony's Health Care in St. Petersburg.
"Disney, with its pitched ramps and banked roads, is a tougher course than either Gulf Beaches or Bank of America (formerly Hops)."
MORE DISNEY: St. Petersburg's Bree Scott was the first women's finisher (3:29:28) from Pinellas. That qualifies her for the 2005 Boston Marathon.
Though extended results were reported in Monday's Times, one Crystal Beach age-group winner didn't make it. Mickie Flinner, the first women's finisher (5:33:41) in 70-and-older, was more than an hour ahead of the runner-up.
Paul Marmaro, a Pinellas Park High School grad, followed up his Times Turkey Trot masters division win with a masters victory (2:41:38) at Disney. The Delray Beach resident finished his 12th consecutive Disney in eighth place.
Former St. Petersburg resident Kim Donaldson, the women's winner last year, took third (3:01:01). The Forerunners Club member now lives in Durham, N.C.
In the Disney Half Marathon, Belleair's David Putnam was first (1:22:12) from Pinellas. Mitchell High coach Jacki Wachtel of Tarpon Springs was the county's first woman and second overall (1:28:51) in the 25-29 division.
Largo's Dottie Foster captured the women's 55-59 title in 1:51:19.
HIGH ENERGY: Lee Stephens, 24, of Land O'Lakes, had a successful 2004 season, blending quantity with quality.
The former Florida Southern track runner logged 47 road races, placing among the top three in 45. He won 34 times, posted nine second-place finishes and twice was third.
Stephens' final win of the year was at the Holiday Classic 10K in Clearwater, a swift 32:58 effort. However, his third-place performance in November's Turkey Trot was his best 10K (32:30) of the season. He had two 5Ks in 15:38, at May Day and Flapjack.
Stephens' main target for February is to get under 50 minutes for the 15K at Gasparilla. Last year, he recorded 50:45 for 13th. His next events are the Fishhawk 5K on Jan. 22 and Flatlanders in Brooksville on Jan. 29.
COMING UP: The second annual St. Pete Beach Classic on Sunday includes a Health and Fitness Expo at St. Pete Beach County Park. The Expo also is scheduled for Saturday.
On Sunday, the 10K starts at 8:15 a.m. The 5K and fitness walk are at 8:30. Kids Fun Runs, by age groups, are set for 9:45.
For information, go online to www.stbeachclassic.com.
GASPARILLA: The Feb. 6 Bank of America Marathon will award $30,000 of the $50,000 prize purse to runners in the masters division, 40-and-over.
First place receives $8,000, then it's $250 down to fifth (men and women). The overall winners qualify for $2,250, down to $250 for fifth.
Also, local runners from seven counties (full-times residents) are eligible for a $10,000 purse in the 15K on Feb. 5. Awards will go to the top five men and women, ranging from $2,000-250.
Runners may register for either event, or the 5K on Feb. 5, at Sports Authority stores Saturday or Sunday and Jan. 22-23.