Friday, November 11, 2011

Race goals

When I started running, I thought it would always be with the goal of "just finishing".  I didn't see myself as a real runner or an athlete.  I figured doing a race was an accomplishment in and of itself.  That was goal enough.

At some point, that changed.  I think it was shortly after my first 10k race (and second race overall).  At that point, I realized that finishing wasn't a big enough goal for me.  I wanted to get faster.  I wanted to get stronger.  I wanted to beat myself.

I kind of accepted this change in myself, but wasn't really sure why it had come about.  Then recently I read a phrase in a book that clarified it for me.  "A goal should stretch you."  Basically, there's no point in setting a goal that is a given.  When I did my first race, it was mainly to finish, and at that point, it was a goal that stretched me.  Now, when I go into any race, I know I can do the distance.  Barring an injury or something very wrong happening, I'm going to finish.  Planning to do so is not a stretch.

So, having said that, here are my goals for the Last Chance Half marathon on Sunday.

1. Run it in 2:15 or less
2. Pace well, stay mentally strong
3. Push myself, and finish strong

I've been a bit conflicted about the 2:15 goal.  Up until a month and a half ago, I thought I'd be going into this race with a goal to beat 2:30.  Then, I did a 22km (13.7mi) training run, on a somewhat hilly route in 2:28.  The half marathon I am doing is on a basically flat route, and (if you're not familiar with the distance) is only 21.1 km (13.1mi).  At that point, I realized that going into it with a 2:30 goal was not a challenge.

So, my new goal is 2:15.  To achieve that, I have to run an average of 6:20/km (10:12/mi).  (Technically 6:24, but there's always a chance the course will be slightly long.)  The idea of running that pace for that long scares me a little bit.  It seems really ambitious.  I've also caught my son's cold, so I'm not going into the race in top form.

But, then there's the fact that I ran a recent 10k race in 56:33, at average pace of 5:40/km (9:06/mi).  I also ran the 10km at the end of an olympic triathlon at a pace of 6:07/km.  Was it hard?  Yeah.  But, it's supposed to be.  If you're familiar with the McMillan calculator, it tells me that I should be able to do a half marathon in 2:05:50 (based on my 10k time).  So, that raises the question of whether 2:15 is even ambitious enough?

The answer?  I don't know.  I know that I have trained consistently and thoroughly for this race.  I've done 5 runs that were 20 km or more.  I won't say I've nailed every single run, because life has gotten in the way a couple times.  I have nailed almost every run though.

And, I've become so much stronger mentally.  I've gained an attitude that I can do anything.  The only thing that can hold me back is my head, and I won't let it.

So, 2:15?  Too ambitious?


Not ambitious enough?

Possibly.  I'm still figuring out my abilities, and the fact that they keep changing makes it hard to really nail down what I can do.  I'm going in with a plan of pacing for 2:15 - until the last 10 km.  Then, if I've got it in me, I'll pick it up and push.  If I end up with a serious negative split, I'll plan to set more aggressive goals in the future.  If I cross the finish line in 2:14:58, I'll know I gave it everything I've got.  Then I'll train more, and still set more aggressive goals in the future anyways.


  1. I've tried to stop thinking about time goals. Once I go down that road I start doing splits in my head during the event. Then if I get a slow segment for whatever reason, and I get all depressed, which makes it harder to make up.

    In the end now, my goals are to finish my training workouts and my races with no regrets. If I know I pushed hard in a race, it doesn't matter if it's a PB or slower, because there are so many variables. Weather, actual course length, elevation, personal variables, ect.

  2. Oh how exciting!!! Best of luck to you! You can do it!!

  3. I have no doubt you will reach your goal!

    Good luck and have a great time!

  4. I'm still mostly in the "just finish" stage, but I am slowly adding "don't be last" or "finish in the middle of my age group" or "just be faster than last time". But I can also see the value in what Keith says that if you approach every race with the proper training and push hard leaving it all out there - you've achieved so much and more!

  5. Doh - forgot to say: GOOD LUCK!!