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.