Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Race Goal

It's a little over 9 weeks until the Fargo Marathon. The long runs are starting to get truly long and we've made hotel reservations. The excitement of signing up for the race has passed and the time has come to start thinking about a goal for this race.

My usual tactic for goal setting is to set the bar as low as possible. My first half marathon was Fargo 2007 and my goal was just to finish. I came in at 2:15 and I was very excited that I ran the whole way without walking. (The picture above is of me at that race. Yes, I know it looks like I'm walking, but that is how I look when I run. Sad, isn't it?) For my first marathon, my goal was to beat Katie Holmes' time of 5:29:58. Given my half marathon effort, that was a conservative goal. Even though I walked a lot of the race, I still came in at 4:58 which was well ahead of my goal. After I hired my coach, he helped me set a more aggressive time goal for Twin Cities. My goal if everything went right was 4:15. My secondary goal was 4:30. Running in the pouring, freezing rain with bronchitis, I finished in 4:27. I was ecstatic.

So now it's time to look ahead to the Fargo Marathon on May 9th. My coach would like me to try to improve on my TC time. That is a reasonable thing to expect and I get where he is coming from. Over time and with practice I should be able to learn and improve my performance. For Twin Cities I was sick and the weather was crappy. My head says that he is right and that I should try for that 4:15. But...

I don't want to. Sure, I want to train hard, use what I've learned and try my best. I just don't want to use the finish time as the yard stick for success. I'm 41 years old. I've had just about every injury a runner can get including the Plantar Fasciitis that I'm getting treated for right now. I'm slow. No amount of speed work, weight training or stretching is going to alter the fact that my body just doesn't move very well. If I finish in 4:25 vs. 4:35, will anyone really be impressed? I know the PR is the Holy Grail for runners, but a PR for me won't make me a Boston Qualifier. I think this race needs to be about something else.

Now that I've just committed Runner Blasphemy by saying that time won't be the standard for me for this race, what will my goals be? I want to toe the start line of this race pain-free. I want to be relaxed and make idle chit chat with those around me. I want to not be worried whether I may lose a minute or two because I need to make a bathroom stop. I want to practice my race day phoblography* and bring along my camera. Basically, I want to have fun. Yes, I want to run my best. Yes, I know that 26.2 miles is going to suck after 18 miles no matter what. Yes, I want to feel like my training prepared me for the day. If I run whatever my best is on that day, have a few laughs, and finish the race uninjured, then I think that should qualify as a success. Now, if all of that should happen to take place in less than 4 hours and 27 minutes, then that will be icing on the cake.

* My friend Nate asked me what it is called when you take pictures for your blog, and I made up phoblography.


Sunshine said...

phoblography.. Very cute!!
You can see mine for the Mercedes Birmingham Half Marathon 10 days ago.
We ran the Fargo Marathon 3 years ago... Parks to take pictures of along the way.. Oh, and of course the runners.
Sounds like you are in it to have a good time. Yea You!!

jlou said...

I like the way you think! Sounds like an awesome goal to me.

Don said...

I love your attitude. If it's fun and you end up uninjured, then it IS a success.

But I hope you're pleased with the time anyway. :-)

Porkchopwi said...

I think you've set pretty good goals outside of the just time.
All too often it's too easy to get caught up in time/finishing spot and forget the reasons why you do this -- the foremost being fun and a challenge (see you previous post!).
Heck, part of the fun of race day is the first several hundred meters where you hear little else than the sounds of shoes hitting the pvement in -- and out -- of unison.
Then of course some the Gosh Darn* swearing.

Sunshine said...

I'm pretty excited that there is finally a marathon in the Twin Cities with a 7 hour time limit.. but Sweet Pea and I will run the half this year because we alreay have a heavy race schedule.
Don will run the full. It will be fun to meet you!
Non of my business, but.. a male coach doing "shoulds" on a woman runner makes my stomach churn a little. Seems good to me if you make your own goals.

Dori said...

Four twenty-seven is very impressive for Twin Cities. I ran the Fargo half a few years ago and loved it. Good luck with the full.

Tom said...

I like the fact that your goal was to beat Katie Holms! I ran the Fargo marathon last year (my 1st marathon) My goal was under 4 hours but more importantly to beat Oprah! I beat Oprah but I'm still trying for under 4 hours. I see you ran Fargo in the spring and TC in the fall- TC is on my bucket list of marathons... how is the whole 2 marathons in one year thing?