Race Goals

As many of my friends are gearing up for Grandma’s Marathon, only a week and a half away, and I’m getting set for the Rock N’ Sole race in Milwaukee, goals have been on my mind.

While it is rare that runners ever use the word “goal,” we typically chat about them without using the word. “What are you shooting for?” “What would you like to run?” “What time do you think you can run?” All of those questions are essentially asking the same thing: “What is your goal?”

I think we stay away from the word goal, for the most part, because of it’s connotation. If we call it a goal, it suddenly becomes a do or die problem. If you didn’t achieve your goal, it’s a bit more disheartening than not running the time you want. It’s all word-play.

In his book Meb for Mortals, Meb Keflezighi talks about race goals and how they should be set in stone. Meb argues that any ambiguity can lead to excuses for runners, which is totally true. He uses the example of his goal to win the Boston Marathon, it wasn’t “try to win the Boston Marathon,” it was “win the Boston Marathon.” Maybe this is the time I can drop a Yoda quote, “Do or do not, there is no try.”

And I’ll completely include myself in this conversation. I will always say something along the lines of “I would like to do x,” whether that be a time, a place, or whatever. I don’t think I ever use the word goal in a running based conversation; I’ll always talk about what I think I can do, or what I would like to do. Normally, I’ll base this on time, since I never plan on winning a race (there’s always someone ridiculous at every race). But if, early in a race, I can tell racing to win in a possibility, I’ll switch goals to that.

And because I think sharing goals is beneficial for runners, I’ll go ahead and share what I would like to do the rest of 2016.

5k – It’s simple, I’d like to PR. However, since I gear myself toward longer races, I don’t get much chance at a 5k. I’ll go for it at Midnight Madness, but that will be race #2 that day for me, so we’ll see how my legs feel at that point.

10k – Run an official time under 40. I’ve run sub 40 on a training run, but never in a race. 10k opportunities don’t come around too often, but I’ll have a my shot at the RF Days 10k in July.

Half – I’d love to catch up to my friends Brian and Caroline just because they’re both sitting around 1:21 in the Half, and the competitor in me would like to get into that range. But that’s a long term goal. At Rock N’ Sole my goal is straightforward. Run in the 1:24 range.

Full – Again a simple one. Qualify for Boston with a sub 3 marathon. In my mind, I’m close. Had I not gotten hurt, I think I hit a BQ in Des Moines last fall. I don’t want to blame weather (because it’s an excuse) but that certainly played a role in not getting there at Shamrock. I always keep in mind I’m still learning and figuring out the Full, so I’ll get there. Hopefully this fall, likely at Twin Cities.

Race – I’ve crossed win a race outright off my list, and on a short 4 miler no less. But obviously I’d like to do this again. I’d love it to be in a longer race, since that has turned into what I do more. Note, it isn’t gonna happen at Rock N Sole.

Friends – I mentioned earlier, and most of you know this, I’m a fairly competitive person. In my running group, speed wise, I rule the roost, and most of my friends from high school and college have let their training slide. But I do have friends faster than me, or close to the same speed. Beating their PR is one goal, beating them head to head is another. And hopefully I’ll have the chance to toe the start line against them all in the coming year. There’s nothing like racing against your friends. Competition brings out the best racer in me, and hopefully I can get to the level to bring that out in them as well.

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