One of the many reasons that I love running and racing is that I’m a very goal-oriented person. I think that’s why my junior year of college I changed from the very “where will this go?” major of Communication Studies to the “I know where this is going” major of Accounting. I like goals that have a fairly straight forward plan to achieving them. Goal: Run my first 5k. Plan: download a 5k training plan and follow it.
So as I’ve declared many a time on this blog, my next big goal is to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Ideally, the 2014 Boston Marathon. I declared the goal. The next step was to pick a plan. After consulting the world wide web, I settled on Pfitzinger’s 18/55 Plan (more details on my blog post here). The mileage was a bit higher than I was used to as a runner, but also the weekly time commitment was MUCH lower than the Ironman, so I figured it’d be a piece of cake to follow.
As I’ve learned first hand while cursing Pfitzinger’s name on several of my runs, this plan might sound easy enough on paper, but it’s quite hard, especially when you are trying to attend 7 weddings and jet off to Vegas and San Francisco and enjoy your post-Ironman freedom. However, I can’t use vacations and weddings as an excuse to why the Pfitzinger 18/55 plan is kicking my ass – it’s because I just can’t hit the pace goals I’ve set for myself using it and I keep trying.
The plan includes a weekly tempo run that includes a great portion at “half marathon pace” as well as a long run with a significant portion dedicated to “marathon pace.” For example, run 16 miles, 10 of which at marathon race pace. The problem I’ve had is that my long term goal is the Boston Marathon and my pace needs to be about 8:10 min/miles to get there. Although I’m pretty sure I won’t be qualifying at Surf City, I still haven’t modified my goal “race pace” for workouts. So I’m going out on these long runs and beating myself up when I can’t maintain a 8:10 min/mile for a large chunk. And to be honest, I can’t even maintain that pace for my mid-week tempo runs.
So, I need to be honest with myself and instead of beating myself up for not even getting close to my race pace, I think I need to just step back and create a new goal for the Surf City Marathon. A realistic goal. Then, tailor my workouts to that pace and forget about even attempting to BQ there. I know it sounds like I’m throwing in the towel, but I know my body and I can tell it’s not going to get there by February 3. I have a little less than 3 months but I don’t think that is enough time to run a marathon at a pace 15 seconds/mile faster than my current half marathon PR (and that’s just my garmin pace, my gun pace at Long Beach was a full 25 seconds/mile slower than my BQ pace).
I’m still trying to figure out what that goal time for Surf City will be and I’ll probably know better come January (I decided to go for the sub 3:50 goal at Surf City last year just one week before the race, although I was doing all my Yasso 800s at that pace with the hope that it could happen). Right now I’m thinking I should go for a 8:30 pace which is about a 3:42 overall time, but that could change. For now, I am focusing on getting as many of my runs done and celebrating the good runs. I had a GREAT tempo run on Wednesday and it wasn’t at “BQ half marathon race pace” but it was hard and I pushed myself and I know it made me stronger. The bad runs happen to us all and instead of worrying about missing some runs or feeling like crap on a long run, I just have to celebrate that it is all part of this crazy thing we call marathon training.
Have you ever set a goal that seems SO far away? How did you motivate yourself to get there? Have you ever changed your goal for a race after training?