I had a hard time setting goals for Boston.
As I wrote in this post last week, my recent injury and total lack of marathon-specific training really threw me for a loop when it came to predicting my performance. No long runs — in fact, several weeks of no running on the road at all — and I had zero clue how my body would respond to 26.2 miles of rolling terrain.
But I did put two things down on paper:
Goal #1: PR — go under 3:36:18.
This seemed like a possibility given my recent kick-ass performance in the National Half, plus it was something I just wanted to do. Who doesn’t want to PR? I hadn’t trained to do it in Boston, but knew I would be excited if it happened. Check.
Goal #2: Have the time of my life at the world’s greatest marathon.
I wanted to enjoy the hell out of my first Boston — take it all in and want to come back immediately after crossing the line. Check.
Goal #3: Run a smart race.
I didn’t put this one down explicitly, but I ran the GW Parkway 10-Miler to practice pacing for this very thing. I wanted to run steady and finish knowing I’d given it everything but not end up in the med tent. That meant studying the course, knowing where the hills and other challenges would be, keeping at an even pace and not falling apart for the second half. And my splits ROCKED. I ran steady right under 8:00 pace — like I’d practiced — and only dropped a few seconds when I hit the hills. 7:58 average for 26.2 miles? Check.
Then I had a secret goal — which in the back of my head was something I wanted to accomplish but wasn’t sure if it was reasonable for me at this point.
Goal #4: Go sub-3:35.
If I could PR, I thought I might be able to do this too. Running under 3:35 gave me plenty of leeway with the 8:00 pace I’d practiced, and I knew it would get me into the last round of early registration for Boston 2012. I’m not planning to run another marathon before September, so this was my last shot if I wanted a chance at a guaranteed spot. Check.
Then I had a super-secret goal, which I thought was very unrealistic but would be awesome to accomplish. No way was I sharing this one.
Goal #5: Go sub-3:30.
I wrote in my initial post that someday I would love to post times in the 3:20s — when I’m fully trained for a fast marathon. That’s right around 8:00 pace, and I know when I’m in shape I’m perfectly comfortable with that for a solid distance. But even though my base fitness is really high thanks to a ton of cross training, I didn’t think that was possible, especially on a course as hard as Boston. But all the conditions were perfect. April 18 was my day. Boston was my race. I destroyed it. Check.
And a sub-3:30 gets me into the second round of early registration, so unless there are a crazy number of people who can run 20 minutes faster than their qualifying time, I’m in for 2012. Registration for my group opens on September 14. Be there.
I’ve never been big on setting specific goals. I’ve been asked about this subject before most of my races, and even though IM is still months away, people want to know what I’m shooting for there. [The answer: I have a secret — for now — overall time goal but nothing more specific than that. We’ll get there, I promise.] I think the reason I struggle is because I always want to dream big while also being reasonable. But I now know that having different levels of goals gives you a variety of things to shoot for, keeps you motivated and allows you to exceed some expectations even if you don’t meet others. And for those you don’t achieve, that’s why you sign up for your next race!