Pre-Race Thoughts and Goals

On Halloween, I’ll be running my 49th marathon right here in my new hometown of Greenville, SC. I’ve been training in earnest (long runs and all) since early August and put in the closest thing to a full marathon training cycle as I have in years. That’s kind of weird, because I’ve previously been known to sort of hate full training cycles, but here we are.

AJ asked me last night (while we were watching a reality tv show about some sort of arranged marriage, as we are often apt to do) if I have any goals for the race this weekend. I thought he was asking as a means to stimulate a deep conversation about my running-related hopes and fears, but then I remembered that a) we’ve been dating since shortly after I ran my 4th marathon and, 44 marathons later, he’s no longer that concerned about it and b) he is actually planning to meet me along the course on Saturday and therefore just wanted to know approximately when I’d be seeing him. Oops.

My sweet husband used to come to races a lot before he figured out that they aren’t really very fun if you’re not running. Bless his heart.

I know I have been saying here on the blog that my only goal for this race is to finish feeling strong and happy, and for a while, that was true. Of course, those are still the most important things to me, but honestly? I kind of want to see what I can do out on the course. I believe I am in shape to run a “post-back-surgery-PR,” which I’ve decided is a thing. That would have me coming in under 4:54, which I believe is fully doable based on how my training has gone recently. Will it be easy? No. Is it a guarantee? Not at all. But I think that if I take it out slow and stay steady, it is possible.

Not that I was ever really the type of person to be devastated by not meeting my goal in a race – I’m honestly just not that competitive, especially when it comes to anything athletic – but this time, it even seems less important. It is kind of a weird feeling to set a goal but be perfectly ok with not reaching it while still knowing I will work as hard as possible to try. Normally, I just wouldn’t bother setting a time goal at all. This time, I feel inclined to give myself something to aim for while still being accepting of the fact that hey, stuff happens sometimes. But dammit if I am not going to try!

No matter what the results are on race day, I’m grateful for this training cycle. It has taught me a lot about my body (like foam rolling after a hilly run is a must) and has given me some degree of confidence again that running can be enjoyable. Furthermore, my back has held up pretty damn well through all of this, and I’m proud of myself for the way I’ve trained – I’ve listened to my body but still pushed myself when I can.

So I write this to say that maybe tomorrow,  I’ll find the balance between pushing myself and still having fun. That’s been a tough thing for me to achieve sometimes, but as I get older and possibly wiser, it seems to be the most sustainable way to move forward without getting bored OR frustrated. So, wish me luck as Amanda and I take on the Spinx RunFest Marathon tomorrow! I’m notoriously late on race reports, so follow me on Instagram or Facebook to find out how it went first!

21 thoughts on “Pre-Race Thoughts and Goals

  1. I have also set a pretty big goal for NYC but I definitely want to take in ALL that is the NYC marathon and will not be devastated with a non-PR…but I’m going to try like hell to get there!! So…good luck to both of us and my husband will also be making a rare appearance at this race. He only comes out to the big ones 🙂 Race well and have fun my friend!!!

  2. Good luck!

    And I think your approach makes perfect sense … and I think it is honest and realistic. Although everyone puts ‘finish and be healthy’ as their top goals, many people have some very hard goals that they will be disappointed not to hit – even if it means compromising on the ‘healthy’ part of things!

    Fingers crossed for you this weekend!

    1. I’ve definitely seen some people compromise their health to reach a goal during a race and to be honest, I sometimes understand that. It kinds of depends on the circumstances and what the long term goals are and how often they race. For me, it never makes sense, but I can see why it would sometimes.

      1. Exactly – my comment is one of those things we get to write while sitting at a desk typing away … instead of running a race, or just on a long run when something feels not right and instead of walking or turning around you keep going and think ‘it’ll work out fine’ 🙂 Not that *I* have ever done that … 🙂

  3. Good luck tomorrow! I’ve been having knee issues, so I haven’t been running as fast. Chicago was 20 minutes slower than in 2009. Ran the Tuna200 relay last weekend and averaged over 10 min miles for my 4 legs. Due to pain and tightness, my goal for the inaugural Milwaukee Running Festival Marathon, Sunday, is to be able to walk afterwards. Hopefully I’ll finish under 5 hours, but I’m going to try to go slow for first half. Thoughts of the mythical BQ have vanished. Maybe with new knee joints I could do it!
    Your plan sounds smart. Give my best to Amanda! Virtual hugs!!

    1. Thanks! I’ve been really excited too. It is fun to have a goal race, even if you are uncertain about the possibility of actually meeting the goal. I haven’t had that feeling in awhile!

  4. Good luck with Spinx Run Fest! My friends Mark and Aisha are doing it (he’s doing the full and she’s running the half). It was his first ‘thon last year and I’ve heard it’s a good race. I hope you enjoy it and do well, and meet all your goals. You have been putting in a lot of training so maybe it will be a post-surgery PR- plus it’s like your “home course” which should help some :). Have fun!!

    1. Thanks, Amy! It is a good race in some ways and not in others. Really beautiful course, pretty good support, helpful and friendly volunteers, but sparse aid stations, no food at the finish (at least for us slower people), Gatorade at only 3 stations, and one ran out of cups. So it was weird. But you couldn’t have asked for a more lovely course!

  5. Good luck & happy running to you! I just ran the Marine Corps Marathon last Sunday, it was my first marathon post surgery. I was like you, didn’t have a firm goal… But in the back of my mind I did :-). I got stuck in the security line and started the race super late! I was behind the 6 hr pace group… I knew I would not reach my goal, so I decided to have a great time and finish! I ran a 4:48. Not a PR by far, but I really enjoyed the run and had a great time. I also felt good after the run to, which was important to me. Look forward to hearing about your race!

    1. I am so glad you enjoyed the run and had a great time, Clarise! Sometimes when you know you won’t make your goal time, the best thing to do is just have a blast out there, and the Marine Corps Marathon is the perfect race for that. It is definitely a huge accomplishment to feel good after the race, too – that’s a victory right there!

  6. I am soooo sorry I can’t be there to cheer you both on. Tell AJ to yell a lot for me and don’t sit down!! LOL Good luck honey, love you lots, xxoo

    1. He didn’t yell for you, but he also didn’t sit down, so one out of two isn’t bad. I wish you could have been there!

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