A few days ago, I was looking at my Twitter bio, and I realized that I had not given any serious thought to what I was going to do after I complete the Chevron Houston Marathon. For nearly an entire year, I have been planning, training, and choosing with that one single goal in mind. Of course, I have done other things along the way, but each of those were steps along the path to the ultimate – to run, and run well, in my first marathon, here in my home town. But what comes after that?
I have learned much about myself over the last 10 months of training, but I would say that one of the standouts is that I must have something to strive for…and it’s even better if that thing is more complex than one single step; if it requires a series of commitments that will stretch me way outside of my comfort zones. I have juggled a few ideas around…thrown a few well-aimed tweets and emails…spent hours trolling the Internets…and finally selected a hard core of goals for 2014 – and, to keep it real, and NOT allow myself to weasel out, I made them very public:
Now, a list of goals without some concrete planning behind them is less than worthless – soap bubbles are pretty to look at, but they can’t sustain themselves, let alone anything else. So, I would like to outline some of the steps I intend to take to bring these goals to fruition – and to ask YOU, my community…my friends…to offer support, encouragement, advice – and stern discipline, if I need it – to help me achieve all that I have set before me; because truly, none of us can do it alone. That may be the most important thing I have gained in this year, is the family of runners, bloggers, and friends that I am so blessed with, who I have come to depend upon, who get me, because they have been there.
Here is a break down of each individual goal, why I selected it, and what I am planning to do to reach it:
1. Finish the ABB 5K in under 25 minutes.
2. Finish the Chevron Houston Marathon in under 4 hours.
I decided to include these two as 2014 goals, simply because they occur in 2014…more than one year after I began training as a runner. The first, a sub-25 5K, I feel very confident about… I got within one minute of this goal a few weeks ago; pretty much the only thing that held me back was my own naivete about how people line themselves up at the starting line 🙂 So, with a few more weeks of pace workouts and threshold runs (which have been very challenging, but also very rewarding), I believe this is within my reach.
Ditto the sub-4 hour marathon – up until now, I have been doing my long runs at well below GMP, choosing to focus on building stamina over speed; well, phooey on that! I spend 8-12 hours a day on my feet, five days a weeks, and have for almost 20 years – I know can go the distance…but at what pace? That is the question! The only way to run faster in the race is to run faster in training, so I will begin running faster in my training runs – I’ve been pacing at 9:30 -10:00 minute miles, and that is just too slow; the 4:00:00 goal requires an average pace of 9:10/mile, not all that far off from what I have been doing! So, my plan is to start long runs at 9:15 – 9:30 and aim for negative splits, ending around 8:30 – 9:00; this is also how I intend to run the race, so it makes sense to train as close to reality as possible. My shorter runs – those under 10 miles – I will target more toward 8:00 – 8:30…again, not that far off from what I already have proven to myself that I can do. It is a stretch, but I have noticed that I have gotten complacent, and created an artificial plateau; it’s not that I can’t go faster, I just haven’t wanted to…and that is going to change!
3. Earn a Spartan Race Trifecta in 2014.
This one is definitely a stretch goal. since as of this writing I have yet to do a single obstacle race, or mud race, or even a great deal of trail running. However, there is some obstacle course experience in my (somewhat shady, we won’t speak of it here) background…let’s just say that I know I perform better in multi-sport events, where I can use my whole body; and the big kid in my heart LOVES to get wet and dirty! For those not familiar, this race has three levels of difficulty – the Sprint (3 miles, 15 obstacles); the Super (8 miles, 20 obstacles), and the Beast (12 miles, 25 obstacles) – you can go here to get all the details; a Trifecta is earned by completing at least one race at each level within one year. I also have the unique advantage of living in Texas, where Reebok already has a Super and a Beast, and the demand for a Sprint has been loud enough that I truly believe it will be will be added (I have already pre-registered), so that means all three will be within a few hours’ drive, radically cutting my travel expenses; I also have been working on getting sponsored for at least one of the three – because why not? But that’s all I can say right now – if it comes together, there will be more about that later 🙂 I have already added the Spartan WOD – or at least parts of it – to my routine; once I have completed the Houston Marathon, I will ramp that up considerably, and I am currently designing my own mini-gym for the backyard, because why pay fees at a box when I can build my own?
4. Earn Half-Fanatic status by the end of the year.
I had to really think about this one, because travel is not a good option for me; my work schedule will not allow me a great deal of time off, so I need most of these races to be local, or no more than one night in a hotel. Fortunately Houston hosts a ridiculous number of running events, and the half-marathon is rapidly becoming (if it isn’t already, depends on who you ask) the most popular distance for races. I know this – by the time I finish training for the full, a half is gonna feel relatively easy! (I get the strangest looks from people when I say that, but it’s true…at least for me.) I have looked over the Half Fanatic website, and their criteria, and the local race calendar – and I think I can pull this off, if I give myself the whole year to do it – I have the first 4-6 races identified, and I am sure I can track down the rest by the time I need to…there are over a dozen within a 30-minute drive! Training is simply a matter of maintaining what I am already doing, or actually a little less 🙂
So there it is, the bare bones of it, at least, in writing and in public – no backing out now! All I need is the commitment, the integrity, the drive to carry forward – and if running has given me no other gift, it has shown me the depths of drive that the human spirit possesses…the reserves that lie within each of us, if we will only reach down where it hurts, and grab hold of it, and bring it up into the light. I WANT THESE THINGS TO HAPPEN, all of them – I acknowledge that the future is ultimately out of my control, and any number of circumstances may prevent one or more of these goals from being accomplished; to believe otherwise would be delusional and foolish – but one thing will not stand in the way – I will not quit trying…and as long as that is true, there is no real limit to what I can do.
Has anyone set their goals for next year yet?
Any crazy, outside-of-the-box plans?
Share them in the comments; what are you, scared? 🙂