This is a "If I had a nickel for every time...." question. It's the most popular question any runner gets asked. I know I ask fellow runners all the time out of sheer curiosity. However, when it's my turn to answer, I usually clam up and never voice my goal out loud - partly because I'm terrified that I won't reach it and also my ideal goal is usually to just beat my last time. I want a PR! Who doesn't?! Like me, do you ever get nervous announcing your goal out to the universe?
After running the Savannah Rock n' Roll half marathon these past 3 years, I would stay and watch the marathoners run their hearts out through the finish line. Some of these runners speeding through the finish looked like death. Watching their stomach wrenching disappointments as they studied their watches knowing that they hadn't qualified for Boston was heartbreaking. It made me not ever want to run a marathon. They looked so pained. How could this be fun?
So what do I do? I signed up for a marathon. I got involved through Team In Training and signed up to fundraise for the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco. My only goal was to finish. I mean, this was going to be a PR for me anyways. I was already terrified. Why stress myself out even more? During training, my mom fell ill and was hospitalized several times throughout the year. I had so much going on in my life at the time that I couldn't devote much time to my training and I needed to be realistic. So I set the only goals I could - to surpass my fundraising goal and to just cross the finish line whether it was running, walking, or crawling. I surpassed both goals and it was a wonderful experience! I didn't put too much pressure on myself, enjoyed the beautiful views San Francisco had to offer, and even recorded my sprint to the finish with my iPhone. I figured if I could sprint to the finish with that much energy, I had it in me all along to run my first 26.2.
So shortly after, I signed up for my second, the Austin Marathon, which I ran this past February. Again, I didn't have time to devote to training and my mom was still in and out of the hospital so I didn't set up a goal time for this race either. Instead, my goal was to run the 26.2 in its entirety - no walking, no intervals. If I didn't walk, I knew I would PR again, which I did in 4:47:35. It felt amazing! I cried as I crossed the finish line. I just did something that I didn't think was possible. I ran the entire thing and it was brutally hilly! After running the Austin, I wanted to really train for my next marathon. Just how much can I push myself? Just how well can I do?
So after being persuaded into signing up for the Savannah Rock n' Roll marathon, I really trained doing various speed and hill work exercises, tempo runs, and long runs with my CREW. Since I never officially trained for my other races, this was all new to me. I was very intimidated with speed work and tempo runs, but felt accomplished once they were done and now understand the importance of it all. Running with my "thundering herd" motivated me each week and now race day is ONLY A FEW DAYS AWAY!! I feel so prepared and trust my training! Now...what time are you aiming for, Cecilia?
Oh no - the dreaded question. What time am I aiming for? Here are my goals for the Savannah Rock n' Roll Marathon. Deep breath. Here we go universe!
1) 4:15-4:30 finish - Call me a pansy for not throwing out one number, but this is realistic to me. I have no idea which Cecilia is going to come out and play on race day. It's a runner's nightmare - is my stomach going to be jacked up? Am I going to have to hit the portapotties lined along the course? Gahhh!!! If I do better than 4:15, that would be amazing! However, I don't want to set myself up for failure and crush any motivation that will affect my desire to sign up for my next marathon. I think this is reachable, yet challenging. My ultimate goal is to just beat 4:47:35, which I know I will! I used this pace chart tool to help me with my goal.
2) Pace the race - My goal is to start out easy so I'm not wasting too much energy on weaving through runners. I usually don't get into my running groove until the second or third mile anyways. Once I forget that I'm running, I'm going to push the pace. I'll probably start out around 9:45 and then then increase the pace. I will run based on how I'm feeling and glance at my watch only occasionally. I don't want to be a slave to the Garmin! You're not the boss of me Garmin!
Here are things I do know for race day:
1) I will celebrate my victory. I'm not trying to qualify for Boston (one day, but not today - or this weekend) so I will enjoy every minute of every mile for my first marathon in Savannah.
2) I will have a mantra - "COME ON CECILIA! YOU GOT THIS!" for when the race gets tough and I have to dig deep.
3) I will run my race - I will not compare myself to anyone else on the course. I trained to improve myself so I will race for myself. I will find the magic in the misery and embrace it.
So there you go folks! These are my goals for this weekend! What are your goals and what time are you aiming for?