In the past, my race schedule has really been my goal list for the season. That always seemed like the “way it is done” to me. It wasn’t until last year that I started to realize that difference between races and “goal races”. So this year, I will frame the entire season by choosing the two goal races of the year and letting the schedule fall where it may. I am planning 2 goal races for the year as is tradition. I will rank them in importance so priority is clear. I will define 3 finish goals for each. The “C Goal” will be the status quo. If I get it, it will be nice and I may have some moderate level of satisfaction. The “B Goal” will be the next step up. I will be more proud of my accomplishment and have more satisfaction. There will be a sense of things done wrong and a things done right. The “A Goal” would be the best I could hope for. Things went nearly perfect that were both under my control and not under my control.
Got it? Ready?
1. Leadville Trail 100 – August 21/22
Why? I put the stake in the ground last August. I still have people asking me if I am going to do this thing. Yes, that is the plan — I continue to repeat. I hope that this race defines me. It shows me who I am. It let’s me test what I am made of. I want all those things out of it. No other race seems appropriate for such a venture. There are others 100s and those are nice too but this one will make me confront something that I saw and said back when I saw people running Leadville years ago when I wasn’t running — those people are crazy. Yep, one hot big bowl of crazy for me!
C Goal: DNF (Did Not Finish but Did Nothing Fatal). This stems from the realization that I have never done this before. I ran 50 once. It hurt. I learned. I want more. I am going to train. I am going to learn. I will psyche myself up over the coming months. But I won’t know until that day if I can really do this. My body might be able to, but my mind might fail. Or the other way around. So you have to go run it. To be more specific, the DNF would have to occur after the return to Twin Lakes for me to realize the goal. It would be the furthest I have ever run.
B Goal: Small buckle. This indicates that you finished beneath the 30 hour cut-off. It could be with just minutes to spare but I would be a finisher and that would be huge. Many many many have tried and failed. Nearly 1/2 (or more) fail each year at the attempt. I would feel very satisfied. Probably more than anything I have ever done (in this spectrum of personal achievement).
A Goal: Big buckle. Sub 25 hour finish. Frankly, the B goal used to be the A goal in 2008 when I thought about this. But as time went on, I started telling myself that if I got that small buckle that would be awesome. But it would be a mere matter of minutes before my mind started wondering what it would have taken to get the better prize. If they didn’t offer a difference in buckles, I probably would not have an A/B distinction here. But its mere presence indicates a greater opportunity for a bigger challenge that may need to be addressed. Frankly, I don’t know exactly what it will take to get from B to A. I might not have a clue what I am getting myself into there. But I will go into the race with an A-/B+ plan and see how the day unfolds.
2. Boston Marathon – April 19
Why? Because it is a major. Because I qualified. Because its legend. In truth, I think most of us pre-Boston just dream of Boston because it is one of the only (if not the only) thing that you have to be good enough to run. You have to qualify and it isn’t easy. Some never make it. So it is a club of sorts and everybody likes to be a part of something special. However, post-Boston I expect to have a greater appreciation for this event after experiencing its magnitude. Many say “there is nothing like it”. Bring that on. I like those experiences.
C Goal: 3:10-3:15 finish. Using ranges for now. Basically, this would re-qualify me for 2 years after the run — even though I already get 2011 because of when my BQ happened. Traveling to this marathon, running at sea level, and doing it with 40,000(?) others — that seems like an adventure. So just dealing with all of that and having a good time at it would be a sufficient result. Boston was about the journey. The race is just prize.
B Goal: 3:10. My BQ is “tainted” because I had to use my age handicap to get in. I would like to prove that I could do it with no buffer. So I need to PR by 5 minutes. Learning from my Denver failures, this seems doable but can I make it happen in that environment or will the environment impact me negatively.
A Goal: I would like to say sub 3:00 here but the jump seems to great from my last PR. Maybe if the cycle goes well and it is a perfect day, who knows? But running something like a 3:05 would be so sweet. Would feel like I sufficiently moved away from the “by the skin of my teeth” BQ effort of 2009 and have it in the bag now. It might even motivate me to specifically train for a sub 3 hour finish at a later point. Because post-Boston, I question why I would run another “normal road marathon” again. Been there done that. But racing the clock to sub-3 sounds interesting because the club is even smaller.
So those are the 2 goals. If I don’t run another race all year, it would be just fine. But it won’t happen that way. I will need to race to prepare for racing. But now that the 2 goals are defined for the year, I can plan the schedule.