Friday, April 8, 2011

Boston: I'm All In

I've never been one to shy away from having specific, tangible goals. In fact, the more detailed they are, the better.

And, I've never been afraid to write them down. (See the annual "To Do" list on the side of this blog, as an example.) I recently found a notebook that had some bigger bucket-list-type goals scribbled inside the cover. To date, I've done all but one. See, writing things down as always been in my nature.

Writing down goals helps me focus. It motivates me. And, probably most importantly, it keeps me accountable. That's not to say that I'm holding myself accountable to anyone other than myself. I do, however, see a big value in sharing your goals with others. Again, there's a level of accountability that comes with that.

So why, when it's coming down to the time when I should be shouting my goals for the Boston Marathon from the rooftops, am I having such a hard time putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, as the case may be)?

I've already decided what my goals will be - from the general "feel good" goals to the specific time goals. Heck, I've spent a lot of time running and thinking about this race - and thinking just how I'd like it to be.

Last week, I asked Coach Lauren her thoughts on a time goal for me. I'd been training with "marathon pace" miles for months, so it shouldn't have been hard to figure out that she had a time goal in mind. A quick visit to an online pace calculator could have told me what she had in mind. But I wanted her hear her say it.

Apparently, she had the same thought. Her response? I have a time goal in mind, but I want to hear what you think first.

Ah-ha. Caught at my own game. See, it's sometimes easier for someone to tell me what I should do, then I go out in do it. If she told me to run a 4:20, that's what I'd try my hardest to do. If she told me to shoot for five hours, that's probably where I'd come in, regardless of my ability to do better.

It's harder, I think, to take a critical look at one's self and come up with with a goal. I didn't want to sell myself short, but I didn't want to be over-confident. I needed something that was realistic, yet ambitious.

My reply back was convoluted, to say the least. I think I threw out no fewer than five different time goals, ranging from 4:15 to 4:30. Turns out, we were in the same ballpark. But in true "coach" style, she upped the ante just a bit.

Here's a bit of her reply:

You’ve proven to me that a 9:30 pace is more than doable for you. You just ran almost 21mi with the last 6mi averaging 9:15 pace and the overall pace being 9:29. To me, this run showed me you are very capable of maintaining this pace for an entire marathon ... The fact that you killed the run should be a huge confidence booster for you and your ability. Now what is a 9:30 pace finishing time? 4:08:54. Yes, I think you are capable of a sub 4:10 marathon."

What?? I stopped reading and focused in on the number: sub 4:10. She's totally lost her mind, I thought. Let me put this into perspective, I finished my last marathon (my only other marathon, mind you) with a 4:47. People like me don't run sub 4:10s, I thought.

It was as if Coach Lauren was inside my head and heard the words of self-doubt creeping in. The next line of the email is probably the most important:

Now you just have to believe you are also capable of it because it doesn’t matter at all what I think.

She is totally right. I need to believe I can do this. And logically, looking at my training, I know it's do-able. I mean, I've been training for a 9:30 pace all along. I've been strength training and doing the speed workouts. I've followed the training to the letter. I just need to trust my training.

So, that's what I'm going to do. I'm going for it. I'm going to do my darnedest to run this sucker in less than 4:10.

Let me be straight with you. It won't be easy. It scares the crap out of me to even think about. It will probably be the hardest thing I've ever done. But I can do it.

As I write this, the thought of hitting the "publish" button is almost as scary. It feel exposed and vulnerable. Part of my trepidation of putting such a lofty goal in writing is just the fear of failure. It's a kind of fear that is at the essence of my being, not just when it comes to running. Whatever I do, I like to do it well. Plain and simple, I don't like to fail.

If I publicly share my goal, I run the risk of sharing my failure.

But what's the worst thing that can happen? The world ends? People shun me, ridicule me and think I'm a complete loser? Really, I know none of those things will happen. In fact, I'm positive that no one would be harder on myself than me.

If anything, the support I'll get from others is worth the risk of publicly failing. After all, if I don't make it, my supporters will just be cheering for me louder the next time, right?

Let's not think about that. Let's focus on the goal.

Sub-4:10 will become part of the plan. Not surprisingly, I'm not going at this haphazardly. Coach Lauren's pacing plan for race day will reflect that goal.
Sub-4:10 is the number I've mentally tattooed onto my brain.
Sub-4:10 is the number I'll be repeating to myself at countless times along the marathon course.
Sub 4:10 will be the basis of my marathon math on race day.
Sub 4:10 will be the number I'll see as I click 'stop' on my Garmin when I cross the finish line.

Yes, folks, I'm going for it. I know I have a big goal ahead of me. I'm reaching for a 37+ minute PR. I'm pushing myself way outside my comfort zone.

But if the Boston Marathon isn't the place to go all in, what is?

*REMEMBER, I'm running the Boston Marathon to help save lives!**

I'm SO CLOSE to my goal! Please visit my fundraising page to support a good cause and learn more about a very special little boy. Thank you for your support!


  1. You will rock that sub 4:10 ---- I can feel it! Nice post..... 10 days..... you have done the work, now it is time to shine! :)

  2. I think that if your long runs have been as solid as they have been with 9:30 pace, you can totally rock the sub 4:10!!! I wonder what your coach would say, but my coach warned against starting out too fast, so I would say running the first few miles at 9:30 or slower is going to be hard when the energy and enthusiasm is fresh. But, you can do this :) Have a great time in Boston and happy tapering!


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