If you read this blog on a regular basis (when I’m posting on a regular basis, that is) or we have talked at all about running, you probably know that I have one goal that stands above all others. I have had a ton of goals in my 7 1/2 years of running, many I’ve reached, many I’m still chasing, but one holds more significance than the others.
I have been chasing this one particular goal for more than five years and when I take my next swing at it, it will be six years and about a week old.
In the hours after jogging my first marathon, I set my sights on running 26.2 miles an hour faster than I just had. Finishing the Smuttynose Marathon on Oct. 6, 2013 in 4 hours, 47 minutes felt like a huge accomplishment, and for a guy who was in the process of losing more than 50 pounds and had been running for a little more than a year and a half, it was a huge accomplishment. However, I knew I was capable of much more.
On the car ride back to Maine, my goal of running a 3:47 marathon was born. In the five-plus years since I set that goal, I’ve taken four swings at accomplishing it.
- I ran 3:56:55 at the 2014 Chicago Marathon.
- I jacked up my hamstring training for the 2015 Maine Marathon and had to skip the race.
- I ran 3:50:12 at the Maine Marathon, crashing in the last 3-5 miles.
- I tweaked my hamstring training for the 2017 Sugarloaf Marathon, then suffered through a 4:12:05 on race day.
I’m taking another swing at that goal in 2019 when I run the Chicago Marathon. If I can get myself in shape to run that 3:47 on Oct. 13, my year of running will be a success. If I don’t run that fast, the race, and the year, can still be a success, but finally erasing 3:47 off that chalk board that hangs in my bedroom would make it a killer day.
So why, all of the sudden, am I setting my sights even higher?
As I set goals for the 2019 race season and wrap my brain around exactly what I’m going to have to do to get ready for Chicago, I do want to aim higher. 3:47 is a good goal because it has significance, but I feel if I put my mind to it, I’m capable of more.
That’s a strange thing to say, since I’ve been chasing that goal for so long, but I also feel like in each of those training cycles I’ve left something on the table.
• In 2014, I had no idea what I was doing training for or running a marathon.
• In 2015, I was stupid and didn’t care for my body.
• In 2016, I ran more than I ever have, but I didn’t do enough other stuff to get myself ready to run a good marathon.
• In 2017, I didn’t learn my lesson and I wasn’t strong enough mentally to push myself through all the hurt.
I talk a lot about wanting to get to the next level, wanting to do the work it takes to be a better runner, wanting to stop settling and actually believe in myself enough to chase bigger and faster things.
Which is why my ‘A’ goal for the Chicago Marathon is to run 3:40. Like I said, 3:47 would be awesome, but I want more, and I want to stop settling and start working harder and smarter.
It’s kind of funny I’m throwing this out there right now, because my confidence isn’t exactly sky high. As I said in my last post, I was looking back at my mileage from the summer of 2016 and I’m overwhelmed. Running 50-plus miles a week seems so daunting right now, especially with the way my legs felt after an hour and half on the roads yesterday, which put me at just over 35 miles for the week (I’m a little bit sick, though, which may have something to do with being so sore).
Training to run a 3:40 marathon seems crazy to me right now. Shit, training for a 3:47 marathon seems crazy. It seems way over my head and the thought of all that work gives me a panic attack.
Yeah, so what?
Where I’m at right now isn’t where I will be in Oct. 2019. My lack of overall fitness shouldn’t stop me from making the effort to get into the best shape possible, it should encourage me to start doing the work. To really focus on those habits and routines I keep talking about. To figure out what I’m going to do for a training plan (I really think I need to hire a coach, again). To start convincing myself I’m capable of way more than I believe I am.
So yeah, I have a lot of work to do. I want to do the work. I want to cross off some of those goals, especially that big one that I’ve been chasing for so long.
Let’s do this.