When Your Race Goals Change

I just want to finish!” People say it all the time with their first marathons. I said it too. But I was lying.

Of course I can finish a marathon! And of course I can finish it under 5 hours! Come on, how hard is that? My goal is under 4:45! And, secretly, I know that’s a silly goal because of course I’ll get under 4:45 too! Pfft! That is just my bare minimum goal…………… Yep. I was delusional. I was living in 2010 when I was easily on target to a 3:40 marathon. Ahhh, those were the days. And, apparently, I can’t let them go.

Truth is, my goal really is just to finish. Any number of things can happen to knock me out before the Iwo Jima Memorial. These days, I’m still working on reclaiming my former fitness after essentially taking 3 years off from serious running to have kids and to get my first master’s (currently working on 2nd master’s, which is why I’m still in school at the 3 year point). Cranking the engine back up is proving difficult. Half marathons in the 1:40’s have turned into half marathons in the 2:20’s. My ego has suffered for sure. But mainly I’m just frustrated. I’m frustrated that it’s all taking so long. But of course that’s how it goes when your priorities shift from “work & run” to “kids, family, work, school, sleep & run.” Obviously that’s not a recipe for a PR is it?

Hey, I love my life. Truly. My kids are worth my +40 minutes on my half marathon any day of the week! (Is the degree worth the +40? Depends on what day you ask me). But yes, I do want to get back to where I was, if at all possible. Maybe “kids, family, work, school, sleep, & RUN!!!” I can’t bump running any higher on the priority list but I can make sure to end with OOMPH!! instead of fizzling out by the time the run steps up to bat.

The fact is that I have to change my race goals. I can’t focus on time. I have to focus on just getting there in October without injury. I have to focus on finishing as strong as I can. I have to focus on not walking during the race. But I also want to focus on getting my fitness back, on losing the weight I’ve gained since having kids and going back to school (the perfect storm for gaining weight as it turns out).

Changing your goals for your marathon isn’t a bad thing. Living in the past and being unrealistic about the variables you’re dealing with is the bad thing. Hopefully this shift will help my overall performance. And hopefully this will make the finish line a happy place for me instead of a place where I was setting myself up for disappointment. Hey… I just want to finish!

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