Thought I would record here for posterity what my aims are for Melbourne Marathon on October 9 2011. Here it is:
- Train for and race the Melbourne Marathon to finish in 3 hours and 10 minutes or better
Given the fact that I have yet to actually RUN a marathon, one would think that I should be a little conservative, play it safe and get a decent run of say 3hr30 under my belt. I say no bloody way. I have completed two marathon races, both compromised one way or the other, and have yet to have a decent go at the distance, ie actually run the whole race.
My first Marathon - I feel that I was for certain in good enough shape to achieve a 3hr20 in the 2010 Gold Coast Marathon. The only person that knows how I felt during the training runs and in the race itself is me. I think I am realistic and brutally honest about my own prospects and capabilities, and that 3hr20 was an honest and realistic goal at the time. I feel that I fell way short of 3hr20 because of an idiotic decision on my part to wear the wrong shoes. Blisters formed at 15km and I had to put in a huge effort to keep running for as far as I did, and WALKING in fact to step across the line. And finish under 4hrs - 3hr49 to be exact. Talking to many people that run their first marathons, I find that most say that under 4 hours is respectable. I personally am very disappointed, and I have no excuse for what happened. I take full responsibility for the outcome, but I have real _reasons_ for failure and I admit the failings were mine and mine alone.
My Second - The next marathon was one year later at the Gold Coast again 2011. I did about 5 weeks of really slow training for it, got ill two days before and ran the race still ill. I was not aiming for anything except 'run with Christine' my partner. It was her first Marathon, and I ran as much as I could training with her in the lead up as well. She beat me fare and square on the day though :) I don't regard this run as a failure though as my aims were pretty simple for this one.
So back to the topic, I am aiming for 3hr10 at Melbourne. Its certainly ambitious, and it may appear to be unrealistic for some people with experience in marathon racing. Regardless, I am targeting all my training so that I can achieve the race pace of 4minute 30 seconds per km.
The way I see it, if you don't choose a goal how are you to going to improve or achieve anything? Also, given what I think is an honest assessment of what I was capable of last year in the Gold Coast 2010 event, I think 3hr10 is a progression that I can achieve. I should have done 3hr20, I was capable of that so my logical progression one year later is to try and do better.
I think I have proven twice now that abject failure is not something I fear in a Marathon. I have managed to fail dismally just fine and come out of it wanting more :) I don't fear running out of juice at 30km's ++ either - Been there and done that several times.
I even stepped out the door on a training run once with the intention to induce a nice big bonk. Simply because I had never experienced such a thing at the time. It worked well, and caused odd behaviour. I bought fish and chips, enough for four people, a 2litre coke and sat in the Wynnum Wading pool eating fish and chips and drinking coke for 30 minutes. The shaking and the angry/sad/confused demeanour seemed to frighten the cacher at the shop too. For some reason the other people using the pool gave me a wide berth. Humph!! It was an interesting experience. I survived.
I certainly don't fear making a public commitment like this blog post either. I was yacking about my goals last year in some public forums, and was warned about this and that and the other, 'oh you should be conservative in your first mara' etc. But I consistently talked up my ambitions and aims. I do recall being undecided on what my goal should be in the race at the time. That is understandable, as it was my first Marathon. I set my goal, I ran too fast for that goal, BUT I did not fail due to running too fast, something else brought me down. My capabilities remain unproven, but I still don't fear failure itself, or having people know about such a commitment or goal. Its just a goal, nothing more !! I am gung ho and 'devil may care'. So what? At least I am consistently so.
So I see no reason that fear should influence my decision making or my goal setting. Realistic issues like the temperature on race day, if I have injuries, or need to back off training due to injury, illness etc, these things may change my race plan on the day. But right now my goal as of 28 July, 2011 is 3hr10 or better.