Well, I raced in the elite section of the SV Turkey Trot 5k yesterday. I went into the race with two goals, of which one was accomplished, and the other was not.
The first goal, was a goal for a certain time. 14:10 was the magic number for the day; But these are often frustrating goals to set for myself, because I always shoot for the stars. It’s great when I make it there or run better than I imagined, but often when I fail it makes the result feel hollow. After a day to digest running nearly 35 seconds slower than I was aiming however, I think I’ve come to a realization in how I need to start setting my goals, which leads me to goal number two:
My high school ‘rival’ was in the race. Mac Fleet. I can’t tell you how many times I can recall racing him in the mile, leading with less than a lap to go, just to watch him put 3 seconds on me in the last 100 meters. It happened nearly every time we raced at that distance and it drove me crazy. Now that he has back to back NCAA 1500 meter championships to his name, and currently runs for Nike’s Oregon Track Club, it’s a little easier to digest (no pun intended). That being said, when I saw that he was entered in the race, I still really wanted to beat him – ya know, for old time’s sake. Thus, goal number two was formed!
The lead pack went out in 4:32 for the first mile, and it was COLD. Like 38 degrees cold; which for a California born-and-raised distance runner in just short-shorts and a jersey, is pretty fricken’ cold. After tightening up a bit and backing off the pace, I was stuck running alone from 2-4 kilometers. By the time I realized how much I’d slowed down I was being swallowed up left and right, and my friend Simon patted me on the back as he passed by me. I had pretty much given up by that point.
With about 600 meters left in the race however, I heard Mac’s voice say irritatedly, “Come on, Jarvis”… like he knew I was better than to just be giving up. It was all I needed, and I was back in it. I came back to life and realized how unfocused I had gotten, and pushed back into race-mode, caught back up to Simon and ultimately – beat Mac.
It was a good feeling to finish in front of him, even if I know that it was more than three times his preferred race distance. Accomplishing a goal felt nice, and just setting it in the first place allowed me to turn a mental lapse around and salvage my performance. It also tells me that my goals need to be more race-focused. When I had a goal to focus on that I could actually see (and in this case hear), I was far more motivated to push myself. Time goals are far too arbitrary, especially while removed from the comfortable predictability of a track. So, while I’m not completely satisfied with the overall result of the race, I learned how I need to set my goals differently, and I can’t be too upset with that.
In many ways, I’m just getting started. Running in competitive races again, starting a blog as a (semi-)professional runner and ostomy advocate, starting a company (details to come :P)… It’s all very exciting! All I know for sure is that the next time I toe the line I’ll be just a little bit harder to beat; and as long as that keeps happening, I’m going to keep doing it.