When you set goals for a race, you’re told to have A, B, and C goals. A goals are the ones you are training for like a PR, placing in your age group–the ones you can make when you’re feeling pretty good and the weather is great. B goals are times in your ballpark. C goals are surviving with both your legs still attached.
The first year I ran the Sleeping Bear Marathon, my goals quickly spiraled to level C — both legs attached and a passport stamp for every portable potty on the course.
Well, I didn’t get the portable potty stamps. In fact, I had probably the most perfect race I’ve ever had, making those A goals look like C goals.
Training for the race, some of my marathon goals were running the whole race, breaking four hours, and not getting sick on my chosen fuel. Some day I wanted to try to qualify for Boston, but I didn’t think I was ready to attempt that yet.
The weather was perfect that day. I ran the every step. I leap-frogged with a guy who did check out every pit stop. I passed the woman in first place at mile 19. I broke my previous time by twenty-nine minutes and change, qualifying me for Boston by over five minutes.
Most surprising, I never hit ‘the wall’, I just kept treading along, one step after another, even on the hills.
Not only was I too tired to chew my hot turkey sandwich afterwards, I didn’t have any goals left. (I mean qualifying for the Olympic Marathon Trials just isn’t realistic.)
Over the next weeks, I wavered between euphoria and confusion. What do I do next? Do I run another marathon? What is there left to prove to myself? It can’t get better than that. Will every other race hurt that much more because I’m comparing it to this one?
So when goals are completed, what do you do next? Quit while you’re ahead or up the ante?
I’m upping the ante, shooting for more marathons and faster times, hoping that at least one more race will feel as good as that one. Never stop challenging yourself.