Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Top of Utah Marathon Goals

This morning was a cross-training day, and I really wanted to hang out with my friend Christine. So we both got up early and went for a little hike up the Sanitas Valley Trail. Our usual climb up Mt. Sanitas would have been too slick to be safe. The valley trail is a climb too, though much more gradual and without the stairsteps and rock scrambles that characterize the mountain trail.

We talked about a lot of things, like how her boy/girl twins started preschool and an eccentric former co-worker of hers and of course, because I'm thinking of little else these days, my upcoming race. She laughed at me a little for my grouchy post last week, in which I maligned The Secret. I explained to her that I know I was in a bad mood that day, but that even when I'm not in a bad mood (thankfully that's most of the time!) I do feel like an odd duck in the world of running bloggers because I don't think it's wrong to admit that I am not.....always....optimistic. She laughed again and said, "That's because you are a chronic realist. Not a pessimist...a realist."

That's the great thing about having a friend who gets you. It made me feel better. Pessimism might doom a person to failure, but realism? That just sets up reasonable expectations.

Which brings me to my goals for the Top of Utah Marathon.

Normally I like to have a three-part goal for any race I've trained seriously for: a moonshot-stars-align goal, a solid goal that moves the ball forward and a bad-day bare-minimum-performance goal. But being honest (and realistic!), I know that I will be disappointed with anything less than a Boston qualifying time at Top of Utah. So I have only one goal: run a 3:45 marathon or better--or completely flame out trying.

Part of me knows that's impractical. By race day, September 17, the Boston sign-up period will have been open for a week. Even if I do manage to squeak in with a qualifying run, chances are Boston will have sold out. I'll still need to qualify in Houston in January for Boston 2013. (For those of you who already qualified for 2012, check out the Boston Athletic Association's nifty registration date calculator to figure out when you can register!)

So why bet the farm on this race? Aren't I just setting myself up for a week of painful walking and a long drive back to Colorado in tears? Perhaps. But I'll also know what I can do, what I still need to work on, and that I tried my hardest in my first marathon in six years. Realistically, given my inconsistent training paces, a BQ in ten days probably is not going to happen. But I want to know how close I can get. And being a realist I know I'll be more disappointed if I have to ask "What if?" than I will be if I go down in spectacular flames.


  1. I think I'm going to do the "PR or die trying" approach for Top of Utah. Definitely one of my favorite courses. I love your conclusion that the worst thing would be to finish saying "What if?" Can't believe it's so close!!!

  2. I like Cory's motto! :)

    You don't want to be a thousand years old in a nursing home and sitting there thinking, "If only I would have given TOU a little more effort...", right? I mean, in between spoonfuls of soup someone is feeding you :). Hopefully The Running Gods give you perfect weather and you go in and you do your thing, having left no stone unturned, and you land across that finish line in a sub 3:45. It's in you, I know it is and I am so excited for you. And who cares if 2012 Boston is gone before you BQ, you have 2013...and maybe I will be there with ya - fun!!

    I spoke with one of my clients today who did TOU two years ago...her advice was: get in the front of the pack at the start, there are no waves and it's one huge cluster at the start and she spent too much time weaving to reach her first mile goal. The other thing she mentioned is that it got pretty warm when the race got out of the canyon and into town - so be ready for that, just in case. Throw tons of water on you at an aid station and stay on top of your hydration and nutrition!!

    This race is yours, girl!!!

  3. Oh so excited for you!!!! I don't think being realistic is a bad thing at all. Believe in yourself, you will kill this race!

  4. For me, when I start thinking negativly or doubting myself I tend to spiral out of control. I think that is why running may have made me more of an optimist than I normaly am. I have to come to the run thinking it will be a great run, or it is not for me. I get in my head and ruin it for myself. I think a good mix of optimism and realism is great for everyone.

    You will do great on TOU! Just make sure you run your race and not what others are doing. HAVE FUN!

  5. I'm a bit of a realist as well and agree that is jut puts expectations in the right place.

    If I were in your shoes, I'd want the BQ even if it doesn't work out for 2012 because I'd want to know I could do it before the race that it would count for. That and all the reasons you list -- so good luck. I hope everything just goes completely your way. I will be sending speedy thoughts to you on the 17th.

  6. I am an optimist because I believe that the mental aspect of running is as important as the physical and if you are full of doubt or negative thoughts, then when the going gets tough (which it does in every marathon) you likely won't hold it together. But that said, I think it is important to be realistic about where you are in your training and what your abilities are. That said, I think you DEFINITELY can BQ, especially on this course and the weather looks like it is going to rock. I am super excited for you! It's going to be great. :)

  7. I am a realist. 100%. What if are a killer...go for it.. for sure. I hope all goes well that day...and that you have good conditions to wind, no heat, no stomach problems, no fear.

    Good Luck!

  8. Go for it! When you get out there listen to yourself and believe in yourself. Don't overthink it...go out there and do what you love and let yourself soar. You can do this!!!!

  9. Sharpen those elbows and start near the front, then run your race smart, as you know how too (not out too fast) and to the best of your ability.