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.