Wednesday, March 8, 2017

If you accomplish all of your goals you're not setting them high enough: Eyes on an OTQ marathon

I caught the bug on November 19, 2016.  That morning, I finished the White River Half in 1:22:36 (6:18 pace), 13 days off of a marathon that was 28 days off of another marathon.  On a runner's high where I felt like anything was possible, I said to myself, "Why not try to run 1 second faster per mile for twice that distance?  Why not try?"  Up to that point, I'd been awestruck by my friends who were chasing Olympic Trials Qualifying times in the marathon, but I'd thought it was way out of my league.  That day, a switch flipped, and I decided my long-term goal was to get that standard for the 2020 Trials.  I knew it would be a gradual step-by-step process, but that is also the kind of goal I thrive on.

For the past 3 months, I've felt like I've had this goal that I shouldn't be "allowed" to have.  Although I think a lot of women catch the OTQ bug after they first break 3:00 in the marathon, my then-PR of 2:58:53 seemed like quite a far cry from a 2:45 (over 30 seconds/mile!).  But something about running that 1:22 half at White River on tired legs made me believe I could pursue it, and when I brought my half time down to 1:21:26 at the Rock 'n' Roll Arizona half, on a course that was more difficult than White River and during a high mileage (for me) week, my dream intensified.

I've had a hard time not telling the world about this new obsession goal, while at the same time I've been terrified to tell anyone.  As I said, I didn't feel I'd run a marathon that backed up having this as a legitimate aim; I felt like it was laughable (haha, oh, how cute that she thinks that could ever happen).  I told my husband and parents, and a few other non-runner friends who I knew didn't understand the enormity of improving an already respectable marathon PR by 14 minutes.  I asked my family not to tell anyone, because it's sure a scary goal to put out there (however, my dad in turn told anyone who would listen on our flight home from the Rock 'n' Roll half, and then told the world on Facebook after the Mesa-Phoenix Marathon, haha!).

I felt like if I "proved" myself in Mesa-Phoenix, I would be "allowed" to officially have this goal.  What excited me the most is that after I ran a 2:49, people started asking me if OTQ was my next goal.  Others thought it was a reasonable step!  I presume that most women who break into the upper 2:40s aim for the Trials B standard next; why not try?  I would have kept my goal even if I had run much slower in Phoenix, but it would have been on a different timeline (originally I was thinking of going for it at CIM in 2018).  Now I am going all in to try for the first time in fall 2017!  There is a good chance I'll need multiple tries, but at least I'll have about 2.5 years to try.  A friend told me that "a 2:49 on 57 mpw is a minor miracle", so I've decided to take that as a compliment and continue to train harder (but still conservatively and intelligently!) so I won't need a minor miracle for a 2:45.

Although I often have "secret" goals, sometimes it is hard for me to keep them secret because I have such passion about working towards them.  I now feel like I can realistically work towards this.  I have exactly 260 seconds to take off my time from Phoenix for a 2:45:00; that is 10 seconds/mile (how'd I swing that exactly, right?!).  I figure I would need to start by running the second half that I ran in Phoenix (1:23:35) followed by my half PR (1:21:26) and one extra second faster, gun time -- that is probably how I would try to run it.  It's still a very lofty goal, and I may never reach it -- but if you reach all of your goals you're not setting them high enough -- AND you must expect big things from yourself before you can do them!  I finally feel worthy to "try"!  And you bet I was emailing my coach about it for the first time as I waited at the Phoenix airport for my return flight to Missouri (he said, "Let's go for it!"), and I've been researching fall marathons ever since.  I mean, what else does one do during a marathon recovery phase?!?
Even if I never surpass 2:49, I'm pretty proud I got there...dream big!


  1. I'm so excited for you and to see what this next training cycle holds! When I told people you were only 4 minutes off an OTQ time they were amazed I had a friend who could run that fast! You dream big but also realistically and go step by step. Keep killing it!!!!