Saturday, July 30, 2011

What ta do, What ta do: Thoughts on Goals

Sometimes you have a race or run or a day that changes your ideas of what your goals should be, or what goals you truly want to pursue. This happened to me recently and now I find myself walking around the house muttering to myself "what ta do, what ta do". So, I will now mutter here...

Last weekend I ran a sweet little Half Marathon in a fairly idyllic setting. I have to say that the CASA (Spearfish) Half Marathon, in Spearfish, South Dakota, is one of the best kept secrets of the road racing world. No, seriously. This small, very well organized race down a beautiful canyon along Spearfish Creek, is a must run for anyone within a days drive.

I drove up with the family a couple days early to do some touristy stuff - you know, Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park/ The Needles (nice swimming in Sylvan Lake) - and some rock climbing in Spearfish Canyon itself. The town of Spearfish is a great place to hang out for a few days. There are loads of reasonable motels (even some old and clean "motor lodges" that I love for nostalgia sake), great camping at the Spearfish City Park (where the race buses depart from and where the finish is), and bike paths threading throughout the whole town. Oh, and this is important, a new ice cream shop opened downtown the week before we visited.

Race Day: I am up at 5 a.m.: Yesterday was sunny and hot. Today: cloudy and a little moisty-misty. I Shower, eat a MARATHON Bar and a cup of coffee, pack up my stuff in the dark motel room, and successfully scuttle away without waking my husband and daughter. I walk about a half mile to the start of the race through a still sleeping Spearfish. When I reach the park suddenly the whole world is a bustle of activity. Throngs of children move about in packs of brightly t-shirted energy, all jazzed, and a little nervous about their upcoming 5k. Things get off to a timely start - chip pickup at the park and then onto the big yellow school buses for the ride up the canyon. Misty clouds rest on the tops of the limestone cliffs that tower above.

The race starts off pretty much on time. We form a long line loosely based on our projected pace to allow all to cross over the fairly narrow starting electronic mats. The canyon is not closed to traffic, and we were warned on the bus not to run the tangents for safety sake. But runners are more concerned with their time then their safety. Certified courses are measured using the shortest possible distance between the start and finish - and damn if I'm gonna let some pesky cars interfere with my race! I, of course, was not alone on this one.

I go out very conservatively. I decided yesterday that this will be a good opportunity for a marathon pace run. The previous week I suddenly developed some foot pain and feared it was a stress fracture until a small nubbin popped up on top of my 4th metatarsal at the base of my toe. A ganglion cyst, was the diagnosis. What to do, what to do? Well my whole damn vacation revolved around this race, and my daughter was too excited about staying at a motel for me to even contemplate disappointing her. I had to soldier on. So I took a casual, no expectations approach.

By mile 8 I feel great and my foot isn't hurting me in the least, so I decide to pick up the pace. I feel good running a couple miles at 7:30, so I push it a bit more. The last 3+ miles I run around 7:15. As I run into Spearfish City Park I feel like I have so much left in the tank. I cross the finish in 1:44:59. Arrrggggg!

Why Arrrggg? I mean this isn't a terrible time - I'm 4th in my age division (which are 10 year increments - And I'm on the high end of my group;) 14th woman overall - okay, respectable. But I realize immediately that I've missed qualifying for the New York City Marathon by 59 seconds - and qualifying for NY is one of my big big goals. Arrrggggggg, WHY DID I GO OUT SO DANG SLOW!!! Oh, right, my foot. Blah.

So now I'm thinking, maybe, just maybe I should back off on my fall marathon plans and focus on halfs, which, when truth be told, I really do like best of all. Perhaps my body could use a little break from marathon training in the summer heat. Maybe I should save my legs for the Boston Marathon this spring (assuming I get in). I could go back up to Spearfish in late August for the Leading Ladies Half Marathon which travels down the same canyon. Hmmm. Dunno. I guess I'll be walking around muttering to myself for the foreseeable future...


  1. Hi!! Hope you don't mind me stopping by- I found your blog through "Life as a Running Mom"!! I have to say, your pretty inspiring!!! Thanks for sharing your experiences and goals with us!!! Hope to be there myself someday ;)!
    Visit me @

  2. I always welcome people "stopping by" - that is the point, after all ;) And, I always enjoy hearing that others find something valuable in what I have to say. I'll go visit you!


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