Monday, January 16, 2017

Racing Goals for 2017?

I posted my basic running goals for 2017 last week. They were not very specific and didn't include any races. Now it's time for racing goals! Or not. I'm not ready to commit to a full schedule of races, but I am registered for one spring race. Let's talk about that one.

On April 22, I'll toe the line at the Illinois Half-Marathon. And this is not intended to be an easy training run. I want a new personal record! My current half PR is 1:32:35. By mid-morning on that Saturday, it should be a faster PR. I'm thinking 1:31, but I'd love to break 1:30. If I ran 1:29:59 I'd be happy to retire from half-marathon racing. I've only done 4 half-marathons so I'm still learning. This distance is an interesting combination of speed and endurance. Maybe it'll take a few more attempts before I achieve my potential. Still, I can dream.

Why am I optimistic that this could be a great race for me?

First, it's fairly low-key and local. I live just outside of Champaign-Urbana so there is no long drive or flight, no hotel, no odd dinner choices, no stresses. I can relax at home and head to the race at my leisure. Plus, the race has tons of free parking and starts/finishes on campus at the University of Illinois (where I work). I know the campus and the race route. Heck, it runs right by the building where my office is located in campus-town on Green Street. The race is basically a tour around my second home. Let's just call it home-field advantage.

The other thing that makes me somewhat confident heading toward this race is my understanding of, and commitment to, actual half-marathon training. I've finally wrapped my head around this distance (rather than my typical ultra mindset). I'm not following any set schedule, I am simply listening to my body and running hard when I can. I'll skip the ultra long runs and replace them with steady-state tempo runs and medium long runs that should provide speed, stamina, and endurance. Eye on the prize!

Finally, I have extra motivation to excel. My friends Gregg and Joe are running and I plan to crush them both. Unfortunately, that isn't hard--they will both be lucky to break 1:40. I can do that in a training run (almost). Still, I'd like to run well (hope they do too) and show what I can accomplish. In terms of pushing my limits, there are two faculty on campus that I'd like to beat--Jonathan and Pascal. Jonathan ran a 1:35 last year and we ran the first 2 miles together...until he realized the pace was too slow. He shot off like a rocket and finished 5 minutes ahead of me. That won't happen this year. Pascal is my other target--he ran a 1:29 last year. Can I hang with him? I can try! So, I am motivated to beat two faculty colleagues and two running friends. Time to train.

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