Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Dilemma: Doing Well vs. Meeting Goal Times

As I posted yesterday, I ran a new PR of 1:40:14 in my half marathon on Saturday. My previous PR, set almost two years ago, was 1:43:07. The last half I did, in September, was completed in 1:46:20. Just by looking at the numbers, you can see I made a lot of progress: a PR by almost 3 minutes, while cutting 6+ minutes off my last half time. I feel like the regular person would be thrilled to achieve a finishing time of this and cut a significant amount of time off their previous PR and race time. However, after I crossed the finish line, I wasn't filled with joy; rather, with disappointment.

As stated numerous times on my blog recently, my goal was to run in the 1:30s. Saying that I'm a 1:30-something half marathoner sounds much better than 1:40-something half marathoner. Throughout the first 10 miles of the race, I ran between a 7:29 and 7:36 mile pace, which would have put me on track to break 1:40. After my friend and I diverged at mile 8 (he went ahead of me), I knew that I had 5 miles by myself. Just me and the streets, and a man wearing a green shirt ahead of me. I didn't have my music, just my thoughts to keep me company. I kept repeating my running mantras and even sang the lyrics to my favorite running songs in my head. I told myself to leave it all out on the course, have no regrets, and keep pushing through.

My last three miles of the race were significantly slower than my first 10, in the high 7:40s for pace. When the results were posted for the half, I went over and looked, knowing I would be close to the 1:39 mark. After texting some of my close friends and family about the race, I started to process what this meant for me. My dad and I had a conversation about the race. I love talking to my dad because he always puts things in perspective. I should be happy about my race: I PR'd and ran a good pace that many people would like to achieve: 7:40/mile. It is the best half I've ever done. I should not hang my head on the fact that I did not run in the 1:30s. After all, just as in diabetes, it is only a number. It does not define me.

I'm a person who constantly thinks about numbers. Math is my favorite class, hands-down, to teach. Diabetes is filled with numbers. However, in the past year, I've become much better about numbers in my "diabetes" life. I don't get as upset at seeing a high blood sugar as I used to, but rather know that it just needs to be corrected, and everything will be alright again. That one high reading does not say that I'm a "bad diabetic," it is information to help me become better. The same is true for my running.

Running this race tells me that I'm a decent runner, who just needs to work on logging more longer runs so I can finish the race strong. It does not define me, rather, it gives me the information I need to break into the 1:30s. Even though I did not meet my goal time, I did well. When I started running, I wasn't sure if I could run under a 2-hour half marathon. However, in my second attempt I did. Then, I wasn't sure if I could run in the 1:40s, but ended up doing that as well. I am always extremely critical when analyzing myself and what I do, in all aspects of my life. Many times I overlook the fact that I did something well.

Here is what I have come to believe about half marathon #7: I ran well. I crushed my old PR and set a new one. I have come so far in my running, farther than I ever thought I would. A goal is just something I hope to achieve. There is always another race.

Do you struggle with what you want to run vs. the time you actually run? Sometimes I think I set myself up for failure by having specific time goals if I don't meet them.


  1. I think you ran a really great race. I only dream of finishing a half in under 2 hours. I'd like to one day.
    BUT.... I can understand where you're coming from. I put similar goals (much slower ones) on my plate and I never really meet them. I want to be a fast runner like you.
    You SHOULD be happy about such a wicked time... and hope that your next half will meet your goal.

  2. Congrats on your PR! That's awesome... and it stands to reason that if you're that close to the 1:30's BEFORE race reason even starts...