Friday, May 4, 2007

Have You Ever Set a Goal...

...reached it and then wondered if you hadn't been so focused on that particular goal, perhaps you could've done better? In preparation for the Eugene 1/2, I printed out a slip of paper with my mile splits for every mile. I used an 8:40 pace for the first 6 miles, an 8:30 pace for the remaining miles.

When the race was underway, I enjoyed being there with Kong and took the first mile or two easy. My watch read ~10.40 somewhere before the 2 mile marker when I decided to go for my goal of finishing under two hours. According to my pace plan, if all went well, I would finish with 1:50:50 (previously my half PR was 2:07).

As the race progressed, I pushed the next few miles to get back on pace with the mile splits I had listed on the paper. At the 10K mark, I was right on. I continued to maintain pace, repeating in my head, SillieLillie's Boston mantra, "Even Effort" (Thank you, Lillie!).

At the 12 mile marker, I began to pick up the pace a little and at the 13, I sprinted to the finish. I was elated to see I had finished with 1:49:51. The next day, when I went to Masters Swim session (my normal routine on Monday), the coach asked how I was feeling. I felt great - just as though I had done a typical long run. I didn't have any soreness or fatigue. He then said something like, "So, strides and even pace through the middle miles. Good."

But I have to wonder now. Had I not been so focused on my mile splits, could I have done better. Should I have pushed more in the middle? How do you judge when you are pushing yourself to the limit without pushing so much that you end up not being able to finish? I suppose I fear NOT finishing. I go out easy. Stay as steady as I can. Push hard at the finish. Perhaps I need to push hard in the middle, too?

I posted this on RWs Masters forum this morning and I have so enjoyed reading the responses. I wanted to save them. So, I took the liberty to transfer them here. At the end of each month, I archive my blog onto my hard-drive. I will soon burn a CD and save it within my scrapbooks.


  1. I don't think that you can find too much fault in a race where you take 17 minutes off a previous PR. Sounds like you had a good day and ran a smart race. Hindsight is know how you felt at the end and now believe you can do better. Sounds like you've earned the right to set a new goal and hat's what future races are for. :)


  2. I think no matter how well I race, if I have not collapsed at the finish (which I do not) I will always believe that I had a little more left. However, I also believe that the difference btw a great race and a failure can occur by pushing to hard in the beginning and in the middle. For me, my best races have been the once where I followed my pacing plan, even if it felt slow in the middle.

    I don't believe that I will push so hard that I will not finish - that is too extreme for me, But I do believe it is completely realistic to push too hard too early and hit a wall, making the final part of the race so hard that I can't keep the pace I began.

    You ran smart, you did great! The runner's high you feel will make you think - I finished so strong, I wonder if I could have gone faster. You may have a faster race in you. The next time, work it the same way (as it seems to works for you) but plans for slightly faster splits faster splits.

    And one more thing:

    "SillieLillie's Boston mantra, 'Even Effort' (Thank you, Lillie!)."

    OMG! Whenever I do my long runs, with a 1/2 mile hill up a very steep causeway I specifically think of SillieLillie and her mantra - "Even Effort". I repeat it to myself all the way the bridge and so far it works for me. (thanks GB)


  3. It's something that comes with experience.

    Everyone has an optimum potential performance in him/her for any given race. If you start too fast in an attempt to "bank time", you will "run out of gas" and lose a lot of time in the late miles. OTOH, if you start too slow, you won't be able to make up the "lost time" in the latter stages of the race.

    Optimum race performance generally comes from running even splits (effort) from beginning to end and finishing with an "empty tank". That doesn't mean that you would not be able to continue to run or you collapse at the finish line. It means that you would not be able to continue to maintain the pace/effort beyond the finish line.

    The ability to do that really can't be coached. It's something that you learn through trial and error, and that means analyzing each race performance to identify "mistakes" made that might have cost a little time and corrections to try the next time. It really is an evolutionary process.

    A good way to develop a sense of pacing is to experiment with it in short races that can run frequently, such as 5-10k. That will develop pacing skills that can then translate to the longer distances, such as HM and marathon, that can't be raced as frequently.

    Finally, pacing isn't an exact science because of variables that affect the rate of energy expenditure during a race, such as course terrain variation and changes in climatic condition during a race, such as rising temperatures and wind strength/direction. It's an art that you have to practice to "perfect".


  4. Wow! What wonderful words of advice. Thank you all.

    I suppose this is what brings us all back to the start line, time after time. I'm looking forward to running many, many more races. :)

  5. That's one of the things I learned when doing research on negative splits. If you go out to fast in an attempt to "bank" miles for later, you tend to lose 2 minutes for every one you bank.

    I think the key thing is to correctly identify the level of effort you can sustain at the beginning to negative split your race. Here I prefer a 50/50 negative split and not negative splitting every mile. Then, you have mini goals of pace for every mile within those halves.

    You ran a beautiful race. I think I would rather finish strong and happy, like you did, then gasping, dying, and out of commission at the end (kind of like I did :-). I suppose someday soon you will have the chance to test yourself again.

  6. I would be content and happy with with you accomplished. You went out there, had fun, and did very well. You might not have enjoyed yourself as much, had you worried TOO much about splits. Nice post.

  7. The more half marathons you do, the better you'll get a setting a pace that is closer to your limits. Hide away those little regrets -- you ran a FANTASTIC race. Learn and grow for next time.

    By the way, when you archive your blog, do you use this complicated procedure?:

    Or do you have another procedure that's a bit easier?

  8. You pr'd by a large amount so that's good. Use the wondering to motivate for your next one.

  9. I can't sleep so I'm up looking through old e-mails and finally took the time to look at your blog - it is great! One more thing I don't know how you fit in, but it is impressive.

    Of course I couldn't figure out how to leave a comment so I thought I'd just jot a note back. I especially loved seeing your family tree and all of the scrapbooking pages... very inspiring! Thanks for sharing. Still no baby so I should see you later today.


    ** Posted by Makita on her behalf.

  10. Excellent time ... you did way better than your previous PR. I think you had a great race, and sometimes the focus should be not just on time but on running "good" in a very vague sense.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog! I love yours and do look forward to getting to know you.


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