There’s something very satisfying about setting goals and reaching them. That’s why I love to-do lists. Not only do they organize the items on your agenda, but the feeling of crossing them off feels remarkably rewarding.
One of the great things about running half marathons – or full marathons, if you’re a masochist – is that it’s a goal-oriented endeavor. Runners set goals for a race then spend weeks and weeks training themselves both physically and mentally in order to reach these objectives.
This Sunday I’m running the Tacoma City Half Marathon, my first of the year. In addition to fully immersing myself in my normal race week routine, I’ve also been dealing with a knot in my shoulder and narrowing my race day ambitions down to a very manageable list of five goals.
Goal #1: Finish the Race
This is always a goal when I run a half marathon. The last thing anyone wants to do is spend three months training only to crap out on race day, and I’m no exception. In my previous halfs, this hasn’t been a problem as I’ve managed to avoid injury and overcome the powerful desire to make myself stop running. I’m going to assume this trend holds.
Accomplishment Probability: 92%
Goal #2: Half Marathon PR
For the uninitiated, PR is runner slang for “Personal Record.” It is one of the most important phrases in a runner’s vocabulary, especially the annoyingly competitive ones. My half marathon PR is 1:59:24. If all goes well, I feel confident I can maximize my performance and eclipse that mark. Wait, have I become an annoyingly competitive runner?
Accomplishment Probability: 71%
Goal #3: Successful Bib Number Pinning
Few aspects of race day annoy me more than trying to pin my bib number to my shirt. It’s 2015 and there should be a better way. Most races use chip tracking and in some, friends and family can track your progress online. But you’re telling me we still have to use safety pins to secure a bib number? Best case scenario, I’m able to pin my number in a relatively non-lopsided way in less than 15 minutes.
Accomplishment Probability: 46%
Goal #4: Don’t Shart Myself
When you’re a casual runner, a half marathon is as much about avoiding embarrassment as it is about achieving a decent time. This is why I’ve pledged to always keep my bodily functions under complete control. It’s bad enough the race photographer is certain to get a few shots of me looking exhausted with my mouth agape and my arms dangling like limp spaghetti. So accidentally dropping a deuce as I slog through the last few miles is just not acceptable and it CANNOT be allowed to happen!
Accomplishment Probability: 98%
Goal #5: Enjoy the Scenery
Running a long distance race is as much mental as it is physical. Personally, I spend most of the time reminding myself that, yes it was a good idea to run 13.1 miles in a row, and no, you may not stop abruptly and find the nearest cheeseburger joint. With all of that occupying my brain, I sometimes forget to be in the moment. But this is important. It’s why I’m here, to experience something during the race beyond simply enduring physical pain and eating energy gels. I must soak it all in, the streets, the landscape, and the people, both fellow runners and vocal supporters. This is why I run and train and get up early, to be part of something unique and exciting. Well, that and the finisher’s medal. And the free bananas.
Accomplishment Probability: 87%
How many of the goals will I check off my list? I guess I’ll find out on Sunday. In the meantime, I’m going to start working on a cheap, temporary adhesive that would allow runners to simply stick their bibs to their shirts without pins. I’d make a fortune.