Columbia Gorge Half: Five Goals

It’s hard to believe November is almost here. It seems like just yesterday I was enjoying the warmth of summer and runs that were fun and carefree. But now that fall is in full swing, those glorious days of warmth and sunshine have been replaced with crisp temperatures and dampness.

Fall has also meant training for my second half marathon of 2015.This weekend my wife and I will participate in the Columbia Gorge Half in Hood River, Oregon. The out and back course along the Columbia River should be scenic and outlined in brightly-colored foliage. I’m hoping its picturesque beauty is so overwhelmingly breathtaking it distracts me from my sore feet and woefully fatigued legs.

Training for my latest half marathon has been a bit challenging, but despite my less than ideal preparation, I’m ready to hit the pavement and (hopefully) reach some of my carefully thought out race day goals.

Goal #1: Finish the Race
Finishing is, of course, the main goal of every race and one that, to this point, has always been highly attainable. However, I realize as I get older that this will not always be the case. Eventually, my aging body will betray me and I’ll end up collapsing on the side of a half marathon course; a graying mound of flesh holding his wounded hamstring while whimpering like a frightened child.
Accomplishment Probability: 87% 

This will be me on Sunday morning. (But I’ll be way in the back.)

Goal #2: Post a Respectable Time
Ideally, Sunday’s race would be a triumphant expression of my ability to overcome any obstacle and result in a new PR. However, I do not live in an ideal world. In my previous five half marathons, I’ve always posted a time better than the last. That streak is likely coming to an end. My training schedule for this race was a few weeks shorter than usual and I’m pretty sure my legs have not fully recovered from August’s ill-conceived running streak. In lieu of achieving a personal best,  I’ll settle for a respectable time that won’t make me wince when I say it out loud.
Accomplishment Probability: 67% 

Goal #3: Don’t Spend Entire Race Lamenting August Running Streak
In case I haven’t made myself clear in previous blog posts, Twitter rants, and the above paragraph, it is my opinion that running every single day of a month is a horrific idea. Unfortunately, I’ve learned this the hard way. Throughout my fall training my legs have felt sluggish and fatigued. I’m convinced this is the result of being a dumb ass who embarked a 31-day running streak. Either that or my 41-year-old body is hitting a wall, and at the present time, I’m not willing to accept that premise. In any event, I need to make sure I don’t dwell on this painfully obvious mistake during the race. Instead I’ll try to think about copious amounts of food and booze I’ll be consuming later in the day.
Accomplishment Probability: 53% 

Goal #4: Enjoy the Scenery
This is another regular goal of mine. When my wife and I choose half marathons, we try to make sure they’re in interesting locales or that the courses provide us something interesting to look at. As I mentioned above, if the weather cooperates, this race may rip the title of “Most Beautiful Half Marathon I’ve Ever Run” away from the Big Sur Half on Monterrey Bay. Of course, the key to enjoying my two hours on the course is getting out of my own head long enough to actually look around and soak it all in.
Accomplishment Probability: 71% 

Like the scenic beauty, don’t like the size of that hill.

Goal #5: Take Pictures
Speaking of soaking it all in… Sunday’s half marathon will be the first one I run with my phone on my person. I recently picked up a FlipBelt and am now better able to carry things with me during races. As such, I’m hoping to better document the event by taking pictures before, after and even during the race. How many mid-race snapshots I get will depend on how the first few miles play out. If I’m feeling stronger than anticipated, I may push myself and go for a better than respectable time. If I feel sluggish I’ll slow down enough to really enjoy the scenery and document the beauty of the day via smart phone photos. (Cheap Plug: If you’d like to see pictures from this half, follow me on Instagram!)
Accomplishment Probability: 60% 

However the Columbia Gorge Half Marathon turns out, I can take solace in the fact that I’m still a person who is physically capable of running 13.1 miles (in a row), even if I’m a bit slower than I’d like. If that’s not enough, I can also look forward to the two week run break I’m taking in an attempt to get my legs back to normal. (DAMN YOU, AUGUST RUN STREAK!)

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