One personal goal I have set, which I first achieved last year, is to be able to place in the top three in my age group in every race I run. With the exception of the “big ones” which are the USATF masters championship races (Twin Cities Marathon, Club Cross Country), I was able to pull this off, never placing below third in the 40-45 or 40-49 age division. My friend Joe Dudman has correctly pointed out that it is kind of weak to relegate oneself to racing within one’s age group when we are still able to mix it up somewhat against all competitors regardless of age. Of course, Joe is correct; however, I will continue to measure my performances and competitiveness in part by my relative place among my peers. At the very least, I will continue to be happy to be rewarded for running well as a kind of consolation prize or a reward for the hard work it took me to get there.
With such improvements this year, one might ask if I was happy and satisfied with these times and races? And like most competitive runners, I would have to say yes and no. Of course I am very happy to be running faster than last year or even as fast as I ever have, but in many ways that was the plan and I knew I could do it if I stayed healthy. At this time last year, I wrote down a number of admittedly ambitious time goals I wanted to hit for the year on the track and the roads. Sadly, I did not run in any track meets in 2011, so all those targets were left untried. Likewise, I was not able to find a mile race on the road at the right time in my racing and training, so I never took a crack at that time, but I did race the 5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon on the roads and did pretty well against these goals.
10k: 35:00 DONE - Scandia Run 34:56
Half-Marathon: 1:18:00 DONE - Rogue River Half Marathon 1:17:54
In the 5k I came oh so close, getting down to 16:55 and breaking through the sub-17 barrier. In 2012 the 5k will be a major focus of my racing efforts as I try to bring that time down below 16:30 and as close to 16 flat as I can muster. In the 10k, I nailed my goal of 35 flat with a 34:56 on a pancake flat course. Like the 5k, in 2012, I plan to put extra attention on running even faster in the 10k and am setting my target at 34 flat.
The half marathon was pretty good to me in 2011 as I never raced the distance before. I accomplished this goal from the get go in my very first race of the year. In my three attempts at this distance, I progressively dropped my time from 1:17: 54, to 1;17:31, to 1:16:33 at the Foot Traffic Flat Half. Although we now know that the course was short at the Flat Half, but we don’t know just how short. I’m still going to call that my PR, since based on my effort that day, I think it still would have been PR on an accurate course. Plus, calling this my PR makes me work that much harder to run a faster PR.
I spent a lot of time focused on running a strong marathon in 2011 and am very happy with how it went, even if I didn’t meet the target I set a year ago or even the goal time on race day. As has been said by many before me, the marathon is tricky race to master and no matter how ready you think you are, it all has to come together that day and stay together for all 26.2 miles. I knew I was ready to run around 2:42 and went after it at the Twin Cities Marathon. For the most part I ran strong and smart, but as I wrote about in an earlier blog entry, I just ran out of gas. I am learning more every time I run a marathon and am getting closer to understanding my fueling and hydration needs.
I really don’t plan to focus my training on the marathon or half marathon in 2012 like I did in 2011, so I’m not putting any targets down on paper for those distances. Maybe in 2013 I will try to run another fast marathon, but for 2012, I’m taking a break from the marathon.
A pretty typical sight, me chasing Larry Merrifield and Bria Wetsch at mile 9 in the Eugene Half Marathon.
The other significant goal time for 2012 is in the mile or 1500 meters, where I would like to run as close to my life time PR as I can, which means running faster than I did in High School. If my memory is correct, my fastest High School mile was 4:35.
So, here they are, in writing (lord have mercy), my official 2012 racing goals -
In short, 2012 will be more about speed and racing shorter distances than I attempted in 2011. As Long as I can stay healthy and get in the training, it should be another great adventure on the road and track.
Oh, and two more very important goal for 2012. I want to see the Bowerman Athletic Club masters men make the podium at the Club Cross Country championships and The Leapin Lizards defeat the Slug Hunters in the Hood to Coast Relay with me playing a significant role in both.