While I definitely believe in the idea of running a race for the sake of just doing a race, I also think having goals for a particular race is good. So I’d like to list my goals, in order of priority, for the Marine Corps Marathon. Setting them now—so far in advance—gives me ample time to pursue them.
More than any other goal, I think every marathon is about crossing the finish line. 26.2 miles is no joke. Before you look at places or times (unless you’re an elite athlete) I believe your primary target should be making it to the end. While we may do some crazy things as distance runners, prepping in an awesome manner does us no good if we end up with a DNF.
2. Beat my PR (currently 3:50:41)
Of course, since this is no longer my first marathon I actually have a time I can attempt to beat. While I love the idea of doing your first race in a distance so there’s no possibility to compare yourself to the past, it’s still a great thing to train against. The MCM course will be much more difficult due to the terrain. However, being in a different region and time of year, I’m hoping weather conditions will aid my target of beating that PR. And since I know how I trained and raced last time, I can aim to beat it. In my opinion, your best rival will always be yourself.
This may be pushing it a bit, but I gotta have some kind of crazy high goal to aim towards (assuming I complete the other 2 first). While that 10 minute difference between the PR and this target seems far, across a marathon distance it calculates to cutting less than 30 seconds off each mile time. Again, crazy sounding if you look at shorter distances but it’s manageable over a marathon. The average pace over the full distance would be about 8:23 per mile. Before I hit the wall around mile 20/21, I was averaging about 8:35 for the Miami Marathon. In my mind, that says it’s completely doable.
There they be, my goals. I won’t let doubts plague me. I am only as strong as I believe myself to be. And I believe I am strong enough to reach them. So I leave you with this and hope you take inspiration from it the same way I do.