But I mostly talk about running here, so let's do that.
Fingers crossed, I'll hit an interesting milestone in March: marathon #200. To be exact, it'll be #200 if I add my marathons to my ultras. I've run a whopping 14 ultras to date. Counting only marathons, I'll still probably get to 200 towards the end of the year. Which means, obviously, that I'm not planning on running nearly as many marathons this year compared to 2006 (36), 2007 (64), or 2008 (41). I think it'll be a lot closer to 20. I still have the wheels to do lots of marathons. And if I stay closer to home, I can still afford to do lots of marathons even with the crummy state of money right now. But I feel like shaking things up with my training. Also, I have a bunch of non-running things to do in 2009... and while running races all over the country is fun, the travel itself is a huge pain, and a big eater of time (and, not coincidentally, money).
This year, I've dedicated the first 6ish months to training differently. Essentially, I'll be following the Jack Daniels' Running Formula Marathon A-Plan, although I will throw in a few extra races along the way. My current PR is a 3:28, and my hope is that following this plan and not racing nearly as much will allow me to drop this into the 3:15-3:20 range by summer. As a 42/43 year old guy, this would allow me to BQ though that's not really my ultimate dream goal. It is, however, something new and different. This is good.
During this first six months, I will race a few 5ks, halves, and fulls along the way to help measure my progress. Then, starting in July (or August if my first attempt at 3:15-3:20 blows up), I'm going to focus on the shorter stuff. Although I'll keep my mileage high and run a few marathons as the days get shorter and colder, I want to get that 1:30 half that I claimed I'd run last year. Then I want to beat 19:30 in a 5k.
Heh. It feels kind of backwards, really. Most people go after the 5k THEN the half THEN the full.
I do have some specific races I'm targeting with this schedule. To summarize, in priority order:
- I want to run a 3:15-3:20 marathon during the summer. My first attempt will be at Seattle Rock-n-Roll (6/27). If that doesn't work out, I will try again either at Missoula (7/12) or San Francisco (7/29). Seattle and San Francisco are very hilly; Missoula is not. Then again, Missoula has been HOT both times I've raced there, and I've had weird stomach issues both times. We'll see.
- I want to run a 1:30 half marathon in September or October. I will probably try at Skagit Flats in mid-September. Not sure about other attempts, but I'll find something.
- I want to run a 19:30-or-faster 5k sometime in October or November. The weather in Seattle can start to get dicey at the end of November, but I may look at the 5k associated with the Seattle Marathon.
- The Yakima River Canyon Marathon. This is the 2009 Maniac reunion and I don't want to embarrass myself. Ok, not really... but last year, I was very sick and ran this race anyway. I probably shouldn't have. I want to run a 3:35-3:40 which will be an improvement of more than 30 minutes over last year's 26 miles of coughing. If I can do this, it will also show that my training is progressing for my bigger goal.
- The new Illinois Marathon. Illinois is the only state where I've not run a marathon. I should be able to fix this situation in April, and then I'll be done with the 50 states.
- The Tacoma City Marathon. Last year, I ran a 3:39 and finished right behind the 3:40 pacers (shouldn't I have been in front of them?). So this year, I will try for 3:30-3:35. As with Yakima, this lines up with my training for the bigger goal.
- Although I will have completed a marathon in every state after the Illinois Marathon, there are 12 states where I have not beaten the mystical and made up 4:00 mark. I plan on going back and trying again over the next few years. Hopefully, 2009 will let me check this off for Arkansas (at the Little Rock Marathon) and North Dakota (at the Fargo Marathon). 3:59:59 will be a very conservative goal for these courses. I just need to get to the races intact.
- The Seattle Marathon. I tried to run a 3:25-3:30 in 2008 and messed it up. If I do NOT try to run a fast 5k the day before, I'll try this again.
That's a lot of goals; all of them have time-based components. Even Illinois, which is more of a checkbox goal... because I need to beat 4:00 there, or it'll show up again further down the list. I do not chase the clock in all of the runs I do. As you can see from some of the races in the second list, even a race with a time goal may or may not map to "run the fastest time I can".
But sometimes it does. And that's ok too.
Running is supposed to be fun. M22 of a marathon usually doesn't feel fun. Same with M2 of a 5k and M10 of a half that I'm trying to run fast. Completing them is fun, though. Hard work IS fun.
I just want to keep it fun. If I don't have fun, I reserve the right to change my goals. Besides, they are my goals and I'm probably the only person reading (and certainly caring about) this.
Mostly I want Real Life to normalize, regress to the mean, and Even Steven.