What I've managed to do with my running in 2011 is one of the most satisfying things I've experienced in my life. To elite (or even sub-elite) runners, my fastest pace in a 5k of 7:17 per mile is laughable. Seriously, if I'm talking to a runner who doesn't know me well, I make sure to express the qualification that my pride in that time is in its relationship to where I was a year ago and not its relationship to the times of other runners. Running a 7:17 per mile in November is pretty awesome when the best I could do in January of the same year was 8:30 per mile. I struggled to break a 10-minute mile back in July of 2010. That doesn't mean I'm finished with the goals, though. Goals are the main things that keep me interested and active with this, so I'm setting myself several specific goals in each of my main activities for 2012.
- Qualify for the A starting wave at the Peachtree Road Race. This is a relatively short-term goal and not a stretch goal. I have to run a race before the end of the spring that has a USATF certified course. In the last two months I've run both a 5k and a 12k at paces that would qualify me for the the A starting wave at last year's event, but I don't think the 5k was a certified course and the 12k wasn't a distance Peachtree recognizes as a qualifier. I just have to keep my current speed and run one of the qualifiers in the coming months and I'll be fine. I'm just looking for a flat course.
- Run a sub 20-minute 5k. I recently broke my goal of running a sub 50-minute 10k, so this is the obvious next step. Unlike qualifying for the A starting wave, this really is a stretch goal. My current fastest 5k is 22:34, meaning I'll need to drop 50 seconds off of my pace in the next 12 months to reach this goal. That's a huge challenge, but not impossible. After all, I dropped about 90 seconds off of my 5k pace in 2011, but I'm assuming each additional second dropped will me more difficult at this point in my training. Time to hit the interval training and fartleks!
- Complete a full marathon. I easily achieved my goal of running a half marathon in 2011, even managing to beat my goal time despite having to visit a porta-potty four miles into my run. An addition to this goal is to finish the full marathon at a 8:30 pace or faster.
- Break the 3 minute per mile barrier for distances of at least nine miles. This is basically managing to keep an average speed of over 20 mph, something I've never been able to do for more than a few miles this year. Cycling has frustrated me a little over the course of the year as I never seem to get any better. I have a suspicion it's partly due to my laissez-faire attitude toward shifting gears. I need to spend more time in higher gears and be more willing to downshift up the hills, I think. I'm pretty sure I'm pedaling at an acceptably fast cadence, so I don't think that's the problem.
- Spend more time in the water. This is a general goal with no specifically quantifiable elements, but I need to call the local recreation department this week to get started. I know the county pool is now covered and I think some of the swim team members I've taught have mentioned that it's also heated, which helps them as high school swimming is a winter sport in Georgia. I just don't know if it's open to the public in the cooler months. If it is, I'm getting a membership and swimming year round. Otherwise, I'm going to have to start travelling to a neighboring town 45 miles away on the weekends to get my laps in, especially if the pond doesn't re-fill over the winter.
- Complete an Olympic-distance triathlon. The Turtle Crawl on Jekyll Island is my goal event for that distance. I did the sprint distance there last year and was smitten with the sport.
- Complete more events. I signed up last week for a series of three sprint-distance events in Jacksonville. This kind of goes with the spending more time in the water goal.
- Outside of 2012, I'm tentatively planning on making my 2013 goal completing a 70.3 event (half-Ironman). I'd follow that up with a goal of finishing an Ironman event in 2014.