If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not nearly big enough.
If your goals don’t inspire you, you need a loftier vision.
If your ambition doesn’t drive you to push yourself beyond your comfort zone, you need to aim higher.
So, I’ve set a couple of awesome, audacious running goals. I admit, I’m a little frightened, mostly inspired, and way outside comfortable. Sounds about right, then.
Awesome, Audacious Goal #1
Win the Kansas City Marathon!
Okay, not win win. (Don’t you love it when you tell your non-running friends you ran a marathon, and they ask you if you won? Like that’s even a goal!)
I mean, finish at the top of my age group. I’ll be ecstatic if I finish anywhere in the top three, but my goal is to finish in first place. I’ve finished second in my age group at a couple of recent half marathons, and first at a couple of 5K/10K races. But I’ve never finished anywhere close to the top three in 14 marathons.
I’ve been running the Kansas City Marathon since 2006 (only missing one year, when I hurt my back). This was my first marathon, and my hometown race, so it occupies a special place in my heart. My goal in those early years was just to finish. Then, to finish with a better time than the previous year. Then, to finish with a Boston qualifying time.
More than a PR, this year, I want to push myself harder and higher. To attain this goal, I’ll need to finish the marathon in about 3 hours:10 minutes, an average pace of 7:15/mile. My PR (set at a much flatter course) is 3:26 (8th place in my division), so I’ve got my work cut out for me.
Goals should be awesome and audacious, but not totally unrealistic. I couldn’t finish a marathon at that pace today, but I’ve got 17 weeks to train. It’s all about the training. This week ramps up the toughest marathon training program I’ve ever tackled. I’ll log 55 miles this week, gradually increasing to 70-mile weeks by the end of the summer.
I’ve never run more than 50 miles a week in my life.
If I survive the training, the race might be the “easy” part.
Awesome, Audacious Goal #2
Run Across the Grand Canyon!
About a year ago I was inspired by the account of pastor/runner/blogger Steve Wiens, raising funds for an organization called Eyes to See, which rescues Ethiopian girls from child sex trafficking. Wiens wrote about running across the Grand Canyon, from rim to rim. Here’s the link (read at your own risk: this recklessly inspiring story will plant radical ideas in your heart). Wiens and his crew ran 23 miles (11,000 feet of elevation change) in nine hours, 53 minutes, 41 seconds.
Apparently, this is a thing, Rim-to-Rim. No medals or t-shirts or cheering onlookers. Just the deep personal satisfaction earned by accomplishing a near-impossible feat.
I mentioned this to Russell Wenz, a running friend, half-jokingly suggesting we should run across the Grand Canyon together. Apparently, he didn’t get the joke, because the next thing I knew he was trying to make hotel reservations in Arizona.
Not just to run Rim-to-Rim. No, that would be too tame. Turns out, there are a few insane, death-defying runners who actually run Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim … starting on one side of the Grand Canyon, running down the wall then across and up the other side, then turning around to make the return trip. Some 46 miles, with temperatures escalating from 40 to 100 degrees, starting before dawn and finishing about 14 hours later.
Once Russell learned of this, there was no turning back. Not even stern and solemn warnings like this could curb his enthusiasm:
Actually, I think the prospect of imminent death just made him more enthused. His enthusiasm was enough to push me over the edge, so to speak. The thrill of an adventure larger-than-life, so utterly foreign to anything I’ve ever experienced, captured my imagination. The Grand Canyon! It doesn’t get any bigger or better than that.
So in September 2015 I’ll be making the Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim trek with Russell and as many foolhardy friends as we can persuade to join us.
I’ve never run farther than 26.2 miles. And I’ve never run any distance, to speak of, on trails.
Again, it’s all about the training. After I emerge victorious from the Kansas City Marathon in October, I’ll start trail running on the weekends. I’m looking forward to the change of pace from road running. I’ve identified a few ultra-marathon trail runs on next year’s race calendar. I plan to do plenty of reading and research.
I’m excited about learning a new sport. I’m looking forward to running trail ultras almost as much as I’m dreading it.
And after that? It will be fun to set some new awesome, audacious goals.