September 21, 2015

2015 Chicago Marathon Goals {Failing doesn't mean failure}

This post has been brewing in my mind for a while, and since I'm 20 days away from the 2015 Chicago Marathon, I've been thinking about my goals a lot. 

I've put it out there that I want a Boston Qualifying time (BQ, in runner-talk).  I want it badly. Partially because it's a badge as a runner to qualify. Selfishly, I want to rock that really cool jacket. Partially because it's a scary big goal.

I love these sweet Boston Pro Compression socks. 
Partially to prove to myself that I can freaking do it. This girl who never ran track or cross-country in high school. Who works and goes to school and does a million other things and has to fit in her runs can do it. Who isn't a super lean and graceful-looking runner. Who doesn't run everyday. I know it can come off as a pity party  (boo hoo, I'm so close) or silly because there are people who qualify all the time. 

I thought it might have happened last year in Chicago, but then I ended up getting sick the whole week before and went into the race just wanting to feel good and finish. It may have been a twisted blessing in disguise because I ended up having a great race and finishing in 3:36:01 which is just 1:01 off the 3:35 time I need for my age/gender. It was partially my training, partially that I was relaxed, and partially that the race gods were smiling down on me. 

I planned on working my butt off this training cycle earlier this year. I planned on upping my weekly mileage, doing more long runs and back to back runs. I read books and planned on focusing on my fueling, attempting to not gain my carb-happy weight, and take training more seriously. 

Instead I spent all summer trying to figure out my graduate school plans and then started school full-time. School and other life priorities had to come first for me. I worked hard for that too, so I had to be flexible with other things. 

So I'm not sitting here right now 20 days out feeling lean (hello those extra 5-7 lbs of carb-happy training weight), fast, or with higher training mileage (sitting around 30-40 miles per week). I had to have a more relaxed training cycle, which did include many really solid long runs. 

I'm not trying to complain, this post is more for myself, so I can get all this out of my head. 

Lately I have been trying not to talk about my goals. I'll feel embarrassed if I don't qualify this year because I'm so close,which makes it feel harder to me in some sense. I'll also feel like failure, which I suppose is always the fear when you put your goals out there. 

Tonight I'm sitting here knowing that it'll be okay. My A goal may be to run a 3:30,kicking ass(phalt) and taking names, even though I'm not confident in this right now. 

My B goal would be to to PR, which may mean a BQ, it may not. I've got like 7 years left in my age bracket for this qualifying time so I've got time, for sure. I know I have a few more marathons in me. Boston isn't the end-all, be-all. 

My C goal will be to just run it, not hate it and have fun. There's always a little pain involved, but I want lots of those happy miles too. Like when my Beyonce jam comes on and I'm smiling and trying to conserve energy but maybe singing and dancing a little because I'm feeling good. 

So guess what, if I go out to Chicago and leave with a happy race I'd  be happy. If I just complete my D goal of simply finishing the marathon, I'll probably be a little upset right afterwards, but I'm going to not try to let it get to me or ruin anything.  Why? Because I just ran an effing marathon and I'm going to celebrate by eating lots of donuts and having lots of beer in Chicago afterwards, just like last year.

Caught mid-donut devouring last year in Chicago!
The beauty of the marathon is just that, it's a marathon. It's a word used to describe long, arduous processes.  Only 0.5% of the US population runs a marathon each year so finishing one is an accomplishment. No matter my training, I really can't control everything on race day. I can just finish training hopefully strong and healthy and give it everything I've got on October 11th! 

This quote is applicable to all things running and in life. Remember that if you don't achieve your goals, it isn't failing.  Set big goals and take chances! 


Have you had any roadblocks in your training? Do you go into races with multiple goals?

This post was linked up with Weekend Snapshots, MIMM, and Thinking Out Loud


  1. You are going to do amazing things!! I love people who manage to balance it all. Work, school, family ect. I am trying to figure all of that out myself!

  2. If you come to Chicago and don't have donuts, you're doing Chicago all wrong, in my opinion :)

    Having big race goals can be really, really tough. I know I put a ton of pressure on myself to accomplish things in races sometimes, and have set (perhaps laughably high) long term goals, like BQ-ing (I also need to take a "1" off my time in order to do this...but there are several more numbers behind my "1" than your "1" haha [as in, as of last year's Chicago, I'm 1:23:00 away from a BQ]). But you're right - just finishing the race IS a huge accomplishment, even if it doesn't go quite the way you want it to go. And even though you have seven years to hit a 3:35, after that, it only gets easier! Or at least, you don't have to run as fast to qualify, if nothing else. I suppose the whole age/life commitments thing doesn't make it easier, but you have a little more leeway in the time department at least.

    Bethany @ Accidental Intentions

  3. I honestly don't know how you do it all with school, work, AND running. It's a lot. So just finishing would be a huge accomplishment but I also know you're going to do so well. People qualify all the time on lower mileage and not everyone actually benefits from the crazy high miles. Your priorities are exactly right and as long as you're enjoying yourself (and eating all the post-race pizza for me please), then you win.

  4. It took me 4 tries to run a BQ. I did it the first time while I was a consultant and had less than no time and sub optimal training. Who knows - sometimes the more forgiving plan works. You will have fresher legs for one thing. And, if you get a great day... If you run your best and run smart and finish with a smile - mission accomplished BQ or no. I missed BQ in my 3rd marathon by thirteen seconds (back when everyone got in). Then for marathon 4 - I qualified by 9 + minutes. My point - you never know what will happen but attitude is everything. You know you can run a marathon. You know the course. You know what you are capable of. Don't focus on what you didn't do... focus on what you did! Hope to meet you IRL when you are here!

  5. I can definitely relate to your worries about feeling embarrassed or like a failure if you don't meet the goals you set for yourself and shared with the world. Earlier this year I declared that I wanted a BQ in 2015, but then I got sidelined for a bit and had to be so careful coming back, that now my running priorities have completely shifted. I would love to PR but now its more about enjoying the process and staying healthy. I only have 3 more years to BQ in this age group, which does make me a little nervous! You will definitely get there, maybe this year, or maybe not. But I think you have the right perspective and the real goal should be to enjoy the process!

  6. I am right there with you--but my BQ is 4:00 because I"m in the old lady over 50 age group. And so there is my dilemma. I just want to do it, I've put it out there...but I've scaled back a little bit because I'm not feeling as strong as I'd like. So I've decided whatever happens, happens. I just want to have fun!

  7. Great post and love the honesty! I too want that BQ and need a 3:35. I tell a handful of people my goal but not a lot for fear of not getting it and being ashamed. I am aiming for a 3:45 in Philly in November so I can enjoy the race and then try for a BQ next March in Myrtle Beach. I try not to think about that 3:35 too much or look at the pace calculators too much! Myrtle is a nice flat course so maybe it will happen then. Good luck!

  8. I can definitely relate, even though a BQ is not in the forefront of my mind at all. A PR is, but not a BQ yet. A marathon is a marathon is a marathon. I don't run super high mileage (30-35, peak at 40) but I'm focusing on the fact that I'm training for my third marathon and enjoying this process. Love this post!

  9. Cool socks! Goodluck in the rest of your training. My friend just Bq at the Erie marathon and he is super excited! You put in the hard work and will do great. And just remember to relax. I think we all put so much pressure on ourselves.

  10. Good luck, Lauren! I'll be rooting for you while on the course.

  11. Chicago rocks donuts. And beer. #ItsScience
    Here's the thing. A BQ is lovely. I'm saying that because I have one. It didn't come easily, and I fought for it. But I also made the decision going into that race that I was going to let it ride--meaning, I was just going to take whatever I got and roll with it. You will know that day, and not a minute before, if you are capable of the BQ. But you won't know until you are out on course if it is actually going to happen. If you really want to go for it, then GO. FOR. IT. Otherwise, settle a little bit and just enjoy everything that Chicago has to offer.

    Do I think that BQ's are the end all be all? Absolutely NOT. It is an arbitrary number meant to provide a benchmark and help narrow down a field. Does it mean something? Sure. But only if you need it to.

    I'll be pulling for you!

  12. A few thoughts: First, great, fantastic, mature perspective. That's exactly how you should run a marathon. Second, no one, and I mean no one, ever feels they did everything right in training for a marathon. And it still works out. And finally, I know the time you did at Charles St: you can BQ. But make that your lower priority, as you've stated, and take the pressure off. Good luck!

  13. Lauren you're going to do great. While I'm no where near a BQ, my training cycle hasn't gone as planned either. I get you but I know you're going to do great. Some things are out of your control and something amazing could happen on race day. Maybe you didn't need that rigid marathon plan or to get super lean to get what you need. Just go out there, enjoy the moment and have fun. That's what your blog is all about anyway, right? Finding your happiness, your way. You're going to do great! Put all of this other stuff out of your mind!

  14. This post seriously speaks to me as well. I feel like I'm in the same spot, although I have no chance of a BQ this time around, I'm shooting for a really big PR. I will definitely be disappointed if I don't hit it, but seriously, in the grand scheme of things does it really matter? We just ran a freaking marathon and not many people can say they did. Get it girl!! Good luck and HAVE FUN!

  15. I know I didn't individually thank all of you for your comments at the time because I was travelling. But THANK YOU.