After reviewing 2008 in a previous post, it's now time to look ahead to 2009.
While the start of the new year is a great time to rethink your major goals, my athletic objectives don't change that often as I believe in big dreams.
When I first broke 3:15 in the Gold Coast Marathon in July 2006, I was able to think that perhaps possibly one day I could run a marathon in less than 3 hours.
Today - 2 1/2 years and four marathons later - my main goal is still the same. I'm a lot closer now, having finished the Victoria Marathon in 3:07 three months ago.
To run a marathon in just under 3 hours, you have to cover each of the 42.195 kilometres in 4 minutes and 15 seconds. Given that I am 7 minutes and 11 seconds away from my goal, that works out to 1.69 kilometres based on my goal time.
Based on my current fastest marathon pace, which was 4 mins 26 seconds per kilometre in the Victoria marathon, I need to speed up by 10 seconds per kilometre for each of the 42 kilometres.
That's a BIG goal. And while I'll never say never, I am not sure if I'll have gained that much additional speed come the May 3 Vancouver Marathon. It may take another four marathons, or maybe more.
My more immediate goal is Sunday's 10km Chilly Chase race. When I did this event last year for the first time, I unexpectedly ran this distance in less than 40 minutes for the first time. My 39:51 time was also a big improvement on my second-fastest time of 40:24, set only four weeks earlier.
It seemed that the efforts of my speed sessions, two a week, were finally reflected in my 10km time. Of the big magic running numbers (40mins for 10km, 90mins for 21.1km and 3 hours for the marathon), I broke the 90 first in September 2006. It took another 15 months to break the 40.
This Sunday, I hope to improve that 39:55 time. And at some point in 2009 I'd like to make the next step to a 38-minute 10km. That means improving 6 seconds per kilometre to 3:53 each. And that would be a 2 1/2 minute improvement PER KILOMETRE over my first 10km race which I finished in September 1997 in 51:56.
While I am sure all but the most hard-core running fans are still reading at this point, running is not about times and PBs. It is about the journey they represent, about finding focus in something you love to do.
And that is ultimately my main driver behind any running goal I've had since I could barely jog for five minutes in 1996: I truly love how I feel when I am running.