Sharing Your Goals and Learning from Your Mistakes – The 121st Boston Marathon

In my previous post on goals, I previewed a subject of “failing to plan, planning to fail.” Well, I’m still planning on writing about that, but in the mean time, this year’s Boston Marathon has me thinking about sharing goals and learning from setbacks.

Sharing your goals is a great way to achieve accountability. My goal for Boston was a PR, and I shared that goal with anyone who would listen (and many who wouldn’t). OK, while I admit that my goal going into [nearly] every marathon is a PR, sometimes last minute adjustments are necessary. That ties into my other subject for this post, learning from your mistakes.

The very statement “my goal going into every marathon is a PR” isn’t exactly correct. It used to be true statement. A more accurate and wiser statement is that a marathon PR is my goal going into nearly every 18 week mesocycle (so long as I am fit and healthy at the beginning). A key to the refinement of this statement was the complete yard sale that was my fall marathon, KCM, in 2016; for details see “Celebrating Failure!

A few weeks out from Boston, the weather looked good. The always-reliable (alert: sarcasm!) long range forecast had below-average high temperatures at the beginning of the week – e.g. lower 50s. However, as the day grew nearer, those 50s turned into 60s, and then began marching up through the 60s. By the time Sunday rolled around, temps soared into the 80s, making me wish I’d brought an extra pair of shorts to walk around at the expo.

I did run into a friend, Jeremy:

I ran this Boston in my last pair of Skora Tempos. Sadly, Skora has been in hibernation for quite some time now.

My walk-around shoe and my new trail shoes were these incredibly comfortable “Stars and Stripes” made by Carson Footwear in the U.S.A., almost entirely out of US materials:

There be unicorns here!

Scott Jurek!

The day before the marathon meant a break from my “no refined sugar” commitment since I was fueling with dextrose anyway. Apparently there was a run on Peeps at the Boylston street CVS – this was the only thing I could find that didn’t have some gross flavor added:

It cooled a bit for Monday as a cold front approached, but race start was right at 70F, and it was in the 75-80 range by the time I was done. Here’s a shot of the drop-bag area in the morning, featuring lots of nervous-looking folks:

KCM 2016 was a disaster because I refused to scale back my PR goal in the face of similar temperatures. I was in PR shape, but I should have known a PR wasn’t going to happen with temperatures well above the tipping point of 60F. 60F is commonly thought to be the temperature above which endurance performance suffers because you’re routing energy to cooling yourself. This time, I learned my lesson. A week or so out, I had set up my Garmin with mile splits keyed to a range of -1 to -10 seconds below my course PR from 2015. As of Sunday night with the prospect of 70+ temps, I knew I wouldn’t be able to maintain that. So, I stayed at the high end of that range for the first half of the race, planning to push as hard as conditions would allow in the second half. The answer was that conditions wouldn’t allow me to hit my pace range any more after mile 16. I kept my breathing to 3:2, and ran strong, but not over the edge. I passed a lot of people walking in the last few miles who had pushed past the edge, much like I had in the fall.

I was pleased with my finish, at 3:16:33. No PR, but a healthy BQ (sub 3:25) and a lesson learned and implemented. I recently heard John Marcus say he doesn’t talk about goals with his athletes any more, rather he has them establish “minimum performance standards.” That sounds like a secondary (or tertiary?) goal to me. My primary goal at Boston was a PR. My secondary goal was to run the best race I could, given the conditions, running the whole way. So, I met that minimum performance standard, and made it here: (a day after this was taken!)