Here we are in the last weeks of June… Summer has officially arrived, school is out for the season, the days grow a little more lazy and for the second year in a row I continue partaking in my daily blogging exercise, marginally focused along a question-and-answer theme I’ve simply called Those 30 posts in June. Still no planning. Still no writing of these words days in advance. Still just this: each day a meanderingly vague prompt drives a meanderingly vague post… and today that post just happens to be:
June 27th // Something You Want To Win
Early on Sunday morning I’ll be in a race. Do I think I’ll win? No. Is this a defeatist attitude? Not really. It’s more of a realist attitude. Among the nearly one-thousand racers, I’ll (honestly) be lucky to place in the top half of my age category. Being a guy in his mid-thirties, it turns out, is a competitive age bracket for runners.
That said, after nearly five years of this more formalized running experience, and at least one run of this particular race in a previous year, it would be fair to say I have some personal benchmarks I could be aspiring to beat. In other words, I have a fairly modest goal of setting — one could almost say WINNING — a new 15K PR this weekend.
What’s a PR? In running lingo, or so I’ve come to deduce, this stands for Personal Record, also known as the best time you have personally set for a given distance or a given race. Heck, there are not really any formal standards here, so the idea of tracking a PR is pretty much just a fancy way of saying “my best time” — but the other bit of running lingo that ties real neatly into this is a whole lot of talk about “personal goals” and “pace goals” and “goal setting” — all very noble, sure, but also a little bit of bullshyt.
Running… well, even runners tend to have love-hate relationships with their chosen sport. I think a lot of that has to do with the motivation behind most runners’ efforts. That motivation for many, I’ve noticed in a purely anecdotal sense, is focused on fitness; in other words, a lot of the runners who I run with, run to be in better shape. Fitness is such an arbitrary goal, however. It is a measurable thing, sure, but it’s all relative. I mean, I’m currently in the best shape of my life: my blood pressure is almost too low, I haven’t weighed so little since my University days, and I’ve lately been going out for ten-ish klick runs as an OFF-night training exercise. But this is very relative. I mean, compared to even some of my less active peers, I’m still an out-of-shape oaf — I just happen to be in good shape for me. So… fitness, at least as a measure of running success, is pretty arbitrary.
PRs on the other hand? Well, it depends how honest you are with yourself, but PRs might be a little bit better of a measure of health and fitness and running success overall. Since I’ve started this epic half-marathon training program in March I’ve really only had one race. By the end of this endeavor I should have three. The first, that “Blue Mile” race turned out to be a massive ego boost: I ran a whole speedy mile with room to spare under the eight minute mark. (Hint: that was not at all competitive, but it was amazing for me.) Second, I’ll have this weekend’s 15 kilometer race as a chance to set a PR in a race — yes — I’ve run previously, and thus have a chance to race against a past (if inaugural) PR. Third? Well, we’ll discuss that sometime in August when the date looms a little closer, but again: a race I’ve run previously with a good chance to set a new PR in 2012.
So, what’s my goal? My goal is to shave 10 minutes off last year: in 2012, I’d like to get in under one hour, thirty-five minutes. That would be a new PR, without question, but I’d also call that a win.