The Question


There is one question I have been asked more times than any other over the last month.  The one question I have skirted around the answer to time and time again.  The one question I just really haven’t wanted to answer until now.

What is your goal for Boston?

My answer up until this point has been pretty wishy washy.  For some reason I was scared to answer it. 

Oh I just want to enjoy it, oh I don’t really have a goal, oh I don’t care about the clock, oh if it’s a good day then a PR would be nice. 

I have thinking about this question quite a bit over the last week, and have been wondering if I really wanted to set a goal out there for everyone to see.  I have always been a big goal person which was clearly evident when I chased down my BQ for over a year.  But last year I stopped having my sites set on specific times so publicly for some reason.  Sure I still had these goals in the back of my mind but I just didn’t tell anyone. 

Was I afraid of failing?  Was I sick of telling people that I didn’t meet my goal?  Was I tired of the pressure I put on myself?  Was I doubting myself?  Probably a combination of a lot of things. 

This all made me really hesitant to put a time goal on Boston because I don’t want my success there to be measured by a number on the clock.  There are a lot of things that come into play – the late start, the unpredictable weather, the travelling, the tough course, etc, that are just completely out of my control.  Lots of things happen on race day, but those just make the race what it is. 

Then I had the Boston specific worries because I do not want to walk away from this race with any disappointment…  

What if I set a goal and don’t reach it?  Will I be sad?  Will I be disappointed in myself?  Will it ruin my Boston experience if I am disappointed? 

As the race got closer, I started thinking about Boston and what this race means to me and what it took for me to get here.  How many times I tried and missed, but also how determined I was to get there.  I kept on trying and now I am going to run the Boston Marathon!  The biggest thing I have learned about myself getting to the start line of this race is that if I don’t meet my goals, guess what, I am just going to try again. 

Then it just clicked.  Yes, I have goals for this race.  I have trained hard for this race.  Why on earth would I run so many Boston specific courses, 6 weeks over 60 miles and 6 20+ mile runs if I didn’t want to do well there?  Sure my training wasn’t perfect and I skipped some track workouts and didn’t hit a couple tempo runs, but I still trained very hard.  

So here we go, I am putting the numbers out there:

  • A goal: PR 3:39:34 or less.
  • B goal: Run my 2nd fastest marathon of 3:44:27 or less.
  • C goal: Beat my nemesis 3:57 time.
  • D goal: Cross the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

Non-time goals:

  • Run a smart race.  Be in control of myself and listen to all the advice I have gotten along the way about the course.  I have a plan of attack for this race and I WILL follow it.
  • Run a strong race.  Use all those 20+ mile runs and a smart race strategy to be able to finish strong.
  • Run a happy race.  Soak up Boston for every ounce that it’s worth.  There will be no headphones, I will have my name on my shirt, I will enjoy Boston and take the race in… I only get my first Boston once.   

It might be a magical day where everything clicks and I run the race of my life, and it might be a race where I know it’s not my day but soak it up for everything that it is.  It’s my first Boston, no matter what the time on the clock, it is going to be amazing and an experience I will never forget.  Running a PR would just be icing on the cake.   

I feel in a better place mentally than I have before any other marathon and I am just plain excited.  No nerves (yet), no not believing in myself, but just ready to handle whatever that day brings.  I cannot wait! 

Goals are there to push us, they are there to challenge us.  If they were easy and we knew we could reach them, they wouldn’t mean so much when we do reach them.  Which is exactly why this start line means so much to me.

6 days!

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52 Responses to The Question

  1. Kerry April 12, 2011 at 9:39 am #

    I can sympathize about putting numbers out there, but the reality is that we all have goals – numbers or nonnumbers- so i think you have to give yourself credit for a good training cycle and determine those goals. Im really excited for you!

  2. Kristy@RunTheLongRoad April 12, 2011 at 9:48 am #

    Putting goals out for the world to see is scary! But you are running Boston! You made it – a Boston qualifier and soon-to-be Boston Marathoner!

    You trained so well and are so prepared I would not be surprised if you PR. You’ll be so focused on soaking up all the excitement I bet those miles (literally) fly by!

    Best of luck! I’ll be thinking of you and all the other Boston ladies I follow on Monday!

  3. Keri April 12, 2011 at 9:50 am #

    Great goals! I am struggling with this post myself…

  4. heather April 12, 2011 at 9:52 am #

    You have great goals that are in line with all the hard work you have put in training – you will do awesome!

  5. Emily April 12, 2011 at 9:55 am #

    girl you are going to kick ass. you’re so well trained it’s ridiculous. just go out slowly, enjoy the course and you’ll finish strong and totally beat your time goal!

  6. AR April 12, 2011 at 10:02 am #

    I think you’ve set yourself up for a nice PR – you’ve gone a lot of very consistent training and it’ll pay off as long as you stick to the plan. The weather continues to look good and you’ve done your research…now it’s time for that running part. ;)

  7. Andre LeFort April 12, 2011 at 10:04 am #

    Aron, this is getting out of hand! I started working on a new blog post yesterday…can you guess what’s called?

    “As a Runner, should I tell people about my goals?”

    And today you go and post this….just too wild of a coincidence! Best of luck with attaining your A goal, and I do agree, staggered goals are the way to go!

  8. Kristen April 12, 2011 at 10:05 am #

    I agree- you’ve trained way too hard for this to go in with “enjoy the race” as your only goal. Not that there’s anything wrong with that- but after all that training? You need to go for it! I’ll be rooting for you and hoping you get that A race!
    They always say that Boston is not a PR course- but if you’re training for it, it definitely can be!

  9. Denise April 12, 2011 at 10:09 am #

    just make sure you have fun out there! we may never get back there so soak it all in!!

    as for making goals public…i’m the opposite. yea, it sucks saying it wasn’t my day but it also helps me push more. knowing i get to come back to you guys to say i did it, great feeling!!

  10. Shannon April 12, 2011 at 10:12 am #

    I think it is important to create non time goals for races. They are not as black and white and sometimes can mean more than a specific time. You obviously trained hard and need to go to Boston and enjoy the experience and be grateful for whatever happens. Boston is one of those races where even if you do horrible it will still be a memorable race because it is Boston

  11. J April 12, 2011 at 10:13 am #

    Go for that PR girly! You can do it! I hope you run a great race and enjoy every second of it! You have been running your MP runs at such a great paces and you are in such good shape!!

  12. onelittletrigirl April 12, 2011 at 10:13 am #

    smart, strong and happy sounds like a great plan!!

  13. lindsay April 12, 2011 at 10:13 am #

    i think as running-bloggers we are always interested in people’s goal times :) in a good way, of course, to cheer you on! these are some excellent goals. i’m confident you can pr, but having fun and enjoying every second of that race course is most important.

  14. Emz April 12, 2011 at 10:23 am #

    you’ve. freaking. got. this.

    GOAL A!

    All the way!

  15. katie April 12, 2011 at 10:42 am #

    I think it’s tough to put goals like this out there, it makes what we want very real and clear. That said, I’ll be cheering you on – I think the most important thing is to just enjoy! This is the victory lap!

  16. Marlene April 12, 2011 at 10:48 am #

    AGH such a good post!!! I had been wondering but didn’t want to pressure you. ;) Your time AND non-time goals all look fantastic. Whatever happens, I hope it’s the best race of your life!! (I know it will be)

    Live it up!!!

  17. Kate April 12, 2011 at 10:48 am #

    I’m a regular reader (lurker) living in Boston and I will definitely be keeping my eyes peeled to cheer you on along the route! Enjoy all of your hard work paying off! You’ve earned this day!

  18. Shortskirts April 12, 2011 at 10:49 am #

    Great goals, and good luck lady!

  19. LeeAnn April 12, 2011 at 10:56 am #

    Great goals!!

  20. Tall Mom April 12, 2011 at 11:02 am #

    My thoughts EXACTLY… And my Goals are pretty darn close to yours.. Will see what race day brings.. So PUMPED to meet you!!

  21. Bridee April 12, 2011 at 11:07 am #

    I love your blog!!! I just wanted to say GOOD LUCK and most importantly HAVE FUN in Boston!! You are going to crush it! You have trained so hard and made it this far!!! I can’t wait to read the “race recap”! Have a great trip!!!!

  22. Rachel April 12, 2011 at 11:07 am #

    good for you! you’ve trained SO hard for this, you deserve to go after a big goal. i love what you say at the end about goals being meant to push us – and when we reach them, they are that much sweeter : ) i think you have a healthy outlook on boston, and no matter what happens, you’re going to have THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE!!

  23. Chris @ Evolving Through Running April 12, 2011 at 11:11 am #

    Based on your training recap I think Option A is going to happen. Your preparation, combined with some serious group energy is going to make this a great run for you. Enjoy the whole experience and congratulations on making it there!

  24. Donna April 12, 2011 at 11:19 am #

    Kudos to you for putting your goals out there! I’m running my first Boston on Monday too (woo-hoo!!), and really believe that the key is running a smart race!
    Good luck everyone!!!

  25. Bambee April 12, 2011 at 11:19 am #

    Good luck! You’ve trained hard and you’ll have a great race. We’ll all be rooting you on from all over the place.

  26. Shutupandrun April 12, 2011 at 11:37 am #

    Love these goals!! You cannot fail no matter what. You are in Boston running and I know you will finish with a smile on your face. I will not see that b/c I will be so far behind, but I know it’s what you’ll do!!

  27. misszippy April 12, 2011 at 12:09 pm #

    A great set of goals and so smart to set several. You’re going to have a great day!

  28. Bethany April 12, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

    Perfect goals! I’ve personall never had a great Boston but it seems to go 1 way or another for people, a lot of people run their fastest time by several minutes on this course and others never come close to their PR. You strike me as the several minutes faster type!

  29. Mile Posts by Dorothy Beal April 12, 2011 at 12:36 pm #

    Love this :) I’m working on my goals post now….I’m pretty sure this may be a first since I usually like to keep them secret so I’m not let down! Then I thought about it – it’s Boston – I can’t be let down no matter what!! Less than a week till I get to meet you – yayayaya.

    P.S. I know you are going to the expo Friday but are you going to go Saturday at all too?

  30. Nelly April 12, 2011 at 1:18 pm #

    You will do great at Boston! Your whole thought process sounds perfect to me. From when I’ve been following your entire training cycle, it seems like you got off to a rough start for a while, but you’ve been picking up steam the last 2 months or so. I think you are in pretty much perfect shape for Boston. I could see you definitely beating your B goal, and possibly even your A goal. But all you can do is give it your best shot. Above all I would enjoy the journey that is the Boston Marathon, the whole thing just sounds amazing. Whether you get a good time or not doesn’t seem to matter as much at this race. Enjoy it!

  31. Amanda - RunToTheFinish April 12, 2011 at 3:00 pm #

    i hope that no matter what you really get to enjoy every step of making it to boston!

  32. Ana-Maria April 12, 2011 at 3:22 pm #

    Love the goals, good luck! Most important thing – ENJOY! I will be tracking you, of course:)

  33. hurdlingham April 12, 2011 at 3:51 pm #

    sounds like you have a GREAT mentality going into this, about goals and the race in general. i got way too caught up in a time goal for boston last year, and i ended up not really enjoying the race and everything that IS boston at all, which is a shame! i think what you said about even if you know it isn’t your day, just soaking it all in, is an awesome way to go into it…and hey, you’ve been training hard, so maybe you will have the race of your life!! good luck and have FUN!!

  34. Mike April 12, 2011 at 4:36 pm #

    I will be runnig Boston as well and we will be there filming. Good luck. I plan to go for a PR and leave it all out there.. Like a kid writing on the chalkboard over and over.. I keep telling myself.. don;t go out too fast.. don;t go out too fast.. its gonna feel easy.. its gonna feel easy.. dont be fooled.. :) Good Luck, You will do great. Finish strong and kick it up Boylston. Yes!

    Gotta Run,

  35. Jenn April 12, 2011 at 4:41 pm #

    I’m glad you put your goals out there!! I only told one person my goal for Boston but it was GREAT accountability knowing she was following every time I crossed a timing mat and I truly believe it helped me stay on pace! Good luck-I’ll be stalking! Hope you have an amazing race:)

  36. lisa April 12, 2011 at 4:57 pm #

    best wishes pursuing all your goals in boston!

  37. Christina April 12, 2011 at 5:59 pm #

    I love “Goals are there to push us, they are there to challenge us. If they were easy and we knew we could reach them, they wouldn’t mean so much when we do reach them. Which is exactly why this start line means so much to me.”

    I agree with you that a lot of things come into play. This will be your one and only first Boston.
    I wish you all the best!

  38. Jess April 12, 2011 at 7:29 pm #

    Confession: The goals I put on my blog are usually easier than my secret goals. I never tell people those. ;)

  39. Lauren April 12, 2011 at 7:54 pm #

    Just reading this post makes me so excited for you!! I know it’s hard to put your goals down in writing for all the world to see, but you’ve got this! I have been so impressed by your dedication these past several months – you have trained hard and I know it will pay off.

    Most of all, though, I love that regardless of what happens, one of your goals is to run a happy race. I think that is so awesome! Boston is an amazing, magical experience just because it’s Boston. You feel like a rockstar as you run along those streets and I’m telling you – that crowd support carries you further than you’d ever expect. I canNOT wait to cheer for you from the sidelines….and watch as you run a great race :)

    Can’t wait to meet you!

  40. Corey @ the runners cookie April 13, 2011 at 5:38 am #

    Totally know what you mean about hesitating to put goals out there, for a bunch of different reasons. Throughout my training I thought all I wanted was to beat my time from last year, then I realized I wanted more. Similar to you, I knew I worked so hard and wanted to go for something great, even if it risks failing.

  41. Page April 13, 2011 at 6:32 am #

    You totally have this in the bag – and I’m not just saying that to be nice. You worked your butt of and I see a PR come Monday!

  42. kristen April 13, 2011 at 7:37 am #

    Great goals girl! I’ll be stalking you Monday. Know that!

  43. Greg April 13, 2011 at 7:54 am #

    I’m going through the same thing — it’s so hard to know what to say and what not to say.

  44. Heather April 13, 2011 at 8:17 am #

    Best of luck! I hope you enjoy the race – have fun and travel safe!

    I can’t wait to read the recap!

  45. Kim April 13, 2011 at 9:48 am #

    I read this yesterday but I was so busy I never got the chance to comment. I think your goals are great! You have been so dedicated and focused Aron, that I know no matter what you will have a phenomenal race :) Soak it all in ;)

  46. Kristin April 13, 2011 at 11:10 am #

    This is going to be the most exciting race you’ve done to date – seriously, I think this is surpassing your first SFM. SO, I know you can use that excitement, adrenaline, and exhilaration to your advantage and do rockstar, kick-ass amazing in Boston. You know how to run a smart race and how to leave it all out there. Plus all your 20+ milers have boosted your endurance more than any training you’ve done before. All things to keep in mind :) But I know, no matter what, you’re not going to be disappointed. So have FUN and remember every second so you can blog about it and we can read it! xoxo

  47. Felice April 13, 2011 at 12:24 pm #

    Great goals, Aron! You are going to have a terrific race — ENJOY it!!

  48. Jen April 13, 2011 at 3:11 pm #

    Good Luck Aron!!!!!!!!! Have fun in Boston and enjoy every mile. I can’t wait to follow you online and then hear all about it. I’m so proud of you. :)

  49. Megan April 13, 2011 at 4:42 pm #

    Every time that I’m out for a run and the Dropkick Murphys’ “Shipping off to Boston” comes on I think of you :) Have a great time!

  50. amy April 15, 2011 at 5:28 am #

    This sounds like an awesome plan! I’ll be tracking all of you guys on Monday and sending good wishes for a rockstar day!

  51. Dave P. April 16, 2011 at 11:56 am #

    Great post! I go through a lot of the same introspective discussions with myself before every race and it’s no different with the half marathon that I’m running tomorrow or the 10-mile race that I just completed last Sunday.

    I think back to the first half marathon that I did last fall and I was too all-consumed by the time goal. I started off way too fast and still just missed my time goal by less than a minute, but I felt awful because I didn’t run MY race or stick to MY plan. I also quit soaking up the atmosphere and just wanted to crawl in a hole and die by the end.

    Last Sunday, I set a pretty ambitious goal for myself to try to keep a 7:00 pace for 10 miles. I ended up missing that mark by 82 seconds, but I thoroughly enjoyed the race and was ecstatic with my performance. I did a better job of sticking to my plan and running my race. And, even though there weren’t a ton of spectators on the course to give it atmosphere, I made the most of every bit of it and interacted with them and other races. It left me in a much better place when the race was over.

    Well, enough about me…this is your blog. Thanks for sharing your struggles and fears. You are not alone. And, you won’t be alone when you run the race on Monday. You’ll have a lot of us who haven’t qualified yet (and maybe never will) in your corner cheering for you from afar. You are going to do great! Look forward to reading the recap.


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