When 3 Miles Isn’t Enough and Setting the Bar Higher

I suppose at some point I should touch upon my upcoming race, the Governor’s Island 10k. Or, I should discuss the Philadelphia Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon that I signed up for yesterday (and am incredibly excited for, by the way). But to be honest, I’d rather talk about the speedy little run (relatively speaking) that I took on Thursday morning. And so that’s what I’m going to do.

After splitting a bottle of red wine during Wednesday night’s birthday dinner with DAM (pictured on the right; we’ll be running the Philly half together, not in 80’s garb), I badly needed to press snooze not once, not twice, but three times on Thursday morning. By the time I did whatever work I needed to get done and got my ass out the door, I really only had time for about 3 miles, and so I knew I had to make them count.

Taking a cue from Tuesday, I decided to head over to the East River since it’d give me the longest uninterrupted route, free from commuters and traffic. When your pathways are the streets of Manhattan, this — as in time of day, congestion of route, width of avenue — is something you have to take into consideration on a constant basis.

From the moment I stepped out the door, I knew it was going to be a good run. Mother Nature had afforded me with another beautiful and crisp near-summer morning, and I was determined to make the most of it.

In a lot of ways, Thursday morning’s run felt a lot like the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler, during those final 5 miles in which I felt as though I could push myself to the limit. I felt strong. I felt powerful. I felt undeniably content. But no matter how fast I ran or how much fun I was having, 3 miles just never feels like enough, and by the end, I ultimately felt shorted.

I reached my turn-around point in what felt like no time. Not long after, I was crossing back over the FDR and heading back home. Where had the last half hour gone, anyway?

I know those three extra “snoozes” were critical to my survival for the rest of the day, but at that moment, I was kind of pissed off with the admittedly lazy choice I made not long before. When all it takes to log an additional mile is the choice to commit to an extra 8 to 10 minutes or so, it can, at times, almost seem negligent not to do so.

Unable to shake that need to make up for my abridged workout, I tacked on a few extra exercises once back in my apartment. Among them: A minute-long headstand, 2 sets of 11 push-ups, 13 triceps dips, and a 10-minute Exhale Core Fusion Pilates video. Not my best workout, but thanks to a little added effort, not my worst either. It’s amazing what 15 more minutes can do.

With the Governor’s Island 10k rapidly approaching, I’m only now beginning to wonder whether these last few weeks of incline work (translation: sprinting up the hill in front of my apartment once a day) and speed work (known as picking up my pace for all of 7 seconds) will have any effect on my performance on June 24th. And yet, a more prominent dilemma I’ve been dealing with is that, how can I even know? I’ve never truly raced a 10k before, and I have no idea what I’m capable — or not capable — of.

Do I set a goal? Hm. I haven’t quite figured that one out yet either. It seems silly not to go into a race with even some loose, arbitrary objective in mind. At the same time though, pretending like I’ve been training in any minor way for the 10k, which I kind of forgot was even coming up until this week, might actually just set me up for failure.

Failure. Now there’s a word I’m not very familiar with when it comes to running. There are good runs and there are bad runs, but do I ever feel as though I’ve truly failed? Not as far as I know, but then again, I’m also not really sure.

I think this is something I need to contemplate a bit this weekend — whether or not I want to set some mile marker for the Governor’s Island 10k and, more importantly, whether or not it’s something I’d be disappointed about if I didn’t reach it. Because for someone who considers running one of the only sources of sanity in her life, I’m not quite sure that I’m willing to risk that it should fall into any other less positive category. Decisions, decisions.

In other news, if you haven’t seen that, barely a week after launching, Seriously Ugly Race Pics got mentioned in Runner’s World, then now you have! Freaking excited about this people. Freaking excited. Keep embracing — and showing us — your ugly!

  • When do you set a goal before a race, and when do you go into it as a “fun run?”
  • Be honest: Do you think that it’s pointless to keep racing if the participant doesn’t set some sort of personal objective?
  • How do you counteract the wrath of one too many snoozes?

5 thoughts on “When 3 Miles Isn’t Enough and Setting the Bar Higher

  1. Three miles is a really hard distance. If I’m going for speed, I max out around 2 miles, but when I want to settle into a groove, I need at least four. It’s tough!

    I talked a little bit about objectives and expectations today. I ALWAYS have a goal going into a race and I’m still not sure what a obtainable one for tomorrow’s race is. I dont like going in without some type of objective (even if thats just to finish).

    • Well in all fairness, I ran 3 total. They were definitely not all hard.

      I’ll be sure to check this out today, it’s the kind of light reading I need. It’s hard! Especially for a “shorter” race of sorts. (I never really sign up for non-half marathons since I can just run that on my own, but times they are a changin’!) I have a few weeks, but I’d love to just set some goal like “run strong” rather than any specific time. But time is also fun to strive for. I’m so torn!

  2. Love those short runs where you pick it up a little and feel strong throughout, particularly when I’ve been going long.

    I think with races, the first time I run a specific race, it is a fun run. The next year when I run the same race I usually try to beat my finishing time from the previous year so then it becomes a goal.

    I definitely do not think it is pointless to race without a personal objective. I think there is a very positive energy that comes with running with others so running in a race just to run without any sort of goal is still a wonderful thing.

    • After 3 half marathons it seems silly not to run a 10k for some time, but as a non-timed runner, I’ve got to figure out what that is!

      • I see what you’re saying. Finding the challenge in a shorter distance when you’ve been going longer. I think in my case I actually do try to go faster in shorter races and figure out a goal (even though I’m not very fast in general) just to see if my longer distances give me the ability to actually run faster for a shorter distance. Like if I run a 10:30 pace in a half-marathon, should I be able to run a 5k at a 9:30 pace.

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