Running an Ultramarathon and the Importance of Goals Despite the Unknown
On Sunday, August 2013, I will run my first ultra-marathon...the Skyline 50K. It is a 50 kilometer trail running race in the San Francisco east bay mountains stretching from Castro Valley to Moraga. Though I have trained fairly well for the race, running 40-50 mile weeks through most of 2013, there is a big, fat, whopping unknown beyond the 40 kilometer (24-25 miles or so) mark.
I just don't know how I will handle the last 10K.
Even though I don't have any idea how I will do, I want to set some goals. So the question is, "How does one set goals when they have no idea what an outcome will be?"
It is not like I can set a big, hairy audacious goal like, "Finish in sub-4 hours." That is un-attainable and un-realistic. That kind of a goal would be the biggest violation of SMART goal setting in the history of, well......in the history if I don't know what.
So how do I set goals for this race. I need to base the goals on something I know. So here is what I know.
I know that:
- I can run 21 miles on a flat route, on tired legs in about 9 minutes and 45 seconds per mile pace.
- I can run 20 miles on a mountain course with 3,000 feet of cumulative ascent and descent at a roughly 10 minutes and 50 second per mile pace on extremely tired legs.
- The race tomorrow is 10 miles longer than the above references.
- The race tomorrow has about 4,000 of cumulative ascent and descent.
- I rested all week, so I would have fresh legs.
- Just finish. Even if I have to walk, who cares what my time is. If I can make it to the finish, on my own two legs, under my own power after 50 kilometers, I will have accomplished something which is a decent-sized whoop.
- Finish between 6 and 7 hours.
- Stretch Goal: Finish sub-6 hours.
So there you have it. I have three goals for Skyline 50K.
Now all I have to do is go out and do it.