Realism: Setting Goals

I had such lofty goals when I started this journey in 2010.

I was going to be an Ironman. Everything I did was focused on that goal. Being an Ironman, and being one as quickly as possible.

I raced through 2011, and though I had my issues I pushed to sign up for my first 70.3 race in 2012. Florida Ironman 70.3 in Haines City. Huge issue in the swim, a slow bike, and a brutal run … but I finished.

So I signed up for another one. Ironman Augusta 70.3. Slow swim, awful bike, brutal run. But I finished.

So in 2013 I signed up for two more; a HITS in Ocala and Augusta again.

Same results.

But I finished them, so 2014 became the “Year of the Ironman”. I waited by my computer, constantly tapping the refresh key for the entry opening, and got in to Ironman Chattanooga.

Then reality set in. Jennifer moved to Ocala, so I lost my daily training partner, and to top it off my body started rebelling. In April I found out that I had psoriatic arthritis, which was causing my body to inflame at the slightest provocation, in addition to degeneration of joints in both wrists, both feet and ankles, and the L5-S1.

But I did not drop out of the race.

I kept pushing through the summer, feeling hurt all the time, taking days to recover even from medium length workouts, and test races getting slower and slower. Instead of improving I was getting worse.

I finally called the race in July. My first intention was to downgrade to Ironman Austin 70.3, but even that was not going to happen with the way my training was going, and the way the weight I had lost was now creeping back up.

So, as I approached 2015 the plan was to reboot the process. Return to sprints until I could get a handle on the health and body issues. I told myself that maybe long distances was not for me. Maybe I was more suited to sprints, with an occasional Olympic thrown in to test every once in a while.

But there is still a nagging feeling in my brain, and in my soul.

I am 8 months into 2015, and even though I have pulled back from 70.3 racing and the 140.6 distance, the dream of doing these is still present in me. Is setting a goal “age” a bad thing? I had stated in a post once that my target to move up to 70.3 distances again was a sprint in under 90 minutes (my fastest now is just over 2 hours) and my past goal for the move to a 140.6 was a 70.3 in under 7 hours. I think that is still a reasonable goal, but my body is still hanging on to weight and my times are not improving (though my overall recovery seems to be getting better).

Is a 140.6 in my 60th year a reasonable goal? I will turn 52 in three weeks, so that is an 8-year journey. Is that too far away to be realistic?

Some reading this will question why I still feel the need to get this race done. I don’t know the answer to that. I don’t enjoy running, or even biking, long drawn out distances, and the motivation to train alone is still not there, so why am I still clinging to these lofty dreams of finishing races that seem so far out of reach?

This week on the show Dave Baldwin and I were talking about training and why we keep pushing and he stated something that I feel as well, that we are scared to stop. Maybe that is part of it?

There is a part of me that is drawn to goals that seem out of reach, even if the motivation, and the wherewithal, to do these things are not there. I see someone running an ultra race of 100 miles and I want to do that. I read about Scott Jurek running the Appalachian Trail and I want to do that. I watch as someone runs the Sahara desert and I want to do that.

Is it a bad thing to set a goal that is not a realistic one, or is it better to set goals that one can reasonable obtain?

Watching the debates last night (not a political statement … I watch ALL debates so I can make an informed decision not based on party) and one question put to a candidate started along the lines of “you promised to create 250,000 jobs but you only created 125,000 …. ” and the answer was that he believes in setting the bar high instead of setting them to be easy. I think I agree with that, but the problem arises when others see this goal as a failure. The person posing the question obviously framed it as a failure to create 125,000 jobs, and not focused on the 125,000 he did create. The same happened to another candidate when it was posed to them that the state they are from is so many millions in deficit, blah blah blah, and their answer was “you should have seen it when I got their. Yes we are 12 million in the red now but we were 600 million in the red when I took office”. It is framed as a failure when in fact it is a success.

I was a bit down on myself last weekend after our ride and was talking to Jennifer about it, basically saying that it is frustrating to only be able to muster a 12.5 mph pace on the bike when two years ago my normal pace was 18 mph. She reminded me that only 5 months ago I was averaging 10.5 mph on the same course, so in fact I had improved. She framed it as a success while I was framing it as a failure.

The fact is that you get better after each event, after each session, in some way. My pace may be slower, but my recovery has gotten better. I may be doing shorter distances but two years ago, even though my average pace was 18 mph I could not have climbed Sugarloaf Mountain. Today I can. I have gotten better.

So, I will keep my goal of Ironman, and set it for when I am 60. Seems a good year, a pivotal year.

See you in 2023.

4 thoughts on “Realism: Setting Goals

  • August 7, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    I can relate to being afraid to stop…after several years of building I’ve registered for my goal race – 140.6. For the next year I’ve got goals and support and, and, and…I haven’t allowed myself to think about what comes afterwards. I’m also afraid to stop. Thanks for sharing!
    Emily recently posted…what have I just registered and paid for…?My Profile

  • August 7, 2015 at 12:39 pm

    Oh, I understand. That is a whole nother situation! Thanks for the clarification.

  • August 7, 2015 at 12:05 pm

    I don’t understand why you are doing this if you say, “I don’t enjoy running, or even biking, long drawn out distances, and the motivation to train alone is still not there.” I would think enjoyment is a big component of improving. What do you like to do? Why not focus on what you do like to do? Or can you somehow incorporate other training that you do enjoy? Find another partner or take cross-training classes with other people?

    • August 7, 2015 at 12:11 pm

      I suppose I should have finished my thought or been clearer. I don’t enjoy them because they hurt due to the PsA issues. when I am having a none inflammed day I like them a lot (and love swimming). It’s the pain I don’t like more than the actual action.

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