My running dreams, goals and deadlines

Many of you know that I’ve wanted to run an ultra marathon since the day I found out they existed. Back in 2013 I set a big goal for myself: run a 50-miler before I turn 30.

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When I set that goal the longest race I had ever run was the 5K, but I was envisioning a long-term plan like this:

  • 2013finish first half marathon
  • 2014finish first marathon
  • 2015 – finish first 50K
  • 2016 – finish first 50-miler

could sign up for and complete a 50K this year. I’m sure I could drag myself to the finish line the same way I did last year in Portland for the marathon.

I may not have the leg speed of a champion, but I’ve got a decent amount of mental toughness. Plus I’m stubborn as hell, and if I start a race then I’m going to finish it. Those are actually the traits that make me think I’ll be a better ultra marathoner than a half marathoner or 5K’er.

The thing is I don’t want to drag myself to the finish line. My first ultra is going to be a really big deal. I’m looking forward to running a 50K, and I practically salivate when I think about running a 50-miler.

The way many of you feel about Shalane or Meb is how I feel about Jen Shelton or Anton.

For me, finishing a 50-miler is the holy grail. I want it the way other people want a BQ or an olympic trials qualifier. I want it bad and I’m not afraid to work for it. 

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In order to make my 50-mile dream really come true, I have to take care of unfinished business with the marathon first.

I’m proud to have finished the Portland Marathon last year, but I’m not satisfied with it. I need to run a strong race in Chicago this year to propel myself on to the next distance (and I’m going to do that). 

Right now my plan is to run the Chicago Lakefront 50K in April of 2016. Part of the reason I want to run the Chicago Marathon this year is so I can scope out the 50K course.

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I’ll turn 30 in August of 2016 which means if I want to run a 50-miler before I turn 30 I will need to get it in during the summer. I have no idea if that’s realistic or not. I think it will be impossible to know until after the 50K has happened.

I do know that after Portland I starting training again in earnest just one week later, which means if I use the 50K as a stepping stone to the 50-miler it could happen during the summer. It’s not out of the realm of possibility. I just have no idea how I’m going to feel mentally or physically at that point.

When I set the goal to run a 50-miler before I turn 30 I was naive. I had NO IDEA what running a marathon would be like. Heck, I didn’t know what running a half marathon would be like. I think I have a much more mature way of thinking about racing now.

Not only do I now understand what a beast the marathon is, but I have different goals and expectations for myself as a runner. 

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I would LOVE to finish a 50-miler before I turn 30. That’s still my goal. However, if it doesn’t happen in that time frame I won’t be upset.

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Running a 50-miler is going to happen and when it does I want it to feel right even if it doesn’t exactly feel good.

What is your BIG pie in the sky running dream? 

26 comments

  1. Megan @ Meg Go Run

    I’m sure you coach will have an opinion on this, but I am sure you could use the 50k as a stepping stone for your 50 miler! I was scheduled to do a 30(ish) mile training running for my 50 miler. Unfortunately, I got injured and had to skip that last big run, but luckily the 50 miler went fine anyway! My point is, I think most 50 mile training plans would recommend a run around the 30 mile distance, so if you can time it up right, it could totally work! Kind of like how people plan halves into their marathon training… 🙂

    Ultras, as you know, are a whole different mindset. For me, they are WAY LESS STRESSFUL than running a marathon. To me, an Ultra is like a day in the woods. There’s running, there’s walking, there’s eating, there’s bonding with the people you meet along the way. There’s no Garmin obsession. Walking (before you even feel like you need to walk) is expected.

    I wish we lived and we could run some trails together!
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    1. Kristina @ Blog About Running

      I definitely think I’ll use a 50K as a stepping stone to a 50-miler, I’m just not sure about running a 50-miler during the summer! There is one that I have my eye on that takes place right before my birthday, but I just keep imagining it being crazy hot out! It’s not in Florida, but still, isn’t everywhere super hot in the middle of summer?

      I can’t wait to start running ultras! The laid back vibe is what I’m all about!

      1. Megan @ Meg Go Run

        I am not sure, I guess it probably is hot out most places! Maybe spring would be a better time to do a 50.
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  2. Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine

    This is an awesome goal! I haven’t really had the urge to run longer than a full marathon,but I do really want to get faster at that.
    Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine recently posted…I’m So Over This Winter: Thinking Out Loud #39My Profile

    1. Kristina @ Blog About Running

      You will! You’ve been making awesome progress in the marathon!!

  3. Kerry

    I think being stubborn is way more important than being fast when you’re running that far. You’re totally going to rock that 50k!

    I have a few goals that are ridiculous, and are more dreams than goals. I almost feel crazy writing them down. I’d like to qualify for Boston one day (haven’t ran a marathon yet, so that’s a little nuts) and, well, I’d like to do Western States one day. I have a few friends that have ran it and I have a huge celeb crush on Scott Jurek. I also love mountains and wilderness, so it’s like everything all rolled into one. I’m sure it’s the most miserable thing ever, but man, I would love to have done it.

    1. Kristina @ Blog About Running

      After your half marathon debut I don’t think you’re going to have any trouble getting that BQ in the future!

      I would LOVE to do Western States someday, such an iconic race! I love that you have a crush on Scott, he’s definitely my leading inspiration when it comes to running. Ann Trason held a 50K and 50-miler on the WS course last year. This year she wasn’t able to get the permits, but is thinking about doing it again in 2016. That’s something I am considering, even though I think the course would eat me alive! I’m lucky enough to have gotten to speak with Ann several times and she has said she believes I could do it,haha! If Ann says it then it must be true!

  4. Jess

    I think that’s a great way to look at it, and you’ve set great milestones for yourself! I know that you will run that 50-miler, whether it’s in 2016 or not. I know that training for an ultra is a whole different ballgame, and so many ultra runners I know are trail runners (not road racers). I’m curious to hear what you think about training for such a great distance as you embark on the journey, because it sounds so fascinating!

    Right now my big goal is to run a marathon. I was planning to do it in 2015 but I may bump it to 2016 so I can give myself adequate time and preparation to run a strong marathon. I’m not looking to meet any time goals, but I don’t want to fall apart (which has always been my biggest fear about marathons!). Though now, considering your ultra goals, my paranoia about the marathon seems kind of silly haha. We’ll see. EEK! Big goals!
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    1. Kristina @ Blog About Running

      Yes! Most ultras are run on trails, and I don’t have any trails around here to train on. That is a huge concern for me! We have one trail nearby that is only 2 miles long, so not helpful at all unless I want to lose my mind doing 2 mile loops!

      I wouldn’t worry too much about falling apart during the marathon. I’m pretty sure it’s unavoidable for most first time marathoners and you just have to be prepared for that moment so you can piece yourself back together and get to the finish! It’s so worth it! Running Portland was such a monumental moment in my life. Even though it didn’t go as planned, it was seriously life altering. One of the best experiences in my life to date.

  5. Hanna

    I agree that I think you can use the 50K as a stepping stone. Because of the different mindset in ultramarathons, I think (basing this off opinion, not experience) it is easier to use one as a training run than it is to use a road race as a training run. And if you can’t get the 50 miler in before you turn 30, maybe you can do it the next year and reframe the goal to be “I want to run a 50 miler WHEN I turn 30”, and use it as a way to commemorate the awesomeness of reaching the big 3-0.

    One of my big goals is a BQ, which I’m hoping I’ll be ready to try for in fall 2016 (eek!). But that’s not my pie-in-the-sky goal….remember when I wrote that running genie post about how if the genie came I’d wish for a 3:12 birthday marathon? I’ve decided I really want to do it! I think I can, honestly….but I won’t be able to do it alone. After I get my BQ I want to hire a coach to help me get there. It WILL be done in my lifetime!
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    1. Kristina @ Blog About Running

      I really like your reframing idea, I think that works! I am trying to be fluid with this goal and just go with what feels right, but I definitely want to do a 50-miler soon-ish!

      What an awesome goal! I really believe you can get a 3:12 as well. You had such a strong marathon debut and you are super talented and smart with your training. I’m excited about your goal and can’t wait to see you take the steps to achieve it! The BQ in 2016 is gonna happen, no doubt!!

  6. brittney

    i think you’re right; finishing strong is more important than finishing by a deadline you set for yourself. 50 miles will be an AMAZING commitment, no matter what the age. i think deadlines are important because they keep us motivated to work towards something now, rather than put it off because we want to finish it “someday”, but are flexible in cases like this (deadlines for work? not so flexible hahah). i feel the same way about my 30 before 30 list; those are all things i want to do, and i hope i’m capable of doing them in the next 5.5 years, but i won’t be upset if i take a little longer to get there. best of luck!
    brittney recently posted…spring half training: the planMy Profile

  7. Sam @ Grapefruit & Granola

    I love reading about people’s goals! If it ultimately came down to it, I think it is okay if you modified your goal a bit to give you some more time to train and feel good about the race. That is a BIG race, after all. I will be turning 30 this year and had several big goals of things I wanted to achieve by that time. Now that I am approaching the big 3-0 and those things are in the works, I’m realizing that I’m proud of myself for paving the path even though I haven’t quite accomplished those things yet.

    As for my personal goals, last year I set a goal for myself to complete a sprint triathlon in 2014 and an olympic triathlon in 2015. My ultimate goal, like bucket list type goal, would be to one day to an ironman. But then I hurt my knee and all of that has been sidelined. I don’t really have a new goal right now but maybe I should think of one that isn’t physical 🙂
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  8. Lizzy

    Those are big goals, and I think that big goals should have built-in checkpoints that allow you to evaluate and reassess progress. Running the Lakefront 50k in 2016 sounds awesome. Chicago is beautiful in the spring and it’ll probably be nice and cool still. Plus I don’t know that you’re ever going to find a flatter 50k course!

    Maybe you can adjust so that your goal is to run a 50 miler while 30? It’s only a few months difference, but at the same time, and I’m sure you know, a few months of training can make a HUGE difference.

    I really do think that distances over the full are a different beast entirely, as much mental as physical. It sounds like you’ve got the mental part down, and with all of the improvements you’ve made in your relatively short time running, it sounds like the physical part is just a matter of time and practice.

    As for my big scary running goals… well, my dissertation research has been based in 3 locations: Madison, WI, Boston, MA and South Bend, IN. I ran the Madison Mini (half) Marathon, I’m running the Holy Half in South Bend next month, but I didn’t get to run a race in Boston due to ITBS recovery. So… I’m hoping to qualify in 2016 so that I can run in 2017, the same year I graduate. I’ve never said that out loud before, so there you have it. phew! Maybe now I can finish that “5 year running plan” post that has been sitting in my drafts folder for 4 months.
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  9. Lily @ Lily Runs the World

    My big goal has been to run a marathon before I turn 30, and that will happen in three months (fingers crossed nothing goes terribly wrong between now and then). After that, I haven’t really given it much thought. I think I’d really like to start trail running and doing ultras, especially with so many trails and mountains to explore in California, and everywhere.
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  10. Karen

    I think you will do it! I understand you don’t want to drag yourself to the line, and I don’t think you will. You have grown so strong in the past year and I think that will continue for you 🙂
    Right now, I would love to be able to knock out that marathon distance, but I am not sure when it will happen. I think I would love a trail like ultra event. The pressure to pace is now off me completely, I just can’t worry about it and just enjoying how running feels is what I need.
    I do wish we could run some trails together one day 🙂
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  11. Kristen @ Glitter and Dust

    One way or another, you will get there. You are so determined and obviously have your heart set on accomplishing this goal before you are 30. Do you know if you want your 50-mile run to be trail or pavement? Are there areas in Florida where you can do a lot of trail running? I only ask because I know a lot of the ultra runs are trail runs.

    My big pie in the sky race is an Ironman, as you already know. Someday.

  12. Cocomama

    My daughter and I volunteered at the last aid station in the Angeles Crest 100 ultra last year. It was a 2-day commitment, tent camping in the forest while supporting the runners, but a total BLAST, even for an 8yr old who hates running. We’re doing it again this year, at her insistence.

    I feel the same way about Jen and Anton. We got to meet Dom Grossman, Pam Smith and others coming through just after midnight at the AC 100. Can’t wait to see who’s running this year.

    Most awe-inspiring, though, were all the “regular” people, the ones who finished toward the end of the time cutoff, the ones who were struggling but were so close to accomplishing their goal of 100 miles. It was beyond amazing! Human endurance is truly remarkable!

    GO GET YOUR 50, GIRL!!!

  13. Jenn @ Running on Lentils

    This sounds very exciting! It sounds like you have a great strategy plus a great coach who can help you with specifics. I have no doubt that you will be successful! My big running dream right now is to run my first marathon, which I’m planning for next year, and to do it in a smart way so that I’m not in misery doing it.
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  14. Kim

    Even though I said last fall that I was giving up my dream of running a 50 I still want to run one!! And, hopefully that will happen in about 3 weeks:) (I decided not to talk about it much this time but just to really focus on running a lot!!!)
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  15. Jennifer

    Ahh you are very inspiring Kristina! I think 50K would be a good stepping stone towards the 50M, and I am sure your coach will have a great plan for you. I will be rooting for you!
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  16. jessica

    That is so awesome girl.!!!! Way to put it out there and dream big. The huggge difference though. Is your not just dreaming. You’re going to DO IT. That is so inspiring and awesome. major props for that.

    My huuge pie in the sky running dream is to win a local race and be considered “elite”. That would mean a sub 1:20 ish half marathon. I’m at 1:42 after my first ever half, and I’m only 21. Figure I have lots of time to try to reach my goal.!!
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  17. Lauren @ Lauren Runs

    woo – amazing plan! I think it’s good to focus on building at the marathon distance. You won’t actually spend time on the 50K course during the marathon, but it’s close so you can visit! It’s a well-run event and I’ve cheered people on! Awesome planning, and I’m sure you can get to it if you keep injury-free over the next 12 months!!
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  18. Staci @ Hoosier Running Mom

    I have complete faith that you will be able to complete your goals sooner rather than later. You are smart and know how to effectively get to them. I’ve considered a 50k someday…I think it would be fun! But like I said….someday!
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  19. Kristin @ A Mom on the Run

    I believe in you!

    I have no desire at all to run anything over the marathon distance, but I have a lot of admiration for runners who do. I’ll be here cheering for you!

  20. Ali @ Hit the Ground Running

    Running an ultra in the summer sounds brutal. I have to admit I’m interested in a 50k now that I’ve done a full. But I’d like to run a couple more fulls first.

    I think it’s good that you’re willing to be flexible on your goals. I KNOW you’ll conquer your 50 miler…moving a deadline isn’t that big a deal!
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