Whether you are participating in a triathlon, a marathon or a 5k, it can be beneficial to have several time goals for your race. Why?
For one thing, races are held outdoors and the elements can change your racing abilities whether you like it or not. Or, you can wake up with a migraine on race morning. Or, you can get sick mid-race. But it can also help you push yourself a little bit and can ensure race satisfaction.

A couple of weeks ago, I ran the Santa Runs Tacoma 5k. My last 5k was the same race a year earlier, so I planned on getting a PR (personal record). I worked a lot on speed in 2011. The real question was by how much could I beat my old 2010 time (27:27).

Some friends were going for a 23:00-minute race. Originally, I’d planned on a sub-25-minute race, but I thought that maybe, just maybe, I could stay close to them and get a sub-24. So, I came up with three different goals:
A: Under 24 minutes (Sort of unrealistic.)
B: Under 25 minutes (Realistic.)
C: Under 27:27 (Just in case.)

It was 35 degrees and foggy the morning of the 5k. I was wearing a red Team Sparkle skirt, a tech-tee, homemade fur-trimmed arm sleeves, and candy cane antlers on my head.  A few steps into the race, I noticed that I couldn’t feel the middle of my feet when they hit the ground; my pinky toes tingled with each step. The cold was also making it hard for me to catch my breath (but at least I knew why thanks to last week’s blog post).

My 23-minute friends pulled away from me quickly. I’d started too fast and knew I would never catch up with them later in the race. With my breathing off and my frozen feet, I made the decision at about a mile in to forget my A goal and go for my B goal.
When I crossed the finish line in 24:42, I was happy (and woozy). I beat my goal and even came in 6th in my age group! If I’d only had that A goal to go after, I’m sure I would’ve been disappointed. And if I’d only had that C goal, I may not have done as well as I did.
My B goal was more realistic, but still tough, especially considering I hadn’t trained, have been eating a lot of cookies, and went out too fast since I didn’t have any sort of race plan. Shoot. I guess that would’ve been beneficial, too.