Secret Goals

December 2nd, 2009 | Posted by Alison Spath in Motivation

All our snow from yesterday is already gone. That’s just how it goes with these early snow falls I suppose. The dry roads made for a very enjoyable run this morning – I did one of my standard loops through my neighborhood – 4.19 miles 34 minutes, making my average pace about 8:06 per mile.

When I bought my black Friday sneakers last week they stuck a post card in the shoebox at check out. I didn’t even look to see what it was until a few days later.

Flower City Challenge

The Flower City Challenge, a brand new half marathon in my city this spring!

I am totally pumped to train for this race and kick some serious 13.1 mile butt. My half marathon PR this summer was 1:47. I’m not sure what time I want to aim for yet, but I do know I want to beat 1:47.

Do you want to know a secret? I would love to qualify for the Boston marathon this fall too. I have been so inspired by some of my new running friends who are working toward this mecca of running achievements and my friends who have just recently done it too! I’m a little afraid to say it out loud just yet so instead I’ll just quietly write

I want to qualify for the Boston marathon

and pretend I didn’t say anything at all.

When I first started running in 2005, maintaining an 8:00 minute pace on an average day was unheard of. A 10:00 minute pace was more like it. My speed has gradually increased over time as my conditioning improved, even without speed work or any sort of real effort to get faster. Just by simply running one or two days a week, sometimes going weeks at a time without running at all, my pace just naturally increased.

What allowed me to make the biggest leap in pace was losing nearly 40 lbs. I’ve read in various places that for every pound you lose, you can gain 2 seconds per mile. Two seconds may seem minimal at first, but what if you lose 10 lbs? That’s 20 seconds per mile. 40 lbs? That can theoretically take off well over a minute per mile! That could mean some serious change to your race times.

I was looking this morning through some of my old training logs. In May of 2007 I ran a 10K in just over an hour. That’s an average 10:13 pace per mile. I weighed about 160 pounds.


In 2008 I ran that same course in 56:26, slicing off over a minute per mile, cutting my average pace down to 9:04 per mile. The morning of that race I weighed 149 pounds.

Looking back further at my training logs from the spring and summer of 2008 when I was running regularly again, training for the full marathon and losing weight, I can see my pace decrease as the months, miles and pounds went by. I have a very vivid memory of the end of a regular morning run one day in the middle of 2008. I was down about 20 lbs and suddenly realized “hey, this doesn’t suck quite so much anymore.”

Today at 130ish pounds I could run a 10K in under 50 minutes. Sure, that’s pretty fast, but there are still scads of people who can run a 10K faster than a measly 48 minutes. The top female finisher of that that 6.2 mile run in 2008 finished in just over 36 minutes. That’s a 5:51 average pace per mile! That makes my jaw drop. And she was 34! Not 22 or even 18! 34! A 46 year old woman ran that same race in 40 minutes. Forty! Six!

So what does this tell me? There’s still more progress that can be made. What’s it going to take though?

First up, I like having a real reason to lose these last few pounds. My effort to lose the last 10 is well under way and while I was only going to count calories in November, I’m on a roll and am going to keep going through December and into January if need be. Calorie counting works for me and I plan to stick with it until I feel like I’m ready to stop losing and just focus on maintaining. 125 is not unreasonable for my 5’3″ frame. 120? Just maybe. It is my secret hope though that losing another 5 lbs or so will shave off a few more seconds per mile and can help me work toward my goal of getting a little speedier and beat my half marathon PR this spring. I love having a goal like this! It keeps me motivated to keep slugging away at these last few pounds – having an ulterior motive is fun and useful too!

Can losing 5 more pounds cut my pace down by another 10 seconds? I’m not sure, but I do know my pants fit better today than they did a month ago. If at the end of the day that’s all that comes from shedding these last 10 pounds then I’ll take it. But my fingers are crossed behind my back that lightening the load a bit might do something really good for my times. Maybe it will even give me an excuse to plan a homeschooling field trip to Boston in April 2011.

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25 Responses

  • Cindy says:

    I am SO glad you shared about your early running paces Ali! I see your 8 minute pace and go…DAMN…I suck!

    I know I am just going to keep plugging away!

    I have a work girlfriend who did the boston AND the NY marathon a few years ago….was my first introduction to what it means to be a runner. She so amazed me (like you do) and I never forgot not only her dedication to it but just thinking about running something like that freaked me out. (old asthma girl that I am)

    less weight adding speed to your time is GREAT motivation. I LOVE THAT actually. and YES 125 is perfectly reasonable on your 5’3″ frame (I didn’t know how tall you were)
    and a 46 YO woman running in 40 minutes!!! holy crap!
    (there’s hope)

    I say GO FOR IT…and I am glad you are still doing the counting now. I am just getting the hang of it now! we can do it together!

    luv ya and I’m here CHEERING YOU ON!

    (snow is gone?) it looked like a LOT of snow! wierd!

  • Cindy says:

    I just re read your post….you began running in 05??? that is 4 years ago. I just started in MAY. That is like 7 months.

    I’m doing okay.

    4 years WOW….are you going to be a lifer? I remember what you said about your Dad running every day and I loved that.

    I never EVER thought I (ME) could be a runner and I am starting to be one……7 months of regular weelky cardio to ME is an achievment.

    makes me wonder where I’ll be (and YOU FOR PETE’S SAKE) be in 4 years from NOW.


  • Mama Pea says:

    You can TOTALLY do this! I’m behind you 100%. Like literally…behind you. Damn, you are fast!

  • Sing it from the rooftops lady! Not that I have goals that big, but I always know that if I tell people, it makes me do it. And I’m pretty sure you just told hundreds of people!

  • Julie says:

    You can do it!! You are freaking lightning fast! What an accomplishment it would be!! AAAAAAAND we could totally meet!! Use that as inspiration too 😉

  • Whit says:

    You can so DO this. YOU.CAN.

  • Erica says:

    What a great post. I was actually thinking of discussing a similar topic in the coming week. You have done such an incredible job losing weight and improving your running! You should give yourself a major pat on the back. I think you could TOTALLY qualify for Boston.

    I am amazed at how I have improved to. I use to make excuses saying that being small meant I couldn’t really “be” a runner. I could never run a mile yet alone many miles at an 8 minute pace (yet I did it at my last 10 mile race). Running is better than any drug, isn’t it??

  • Jennifer says:

    I swear you are jam packed with knowledge. (haha) That is so interesting about every pound you lose you gain 2 seconds. Wow! Well, I have a TON of weight to lose to reach your time. (haha) Seriously. I think my pace on the treadmill shows something like 18:00. Can that possibly be even right? I’m believing it is because when I up the speed during intervals it comes down. But, I’m jogging at a decent pace so who knows. I think your times are incredible and good for you to keep more goals to shoot for. :) I know you’ll do it and I’ve often wondered if you would ever be interested in the Boston or NYC marathon. Do you have to qualify for those?

    I totally know you WILL do one of those marathons and beat your PR. :)

  • Robin says:

    Congrats on your weight loss thus far. I think losing another 5 could help but also being dedicated to your training will help as well. I am in awe of your fast times on your 7+ mile runs. I know you have it in you to make it to Boston and April 2011 will be so much more fun if we are all there. :)

  • Erin says:

    Dude, you are my hero. Or heroine. Whatever. You rock. I am calculating my weight/race pace ratio right now. My secret goal is to lose 40 pounds. If I do this, before my half marathon in May (totally doable if I put my all into it) then I’ll be running between an 8-9 minute mile. To me, that is WHIPPING speed. I am so excited. Can you please do posts like this daily so that I can be reminded of my goal..errr, your goals!?

    My Dad ran Boston unofficially when I was in 3rd or 4th grade and I am still SO mad that I wasn’t there. Obviously it was not feasible to bring an 8, 6, and 2.5 year old and say “Here honey, watch them AND me.” So, even though the girls might not remember it – totally bring them. Then they’ll be able to say they were there when their Mama kicked Boston’s a$$.

  • Katie says:

    Hi there,

    I wanted to comment today and just say I’ve been enjoying your blog for a week or two! Some other blog I read linked me to it at some point (it all gets jumbled together) but I kept it around initially because I’m originally from Rochester. Then I liked your writing so it stayed on my Google reader! I never felt Rochester to be exactly health minded but you do a great job of showing that a healthy lifestyle is possible wherever you are. I’m in Colorado for graduate school and finding healthful options barely takes effort.

    Our height is the same and current weight/ weight goals are also the same. I think I COULD get to 120 though lately I’ve been under the mindset that giving up some of the foods/drinks I love isn’t worth a number. Very interesting about the running times though. I run between 8:30-9 min mile depending on the distance. I’ve never done a marathon though!

    Well, I’m excited to come home in about 2.5 weeks for the holidays and visit WEGMANS!


  • Lizzy says:

    I’m so inspired its almost overwhelming! I love having goals to work towards, because for me that makes me motivated! You can totally do this Allison! I know it :) I want to run this with you sooo bad!!!! AHH! :)

  • Your post is very inspiring. Running is so rewarding, I’m glad you’ve joined the masses in enjoying such a pleasurable and challenging sport. I wish you all the luck in qualifying for the Big B!

  • Ashley says:

    This post gives me so much hope … I’m right where you were four years ago, at a 10:00 pace and 35ish pounds to lose! Thank you for posting this.

    Onward to Boston!!

  • What an exciting goal!! I’m sure you could totally qualify for Boston next year with your amazing race times, losing 10 lbs. or not! :)

    I’m trying to get another 15-20 lbs. off before I start seriously training for my first marathon (NYC 2010), and hopefully my speed will improve as a result!

  • That seemed a little more than quietly writing that goal LOL!

    Go for it!

  • maria says:

    It seems like a great goal to me! No quiet needed and no pressure, but if you want it, then GO FOR IT! 😀

  • You can totally do this! I’m so excited about your goals. And if you do end up in Boston, we should plan a run. As long as you remembered that you were in marathon shape and that I probably won’t be at that time…haha. 😉

    So excited for you! 😀

  • Ok so your secret’s out…and I think it rocks!!!!!! I love that you wanna run Boston. Once upon a time I was an avid runner. I still run about 4 miles a day but I dont really count it as exercise b/c I just do it to do my yoga class lesson planning in my head and get out of changing Skylar’s 1st diaper of the day and have Scott do it..that’s why I run. Just kdding. Not really :)

    Before Skylar, Scott and I used to run 3 races a month together. For 5+ years and it was great. All over the country, we’d go run races and had a ball. WE dont dont that anymore but it’s ok. We power walk at nite w/ her in the jogger and catch up on life as a couple. Works for us.

    “Can losing 5 more pounds cut my pace down by another 10 seconds? ” God. That seems like alot of work for 10 measely seconds. But I know sec’s matter. I am not a good one to ask. But in yoga, 5 lbs do matter. Binding, balancing, etc..all is easier when you’re lighter.


  • you go girl! i know you’ll reach your goal….

  • Holly says:

    you go with your bad self mama…that is an amazing goal to reach for, and i have no doubt you can do it. you are such a running inspiration, and one day, i hope to even run a 10k as fast as 8:00/mile!

    love you!

  • Allyson says:

    Doesn’t it feel great to have a goal you are working on in your mind but haven’t told anyone yet, and then say it out loud? Good fur you! Now that it is out there everyone can support you and help you make it happen!

  • Alison, we are so very much in the same boat right now! I’m counting calories, (hoping to lose 5lbs to feel lighter on my feet) and dreaming big somewhat secret dreams of BQ-ing. My teeny little secret is that I happen to have big birthday coming up in terms of BQ times which means that for 2011 my time changes to a slower time. When I finally pick another marathon to train for, I’m trying to decide if I want to go public with it or not. Do you have a qualifying race in mind?

    • Alison says:

      I will either run the Rochester marathon in September or the Corning Wineglass marathon in October. It’s comforting to know you are in the same boat – I have faith in both of us!