Goals Are Like Ketchup

Yep, goals are like ketchup. Not a typo.

Cristiano Ronaldo, SING IT, soul brother:

“The goals will come. They’ll come naturally. It’s like a great player once told me: goals are like ketchup… you keep on forcing it, then it comes all at once.”

Sidebar: How much do you love ketchup?! Numero uno, best condiment ever. Just try to imagine your life without it. STOP, you can’t.

Ok, so Prettyface Loverboy was talking about actual, literal soccer goals. I know. But let’s stretch the takeaway and talk non-soccer goals, shall we?

Having a goal is motivating. Achieving a goal is really motivating. (How many of us can be caught thinking “I am never f$%king doing this again” during any given race, only to cross the finish line and ride that endorphin wave all the way home, where you immediately sign up for another half-marathon, a full, and a backwards three-legged race up Mount Everest while you’re at it? The MasterCard is already out, might as well…)

If achieving a goal is motivating, blowing that goal out of the water is like your birthday, Christmas, Hanukkah, Festivus, hitting the lottery and making out with Ryan Gosling all at once.

How apropos, Ryan.

And THEN your boss gives you a promotion, a raise, a Shar pei puppy, and a cupcake.

Imagine this AND A CUPCAKE. I just died.

When I set out to run the Rock’n’Roll USA Half last month, I had one goal: to get my friend across the finish line. This friend is a gymnast/cheerleader by trade. Not a runner. Less than a month before the race, she decided to join me at RnR USA. We were kinda sorta maybe hoping for a 2:30.

This worked out just swimmingly for me because my lazy ass hadn’t been training at all, and I felt muy underprepared. In December I had big goals, but by early February I’d laced up my Asics — maybe — five times in the two months prior.

STOP JUDGING.

(Am I the only one who still wears Asics? Where is their spiffy #runhappy #gofasttakechances #brilliantrun social media campaign? Hey Asics, call me, I’ve got ideas. And feet.)

Okay, yeah, these are kind of tragic.

So when Cheery McGymnast decided to run the half with me, I revised my plan: just finish. Frankly, I was relieved that I no longer needed to impress myself.

Fast forward to race day. We laughed our way through the course. My Garmin died about three miles in (awesome), so I focused on enjoying the fact that I was running with a first-timer. By mile ten, she was spent, so it was my turn to be the cheerleader. With the finish line in sight, I asked if she wanted to kick it into high gear. She almost throat punched me.

So imagine my surprise when we crossed in 2:15, obliterating my previous PR (can we call it obliterating if it’s only by seven minutes? Roll with it). And I had energy to spare. Legs for days! So I immediately set my goal for Indy on May 4. 2:05.

Back to wise, pretty, wise Ronaldo: “you keep on forcing it, then it comes all at once.” (#TWSS.)

For the past four years I’ve been running out of necessity. I burnt out on competitive sports in high school and ran my first half in 2009 in a sad attempt to reignite the spark. Fail. But I kept signing up for halves anyway, about once a year, hoping to find the motivation to get faster.

It didn’t happen. I was in fake-it-til-you-make-it mode with running for years. I hit the streets and the treadmill sporadically, never followed a training plan, and simply survived the races.

But then, last fall, I found myself in a different work environment that afforded me buckets of free time in the evenings. So I ran. Track, treadmill, outdoors. By November I’d regained a modicum of respectable fitness… at least enough that I could apparently half-ass training for a half-marathon four months later and PR by seven minutes, no problem.

Immediately, my attitude changed. Avalanche of running motivation. It’s like I crossed the finish line at RnR USA and flipped a switch.

I’m excited to push. I’m excited to see how fast I can go. I’m excited to actually follow training plans and see where it all takes me.

And after all the frenzy surrounding Boston this week, I’m considering more and more what it might mean to run a marathon some day. I’m not there yet. But I think I want to be, eventually. So until I am, I’ll just keep forcing it.

Footer: Thursday was my rest day, and today was an unintentional rest day. I planned to run this evening, and then thunderstorms happened. I had to cancel this weekend’s trip unexpectedly, so my long run will take place tomorrow! I am running 12 miles tomorrow. I am saying it out loud (er, online) so that I have to make it come true. Wish me luck!

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