a moment of clarity

In 5 days I will be running Lost Lake for the fourth time (and possibly the last given how hard it is becoming to register for it).  

So far my best time was the first time I ran it.  This year I have worked really hard to become a better runner so I can have a decent shot and doing it faster.  I have been having a major mental battle over how this is going to go.  I keep going back and forth between I'll be happy with whatever happens and I really want to run it in x:xx.  I've settled on a mixture of the two.  

My lofty goal is to do it in 3 hours.  My conservative goal is 3:15 (my fastest time was 3:24).  I know that a lot of it depends on the weather and the condition of the trail (it's a narrow trail in a lot of places and if it's wet or has been raining a lot the trail is very muddy and kind of scary...like lose your shoe and fall and break your butt scary), but I feel like either of those could be reasonable in any weather situation.  

Today my aunt/coach sent me a mile breakdown for three different scenarios and some excellent advice.  This totally changed how I felt about this race.  

Screen shot 2012-08-20 at 11.07.02 AM

Also, here's a profile of the course that someone sent me before I ran it the first time.

Screen shot 2012-08-20 at 1.00.06 PM
When I saw that the mile pace for me to run the same as my fastest time was 13:00/mi, my entire view changed.  First I went searching for the piece of paper that I wrote down what I actually ran the first time I ran the race back in 2007.  Then I decided that it didn't matter because I think it's highly unlikely that I will run every mile at a 13:00/mi pace.  My slowest long training runs have been just over that, but my average long run pace has been in the 12:40s.  

That realization, along with her advice made me realize that 3:00 was totally possible.  Although her advice was pretty straightforward (push yourself here, don't ride the downhills, etc.) it put things in the proper perpsective for me.  Although I do a lot of running and enjoy running races, I've never really been good at pushing myself because I know I won't win (writing it down it sounds so dumb).  If I want to walk, I'll walk, if I want to run slower I will.  Why do those things when I know I am capable of busting my ass and running faster?  Who knows!  That's always the way I've done things.  Except in high school when I was desperate not to finish last, then I went faster, but not fast enought to ever win, so then I stopped going faster.  

What's the point of running a race if you don't try your best?  I guess I've never really thought about that, I've just been running them so I have something to train for and because it helps get me out the door when I don't feel like running.  

It all seems so simple and yet I apparently never really got it until now.