But. I keep coming back to that nasty word. But what if...
This race is important to me. 2 years ago I set a goal of a sub 5 hour race. Instead of finishing strong, I went out too fast, the air quality got to me, and I blew up in the back half. Just last weekend I was ashamed to tell someone what my current PR is.
During that race, I pushed hard. I wanted to give up. But didn't. That's nothing to be ashamed of.
What if I don't reach my goal? This terrifies me. I've set a lofty goal for this race. Based on training paces, I think I can hit it. But it will require some hard work and mental toughness on my part. So as a hedge, I started considering some lesser goals. Only I couldn't pinpoint on a finishing time for the worst performance which I would still be happy with.
That's a road I just don't want to go down. Instead, I have a solid goal. I have a race plan calling for me to run conservative at the front, and speed up when/if possible for the middle and end miles. I have my goal. My success or failure won't be determined based on the number on the clock, but rather how much of myself I gave this race. I realize its a very "well duh" statement to make, however I've allowed myself to be ruled by numbers for most of my running career.
So that's my official goal - run a race I can be proud of. Give it my all. Race smart. Take in my surroundings. Enjoy my companions. And at the end of the day, no matter how close or far I am from the finishing time in my brain, I can be satisfied.
Can't be that hard, right?