(Sorry about the title; I've been reading the "ICanHasCheezburger" website, and I think the LOLCatSpeak has infiltrated my brain...).
Goals. I do have them.
When I first started training with Coach TieGuy, I achieved my then-current goal pretty quickly--a sub-5:00 3k. And then, once I had that 4:57.57, I started thinking about a 4:52, which was the qualifying time to be allowed to skate in the US Championships. So I focused my training on making that time, and took a trip to Calgary in August (after having not been on the ice for 5 months) to try to make the qualifying time...and did it. Skating in the US Championships that December (2007) in Salt Lake remains one of the high points of my skating career.
Achieving my first couple goals came easily, so I thought "hmm, this skating goal thing is a snap. Decide on a goal, and do it. Simple"
My next goal was to qualify for the Olympic Trials in December of 2009. Initially I thought that achieving this goal was, barring incredibly bad luck, a given--because in a way I already had. The US Championships are, in an Olympic year, the final part of the speedskating Olympic team selection, and the part that people commonly think of as the "Olympic Trials." And I had, of course, already achieved the qualifying time for the US Championships in 2007. I certainly should be able to do it again in 2009. (My goal was simply to skate at the Trials; I would likely be the slowest person there, but just getting there was my goal.)
Well, then US Speedskating lowered the qualifying times for the US Championships/Olympic Trials--by 18 seconds in the 3k, and 13 in the 5k. This put the 3k time completely out of reach for me, but the 5k time--8:02.03--was looking like something to work towards. My second 5k ever, in the 2007 US Championships, was an 8:16, so the qualifying time looked do-able, if challenging. So I started working on lowering my 5k times...just as my thyroid started tanking. My times got slower rather than faster, and things were pretty depressing and frustrating for a couple of years. The 2010 Olympics came and went, and I had come nowhere near the qualifying time for the Trials.
Last year, after my hypothyroidism was diagnosed and treated, I finally had a good season and got Personal Bests in several distances. My big goal last season was to break the Master's World Record in the 5k in my age group--it's 8:29.56, and after I skated a 4:42 3k in Calgary in February, it looked like I should be able to do an 8:15 or so in the 5k in Salt Lake a couple of days later. But I ended up having the worst race of my life (friends have since told me that, in addition to being sick, my time at altitude--7 days--likely impaired my performance). I ended up with an 8:30.86. (Salt Lake and Calgary are at least 1 second per lap faster than Milwaukee, because of the altitude. For example, my Milwaukee PB in the 3k--7.5 laps--is 4:55, but it's 4:42 at Calgary. So an 8:30 5k in Milwaukee is cause for celebration; in Salt Lake, it's cause for despair)
Soooo....my 8:30.43 on Saturday was just .87 seconds off the record . I'm not upset that I missed the record because it wouldn't have counted anyway--Masters records have to be set at Masters sanctioned meets, and this wasn't one. In fact, there's only one Masters sanctioned 5k for women this year anywhere in North America...the Masters Single Distance race in early January in Milwaukee. So, I'm going on record...my goal for this year is to break the Masters World Record in the 5k in the Women's 45-49 age group.
After that? Well, there is another Olympics coming up in 2014. Maybe...if US Speedskating doesn't lower the qualifying times again...if I stay healthy...if my technique breakthrough continues to evolve and to allow me to skate faster with less effort...well, maybe I'll focus on that 8:02.03 again.