Bobby Mack wanted to finish the Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon in an hour and five minutes last weekend.
For anyone unfamiliar with how long it takes to run 13.1 miles – that’s really, really fast.
Mack, 30, an assistant manager at Capital Run Walk in Cameron Village, missed his goal by two minutes. But it was enough for a first-place finish among the men who ran the Raleigh race.
“That was part of my goal,” Mack said. “I wanted to win.”
Now Mack, who ran cross country for N.C. State University, has his sights on the Olympic trials next year for the second time in his running career.
Mack attended the trials in 2012 and ran a 10K race in 27 minutes and 58 seconds. He finished ninth, missing out on the chance to compete for the U.S. in the Olympic games.
The top three finishers qualify for the Olympics.
This time around, Mack wants to qualify for the full marathon or the 10K.
He will travel to Michigan on May 9 to run a 25K – 15.5 miles – to get a sense of which event he wants to run at the Olympic trials.
“I’m really going to use that race to see how I feel,” Mack said. “That’s the longest race I’ve done.”
Mack started running as a high school student in Winston-Salem.
In college, he went to several national championships but dealt with an injury that kept him out of cross-country competition for three seasons.
In 2007, while in graduate school at N.C. State, he got special permission from the NCAA to compete one last season.
“That was a turning point because I had a good ending to my college career,” Mack said.
It also gave him the push to continue running after college.
Running professionally can be hard, Mack said. There isn’t a middle ground for runners to transition from the collegiate to professional level.
Mack said his best performance came after college. As he got older, he’s been able to run longer races. It’s one of the reasons he continues to run.
“I love the simplicity of running,” Mack said.
He runs 85 to 90 miles a week as part of his training, usually at Umstead State Park near his home in North Raleigh.
Even if he wasn’t working toward his Olympic goal, Mack said he would probably continue to run.
“Once people get hooked on it, running really becomes part of their life,” he said. “When they’re not running, they feel like they’re missing something.”