I like to do the whole A-B-C goal thing to prevent any major disappointment on race day. I mean, the real goal is to finish the race, and there's no shame if that's the only goal you meet (take it from someone who's DNFed before). But, in all honesty, beating your course PR (or distance PR) is like nothing else! I don't know where my time will fall tomorrow. I do hope to finish, and doing close to how well I did last year would be great. But trail races are very weather and condition dependent, and the conditions for our race tomorrow are not ideal. The mud and wet conditions will slow us down.
So, to give myself a frame of reference for my aid split times tomorrow, I will bring a copy of my aid station splits from 2011 with me. This will help me know how I did in each segment of the race last year (when I got my course PR). If I am going slower due to course conditions, no big deal. But it the splits motivate me to run harder and faster, then that's great too. I cleaned up the splits from this post to make them much more readable! I also listed the splits from 2008 in parentheses for an interesting comparison. That was a very hard year for me, with some splits being almost 30 minutes from my 2011 time.
2011 Time Splits (trying to "compete" against these tomorrow)
Below are a couple of good Mountain Mist 50K race reports that I found through google.