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 Runnin' O' the Green Race Report
OldManRunner
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
Rochester, NY
Joined: 28 Nov 2004
Posts: 262

Runnin' O' the Green Race Report Posted: Sat Mar 12, 2005 10:12 am 

This is a 5-mile run that kicks off the "spring" racing series here in Rochester, NY. About 30 degrees here this morning, and we've still got a foot or more of snow on the ground in most places. Not very spring-like. Regardless, the sun was shinning, the roads were dry, and the wind wasn't blowing, so it was actually perfect conditions for racing. There were probably somewhere between 800 and 1000 competitors, including several in kilts.

After a lot of mass movement back and forth because of confusion regarding where the starting line was, I found myself about 4 - 5 rows back from the front at the start. Surprisingly, there were no speeches thanking anyone, or telling us about the charity being supported, or anything else. Just "runners set, go!". Within the first 3 seconds a tall guy two rows in front of me and three feet or so to my left tripped and fell, and a woman right behind him fell over him. I paused, thinking I'd go back to help them up and make sure they were ok when I realized that doing so would probably just make things worse, and that I'd get trampled by the crowd. I have no idea if or how many other people fell over these two, but it was really weird. Something I've read about often, but never seen happen before.

A lot of people were passing me from the get go, but this is one of those "popular" races in the area that draws a lot of marginal runners who take off fast, and then are reduced to walking after the first two miles. I ran a 36:26 in this race last year, and although I was pleased with that at the time, I feel that I'm in much better shape right now than I was at that time, and was hoping to run close to 35:00 flat or maybe even a few seconds below. My breathing felt pretty good during this first mile: hard (but that's always the case in the 1st mile), but not outrageous. So even though lots of people were passing me, I felt I was running the right pace, and settled in. This is a very flat course that follows a river for the most part, with portions winding through the University of Rochester campus. I hit the first mile in 6:48, and thought, "great, that was a strong first mile, and I'm right on track to come in a bit under 35:00."

I conciously let myself ease off pace by what I hoped was no more than 10 seconds per mile, and chugged along into the second mile. Meanwhile, folks are still passing me left and right, but I'm not worrying about them...just worrying about my own pace. I'm looking around for the two mile mark so I can hit my watch and check my pace, but I never see it, and glancing at my watch I realize that I must have passed it already. About this time I realize that I'm feeling pretty bad, and my legs seem to be moving slower and slower. I'm breathing harder than I should be, and would guess that I've slowed to something like a 7:30 pace. We make a hairpin turn around at the half way point, and at least I get to see that there are still a lot of people behind me, many of whom are still in the "appear to be pretty fit" category. Still, I'm dying here and can tell that I'm continuing to slow down. I happen to glance at the pavement, and see a short line, some illegible writing, and a "3", all in rust red spray paint. Ah, I realize, this must be the 3 mile mark, and boy they sure have done their best to make it invisible! My watch reads 14:58 (if I remember right...I was too tired to hit my watch) since the 1 mile mark, so I've averaged 7:29 pace over the past two miles. I'm bumming out, and just wish the race would be over. I can tell that I'm still slowing down throughout mile 4, and wouldn't be surprised if I hit 8:00 pace at some points during that mile...I was breathing hard, and at the same time running at just a brisk training pace for me. What the *(&*(*()*)_^$$$?? I managed to catch site of the four mile mark, and after some confusion regarding how to read my watch I saw that I was already at something like 29:30, and that my aspirations for a 35:00 time were laughable. I did manage to pick up the pace during the final mile, and probably got all the way up to an awsome 7:15 for that final leg. When I crossed the line and saw my time, all I could do was shake my head in disgust.

For the next 10 minutes my lungs and trachea were burning, and I had a headache from breathing the cold air as hard as I had for as long as I had. My lungs haven't felt that bad after a race in a long time (maybe this same race last year?). Maybe its just that I haven't raced in so long, but right now I'm just feeling so disappointed and disgusted with my performance. To have actually run more slowly than last year, while having believed that I was in considerably better shape than I was at this point last year. I know that it's really not a bad time, and that many people would be happy to have run it, but I feel like I've worked so hard over the past 8 weeks, racking up the mileage - even on days that I didn't want to run, pissing off my wife because of my long runs on the weekends, actually costing myself money because I'm self-employed and any time when I'm running and not working is time that I'm not earning any money. And all for nothing. I'm at the same damn point that I was last year, and last year I went on to run a 3:27 marathon Memorial Day weekend. That's 7 minutes off the BQ time I've been working towards for the past two years, and four minutes slower than I ran later in the fall. I've been planning on running the same Memorial Day marathon this spring, with honest hopes of hitting my 3:20 target, but after today's performance I guess I feel like I have no reason to expect that I would improve upon last year's 3:27. And frankly, I don't feel like running a marathon just for the experience. I've run four already, and I guess I feel like if I'm not ready to run a good time, what am I bothering with the weeks after weeks of time consuming training for?! I ran a VDOT 44 performance today, and I need better than a VDOT 47 marathon performance to BQ by Memorial Day Weekend. Calling that "unlikely" is an understatement. Why am I so slow!!!!!!?

Right now I'm thinking of bailing on a spring marathon, and instead focusing on building my speed at shorter distances throughout the spring. That'll be nice because it's allow me to keep my mileage more manageable, too, and I'll actually have time to do other things in life. The hard part is knowing that I can't make this decision, and then change my mind two weeks from now. I'll already have fallen way off of my marathon distance training regimine, and it'll be too late to resurrect any hope of a good race. Guess I'll sleep on it. I'm done for today, regardless.

Sorry to rant at you all. It's just been a bad day.


mfox

South Orange, New Jersey
Joined: 19 Dec 2004
Posts: 367

Re: Runnin' O' the Green Race Report Posted: Sun Mar 13, 2005 9:43 am 

Sorry to hear you had such a tough time. But thanks for the rant. Stuff like that is always fuel for the soul (or shoudl I say sole ;) ). That is, it's nice to read about someone's accomplishment but it also helps to see the struggles that others go through that often mirror or own. I've been in your shoes before and I know how frustrating and demoralizing it can be to finish so far off your intended mark. It's one thing to miss it by a little bit; you can blame it on all sorts of things other than fitness (weather, road conditions, crowd, race warm-up, etc.). But to miss the mark by so much and to feel so exhausted at the end really sucks.

It certainly doesn't sound like you left much, if anything, on the course. I think you just have to chalk this one up to a "bad" race. That is, your body, for what ever reason, just wasn't ready to race; for a PR that is. When this same thing happens to elite runners they end up missing their mark by a very small margin (seconds). But, as the pace increases, the margin for us mere mortals becomes much greater. Missing your mark by a couple minutes or so at your level (which ain't bad) is comparable to an elite runner (i.e. 4:15 miler) missing his mark by 20-25 seconds. I guess what I'm trying to say is...keep your performance in perspective. You had a bad race and it may have less to with your fitness level as say perhaps what you ate or how you tappered (or not) leading up to the race.

I completely appreciate the position you're in. Do you continue to bust you hump for what "could" end up being a less than desired marathon time or do you change your game plan and focus on getting a better "return on your investment?"

How about running the spring marathon as a "training run." If you don't plan to run it as fast as you normally would (say 1:30-2:00 min/mile slower) you won't have to train quite so hard, you won't be so beat up after the marathon, and you might enjoy the race (the spectators and other runners) a bit more. It takes a bit of the pressure off. You can still focus on more speed while trianing for the marathon.

I'm planning on running the Vermont City Marathon over Memorial Day weekend. Because of my recent injury I'm taking a very concervative approach to training. My goal is to finish the marathon in 4-4:30 rather than around 3:30 as I normally would. I won't be upset if I dont' finish (though, I've never not finished a marathon). My schedule puts the marathon on a weekend when I would normally run my first 22 mile long run. If those first 22 miles go as I've done 22 mile long runs in the past I should still feel pretty good, and I can then choose to slow the pace or sprinkle in some walking and jogging to finish it out. So not only will I be doing a marathon I've never done before but I'll get a chance to see a part of Vermont I've not seen and get a long run in at the same time. For me, it'll be worth the registration fee.

But if your only reason to run the marathon is to try to PR then you either have to evaluate the type of training your doing or do as you suggest and just focus on developing speed and strength and do shorter races until you're ready to commit to the long training runs again.

Maybe you should post info about the type of training you've been doing and maybe some of us might be able to suggest what you could do to improve your training for a better marathon.


OldManRunner
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
Rochester, NY
Joined: 28 Nov 2004
Posts: 262

Re: Runnin' O' the Green Race Report Posted: Sun Mar 13, 2005 2:53 pm 

Thanks for the kinds words, mfox. I think unfortunately I went into the race hoping for what might be possible, rather than expecting what all indicators suggested was likely. I hadn't been able to complete any of my tempo runs at the pace I'd been targeting. I've been following the Pfitz 18week/55mpw plan (my 2nd time following it) after maintaining a pretty decent base of maybe 30-35 miles per week on average since my October marathon prior to starting the 18 week schedule in late January. I've been pacing myself at a Jack Daniels' VDOT 47 level for my various workout categories, working under the assumption (apparently erroneous) that I could pick up where I left off in October, and climb to the VDOT 48 I needed to BQ by May. But I think that a) I just haven't maintained my speed well enough since the fall, and b) although I averaged 30-35 weeks from November through most of January, it wasn't consistent enough. I'd run a few 40+ mile weeks following by one or two 10+ mile weeks, and I think that just didn't have the same affect as consistently running 35 mile weeks.

Looking back over the past year, I think having unrealistically high hopes for races - where my training performances haven't supported those expectations - has been a recurring theme for me. Every once in a while I'd have a really good training run, but more often than not I'd struggle or be unable to hit the times I needed in training. I'd just chalk it up to having a bad day, but as they say - if you have more bad days than good days, and more bad races than good races, there's more than likely something else going on.

Right now I'm feeling a bit relieved of the burden of marathon training, and am looking forward to just working on speed for a bit, while still maintaining decent endurance. But no long runs longer than 15 miles for a while for me, I think, and more focus on tempo runs and intervals (once the track thaws out)!


Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: Runnin' O' the Green Race Report Posted: Sun Mar 13, 2005 7:35 pm 

Sorry to hear about your disappointing race! That really stinks. It sounds like your training hasn't been very much fun in and of itself recently, and you've mostly just been forcing yourself to get in runs so that you'll be able to race well. And now a disappointing race has you questioning whether any of it was worth it.

One obvious thing I'll say is to make sure you don't read too much into a single race result. Sometime you just have an off day-- maybe it was something you ate, who knows. Make sure you've got a few good data points from various races or hard training runs before you judge where your fitness is now.

Also, it sounds like you started the race at a pace that proved to be too fast, forcing you to slow way down later. That means your finish time is certainly worse than it would have been if you'd started more conservatively. Maybe that's not much consolation, but at least remember that you're not as unfit as your finish time suggests.

I agree with mfox that it's really helpful and healthy to see how other people struggle with these situations, because probably most of us have been there at one time or another. Your description pretty well mirrors how I was feeling recently-- no enjoyment from training runs, then a disappointing race. It's not fun.

If the only reason you're interested in the spring marathon is to BQ, and you don't think that's realistic now, then nobody would fault you from deciding to drop it. But doing it "for fun" isn't a bad idea if that interests you, and maybe you'd feel less bad about it that way.

I think for recreational runners like you and me, there's not enough to be gained solely from races to make the sport worthwhile. You have to enjoy the daily training runs for their own sake, at least a little bit. If you're not, then that sounds like a sign to cut back for a while until it's fun again. Speaking for myself, I didn't run at all this week, did a little skiing instead, and now I'm already starting to get the running itch again.

Get a little rest, maybe look for another short local race to try, and don't get too down. You're still a lot faster than most people!


terrysquier

Canon City, CO
Joined: 09 Jan 2005
Posts: 44

Re: Runnin' O' the Green Race Report Posted: Wed Mar 16, 2005 5:28 am 

OldManRunner - So sorry to hear about your performance in this race, especially when you had hoped and expected to do so much better. It must really be a disappointment. Hopefully, you just experienced an off day, as sometimes happens to the best of us. I know this won't hold you back for very long. You sound like someone who can bounce back quickly and with even more determination.

Terry


OldManRunner
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
Rochester, NY
Joined: 28 Nov 2004
Posts: 262

Re: Runnin' O' the Green Race Report Posted: Thu Mar 17, 2005 10:22 am 

Thanks Terry. I'm taking some time away from running, at least until it's fun again. I think I've been a bit overfocused on the quest for ever-improving PR's.

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