Saturday, April 6, 2013

Finishing Wasn't the Goal

So, I've had a week to digest the results of my last race. The results are conclusive: I sucked (really, there isn't much else with me and a pure running race. Sucking seems to be the only option.) I might have to change my alter-ego from the Banter to the Hoover. I can see it now, when I suck only a little- it could be a 'hand-held vac race.' If it was a big time sucking job- 'shop vac'. I'll ponder on that some more. Now, on to this particular race...

Here was the scenario:
  • 15k race (or 9.3 miles for those who don't speak metric and are too lazy to google the conversion)
  • Previous PR at that distance- 1:06.50
  • Pace PR at that distance- 7:07
  • Pansy factor for the race- high
One of the big benefits of doing a race many years in a row (this was my 4th attempt to conquer the Spring Forward 15k) is that there are really no surprises. You have an intimate knowledge of the course and can learn how to race it.

Before every race, I try to develop a race plan. Unlike many people, I don't feel the need to commit the plan in writing. The commitment is in my brain, which is where 2/3rds of the race takes place anyway. I know that this particular course is easy in the beginning and ends tough.

My race plan dictated that I needed to go out a bit faster than a 7:07 pace because the hills at the back 5k indicate that holding that pace would be near impossible. I calculated that I could hold 7:00 over 7 miles, I would have a much needed ~50 second window of cushion. In all reality, that's not a big window. One can easy blow 50 seconds in a race on a particularly large hill when the wind in moderately blowing in your face and the your legs are pre-fatigued.

Here's how my splits looked for the day:
As you can see, hopefully, I was pretty much on target through 5 miles, or ~8 k (for those of you who don't speak miles and are too lazy to google the conversion). It was quite apparent at that time that my legs had had enough. Maintaining a PR pace for the end game was going to be an impossibility. I slowed and gimped to the finish line.

As I do the mental recap, a lot of questions and second guessings come to mind:
  • Q: Could you have raced faster? (I tend to hold these conversations in the 2nd person) A: Probably. If I had taken out the beginning of the race at 7:10s, I might have been able to hold that pace through the end.
  • Q: What were some of the reasons for the breakdown? A: Hard training the week before. Relenting. General hatred of running
  • Q: Why did you sign up for this race, yet again? A: Several possibilities- 1. Test my fitness, 2. Penchant for wasting money, 3. I miss racing and there aren't many other viable options, 4. I'm pretty much a certified idiot.
  • Q: What did you want out of the race? A: Finally, an easy question- I wanted to PR
Therefore, I set my self up for success. Granted, I failed. I ran hard early in the race knowing that I needed that pace to cross the finish line at a PR-worthy time. Yes, running that fast eventually caused a running breakdown. However, going any slower would have guaranteed failure, hence the reason I didn't try and hold 7:10s. I risked success. 

After the race, I had breakfast at my parent-in-laws. The FiL asked me about about the race.
FiL: How'd it go?
The Banter: I sucked.
FiL: I find that hard to believe.
The Banter: Why is that?
FiL: Well, you finished
The Banter: Finishing wasn't the goal
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to start learning more about vacuum cleaners. Or, at least, the science of suction, on which I should be an experiential expert by now.

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