Monday, February 14, 2011

Love The Run You're With 5K: race report

This is a tough post for me to write, for many reasons, not least of which because I should be out celebrating instead of wallowing in disappointment.
First, I really do want to say this.  Over the past few months, I’ve tried to take the focus of the blog off of pace.  I read some really great posts in the blog world about this topic a few months ago, and while I didn’t chime in with my two cents (strange), I did completely agree.  And with that, I’ve stopped posting my daily workouts with average paces and full descriptions of how fast and slow every moment of the workout was.  I do post my workout overall times in the weekly wrap, but not to give you math people the chance to figure it out, just to show the amount of time I’m working.  I totally get it: my fast is your slow, or my slow is your fast, and it’s all relative.  Going along with that, I’ve tried to take my own focus off my pace at any given moment.  I’ve been generally running my tempo workouts without looking at my Garmin until the interval is over, and trusting that the comfortably hard pace I’m working at is where my body wants to be right now.  I’m here to do my thing, and then go cheer y’all on while you do yours.  But this post is going to be all about pace, and if hearing about my pace is going to make you upset because either you run a lot faster that I do and want to give me a little pat on the back OR you run a lot slower and want to shake your little angry fist at me because you think I’m being an asshole by complaining about it, then you should probably go look at puppy pics instead. They are still here here.  Oh, here here and here and here.  Because this post is about my pace, where I am now and where I want to be.  It’s just really difficult to write a meaningful and reflective race report without talking about numbers.
I’ve been injured for so long, and that has been my excuse for my performance, and I’m tired of it.  I’m tired of hearing, “Well, that’s great, considering...”  I started running again in November.  I solidly PR’d the 10K in December, 5 weeks back into running, but it was tough and the PR, for me, is not even close to what I think - what I hope - I can do.  I eased back into speed training starting in January.  I’ve had 4 weeks of fairly decent tempo runs, and last Tuesday I ran some times in my first interval workout that surprised and delighted me.  So as far as I’m concerned, I’m healed.  Because of that, I wanted to run this race, hard and fast and strong, and accept the time I ran.  No excuses.  And that’s where I’m disappointed.
Spoiler: I PR’d the 5K, and even by more than the 3-minute window I was hoping for.  Wow, now I sound like an even bigger asshole.  So why am I wallowing?  Well, I had goals for this race.  I was hoping to take 3 minutes off of my current PR (27:35).  I was hoping to take 10 minutes off last year’s time on this course (34:14).  And based on my last few weeks of tempo runs, I honestly thought I could sub-24, and maybe even get close to 23.
Amy deserves a ton of the credit for this race, because she was a fantastic pacer and me being frustrated has nothing to do with her.  She let me control the pace but kicked my ass when all I could say was, “I can’t,” and she was tough and strong and for that, I’m thankful.  I ran this race last year, and it’s a tough course.  A decent uphill the first half-mile or so, and then rollers the whole way out and back.  Our goal was to run the first mile in 8:30 - and not a whole lot faster - and then let loose on the rest of the course as it eased up.  When I got there, we left the crowd of crazy and ran a short warm-up, and then jumped in the masses.  I put some music on to give myself space to focus and then the gun went off and we were on our way.
Amy made the brilliant decision to wear my Garmin so I couldn’t stress about pace, and we got up and over the hill pretty quickly.  A bit too quickly - there was a clock at the 1-mile mark, and it said 7:41 as we went by.  I was a little bit worried about how far ahead we were, but pretty soon I had a different problem - my piriformis.  I started feeling twinges during the big uphill, but hoped it would smooth out once we got to the top.  It didn’t, and it got worse pretty quickly.  We hit the 2-mile mark at 15:13, and I felt like I was starting to limp.  Not too far after the 2-mile mark I stopped to try and stretch it out, and this is what I’m angry about.  Because now I had exactly what I didn’t want - an excuse for my time, a weak race, another problem that kept me from running the time I’m capable of and being proud of it because it’s what I can honestly do.  I know this doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it broke my heart to stop and stretch.  
About a half-mile from the finish I had to stop and stretch again, and at that point, I figured I’d blown most of my goals, but we cranked back up pretty quickly anyway.  I was too tight to really make the most of the flying downhill back to the start, and I didn’t look at the clock until I was only a few feet out from the finish line.  It started with 24, and that made me sad.  Especially when I realized that without those stops, I would have run a sub-24 by a pretty big margin.  My tank was definitely empty when I crossed the finish line, and I’m glad that I can feel like I left it all out there on the course, but I’m still frustrated.  My final net time: 24:15, a PR by 3:20.  A course PR by a really annoying 9:59.  And not a sub-24.
2 weeks ago I ran a 2x2 mile tempo: 7:58, 7:35 and 8:06, 7:53 and felt great afterwards.  I don’t think that going for a sub-24 was that unreasonable.  I planned the entire week around good preparation for this race so I’d have reasonably rested legs, and I was itchy and chomping at the bit to race yesterday, to see exactly what I could do.  And now, after this race, I feel like I failed, like my body let me down, like I gave up when I was so close to the strong finish I wanted and needed.  

I am sure it’s difficult to understand why I’m upset.  Runners and the mental game - wow, what a mess we all are.  I know a lot of things.  I know that hill work irritates my piriformis, and I probably should have avoided this course in favor of a flatter race until I was a bit further away from the injury.  I know that I've only been running again for 3 months after 2 years of on and off due to various injuries.  I know that I've only been doing speed work for four weeks.  I know that I've posted times in workouts over the last month that I've never seen before in my life, and I know that all of these facts should add up to me being thrilled with my performance today.  And I'm not nearly as upset about the time itself as I am about the way things unfolded.  I want to run a race where I feel strong and run hard and get from the start to the finish without blowing up, for whatever reason.  And I want to be sore and tired and happy that I had a plan and executed it, instead of being furious that my body is yet again holding me back. 

There’s nothing to do from here but move forward, to continue with my training plan, to keep doing all the things that are necessary for me to get to the starting line of my half marathon in one piece, but it’s going to take me a few days to get past this.  While the logical and reasonable part of me knows that is a great step in my training cycle, it instead feels like yet another frustrating setback.  

27 comments:

  1. I'm sorry. All I can say is that the lows make the highs even better.

    I've had races where I've left it all out there, and still fallen short of my goals (pretty much every single race in 2010). I've decided that any race where I can say I made smart choices and left it all out there is a good race, regardless of time.

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  2. I know you're disappointed, but I am SO PROUD of you. You are awesome and an inspiration. Your PR is something I might only ever dream of (again, all relative...) but I KNOW that given some time, you'll sub-24:00 the shit out of that 5K.

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  3. It's really easy to let disappointing races stay with you, but it's best that you wrote this post and now you can let it go. You *have* come a long way and I know that you'll keep getting stronger and faster. 5ks are weird races, for such low mileage I, for one, always have a lot of trouble pushing myself hard enough to finish in a quick time. And yet, it's a short enough race that it's easy to pick out little things you did wrong. You raced up a big hill, and so now you can learn to pace yourself next time and also recognize that you need to work on hills.

    Great job, you got a PR, and you missed your goal by a small 15 second margin... which basically means you did it. Congrats!

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  4. Awww, I'm so sorry you're disappointed, but you ROCKED!!!

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  5. DAMN IT! I wrote out this huge comment and it didn't post! GRRRR! Ok let's try this again:

    You are your own worst enemy. We all know this to be true so that's why it's ok to feel disappointed even though you still rocked the hell out of that race. Try to take away from this that you're getting faster and will continue to improve. Celebrate your major PR, the fact that you sub 25'd, which is every middle of the packers dream 5k time, and that you've come so far with only a month of speed work. Just imagine what you'll do the next 5k?!?!? I am so proud of you girl! Congrats!

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  6. I'm with Cristina on that one, you looked strong coming into the finish. Please don't beat yourself up over one race, there's so many factors going on. ESPECIALLY that course, it's tough. I do know what you're going through, as we've all been there, we're always too tough on ourselves. The 23's and 22's are right around the corner.

    Also, we're all training to race, I think you have to talk about your pace in race reports.

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  7. I think you are just joining/declaring your membership to the Type A nothing-is-good-enough runner's club. Its a sucky club to be a part of (I know!!). You did AMAZING yesterday, and I think if you had done a 23:59 you would be thinking about how you could have done a 23:35 and dropped 4 minutes... and so on and so on. Take pride in drop kicking that old PR and channel your frustration into another PR next time.

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  8. I'm sorry you are dissapointed. Yes you have an awesome new PR by over 3 minutes (so cool!) and you have a course PR by almost 10 (damn 1 second!), but I know how it feels that you didn't accomplish the main goal you set out for. I still think you did absolutely amazing and all you can do is look forward and work for that sub 24. I know you will do it!

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  9. Congrats on the PR, even though it wasn't the one you wanted. I'm impressed that you dropped so much time even with the hills, pain, etc. That strong race (from start to finish) is out there waiting and I have a feeling you will get there soon!

    And the one advantage to frustrating races is that they make the great ones feel so much sweeter!

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  10. The good thing about not hitting a goal is it gives you more room to keep working. I have yet to hit my PR goal in a 5k and it's discouraging sometimes, but it gives me another rung to climb.

    Congrats on your time anyways. That's vast improvement that you can hang your hat on there..

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  11. I totally understand how you feel. It's tough to go into a race with expectations of performance and not have those goals met, even if you do PR. But wow- a three minute PR is just massive so you do deserve congrats on this. Don't shortchange yourself!

    Also, I don't mind reading blogs about specific paces. I personally blog for myself more than for anyone else, and I like to use my blog to track my progress. For many people, pace doesn't matter, but for some it does. It just depends who you are and what type of blogs you want to write. There is no right or wrong way to talk about your running, especially within your own blog. :-)

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  12. It's totally the course. PRs are made on flat and fast courses. Of course you went and did it all WRONG and PR'd on a hilly course. Well, I forgive you.

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  13. If you feel a certain way—disappointed and angry, in this case—you've got to air out your feelings before you can get on with your life. That's the case whether the rest of the world thinks your feelings are legitimate or not. My advice: have a good, long, aggressive lifting session in which you shake your mental fist at the world, then let go and focus on the next race.

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  14. I do understand how you feel. When I started running races again a couple years ago I had a few incidents where even though I did well, my general/social anxiety disorder (which I've dealt with for many years) held me back during the race and kept me from my goals. I couldn't help but feel frustrated with myself, even with my friends and family telling me how well I did. With experience I've gotten much better at handling this, though I've still a long way to go. So while it's frustrating now, I know that you will perform even better in the future.

    In the end, you did set an amazing PR, and you deserve all the congratulations in the world for that!

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  15. Morgan has got it up there - You are your worst enemy, no doubt. I agree that the "pace talk" is a little unnecessary, as is posting Every Single Workout day to day. But, this was your race, and you had a goal you didn't meet (yet), and it's OKAY to reflect on that. After all, this is your space. Psh, say whatcha want!

    You still did amazing, pulled a huge victory as far as personal records go, and will come back to get that 24 when you're ready!

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  16. I agree with Beth that even if you had hit under 24 minutes, you would be wishing it had been a few seconds faster. I understand why you're angry, but like you said it has only been 3 months since you're comeback. Soon enough, there will be plenty of races where you don't blow up. Promise.

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  17. Hm...you met your goals of 3 minutes off, 10 min. CR. On a hard course. You may think you could have done more, but it's factually true that you did EVERYTHING you were capable of yesterday. Logically, them's the facts. But when have dreams ever been logical?

    Just think what you'll do after more than just 4 weeks speedwork and just 3 months back running after 2 years of injury? (and I expect you to spit this back at me when I start bitching again)

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  18. Girl, you are absolutely amazing!!! I am so sorry that you are so disappointed but just know we are all here for you and cheering you on! YOU ARE AMAZING!

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  19. I spent a year on the DL with mono, and every small victory was followed by a huge setback, so I understand where you're coming from. I'd like to say be patient, because you're on the right track and it's all going to come together soon. But when people said that to me, I wanted to tear their eyes out. Be disappointed for a little while, but don't get so sucked into it that you forget you set a PR out there on a lousy course. Way to go!

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  20. I totally understand being upset with your body, but, dude, you totally rocked it on a wicked course. You will reach your goal and then some at a different race. I'm sure of it. (And if hills hurt you, avoid Four Courts Four at all costs...)

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  21. You feeling like you didn't do your best is kind of like me today. You know it's my favorite day (even though it's not yours!). I had grand plans with a hot, hot, hot (did I mention HOT!?) guy. He canceled on me. But you know what? I have tomorrow to look forward to. Tomorrow night I'll be with a great guy who thinks I'm beautiful. And that will be your future race.

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  22. Hey chica, I'm gonna play butt kicker here (as someone also returning from an injury....)
    1. it's EARLY in the season!! YOU WILL GET YOUR SUB 23, you'll see. You just have to dust of your race legs :) Like George's weekly newsletter, he says get out there and race, if you havent for awhile...
    2. Find a flat, fast, LESS crowded course :) This was not an easy course, hrd to PR on, but u did! and Idk about you guys, but I did a bit weaving through crowds as well, that does not help.
    3. BE PROUD OF YOUR MASSIVE PR! it;s not by 4 secs, or 1 min, that PR is massive.
    4. I have been where you are ( Philly Half, ask anyone in CAR) George had to kick me out of my funk. I wanted 1:45, I got 1:46:15....so I know dissappointment, but PLEASE dont let it gt too you, bc it can effect your running....Smile you GOT A PR!! dont get too wrapped up in the mind games of running, it really is not good to be so hard on yourself
    ***You're only getting stronger and faster. You are stronger than yesterday!!!! ***
    5. cya at track! love!

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  23. Part of the enigma of a runner's brain is the ability to be both disappointed and proud of ourselves all at the same time. And it sounds like you are both- proud and disappointed. You had a great run- congrats for that!- but I totally understand your dissatisfaction. I guess the silver lining is- you should be able to sub-24 with NO PROBLEM at your next ( flatter) 5k!!!!

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  24. Even though you didn't reach the goal you had set, you still did a great job! Congrats, and try to be proud of what you accomplished. :)
    Erin
    http://seemomrunfar.blogspot.com/

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  25. You are SO right. With races we often have multiple goals. Meeting a few of them sometimes just isn't enough. Running 5Ks HURTS. That's why I like distance running. I can take my time and smell the roses - ha!
    You ran a great race girl. And while evaluating your performance and looking for ways to improve your game is a good thing, don't beat yourself up. Give youself some credit too. You ran HARD and it shows. Way to go little (fast) lady!

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  26. I've not read the rest of the comments, so I don't know if I am echoing any sentiments already stated, though I suspect I am - you rock, dude.

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