Thursday, April 26, 2012

Penn Relay 10k Race Recap

Best case scenario goal: sub-34:00
Additional best case scenario goal: Victory
Next best goal: sub-34:20
Acceptable goal: PR (sub-34:37)
Worst case scenario goal: sub-35
Actual: 35:05, 4th place
(Should be combined with collegiate results)

As it turns out, there was quite a bit of rust to be busted.

I'm not sure why this race went so poorly. My legs felt light and springy in the days leading up, and despite working somewhat of a full day I managed to spend plenty of time off my feet. I even dusted off ye olde spikes for the first time in two years, and after a few strides and several tweaks they felt as delicious as buttery slippers on my feet. Even the weather, which is characteristically irascible at Penn, cooperated. By the time the gun went off at 10:15pm, the air was cool but not cold, breezy but not windy, damp but not too humid. In short, all signs pointed to me having a great race.

And then, inexplicably, I didn't.

Even more puzzling is the alarming rate at which things unraveled. For a few miles I comfortably clicked off 82s and 83s, tucked in behind the two leaders and feeling like I was positively walking. With the Collegiate and Olympic Development fields mixed, there was a trail of 30+ people behind me, and I was confident I could run with any of them. I knew, without a doubt, that I was capable of maintaining that pace for another 20-odd minutes...until, all at once, I suddenly couldn't. My 82s slipped into 84s and then 85s right before my eyes, and I was powerless to do anything about it. With two laps to go I did some quick math and realized the incomprehensible: not only would I fail to achieve any of my goals, but I would actually run slower than my "worst case, totally unfathomable, hasn't even occurred to me as being within the realm of possibility" cutoff of 35 minutes. The fact that I was exerting this much effort to run such a mediocre time was, to put it mildly, quite humbling and not just a little embarrassing. I tried to summon a kick on the final lap, pushing with whatever remained, and crossed the line in a decidedly underwhelming 35:05.

I'm sure in the coming days Jordan and I will have plenty of time to reflect and analyze the race more objectively. As with any perceived failure, there are always lessons to be learned and tangible takeaways that can be gleaned and transformed into future success. I fully understand that and will certainly do so at the proper time. Right now, however, I'm going to eat my emotions with a glutenous apple fritter from the only gas station that is open late enough to serve us dinner after the race. If you can't beat 'em, eat 'em.


mfranks said...

Sounds like a track rhythm thing, not a fitness thing. Good luck in your next 10k.