On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Easter 1/4 Marathon redux

Yesterday, you saw a smiling photo of me at the finish of my impromptu 10k. So why was I so unhappy at the finish? And I was unhappy. Very unhappy.

Was it as simple as me being really disappointed in my performance? Sure. Was I also disappointed that I didn't do the second loop? Yeah, I guess. But it was a fun run.

There are two issues here: why did I do so badly, and why was I disappointed?

Let's start with the latter. I was disappointed because, frankly, I expected to do better. Take a look at this and tell me what you see:

Screen shot taken directly from my training log... notice that the highlighted days are days that I ran. Four times a week for the entire month of April. Barring some sort of disaster afflicting me in the next three days, I will have run 100 miles in the month of April - the most I've run since, um, a long time ago (I didn't run that many miles in November, and I ran two marathons in November). So there you have it - the period of consistency I've been dreaming of. I'm in a groove. My runs are great. I'm enjoying it. I'm looking forward to increasing my mileage even more in the next few months.

So, naturally, I expect my race performances to reflect this. Immediately. Like now. Today. Yesterday.

Why, then, didn't my performance reflect this? Well, I have a few theories:

1. Bad nutrition. Lately I've jacked up my lean proteins and my vegetables. At the expense of carbohydrates. Now, I know enough about glycogen depletion to know that I wasn't exactly in danger of hitting the wall on Saturday, but I also know that something was lacking. It may also have been mild dehydration, which brings us to...
2. The heat and humidity. By the end of the summer, I'm sure that a humid day in the mid to upper 70s won't feel miserable. But this was the first warm day. I was sweating from the fast walk to the subway station. Which was also partly because of...
3. Lack of sleep. Seems to be a refrain for me, but last week was particularly bad. Consider that I was still up at 2:30am the night before the race. And that I'd slept only about 5 hours Friday night.
4. Being out of shape. One month of regular running isn't enough, plain and simple. Also, my running hasn't been varied. No hills, no strides, no nothing. I'm trying to take the advice of just building my mileage, getting regular runs in. But, faced on Sunday with a somewhat hilly course, there was nothing there. Oh, and also there was nothing there because...
5. Lack of mental fortitude. Yeah. I'm weak. This is a problem for me in racing. I like running to feel good. Racing hard doesn't, and I can't turn on the bad-ass on command. And that leads me to...
6. No desire to race. It's true. I'm still over racing. If I'd gone into this as a fun run, I probably would have had a great time. But with that number pinned to my chest, I felt unprepared and inadequate.

When I lay it all out like this, it's easy to say that this was a one-off. I'm still disappointed in myself; I just didn't have it in me on Sunday.

On a more positive note, one of my friends asked me if I wouldn't mind passing on information about a race she's helping to promote near DC in June. It's one of those crazy-town deals that are way more bad-ass than I am:
I have a massive soft spot for our military, and the race benefits a good cause (building homes for injured veterans). Use the code SPARTAN11 for $5 off registration.


  1. speed work yo :-)
    But congrats on the mileage - I've only run 200 miles THIS YEAR so far.

  2. You know what you need to do - it's just hard to do it! :)

  3. How scary is that race name? I don't want to race like a Spartan. Spartans DIED. Anyway, you've got all the pieces - consistency, a good sense of perspective, knowledge of what to do next - so you're half way there, right?

  4. Honestly? I think what I need to do is to not race. Period. To just enjoy running for running, to run fast when I want to and not care if I sometimes run slow. I think I need to put the Garmin in the closet for a few months (or more) and just enjoy running. Of course, that said, Yonkers training starts in like two weeks. Yep.

  5. You need to not race in the HEAT. Summer running kills joy. Yes, it's that simple. Or, you know, it could be that you don't want to do it and doing painful, time-consuming things that you don't want to do is a little silly. If I had realized this, I could have saved myself $$$$ in the past year.

  6. We had a trainer who is a runner come to my weight management meeting tonight. He was focusing on diversity of training. He said that basically you have to change how you're training every six weeks or you reach a plateau. This not on includes things like speed workouts, long runs, etc., but doing strength training, stretching, in order to keep your body from plateauing in its performance.

    But you're right in that if your goal is to run until you die (i.e. well into old age) enjoying it has to come before any consideration of performance. I put my heart rate monitor away, but I still run with my Nike Plus so that I can monitor distance, calories and time to record and turn in at my weight class.

  7. Hi. Someone told me that you sound just like me, and I agree! Fun, fun--negative self-evaluation with lists and such. :) I'm adding you to my blog reader and predicting good things in your running future.

  8. Thank you!! I've added you to my reader as well :)