Monday, May 25, 2009

Cotton Row 10k Race Report

I need to preface this post... I'm pretty hard on myself. If you don't want to read me being hard on myself, then don't! And before I begin beating myself up, I must add these comments...
  1. Thanks to Dink and Suzanne Taylor for putting on a first class event! This event is great and gets better every year!
  2. Thanks to all the volunteers who make it possible!
  3. Congratulations to all the first time runners!
  4. Congratulations to both of my daughters for PR'ing in the mile! 9:37 and 9:52!!
And, just because I didn't run well today, I don't consider this a bad day. I had a ton of fun and I look forward to the rest of the day! I'm happy! I'm thankful for the ability to run and the insanity that makes me enjoy it! I'm just really disappointed in my performance today and I am going to take steps to improve it.

Well, I have to do it. If you put your goal out there, you have to eat the crow when you don't come close. Today, I didn't come close. The goal was sub 40:00. I don't know everything that went wrong today, but I do know a few things.

For those who just want to know the numbers... 41:54, 95th of 1838 finishers overall, and 12th of 158 in the 35-39 age group.

Now, the report.

I did not sleep well last night. I was just too excited. I really believed (note the past tense there) I could make a run at 40 on this course. I wanted to. I went over the course again and again in my head. I dreamed about running. I woke up several times. I was like a kid on Christmas Eve. That was expected, and I rested well Saturday night and took a nap on Sunday, so that's no excuse.

I arrived in plenty of time to do my warm up. I did about 1.8 miles with a couple of strides at race pace. I chatted with some friends and we all wished one another luck and I was on my way to the start. When the race started, there was a huge crowd around. I spent probably a bit too much energy weaving. I had picked out Joe Francica and John Geiger to try to pace from. I finished just behind both of them at the Cookie Dash 5k. I hit the one mile split just behind Joe at 6:06. John was also nearby. That was just a wee bit fast, but it shouldn't have created the disaster that it did.

I intentionally slowed after that to try to pace myself better. Joe then began to pull away. He was having a good day and obliterated 40:00 with a 39:04. John was still nearby. I hit the 2 mile mark at about 12:47, 6:40 for the mile. Woah! that was way too slow!!! And I have the most difficult mile ahead of me!

I then made the mistake of trying to make up some time. All I did was lose my breath as I started the first of the two small hills. I made it over the second small hill with a little left, but I just couldn't speed up on the slight downhill. I was gasping and hurting. I could see the turn to Mountainwood ahead, but it sure looked farther than it ever had. I was trying to hold on to hit the top in 20:30 to salvage a chance at my goal. I could hear "Rocky", but I knew I was in trouble. I made the turn onto Mountainwood and started to power up the hill as I had practiced. I heard the split... 19:40 something. That mile took almost 6:54. Yuck! I was over 20 seconds off my plan! I knew, though, that I had a chance if I could just hang on.

Then, just after the split, things began to unravel. I was struggling badly. I had nothing left and I did the unthinkable. I walked about 20 yards of Mountainwood. UGH!!! I've never walked any part of that hill ever before. Obviously, here John passed me. After settling down a bit, I started back up, grabbed some water at the aid station to just splash around my mouth to see if that would make it easier to breathe, but I was beyond repair. I tried hard, but I just couldn't go fast. It felt like I was going fast down the hill, but the split on this mile was a disaster. 7:20. Yep, 7:20. I did not expect a 7:20 mile today. I guess I'm almost arrogant enough to run a 7:20 warmup mile. I am in complete disbelief of that 7:20 mile. So, that puts me at 26:55, a full 1:15 off of my plan. I knew now that I had no chance.

So, I must admit, that I quit. That is completely inexcusable. With the fastest mile on the course still to go, I still had a chance at a PR. I was gutless, disappointed, and defeated. I ran the fastest mile on the course in a very disappointing and embarrassing 6:34 to be at 33 and change. In my dreams last night, I ran that mile in under 6:00. I probably cost John some time, too. I believe he was pacing off of me as much as I was pacing off of him. We were side by side for most of that mile.

I didn't do any better on the last mile, either. It's a very flat mile with only one small rise, and it took me 6:40 to cover it. On the flat part, John made his move and passed me. But so did about 6 or 8 other runners. I was the poor sap in the last mile that people were targeting to pick off. It made me a little angry, and I picked up the pace in the last half of the mile. Yep, I ran fast in the last half of the mile and still ran it in 6:40. Up the hill to Greene Street, I passed John, but I knew I would not be able to hold that lead. I'm now at 40:07 with the 0.2 (0.28 by my Garmin) to go.

As I expected, John had more of a kick at the end than I did. I heard him coming, and I knew he was going to finish ahead of me. I was spent and was just trying to hang on. I did the last 0.28 in 1:48, (6:21 pace), so I had a little something left at the finish, but not enough to hold off John.

All in all, it was a VERY disappointing effort. I trained. I was blessed and fortunate enough to avoid injury. We were blessed with as good of weather as you can expect (67, overcast, humid, and NO wind) on Memorial Day in Alabama. With all those advantages, I simply blew it.

What went wrong?
  1. My diet. I was very undisciplined for the past few weeks. I did not eat like someone who was focused on running a PR on a brutally difficult course. That won't happen again.
  2. I tapered too much. I shouldn't be tapering for 10k's. I took Sunday off and went extremely easy on Friday and Saturday, and the result was a stale and lethargic feeling instead of a fresh and rested feeling.
  3. I started too fast. My target was 6:15, and I should have run it in 6:20, but I ran it in 6:06. The result was FAR from a negative split on a course that begs to be negative split.
  4. I got lazy with my long runs. My long runs crept down to the 12-13 mile range instead of the 15-17 mile range. I will fix that this summer. My long runs will be at least 15 from now on. Period. And I'll mix in 20+ milers, too. When I run long like that, I have the confidence to convince myself that a 10k is short. Today, I couldn't convince myself that it wouldn't hurt for long.
  5. I skipped some hill workouts. I'm committing to do hill work at least biweekly, and maybe even weekly. I will not be defeated by Mountainwood again.
I had my 3 goals going into this race. Goal 1 was to break 40:00. Goal 2 was to set a PR (40:57). Goal 3, missing which defines disaster, was to break 42:00. I barely avoided disaster, and it sure feels like disaster.

This is a pivotal race for me. It's my first race ever that has not been a PR. How I respond is the test of the next few months. Right now, I'm determined to get my revenge on Cotton Row. I will break 40:00 next year, but hopefully I will have improved enough that 40:00 will not be a challenging enough goal.

Pictures soon.


mgreene said...

Come on, EP, a sub 42 on CRR after only running for a year and a half is not bad! BTW, I quit making time predictions for myself because i always ran slower than my predictions!

rundanrun said...

Good effort and good time for CRR.
Better than mine (43:11-2005). A man onces told me a long time ago CRR is not a race to set your PR. I is unique in its challenges...Uphill then downhill. It might work to get a PR for just that unique race. It is not like most
10Ks. My advice is to pick a flat 10K for an overall PR.

You will beat it next year.

Anonymous said...

As a Christian, do you not run for Christ's glory? Leave PRs to earthly humans, not yourself. You have greater rewards to focus on! :-)