Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Part 2: Back to the Drawing Board

It’s amazing what a day or two of perspective and reflection can do for your analysis of a race. I knew I wanted to write up the race details ASAP so I could remember it for the future and do better next time. However, I’m glad I held off another day for the analysis. I had all these theories and deep analyses of what happened and was ready to write another novel.

If you really boil it down, I just went out too hard and bit off more than I could chew. No way I should have been running sub-6:20 miles (let alone 6:00 and 6:06)for any reason. Part of my demise I think was also contributed to my 2.5 minute PR in my half marathon back in October. After running that sub-1:17, I was on cloud-nine and probably thought I was a little better than I actually was. Those early miles took their toll. I didn’t respect the distance of the marathon, the quality of the Philly marathon field (after finishing 3rd at my half), or my own limits. It’s a hard lesson learned, but one I will just have to apply next time.

Just to share a few excerpts from two blogs of spectacular endurance athletes that I follow that I’ve really identified since the race.

The first is Jen Harrison’s blog, which helped me put things in perspective:

“I always say that if you have a bad race you get 24 hours to sulk and then you move ON. It is only a race. … I was sad because of all the work and the result was NOT what I wanted – in my worst case scenario, this was NOT even a thought… it is so frustrating when the work is in the body but you cannot do it. I hate not being in control of my body!”

It’s just a race. I’m not defined by a number or a time. My family, friends, or students don’t think less of me. God still loves me. I’ve had my 24 hours of sulking and I’m ready to tackle my next goals…..once my quads, hammies, and calves decide it’s time.

The second is from an athlete by the name of Beth Shutt from her pre-triathlon days. Here’s some eerily similar quotes after her Columbus Marathon DNF from 2004.

The next split was not the 13 mile marker but rather the half marathon mark which we reached in 1:32:26. Okay, a little ahead of pace, but I swear, we felt good and were running smoothly (I know...famous last words). … then we went: 6:51, 7:28, 7:31. Trouble is brewing. We started climbing a relatively benign hill, but nonetheless, we were falling off pace fast. I can honestly say I've never starting feeling so badly so quickly. Within 2-3 miles I went from feeling great and running 7 minute pace effortlessly, to really struggling to maintain 8 minute pace

At first I refused to believe that we went out too fast, but I'm starting to come around to the idea. Of course we felt comfortable for the first half, but that's the whole point, the marathon is 26.2 miles! I think our fatal flaw was setting too fast a goal time to begin with.

Some other thoughts from the weekend:
*The marathon was a good experience. More miles and more race experience are invaluable. Philly’s a nice city (even if Eagles fans did boo Santa Claus).

*If you’re ever in the Conshohocken area, you have to stop at Tony and Joe’s Pizza and Restaurant. It was right by our hotel and we walked there for the pre-race pasta meal and the “drown the disappointment in pop and pizza” post-race meal. Awesome food!

*You always learn from races and just have to apply it to the next one even though it’s not next week. At my high school the girls’ basketball team went to the state title game two years ago and lost. They had to have that in the back of their head every day for the entire next year to get the chance to redeem themselves. They had to put the time in the gym every day, execute each game, focus on each step along the way to get back to the state title game and have the chance for redemption. One game at a time they conquered their “unfinished business” and ended up as undefeated state champs in the highest classification and are now ranked #9 in the COUNTRY preseason in the USA Today this year. My next marathon isn’t next weekend, but my training for it starts then. I need to execute my game plan one day at a time and follow it through the whole was to my plan on race day.

Rule #2 I took away from Jen Harrison is NO major decisions for 2 weeks. I will follow that, but I think if I do a marathon next fall, it will be in October (maybe Columbus?). This way I can catch the flow of the XC season a little better and not feel flat the last two weeks.

So, with that, I close the door on the Philly marathon and have this RR saved in a Word Document for me to pull out before my next marathon to FORCE ME TO NOT GO OUT TOO HARD!!!

Many thanks of course to pass out:
*Thanks for the people out there on the course cheering for me: Rad and Mr. G, Heather, and Lindsay
*Thanks for all the encouraging messages on FB and the blog. Much appreciated
*Thanks to my parents for watching the dog for practically every weekend this fall with the race and event schedule Beth and I had since September
*Thanks to the HS XC team for kicking my butt every day in practice and allowing me to go faster than I ever was in high school
*And, of course, thanks to Beth for being the best support through this whole training cycle. Even with her crazy training and work schedule, she was always there to bounce ideas off and, most importantly, had a shoulder for me to lean on after the race.

Good luck to everybody with their future racing and have a super Thanksgiving!


Marit Chrislock-Lauterbach said...

Great post O! I think you really did a fantastic job of evaluating your own race, breaking things down, and figuring out things you want to take away and apply next time. I know that you'll do even better an your next marathon!

wonderwoman said...

You did great at the marathon and it's really good that you can look back at it and learn from it.

You could do NYC, the timing is good!

Jennifer Harrison said...

I am on vacation, so I apologize for being tardy in my feedback on your marathon - I DID see on FB (I am still playing on FB while in Tucson) that you had major cramps but still went 3.15! I realize it was not up to your expectations, but you will run another day to PR FOR SURE!!! We learn SO much from races like these.

And, I do think NO decisions for 2 weeks. I promised myself I would NOT decide on anything for 2010 until after this weekend (2 weeks for me) and I have NOT done anything TRI related all week in Tucson (work-wise especially) and it has been awesome to CLEAR the clutter out of my head this week.

Enjoy your R&R and Happy Thanksgiving to you and Beth!

I know you will smash 3.15 next year - I did not read your previous blogs yet (do you and beth think it was an electrolyte imbalance?)


Kim said...

Thinking of you Oscar and knowing that you did your best and we do learn something from every race. It's the "quest" that keeps us coming back and that we love the training and lead up to the race. The end result is just one component and your love of training will carry you through. hope to see you guys soon. Thanks for being my bike locker. Maybe this weekend - Saturday?