… and that will happen. I’m not disappointed. While nothing came together, it was totally awesome to line up on the starting line as one of the elite runners for the first time. That alone was an incredible experience, one that for most of my life I never thought would happen. Besides, isn’t it the training that is supposed to be the fun part?
A friend wrote to me before I left and said, “Sometimes the course tour backfires and scares the sh_t out of you.” Yep. In person it looks a lot hillier than it does in a profile. It is an incredible, yet difficult course. But it wasn’t course intimidation that did me in.
The short story is that I read 6:21 at the first mile thinking I was running 6:35, and the whole race fell apart from there. I was a little warm for racing and I was covered in sweat by mile three. I tripped on bridge expansion joints twice. I was really struggling at mile ten and I passed through the half in 1:29:40, stopped at the next bottle table to get more water in me after struggling with the last two water bottles, and ran another two miles to the relay station to drop out at 15.5. Sometimes it is just not worth getting injured. In fact, it is never worth getting injured.
I dropped out, but there was still cause for celebration: my sister’s husband ran the half under in 1:49:20, ten minutes faster than his last race! He’s done well.
This is the short version of the race report. I have some topics to spawn off of it in the near future. But right now, I’ll tell you that the course, though difficult, is kinda cool. The race is exceptionally well organized.
- I ticked off 6:21 on the first mile, which was downhill. Everyone on the starting line was out of control on the first mile. I heard the OTQ pacer took it at 6:00/mi
- I missed a bunch of mile markers. I don’t know what to say. They are really hard to see despite the big signs.
- I don’t think pre-race fueling came together at all. In fact, I felt like I had to throw up for a while in the morning.
- Insomnia! Past two years now and still going. Someone please tell me it goes away as mysteriously as it appears.
- I had no business racing after going through periods of feeling overtrained or injured during the training block.
- The bottles I used kinda sucked. I found and grabbed the three bottles I passed, but struggled to get water from the bottles into my mouth. My sister actually found one of my water bottles in the street and brought it home. It will make a good souvenir of what didn’t go well.
- Training fell apart three weeks ago. I detrain really quickly. My last run longer than like 15 miles was 6 weeks ago in Amsterdam.
- Training terrain wasn’t appropriate for this course. It is not like I had much option here, but might as well admit it.
- It was kinda warm. It was actually really warm after the first hour. I had a layer of sweat on me by mile 3 and decided I needed to start hydrating at the first water bottle table. I easily grabbed the water bottles, I just struggled using them.
- I rushed back to training on a sprained MCL
- My training was sporadic and poorly planned. I was more concerned with the volume number than workouts going properly. I probably should have backed down the VDOT charts and did workouts easier until I was nailing them again.
- Training with other people is bad. All that happens is that you end up with at least two people who aren’t doing what they should be doing.
- I didn’t actively pursue training with the elite team here. It seems like everyone scattered over the winter and then that new job thing kinda got in the way.
- I screwed something up and gained several pounds back that I lost last year.
- I’m not pointing any fingers yet, but I am suspicious of training in Hokas after spending a whole season in flat shoes with almost no issues.
I learned a few things that will make for good race day strategy at the next race.
- I showed up really really organized. I kinda had to because I did race prep in three different cities. I showed up with a flip-top plastic crate with all my gear right down to foam roller and flat iron, did my thing, and then shipped it UPS back to my office so there was no schlepping.
- I tapped my spare gels to my arms with 3M Transpore tape. I raced in bunhuggers and so I lost pockets. This worked really well. 3M Transpore is awesome.
- Even though I missed a bunch, I got much better pacing feedback by manually lapping miles at the markers.
- A lot less warmup than last time. In general, that felt fine.
And then, after the family had gotten together to run, we went on an excursion on the way back to go find the cemetery near Pittsburgh where my great grandparents and great great grandparents were buried.
Despite the race not going as planned, I had a great weekend in Pittsburgh. Now for a little down time before choosing my next PR attempt!