I’m going to write about what I learned from the carnage of this race before actually recapping it. I’m still not ready to put the ugly in writing, and instead am trying to listen to the old adage : “the only mistakes are those you do not learn from”
or something like that.
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Sunday after crossing the finish line I said I wasn’t going to recap the race. At all. I was going to pretend it never happened and ignore all inquiries until everyone forgot about it or assumed I didn’t run it at all.
But after a full analysis and major vent session with Emily (and recovering from the mimosas that obviously accompanied) about the let down of the SUB4 That Wasn’t, I realized there are lessons – that either you reading or me-in-the-future – can learn from.
What To Tell Yourself After Telling The World You Were Going to Sub4
And Never Considered Failing… And Then You Do, Bad, And It Sucks.
- I still whole-heartedly believe shortened training plans are a good fit for my (injury-prone) needs. However if I’m decreasing quantity, I need to increase quality. I ran (some) of my training runs hard, but know I could have been pushed further, focused better, and gotten more out of them.
- Lesson : Keep the __W2M, but quit being a pansy during weekday workouts.
- Race Prep
- I had a lot going on race week (a work trip to Denver and a sweaty visitor to prepare for) which were good for keeping me away from full-on Taper Crazy mode. However I never got the chance to get pumped/excited/nervous about the race, because there were all these other big things occupying my thoughts pretty much until the night before.
- Lesson : Continue inviting strangers from the internet to stay & race with you, but make a conscious effort to devote some time to mentally prep/visualize your race. Don’t quit job because you won’t be able to afford to race anymore.
- Morning Of
- Early Sunday morning was easy and drama free. Everything behaved – my intestines performed like clockwork and my race braid was perfect on the first try. Breakfast was delicious and we were on the road right on time. Well, what I thought was on time.
- I totally underestimated the traffic. We cruised into Long Beach easily and then SLAMMED into a wall of cars (not literally) a few miles before the exit. Then in a moment of braindead panic, I veered off the highway and we drove around the piers trying to get back on track for eternity. We parked with less than 10 minutes to gun time, sprinted .75 miles (yes, I mapmyrun’d it) to the start. Only after storming into Auld Dubliner, begging the bartender to let us use the bathrooms, and then shamelessly dropping trou while the male janitor was still inside.
- We ran into the corrals just as the gun for Wave 1 went off. I stood in flowing foot traffic for 2 minutes waiting for Garmin to find satellites, attaching my D-tag, and ferociously gnawing through my Snickers. It was underway before I got the chance to get excited/nervous/pumped about it. It was mile 9 before I started thinking about the act of running and not the horror movie I’d just put us through.
- Lesson : Camp out at the start line the night before. Or let someone less mentally challenged & delusional make the morning-of schedule. Also, quit thinking you can drive without a GPS.
- Before anyone chastises me for being a dumbass, I’ll say I put a lot of thought into my race strategy. I wanted to bank time – which I realize has universally been agreed is not possible. But other than the fact I don’t like following rules, I thought it was my best hope for a sub4 due to my 1) shortened training and 2) mental toughness to surge the final few miles.
- I felt great in my 8:50-9:00 pace for 15 miles. Then the sun came out, and with each mile lapping a little slower and slower, my head lost interest. By the final miles my hopes at Sub4 were gone, and so were any hopes for a surge. I said “F IT” and checked out completely.
- I can’t say for certain which of the factors – fast early miles, weather, or mental weakness – were my downfall, but I know I can work on at least two of them.
- Lesson : Develop and build a machine to manipulate ideal running conditions for all future races.
- The Uncontrollables
- Other than attaching a heat lamp to the treadmill or moving to the equator, I don’t know how you can prepare for the weather. I fretted the 80/sunny forecast all week, but went into the race with hopes we’d get lucky with a false forecast. For the Monsoon Marathon I took it in stride thinking, “well I’m here and there’s nothing I can do about it so just run through it” – that didn’t happen for me here. The sun completely zapped me – physically and mentally.
- Lesson : Quit being a spoiled little bitch and learn how to deal with adversity. You have no right to complain about the weather in SoCal, even on race day.