Monday, March 19, 2012

"This is a Process,This is a Process"-Shamrock 2012 Race Report

It takes great patience to be great at something.  You have to look at the bigger picture.  This can be difficult for runners, since we have such high expectations and want to see results immediately.  It takes patience, and more patience.  As the quote from Moneyball goes, "This is a process, this is a process."

Last fall,  I made a huge breakthrough performance in September at the Philadelphia RocknRoll Half Marathon, running a monster PR 1:08:39, breaking 1:10:00 for the first time-let alone even 1:09:00!  It was an incredible race and I was on top of the world knowing I had reached new heights. When you reach a new level, you get excited and already begin to look at the next level.  The thing that becomes difficult though, is realizing and facing that there are plateaus before making the next jump.  It was 6 months ago I ran 1:08:39, and I basically ran a little bit slower on Sunday(1:09:27)-but I consider it the same range of area I hit back in September-meaning, performance wise, you can say it is extremely similar(48 seconds in difference).  Now, where it gets really frustrating is when workouts tell you otherwise.

Every interval/threshold workout I have done the past few months has been +/- 5:00 pace.  When I look at my training log, I see a lot of 4:59s of 1-2 mile intervals.  I see 4:50s.  I don't see anything slower than 5:05.  This work has yet to be shown in a race.

I ended up placing 16th in the race.  I ran the best I could, and know that I wouldn't have run faster or did anything stupid.  I was splitting 5:15s the entire way-if anything I ran pretty damn even.  I just wasn't ready to run faster-it almost seemed like a workout(??), not a race.  There was a giant pack of 10-15 guys that surged to the front(all who were running +/- 1:05), and at first I was in the back but soon realized I wasn't ready to run with them.  I ended up running alone for much of the race.  All the other local runners were behind me, and I was just stuck in-between-in no man's land.  1:09:27, don't get me wrong, I would have been THRILLED with this time last year to have run that.  It is only the second time I have gone under 1:10:00.  I ended up finishing as the top MD, VA, DC runner.  The only runners who beat me were either international athletes or out of state runners.

So I wouldn't consider the race a bad race-I think when I was younger I learned that a truly "bad race" is when you don't give 100% effort.  That I can say, I have mastered.  I know how to push myself.  It is having the faith of letting things come together at the right moment, the right time, that I am learning.  I think, when you make a jump, you need to repeat that effort sometimes, in order to make the next jump.  And that is what I did Sunday- I basically repeated a race that I have run before, but this time was unsatisfied-this is a good thing-it keeps me hungry.  You learn, you repeat, you move up.  This is a process.

I hope I am in one hell of a race for Cherry Blossom.  A 10 mile race sounds like nothing to me now, and I intend to beat a lot of good runners.  The field is loaded.  It will be fast.  I'm not sure if I have a particular goal, but I do know if I run the way I have run these workouts, I will surely hit a home run.



  1. You're a stud. That's all I got. :)

  2. You can't PR in every race and, like you said, you weren't far off in the big-picture scheme of things (3-4 secs/mile). I don't know what pace you started the half at, but I recall your goal was a 1:06. That's a hefty chunk of change off your recently run breakthrough race. Big breakthroughs like that, while not impossible, take time - as you've also pointed out.

    You might consider shaking things up a bit. I'd wait until after CB before doing so, but take a long hard look at your logs and ask yourself:
    1. was I training too hard?
    2. was I running too much (ie - am I over trained)

    I think if you run sub-51 at CB, you can forget what I said above.

    The good thing is that you're lightyears ahead of where you were last year at this time and it's a great thing when you're upset at your second best 1/2 time! You've done all the work, now it's the little things. Keep it easy these next couple weeks and get those legs turning over.

  3. I appreciate the input Jake. I think your first words says it all: you can't PR in every race. A runner who I coach mentioned to me "does Ryan Hall PR in every race?" I think that makes sense.

    I must say though, no matter what I run at Cherry Blossom, I am 100% healthy and not overtrained. This might sound a bit arrogant, but I can definitely say I know how to not overtrain and avoid injury(I used to get injured in college all the time because I was overtrained)-which is also why I love coaching. I had a lot of experience with that when I was in college.

  4. Well, you can still be 100% healthy/not injured and still be over-trained. Being over-trained is putting in a ton of work/great workouts and not yielding the appropriate results -- essentially due to "leg exhaustion". Again, not saying you are over-trained, because your half result wasn't too far off your best, but it is something to keep in mind.