Sunday, September 16, 2012
September 16, 2012: Philadelphia, PA
Race: Rock and Roll Half Marathon
Result: 1:10:53, 38th male
I arrived to the starting line optimistic as always, but deep down, I had a feeling this wasn't going to be my peak race. It sucked, because I had the race of my life here last year(my 13.1 PR to date) and felt it was a somewhat "magical" race for me. I had every reason to believe I could PR again, based on workouts and just my overall progression of other shorter distance PRs. 2012 has been pretty much the same races as 2011(with the exception of this coming Oct/Nov schedule), and in all of those races until now I had run faster than last year. I guess I was due for a major ass whooping. Life ain't perfect, that's for sure. You could analyze training any way you want, but the reality is that in the end running is all about perserverance. You're going to have ups and downs, and it's getting through "the downs" that make your breakthroughs in racing. This race was definitely a downer for me. I guess my last bad race was the USA Half Championships in June-although it really didn't seem that bad since I was coming off a fantastic Spring of PRs and could only expect so much(and honestly was just happy to participate in the event).
The beginning of the race started very quickly. I saw the great Ritzenhein speed up to the front pack of lead runners. A string of male elite runners followed and I was somewhere not too far behind. I had a great start. I felt ok. I actually went out 5:05 pace, which really was my goal-I was shooting to be anywhere between 5:05-5:10s. A group of the Hansons runners came up on me and I hung with them for a while-I honestly felt like I could run with them. That would have to be another day. They would leave me after about 4 miles or so. I went through 5 miles in 25:30something but shortly after that was when the wheels began to fall off. The pack left me, and I couldn't hang. I had a slight cramp-but worked through it and it would eventually go away. Still slowing. Starting to not feel good. I tried to get back in it and felt like I was going strong. I kept my eyes on the runners ahead. Then Sean Barrett passed me, a really good runner whom I barely beat last year in this race. He STORMED passed me. I tried to go with him but it just wasn't working. The turnover wasn't there. I hit 10K in 32:10-I was actually on 1:07 pace, even though I was slowing. So I tried, and believe me, was motivated to try to keep the turnover going. I would not give up. I wanted 1:07. I kept grinding but Sean gained furthur and furthur ground on me. At mile 7 I saw the clock read 36:20(a very slow 5:20 split) and knew 1:07 was starting to fade, and I was continuing to slow despite how hard I was trying to keep my turnover going.
It's unbelievable how some races you run fast and some races you don't-yet you feel like you're pushing just as hard-or feel just as bad. No matter what though, I never quit. I will never, ever drop out of a race unless for a damn good health reason. Yes, I did not feel good. I had a cramp in my side, my turnover sucked, my breathing labored-I felt shitty as hell. I felt like Batman in the scene where he was fighting Bane and no matter how hard he fought, he was already physically unmatched and outdone. I just wasn't in prime condition. More runners had passed me, whizzing by me as if I were standing still. Although I did pass someone laboring around mile 9. At mile 10, I was at 52:52, realizing I had slowed even more. I saw Carlos Renjifo passing me, whom I usually beat(not to discredit him though-he is a very good runner). Then around mile 11, a runner came up on me who I stayed with for a while. It at least helped that it was someone who I could run with instead of just flying by me. I was crawling though. My pace was really slowing now. At mile 12, he picked up the pace and I had zero turnover. I finished as well as I could and felt like it was just a jog at the same time. I was CRUSHED. I ended up crossing the line in 1:10:53, a time to me, these days, is pretty slow.
The reality is, 1:10 really isn't a bad time! It's amazing, how far I've come. The beginning of 2011, when I ran 1:10 for the first time, I was ecstatic-but now it is a slow time for me. It's sometimes a price you pay when you improve your times. It is these types of races that make you a stronger runner. They test you. They test how bad you want it. I have a marathon on 11/18(over 2 months from now) that I am training for. I think, honestly, I am just not in peak condition yet. I think with a little bit more work and a few more workouts, I will be in prime condition for Oct/Nov. Last year, I peaked for the Philadelphia Half Marathon, then I ran a mediocre marathon in Oct that certainly was not up to my potential. I think the coach inside me tells me this, but the runner always wants that PR, always wants to make that extra jump, always wnats to be perfect, which is impossible. At the same time it is a driving force for motivation and resilience. I have been through this before. It is nothing new.
I hope to claim redemption at the Army 10 Miler in 5 weeks. I hope by then, I will be more primed, and ready to roll. I am certainly hungry for more, and will hit some high mileage again after a low of 59 this week. After Army, there will be 4 weeks until the Philadelphia Marathon. I have 9 weeks. I know what I need to do. It is time to pick myself up, dust myself off, and do what I have always done, perservere.