Here are the footnotes from my "race" this past weekend:
1. What happened?
Sunday was the year's biggest race - the Club Challenge 10 Miler. From a team perspective, this is the race we prepare months for each year, and this year's team was the best we'd ever assembled. Expectedly, there were some beyond amazing performances, which I highlighted over on the Team Blog. Alyssa ran a great race, running 3 minutes faster than last year and blasting through the 70 minute barrier. But for me, this was not a good day.
Maybe I'm numb to failure, but I don't find myself getting upset, instead just taking bad days in stride. They happen. To me, they happen a lot.
Perhaps the most frustrating thing is that I've re-tooled my approach to most races, and just find myself running slower and slower. In the past, I would go out hard, and often times eat it in the back half. Then everyone would make fun of me, say I go out too hard, why don't you go out slower, etc.
Coming into the race, I was supremely less confident than I've ever been going into it. Last year I ran 1:00:12, in 2009 I ran 58:55, in 2008 I ran 59:25. I honestly thought I could fall into that range, but I was going to go out a little more relaxed than I normally would. On paper I was maybe 20th-25th on our team's depth chart, and I knew who I should try to stick with. The first mile is mostly downhill, and while they seem to change the location of the mile marker each year, the 6:07 I ran was undoubtedly the slowest first mile I've ever run in a race shorter than half marathon.
I looked at my watch in disgust, but I was running with a good little pack, so I kept running with them. Mile 2 was a shade quicker, and we hit the split in 12:02. Mile 3 has a little dip - the steep downhill kills me, so I lose a little momentum there - but the split was again in line at 6:02.
And that's where my day ended.
Pretty much since I started running again, going back to 2010, I've had nothing but problems. Foot, hamstring, piriformis, you name it. I've always suspected that it's largely related to the muscular imbalance I perpetually face following surgery, and the fact that my right knee doesn't bend or straighten even close to as well as my left knee. I've always just put my head down and barreled through, figuring that it's probably "just the way it's going to be" - but now I'm wondering if my body has had enough.
I can't remember a run, or ride, or even swim in the last two years now that has been completely comfortable. I'm not fluid, I'm not smooth. Building up to and following IMAZ in November, my left ham/piriformis started misbehaving. This was exacerbated in January when I did the Charleston Marathon. I've had a lot of problems since, and haven't had many good runs in the last 6 weeks. As I got past mile 3 on Sunday, the familiar feeling of dragging a dead leg along was too much, and my options were going to either be keep pressing until I dropped out, or just slow down.
The pace crept up to 6:30-6:40 or so, and stabilized there. I was fine aerobically, but was wincing with each step. Everybody was passing me. Then the worst possible thing that could happen, happened: I caught up to Remus just before mile 8. He had obviously gone out real hard, and was now just coasting in. He was letting everyone else pass him, but when he saw me, he got excited, and then started running with me, and would not shut up. I had to run it in to the finish with him. I should have just stayed behind him so he didn't know I was there.
So I ran 1:04:54. Yikes. To call it a race, at this point, wouldn't be fair. In 2006, the first year I ran Club Challenge, when I was not running that long, and raced stupidly, and wasn't prepared for the hills, I ran 1:04:10 or something. Somehow, this day was worse.
I'm not sure where to go from here. It's the type of malady where you need to actively work on it rather than just take time off. I can run, it is just aggravated when I'm trying to run faster. This hampers most of my spring goals. I had hoped to pop under 58:55 at CC at the beginning of the year, but I realized that was a little bit of a stretch given what I was doing. My goal of running < 16:48 at Shamrock 5k in two weeks is out.
I'm frustrated because I obviously just bring it on myself, so I only have myself to blame. So far this year I've swam too much, ridden too little, and run too slow. It doesn't leave me feeling too good about the spring race season, or beyond, for that matter. I'm not sure that all the king's horses and all the king's men could actually put me back together again.