Race Failure – Great Weekend

Posted: September 29, 2012 in events, injury, running, Training Log, travel
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Pacific coast of Costa Rica: 85 degrees, 50% humidity at race start

ECORUN 10K – Goals, Assumptions, Reality

Going into this race I set my goals on a sliding scale of reality and wishful thinking.  Finishing in under 1 hour was my most unrealistic and ambitious goal. Running a negative split was the more realistic goal, because I could ease into the race, completing the first 5k in whatever time I needed to, in order to feel like I still had something to offer during the second half. I finished the race in 1:08:10, my MOTOACTV watch clocking the distance as 6.37 miles, and also failed to run a negative split.  Pretty disheartening, no?

Well, yes and no. But mostly yes. Let me explain. The ECORUN’s website and registration page still listed all of the details from last year’s race, indicating that the race was on 100% asphalt. So it was quite the surprise when around 2.5 miles into the race we were steered out and onto sands of of the beach at Playa Herradura.  The giant sand trap lasted about three quarters of a mile and sapped a lot of energy from my legs as I tried to maintain a reasonable pace. The worst part was trying to get off the beach because it was a fairly narrow route leading back onto the roads and previous runners had turned the sand over so much it literally felt like it was sucking you back in as you attempted to run.  Back on the road finally, I relaxed and felt fairly comfortable as my watch ticked off the completion of the first 5k a few minutes later.

Having run a fairly decent 5k time (for me) and considering the terrain and heat, I decided I had the opportunity still to shoot for a negative split, so I gradually tried to pick up the pace, seeking to catch a runner 100 yards or so ahead of me.  Things were going well for a brief time, and then we hit the golf course. No shade whatsoever, completely exposed to the elements. And completely uphill. The timing could not have been worse. Right where I was planning to test my meddle by increasing my effort on the flats I was greeted with 1.5 miles of pure climbing and winding. The combination of the sun, slightly faster pace and hills proved too much and I was forced to walk several times during this stretch in order to avoid blowing up. This was incredibly demotivating because instead taking on a time trial challenge head on, I was now facing doubts about finishing without embarrassing myself.

30 minutes of elevation gain in an 85 degree cloudless sky knocked me off of my game plan

Full race data from the MOTOACTV watch is here.

SPLITS

Mile       Elapsed

10:36     10:36

9:56        20:32

10:14      30:46 

11:02      41:48

12:33      54:21

10:17     1:04:38

3:28       1:08:10

As you can see, after 4 miles I knew that breaking the 1 hour barrier would be next to impossible unless I could miraculously manage 2 sub 9 minute miles, something I have not accomplished in training yet.  But I was still fairly positive about the possibility of a slight negative split. Look at that mile #5 disaster: 12:33.  As ugly as ugly can be. At that point the run literally became about survival.  I bounced back decently with a 10:17 in mile #6, and the final .37 miles (according to my watch, anyway) were at 9:19.

CONCLUSIONS

Do not rely on website information or previous race data when planning or visualizing your race plan. If you have the opportunity nothing beats first hand knowledge of the course.

If I’m too shy to make a phone call or ask detailed questions during packet pick-up I don’t deserve to run a good race.

Goals are great, but don’t let unpleasant surprises break you down mentally. Be stronger than the elements, if not faster.

Don’t judge a book by its cover. I was secretly sizing a few people up during the pre-race routine and I don’t even know why. Maybe I didn’t like their shoes, gear or loud personalities. Maybe it was my way of getting psyched up for a competition. I don’t know. But it was a pointless waste of mental energy and is a negative vibe to avoid. Plus, all three of them finished ahead of me. Time for some humble pie.

Every run will not be a great run.  I ran 13.1 miles two weeks ago and was overconfident today, believing that the distance was no longer an issue and my only concern was how fast I could finish.  Some runs are going to throw the kitchen sink at you and if you don’t adjust quickly and decisively, you may not like what happens next.

My experience as a runner and my fitness level still do not allow a great difference between my relaxed pace and a ‘race’ pace.  There is still so much work to do in training to address both my aerobic endurance and my race pace stamina.

Sharing a get-away weekend with my wife, running a 10k together, regardless of finishing times, is a great bonding experience and if you aren’t an elite or pro runner don’t ever let yourself get caught up in a disappointing result so much that you lose perspective of how great things really are.

Me and Nery Brenes, Costa Rican Olympic sprinter and 2012 IAAF World Indoor Championship gold medal winner, 400 meters.

My medal is a turtle: very appropriate considering my finish time.

A great way to wash away the post race blues.

The marina at Los Sueños Ocean & Golf Resort by Marriott

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Comments
  1. chris says:

    I like the look of that Craft Brewing Co beer!

    Good lesson about learning as much as you can about the course and race—hopefully more than what the race web site tells you. I hope to run an ultra race in Nicaragua in February. I have a feeling it’s going to be the hardest 50km race I’ve ever done. Here’s the web site:

    http://fuegoyagua.org/

    Heard any rumors from Costa Rica about this event?

  2. 10n84w says:

    Chris,
    I’m not really plugged into the running community at large here, so i haven’t heard about that race. Just spent about 10 minutes on their website though, and looks like a blast! I can tell you this, the way my tiny elevation change killed me in my 10k, I’d hate to see that volcano climb. We have a similar race here in Costa Rica at the end of October, a half, full and an ultra that ascend and descend the volcano Arenal, one of our active volcanos. Keep me posted as your race date approaches so i can try and track that.

  3. […] A fully detailed race report is here. […]

  4. […] was also sky high.  There’s a possibility that I still wasn’t fully recovered from last weekend’s 10K […]

  5. […] participated in two official races: the ECO RUN 10k and the City Tour Race.  The Eco Run surprised me by taking us off road for a stint over the sand […]

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