Monday, February 8, 2010

Surf City 1/2 marathon race report: No excuses

I have been deep in thought since the beginning of this race. It was my last attempt at fulfilling my goal of a sub 2 hour 1/2 marathon before I run the full. Interestingly enough, this race was the most I have focused on this goal. The last time I tried to PR at this distance I finished at 2:12. All that said, here it goes.

I woke up with a very calm demeanor. I had a plan for today and my progress so far should lend itself to sub 2 hours. The weather was georgous. Sunny, cool, slight breeze, not a cloud in the sky. The day before rained cats and dogs. My group separated into our respective corrals and I took my place amongst the other 2 hour folks. My plan was simple go out a bit slow, speed up to the 9 mile mark hold on, and pour it on with a strong finish.

My first 5K was a few seconds slower than I wanted but nothing I couldn't recover from. I wanted about 9:15ish. (Parts of this post is taken from an email from Karl, he put it into words nicely) At the three mile mark I was averaging 9:23/mi and at the next check point (8.2 miles) I had my average down to 9:15 (on pace for 2:01) which means that over the 5.2 miles after the 3 mile mark I averaged 9:10’s. 9:10 pace over 13.1 miles is 2:00:10.

The last 10K is where the gravy is. I wasnt hot, I wasnt hurting, I wasnt thirsty, I wasnt hungry, I wasnt sick. I didnt plan on walking. I was tired. I wanted to grind it out. I didnt. I wanted to have a strong fast finish. I didnt. I kept saying to myself this is the spot where I take off...TAKE OFF. I didnt have it. COME ON TAKE OFF. The course didnt beat me. It was georgous. Over half of the race with a ocean view. Breathtaking. Mile 10 there was a hill that killed me mentally. It wasnt big or steep or anything. It just took the wind out from underneath me. I was embarased since my best friend Karl came down to pace me. I wanted to celebrate with him. I wanted him to help me get there. The truth is he did help me to sub 2:10. Did I quit? I am disappointed in myself. I quit in front of Karl. The example of not quitting.

The final 4.9 miles were run in 52:00 or a 10:37/mi avg. It was the walking that slowed the average so much. I havent looked at my watch yet but Im sure if I add up the walking minutes its 7 or more. My calves were tight and quads were tired but I wasnt suffering. I felt like a rock climber looking desperately for a hand hold that wasnt there. I wanted to stop. This is going to be the fuel. Not to stop. Endurance athletics ask you to reach down deep. I looked around and didnt pull out of it. I am not happy about it. I should be somewhat happy. It was a PR of 5 min for me. I wanted 2 hours though. 2:07.

I am quickly learning and with more experience it is becoming more and more evident that everybody is a role model. Every level of athlete out there is looking up at the person in front of them. The walkers look up to the slow people who look up to medium fast people who look up to fast people who look up to the really fast people who look up to the pros and olympians. Where am I? Where will I be? I am just not what I thought I was. It is a good lesson. Humbling and hard but good nonetheless. Did I improve, hell yes. Will I continue to improve YOU BET YOUR ASS. Am I a inspiration, YES. When we get down to brass tacks, on this day, me compared to me, I quit. I will use this as fuel. I will think about this every time I train, I just know myself. I will get to the bottom of this. I wanted another notch and I wasnt willing to go there.

“Whenever you make a mistake or get knocked down by life, don't look back at it too long. Mistakes are life's way of teaching you. Your capacity for occasional blunders is inseparable from your capacity to reach your goals. No one wins them all, and your failures, when they happen, are just part of your growth. Shake off your blunders. How will you know your limits without an occasional failure? Never quit. Your turn will come.”
Og Mandino quotes

Perhaps my limit was reached and I thought it was further out there. I have learned a lot about this and next time I will be better prepared. For the record I am so damn proud of my wife. Busting her ass for the last few weeks with a complicated foot/ankle issue, had a PR of 2:07 too. She beat me by 9 sec. Before she knew what her time was I said, honey what percentage did you perform at? She said 80%. Her 80% is better than my 100%. I love her and I hope this helps her confidence blossom. Thanks for your time and the push Karl, I love you too man.


Chuck said...

When you break the 2 hour barrier, the disappointed from this race will only make it that much sweeter! Look at the positive. You were able to enjoy a beautiful day at the beach with your wife and friends, and PR by 5 minutes! Now it's time to focus on the LA Marathon. Congratulations! Great job!

Morgan said...

Just goes to show you never know what race day will hold no matter how hard you train. Great job even still, a PR is a PR and you will get that sub 2 Half just keep striving for it! Who knows you might get it during LA!!! Keep the faith and rock on! Congrats again!!!

Cathy said...

Congrats on your PR, Ron! I know you are disappointed that you didn't break the 2 hour mark, but you really have improved. That's a lot of time to take off of your race.

I read your blog because you are an ispiration to others. You have helped me go from a 5k (in which I felt like passing out afterwards) to a half marathon with injuries in between. Couldn't have done it without you.

You will rock that LA Marathon!

Karl Stutelberg said...

There is no lineman to block for you, no infielder to scoop up the bad pitch, no forward to rebound your missed shot. That is what I love about endurance sport. It is just you and the clock! A pacer can help but you still have to do the work. It was a blast running with you. Thanks for the kind words but I am no super-human. I slowed to a walk at my first shot at Boston, now that was humbling. Remember, consistency is the key to improvement over time. Lets do it again some time! I have always enjoyed being the pacer. Over the years I have developed a keen sense of maintaining almost any pace. Keep on runnin' and remember to enjoy the journey!

L.B. said...

On an off day, you set a PR and shaved five minutes off your old time. That's not too shabby. If you can shave some time off your next half, you'll get closer to the sub-2 and who knows you might get that 1:59:59 or lower.

Congrats on the PR! 2:07 ain't nothing to be ashamed of.

Anonymous said...

I love that quote!

I also really like your observation about how everyone has someone to look up to in a is so true! And while you didn't break your did awesome!!!! Congrats on the PR!

skierz said...

all races are good races, even the one that frustrate us! The best thing you have done, is you have gained some insigth and learned from the experience. tat is what makes us stronger and more resilient in the future! Congrats for your effort, and good luck as you prepare to tackle the next! Cheers

Pete32 said...

Great job Ron! The new PR trumps your 2hr goal. You PR at this distance everytime and you'll eventually get that sub-2hr goal. I too like your comment about "eveyone has someone they look up to." It's a great observation on life in general.

Jessi McCall said...

Congrats on your PR! Don't let 7 lousy minutes take away from a personal best. You should be proud! You trained well and had your fastest race yet. That Sounds successful to me.
Plus, you were in great company in the most beautiful place in California!! Good times. LA here you come!!!

Mel-2nd Chances said...

Congrats to both you and your wife! Like the others said, I think you'll get your sub 2 very soon :)

Christina said...

Great job on your PR. You are moving forward towards your goal.