I guess that’s the easiest, simplest explanation for what happened yesterday at my race. I also tend to set these really high unbelievably hard goals for myself, and then feel genuinely surprised when I can’t reach them.
So somewhere around 12k I had the dawning realization that perhaps I wasn’t a superhero after all, even though I feel like one most of the time. And could it actually be possible that I might NOT revolutionize running with my super genius innovative race strategy??
Basically, I had a great idea for a racing technique and it didn’t quite work out.
MY DON’T-TRY-THIS-AT-HOME STRATEGY
In training, I ran the entire 21k distance without stopping and I made good time. So on race day instead of just repeating what I did, I wanted to play off of the adrenaline and accomplish something a little harder. Except it turned out to be a LOT harder.
Here’s what I did:
I split up my race into 10 minute intervals.
I would start running my regular pace for 8 minutes. I would then sprint as fast as I could, with everything I had for 2 minutes. I would walk for 30 seconds to catch my breath. Then repeat for the entire race.
In my mind, the sprinting would give me the extra edge and offset the 30 second walks. I thought I would finish this way in 1:45 (instead of the 2:05 that I did). Here are my actual stats again.
I knew it would be hard to run these intervals, but I never imagined that it would be like dying a slow and painful death for two whole hours.
WHY IT DIDN’T WORK
The cheetah is the fastest land animal in the world. It tires fast but it’s a great sprinter. When it hunts and catches its prey the cheetah is so exhausted from the sprint run that it has to hold its victim by the jugular and wait until it stops breathing because it’s too tired to actually maul its victim.
Other animals wait and watch, knowing that the cheetah is too tired to fight back and tries to steal the cheetah’s food. The cheetah realizes that it would be a lost cause trying to defend itself at the moment so it tries to climb a tree with its kill so it can catch its breath.
I started out strong. After 5k I had an idea that there might be something wrong. At 10k, I was behind and I felt like I had just run an entire marathon… twice. The second half of my race started going uphill. At that point I basically felt like a dying cheetah.
I thought about giving up my strategy several times, but I didn’t want to contaminate my race. I figured if I started this way, I should finish it and at least get an accurate time of how I would come out with the sprinting.
I guess when I consider how borderline impossible my idea was and how hellish it felt and the fact that it was the hardest workout of my life, I’m happy that I actually finished in one piece. I know that were it not for my training and nutrition, I never would have been able to finish this way.
My muscles still felt strong and so did my heart. It was the breathing that killed me. My lungs just could not keep up. I stuck with the 30 second recoveries at first, but as I got near the end of the race, that wasn’t nearly enough. So that threw off my interval time and in the end I was slower and much more tired. I killed the final sprint to the finish line, but by then it was much too late to recover any time.
I didn’t have the opportunity to check out my competition the way I had planned because I was literally so concentrated on just breathing. I wanted air, and that was pretty much all I could focus on. So in the end it wasn’t as fun as it could have been, which is unfortunate.
THE PHYSICAL SET BACKS
2. I wore what I always do for my runs – but it was much too hot for sprinting. My body generated heat a lot faster, and it felt like a race in the middle of summer instead of a cool, comfortable temperature. It was freezing in the morning but soon after my race the sun came out strong and I noticed a lot of people shedding layers, which I wasn’t prepared for. So I was burning up.
3. After the race I felt a soreness in my right ankle that I’ve never felt before. Nothing serious, but I assume it had to do with the intensity of the sprinting.
I don’t fully regret doing this because I learned a lot about my physical limits and my lung capacity and my personal stubbornness. If someone would have told me it was going to be like this (and people tried), I never would have listened. So at some point I was going to end up trying it. I’m glad it was now and not later.
THE DAY AFTER FEELINGS
I’m happy that I stuck with my idea until the end, but frustrated because I don’t feel that my time is an accurate reflection of what I can actually do. I’m very tempted to run another half properly and try to hit 1:45, but that would mean pushing back my full. I’m undecided.
Besides being a masochist, I may also be a bit of a perfectionist. I kind of want the proper stats on record. So I’m fine.. but at the same time I’m kicking myself. I decided I would take ONE day to sulk and overanalyze. Then tomorrow I’m going to shake this all off and start again. I need a comeback.
ON A POSITIVE NOTE
A friend of mine came up with a list of excuses that I could post in an attempt to redeem myself and avoid embarrassment. Here they are – take your pick.
PERFORMANCE EXCUSE #1:
I was devastated by news of the death of veteran heavy metal singer Ronnie James Dio.
PERFORMANCE EXCUSE #2:
Remember that Seinfeld episode when Kramer had a race and he refused to wear the AIDS ribbon and was chased by an angry mob of runners? That happened to me.
PERFORMANCE EXCUSE #3:
The Running Room poisoned by free breakfast muffin in an attempt to silence the barefoot revolution.
PERFORMANCE EXCUSE #4:
I thought wearing high heels would make the course all downhill.
PERFORMANCE EXCUSE #5:
You mean alcohol is NOT a carb??