Beginners and Beyond


Most race reports tell about the "Thrill of Victory". This one is about the "Agony of Defeat". (Read 266 times)


Fear is a Liar

    The short version : I wanted to crawl into a ball and eat a box of ice cream.


    The title is a little dramatic but it reminds me of the old Wide World of Sports tv show from years past.


    The longer version: A week ago I ran the annual Historic Bethlehem 5K Turkey Trot. It's a big local race that gets well over 1000 racers and the announcer said this year was a record of over 1600. 


    Pre-race: Trying to dial in my pre-race meal I decided to go with just a bowl  of cereal and no coffee. My past two races I had kind of a burning feeling in my stomach around mile 2, and I felt the coffee might be to blame. The starting area is kind of tight so I lined up early, all the way to the left and just behind two other guys who were going to run a pace slightly slower than I was planning. A high school kid lined up next to me and he was telling me how he ran the 9 mile Diamond race two days earlier and his legs were a bit sore. He was planning to PR and win this race - he came in second. My goal was to have a good story to tell about my Two Year Runniversary, but that wasn't in the cards. Two years ago I saw a brochure for this annual race and thought what a cool idea to race "me". Through out my life I have always raced something, but that something was some type of machine, and I was the driver. At that time I wasn't racing anything because those "machines" become a part time job with full time expenses. So I have been a runner for 2 years.


    Race : We're off and I dial my pace in by feel. I have learned from the past to use my Garmin as an odometer and not a speedometer. I don't look at it until the end - I have become pretty good at judging pace by effort. About 300 yards in each leg feels like a 2 ton heavy thing. One young girl casually passes me in short shorts and a tech tee and I think to myself, " it's a blustery 30 degree morning and my wife wears more clothes to bed than what she has on". There's a slight hill going into town and its feeling steeper than it actually is. This is not good, this early.


    Mile 1 point : Is this a sign? We are running right past my car. I could call it quits and no one would know. I chose to continue, after all it's flat terrain by the canal for the next mile.


    Mile 2 : I'm trying to keep my effort at 5K intensity but it feels like I am pulling one of those sleds the football players tie to their  waists, plus my form is off and I am leaning forward. I dial into a guy who looks like he'd be in my age group and accelerate on the tow path. I back it off though because there is another hill coming up. I also notice that for my effort the speed just doesn't seem right.


    Mile 3 : It's a slight hill up and around the municipal complex. At the top I felt like giving in to the temptation to walk but I have never done that before and from here on it's all down hill.


    The rest of it : There's a nice downhill and I feel like I pick up speed. One of the finishers is doing the course backwards and giving encouragement. I've done that before, but right now I find it annoying - note to self, don't do that anymore. I am passing a few people at the end but when I see the clock my mind screams WHAT? I finish 1minute and 20 seconds slower that my PR 2 weeks ago.


    Post race analysis : It doesn't make sense. I wasn't expecting a PR but this was a let down. I couldn't figure out the poor outcome. There were a bunch of small things, but even added up it shouldn't have been that bad. So I say to myself, "Self, what would Moth do?". So I checked my training log and realized that 6 days prior I donated blood. I think that was the reason.


    Thanks for reading and if anyone has insight on the blood donation thing, please chime in.

    I'm so vegetarian I don't even eat animal crackers!

      My thoughts:


      1.  The blood donation is, in all likelihood, the culprit.

      2.  Sometimes, you just have an off day.  I ran a half marathon in April.  My training had been perfect and I felt great before the start.  I ran one of my worst races ever.

      3.  Sometimes, you have a great day.  I ran a half Marathon in November.  My training had all been directed at endurance and I didn't get in a great warm up and had done no race specific training.  I PR'd by almost a minute.  Go figure.

      4.  You do exactly the right thing, IMHO, by running by feel.  I ran both of those races I just described by feel and I can tell you that the effort level was the same in both even if the time in the first one sucked compared to the time in the second.  The good thing about a bad race is that it helps you to develop perspective.  I looked at mine and thought that if I could still run sub 1:30 on a off day, that was still pretty damn good.  Similarly, if you can run a decent 5K even on an off day, that's still pretty damn good.

      Short term goal: 17:59 5K

      Mid term goal:  2:54:59 marathon

      Long term goal: To say I've been a runner half my life.  (I started running at age 45).


      Jess runs for bacon

        That race was cursed. I went into it fully expecting to PR. I went 45 seconds slower than my best, and 30 seconds slower than my last 5k at the end of September.


        Respect City Hall hill. I've run a lot of hills, and that one is extremely tough. I also lost a lot of energy dodging people pretty much the entire course, was that an issue for you? The blood donation probably just compounded it.


        Slymoon Runs

        race obsessed

          Chin up Gustav, I have been there.


          I am typically a very avid donor but for this entire marathon training cycle I have been pushing the donors off.


          I donated halfway through one of last years HM training cycles and it borked my training runs for almost two weeks. A combination of training hard and not allowing appropriate recovery in conjunction with donation.


          Even with perfect preparation sometimes the race/ run is just off.


          Wickedly Average

            Hang in there, Gustav - we have good days and bad days. This one, for you, wasn't as close to "good" as you'd like.


            Perhaps you'd built up some fatigue in the legs, or maybe you just didn't quite feel like racing. Maybe the blood donation had an effect. But it'll be back, and you'll be running at the top of your game soon enough..


            BTW, I do remember that intro to the "Wide World of Sports". 

            Tom (formerly known as PhotogTom)

            5K - 25:16, 10K - 55:31,  15K - 1:20:55,   HM - 1:54:54


            Letting off steam

              One can recover the plasma volume within a couple of days after a blood donation, but it can take up to 90 days to replace the red blood cells donated.  

              This most certainly had an effect.



                Gustav- Sorry that you had a bad race, but congrats on sticking with it and still putting in a solid effort!  That takes so much more determination than coasting in on a high on the days when everything is going right!

                I am usually off on my paces for about a week after a blood donation.  And the feeling is almost exactly what you describe- I run slower but by effort feel like I should be running much faster.


                It sounds like you're also very good at pacing yourself and recognizing your effort level.  That's also great- way to go!  I am still working on that one.


                  I'm so sorry you had a bad race Sad. I had a bad one myself yesterday, maybe I'll write up a RR this evening. It definitely sounds like the blood donation was the culprit.  The next one will be better!



                  Bless your heart.


                  Skirt Runner

                    Sorry you had a bad race. Aren't you also getting over an ankle injury? That could be the culprit too.

                    PRs:   5K- 28:16 (5/5/13)      10K- 1:00:13 (10/27/13)    4M- 41:43 (9/7/13)   15K- 1:34:25  (8/17/13)    10M- 1:56:30 (4/6/14)     HM- 2:20:16 (4/13/14)     Full- 5:55:33 (11/1/15)


                    I started a blog about running :) Check it out if you care to


                    Smaller By The Day

                      In cycling, you would have put that pint of blood back into your system just before the race.  Then, you would have destroyed your PR, but because you're an honest fellow, you let someone who needed it have it.  It cost you a couple of minutes.  It's all good.


                      Weight 100 pounds lost

                      5K 31:02 Sept. 2012 / 23:36 Sept. 2013 (Same Course)

                      10K 48:59 April 2013

                      HM 2:03:56 Nov. 2012 / 1:46:50 March 2013

                      MARATHON 3:57:33 Nov. 2013


                        Ohhh, man - it was just one of those days.  I'm sorry it didn't go as well as you hoped, but the next one will be better.  Your PR is shiny and new yet and I'm certain there will be more in your near future.  Thanks for the RR.  It was super entertaining!

                        delicate flower

                          Sorry to hear about the bad race, Gustav.  I appreciate when someone takes the time to tell us about a bad race.  I've posted a couple that didn't go well, including a 5K where I completely fell apart one mile in.  




                            Love your new siggy!


                            Fear is a Liar

                              In cycling, you would have put that pint of blood back into your system just before the race.  Then, you would have destroyed your PR, but because you're an honest fellow, you let someone who needed it have it.  It cost you a couple of minutes.  It's all good.


                              Thanks Awood - it was a blood drive for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. I figure it was better to help them then run around setting a PR in my Kinvaras. Have to keep it in perspective. Have to keep it real.

                              I'm so vegetarian I don't even eat animal crackers!


                              Fear is a Liar

                                Love your new siggy!


                                I'll be back!

                                I'm so vegetarian I don't even eat animal crackers!