The Peachtree Road Race was on Friday July 4 in Atlanta and it doubled as the US 10k road championships. I was very excited coming in as my legs were feeling pretty good coming off of a half marathon only 12 days before. My goal was to finish in the top 10 and run faster than I had the year before (29:51). I did not meet either goal. I got out quickly and was with the 2nd pack through almost 5k and then the wheels fell off. I hit mile 1 in 4:41, mile 2 in 4:31, mile 3 in 4:35, and 5k in roughly 14:17ish. I finished the race in 30:03 so you can do the math on how slowly I ran the second half of the race.
Yes, the last half of Peachtree is hilly and much more challenging than the first but I still am at a loss for why I ran it as slow as I did. I did not look at my watch throughout the entire race and worked hard to stay mentally engaged but as the large 2nd pack bounded away from me there was nothing I could do in response. I felt helpless and as if my body couldn’t have gone any faster if I had wanted it to. I crossed the finish line perplexed and angry.
After the race Pete was extremely positive as he looked forward with excitement to my debut marathon in the Fall. (BREAKING NEWS: I will debut in the marathon at Twin Cities in October. It may have been on the ESPN bottom line but many of you may have missed it, so now you know!)
This race has been especially hard for me to swallow. I always set lofty goals and not meeting them is hard but also a part of the sport. And it is even harder to digest when you think your body is feeling ready and then the race proves otherwise. I think, no I KNOW, the hardest part about running is not the mileage, the hard workouts, or the injuries; it is thinking your body is ready to perform at a high level and then you fall flat. It is the part of running that often has no real answers.
I have gone through a checklist of things I may have not been doing well and I, along with Pete, think it is not about what I am not doing. It is more about patience and realizing small improvements over time create great runners. Yes, gigantic breakthroughs happen but it is not the norm. Initially, I experienced enormous jumps in my racing in a very short amount of time and I think it has taken me a long time to realize that even though I am steadily improving, it will not always be like it once was. For instance, I ran 15:18 3 weeks after I started training, 14:34 after 12 months, 14:17 after 20 months, and in my first 10k of my life after roughly 24 months of training I ran 29:20. This year I have not raced well at times but I have consistently done things in training I could not have dreamed of a year ago (like FAST 20 milers finishing in under 5 minute pace; great practice for the marathon).
I know I have talent and that other runners have worked countless years for improvements and times like I ran so early on but I am still very impatient. Currently, I train with Tyler Pennel who is fast becoming one of the best road runners in the US. He and I have done lots of workouts and miles together over the past 2 years and, yes, he has dropped me many times but I also know I have pushed him at times as well (and dropped him a few times too). I believe that on my day we can race side by side and go 1-2 at a US championship but I guess I need to continue to keep my head down and work hard everyday preparing for that moment with a calm rather than hasty demeanor. That is something I CAN control and will continue to strive for in the coming year at ZAP.
There are any number of possible reasons why I did not perform to my capabilities on Friday but I do not want to dwell on them here. Instead, I want to highlight the positives I have had in the past year of running:
1. I was healthy for the entire year once again (almost 3 full years and counting).
2. I averaged 87 miles a week for the entire year including breaks(Peachtree 2013 to Peachtree 2014).
3. I ran my highest mileage week ever of 118 in the Fall (many more to come with marathon training).
4. I made rest a more important part of my training taking at least a 1 hour nap 5 days a week.
5. I was named a 2013 RRCA Road Scholar for my potential on the road racing scene.
6. I ran 2 half marathons under the 2016 Olympic Trials standard (1:04:37 Houston, 1:04:30 Duluth).
7. I won the NYRR Midnight Run on New Year’s Eve in hilly Central Park.
8. I ran 13:51 in San Jose, CA on Thanksgiving morning for a road 5k (10th best American of 2013).
I am proud of each one of those accomplishments and know that there is more to come. No, I did not meet many of the time goals I set early in the year, but that will not deter me from setting lofty goals in the future. Now, it is time for a break from running and brief introduction to soccer again as I travel to Rome, GA for my NSCAA Advanced National coaching school.
Thanks for everyone’s support!
Here is my last week of training (6/29-7/5):
Sunday: AM: 13 miles (8×20 seconds to end run) PM: 25 min walk
Monday: AM: 7 miles
Tuesday: AM: 10 miles(1-1-2-2-1-1 fartlek within run) PM: 4 miles
Wednesday: AM: 9 miles PM: 5 miles
Thursday: AM: 7 miles (4×35 seconds post run)
Friday: AM: 12 miles (Peachtree Road Race 30:03, 18th place)
Total: 66 miles, 8 runs