Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas 10K 2013

I feel like a lot has already been written about this race:  the weather was a big question mark, the race time was delayed, the weather ended up being decent, the turn out was poor, the WTAC vs. TNT battle didn't materialize.  I ended up running 35:37 this year, good for a 17 second PR and 4th place overall.  I should be relatively happy about this.  The event itself was great fun with many running friends in attendance.  The problem is that I didn't perform well and I'm probably going to focus on it until I get to race again.  And my problem is completely mental, it is not physical - that part I train well.  Here's a lowdown of where I fell short and how I need to improve: 

1.  Pre-Race - Despite nailing the final workout in the training plan I was doing (3x2 miles @ goal 10K pace) I have been feeling slow.  This happens when I haven't been doing as many hard runs, or most of my runs are on trails.  Actually, I'm doing the right thing by tapering for a race, but mentally I feel like I've gotten slower.  Doubt about hitting my goal pace (5:40/mile) set in. 

Once it appeared the weather would be an issue, it seemed like that would automatically mean a slower time. 

Rather than getting excited/nervous about the race as the day approached, I was more preoccupied with work, Christmas, and travel logistics.  This can be a good thing, but this goal race was becoming an afterthought. 

2. The Race - Basically, due to the small crowd this year, the race was a time trial for me.  What I've enjoyed about this race in the past is the level of competition.  This helps a weak minded competitor like me thrive.  I run better when I'm chasing or being chased and not concerned with how I'm feeling at the moment.  At the race start, I latched onto Bob Jackman's shoulder briefly, but when he pushed ahead, I "knew" I couldn't keep up with him today.  This is not based on recent experience, rather his results in this race.  So after a half mile or so, I was alone.  I could watch Mike Galoob (in first) followed by Bob and Chris Garvin (2nd and 3rd) for a while.  I heard no one behind me.  Begin time trial. 

My first mile was a little fast, but it is mostly downhill and I wasn't working hard at all.  Then I had to work harder to maintain a slower pace, but I didn't have the drive to push hard enough to at least keep my goal pace.  I had my watch set to display my lap pace, but never hit the lap button, so I could see my average pace for the entire race (or where I was at a certain point).  I just watched as the average pace slowly ticked up the further I got.  The course is beautiful and possibly a nice distraction, but it didn't help me.  My mind was made up that I was not going to hit my target time, and I had no runners around me.  I wasn't running hard enough not because I wasn't capable, but rather because I was settling. 

 I perked up a bit during miles 4 and 5 as there were a couple of small hills to contend with, and I attacked them hard enough so my overall pace wouldn't slow down.  In fact, my average pace dropped a second or two.  I was passing walkers, which was a welcomed distraction. 

I hit the Mile 5 mark and the negative thoughts rushed back.  I thought I might start bonking.  This never happened, it was just in my head.  I always muster up a fast last mile plus.  I could have made up some time here, despite the slower terrain.  Instead I slowed down.  I mostly bagged it the rest of the way.  My splits on Strava confirm this: 

Mile 1     5:31     -25ft
Mile 2     5:47      10ft
Mile 3     5:47     -12ft
Mile 4     5:44      -4ft
Mile 5     5:45      -8ft
Mile 6     5:58      44ft
Last .2    6:04      10ft

3. Post-Race - My lackluster performance was outshined by the races my WTAC teammates put together.  Mike won with a fast PR, Chris outkicked Bob, I got to watch 5th, 6th, and 7th places come in close together - Jeff, Nate, and Seth.  Some of us headed out on a cool down and I got to see more teammates including my dad (who won his age division).  The delayed race start made me late for a family gathering on my wife's side, so I had to leave before the awards and the team lunch.  I'm happy to be a part of such a great bunch of people. 

So now what?  I would say I learned a lesson, but it is one I already was taught.  I have the ability thanks to my relentless training.  I need to work on the mental aspects, but this is a struggle for me in not just running.  I am looking forward to the 4th Season Trail Series.  I can't wait to redeem myself. 


  1. Jonny, I can completely relate to you not pushing yourself hard on this race. I did much the same, zoned out, and just enjoyed what turned out to be pretty decent weather on a beautiful course, and then downtime with running friends.

  2. Jonny, you ran well. No man's land is a tough place to run. You got 4th in a good field, got a pr, and you weren't that far off from your goal pace. Not to mention, you are a trail animal. Have fun in 4th season!