Sunday, March 11, 2012

Race report: St, Patricks Day 8K, March 11, 2012

I ran the “St Patricks Day 8K” today, finishing in a time of 31:57.  Ugh.  Crappy race, and one that I could overanalyze in detail.  But I’m going to try not to do that (well, not TOO much).

Essentially, I felt good during the warm-up, but once the race started, I just couldn’t hit a rhythm, and felt more and more tired and fatigued.  By about mile 3, I was starting to struggle. I stayed relaxed and didn’t panic, but then at a bit after the 4 mile mark, I started working to finish strong.  And then my legs just started failing on me, eventually giving out.

[Thanks to Mollie for checking on me post-race]

There’s two things I could point to here. 

A is an absolutely lousy night’s sleep last night – per Murphy’s law, I had a work emergency pop up last night starting about 8:30 pm.  Not something that I had to stay on the phone all night for, but I did end up going to bed significantly later than I had planned, and also had to wake a few times during the night to check and respond to email.  But, I had pretty good sleep the week before, and I understand that the last night’s sleep doesn’t really affect a race that much anyway.  I really didn’t feel run down or especially tired at race start, and I don’t think this was a factor.

B is the fact that I forgot my asthma inhaler this morning – I swapped bags and failed to move it from old to new.  It’s not something that I have to use before all runs – I usually do my easy runs and long runs without it.  But I do use it before interval workouts, hill workouts, and races.  And when I‘ve skipped it in the past for those workouts, I’ve struggled.

I was a bit worried. But on the other hand, my exercise induced asthma seems to be the worst in humid and warm conditions, or high pollen.  And while the pollen count wasn’t low today, it also wasn’t outrageous, and race weather was near perfect.  And my lungs felt absolutely fine during my warm-up.  I was expecting a good race.

I also think I was pretty good about putting my lack of inhaler out of my mind during the race – I definitely didn’t run the race thinking “OMG NO INHALER HOW WILL I FINISH.”    I knew that I have completed tons of solid long runs without using it, and felt pretty confident that I’d be fine as long as I was careful to start out conservatively.  I was expecting a good race.

Nor did I ever have any period where I started hyperventilating.  I had a few points where I choked up a bit, but I just backed off and thought I’d be fine.  It was really just massive fatigue and increasing dizziness that kept growing and growing despite my efforts to relax and run within myself until I couldn’t lift my legs anymore.  

I thought I was pretty good about not panicking and just trying to work within myself, but apparently not good enough.
So, who knows.    All I can really do is rest, recover, put it out of my mind, and not forget my inhaler again.

I kept missing mile markers, so only have two splits:
Miles 1-2 – 12:30 (6:15 pace)
Miles 3-4.97 – 19:27 (6:33 pace) – I actually am pretty sure I negative split this for the most part; my pace just slowed miserably at the end.

Warm-up was 3 miles (kept easy, rather than progressive) plus drills and strides.

Got the age group win, but it was sour.  I was capable of running this race a lot faster.  And I’m frustrated with myself for consistently performing better in workouts than in races.  I don’t try to race my workouts, and feel like I am running them at the correct effort level, never straining. But there’s a disconnect there, and the keys are most likely even a) backing off of my workouts even more, b) resting even more, and/or c) getting better at racing.


  1. I'm sorry, you had said pre-race about forgetting your inhaler and I didn't put 2 + 2 together. It'll come together Cris, you looked really great when I saw you and even though your time was awesome, I know taking away the issues you had in the race, you would have done even better!

    Still, congrats on that AG win and nice to meet your mom & dad!

    1. I actually really didn't think it would be that much of an issue. I felt fine during the warm-up, and was pretty sure I'd be fine. (not like I had any options anyway -- didn't have enough time to run home and get it).

  2. Congrats, Cris! At least you can pin-point the issues which means they're totally fixable. Hopefully I can make it out to cheer you on for the next one!

  3. Sorry to hear you had a tough race, but congrats on the AG win.

    I would think that although lack of sleep and an inhaler might not be deal breakers alone, the combination of the two could certainly have played a big factor in how you felt.

  4. I believe there's a certain amount of bad-ass cred that automatically comes with collapsing in a just stick with the positive angle and rock it out next race! :)

  5. Another potential disconnect is that the workouts you are nailing are more focused on 10 milers and half marathons, so you haven't really done targeted 5k/8k/10k work which makes it harder to effectively race those distances.

    Either way, sorry to hear about the disappointing race, those are annoying no matter what the circumstances are.

  6. That really sucks about the work emergency the night before the race. The added stress of that could have been a factor. Anyway, an age group win in a race that's as competitive as that one is HUGE. Super congrats to you on that!!!

  7. I'm sorry you had a rough race.

    Its interesting to me that a few of your really great races were run with a tempo/workout mentality. Perhaps its a combination of bad circumstances, hard training and psyching yourself up/out for races.

    Good luck figuring it all out!!

    1. That's really exactly it. When I try to give 100%, I end up actually running myself off of my feet and crashing. And the more I feel myself struggling, the harder I push to try to make it work, when I'd be fine if I just cruised in.

      I race my best if I make my primary goal to never hurt. That's something I lost track of this past weekend -- I was so fixated on having a good race no matter what, and basically ignored all the trouble signs my body was sending me.

      I have the weird issue of trying to go too fast at the END of races.