Monday, November 12, 2012

Richmond Marathon race report

Sometimes you have the day that you've been dreaming of, the one that's always in the back of your mind during every track workout and long run. The one where running at goal pace is hard, but manageable, and you execute the race plan just the way that you laid it out beforehand.  And other times you find yourself someplace you hoped you'd never be.

I did not finish the Richmond Marathon on Saturday. My legs just felt a little off from the start and I started burping up my first gel shortly after taking it at mile five. I was still right where I wanted to be at that point, holding a nice relaxed pace for the first 10k. So I tried not to be worried and hoped I would settle in soon.  There was a nice long downhill shortly after the 10k mark that made it pretty easy to pick up the pace. But when I reached the flatter and rolling sections after that, my pace started creeping up. I tried Honey Stinger chews at mile 10 when the thought of another gel made we want to gag and barely managed to get them down. I felt like I was working significantly harder, but was running slower than I had in the first 10k. It's one thing to feel that way in the 20s, but at 10 it was rather concerning. I spent the next few miles debating my options and trying to pull myself out of what I hoped was just a rough patch. But by the time I hit halfway, I was pretty sure that I was done. I decided to get to George and the CAR cheering squad at 17 before making any final decisions, but I more or less knew what I was going to do.  An excruciatingly long mile 16 on the Lee Bridge only further cemented my decision and dropped out just after mile 17 when I reached George.

Obviously I was extremely disappointed, but I know that continuing on for those last nine miles would have been even worse than stopping. I've done that before in a race I knew that was over at halfway (in Baltimore in 2010) and run/walking the second half, while watching my pace get slower and slower, was not an experience I wanted to repeat.  I didn't cry and while watching the rest of my teammates finish I never once wished that I was finishing too. Dropping out was the right decision on that day.

I could spend hours trying to figure out what happened or if there was anything I could have done to have prevented this, but in the end that's not worth my time or energy. It was simply a bad day with extremely unfortunate timing. We all have them during every training cycle and it just so happened that this one fell on race day. I know that it says nothing about how I trained this fall or my abilities. Nor does it make me a quitter. Sometimes things just don't break your way.


Jen Feeny said...

Oh Allison I am SO sorry you didn't have the day you hoped for!!! I know there's nothing that anyone can say to make it hurt less or fix anything, so I'll just send you a big virtual hug!!!

MJ said...

I'm so sorry to hear this. Sounds like a smart decision (in no way would it make you a quitter), and your mindset is right on - sometimes it just happens, though I agree w/ Redhead - that doesn't make it hurt less.

Victoria said...

I'm so sorry to hear about this. I can't imagine how hard it is to have worked so hard and have race day turn out like this. I hope there is a race around the corner that lets you enjoy the benefits of your hard work.

Running Librarian said...

Sorry about the bad day..but leave it on the road and look on to your next run!

abbi said...

Sorry it wasn't the day you wanted but sounds like you know it was the best decision on that day. We all have those days!

Jon said...

Bummer it didn't work out as planned, Allison. There is always another race!

ultrarunnergirl said...

Sorry you didn't hit your goals at Richmond, but kudos to knowing when to call it a day.

Do you think you'll shoot for another marathon in the near future, use your killer fitness in a shorter race distance, or just enjoy the holiday season?

I also highly recommend coffeeneuring as an end-of-season celebration.

AKA Darkwave, AKA Anarcha, AKA Cris. said...

I've been there. We all have. And I agree, it doesn't make you a quitter.

In the longer distances, like 10 miles and up, it's not uncommon to hit a bad patch, and if you drop out during a bad moment, that is something of concern. But sometimes the bad patch isn't just a bad patch, but something that continues to build for miles. If you've given yourself a chance to run through it, and it's not happening, then it really is best, and gutsiest, to save yourself for a better day.

You know this anyway, but I'm guessing it doesn't hurt to have it echoed.

I love the maturity and groundedness of how you've handled this.

Jess said...

I am so sorry to hear that a bad day fell on race day. I really don't think there is any worse feeling in the world.

I'm sure you're frustrated and disappointed, but it sounds like you made the right decision for you on that day.

Anne Taite said...

Thanks for sharing your experience and being honest about why it was right for you.