Friday, May 2, 2014

When a win is a loss....

A few moments to reflect:

This past weekend I was signed up for my 100K debut at the Jack Bristol Lake Waramaug Ultra. It has the history of the oldest 100K in the US and is entirely road. As you may have known, I had a lofty goal with this race: To post a sub 7:20. I believed I could do it. And I still believe it. However, Sunday (Apr 27) was not the day I envisioned. About two weeks back, the heat at Trap Rock got in my head a bit making me worried about being without any crew at the 100K. My partner in life is currently in the home stretch of her master’s program so I knew I was solo on that front. Recruitment did not fare any better. When in doubt, GPS watch to the rescue. My plan going in for the time was to run comfortable and keep a solid eye on my pacing, the GPS would be my crew.

Weather was forecast to be cool with some wind. Considering it would be 7.6 mile loops around a lake, it was sure to have an impact.

Race day, I was totally prepared. Multiple shoes in case I needed to switch out. Handheld bottles filled and ready to grab. Fuel at the ready. I was set. GPS signal, check!

Just prior to 7:30 we received instructions and exactly on time, we were off. I immediately was out front running really comfortably. It is here I should point out 50K and 50M races started at the same time. This will come in handy….

For the first two passes through the start/finish, spectators noted I was looking smooth. I felt smooth form wise but my legs felt heavy. I don’t know if it was too cool or just the road impacting already. But I was hitting my splits so that was good. However, I had to pee. Not good. Not that, ‘ignore it go away feeling’ either. Luckily, the course had plenty of port-o-johns. Quick in and out kept me on pace. Wind was starting to kick up as on the back half of the loop, it was a strong headwind. Mentally I was beginning to fade. I was not enjoying these loops for some reason. Maybe I was feeling too isolated. Towards the end of the loop, I passed some people, notable in the sense I saw people. Onto the third full lap of the lake and about a mile in, the pee feeling came back. What the?!!!! I was losing it now….going maybe I’ll just drop to the 50M. Anyways, I hit the pit stop and out in quick fashion. And then…..the worst thing for me on this day happened……GPS signal loss. I was no longer able to keep my pace. In my head I cracked. I still thought of gutting it out for the 100K until the final half of the loop after running into the headwind. It was piling on me now that it was not my day. Turns out this loop was my slowest pace wise. Coming through the finish area, I said I was switching to the 50K. I just wanted everything to be over. I had a long drive ahead…blah blah blah. I managed a respectable time of 3:30:40 considering I was not running a go for the gold 50K pace. Since the event allowed switching, I won the 50K but did not achieve my main goals. Initially, I felt good about calling it. I was not having any fun out there. And this has nothing to do with the organization or volunteers who were great. I really lacked that person who could pick me up slap me around and get me back out there. For once, I needed that because my GPS crew never came back. I think if it had by the end of the lap I would have continued on but it didn’t. Considering it is pretty solid, this was fate speaking? At least that is how my mind was picturing it in its down state.

Obviously, this view led to a positive feeling of just being over with it. However, enter the 4 hour drive home. Oh yes, whatever you might have been feeling can change when there is that time to self-reflect on the road. I was struck and struck hard with my mind. My first thought was I could have PR’d in the 50M. 19 miles in 2:30. Doable. However, that would have been 3 more loops of the lake. But it is with the 50M realization that I went south. By the time I got home, I was not feeling good about my decision at all. Thankfully, my partner was so supportive. Despite her needing to work on her final project in her master’s program she took the time to listen. If it was not for her, I’d still be feeling miserable. She kept me steady until I could see the final results. Despite seeing I could have won the 100K easy, seeing that only 9 people finished the distance out of the 24 starters, it told me I was not alone in changing. Also, seeing how much my pace dropped on my third lap also made me feel better about my decision. Now, I could speculate that it was slow because I mentally shut down and had enough but it was slower and that means something.

One thing this race did show me was I do not like the roads nearly as much as I used to. However, that does not mean I won’t take a crack at the WC time for 100K here again in the future. I might. I’d like to redeem myself in that regard. I’d do it next year but first I have to see if Hyner is again the same weekend because that is a MUST for me in 2015. Until then, I have plenty of long races to fill the void and achieve goals. Likely I will do a 100K trail race in late June so I will get one under my belt. And chances are I will add another 50K or 50M a few weeks out from Cayuga. But for this weekend, I get to go fast at the Broad Street Ten Miler. Hopefully breaking my PR. I know I have the stamina, lets see where the speed is. 

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