Sunday, June 11, 2017

Race report(s): Altering expectations and unexpected outcomes

I’ve run two short, but otherwise very different, races in the last two weeks, and I've been reflecting on how different the outcomes were.

Since I don't have any running pictures from either of the races, here's an unrelated running picture from Norddal, Sunnmøre, a couple of weekends ago.

The first was Fornebuløpet, a road 10K, held on May 31. I wanted to use Fornebuløpet as a gauge of how my fitness was coming along, hoping (as always) to PR. Unfortunately, I got a cold the day before the race, and woke up on race morning with a very sore throat. I felt awful at work all day, and considered dropping the race, but decided to do it anyway, partially because a large delegation of runners from my new team OSI would be there and I wanted to join them.

I started in the 40-42 minute wave, which is a little fast for me, and found myself running the first kilometer in 3:46. For comparison, my average kilometer time during my personal best 10K was 4:18. So, yeah, probably not a smart move, although in my defense the first kilometer of Fornebuløpet was slightly downhill. For the rest of the race I gradually slowed down, running my first ever positive split in a 10K. (For you non-runners reading this, positive splits, or running slower in the second half of a race than the first, is general considered a bad thing.)

I finished in 43:36, only 38 seconds off my PR. Considering my cold, and the stupid hard start, this actually wasn't so bad. Still, I’m not please with the race, and the main reason was that I gave up. As I saw my pace slow, I mentally checked out and couldn’t summon the effort to make myself go faster.

Around kilometer 8, I ran passed my friends from OSI, who cheered for me. With that boost I was able to finish a little harder, proving that it wasn’t my legs that were cooked, but just my head that had given up. Given that I wasn’t so far off my PR, I wonder what I could have done if I could have mustered a little more effort for the last 5K?

The second race was Rett til Værs, a 4.1K uphill race on technical, slippery terrain. I had really low expectations going into this one, given that I had raced a 200K bike race 2 days before (more of which later). I only hoped not to run too much slower than last year. I managed to convince my speedy friend Urd from OSI to join me.

“This is the easy part,” I enthused as we warmed up on the steep dirt road that makes up the first 1.5K of the course, “Afterwards it’s much steeper and rooty and rocky. And it all ends with 100m sprint across a bog!"

The low expectations and focus on enjoyment at Rett til Værs led to a great performance. I started conservatively on the first section of dirt road, and was able to pick off a ton of runners during steep and technical second half of the course. I set a course PR by 1 min, and finished 5th female. More importantly, I had a blast on the punishing course, and got muddy during the process.
Urd and I enjoying the view from Mellomkollen after the race.
This story has several possible morals, and I’ll leave it up to the reader to pick one:

a) Racing when you are sick is a futile exercise.
b) A positive mental attitude will allow you to overcome anything.
c) Running in the mud is more fun that running on the road.

- The Wild Bazilchuk

3 comments:

  1. I'll pick A. If I run a race while sick, the first thing to go is my mental toughness. I'm sure you'll PR your next 10K!

    C. Mud is always fun. I think your skiing background really helps you excel in muddy conditions. It's almost like skiing, right?

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    Replies
    1. I don't think I'm running another 10K until October, but I'm thinking REVENGE!

      I guess running in muddy is all about dynamic balancing (or really, being off balance but in control) and I do think skiing helps you learn that.

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