Monday, May 28, 2012


There's always a first for everything.

And guys, this is the first time I have to report that I ran an event, and sorely extremely failed to meet even my lowest expectations.

Of course, I have my excuses.  But I also have some crushed confidence, which is badly timed given my previous excitement to run See Jane Run half marathon next Sunday.


I had an incredible weekend at Lake Tahoe this weekend (more below), and returned home late Sunday night.  After hitting up the internet following a relaxing few days without it, I revisited the possibility of running a 10k the next morning, a race my friend Merrilee had mentioned to me at last weekend's Tough Tilden Ten.

At 10:30 p.m. Sunday night, I decided to go for it and register in the a.m. with this in mind:
a) 6.2 miles would be the perfect hard tempo run that I need since I have done nothing but run easy this past week;
b) this will boost my confidence for the half marathon next weekend; and
c) I can try out my new Nike Free's again on a more appropriate (non-trail) surface.
d) I never regret running a race

Arriving at the starting line this morning, with plenty of time to kill since I arrived so early to register, I thought about the following:  my half-marathon pace is in the 6:30 zone.  My goal marathon pace for some unknown future race is in the 6:50 zone.  I figured my 10k pace would be in the 6:15 zone.

So what did I run? WHAT did I run you ask!?

Slower than my half-marathon pace.  Ahem, slower than my marathon goal pace.

Slower than any 10k clip of my past half-marathons.

The same pace that I ran a very challenging 10 mile trail race the week prior.

I clocked a 7:01 average pace 6:39 Garmin pace (6.33 miles)/ 6:47 official pace for 6.2 miles.  Keep in mind, this was a flat and fast course.

*edited.  I don't know where I got the 7:01 pace from.  I'm not fluent in the language of Garmin. Still feel the same about the 6:39/6:47 pace--disappointingly slower than half marathon pace.

Was this mental? No. no no no.  I was pushing it, pushing it hard.  I was struggling with all my might to work past my strong desire to drop out to appease my dead legs.  I was dreaming of dropping out, because by the end of mile two, I felt like I normally do at mile 23 of a marathon.  That is, dreaming of the finish line, legs burning.

Now on to the excuses.  Or, the search to figure out what went so wrong.

Potential culprits:

a) Thursday evening Kettleball class.  My back muscles and upper legs were stiff as a board all Friday and Saturday, and began to loosen up on Sunday.  Thought it wouldn't be a big issue Monday morning, but, that class may be one reason these legs were dead at mile two this morning.

b) I ran 10 tough (and beautifully snowy!) Tahoe miles on Saturday, and 12 tough Tahoe miles on Sunday, because I couldn't resist some time out in the stunning woody trails and because I didn't fully consider that I may be trying to run hard on Monday. I typically would not choose to run more than 2-3 miles the day before any half or full marathon.

c) On top of the running, I hiked with the Tahoe crew (we were up there with 4 friends and one toddler) both Saturday and Sunday as well, with Sunday bringing a more challenging climb up the gorgeous Five Lakes trail.  Hiking, as I learned upon my return from a Zion vacation, makes for a brutal return to running.

So what have I learned....

I hate strength training.  I hate kettleballs.  I know, I knowwwwww.  I know I need to strength train.  But I swear, every time I give it a go, my running suffers.  The last time I dedicated myself to it--about 40 minutes, 3x a week--was before the blog so I did not document my experience.  But my legs, heavy from squats and lunges and donkey kicks, became slower and slower.  I don't know what's supposed to happen or how this is meant to help my running, but the short terms effects are devastating for running.

Other than that, I am clearly making some excuses here, to try and build back any confidence for the half next weekend.  Because as of now I feel like I need to seriously lower my expectations.  I have never fallen so short of my expectations in a race as I did today, and now all my fears of "but what if I this goes wrong on race day, or that goes wrong on race day?" have been confirmed as true possibilities.  Not the end of the world, really, but I was kind of enjoying being able to turn it "on" and just run hard for races.  So, confidence crushed.  Stupid 10k's... ;)

Now with that, this shall be the 10k that never happened, because if I remember it too hard, I will never run another 10k again.  

And back to the good part of the weekend! Tahoe, where as mentioned, I actually ran while it was snowing! On memorial day weekend! whoda thunk?

Hiking, and although hard to tell from this photo, the bushy tree above me is fully sideways and alive, growing out of that dirt slab

Our incredibly kind hosts for the weekend, and their lovable pooch

Five Lakes trail

 What a trip through time...all the way back 3 months ago to Winter ;)

Alright.  How do you deal with disappointing races?  Do you HATE 10k's?  What happened to me this morning?


  1. So Funny. Read my race report. I had a really shit day over the weekend.

  2. Way too much prior to the race! I was hoping to go sub-2 at a 1/2 marathon earlier in the year, but came in at 2:11 instead. About mile 10 the wheels fell off and I almost bagged it. Just a bad day. It happens - write it off. And TAKE IT EASY this week before your next race! :)

  3. I have some great 'strength' training ideas for you that will NOT leave your legs feeling heavy. Hit me up for these ideas later in the week. And I think all the stuff you did...kettleshit, Tahoe running, and hiking all contributed to your crappy run today. Do NOT let it shake your confidence. Do NOT.

  4. Hmm. I haven't slept in 7 months so please pardon my bluntness,but - although I completely understand how crappy it feels to run so much slower than your potential - finding the culprit does not require us to call SCotland Yard :) Look at all the stuff you did in the days before the run! Nobody's legs are up to speedy 10k's right after that! They need time to recover. It's always good to have a reminder to be nice to your legs, right?

    Unrelated question, but curious: did you ever track down the Impalas?

  5. P.S. I wouldn't pin it on the strength training, I think your long snow runs and hike are more to blame. Strength training is good for you! Although, yes, the legs do have to get used to it...

  6. 10k's are the fucking worst. run to puke threshold, and then hold it? Dumb. (aka, I hate 10k's).

    Tahoe is lovely. Super jealous of the hiking, so pretty.

  7. Don't beat yourself up, you put in hella mileage in the days before. Anyone would have dead legs after running over 20 miles 48 hours before a race!

    I am not really a fan of 5Ks or 10Ks. I feel the need to push myself to feeling near death the entire time because it's "such a short distance."

    I had a really tough time with strength training my lower body as well. I was constantly sore. When my mileage went up, I stopped using weights to train lower body - I just did squats and lunges with my own body weight (I did do dead lifts with weight, but nothing crazy - only like 40-50 lbs). That gave me the ability to stay strong, but not sore.

    I missed my half PR on Sunday by 52 seconds. SO CLOSE. AGGHHH.

  8. Hey, I know you are wallowing in it right now BUT...
    You are new to the Kettleball thing. Before you know it, your muscles will be more accustomed to this new activity and you will be stronger than ever. You will get through this, but you need to take a long term view.
    You are going at everything full tilt boogie and not moderating very much. Push push push with some pretty long and intense track workouts (I would think short and intense would do the trick) plus piling on the miles.
    You need to put this race into perspective given your overall goals. What it turned out to be was a speed workout, your last before you really rest your legs before See Jane. You really, really pushed. Who cares what your time was? The race served as a speed workout, not a predictor of future performance.
    Plus, let's roll back the clock, shall we? You raced last weekend! And you did pretty good!
    Finally, your results for the race show that you ran 6:47 pace. I know this is not what you wanted, but it's not 7:01 (and I would so pleased to find out that I ran a whole 15 seconds faster than I thought I did).
    Hang in there chica!

  9. Strength training it's a great way to prevent injury and make you a stronger runner if done the right way, particularly if you wind up with a strong, balanced core (including glutes).

    I think your best bet is to go after something really well-tailored to your running goals, rather than just going after MORE BIG MUSCLES. Look into a trainer educated on running to help you work through a plan.

  10. Come sit by me. I had a half where I was hoping to take 5 minutes off my last. Ended up 8 minutes SLOWER than my last. Sucked. My reasons were the heat + going out too fast. When your first mile is 10:45 and your second is 9:15 and you have 11 miles to go? Not going to happen. (Your is me, not you). Positive split by 9 minutes (ouch!). Ah well. Liked the race itself, however.

    Now it's time for both of us to pull up our big girl panties and move on.

  11. I HATE 10K's. It's like an all out sprint for a deathly long time then you get to the finish line and like 5, 15 year old's beat me. HATE THEM. I'd rather run a marathon any day of the week.

  12. Yup, lower-body strength training sucks the life out of my legs pretty damn good if I haven't been doing it consistently -- and by all accounts, the key seems to be to make sure you're strength training to target running and not just leaping into some general fitness strength plan. Also, not sure what kind of hike you were on, but uphill hiking falls solidly into the "lower-body strength training" category for me, so it sounds like a double-whammy.

    And honestly? Sometimes shit just goes wrong. Between the mileage accumulation, the strength training, maybe just a bad day of hormones/circadian rhythms/mystical auras/idk wtf... bodies are mysterious and sometimes things align to produce piss-poor runs. Your most recent performance is an aberration and does not define you as a runner. That much is clear.

    I love the 10K. Half-marathons scare me.

  13. I agree with everyone above -- give yourself a break! Your legs HAD to be tired after all of that activity, not to mention the havoc that travel (even a short car trip) and vacation eating/drinking can cause on your normal physiology. Plus, the 10K was supposed to be a training run -- and that's what purpose it served (i.e. to show you need to rest your legs this week!). To rebuild your confidence, I'd focus on the upward trend of all of your training up to this 10K. The 10K is clearly an outlier -- try not to let it drag you down. I know it's hard with just a week to go before SJR, but NOT believing in yourself probably isn't the way to a new half marathon PR.

    I've heard that it's good to do strength training in cycles, so that you build muscle during lower mileage periods, and once you need to up your mileage (i.e. during marathon training), drop the strength training to 1-2 lighter workouts per week.

  14. I'm with people above, the lower body strength training probably zapped your legs for that race. Plus the tough runs you did on Sat and Sun. Your legs were probably just gassed. Great Tahoe pics!

  15. So, I clearly love strength training. And I super love kettlebells. And you're just starting out, so maybe you'll adjust or whatever.

    But, listen. Everyone is different. If it turns out that this isn't working for you, don't do it. Sure, give it a fair chance, etc, but when it comes down to it: what works for you works for you.

  16. I am right there with you on the strength training. I don't see the benefits other than aesthetics. It always leaves me slower or injured. I think this might have just been a fluke. Maybe it'll be exactly the fire you need to destroy your next race.

  17. kettlebells are hard! don't be so tough on yourself! maybe start off with some good ol' yoga first - or, as corny as it may seem - gillian michael's dvd's.
    as for the 10k and dissapointing races. summer 2010 i went to quebec city to run 10k. 3 weeks before the race i ended up with a compound injury in my knee (boat docks and alcohol do not mix), but was determined to do the race. one and a half hours. that's right. one hour and thirty minutes it took me to complete.
    your hiking pictures are amazing! so beautiful.
    good luck!

    mel from canada

  18. the 10K is my least favorite distance, which has absolutely nothing to do with this, but I hate it THE MOST. and I think the combo of KB + all those trail miles did you in. the first few weeks I'm on the kettlebells, all my little stabilizers are fucking pissed and running sucks (even) more than usual. shake it off!

  19. What a bummer! I think you have a lot of great reasons though why the race may have gone bad. I say just try and forget that last race (I know, easier said than done) and try and correct those things that might have caused problems and just do your best in the next one. You're still wicked fast and I know you will continue to race like the maniac that you are!

  20. Beautiful pictures!!! it looks like the visit to tahoe was great. I am sorry to hear baout your 10K. !0K's are one of my least favorite distances to race. Strength training is important but you know your body and you know what you need to do to improve your body. Maybe work on just strength training upper body and core for awhile then every now and then throw in a few lower body exercises. Maybe some pilates lower body strength training moves would be better than weights.

  21. Ok, I'm late to the party here, but I get what you're saying. I'm having a REALLY hard time running at all right now thanks to the little peanut currently residing in my uterus. I knew it would probably be like this, but when it happened, I was still a little surprised the difficulty and thought i would be different for me because I could power through it. But I really can't.

    I'm thinking it's the type-a personality that tells us we can instruct our body to operate however we see fit. Damn shame it doesn't always work that way.

  22. Had a 10k like this this spring. I ran it in the middle of a 19-miler. I'd done 7 I think before the race and scarfed a Gu waiting to start. Somehow this translated into agonizing stomach cramps (I almost never have major GI issues in races, or at least haven't for a long time). I had to run way off course to the park bathrooms and ended up with a 43 minute race! It was slower than HM pace and I couldn't even check the "without bathroom stop" splits because I didn't reset my Garmin for the race - anyway. it was a total disaster and since it's my first 10k since deciding to run for real (so I'm not counting the Crescent City Classic 10k I used to do in elaborate costume), I have a totally sucky PR for the 10k. Boo.
    Also this was the race in which my osteitis pubis truly reared its ugly head, so I have all sorts of bitter associations with it.

  23. Interestingly, I attended a talk from a "running coach" and author of some running-related books, and he said that lifting is somewhat useless (in the context of long-distance running). I tend to agree. The only place it seems worth it to me is if there is some muscular imbalance. Or maybe light strength training like pilates or yoga.

    Oh, and both times I have done a time trial at our monthly mile tile trial, I have done exceedingly poorly in comparison to my 5K pace. I don't understand it and I want someone to explain it. How do I run a 6:57 avg 5K (sunday) and then only run a 6:47 mile (tuesday) on the track (sure, probably could have pushed to puking, but then what? 6:35? I don't get it).


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