Sunday, March 14, 2010

It's like cooking a steak.

It's been an educational few weeks, running wise, at least. I had a goal to lower my 10k PR of 44:20 during the first three months of 2010. I am aware of the fact that at 46 years old, PR's at any distance are going to be more and more difficult to come by as the years pass. I only scheduled 10k's for January, February and March. I had a few decent races, and passed up a race, and now, here I was, nearing the end of March and no PR.

My training the last few weeks has been really good. I felt good on both speed workouts and long runs. I ran in some really crappy weather, without complaining too much. Every
thing seemed set up for a good race on Saturday In Alton Baker Park in Eugene, one of my favorite places to run.

We got up early on Saturday, drove down to Eugene and as I was registering for the race, my phone rang with a call from my son, Nathaniel. I didn't answer, but he left a voice mail, he never leaves a voice mail. It was 40 minutes from race start and I had instructions to do a 4 mile warm up. I spent the next 20 minutes finding out that Nathaniel had just hit a patch of black ice, lost control of his car and ended up in somebody's garage, through the wall. He said he was unhurt,
and we talked through calling insurance, police, tow truck etc. I got off the phone, explained to Jeanne what had happened, then sat down in the car, paralyzed with indecision. Should I drive back, and hour and a half, right away? I called him back, he had made all necessary phone calls, assured me he was ok physically, and that the neighbors to the house he hit were being very helpful, I heard them in the background ask if he wanted some hot chocolate, and decided I was still going to race. The race official announced 10 minutes til start time as I was putting my racing flats on. I quick run to the bathroom with number and pins in hand, then ran to the start line, arriving just as they announced 2 minutes to go. My only option to was to line up on the first line, I finished pinning my number on with 30 seconds to go. Despite telling myself not to get caught up in the speed of the start, I still went out way too fast. A mile in and I'd done just about everything wrong that could be done. Emotional, no warm up and out too fast.

Then I did something that only good training allowed me to do. I calmed down, slowed down a little, let my training do the work for a few miles and regrouped for a strong finish and a new 10k PR of 43:48.

Nathaniel is fine, thankfully, his son Elliott was not in the car with him. His car, and the garage he drove through are not so fine. I hate feeling grateful for insurance.....but.

I have been saving a bottle of The Abyss to celebrate a distance PR and Nathaniel came over to enjoy it with me. And so, my cooking a steak analogy. I take a lot of pride in my cooking abilities, heaven knows I'm a better cook than runner. When someone praises a steak that I've cooked, I'm quick to give all the credit to the cow. "You can certainly screw up a good cut of meat, but it's hard to save a bad cut of meat". And I think it's also true, that you can be well trained and still mess up a race, but it's hard to be poorly trained and race well.

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