I had a shitty race today. It’s just another in a string of shitty races I’ve had over the last 6 months or so. I don’t know what the problem is, I just can’t pull it together and when I do I get a side stitch or something else ridiculous that wrecks the race. My last PR was last July. I was in really good shape over the winter, which makes it all more frustrating. I was running faster last year when I was coming back from an injury and had no aerobic base. So.. what to do?
Carlsbad 5000 is a fun race. It’s a festival of running and I enjoy watching the other 6 races that are put on. I can’t think of another event that works this way. I didn’t really get a proper warm up this morning as I had been in a rush and wasted a lot of time trying to find a port-a-potty with toilet paper pre-race. I really only had 10 minutes to do some strides besides the jog from the car. I wasn’t worried.
The gun goes off, for once I’m not worried about trampling middle school kids who started on the starting line. This race was very different, people actually backed off from the starting line so getting close wasn’t a problem. I definitely went out too fast. I looked down at my watch and saw four-fifty-something. Nope!! I should be closer to 5:15. I definitely felt a little winded before marching up the hill and making the left onto Carlsbad Blvd. I regrouped and all systems were a go. I was thinking about how much pain I was planning to endure and preparing myself for it. I hit the first mile in 5:14, right on plan. A little downhill and then the first 180 degree turnaround.
Wind! Fuck! Uphill! Double fuck! The uphill is usually a little rough on the turnaround, but I couldn’t keep any sort of pace with the wind in my face. It was pretty strong. So I went from a controlled effort to maximal effort and breathing went to 100% pretty quickly. It’s so demotivating to run into wind like that. I tried to draft off the guy in front of me, but there was no way. Before long I passed him and was in no mans land. The next group was too far up to catch and I had some space behind me. I hit mile two in 5:31 and thought I might be able to salvage the race. The problem was that I couldn’t get my breathing under control. Involuntarily my leg speed slowed. I pretty much knew I was toast at that point. I just wanted the race to be over. This is the hard part for me, knowing that it’s not something I can push through. If it was tired legs I could force myself to mush, but when I’m breathing as hard as possible, there’s no pushing through that. So I tried to hold up as best I could until I hit the downhill before the finish. The announcer on the corner told the crowd “When the runner in the red shirt gets here, let’s make some noise for him and send him home!” It was much appreciated. It’s also where my friends were standing. I love the sled downhill finish at this race. My Garmin has the last .15 at 4:28/mi pace. That sounds about right. Unfortunately there was nobody to chase or hold off since I was pretty much on my own at the finish. When I heard the finishing announcer say “You’ve still got a chance to go sub-17!” I sort of laughed and thought “Of course I’m going sub-17, are you kidding?!?!” and as I got closer, I saw that it wasn’t in the bag. Not good. I finished in 16:57. It was my slowest time since I ran a 17:04 a couple summers ago.
So what am I to think? The wind played a part. Only having two weeks of fast track workouts played a part, but my breathing was so bad that I feel like I’m really out of shape. I’m not totally sure what to do about it. I have a few options:
Whatever I end up doing, I think it means longer long runs, faster easy runs, and steady mileage. My mileage keeps going from 50 to 65 to 50 to 70 and back. I need some solid 70+ mile weeks here. My next official race is Rock n Roll Portland Half. I was hoping to run some 5ks and what not beforehand but after today, I don’t really want to. I just want to train my ass off. I gotta fix this and fast before I lose my motivation completely.