Where to go from here

Well, the Baltimore 10-miler was a big ‘ole mess for me! I am really disappointed in my performance. Yes, the course is really hilly; yes, it was hot. BUT–I was in shape for this. I really have no good explanation for what happened.

My plan was to go out at a 7:30 pace for the first mile and eventually average about a 7:18 to 7:20 pace. My PR–from this spring–is a low 1:13. I knew this was a much tougher course and it would be much hotter. But I also thought my fitness level could make up the deficit and that running a high 1:13 to a low 1:14 would be realistic.

First mile went according to plan.  Second mile, too fast, a flat 7:00. Still…that shouldn’t have ruined my race. I got back to around a 7:20-7:30 for the next couple of miles. But my legs were feeling bad and they just felt worse as the race progressed. In the end, a 1:17 flat was my time. The silly thing is that the overall second and third place women were from my age group, as was the master’s winner, leaving me first in my age group. Should make me feel better, but it doesn’t–for me a good race is about time, not hardware.

A couple of bright spots: My friend Janelle, who is MUCH faster than me, had a bad day too, and we eventually ended up together. I’m sure by mile 7 she could have ditched me, but she was kind enough to run as my wing man and encourage me through the many tough spots. I can’t imagine how ugly my time would have been without her! And my friend Jess, who took the relaxed attitude into the race, went 1:12. Great job on a tough day!

So my dilemma is where to go from here. I can’t really point to any one factor that brought me down in this one. I am now a mental mess about my racing. Am I overtrained? On paper, I would have to say no. But the last couple of weeks, my legs felt bad, until my last few days pre-race. I am not mentally burned out–I’m still hungry. So that doesn’t sound like overtraining. But something’s going on here and I need to figure it out so that I can salvage my season.

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  1. Kenley says

    Hey there, Sorry it did not go as expected to or according to plan. I am not a race race kind of person (yet anyways), but from what I have read for the past year in these blogs is that some times, you just have those days. Running is not a black and white issue where everything is stacked according to plans. Sometimes, you just have that bad day, due to whatever, weather, etc. Know this, that you went out, and gave it your best. 4 minutes off is better than 14 or better yet, a DNF. That was cool you had a wing man to help you out. Best wishes and success in the future. Keep Running. Oh, and Congrats on your race.

  2. Running and living says

    So sorry about this. I know how it feels. And I am the same, care more about time than hardware. Still, maybe you should focus on the fact that you won your age group; the course was tough and you beat everyone in your age category. Also, there is a site (don't remember it, try to google it) that gives corrections for elevations. That might make you feel better.
    What else could it be:
    1. Pacing on hills. I am now learning of how important it is to nnot have peaks in effort on hills, just slow down and pick it up on downhills. I used to work hard at staying the same pace on hills, and would get anaerobic, which is bad.
    2. Maybe not enough training on hills?
    3. Maybe hills are not your course? I am much better on flats, for ex.
    4. Maybe just a bad day. Those happen.
    5. Did you read Brad Hudson's book Run fast? He has great explanations about what you need to work on based on race performances.
    Feel better!!!!

  3. MCM Mama says

    No idea what went wrong for you, but I'm sorry it wasn't a good run. Glad you had a friend to keep you going. Hopefully you'll figure it out soon.

  4. trifitmom says

    can you just chuck it up to a bad day ? sorry it was bad. i am really learning about the mental side of racing

  5. TRI-james says

    We don’t like to admit it but – if you think you are over trained then you probably are. When we have bad performance the gut feeling is that I did not do enough – I need to do more so that I can have the race that I want to have.

    You know that this is counter intuitive. This will just lead to more disappointment. Try to sit back and relax for a day or two, just for a little bit, recover fully from this hilly hard race and then come back faster, stronger and better than ever.

    Congrats on the Age Group Win – don’t beat yourself up!

  6. RockStarTri says

    I find when my training is on and my results don't match something is going on in my life that is introducing some sort of stress. It could be work, family, etc. Even so, don't discount the conditions as they play a role too.

    Even though you are disappointed, I'm sure you'll find your mojo. Then the results AND the hardware will be the reward. For now, celebrate the HW.

  7. ShutUpandRun says

    I wouldn't down play the effect of the heat/humidity. Total degradation of performance up to 15%! or so our training said. I don't know if there is more to read into your time or not. Doesn't sound like you're overtrained from what you've said. I think the age group win says alot – everyone was suffering the effects of the route and the weather.

  8. Jeff - DangleTheCarrot says

    First congrats on the hardware! Second you are being too hard on yourself. The conditions (heat, humidity, hills) were tough and that dang humidity will zap any type of good feeling from your legs in a heartbeat. You placed extremely well so it shows that the rest of the field was struggling with the temps as well.

  9. Black Knight says

    Sometimes when we think to be in perfect shape the performance is wrong and sometimes the contrary happens. Don't worry better times will come. I am sorry about your experience.

  10. Jennifer says

    The bad days are important to make the good ones even brighter! I agree with Jeff, you still won your group, that's fantastic! Keep up the positive attitude Kathleen!

  11. Caratunk Girl says

    Sorry the race didn't go as you had hoped, but it does sound like you had some tough conditions out there. I know the time means more to you than the placing – but congrats on the AG 1st place!

    For what it is worth, I think you are a rock star. Way to knock out that kind of race in those tough conditions.

  12. Jill says

    I'm truly sorry about your race and I fully understand your disappointment (believe me, I totally understand). I know that the heat can cause a significant performance shocker for every 10 degrees past ideal racing temps of 55 degrees. Your body can crank out a few miles in the heat but unless your doing all your speed work and hill repeats in very hot conditions, your body's just not acclimated….and it may never fully be for those types of warm temps. Also hills. If you attack the hills too hard then you spend more time recoverying…from all I've read and learned in class, up hills need to be slow and controlled so that you can make up the time on the downhill – this process takes less energy than a flat-out equal pace up and down. Anyway, maybe some of that is worth considering.
    You raced your heart out and gave it your all, be proud of that and wow, very cool about the AG win!!!!

  13. ajh says

    Hope you feel better. It is too bad to be disappointed after a real effort. I don't know what to advise you. Maybe a little time distance will make it look better. Good luck

  14. Char says

    Just a thing about overtraining – when I had it I never lost any of my passion to run. I didn't feel mentally burnt out. My biggest indicator was my heart rate. It was high! Just standing up would make it shoot up. Hopefully you just had an ordinary run.

  15. P says

    Ugh, there is nothing worse than an unsatisfying race! What a bummer for you, I'm so sorry. Especially when you can't put your finger on a reason or a fix. I hope that you can figure things out soon for your own peace of mind.

  16. Cynthia O'H says

    Some days, we just don't run well. I had a similar morning.

    And, you're right: it's not about the hardware; it's how you feel. That is exactly what I'm going to be writing about today.

    Next goals: Try picking a race that has a couple of options (e.g. 10K, half, full) and gear up for that. That way you can have a focus while training and, then, pick the run that you think you'll do best in.

    And, by the way, that is an impressive time.

  17. Lindsey says

    Sorry about your race – as you know, I didn't have a great one this weekend myself. Does the weather affect you at all? I know it certainly played a part in my dismal run. What about rest before a race – how many days do you take off before? In the end – who knows. I certainly can try to explain some of my off races vs. some of my good ones, but I really don't have a clue. I think you'll get your gusto back soon.

    Lindsey @ http://www.eatreadrun.com

  18. Angie Bishop says

    so sorry you are having a rough time.
    I think the heat and humidity should not be downplayed either.
    When you figure out whats up do let me know. I am always inspired and learning. Hang in there. Something will give or turn around or whatnot :)

  19. Teamarcia says

    Ugh. I'm so sorry you didn't have the race you wanted. BTDT. Weird how they're beyond explanation sometimes. Do your best to shake it off. I'm sure you'll be running up to and beyond your expectations soon!

  20. Molly says

    hmmmm, sorry your race wasn't what you had hoped.

    I think you need some pampering….maybe a mani/pedi or a massage????

  21. Julie says

    Hi Zippy,
    I know how hard it is to leave a race not feeling like you performed as well as you would of liked. I feel for you. I want you to know that I personally would of been elated with your time…you got first place for your age group too:) Congrats on finishing a tough race! Hang in there Zippy:)

  22. Chris Korn says

    Not to get all philosophical, but I do like this one: Light cannot exist without the presence of darkness. If all races can't be awesome. If they were, how would we know.

  23. AM-GoalsfortheWeek! says

    hi there! you've got a lot of good thoughts here on your comments already. so I'll just add, given everything,maybe look at nutrition? I know it's making a dif for me. but i haven't 'performed' in a race yet, but I was a bit off on what i needed for fuel and overall daily intakes b4 recommitting to nutrition gal.

    it's all a journey though eh?;-)

  24. Sherri says

    Your an amazing runner, your going to have off days, and that is okay! It is always a bummer, when it is in a race…but don't worry it just means your next one will be better yet!
    Keep doing what your doing…your incredible!

    I also love the shaving cream fight! =)

  25. Michelle says

    Sorry to hear you had a disappointing race, but glad you had a wingman to help you out. Did the heat/humidity play any part? I read some thing the other morning that said it was record heat/humidity for June.

    Good luck! Hope you have a great week!

  26. Johann says

    I don’t think you should beat yourself up about this at all. You still did a great time and winning your age group with that shows you handled conditions better than most.
    Where to go from here? Just carry on with your normal plans. You’re doing everything right. All races will never be perfect. You did well!

  27. Mark says

    Maybe it was just one of those days, like my golf game, sometimes on sometimes not…great performance regardless!!

  28. Viper says

    If your legs have been "bad" the last couple weeks, it seems like that would be sign that something is off in your training. Maybe you need more rest or runs at recovery pace in your training to keep your legs fresher.

    Or it was just too damned hot. Rest up and try again soon.

    Congrats on the hardware. Contrary to your sentiments, the award does mean something — you outperformed quite a few people in that race. Cheers!

  29. Matty O says

    You are too smart to feel bad about this haha. You know your body and your training style.

    You probably had an off day. I have them every other week and it sucks royally because its a head game then about how I suck and how I can't do this and how I should be training more blah blah blah.

    Keep your head up. Take a day or two off and back at the grind :)

    Nice job, you should be proud with the finish. The heat and hills zapped everyone…not JUST you!

  30. J says

    It sounds like it was a tough course! The heat can really take its toll on you in a race! You did great though! Congrats on the age group win!

  31. Katie says

    I don't have any good advice, just a hug and a "hang in there." I do feel like the heat has been rougher this summer than the past few years…

  32. KBam says

    I can only echo everyone else's statements that the weather was intense and the humidity will suck the energy right out of your legs. I tried to make sure I was extra hydrated for my race yesterday. I think it helped me a lot. Congrats on your age group win. It's like getting 100 on a test that has a huge curve: the test was ridiculously hard and everyone else was hurting too. You had the highest grade amid all the suffering haha.

  33. misszippy says

    Just want to say thanks to everyone–such nice comments of support! I have a great group of bloggy friends!

  34. Meg says

    If everything looks good on paper, you aren't over trained…it sounds like a hilly, heat thing and maybe you just need to relax and cut yourself some slack. I tend to get excited and worked up about a race and then, if it doesn't go the way I've planned, I get totally "mental" about it. We really are doing this because we love it and it's fun so just moving on and looking forward to the next one would be a healthy and productive thing to do!! Things don't always go the way we've planned, right?! It helps us appreciate the good races even more :)..and our blogging supporters!

  35. Anabela (Bela) Neves says

    So sorry you didn't get the outcome you wanted. Unfortunately we do just have off days. Try not to be too hard on yourself and just move forward!

  36. T.C. says

    While you are disappointed, that's an AWESOME time! Heat and humidity really take a toll on the body. I am always slower this time of year no matter how hard I work at it.

  37. Big Daddy Diesel says

    I think I am having the same dilema as you, I been talking to my friend to see if I am sick or overtrained, I took 3 days off and seem to feel better, maybe a tad of rest will help.

  38. Velma says

    I am bummed you had a bad day. I would evaluate what you have been doing, but don't be to hard on yourself. It sounds like from your most recent blog that a lot of things have been doing on.

  39. Dash says

    Okay, I totally think you are being hard on yourself and that you ran a great race! I ran CB that year about the same time as you and I ran this very difficult course race on a hot day, but NOT that hot and finished the same time as you and I actually felt great (I was pleased with my time and was 6th in my AG), so I really think you were booking and fighting the heat the whole way and the time would have reflected it had it been a nice day. But because the time didn't reflect the feat, the AG does. Congratulations on your medal, you ran a really, really great race on a really, really hot day!

  40. Irene says

    Heat can really wreak havoc on the best plans! You weren't carried away by the EMTs, and you finished! It's one more for the books.