Sunday, October 21, 2007

Not the Season

57:07 or so for the 10 mile race this morning. I have no idea on the place, save for the fact that I was dropped by the group of four I was hoping to run the race with, passed during the 8th mile by one runer, and finished a few places behind another runner in my league who went out with the leaders but faded. Ahead of all of us were a few Kenyans from the University and at least one elite fellow (another collegiate from somewhere I'm guessing).

I held to my plan of finding a good group and trying to run with them, but I found myself at the front of that group for the first few miles while running 5:39 and 5:37 for the first two miles. This was a pace I felt I could hold for the distance, so it was disappointing that the legs weren't feeling very light and I was already laboring a bit with my breathing. Soon I drifted from first to second in the group with a 5:39 for mile three, but the others seemed to just be getting warmed up. As I started to lose contact on mile 4 and began yo-yoing on and off the back of the group, a small surge put me back on their tail with a 5:30 for mile four. I suffered as quietly as I could here but found myself constantly drifting back. It was no-man's-land behind me, and I knew that this group was definitely the ticket if I wanted to finish with a good place and time. While I don't mind running a marathon alone, a 10 miler is a different animal.

The body started to turn against me on mile five, with the legs feeling more sluggish with every step and the breathing rate rising by the minute. Even with a 5:38 to end the mile the group began to move away from me for good. A 5:43 for mile 6 found me starting to lose confidence about finishing relatively strong (something the last marathon and the 8 miler in September didn't help with), and an uphill 5:59 resulted for mile 7. I'm so glad I wasn't looking at the watch during the second half, or this split would have been a punch in the neck as far as my racing psyche goes. For mile 8 and 9 I actually seemed to be making up some ground on the group that dropped me, but getting passed by a runner here hurt. I'll say 5:47 and 5:48 for these miles, as I missed a split in the middle. I spent the last mile trying to chase down the runner who passed me, but the course veered into an area around our Convention Center and had us making successive 90 degree turns, running up and down handicapped ramps and other nonsense. Just staying on my feet was a challenge, and the guy stayed away.

The 8 mile race in September, the marathon two weeks ago and the race today share a common storyline: I go out at what should be a reasonable and sustainable pace, yet still fade considerably during the second half. In the local races I'm getting spanked by runners I have raced more closely with in the past, and in the marathon I'm finishing more than 10 minutes slower than my best.

While I know there are plenty of excuses I can fall back on for all three races, they don't give me any comfort when the screw is turned and I either can't respond or I whither under the weight of the moment. Also, at age 36, I sometimes find myself wondering if this is the start of the inevitable reversal of fortune all runners face at some point, where the PR's simply stop.

In general I think I'm pretty positive about my running and training, but from time to time these dark clouds appear. I think it's as valid to write about them as it is to go on and on with another long, boring race report. Hey, lucky you; you get to read both.

One thing I do realize is that a bad race or two (or three) doesn't change or invalidate any of the fun I have running, or my love for the sport. I'm pretty lucky to be where I am and to get the help and support from my family, coach, and friends (both here and in cyberspace), so hopefully it doesn't come across like I'm overlooking the great hand I've been dealt in life.

Perhaps I'm just a bit grouchy about getting dropped.

Training: 10 miles race in 57:07, plus 2.5 miles warm up and 2 miles cool down


Anonymous said...


I have mondo respect for you and right now, you have times I only dream of. That said, is there a possibility you might be somewhat stale and need some more to recoup?

It sounds like your body is telling you something...and don't get me wrong, I'm the last person in the world who "listens to my body", and I'm kinda paying for that now.

Whatever you do, best of luck

Thomas said...

Marathon and surgery are far more likely explanations than old age for a sub-par race, don't you think?

running faster with the ALIEN LIZARD said...

i was 37 when i started running,that was after ten years cycle racing,i hit my best at 42-43,but now i have started lydiard training am improving again,just ran a 35min 10k my fastest time in 3 years and won my age group.
a marathon takes 4 weeks plus to recover from or more.your body just needs a rest,your mind needs a rest to.just like in life running is full of ups and downs, i came back from 2 years of illness. be strong and your good days will return.never give in mike. rick

Love2Run said...

Amen to the rest and recovery comments. I also wonder how much that hard track workout took out of your legs today. Don't be so hard on yourself ;-)

Anonymous said...

Take some recovery and you will pull through once again for your next race. Even with your 3 bad races you are still a role model for me and my running. I study Lydaird and incorporated lots of your training into my own regime.

So just think some anonymous dude you probably will never know is learning from your mistakes and fortunes. Regardless of your race times some of us out here in cyberland will always veiw you as a winner.

Abadabajev said...

Hello Anonymous,

Take some recovery and you will pull through once again for your next race. Even with your 3 bad races you are still a role model for me and my running

Mike does not take recovery days, weeks, or downtime between races. He runs 365 days per year. Not even his own doctor can stop him.

So just think some anonymous dude you probably will never know is learning from your mistakes and fortunes

What works for Mike is high mileage. He is a volume freak. I swear this guy could run 20 miles per day. He has cut down his weekly volume considerably(by atleast 20%) this year and has struggled since.

But I keep coming back here like a wounded dog because I am addicted to his blog. He's sincere, a dedicated runner, and open book for us to critique, laugh, and cry with him.

duncan larkin said...

There's only one way to know if you're tilting, quixotically, at your PRs: keep charging.

Anonymous said...


Are you suggesting Mike should go back to higher volume training?

Another anonymous said...

Personally, I think it might be a bit early to start drawing any big conclusions from Mike's last three races. I seem to recall thinking he was overtrained going into Saguaro (and at any rate, he was definitely working toward the marathon at that time). The weather at TCM was a huge factor there. And now he's racing again, before his body has had a chance to fully recover from the marathon. I'd wait until after the next couple of races before making any big changes to the training. I think our man is in better shape than the numbers are currently indicating.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mike said...

While I appreciate the input, I ask that you show respect to others offering comments. I'm not into censoring or deleting comments, but I make exceptions when a comment insults another reader.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Abadabajev, what are your running experiences/achievements? Do you offer a blog where I can veiw your training?


Grellan said...


Glad to see that your sub-expectation races are not deterring you. Dark clouds eventually clear to blue skies.

Abadabajev said...

Hello Joseph,
absolutely. But what do I know, I'm old and gray.

Hello Anonymous,
not sure why your post was intercepted and removed. Must have been a good one. As for Mike, I have invested much of my time here so I'm not about to let him go yet LOL. I know Mike has a full time job, busy family, runs in the dark in the morning, but drives me to drink an unaged, colorless, distilled spirit(Russian Vodka) sometimes. Yes I can be harsh but his blog is public so I keep hitting the 'POST' button.

I don't blow kisses and sunshine. I mean what I say and say what trots in my head. I'm not a follower/sheep but Lydiard is definitely my shepherd. This is how I found Mike's blog by google-ing Lydiard. I started reading and this guy was running and running like Forest Gump and never took a recovery day. It's like he ran for today. Tomorrow did not exist. I said to myself, this guy is nuts and then I got hooked.

I have no blog and my training is secret LOL. Just kidding. Sometimes when I am really bored (I am retired) I spit out my weekly training regimen with distances on Cool Running under 'Competitive Wire'. It's very rare like once a year LOL. I hang out with Tuscaloosarunner(Joseph Wood) and Andy Hass if they'll have me.

Chris Field said...


Hang in there. Your training and racing is a huge encouragement to more of us than you will know.

Clearer skies are ahead, just keep running smart and strong and they will be there when you least expect it.

By the way, what a small world it is that I know one of the runners that placed ahead of you in Tucson. We went to high school together and he know runs for Greg McMillan's elite team in Flagstaff.

Greg said...

I understand the frustration Mike. I truly do.

But I think you know deep down somewhere, that these last 3 races were not indicative of your fitness level. You caught a bad break at TCM with the weather and everything kind of snowballed from there.

I have no doubt you'll be back.

Quinto Sol said...

While I think your quality runs are spot on, I also think you're missing something. What that is? I don't know. I mean, you can chalk one bad race on having a bad day, but three???

Whatever it is, I hope you find what works for you - that which will enable you to 'peak' for a race.

Anonymous said...


Oh, you old cooky guy, I'll take you anytime...I need all the friends I can get...when you come to the States, come down to AL and we can swig down some JD and Cokes...