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