Monday, April 14, 2014

Running the Thinnest of Lines

Success is a lousy teacher.
It seduces smart people into thinking
that they cannot lose.
- Bill Gates

My favorite thing about running in races is that it is humbling.  You are whatever your finishing time says you are.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.

Yesterday's Unite Half-Marathon at Rutgers University was - as it has been for all five years of its existence - a terrific event.  It is well-organized and well-attended.  This year, even more so than the first four years, there appeared to be a concerted effort among those of us gathered in the starting area to use this event to rid ourselves of the miserable winter we had all endured. 

And we did.  It was a beautiful day to run here in the State of Concrete Gardens.  I am disappointed in my own performance in that my finishing time of 2:05.16 was about fifteen minutes north of where I had hoped to finish and approximately twelve minutes slower than I ran this same race last year.  My mistake was in going out too fast.  As someone who has run in too many races to count, I know better.  Yesterday however there was a significant disconnect between what I know to do and what I did.  I powered through the first three miles as if I was running a 5K - hanging splits of 7:57, 8:11 and 8:02.  Too damn fast.  I knew it.  My legs knew it.  My lungs knew it.

I crossed the 7-mile mark at a tick under 62 minutes.  While my split times still seemed solid, I knew I was struggling.  The final five miles or so devolved into a knife fight.  My finishing time confirmed it.  After running the first seven miles in slightly less than one hour and two minutes, I needed more than one hour and three minutes to complete the final 6.1 miles.  I escaped math by seeking refuge in law school.  However even I know enough arithmetic to know just how much worse I finished than I had started. 

Such is life in the big city I reckon.  On the one hand, I clearly did not run my best race yesterday.  On the other hand, I ran 13.1 miles at a 9:33 per mile pace, for which I shall not apologize to anyone - most of all myself.  I am looking forward to next year's edition already.  It is an event I enjoy even on a Sunday in which the end result is a far cry from my pre-race expectations.

Success is not final,
Failure is not fatal:  it is the courage
to continue that counts. 
- Winston Churchill

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