2009 CIM: Not a Race Report

I got something like 700 hits to this site on Sunday, which is roughly four times what I get on a big day. So I guess lots of people were curious about how the day went (and I’m sure a fair amount of the traffic was from other participants looking for race reports from the day).

If you’re looking for a race report, I’m about to disappoint you. I don’t want to write one, not so much because I’m upset about the whole thing. Which, of course, I still am. No, a race report invites analysis and scrutiny from everyone reading it. I’m not going to attempt to analyze what happened in terms of the actual race. So I really don’t want to read others’ attempts to do so either.

The race itself was not the problem, meaning nothing “classic” in the marathoning sense went wrong. I didn’t go out too fast, or get injured, have stomach issues, etc. The race was just a natural outcome of whatever fatal flaw has been undermining my training over the past year. I don’t believe that flaw can be found in the race data.

I do appreciate a lot of the comments. Many were thoughtful, smart and full of new perspectives. I know I’ll revisit them in the coming weeks as I think about the year ahead.

I’m not making any decisions about anything at this point. But I do know that the marathon is for me, right now, like a red hot stove. I’m staying away from it for as long as my hand is still wrapped in gauze. Figuratively speaking.

Finally, just something that popped into my head during those awful two hours in which I struggled, mile by mile, along the second half of the CIM course. A few weeks ago I read the autobiography of Sonia O’Sullivan, one of Ireland’s great distance runners. O’Sullivan is famous for, among other things, having exited the 5000m final in 1996 at Atlanta — not just leaving the track but actually running out of the stadium entirely with a lap and a half to go.

As the great Irish hope that year, she was under enormous pressure to perform well. She didn’t. Her father, who was there to witness his daughter’s disaster as a tsunami of criticism toward her formed, said the best thing when a microphone was shoved in his face: “Nobody died here. It’s only sport.”

10 Responses

  1. I did glimpse an orange shirt at about mile 1, decided It couldn’t be you (in the wrong place). Looking at our splits, it probably was you. Oh well. You probably don’t remember a guy in a white SF Marathon shirt and yellow hat.
    Your second half must have been purgatory. I thought it was horrible (particularly mile 15), even though I was reasonably sure of a PR.

    For the rest of you, there are plenty of CIM RR’s out there to read. They can mostly be summarized like this: “Started out fine, quite fast on the downhills. More uphills than I expected, Nailed the first half, nasty headwind in the second half, tired out by mile 20, hung on to the finish.”

    • Sadly, I didn’t see you. I can remember very little about the actual course, which is more than a little disturbing. But it’s interesting that you mention mile 15, as that was a turning point in the race, when things went from being “bad but perhaps not purgatorial” to “complete and utter meltdown.”

      I attribute that dramatic change in status to the relentless headwind that started at the halfway point (and abated around mile 18), along with the muscle damage I sustained in my quads, largely owing to the huge up and down between miles 10-12.

      I was sad to note that the woman we ran with on Saturday missed her BQ by about 3.5 minutes. I’ll bet if it hadn’t been so windy she would have gotten under 4:00.

      Fucking marathons.

      • Yup, the wind pretty much negated the speedyness of the course, and some of those early up/downs were steep. My quads are still a little sore. Shame about your friend.

  2. It is what it is. Very wise to know that you don’t have to keep throwing yourself at this god-forsaken distance until you get a better one. In fact, if you don’t step back for a bit, it could get worse. Who the heck knows.

    How was that O’Sullivan book? Worth me picking up?

    • Quite honestly, the O’Sullivan autobio was weak. It sounds like she talked for many hours and her musings were captured as a book. It’s very stream of consciousness and lacking in a coherent structure.

      The gold standard for runner memoirs remains Lorraine Moller’s strikingly well-written work, “On the Wings of Mercury.” Kathrine Switzer’s bio, “Marathon Woman,” is a good second.

      • I had meant to pick up Moller’s but forgot about it. I feel like Switzer, while a great athlete and pioneer, is a story I have heard over and over and that it might be kind of boring.

        Are you watching the stories on Flanagan running the HM in Jan?

      • The Switzer book is worth a read. The story she’s told 10,000 times only takes up a chapter or two of the book. Reading about her own progression as a runner is interesting. But the most compelling aspect of the book is its history of the inception of things like the Avon series, as well as the personal and organizational machinations involved in getting the women’s marathon included as an event in the 1984 Olympics.

        I’ve always felt that Switzer does herself a disservice by just focusing on the 1967 Boston race. Many people have no clue how much she contributed to the legitimization and growth of women’s marathoning.

        I’ve not been reading up on my current running events. I’ll check out the Flanagan story. Although, if anything, I wish Donohue would move up.

  3. Again, I wish I had something to say that would make it all better. I don’t though. Best of luck with whatever distance you decide to tackle next.

  4. Sorry about it all, Julie. Wishing you good thoughts as you regroup.

  5. Yes, it’s only sport, but when you love a sport, it would be good to do it well. O’Sullivan got it together for Olympic silver in Sydney — I’m sure you can do something figuratively similar.

    You’d be mulling over lots of ideas, so the following is just another … Why not pull back the mileage a tad — Joe’s “at what point more-is-less”? Perhaps race a lot of halves ‘for fun’ and experience. When your half is close to 90, jump in a full and see how you go.

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