As I wrote in the post leading up to the Nike 10k yesterday in Puerto Madero, my biggest concern was that I had set my expectations too high and would face disappointment if I couldn’t reach my goals. I’m the kind of person who sets my mind to something and won’t be happy until it’s completed. I don’t like putting my efforts in half-assed, and the training I put into this race was the same way. Rushing home from work I would change quickly and in the dark of winter to the dusk of spring, run through the street dodging people, traffic, and even once a horse-drawn carriage. On weekends I would wake up tired from the night before but go harder, getting faster nearly every time.
This caused me to have a goal of something like under 44 minutes, in the 43 minute region. I was really shooting for that. But in the end, my final time was 44 minutes, 40 seconds. Out of 15,000 runners I finished in 718th place. You have to be kind of careful with the numbers because the “official” time is 45:43, but the net time is 44:40. That means that the race started, but because so many people were in front of me I didn’t cross the starting line until 1:03 had passed. Out of my category, I finished in 591st place.
Yesterday I got my personal best, and in fact, every race I’ve ever run in has been my personal best, meaning I’ve always improved. But I’m still disappointed because I was hoping to finish just a minute earlier. It might just be aiming too high or being too perfectionist, but after the intense training I was hoping for more than a minute improvement from the last 10k I ran in August. I have some theories, so bare with me if I make excuses.
- I was under the weather the week leading up to the race, and only the day before my body felt like it was hit by a car. I had to drink a liter of orange juice and take all kinds of meds to feel right again.
- I did the right thing by lining up in the middle where my speed dictated I stand. Yet THOUSANDS of people in front of me clogged the starting line and caused a monumental traffic jam for the first two kilometers.
That last point is a serious concern of mine. The organizers of the race asked for people to line up in three stages based off of their projected speed (under 4 minute km, 4-5 minute km, over 5 minute km). I got up to the edge of under 4 and betwee
n 4-5, where I belonged. Yet thousands of people pushed ahead of me to get to the front, creating a jam which caused me to cross the starting line at 1 minute. That happens in all races, but with a narrow street, I had to nearly walk the first kilometer, stuck behind a wall of people not accelerating.
The first two kilometers were painfully slow and dangerous as I had to weave all over the roads and sidewalks to get where I needed to be. I remember seeing people before the race pushing ahead of me, and I thought that they didn’t look like competitive racers. Sure enough, I passed them by 1 1/2 kilometers. Even just a kilometer of having to go at a slower pace can take off a lot of time, but also throw off your personal rhythm. Once the second kilometer was passed we rounded a corner heading to the center, and finally it cleared up enough so that I could move freely and pass by people.
Throughout the entire race I was passing people steadily, leading me to believe that if I too had pushed to the front, I could have finished with a much better place and time. Of course, the place is also misleading because if you tie with someone else, someone gets a better place, and it doesn’t take into account at what time you start the race, only when you finish. Basically, if you start at 1:12 and the guy next to you started at :30, but he crosses a second before you, he “technically” finished first.
Aside from the griping, it was a beautiful day, and the weather conditions couldn’t have been better, just like last year’s race. This is the 6th race I’ve run, and I’ve been lucky with perfect weather on all of them. With a sea of bright yellow shirts, we ran from Puerto Madero up to the center, passing by the Cabildo, Obelisk, down past the onlookers to the Correo Central and back to Puerto Madero for a lap. I maintained a steady pace throughout, and as always kicked it up after the 5th kilometer. My run was fairly consistent because my 5k time was 23:14 (gross). At the 8th kilometer I tried to get faster and for a while did, but the 9th kilometer dragged and my attempt to finish hard ended in fatigue.
Upon crossing the finish line we got our chips cut off our shoes and given little medals, followed by loud electronic music and a live show. I never found my co-worker Euge in the middle of the crowd, but my friend Thom came out to support me and after we got a couple of beers by the port. With the sun setting behind the sailboats, it was a perfect way to end the day, and even though I didn’t finish as I wanted to, I can’t deny that I did well. After all, I’m not a real runner anyway, right? The scary thought is that now I’m left thinking, I could have done better. Or in other words, I can do better, I will do better. Ugh, I’m getting too old for this shit.
*The top photo is courtesy of La Nacion.