Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Shibamata 100K: On finishing 2nd

If you want a happy feel-good race report, skip this one, and read the previous post.

I'm a stickler for details, and I tend to dwell on things. But, I need to move past last weekend, so I'm going to write the story how it happened, because I can't tell it any other way. And then I'm not going to talk about it or stew any more.  Because right now it's driving me fucking crazy. And I'm sick of answering the question, "How was the race?"

Meghan said to just say we tied, because we tried to, and no one can read the Japanese results anyway. That's not exactly true. The results are out there. So what do I say when people ask me, "So, did you win?" Answering that question in any form is complicated. I can say I was second, but that doesn't tell the story. I can't say that I tied for the win, because the race results indicate differently, and the race organizers have confirmed (after I complained) that Meghan was the winner. Not that the people I'm telling would know, or really care, but I do. So, while I'd like to just write that the Shibamata 100K was a great experience and finishing hand-in-hand with my friend and mentor was really special, I don't feel that way. At all. Yes, I mentioned I tend to dwell on things and can be a bit petty, as writing this would indicate. But I went to Tokyo to race, and would not have suggested a tie had I had any idea I would have finished second in the process. It's one thing to be outrun for second, but I wasn't outrun. I've happily been outrun by Meghan many times. If Meghan had outrun me, I would have graciously stood beside my friend on the podium. But instead I stewed. I had run slower than I would have in the second half and waited on a few occasions while Meghan used the bathroom, so that we could run and finish together. And to not call a tie a tie, which the race organizers refuse to do even though we finished hand-in-hand clearly intending to tie, is complete bullshit. For whatever reason the results really mattered to me.

The race started at 8 a.m. and we went out at a good pace (averaged 7:12 for the first 50K). We came through the marathon split around 3:08, and the 50K around 3:44. I felt good, physically, the harder part of the race was mental, and I was bored more than anything else.  It was warm and sunny for the first 5 hours (probably 75 by 1 p.m.) until some cloud cover rolled in. My stomach felt good all day, and besides a pee-break in the first half, I never needed to stop. I did feel a bit water-logged at times, but I was able to get gels down throughout, and just stopped drinking whenever I started to feel sloshy.

At some point after the midway point, I assumed that Meghan and I were not going to be challenged (out-and-back nature of course made it easy to see the competition), so I suggested we finish together. The course was flat and tedious, and company for the last half sounded much more appealing than going it alone. Plus we'd made the journey over together, had shared the experience together, along with many others, and it would mean a lot to tie. So I suggested it. And we did. Well, at least we crossed the finish line hand-in-hand.

Lessons learned:

If I learned anything this past weekend, it's that I'm really freaking competitive, and I took an option this past weekend that I probably wouldn't consider again after the experience on Saturday. I wanted to win that race. Or tie with my friend for the win. If I'd known that my suggestion to tie was impossible because of a timing system, I would have raced the second half and pushed the pace.

Never try to tie when there is chip timing and a culture you're unfamiliar with involved. At least not unless you're willing to accept second place graciously.  I was not.

Run your own race. Had I run my own race in the second half and finished second, I would have no one to blame but myself.

Saturday reinforced that while I love running for the US team in the World 100K, a flat road 100K is not actually a race that I would opt to do very often (once a year is enough). Prior to the race, the idea of an out-and-back actually sounded more interesting than a loop, but for a 100K road race, a loop format now makes a lot of sense--easier aid, better crowd support.  Of course an out-and-back through a more varied landscape or a more heavily populated area might not be so bad. Based off of my reaction to the results, I won't be invited back, but I'm OK with that. It's not the type of race that calls to me. It's no UTMB.

Running 100K on roads reinforced that I would rather race 100K on trails any day of the week. The course was fairly brutal--45K out and 45K back and then 5K out and 5K back along a flat bike path.  I'm from flat open spaces, and there's a reason I live and run in Oregon.

A shot from the race course.  Not a single spot of shade (well, a highway underpass or two, which also resulted in the only hills on course). 
The positives:
I'm fit. We ran 7:50 (7:50:31 and 32, to be exact) and I felt like I could have run 10 minutes faster if I'd run my own race in the second half. It was a hot day--sunny, windy and exposed--and the aid situation wasn't ideal in terms of speedy racing (had to stop to get aid/fill bottles instead of running through aid stations, like at worlds), so I was pleased with where I am fitness-wise on that course with those conditions. I ran 10 miles Tuesday night and my legs felt OK, so I hope that means I'm recovering quickly and in time to get some good WS training in before tapering.

I had no issues except that my hamstrings/butt got pretty tight. But I felt strong, and didn't have any major physical issues. Well, my feet got pretty trashed, but blisters are more of a problem once you're finished. They didn't affect my race.

I got to finish hand-in-hand and cross the line "together" with my friend and mentor. I just wish that I wasn't so hung up on the results such that I could enjoy that detail.
The finish.
I learned a lot about myself. Most of the things I learned are not positive things--I have my share of personality flaws, and this race exposed them. It was a lesson in what I need to work on. An example being the fact that I know exactly what happened and how the race unfolded and what the intent was, and just because the race results don't indicate that drives me nuts. Also, I could have graciously accepted the decision and made a much better impression, but I didn't.  Instead, I complained. And it looked especially bad because I, the one who finished second, was the one questioning the results. I could go on, but I feel bad enough about myself as it is. All races teach you something, but this one revealed more than I wanted to see.

Podium shot. I had no idea of the results until we were called up on stage.  My face = "are you fucking kidding me?" Photo by Mikio Miyazoe.