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Run around the Square, 2008 (23 Aug 2008 at 11:59)
ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED
Official 5K time under 20:00


Phew. This race was a lot hillier (meaning up-hillier) than I thought it was going to be, but I did it, finishing in 19m54s, which is a pace of 6m24.3s per mile. Lots of people were telling me it should be easy for me to break 20 minutes, but it wasn't. I think I'm just not built for middle-distance.

Mistakes: Well, I didn't prepare for this as well as the marathon. I didn't eat as well the last couple of weeks, and I ate way too much pasta last night (anyway carbo-loading doesn't really do anything for this kind of race; it should have been about eating something that wouldn't upset my stomach) and drank too much coffee and not enough water in the morning. The biggest mistake was probably rushing off at the beginning of the race with the front of the pack. These people were running like a 5m15s/mile pace, which is way faster than I need to crack 20 minutes, and that tired me out. After finishing the first mile in 5m41s, the race started to get uphill. I was surprised because I naively thought that since it started up in Regent Square and ended down in the park, it would be all downhill. So on mile 2 I was feeling really crappy, like I needed to give up. (Thinking about giving up is a sure-fire way to crapify your race. Every time it happens you might as well knock 10 seconds off the final time.) And then I started feeling like I should conserve my energy because there was this relentless uphill, and I didn't want to die later. (Recall I was thinking that my first mile was stupidly fast, by this point already.) That second mile was a pace of 7m14s, which is pants. The third mistake is that the third mile is almost all downhill, especially the tail end, and I should have flat-out booked it in that section. Instead I was still worried about conserving my energy. Really all of these big mistakes can be traced back to not knowing the course before running it. Dumb. At least I won't have that problem in the Great Race. Of course all of that stuff accounts for maybe 10–15 seconds at most, so no big deal. I'd certainly be kicking myself more if I had come in just over 20 instead of just under.

Correct: Red Laces are still rocking it, but that was sort of an obvious choice because this race is mostly on gravel and not long so feet/knee shock is not an issue. The parts that were on Pittsburgh/Swissvale's brick and cobblestone roads I wisely ran up on the sidewalk. The sidewalk is treacherous too, but not as bad as the stones. I wore only shorts and shoes, GPS watch and car key. No water stops. The biggest victory was a mental one. Even though I was mentally giving up a few times, even in essence composing the alternative version of this blog post where I am talking mostly about mistakes and excuses for why I didn't meet my goal, in the last year or so I've learned a super important race principle. This will sound obvious. I often go into these races thinking, okay Tom, today is the day and this race I am going to really push myself and try to do X (where X is e.g. break 20 minutes). Then some distance into the race I am feeling garbagey and this makes me think, drat, today is not the day. I'm not up to it today. I made some kind of mistake. And the principle is just: The reason I feel garbagey is that I am pushing hard, and that's what it feels like, and to try hard is to feel this way, no matter the day. (This incidentally is how I know I didn't push hard enough in the marathon, which is that I didn't feel that way until mile 25 or something at which point it was basically over anyway.) So the success is the several times I felt like I should slow down because I'm not going to make my goal anyway, not slowing down, or not slowing down as much as I'm prone to at least. Also then there was beer and friends at the end and that was nice.

Next goal is to break 40 minutes in the Pittsburgh Great Race, which is twice the distance, but I think the course is easier. I am more serious about that, but that just means the personal stakes are higher. Think how many Gamer Points I'll have before year's end??
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Scott/Graue (ip70-179-119-114.dc.dc.cox.net) – 08.23.08 15:31:15
Awesome. You and your wacky running adventures. I think I'm falling in love with you, Tom.

In seriousness: I have started running because of you. I mapped it, and apparently I'm under 10 minutes per mile, so I'm officially running as opposed to jogging. You better watch out, man. At this pace, in 1000000 years or so, I will have become a better runner than yourself.
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Tom 7 (h-67-100-131-6.phlapafg.dynamic.covad.net) – 08.23.08 18:22:24
Aww. Well, I am glad you enjoy the stories. I didn't complain about this one being boring even though I think it's boring. (Still, I gotta record my accomplishments somewhere or why bother accomplishing them?) I'm more glad to inspire you to run. If you keep at it, you will get faster quickly. And then we can race!
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Tom 7 (h-67-100-130-57.phlapafg.dynamic.covad.net) – 09.03.08 00:21:19
44th place out of 1183. Not bad.
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