Saturday, February 12, 2011

Finally, a poor performance (Valentine Invitational)

Did you notice that neither the GBTC Invitational nor the Valentine invitational is actually an invitational? Anyone can enter -- you can just sign up, pay your fee, and run. This is not what "Invitational" means. Here is an example of an invitational that is actually Invitational:

Giegengack Invitational: As is noted on the page where you can sign up for the meet:
Collegiate Athletes ONLY. Invited teams ONLY.

That's pretty clear. A previous version of the page also mentioned that to request an invitation, you could contact someone.

Here is another example of a truly invitational Invitational:
New Balance Collegiate Invitational: As is noted on its signup page,
Athletes who wish to be considered for inclusion in the Open events must contact the event coordinator ... no later than Monday, Jan. 24, 2010.
Also clear. And exclusive: only fast people need apply.

For Valentine, anyone can run (as long as you aren't in high school). I ran for the past two years, when I was neither particularly fast nor on a team. Truth in advertising, please. If you're going to call it an invitational, invite people.

(Results) I was looking forward to this 3k and I knew that I could run fast, certainly under 10:00. My plan was to run the first 1600 in 5:20 or a little under, then maintain for three laps, and then kick and really race the last 800.

I had a bad start and found myself in the back. I ran in lane 2 and passed most of the people to put myself near the front by the end of the second lap. I was surprised to see 39 on the clock after 200m. Usually it goes out faster than that! The next couple of laps I fought to stay near the front, and I was working hard, so I was disturbed to see that each time I came around, the time ended in a 9. I was running 40-second laps and having to work very hard to do it. My legs felt tired and I was having trouble breathing. I was thinking, "this is not my day," and then putting the thought out of my mind and running. But it definitely was not my day, and that became increasingly clear as the race went on.

I went through the mile in 5:20 as planned, but I felt awful. After that, it just fell to pieces. I was slowing down, and when people passed me they would cut me off, and I had to stop suddenly to avoid running into them, and then get on the outside to pass them again. The second half of the race was awful. I was running 42s and 43s, getting passed by person after person, feeling completely out if it, with this pain in my chest and heavy legs. I even lost count of my laps at one point. With one lap to go, I saw 9:33 on the clock. It was pathetic. And then the really pathetic part was that I kicked, and I still didn't make it in under 10:15. My final time was 10:15.54. After I crossed the finish line, I bent over and then found myself tipping forward and had to catch myself with my fingertips (you can even see this in the video).

Here is the race video. Be advised that it is twice as long as the last one, and not nearly as interesting. I should have been at the front of the race, one of the people the camera was filming, and instead I am languishing in the back, out of the frame for much of the second half.

Watch more video of 2011 BU Valentine Invitational on

So, my streak of great races has ended. I ran a race in the blue and white singlet that wasn't a PR. I'm not sure why I felt so bad; I felt good on the warm-up, and doing strides, and I was confident going into the race. Maybe I shouldn't have done 11 miles a day on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week. Maybe I shouldn't have warmed up so long before my race. Maybe the track dust and dry air triggered, for the third or fourth time in 10 years, the exercised-induced asthma that the doctor told me I had back when this same thing (trouble breathing, pain in chest) happened during a 5k in tenth grade. I'd like to know what caused me to feel so bad during the race, but I'm not inclined to be very discouraged about it. For me, at least, there are many races.

There are certainly some positive things to take away from this. First, even though I felt awful, I was able to come through the mile in 5:20. I also stayed near the front and used the front-runners' pace reasonably well for a few laps -- after my bad start and before I started slipping. Finally, despite my legs and lungs not cooperating, feeling awful, and basically just surviving the second half of the race, I still ran 10:15.54. It's not a bad time, and it's faster than I ran all of last year. It's significantly slower than I wanted to run, but that just gives me more motivation to run fast next time.

After running poorly in the mile at Harvard and then much better just five days later at BU, I decided that BU's track was magic. But I felt, running on BU's track last night, like I did at Harvard three weeks ago. So it's not the track. That means that I can run a fast mile at Harvard next week, if my body feels like it did at BU two weeks ago. I hope that's what happens, and I'll do everything I can to ensure that I arrive prepared to run fast.


KG said...

Hi Diana. Thanks for making a pit stop on the way to the race so Al could get those sneakers to me. I appreciate it. I hope it didn't throw off your timing too much for the race. I feel partially to blame for you not going sub 10. Here's to rebounding nicely next week!

Diana said...

Thanks, Kevin -- it did take 2.5 hours to get there, due to the absolutely ridiculous traffic, but luckily I got there in plenty of time for my race. If anything, I warmed up too early (with my teammates who were in an earlier section).

I clicked through and saw that you're writing a novel. Cool! Alan says he's going to read it.