I've been thinking about yesterday's race all day today. I'm kind of an analytical person; I like breaking a problem down to it's most basic elements and examining them one by one. So the question is, why was yesterday's race such a failure? I thought I did everything right. I pretty much followed my training plan every week, the only big exception being that my last long run was 11 miles instead of 12; but I wouldn't expect one mile on a long run to make that big of a difference in my race. And the race course is actually easier than my training course since it contains no hills. and the race course is hard packed dirt which should be easier to run on than the pavement I'm accustomed to, and the weather was perfect for a race, except for the wind during the last 3 miles. So why was the same race so much easier last year? What was different?
I've come to the conclusion that the biggest difference was the training plan I used. Last year, I used a beginner's plan in which I ran 4 days a week, 3 days rest, and no speed work-just a focus on increasing mileage with a mix of short, medium, and one long run weekly. So this year I tried an intermediate plan with fairly short runs during the week, 2 rest days, one xtraining day and one long run. and at least one, sometimes two of the short runs were speed work. I've been worried that I wasn't running enough miles during the week to build stamina for the long runs and I'm pretty sure that was the case. My long runs during training were all tough. That should have clued me in that the plan was wrong for me.
The other major mistake was my pacing. I remember checking my Garmin at mile 4 and seeing a 10:20 pace and thinking,"Wow, that's pretty good, and I still feel strong; I'm going to really pay attention to my pace and try to maintain 10:20 or so." What was I thinking? If, instead of trying to maintain that pace, I had pulled back to a more reasonable 11+ pace, I may have had gas in the tank at mile 10.
So it was a good learning experience, if nothing else. I'm kind of looking forward to not racing for the rest of the year. I want to just focus on building a good base and enjoying running for the sake of running again, as opposed to running x miles because the plan says I have to. I want to build back up to 30 mpw with a 10 mile long run. I want to experiment with walk breaks during my long run, and continue with one day of speed work weekly.