Friday, October 28, 2016

Well, here we go! Just a handful of days remain before the TCS New York Marathon, and like ten times previously, my nerves are beginning to get a little rattled.  I question my preparation and fitness level. I wonder about my hamstring and the only thing I am fairly certain of is that I will figure out a way to cover the distance of 26.2 miles come next Sunday, November 6. 

On my 4- mile training run earlier this week, I didn’t “tweak” my hamstring, but I felt it ache and once again it is causing me concern.  I took a few days off to allow things to settle down and went easy on my run tonight.  I have to trust that my preparation has been enough even though I inserted two races into the slots that were previously established as long runs.  My concern is that the races were shorter (6.6k and a 5k), but I am trusting that my experience and one long run should be enough to carry me on race day.

My final race preparation took place last Saturday in Nocatee, Florida at the Jacksonville Creepy Crawl 5k race.  It was the first time I ever raced in Florida and wasn’t exactly sure what to expect.  However, the weather cooperated with race start temperatures in the mid-50’s and surprisingly it was a very small event.  These factors helped lead me to a race victory as I finished first overall among the field of 64 runners.  After the starting gun I immediately found myself in front of the pack and after the first mile when nobody passed me I took a glance over my shoulder to see that the race would come down to me and one other guy.  The course was an out-and-back course along a paved path.  At the turn around point I knew I had about a 15-20 second lead by my estimation.  On the final stretch I couldn’t help but to keep looking over my shoulder and saw that my competitor appeared to close some ground on me, but I ended up winning by 27 seconds.  Given my recent hamstring issues it ended up being a great test for me and things held up pretty well.  I also received one of the coolest awards I’ve ever received for a race (pictured).

After the race I remarked that it was my first overall win in a race.  But after further review of my racing history, it turns out that it was actually the third time I’ve won a race.  How I failed to remember the previous two times is beyond me, but I did forget.  It got me thinking about where I’ve finished historically in races and during my research I learned a little bit about myself.  Being a numbers, statistics, and data geek I looked at my place finishes overall (among the entire field) and in my respective age group (which is now either 40-49 or 45-49 depending on how the race breaks out age groups).

Here is what I found:

I have run 149 race events totaling 960.32 miles all-time and finished in the following places,

OVERALL

1st place – 3 times (2% of the time)

2nd place – 11 times (7.4% of the time)

3rd place – 7 times (4.7% of the time)

I “placed” overall in races 21 times out of the 149 races, or 14% of the time.

AGE GROUP

1st place – 63 times (42.2% of the time)

2nd place – 20 times (13.4% of the time)

3rd place – 14 times (9.5% of the time)

I “placed” in my age group 97 times out of the 149 races, or 65.1% of the time.

Typically awards are given to place finishers, but if you take into account the times where I received a medal just for finishing the race (marathons and half-marathons usually give a finishers medal), I have received a medal or an award 121 times out of the 149 races I’ve completed.  As a result I walked away from running events with something to show for it besides a race t-shirt (once I received a pair of shorts, which I thought was a great idea) 81.2% of the time.  Further investigation showed that 10 of those 28 occasions happened in my first three years of running races.  I did 24 events in those first three years, so factoring out those times when I was inexperienced I have placed and/or received a medal/award 85.6% of the time (139 races, 18 events with no place or finisher award). 

So what did I learn?  I learned why I take it so hard when I don’t place in a race or walk away with the satisfaction of a finisher medal.  When I enter a marathon, I know that if I finish I will receive the coveted finisher medal.  In those races I place a higher emphasis on my finish time because my mindset going into the race is that I’ve already got the award covered.  It becomes more about the finish time when the award is guaranteed. 

Just an interesting little tidbit as we count down to the start.  How many days again? Oh, yeah, T-minus 10, 9…

Run on…

Becky and me picking up our race packets on a cool Florida morning.

Becky and me picking up our race packets on a cool Florida morning.

Heading to the start line.

Heading to the start line.

An overall 1st place finish. Photo seconds after crossing the finish line. I can't get enough of the palm trees in the background.

An overall 1st place finish. Photo seconds after crossing the finish line. I can’t get enough of the palm trees in the background.

A selfie with Frankie.

A selfie with Frankie.

They seemed to be into Star Wars in Nocatee. I've never seen one of 'em.

They seemed to be into Star Wars in Nocatee. I’ve never seen one of ’em.

The prize! I was concerned how to get it home on the flight but it made it.

The prize! I was concerned how to get it home on the flight but it made it.

A small event, but a nice time. Good people.

A small event, but a nice time. Good people.

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