DeKalb Corn Fest Classic Race Report - Racing 101

Last weekend, I decided to take up an offer from Dave Strubbe for a ride out to DeKalb to race the Corn Fest Classic 10k.  I knew I was getting into pretty decent shape, and was getting antsy for a race.  With some decent prize money at the race, I knew there would be good competition, so it seemed like a good idea to hop in.  I ended up running a pretty humbling race, as I went out way too hard.  A 4:48 uphill opening mile threw me into oxygen debt, and the rest of the race was pretty painful as a result.  My splits were 4:48, 5:04, 5:24, 5:21, 5:21, 5:21, 1:06 (last 0.2) for a 32:28 final time.

So why did I race like an idiot, going out way over my head?  Basically, my attitude since Grandma's has shifted to thinking that I should be able to run with anyone in the Chicago area, that I'm as good as any of the other top guys here (essentially Chas Gillespie, Jordan Horwitz, Jeff Jonaitis, Chad Ware, and Kyle Brady).  In the marathon, this may more or less be true, and it might be true for the shorter distances if I focused on them.  But the reality is that I train very hard, and run some pretty crushing workouts.  I don't back off for races like this, and even though I'm doing Fundamental (and not Marathon Specific) work, that work is still focused on getting me prepared for a 2:15-2:17 marathon in January or March (as opposed to say, running a peak 5k or 10k on the track).  So to the extent that I can be competitive in the 5k to half marathon (especially during my base), I have to run smart.  The 'I can run with anybody' attitude is a useful attitude to have, but it must be tempered by a realistic and intelligent approach to a race given your strengths and where you are in your training.

So I should have gone out in 5:00-5:05 for the first mile.  I probably could have maintained that the whole race, picking guys off.  I would have felt great, had a positive experience, and come away with some money.  Instead, I found myself in a lot of pain 8 minutes into a 32 minute race, pissed off and wondering what the hell I was thinking that first mile.  That said, a number of positives still came out of the race:
- It was a nice wake up call before I race the Chicago Half Marathon next week.  If not for this screw up, I may well have gone out sub-5 at the half.  Now I realize I need to run much more intelligently.  I am fit, and think that I should be able to run sub-1:08, but I need to be no faster than 5:15 pace for the first 4 miles.
- I had to deal with a system flooded with lactic acid for quite a while.  I don't get very anaerobic in much of my training.  The Aussie Quarters session does, but it's over so fast, you really just deal with about 5:00 of pain at the end of that session.  Having to run a painful last 4 miles of the 10k should serve me well for the half marathon and it was a good rust buster as I start to do some more anaerobically challenging workouts in a few weeks.
- It was a good mental exercise of trying to stay tough when feeling like shit.  After a 5:24 third mile, I was able to stop the bleeding, coming back with 3 consecutive 5:21s.  Now this is about marathon pace so obviously not very impressive, but still, it would have been easy to pack it in after a horrible start, but I was able to refocus a bit. 

Hopefully I can get my head on straight for the Chicago Half next weekend.  May be a bit run down from training still, so I'll try to run smart and take whatever I have in me on the day. 

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