Little fish, big pond. That about sums up where I am with my racing right now. Nothing in my life has been as humbling as my racing results since moving away from Rochester. In western NY, I could expect to finish top 5 in nearly every race and certainly top 3 in my age-group even in the biggest races. At the most competitive races like the Lilac 10k or Bergen 5k which served as the USATF Niagara Championships I never finished worst than 4th in my age-group and that was running my second slowest 10k time of 36:14 at Lilac in 2010 30-39 age-group.
Since moving to New England I’ve been handed one ass whooping after another. And while I have lost a bit of time (OK more than just a bit) even if i was running my master’s PRs I’d still be looking up at the finishers on the podium at many races. For the past 2 years I’ve been using that as an excuse for not running my best, and not training as I should.
The New England USATF 5 Mile Championship (AKA Ribfest 5 Miler) was my wake-up call. I allowed myself to start 6 or 7 rows from the front. I tried to shuffle around people for the first half mile which I ran in 3:11. It was right then and there that I decided I had to get serious about my training and my racing. I may not be in peak shape anymore but I am not yet resigned to shuffling along in the middle of the pack. If I had merely started closer to the front and run the first half mile in 2:50 (a very reasonable 5:40 pace) I could have finished 3rd in the 40-49 age-group. My gun time/chip time difference of 7 seconds was double that of everyone that finished ahead of me. I’d convinced myself I didn’t deserve to start with the leaders, so I didn’t finished with them.
I managed to close the last mile in 5:32 feeling great on a very hot and humid day. I need to take that feeling with me into each workout and race. Maybe I’m not as fast as I was 2 years ago, but I’m not ready to be an also ran just yet. I’m stuck right in the middle of my age-group with no good excuse for poor performances. So as the other Dylan said…
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.