Thursday, October 16, 2008

Long Race Reports and Fast PRs

Kudos to all of you who started and finished my race report on the Staten Island Half Marathon. The verbosity probably look longer to read than actually running the race. (But if you think it was long to read, just imagine how long it took to write…) Yes, for those who are new, I do have a tendency to write extensive race reports. So a word to the wise, the next time you come across another race report of mine, make sure you have some time to kill and a cup of coffee, because you’ll probably be here for a while…

But still, my race report on the S.I. Half was very lengthy even by my own meager standards. Question is, how did I let it get so long? On the one hand, it was completely unintentional, as I spent more than 8 hours over two days writing it even though I originally thought I’d be done by the conclusion of the last football game that afternoon. On the other hand, I think it was subconsciously completely intentional. One of my close RBF’s, Irish Cream, in her comment to me the previous day completely read my mind when she said “I keep wondering if you’re ever going to reach a point where you are so fast it is simply not possible to PR anymore!” The truth is, after about 5 minutes of personal celebration that day, I couldn’t stop obsessing about that exact question the whole way home. On the one hand I was completely delirious from running my best half ever. On the other hand, I couldn’t stop wondering if 1:25:44 really will be my best half ever, forever. I wasn’t sure how that question should be answered at the present time, but just in case this will be the last time I run a half-marathon PR, I wanted to record ever sentiment, every image, every inspiration I drew from my friends and the crowd that day, for posterity’s sake. That’s the real reason why I kept writing and revising that race report long after I didn’t really care to share so much anymore.

In my experience, the length of the race report is generally directly proportional to the importance of the race experience for me, even when sometimes I don’t realize it before it’s written. In that case, I hope I get more opportunity to write long race reports.

Does anyone else dread big PR’s because you’re afraid you’ll never able to run that fast again, or am I just being weird because I’m fearful of my own age and speed?


robert said...

thanks for your comment on my race report-I think I wrote nearly as much as you did-

My perspective on running is skewed by the fact that I have only been seriously running since june...but there have been other events in my life that I can relate here, for example, will I ever complete another 1000+ mile bike trip for example, sort of a different kind of PR-

Don't know if you read the Murakami book on running, he had a really interesting experience on an ultra marathon, made him really question "why" he was running at all, actually, and "who" exactly was running-I think it is related to your question-

I think it comes down to "time" and our human experience of it, and memory, and what kind of stories we have about ourselves. Not coincidentally you wrote a long "story" about the SI half, I think the PR in itself is only a number, the whole experience, going through it, completely, and dealing in those moments is the real PR. Or that is just some bs I tell myself when I am going uphill:)

"Forever" is a funny word, it is something we cannot experience. But you did the half faster than you ever have before, and I think, strangely, by the writing, it might have been a "longer" race.

There is a story about Craig Breedlove, a guy who set numerous land speed records in rocket cars, and he crashed once at 1000km/hr, from which he emerged unscathed, and interviewed at the scene he proceeded to give a one hour and thirty five minute (just longer than your run) sequential narration of what happened in 8.7 seconds.... He even expresses concern that he might bore the listeners and so he is condensing the story....

So I am not sure of my point, but I think you see that time is easy to measure and hard to experience.

keep writing/running of course!

Laura said...

My race reports are always ridiculously long - much longer than yours. I want to capture everything so I remember it for posterity, and I consider my race reports to be really just for me. I worry that I'm totally boring everyone who reads my blog, but then I get comments that say "you put so much detail in and I feel like I'm there with you; it's great!" I wonder if they're just being nice or if they genuinely enjoy reading them. I know I get bored reading my OWN race reports.

I'm thinking about doing a poll to see what the consensus is - maybe I should just be saving my reports on my computer somewhere.

Anonymous said...

I think it is great that you capture every detail and aspect of the races you run. It makes for great memories and reflection.

I do scan your reports and then read them when I have adequate time! They are always enjoyable.

joyRuN said...

Ah-ha! The question you pose must be the subconscious reason that I don't PR. Self-sabotage?

All kidding aside, I started blogging to I can capture moments in time. My take? Much better to err on the side of verbose than to look back & regret not being able to recapture the glorious details that made me happy.

Betsy said...

I like your long race reports - don't change a thing.

Regarding your feelings about PRs, I think you just need to change your thinking. I was just about to leave a ridiculously long comment about it, but I think there may actually be a post in there. Keep an eye on my blog today, if you're interested. :)

Andrew is getting fit said...

I like the long race reports as well. You get a real sense of being there and I manage to pick up a few tips as well.

Keep em coming.

And I can't comment on fears of PRs yet as I've only just started running so I'm still setting them every race. One day it will stop I guess.

M*J*C said...

Here's a thought on the PR's - since this year was my first year running...every race I ran was a PR!!!
Thanks for your compliment on my race shirt, only 8 more days until I get to wear it!
I can't wait to read your race report after exciting!

Betsy said...

I think that you're right that you just need a little time to gain that perspective. At first I thought that maybe part of the reason I can think of it differently is that I was maybe a little older than you are, but it turns out we are the same age! Am I right, though, that you're a relatively new runner? Like maybe within the past 5 years?

Betsy said...

Forgot to add that I think you're awesome at any speed.

The Laminator said...

Thanks, as always, for everyone's perspective on the matter.

Robert - I think you're right. The most important thing about the PR isn't so much the actual digits, it was the whole experience of going through it. Time can be relative, what's fast today won't be so fast tomorrow. I try to run each race as if I'll never get the chance to another one like that again. Thanks for your insightful comments

Laura - I think your race reports are great. I'm just trying to emulate them as best as I can, although I tend not to be as perceptive as you so some of what I see gets lost in the translation though.

d10 - Thanks for the encouragement.

joyrun - I like your take much better than mine. Funny thing is that I actually did consider slowing myself down in the final mile so as not to PR by so much...what i did was like 2 PRs in one...could've saved that for another day!

betsy - I think the difference is that I never got to run in high school and college, so I don't have marks in a previous life that I consider unattainable. I have only recent races and PRs to compare to so it's hard for me to consider the fact that I won't PR in my races. Big mental block.

Andrew - Thanks. I will keep 'em coming only because I don't think I can help myself. I'm glad you can pick up some nuggets of window in between all the written rubbish.

MJC = Your shirt is really cool. Totally digging it. You'll do great in D.C. I just know it.

Run For Life said...

Uncharted territory is always daunting but I think this type of fear is good because you're acutely aware of reality. Use that to your advantage and just keep running as well as you can no matter what numbers the clock shows. You won't be able to find the answer until you challenge your own musings, so...I'll be waiting for future 13.1 reports.

As far as your long race reports, I love them! I actually thought this one seemed short...I must be losing it, haha. I do wait until I'm actually able to devote time to reading them. That isn't because it's tedious - quite the opposite, in fact, I enjoy them so much I don't want to "spoil" it for myself. Yeah, I need a life (and some new deodorant. :P)

P.S. I sure hope you have done more than 5 mins. of personal celebration by now!

Maggs said...

PRs are great, but sometimes they leave barely any room for improvement and that's hard. long race reports are great. I always try to make a short one (normally more light hearted comedy) and then a long one that I details most of my thoughts, trials and tribulations when i'm out there. I was surprised how many people actually read mine and commented on the details.

J said...

I love the new motivational video with Michael. And I forgot to tell you I loved your race report and how you connected it to basketball!

Anonymous said...

Pssh. You might slow down some, eventually (not at 33), but by then you'll be kicking butt at the Master's level. It's all good.

Congrats on a good race.

*aron* said...

i am not afraid of that yet... i hope i am just at the start! esp since i just started really running last year :)

you are awesome! with your determination and hard work i can see a faster race down the line :)

sRod said...

There is a huge coorelation between the importance of the race and the length of the race report! I mean I just put off everything to write a 7 (yes, seven!) page race report. Now to catch up on everything.

Don't worry about not being able to PR. I mean it won't be in leaps in bounds like when you first started racing, but there is always the chance to lower your time by a minute in every race.

Irish Cream said...

Lam, I think you'll be fine even should you get to the point where you no longer PR. I mean, you are such a positive person, I really think you will find new ways to love and enjoy the sport. And, if nothing else, I would like to point out that you will always serve as an inspiration to others . . . I don't know about anyone else, but I am just as inspired by your non-PR race reports as I am by your PR reports!

Keep the long ones coming--I think most of us like 'em that way :)

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