Generally I have good associations with being in public races. I like the positive energy, the music, the support of friends and family videoing their loved ones as they run by, the encouraging MC on the loudspeaker shouting people’s names as they cross the finish line. Perhaps most importantly, it’s awesome to be one of the sea of runners trekking forward en masse. I have fed on this positive energy many times, including during last year’s CIM.
A week and a half ago, however, the crowd effect backfired on me. I thought doing the Run the Parkway 20 miler during my 27.5 mile running day would be a non-issue. Instead, I found myself getting swept away in the crowd and going a bit too fast for that day’s mileage. Maybe that is not surprising: everyone else was running at least 7.5 miles fewer than I was, either a half marathon (13.1 miles) or twenty miles. My pacing strategy didn’t consider that I was essentially running a different race altogether!
At any rate, the effect of running with others was that I didn’t check in with myself as closely as I probably should have. This is easier said than done. To begin with, I was somewhat in my head about juggling two runs in one that day. From the very beginning of the race, as I stood surrounded by hundreds of other runners at the starting line, I felt a bit thrown off rather than energized. Could it be that in the past few months of training by myself or with one or two friends, I forgot what it was like?
In retrospect, it feels like an obvious oversight. Oh well.
Bottom line: I shall apply what I learned from this experience to make sure I take the right pace for me at CIM in two and a half weeks. That day I will be in a crowd of an entirely different level: thousands of other runners and twenty-six miles of city streets lined with supportive on-lookers.
I want to use this to energize me and enhance my experience. And I want to continue enjoying running in crowds.