February 17, 2007

Disappointing Run

Posted in hope, personal at 1:43 pm by jimazing

This year will be my third year running the 10K Cooper River Bridge Run in Charleston, SC. I started running when I was about 45 years old, which is not an easy feat to do. I really wanted to run the bridge. My buddy, Curt ran it every year and inspired me to run it too. The first year, my goal was to “just get over it”. My finish time that year was 1:17. Last year, I ran it with my friend, John in 1:07 and wrote about it here. This year, my goal is to run it in 60 minutes.

I have been following the FIRST training plan, which calls for long runs once a week. Today’s run was 8 miles. I decided that it was time to test myself to see whether I was in the ball park for my goal. I planed to run the first 10K at my 60 minute pace. I was sorely disappointed with my performance.

The first mile, I was right on pace. In the second mile, I checked my heart rate and it was spiking. I knew that there was no way I could keep that up, so I dialed back the intensity a bit. My legs just ached and argued with me. At the 3 mile mark, I had to walk a bit. Then I picked up the run at a medium pace. At 4 miles, I walked some more and beat myself up for not doing any better than I was. Ran through to 6.2 miles (10K) and checked my time 1:16. Ugh! I walked a bit and jogged the rest of the way in. Right now I am feeling a variety of emotions; disappointment, hopefulness, thankfulness, wishfulness and questioning.

  • I am disappointed that I cannot run faster even after the training I have been doing. My expectations are apparently too high.
  • I am hopeful that this was just a bad day for testing myself and that I really can run faster. I was running alone today and I wonder how much better I might have done with a buddy “pulling me along”.
  • I am thankful that at almost 49 years old that I can run at all. I haven’t injured myself and my body still works well enough to run.
  • I am wishful that I had started earlier in life and had years of training under my belt. Wishful that I could run faster.
  • I am questioning what to do. What does one do when one has a goal and a good reality check tells them that they cannot do it? Do I give up? Take what I’ve got? Just run the stinkin’ race and see what happens? Keep telling myself that I can do it even when the evidence says otherwise?

As I wrote that last sentence, I remembered something that I read just yesterday. In Good to Great, Jim Collins, describes one of the difference between great companies and merely good ones. He speaks of the Stockdale Paradox (named for Vice Admiral James Stockdale), which is fundamentally retaining faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties and at the same time, Confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be. Applying Stockdale to my situation: I will prevail. I will run the bridge in 60 minutes. I had a really bad run today. I have a lot of training yet to do. What can I learn from my run today? What can I do better next time? How can I overcome what I must in 6 weeks to reach my goal?


  1. Paul said,

    You’re not that far off pace, so I wouldn’t give up yet. It’s hard to get a good time when you start off too fast and later on have to dial it way back.

    I got a good workout today, too. I went “hiking”, which turned out to be more like snowshoeing without snowshoes. I got a little lost after I struck out off-trail and ended up going down into a valley and back up the other side in order to get back in the direction of where my car was parked. The highlight was when I took a step and my leg sank into the snow up to my upper thigh. =)

  2. curt said,

    I think you are on pace. There are still some weeks before the run and there is the “crowd enthusiasm” that permeates the entire run. I generally start out a little slower and add the speed gradually as I go, rather than try to hit pace at the first mile. Just a thot but I think you’ll set a PR!

  3. Dan said,

    Hey Jim – My turn for questions!
    Did you only test once?? If so = just an indication to train more and maybe harder. Test again next week. Did you test with a friend yet? Have you asked a friend to go with you yet? If not, I will volunteer to peddle my large behind with you and encourage you and be impressed with your ability. What is your Goal?? If 60 min. is the Goal then devote all of your available time to it. Beat yourself up if you fall short.If running the bridge with friends is your goal – enjoy yourself. Setting a goal of 60 min. while running the bridge with friends is a realistic goal to set. I know you can do it. Curtis knows you can do it. Why are you worring about it. But it’s not worth beating yourself up over it. Work hard and enjoy the run. The worst that can happen is you fall a little short and can enjoy training for the next year.

  4. jimazing said,

    Thanks for all of your commments. My reason for posting this blog entry was not so much about the running, but to capture my feelings “in the moment”. I wrote some thoughts on memory about a year ago and how it is impossible to truly remember the emotions after the moment is gone.

    Today, I do not feel what I was feeling on Saturday. Today, I have a renewed hope that I will be able to meet my goal of finishing the race in 60 minutes. I want this post to be something I can go back to on March 31st and see how far I came to be able to meet my goal.  The next time I feel down about a lack of progress towards a goal, I can return to see how, with God’s help, I made it.

    I want to share my humanity with my family; not a collection of happy, feel good stories that elevate me to something I am not. I am a goofy, messed up guy who wants to develop a gift for writing and to encourage my friends and family.

    Dan, I’d be honored to have you ride with me on Saturday.  10 miles!

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