Deena Kastor and Ryan Hall came to Phoenix this weekend to run the RocknRoll Half Marathon. Both were looking for a good tune up race before their big spring marathons. Deena was looking for a possible record run while Ryan – by all local pundits – was looking for a good win with a good run.
I had a great view of the race. I had been chosen to be part of the USATF timing team of certified USATF officials. This is in accordance with all regulations for record certification. Electronic chip timing alone is not sufficient for certifying record performances. So, I was in the lead timing car for the whole half marathon (that sound funny… but you know what I mean).
It seems every time we see or read about elite runners it is in the context of setting records and winning medals. The rest of the year we hear little about their races and nothing of course about their training. Unlike in basketball where you get to compete 80 times a year, baseball where you compete 165 times per year or every weekend in football for 20-plus weeks; elite runners may race 15-20 times in a year but only a few of those are top notch efforts.
In some ways this is not different than the everyday runner. Though some are prodigious in their racing – most build up and wait for a few big efforts – like the RocknRoll series of races. And in fact often we integrate some races just as variety and part of our build up as opposed to all out personal record attempts.
One very good friend of mine Jamie ran the full marathon today. He has been agonizingly close to breaking three hours; with a couple of 3:01s. Today, he felt would be his day to do it. Training was good and though he knew the unpredictable nature of the marathon, he was thinking – this time it’ll come together. His wife Tara, he reported, was in great shape and hoped for a sub-3:30.
With this, let me report: Deena won in a time a couple minutes slower than expected – 1:09:43 no US or World record (got a course record though). Ryan came in second; 1:04:08 almost 2 minutes behind the winner. Jamie ran 3:02. Tara ran 3:26:14, a PR.
And so here lies the punch line. If all the predicting, pace calculators, planning and training alone were enough, then we would set every goal we ever pursue; we would set records any time we thought about them; we would win anytime we toed the line.
The fact is that we never know until we try. We never know until we just go for it. We never know until we race the race. That is why we race. So, go forth dare great things… put it on the line… and know… most importantly THAT is what it is all about…