Running and Marathon Racing, A Post About When Things Go – WRONG


It’s easy to write about the running experience on a perfect day.  It’s easy to write about the results of a flawless race, a personal record or a race win.  It’s not so easy to draft a race report about a run that went terribly wrong.  The conflict is that we often learn more from a bad experience than we do from a good one, hence we should share those experiences where things went wrong to avoid making the same mistake, again.

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 (Not every race ends in smiles, puppies and unicorns)

So here goes my top FIVE racing/running mistakes:

1.  I didn’t need a headlamp.  During my first JFK50, I really did not factor in what the day light conditions would be.  It was mid November and an early morning start.  I figured I would need a headlamp.  Race morning standing on the street light lined roads with the sun coming up it hit me that I would not need the headlamp that was resting on my forehead.  I considered tossing it to the side of the road and writing it off.  But , that was a thirty dollar headlamp so I removed it and tucked it into my shorts pocket.  For the next 50 miles…..I fought a near losing battle trying to keep my shorts pulled up.  The extra weight of that headlamp caused my shorts to ride low….ALL…DAY…LONG.

2.  Went out to fast, again.  Most have done it.  We know we shouldn’t…we are smarter than that, but still.  I found myself sitting on a log at mile 20 of my first 50k completely gassed.  I was capable of running the distance, I was fit…I had the racing smarts.  BUT…I got caught up in the excitement of the day, the challenge of a new distance, and sucked into a pace I could not keep up.  I was done.

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3. I cheated on my plan.  I planned to run a sub-four marathon.  I was committed to the plan and to stay with the sub-four hour pace group.  Then I saw the 3:55 pacer sign in front of me.  I was hooked, I was smitten, I lusted over this new goal.  All went well until mile 20 where I was dropped from the 3:55 group.  I tried to regain control of my day yet eventually I could no longer keep up with the four-hour group.

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 (Even the greats have a day when things went wrong)

4.  I went cheap.  I knew I needed gaiters.  I looked at the simple design and thought, I can make them and save a few bucks.  I ran 20+ miles trying to keep the sand, rocks and dirt from gathering in myself made product.  In my misdirected attempt to be creative, to save a buck I constructed an ill designed, poorly fitting gaiter that did not keep debris from entering my shoes.  This poor design also collected sand under the sole of my running shoe.  What a painful mess…

5.  Cheap socks…will let you down.  In the early morning hours of my race day, I tried to sneak out of our bedroom with awakening my wife.  In my ninja mode I snagged a pair of socks from the draw and put them on.  Advance forward to the starting line of a 50-mile race when the gun went off.  At around mile two something in my right shoe felt off.  At mile three I could feel my heel riding against the back of my shoe.  At mile 3.01 it felt as if my sock was halfway off of my foot.  I pulled over to the side of the trail, sat down in the dirt and removed my shoe to find….my sock halfway off my foot.  I fought those ill fitting socks all day long.  First the right then the left then the right…..50 miles of cheap sock fun!

Running and racing can be fun when everything goes right.  Running and racing can be a pain in the butt when things go wrong yet these bad days teach us a lot and make the best “war stories.”

What has been one of your worst case race events?