I raced the Stowe 8 miler on Sunday. It was not a good day.
There are a couple of reasons. First, I did not run well. I did fairly well at executing my game plan: I went out in 5:12 (which required leading a very hesitant field) and held that pace through five miles (25:57). Then everything fell apart. I took over 17 minutes to complete the final three miles, and was passed by about 10 runners. I wasn’t that stressed by the first 5 miles, but I suddenly had nothing to give.
It would be convenient to blame lack of sleep–and I had maybe four hours two nights prior, and just under 8 the night before. And it might even be accurate. But since in three years I have not figured out how to get a lot of sleep while raising two very early risers (if no one is up at 6 a.m. I count myself very lucky) racing sleep deprived is just what I do. With no good long races to point to it is hard to say that this is the reason.
Oh well–someday, I am assured, I will have to drag my daughters out of bed so they aren’t late for school. Maybe I will be able to run long races then.
But will I want to? That question was forced on me by the behavior of the race’s winner. At the first water stop, when we were still in the same pack, he was right in front of me and he knocked six water cups out of volunteers’ hands before taking the last cup for himself. Note that I do not say that he did this intentionally, as that might be libel, but my readers can judge for themselves how likely it is to miss six cups in a row and just happen to grab the last one. I called him on it right there and he smirked and said “that’s racing.” He did apologize at the finish line but at that point denied having done this intentionally. Then one of his teammates teased me about my taking offense.
I have been running and skiing for a long time, and have never witnessed such antisocial behavior. Certainly, I have both cut people off and been cut off, and I have even seen people time breaks to force decisions about whether someone should take a feed. But I cannot think of a time when I have seen someone do something so petty or mean-spirited, nor do I understand why a team would close ranks around such a person, so matter how talented.