Check out this video of Thunder Road I received from the race director, Tim Rhodes, today. Pretty cool. It's too bad you miss all this kind of stuff when you're actually running in the race...
So, I didn't run the time I thought I was capable of this last Saturday, but I'm hard pressed to feel disappointed. I came away with a much better understanding of what is needed in my training to improve my times. (Need I say it? More TEMPO and MP miles).
What really strikes me is how different this effort was compared to Buffalo.
With Buffalo, I felt great up until Mile 21. The last 6 miles were really dreadful, but far more tough mentally than physically tough. I felt really emotional about the inability to keep pushing at a decent pace, and I recall that once I saw the finish line in Buffalo, I pretty much was able to sprint it in.
In Charlotte, I endured far more pain than I did in Buffalo. It's what I'm most proud of. In this race, I never felt "great". I felt normal in the early miles, with fatigue setting in more and more as the miles clipped by. I felt more fatigued than I thought I should have been at Mile 14, and I was very fatigued at Mile 16. The final 8 miles were all about coping through increasing discomfort and pain. In hindsight, I think this is how it should feel, if you are running close to what you can do. The trick is to train so that your fuel will last through to the end.
The final 3 miles of Charlotte were worse than anything I experienced in Buffalo. I could not make my body go faster than a slow, slow jog at the end, even with my family, the crowds and the clock right in front of me.
The recoveries from these races are completely different as well. With Buffalo, I remember I walked the 2 miles back to my hotel. I was sore for the next 7-10 days, and was not able to think about running or racing for the next 3-4 weeks. When I did start back running, I noticed that any effort too hard or long pushed me past my reserves fairly quickly. This time, I was in excruciating pain upon finishing. My hip flexors locked up, and it was pure torture to walk the 1 measley block back to my hotel. However, about an hour later, I was getting around pretty well. Although my quads were beat, I felt pretty normal. The biggest difference is that mentally, I think I was ready to try again pretty much upon finishing Charlotte.
It's 6 days later. I'm back to running normally, doing a 2-week reverse taper. More importantly, I feel as inspired as ever to train and race. I look forward to the next 2 weeks, where I'll make some modifications to my training based on what I've learned recently, and start the 12-week countdown to the Wimberly-BQ Smack Down.