Take what the day gives you

April 11, 2010

Yesterday’s race made me feel old. I don’t mean that in a purely negative sense.

At certain 5Ks and 10Ks, I seem to play the role of the crafty old veteran whose sensible tactics partly compensate for limited legspeed. I generally pace myself well, respecting the features of the course, and wind up passing some really fit kids who went out too fast. It’s not as fun as winning the whole race, which often requires good tactics AND good speed, but there’s a certain satisfaction in using one’s experience to achieve the best result possible on a given day.

Yesterday’s race, the Mad City 100K, was a similar exercise in coaxing an acceptable performance out of a less-than-fully-cooperative body. I was hoping to run 7:05 or better, but the desired pace felt uncomfortable, so I slowed down, drank copiously in recognition of the unseasonably warm temperatures (47 degrees at the start, 67 degrees by the finish), and revised my goals to be (A) staying under the national 100K team qualifying standard of 7:20 and (B) placing as highly as possible. I remembered something that Patrick Russell said to me at this race three years ago amidst lousy weather — “You have to take what the day gives you” — and adopted that as my mantra for the last 50K.

I finished far behind winner Matt Woods (7:06:21), which was quite disappointing. On the other hand, I worked my way up to 2nd place with a late rally, passing Chad Ricklefs at 88K and Chikara Omine at 91K, and my runner-up position and time of 7:15:11 should be enough to get me back onto the national team, which will compete in Gibraltar in November.

I may avoid long races during the next few months so that I can focus my training on preparing for Gibraltar. But we’ll see what the summer brings.

pre-race mug shotNo, I didn’t quite live up to my bib number. Photo by Timo Yanacheck.


  1. Great race, Greg. Very impressive pacing. Maybe this will be the start of trend where people run even splits at ultras. Probably not, but it's a nice thought!Ben Nephew

  2. Way to hang in there, Doogie. And in the end, you really weren't all that far off your goal pace: 6 seconds/km really isn't much, at least to my eyes.Gibralter in Nov., eh? So you're going to be running laps of the entire island, or what? 😉

  3. Excellent result for a day not so generous.

  4. Nice work, Greg! Hope you get that spot on the 100k team; you deserve it!

  5. I tracked the race as the loops were posted. It was obvious to me you were running the most intelligently out of the group. It was a matter of how much of a lead the others built and how fast they were going to die.It was a good and patient race – Something we can all learn from … Take what the day and your body has to give and maximize it!Congrats again-MTP

  6. Nice job, Greg. Hope we meet up across the pond.Todd

  7. GC,Congrats on another admirable finish. Looking forward to chatting further with you on a Sunday run in Seattle sometime soon.Gibraltar…is that a joke? Are you going to be running circles around the rock?Best, L

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