Elephant

Uggh I hate those moments in life where you realize you probably could have made a better choice and there isn't an ideal way to fix the issue so you just have to take the route you deem most appropriate and hope the fodder of it all has minimal impact on all those around you involved.

I should be celebrating a great race performance yesterday but instead there is a big elephant in the room so I am going to air that first and tomorrow or later in the week hopefully I will be able to write up a good race report that isn't tainted with controversy.

This weekend was the perfect 10 mile race. Coach had tasked me with a goal of running 65 minutes or 6:30 pace. That seemed aggressive to me but doable and although it was in my thoughts I didn't really have much time to plan or think about it because I was busy with a lot of other things last week. I didn't even know what time the race started or where it started until Saturday night around 9 pm when I called GP to find out if I could carpool with her on my way home from Michigan. Obviously I was not as prepared as normal for this but sometimes there are other important things going on that take precedent.

Keeping all that in mind I joked with my friend Thursday night that I could use his help pacing me on Sunday if he was willing to slow his roll a bit for me and wasn't intending to race all out. He said he would consider and I didn't think much about it after that, until I got to the line yesterday and he was there waiting to help me (I literally got to the line about 30 seconds before the start and had time for one stride and for coach to tell me to go out in the 6:20s and not freak out about it). I was there by a few of my fast girlfriends and I told them it looked like we could work with my pacer since he was there.

Little did I know we would all be vying for top places in the race and that having help may have been a factor in the results. I had no intentions of placing in this race and my only goal was to meet the time goal coach had set out for me. If I had any idea I could be in contention I never would have asked my friend to run with me and help me run my time.

Needless to say I ran very well and I have been wracked with guilt about it since. So today I emailed the race director and asked that they disqualify me and remove my name from the results. My only goal was to run a certain time and I really don't care about my place or prizes so this does not bother me at all. I just feel badly that I didn't think to do this directly after the race yesterday. And I also feel badly that any other runner may have let this affect their personal race as that was obviously not my intention.

On top of that I feel badly that I can't seem to relish in my good performance the way I should be able to. Pacer or not I ran well and worked very hard. I feel that performing well is a testament to my coach, my family, my friends, and my running club and I am sorry that I put myself in a position where I felt I had to take that away from myself and them.

Lesson learned. I am fast enough now that I can't run with friends anymore in order to achieve goal times, had I been a few minutes slower or had there been women there who ran a few minutes faster I would just be celebrating running a good race today instead of apologizing and trying to make amends. Now I know and won't put myself in that situation again.

15 comments:

Mike said...

Wow, kudos to you for calling the race director and DQ'ing yourself but I don't think you should feel guilty, you ran what you ran.

You obviously know this but it's worth mentioning, almost all marathons have pace groups now and running with one of them doesn't DQ you or require you to feel bad. Nobody is giving up their Boston Qualifer or age group placing in a marathon because they ran with a pace group. Not sure why a 10 miler when the pacer is your friend is any different.

Still, your honesty is refreshing, good for you for doing what you had to do to make the situation right in your eyes.

Babs said...

E...

You gutted out the training on the track, tempo runs, weekly miles. The result speaks for itself...you were the fastest woman out there yesterday. Just remember that! I saw you around mile 6 - strong and in control, and leading the other women runners. If you feel 'guilty' about having a friend pace you because 'controversy' arose over this - and it'll make you feel better to disqualify yourself, then that's very humble of you.

Kate said...

I don't think you should feel guilty, but I think you have done the right thing, given that you DO feel guilty. Good work on a fantastic time and a goal achieved.

kccat said...

I don't know the circumstances but I just want to say you did an outstanding job yesterday. As Mike said, your honesty is refreshing. I hope you can get through this without beating yourself up too badly. It was nice to see you out there.

Keen Bean Company said...

sounds like this was a tough call for you - much love to you for always doing what you think is the right thing to do. You are always a winner in my book.

TriBoomer a.k.a. Brian said...

Your sportsmanship is inspiring. Good on ya. Now, stop beating yourself up and go for a fun run.

Stay tuned...

The Salty One said...

I think this is just one of those there's-no-right-answer kinds of things. I still feel bad for feeling bad about the whole thing and still after three days of brooding over it don't know what's right or wrong. I do know that you are a great runner and a great friend. This is a mere blip in your running career and in our friendship. Your potential is limitless and I look forward to packing up peanut to see Aunt Elizabeth in the trials one day!

Anonymous said...

This is absurd. I could see it if it was a TT, but in a road race? If your competitors were upset you had a pacer, they could have just run with you. They could have used the pacer just as much as you did. Pacers are used all the time in races. There's nothing wrong with it. You shouldn't have DQ'ed yourself because that just lends credence to their ignorant complaints.

Quinto Sol said...

You are a better woman than I am a man. I think your legs and lungs did the work to get you to cross the finish line as the first woman. Sure, your male "pacer" might have provided a psychological boost, but you carried your physical self. Kudos on being first, regardless of your self-dq.

Anonymous said...

I'm a semi-professional elite female runner and I am surprised that you DQ'd yourself and feel sad that you feel guilty. I've been in very competitive races with other females, and 9.9 times out of 10, the woman in front of me is being paced by a male. That has never once distracted me from racing her or watching her heels come back to me!

Hang in there, E. No matter what, your heart and legs were doing the work - no one but YOU can turn out those 6:30s.

Anonymous said...

I agree--I think that the friendship you have with the other runners is blurring the competitive nature of racing. The DQ is totally unnecessary. Maybe there's an asterisk on this race because you felt you had an advantage with a pacer; so race the next one without. It's too bad you aren't able to enjoy your accomplishment.

Anonymous said...

Unless you hopped over the meridian on Belvoir and cut the course short (tempting - that out was uphill!!!), you won the race and should be very proud of your accomplishment.

It was a hot, humid day on Sunday and I went home and drank a cold beer out of my (age group) award to celebrate running hard every step of the way. You should do the same :)

allanjel said...

The DQ is unnecessary!!

The "pecking order" as Salty refers to it has not been established for you two as you are = right now. Had another girl say someone w/ the initials JO from my team been up ahead with a pacer or a slower chick in the back with a pacer, would there be such a hub-bub???

Anonymous said...

I don;t think there's anything wrong with a pacer (the other woman is a baby, and just making excuses for losing). That being said, I don't like the idea of bandits at these races. Most of these races benefit charity, so to run without having paid is taking money away from a worthy charity. If you're going to pace someone in a race, open up your wallet and pay the entrance fee!

Curly Su said...

wow liz. congrats on a great run, and that's all that matters.