Competitors who demand improvement of themselves—who go to great lengths to perform at a higher level—often have a characteristic that is most likely both virtuous and vicious, benign and malignant: they are always dissatisfied. Max King recently set a new 100K American record en route to winning the world championships. Although he is surely happy with being crowned a world champion, my guess is that he thinks he could have gone faster—even given the dismal conditions of the race.
|Setting up the night before the race|
And that is all I can think about now in reflecting on my performance at the 2014 JFK 50 Mile: I could have, and indeed should have, gone faster. When I crossed the finish line in 6:01:30—a new personal best by nearly nine minutes—I let out a guttural scream that probably sounded frightening. I had finished in 3rd place, hardly more than a minute behind second and slightly less than five minutes behind first place. My outward cry was surely one of relief, with the knowledge that I no longer had to will myself another step, but, even more so, it was a cry of dissatisfaction. I had aspirations then, and have dreamed since, of winning that race; in recent days, I have spent hours analyzing the race, turning over almost every mile in my head, wondering how and why I didn’t run the last dozen miles at even a slightly faster pace.
Then I step back and try to allow myself the pleasure of satisfaction: I finished the race, for one thing, and on the podium, for another, and in a personal best time, to boot. I kept running when I thought my body couldn’t, I ran the 36th-fastest time in the history of the course, which has been completed by some 22,000 individuals over the last 52 years, and only 29 other people have completed the course faster than I in that time. I ran the course faster than many folks ever have, including the likes of 100K national champion and 12-hour world record holder, the very talented Zach Bitter. In short, I did quite well.
|Enduring around mile 38|
Alas, though I try to be satisfied, dissatisfaction creeps back in. So I plan to be back to this race next year and I will try to improve in the ways that I think I am capable. Nevertheless, as has been the case with every race I have ever finished, with the exception of a single marathon, I imagine that I will, if I am lucky enough, reflect similarly on my 2015 performance at the race. I can only hope that next time my retrospective improvements are more minimal, and my time is faster still. I am left to wonder if I will ever look back on a race in complete satisfaction; I suppose that only time will tell.
mile 2.6 17:43
mile 15.5 1:58:39 (1:40:56)
mile 41.8 5:00:54 (3:02:15)
mile 50.2 6:01:30 (1:00:36)
Socks: Darn Tough Vermont, Team Micro Crew Ultralight
Shades: Smith Optics, Approach Max
Shoes: Salomon, Sense Pro
slice of bread & peanut butter
6 x GU Salted Watermelon
5 x Clif Shot Mocha
Sundry chips & coke
1 Raw Revolution, Spirulina Dream
1 Raw Revolution, Peanut Butter, Dark Chocolate & Sea Salt
Thanks are always in order. This particular time, beyond the volunteers, aid station workers, and all others who made the race possible, thanks especially to RD Mike Spinnler for his hard work, to Andy Mason for his hospitality, to Jacky and her parents for crewing, and to sponsors Darn Tough Vermont, Raw Revolution, Smith Optics, and SMS Audio!