Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Who is an "Elite" Runner

Last year, I tried increasing mileage and speed simultaneously and ended up with an achilles problem and chondromalacia patella (I don't even know how to pronounce it). Since my goal is to hit 50 mpw by mid-December (in my mind, the ideal base mileage to begin training for a second marathon), I've completely cut out speedwork till then.

But today, as I pounded out an 8-miler (it started out being a 7-miler, but I try to put in more mileage when possible, earlier in the week, so that the runs later in the week seem like a breeze), I was tempted to make this a tempo run. As a strong wind nearly blew me off the road, I accelerated to 10K pace and tried to sustain the pace. No tweaks or twinges, but my body felt weak and unprepared. I had to slow down after a mile.

Oh, well! Too fast too soon is the recipe for disaster. I'll just stick with pounding out the miles for now.

And anyway (though this has nothing at all to do with me), running faster than everyone else in a race does not always make you the winner anymore, as officials of the Nike's Women's Marathon in San Francisco ruled, over the weekend.


Arien O'Connell from NYC had the fastest time of all the women in the race, but because she did not declare herself "elite", she was not placed among other elite runners who had a 20 minute head start over the others. So, she went home empty-handed.

The defense of the officials is, "If you're feeling like you're going to be a leader, you should be in the elite pack." That sounds really weak! I understand the argument that Arien did not run the same race as the elite runners...if the elite runners had been challenged during the race, they may have run faster, and produced a better timing. But should the decision of whether one is elite or not be left up to the runners??? How was Arien supposed to know she was an "elite" runner? She was too modest to call herself elite. She was just having a fabulous day and happened to get a PR. And 3:06 (which was the "official" first-place time) is not exactly "elite" timing, so why bother having an elite pool of runners, anyway?

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