After dusting off the ol’ racing shoes, I have found myself sprinting all-out approaching the last 100m in recent races. Typically, that’s ok; I have been nicknamed “The Hunter” by fellow training/racing partners. Intentionally or not, I typically sit and wait to kick for the line. Historically, it has worked very well. However, the most recent race I missed breaking the tape by .01 of a second, to a timing chip decision. It was is in the moments immediately following that I realized my tactics were flawed.
I knew my competitor. I failed to know opponent #2: The Course.
Trail race promoters do a great job of mapping routes close to the exact distance. However, it is expected to assume +/-1/4 mile variation from the exact distance. The race was 10k (6.2 miles) on single-track trails outside of Washington, D.C. At 5.7 miles into the race, I realized I had no idea what the last half mile of the race looked like. During this moment of panic, I frantically sought a solution to salvage my race plan. All of the sudden we popped out of the woods with a sharp right turn and it was 50m to the line. In an amateurish move, I failed to review the final mile of the course on my warm-up. DOH!!!
Racing 101: Your tactics do not matter if you do not know where the finish line is!