Saturday, November 3, 2012

Thoughts on the NYC Marathon cancellation. Get over it!

The brouhaha over the non-cancellation earlier in the week then last moment cancellation of the ING NYC Marathon has been loud and long.  In my opinion, the wailing and gnashing of teeth has been too loud and gone on too long.

I have no dog in the hunt so it gives me a clinical vantage point from which to have an opinion.  I was not running the race, nor do I have loved ones in the bulls-eye zone of Hurricane Sandy.  So, I have no emotional connection. 

The cancellation was smart.  The timing was stupid.  The outcry even more stupid.

The city was/is without power and there were dozens of deaths.  The storm’s destruction will take weeks maybe months to clean up.   Safety crews and medical workers are running all out.  Law enforcement is taxed to the max protecting citizens from looters and each other as tempers flare over the lack of power and gasoline.   

These same public service people would have had to stop the hard work of cleanup and rescue to provide support for the race.  Tough spot.

The race should have been cancelled early in the week.

The rationale the NYC RoadRunners Club used about revenue for the city, vendors and sponsors wore/still wears thin.  It would have been interesting to listen to the dialogue between the sanctioning organization, corporate sponsors, the city and others to understand the line of thinking earlier in the week.   Maybe the “show must go on” decision felt noble.  It may have even been right financially on a spreadsheet, but it made little common sense in light of the situation.

Then to compound the already bad decision, the NYCRR waited until some portion of the runner’s were in transit or already there in the city to cancel the race.  Apparently many showed up to find hotel rooms unavailable as they were being used to house displaced people.  Didn’t these runners watch the news or call ahead? 

The reaction has been an interesting human study.  

Monitoring Twitter and Facebook feeds reveals that most/many seem to be modestly annoyed but understanding.  Some though are shrill in their critique of the NYCRR.  Some are pissed because of the no refund policy.    (Easy solution, some bright marketing person at a big budget company like Nike with a $2.4 Billion marketing budget in 2012 should spend $8-10 million and sponsor 2012 runners entry fees for 2013.)  It clearly says on every race entry that the fees are non-refundable. You get injured, you pull out.  You miss a flight, you pull out.  In this case Mother Nature was the cause, the race pulled out. 

Get over it. 

This drama is all that is wrong in today’s corporate sponsored mass marathons.  The money being spent behind these races has turned the sport into a bit of a circus.  When smart calls on races are being held hostage to money, it is a slippery slope.   What’s next?

To the runners bitching about the cancellation- please shut up.   Yes, it is a minor inconvenience.  It is microscopic when compared to having a relative killed or seeing a family’s house taken away in the floodwaters.   You sound like a self obsessed clod complaining about missing a race when the devestation looks as bad as it does. 

To the people at the sponsors and NYCRR who made decisions based on the money factor in the face of a serious disaster.  Shame on you.  

To the people displaced or had relatives killed in the storm?  Sorry for your situation, my thoughts are with you and I am sorry you have had to listen to this kind of garbage as you try to put your lives back together.


I am not going to sign up for a mass corporate sponsored 26.2 ever again.  Instead I will look for the small regional races where money is not the purpose of the race.  I doubt it matters in the scheme of things, but I want my race fees to go to a charity or a small race director who is doing because they love the sport…not the money that goes with it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

DNFs are 99% Mental...Toughen Up!

If you race big distances enough eventually you will be visited by demons that can have you waving the surrender flag and taking the dreaded DNF (Did Not Finish). 

Most of the time, long haulers can stuff the quit monster back into the dark dank box it crawled out of.  Occasionally, the comfort of the SAG wagon or the rest area with “down the mountain shuttle access” beckons a little to loudly. 

In my 14 years of racing long, I have had 3 DNFs.  I remember every one. 

In retrospect, I will say that only 1 of the DNF’s was a legit physical problem (severely pulled hamstring at a marathon 8 weeks before Ironman Louisville 2010). 

The other two?  

I quit because I was a being a pansy.


Two years in a row at the Cascade Crest Classic 100, I quit (mile 54, mile 62) because I lost mental control and allowed temporary pain to get in my head.   I am not sure what my justification was, but I suspect the conversation between my ears went something like…

“My (insert whatever body part) hurts.  It hurts real bad.  I am cold, wet and hungry. (Waaaaa, Waaaaaaaa, Waaaaaaaaaaaa! )  I quit.  I still cleared 54 miles.  That’s good enough right?”

Guess what?  100 miles with 35,000 feet of elevation change is supposed to hurt.  Running 26.2 miles after cycling 5 hours plus will push you to the bloody edge.  Being hungry or thirsty or dehydrated is part of the journey.  Your body can take it…your mind is what usually fails you.

Avoiding a DNF is 99% mental/ 1% physical.

At mile 72, when you are feeling horrible and feeling like quitting, it is time to get deep within yourself and keep moving. 

Cold and Wet?  Keep moving.
Tired, hungry and thirsty?  Keep moving.
Cramped, throwing up or worse?  Keep moving.
Injured?  Keep moving.  If you are moving, you are not injured enough.  Your body won't lie.

Keep moving.  Your mind will quit before your body will. 

I once talked to Ironman legend Chris Legh about how he maintained focus and full throttle during periods of pain.   He graciously spent 30 minutes on the phone with me giving me his thoughts.  Specifically, how to push hard when the chips were down.

This Chris Legh....

His answer?  A mantra that he had taped to his bike tube and written on his arm that he stared at as the negative thoughts entered his mind…

TTFU  (Toughen The F  Up).

Great advice when your mind is about to betray you.  

Keep moving…a DNF is mental!