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How does your race time affect your race experience?

So I got to thinking after having worked a few expos and hearing the feedback of some runners, I have a question to ask those runners out there. Do you think that having a bad race experience is due to you not hitting a ‘goal’ whether it be a certain time, or some type of goal you may have set for yourself can negativly affect your race experience, no matter how the actual ‘race experience’ is?

That’s a word that we talk about a lot at work. The race experience. What will the runner remember. I’m starting to think though a bad race can negatively affect the race experience, no matter what the race does to make it excellent.

Take my own experience for example. Many people LOVE Rock and Roll races, like live and die by them. My very first marathon was the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon last May. I had a horrible time there due to my stomach problems and missing my ‘goal’ time by a lot. Ever since then, I’ve been a vocal hater of the Rock and Rolls. I’m not a fan of listening to bands for about 30 seconds as I run by and I’ve come to realize I’m not a a ‘big race’ girl. So to each their own. The porta-potty lines were shorter, the waves were managed better, the course was meh, but it wasn’t a horrible race, but I personally HATED it. Thus meaning I now group all Rock and Rolls together and talk about how much hatred I have for them. Fair? No, but I do it.

Then we have the other side of the spectrum, Long Beach was and still is my prized race, which was where I went below my goal time and had the race I dreamed of and wanted to be my first marathon experience. So I didn’t mind the crazy lines at the porta-potty and the fact that it was a cluster mess at the start. Since it was a hometown race, I didn’t have to do the whole traveling situation and since I started in the back in the pack, I wasn’t in with the huge packs at the front. Before the race I was so relaxed I didn’t even freak out about my d-tag missing and the horrendous gear check area and I didn’t even pick up my gear check bag after the race or even travel into the ‘post-race’ area/festival. Yet, none of those things bother me as my heart is full with joy about my time and the experience of the race. How I smiled from start to finish. That was my best ‘race experience’ but I’ve realized it was totally based on ME and my experience.

So I’ve talked to many people about different races and I think, according to my not so official research, this has something to do with how people feel about a race due to their own performance. A guy came up to our booth and literally ripped us a new one a few weeks back. Not everyone loves Long Beach like I do. He harped on the bathrooms, the waves, the crowds, the course, the hills, the parking. I swear there wasn’t one thing he left out, and to you mister, don’t worry, we discuss these things, in depth daily. We KNOW about the things that went wrong. :) I asked him about his time and he said since it was so crowded and hilly he missed his PR, which he was going for. He told me about another race that he’d run that was much better.

Working in the running industry is pretty crazy at times, there are some things to think about that never crossed my mind before. Bike Fencing, Porta-potties, signage, sponsor areas, everything that goes into putting on a race is insane! So what do you think? A race where YOU didn’t do what you wanted becomes a thorn in your mind, whether or not it was a “good race”?

Thoughts to ponder. :)


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