Pelletier is on to Vermont

by EJN Comments (0) Articles, Racing

Matt Pelletier came into the Trials with a 2:17 seed time and in good shape where a PR was in his sights. Things did not work out for him, as was the case for many runners that day. In fact, about 30% of the field ended up dropping out that day (thanks to Kevin Beck for that nugget).

Having heard ahead of time that this was to be Matty P’s last hurrah, it was heartbreaking to hear that he had dropped out by mile 12.

A couple of days later, Matt posted what is one of the most candid, honest self-evaluations you’ll ever read from a runner after a race. It was also heartbreaking to read that, knowing what he put into it and how it must feel dealing with the DNF.

Here’s is Matty’s post in its entirety. Don’t worry, as tough as it can be to read of somebody’s struggles, Matt ends it on a high note and will have you amped up to get out there and race.

Olympic Trials Marathon LA 2016.02.13 Nurse Pelletier

Pelletier in a pack containing Teal, Serafini and a bunch of other rollers. Courtesy of Ian Nurse.

This was originally going to be a comment on my “not my day” post, but I thought I would make a new post so everyone could see it. It’s long…FYI

Thanks everyone. Still having a hard time digesting that it’s all over. In hindsight I wish I had grinded it out. Seeing how the rest of the pack I was in finished, I would have had a slow time but finished pretty high. I bailed at the first signs of a bad race. I’m not proud of it. I’ve stayed off of Facebook since the race because I wasn’t ready to deal with these posts. So many people were excited to watch and follow the race and I quit at the first signs of distress. It’s not how I prepare for a race. I really feel that I talked myself out of the race. My body was tired and it would have been tough, but every marathon is like that, and this one is no different.

For those interested, here’s what happened during the race:

In hindsight, I should have gone out more conservative. A group of us decided to shoot for 2:15. After 2 days of contemplating how I would run it. I told myself that it wouldn’t be as hot as we thought, and the turns were no worse than the neighborhood sections of VCM. There was a large pack of us running under 5:10 pace early on, and it felt very easy. I based the first mile off where I was in the pack (I figured probably about 1/2 way back through the field). Right where I wanted to be. The pace was just a bit faster than what I wanted, but the 2 people and I who made the plan to run 2:15 were all together and I was satisfied to stay with that group, despite the fast early pace.

We went through 5 miles in 25:39, and as fast as that seemed in my head, 2:15 pace is 25:45 and I was prepared going in to be at that pace. Collectively, the whole pack slowed down coming out of USC the 2nd time. We had already lost several runners from our pack who had either dropped out, or slowed down. We started running 5:15 pace on the uphill stretch of Figueroa and I still felt fine. At 11 miles, I made a conscious decision to let the pack go as it was starting to become difficult to keep pace with them, but I had every intention of keeping 5:15 pace and running a fast time.

At 12 miles I ran a 5:30 mile, and my back and abs were starting to get tight. In the 2 days leading up to the race, I had gotten a massage and had 2 stretching sessions with someone who had never worked with me before. This was stupid, and I should really have my head examined for letting this happen. I think it’s what caused me to start cramping early, and fall off pace. If I could do it all over again I would not get any treatment before the race, and put my body through a session which might have been a little too intense for 48 hours before a marathon. The massage was supposed to be 20 min. of light work, but he worked on me for over an hour, and it was not a light session. The stretching session the day before put a lot of pressure on my calves, torso and back. I woke up Fri. with incredibly tight hips that was actually painful. I went back on Fri. to see if another guy could loosen everything back up like it felt BEFORE I had any work done at all. The LMT did dynamic stretches that were very fast, and I think overstretched me. I am not blaming the LMT’s for what they did. It is my responsibility to know what my body can handle and I should have said something on all these occasions, or even better would have been not to get any treatment at all.

After seeing the 5:30 mile split, and realizing things were going to get worse, and not better and watching the pack drift away, my insecurities got the best of me and I decided that dropping out was better than finishing last or getting beaten by people who should not beat me. That line of thinking is unexceptable, and I’ve been beating myself up about it for 2 days. Right now I would do anything to be able to go back, stay in the race and finish last. I would be honored. I allowed myself to mentally quit before my body physically did.

I ran miles 13 and 14 off to the side of the road at 6:00 pace back to the start/finish area and stepped off the course. In that time between 12-14 miles, other people I knew passed me and shouted words of encouragement to try and get me to jump back into the race. I was too proud to run slower than my intended pace, and for that I am sorry. I should have started running with them again. I should never have quit because of a 5:30 mile. It’s been eating at me that I thought I was too good to run a 5:30 mile. After stepping off the course at 14+ miles, I was asked (by someone pretty high up in the race organization) if I was ok, and needed medical assistance. Jokingly, I said just my ego was hurt. I tried to make light of the situation and convince myself I had done the right thing, but after getting my stuff, and heading over to find Jill, I realized I had made the wrong choice. I watched the rest of the race from the last turn on the course and watched others who were just as fast as me (some SIGNIFICANTLY faster) tough it out and finish the race. I watched someone who I thought had a legitimate shot at making the team run a 2:27 which is 5:39 pace. There is no excuse for me not being able to do the same thing. I stayed and cheered on others who had much worse days than me tough it out. I saw a friend after the race with his medal on. I was immediately jealous. Normally I could care less about the stupid race medal, but the 2016 Olympic Trials finisher’s medal will forever to those people symbolize what racing really means. Grinding it out when things don’t go your way. I saw people coming in who could barely stand up. When I quit the race it was because I didn’t want to do that, but watching them finish, I wanted to hurt as badly as them. The night after the race, when everyone was going out to celebrate, I even mentioned to Jill that I wanted to go back out and run the last 2 loops alone. I was 1/2 serious, but running through LA alone at night would probably not have been the best idea.

I know this was long, but’s what I’ve come up with in the 72 hours since the race. I was fitter than I’ve ever been before, and on a different course with different weather could have run my best time ever, but bad decisions on my part seemed to be the theme of the weekend, culminating with the worst decision of all. This is my way of putting the race behind me. I’ve accepted it’s over, and I can’t change any of it. Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me since the race. The words of support were too much for me to see after the race, and I avoided all social media but know that I have read every text, post, comment and tweet today, and it means more to me than I could ever express to have all of you on board in good times and in bad. Thank you for being in my corner.

Now…we’re on to VCM. 104 days. I’m starting training immediately. No reason to recover from a 12 mile hard run. I’m guaranteeing a finish at this race. I will not quit, no matter how the race plays out. Maybe my ego needs to be taken down a peg or two. I’m going there to win, but also to show myself that the winner has to run the same 26 miles, 385 yards as the person who finishes last. I’ll be proud to be either of those people on May 29th.

See? Aren’t you all excited to get the shoes on and tear up the roads now? On to Vermont City!

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