Crash and Burn

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Morning.  I would say GOOD morning but I feel all sorts of yucky today.  And by yucky, I mean ‘extraordinary pregnant.’ Hah.

IMG_9856 IMG_9860


Flower pictures to cheer me up, of course! I still can’t believe we haven’t killed every single flower that I planted.  We’re proving to have less of a collective black thumb than I originally feared.  There’s flowers in the front and grass in the back (sounds like the gardening version of a mullet).




Pineapple Greek yogurt (mmm!)



Sunflower seeds

Raw oats


Race Pace


Thought I’d pass along this great Runner’s World article on determining your ideal race pace, especially for the start.


In the marathon, going out too hard forces your body to use glycogen at a higher rate early on. You may hit the wall earlier, or end up burning a higher percentage of fat later in the race, which will slow your overall time. In the 5-K and 10-K, an explosive start hastens the accumulation of lactic acid. This causes your form to deteriorate. No matter the distance, when you start too fast, you end up hurting earlier and running a greater percentage of the race in pain.  Conversely, the trouble with going out slower than optimal race pace is that it is difficult to make up the time that you give away early in the race. Sure, you’ll run more comfortably initially, but the effort required to make up time lost in the early dawdling would push you beyond the physiological limits of fatigue and the psychological barriers of pain.

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That is what I look like when I start off too fast. I end up feeling and looking absolutely miserable.  I was so beat by the end of 9.3 miles that I was walking half a mile from the finish line (and I was fully capable of running the entire distance at that point – I was literally just too wiped out to run, even though I could see the end).  The Miracle Miles 15K in 2009 was a huge lesson for me.  I learned that, when racing with friends who are way faster than I am, I need to separate myself from them at the start.  Out of sight, out of mind.  If I can see them, I try to keep up – and end up going out way to fast, crashing, and burning. 


Another trick I use to keep myself from going out too fast is listening to a slower song on my iPod.  If I started off with a fast-paced club jam, I’d be tearing out of the gate.  “We are the Champions” by Queen is a good one.  Smile 


I rarely go out ‘too slow’ – or maybe I’m just on the slower side naturally! Hah! – but I get what the article is saying.  If you don’t come out at the ideal pace and know you’ve got a lot left in the tank at the end, it can feel pretty frustrating… like you could’ve done better.


How do you keep an ideal race pace at the start?  Any epic crash and burn stories? 



  • Faith @ For the Health of It May 25, 2012, 11:01 am

    My recent 4 miler was this, to a tee. I was literally DONE by the end of mile one and spent the last half hour miserable as I could be. I’m really nervous that the same thing will happen to me this weekend, so I’m trying to shake the thought and front-load my playlist with a few slower songs that I know I run at an easy pace to (then toss the fast ones towards the middle and end!)

  • Megan@ The Running Doc May 25, 2012, 11:06 am

    In my experience, I have found it impossible to go out too slow during a race! With your adrenaline pumping and the crowds of people, it’s impossible to not let the excitement take over at least a little bit. My first song of choice is always “Ohio is for Lovers” by Hawthorne Heights. It’s a good song to ease into a run!

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat May 25, 2012, 11:07 am

    Very interesting! When I was running cross country (5Ks – not ideal for a long distance runner like me!) I always found it hard to breathe at the beginning of the race, usually for about 1km. I remember it being so crowded and everyone tried to push to the front, and I’d often fear that I was going to trip or get kicked or something. Fortunately that never happened, but I’ve learned that I really prefer half marathon/marathon starts that aren’t as crazy!

  • Sarah May 25, 2012, 11:09 am

    I ran a 12k earlier this month and I knew I’d need to separate from my husband or he’d try to kill me. We had a talk before the race about how, if we’re going to run together, you are supposed to run at the SLOWER person’s pace… but he thought the opposite! Oh hell no.

    So after about a mile, I took a potty stop in order to split up with him without anyone getting their feelings hurt 🙂 Worked great!

  • Army Amy* May 25, 2012, 11:13 am

    Starting out slow can be hard. (The excitement, the energy, the momentum!) I try to remember that I never regret starting slow. I pick a pace ahead of time and force myself to stick to it. I don’t always stick to it, but I am always happy when I do.*

  • Christine @ BookishlyB May 25, 2012, 11:16 am

    I don’t go out slow- that’s my biggest problem. In the Rock n Roll 2010 race I went out at about 2-3 minutes/mile faster than I should have for the first three miles and by mile 8 I was DONE (and it was freezing). I rarely get down about race times as long as I finished, but I was livid after that race.

    My power song has been “Party Rock” by LMFAO for like six months. It’s getting sad.

  • Steph @ A Life without Ice Cream May 25, 2012, 11:18 am

    This was a perfectly timed post for me! Thank you 🙂

    I’m doing my 2nd ever 5k in the Ottawa Race weekend tomorrow. The first 5k I did (a year and a half ago) I was very careful to run at a slow pace in the beginning because I wanted to run the max amount of time. This time I’m recovering from an injury (which is why it’s been 1.5 years since my last 5k) but am a stronger runner and can run an entire 5k without walking (just not all the time). I’m going to need to remember that lesson when I’m surrounded by 1000s of other runners! I really want to just beat my PR and would ideally like to take no walking breaks this time.

    So nervous 🙂

    • Lauren May 25, 2012, 11:22 am

      You’ll do great!!!

    • Danielle @ Dish'n'Dash May 25, 2012, 11:47 am

      Yay for a fellow Ottawa racer! I’m sure you’ll do great, just run your race!

      I saw on your website that you live in Ottawa; there is an Ottawa blogger event on June 14 (BOLO) in case you haven’t heard of it. Google it and you can find the details.

    • Caitlin May 26, 2012, 2:36 pm

      Good luck!

  • Cait @ Beyond Bananas May 25, 2012, 11:22 am

    I sort of crashed and burned in my first half marathon. It was only my second race ever, and I was clearly excited.

    My first few miles were sub 8s… way to fast. I was slowed to 9:xx for miles 9, 10, and 11.

    I ran another half two weeks later – and still went out with sub 8 miles to begin. I knew where I struggled before and found that fueling better during the race made a total difference. I kept up my pace the whole way!

  • Maura @ My Healthy 'Ohana May 25, 2012, 11:27 am

    I’m so glad you posted about this, because I made this mistake on my last half marathon. I was with friends that were much faster and by the time I hit 10 miles, I felt totally wiped and miserable. I’ll definitely pace myself better next time!

  • EmilyEF May 25, 2012, 11:35 am

    I’ve not been a terribly successful racer so far, I definitely enjoy running but competition completely psychs me out. I’m definitely a gal who just enjoys being outside and takes lots of walking breaks, so I don’t really know why I keep signing up for races. I’m running a 10K next weekend (my first trail run!) and I’m so nervous about pacing. I don’t want to embarass myself, but I hate it when I get passed left and right at the beginning of a race – it’s so defeating!

    • Caitlin May 25, 2012, 11:40 am

      You’ve got to think of it as a competition against YOURSELF, not others. That’s always tricky for me too. Set some realistic goals that you know you can accomplish (like, maybe passing two people in the last mile would be a good one for you) and focus on that. There’s a few posts on how to set race goals on my top post page that may be helpful!

    • jameil May 25, 2012, 4:01 pm

      If you line up toward the back, you don’t have to be worried about tons of people passing you. I do that and like Caitlin said, make it my goal to have enough left to pass multiple people at the end. Run your race and try to ignore the speed demons. I just try to have fun the entire time. I have been running less than a year so I fully expect lots of people to finish far ahead of me.

  • Danielle @ Dish'n'Dash May 25, 2012, 11:49 am

    I’m running my second half-marathon this weekend (Ottawa Race Weekend – YAY!) and I definitely learned my lesson from my first one last fall: run my race and don’t let others determine my pace. I went out too hard and by the 16th km, I had to alternate walking and running more frequently than I would have liked.
    I’m also coming off an ankle injury, which I believe was caused by focusing so much on speedwork rather than proper from, so whatever time I end with, I’ll just be happy to cross that finish line! And then go stuff my face with food. I mean, isn’t that the real reason why we run? 🙂

  • Brianna May 25, 2012, 11:59 am

    I completely agree. I went out way to fast during my last full and half marathons. I KNEW I was going to fast too. So frustrating! I still PR’d at the full but I could have easily had a PR on my half too if I had SLOWED down and ran a steady pace!!

  • jen May 25, 2012, 12:06 pm

    Caitlin, a couple posts ago you wrote, “when I start to feel negative, I make myself take off all my clothes, stand nekkid in front of the mirror, and think as many positive thoughts about myself and my body as I can”, and it totally blew me away. What an amazing and wonderful thing to do. How did you ever get this idea? Did you start doing it during pregnancy or have you done it for years? If you could indulge me with details and your process I would be so so grateful- I want to gather the courage to try too. Thank you for your continued dedication and inspiration. Much love.

  • Moni Meals May 25, 2012, 12:07 pm

    I love your photos here. Intense game face is on! I love that tip…slow music, I totally agree to pace the moments out, well pointed out.

    I loved your Tonya follow up, thank you. You are lookin great too, 29 weeks right? 🙂
    Have a great weekend!

  • Katie @ Peace Love & Oats May 25, 2012, 12:15 pm

    I ran my first half marathon in April and I tried to stay with a pace group that went out WAY too fast for me. I was beat 2 miles in and kept having to take walking breaks. Lesson Learned!

  • Annette@FitnessPerks May 25, 2012, 2:00 pm

    I definitely started too fast on my last race. Won’t make that mistake again!! It is a very real thing-that science you just listed off 😉

    Yummy looking b-fast!

  • Hillary May 25, 2012, 2:30 pm

    This was something I worried a lot about at my last half marathon—I tore out the gate, and wanted to slow down, but I felt strong and comfortable/confident, so I just kept going! I’m glad I didn’t slow down too much; I ended up being able to keep my pace relatively quick and I PRd!

  • Diana @ frontyardfoodie May 25, 2012, 2:42 pm

    The feeling of being extraordinarily pregnant is one you will probably get very familiar with…..I myself (due three days ago) am feeling it nearly constantly at this point. haha

  • Jenifer May 25, 2012, 3:00 pm

    Ugh Oh… feeling that all out of sorts is a big ole sign… mini Boyle is coming very soon.

    hope you feel better! Hugs!

  • jameil May 25, 2012, 4:08 pm

    My last 5k was a surprise obstacle course/trail run/mud run. As in we showed up and at the start they casually said, “Oh and there will be a few obstacles.” I kid you not. It was a free race but still unacceptable seeing as I have no interest in an obstacle, trail OR mud run. Add to that that it wasn’t even the full 5K and I was pretty disgusted. I was trying a new fast out of the gate in 5Ks thing, though and found it definitely does not work for me. I don’t like feeling tired at mile 2 when I know I can run 8-10. Add that to unexpected terrain and it was a mess.

    In my 1st 10K, I was determined to pace myself and go slow in the first few miles. I went too slow and had way too much left at the end. I did pass at least 4 people in the last mile but still. I was extremely disappointed with my performance.

    • Caitlin May 26, 2012, 2:37 pm


  • Lexi @ You, Me, & A World to See May 25, 2012, 4:37 pm

    Aww sorry you’re feeling a little under the weather! Pineapple greek yogurt sounds like a dream though 🙂

  • Krista May 25, 2012, 7:07 pm

    It’s funny, I’m just training for my first 5k and I have been worried about this. It would be so typical of me to start off really strong and then crash and burn. I’m trying to learn about pacing myself and not getting too ambitious. I love the slow jam idea.

  • Linda @ Lemons May 26, 2012, 7:08 am

    This happened to me last week at a 5k. I decided to try a new tactic, just run as fast as I can the whole way. Ha! I didn’t realize there were 9 hills on the course, and I started out way fast. Ended up with my slowest 5k time ever. Bad plan.

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