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September 07, 2017

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FORTitude 10k Race Report by rabbitELITE Dan Nestor

rabbitELITE teammates Dan Nestor, Paul Yak and Jarrett LeBlanc teamed up to run the inaugural FORTitude Pro Chase 10k this past weekend. A unique handicapped race leveling the mixed gender playing field with an added team competition element! Check out this race report from Dan Nestor. It's important to remember that not every race is perfect, but every race is a perfect opportunity to learn and grow! 

Leading up to the race

About a month ago, I finished a 6 mile tempo averaging 5:05 pace. By far one of the best tempo runs I’ve had in my 10 year long running career.   

During the 3 easy cool-down miles, time typically spent decompressing and analyzing all those hards steps you just completed, I thought to myself, “Wow I think I could really do well in a 10k!”  And for those that know me that is a thought I have never had before.

These thoughts quickly turned into a reality when I heard about The Fortitude 10k, a local race being held by the prestigious BoulderBolder.  

I immediately contacted the race directors and a few days later I was all set to race the inaugural event.

This race had quite a different race structure than most races I’ve grown accustomed to running. They were staggering the start based off your recent performances and previous 10k times.  

Being traditionally more of a miler, I was very excited to hear this news. I thought, “I could pull this off, I’m in great shape, and the stagger will favor me greatly.”

As the field and start times were announced, my previous thoughts were immediately erased. My start time would put myself surrounded by guys who were true 10k runners. Although, I’d like to believe my current fitness indicates I can run with many of these talented athletes, I quickly started to dig myself a dangerous hole of self-doubt.  

These daunting thoughts haunted me the day before the race, “How on earth am I going to catch guys who are faster than me?”

I tried my best to calm-down and reassure myself I was starting where I belonged, that I could pull this off and make up a 30 second stagger on guys without being caught by those who were starting behind me.   

Although, once that hole of self-doubt has been dug, it’s much harder to climb out.

Race Day

Race day always rolls around quicker than expected. It’s funny how for so long a race seems so far away in the distance, but it always creeps up on you quicker than expected.

I go about my normal race routine, wake up, drink coffee, eat a light breakfast, drink more coffee, relax, then head to the race.  

My start-time was seven minutes and twenty five seconds after the first competitor was on course.  As I watched 38 people cross the start line before my call up I grew anxious and nervous.  

Alas, my start time came and just like that,  I was racing. I went through my first mile in about 4:50ish attempting to catch those who started ahead of me while trying to hold off the 13 athletes that started behind me.   

Now for my first 10k being at at altitude, hot temperatures, and a thick layer of smoke in the air coming from forest fires of neighboring states, I knew a conservative start was in my best interest.  

Based off my workouts, I thought anywhere from 4:50-5 minute pace should feel relatively easy, a pace I could maintain for the entirety of the race, but my confidence in that effort quickly faded as I crossed through the 3k mark. I barely made up any ground on the other competitors as I watched the majority of them extend their already established leads on me.

I was feeling demoralized, but I did my best to calm down and think positively, “They will eventually slow down, and I will catch them.” It wasn’t too much longer into the race where the athletes behind me had made up the stagger and ran by. My plan for when this happened was to latch on to a group and hopefully be carried along at a faster pace. This didn’t quite happen. When the runners caught and proceeded to pass me, my energy was depleted.  

I finally reached the 5k mark, completely demoralized, exhausted and hopeless. I couldn’t fathom running another 5k.  

I came to a halt, fixed my shoelaces that were bothering me, took a deep, calming breath and continued running.   

At this point, I took myself completely out of the race, out of the prize money, out of the chance to PR and to compete with great athletes.   

The next 3.1 miles felt like an eternity, but I wanted to finish no matter the outcome.  As I was able to catch some athletes and pass them, the 1k marks seemed to come by quicker and quicker. I passed through the 9k mark and Colorado State University’s brand new football stadium, the home of the finish line was finally in my sight. I could hear the roar of the crowd as they cheered on each and every runner who came through to the finish. I did my best to pick up my pace and finish strong.  

I feel like these next few moments following the finish are critical in displaying an athlete's true colors. Despite having one of the worst races I’ve had in awhile and being incredibly disappointed in myself, I tried my best to congratulate others and keep a smile on my face. It is true, no one likes a sore loser.

The Aftermath

I’m now about 24 hours removed from the race and have had quite some time to contemplate what went wrong and figure out how to move forward.

My ultimate conclusion is that I had a bad day. Bad days happen to everyone no matter how fit, how fast or how seasoned they may be.  Perhaps I could have been mentally tougher but when a bad day happens it’s hard to change it. Never let a bad day define who you are or what you are capable of doing.

There’s day where the sun shines and days where it doesn’t. The athletes that roll on through the not so sunny days seem to come out on top and I plan to be one of those athletes.

I look forward to my next race and am always grateful for the opportunity to compete in a professional field.  Hopefully I can race this amazing event next year and I hope I have a sunny day.

- Dan Nestor, rabbitELITE


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