Ranking All 30 Race Performances

As part of my 30@30 retrospective, I’ve ranked all of my race performances beginning with 30 (worst) down to #1 (best).

What constitutes success? It’s a rather murky amalgamation of a race’s result based on finishing time, overall/age group place, performance given adverse conditions (weather, health), and performance relative to pre-race expectations. 

As my brother-in-law astutely pointed out, any arbitrary ranking of performance would be incomplete without some artificial Bill Simmons-esque categories as sectional sub-headers. Simmons artfully groups rankings based on something like historic Celtics’ title teams, eras in Dustin Hoffman’s career, or Wes Welker’s statistical season performances. What categories should I use to organize my arbitrary rankings? Equally arbitrary categories, of course. 

Christopher Walken’s Performance in the James Bond film: A View to a Kill
Really bad, but oddly enjoyable – if only for the comedic value.

30: Stalin Island (Race 3). A slow 5K with uneven splits.

29: Fletcher’s Cove Park Run (Race 1): The opening race was eye-opening. I ran so slow that I didn’t even publish my time in a race recap. I can’t even remember what it was.

28: Labor Day Great American 5K (Race 6): A poorly executed race in which I went out way too fast and spent the majority of the race trying not to die.

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27: Firecracker 5K (Race 30): The final race of the campaign was slow and painful. Despite heading out at what felt like a reasonable pace, I crawled to the finish line. The heat was brutal and I didn’t factor it in appropriately and probably over-extended myself during warmup. A brutal way to finish the campaign.

2004 Team USA Basketball Olympic Bronze
Pathetic by its own relative standards, but altogether objectively decent. 

26: Teddy Park Run 5K (Race 9): This was an injury-recovery race where I was testing out my recently-strained hamstring. Though I managed to make it through the race, I probably shouldn’t have run.

25: Mother’s Day 4-Miler (Race 27): My decent finish of 12th/604 overall disguised what a poor race this was. I felt progressively weaker each mile and my finishing time was significantly worse than a 4-mile race months prior. At the time, I called this my “worse race yet” relative to expectations.

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24: Winter Classic 5K (Race 14): Another hamstring-recovery race. My pacing was slightly better, but my overall performance was still very slow. However, I was pleased that I could largely stick to my race plan. It was very, very cold in Boston.

23: Summer Georgetown 5K (Race 2): A slow race the day after my opening run. Pleased with my time considering my tired legs, but a poor time and equally poor finishing position.

Fast and Furious (4th movie)
Pretty good, actually. Especially relative to others in the series.

22: Ringing in Hope 10K (Race 28): Though my overall time (41:21) was not atrocious and ultimately good for 6th/197 and second in my age group, this was a disappointing finish considering my expectations. The conditions were decent and I had Murat as a rabbit (who went on to win the race), so there was a chance that I could break 40min. However, after a tough second and third mile, I was mentally thrown-off and abandoned that goal. I did manage to tough out the final three miles at decent pace, but my head let me down in this one. I was never in it. 

21: Red Bandana Run 5K (Race 10): Injured and jet-lagged, I managed to eek out a half-decent performance given my inadequate fitness, but the overall results were unimpressive.

20: Veteran’s Day 5K (Race 13): This was a workout-race, designed to fit into my training schedule and requiring me to run a few miles both before and after. I largely stuck to my plan.

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19: Brew Hop 5K (Race 11): An easy jog with a season’s best, albeit unimpressive, time. This was among the more low-key organized races. We were there for the beer.

Fast Five
Fan favorite.

18: Run Your Heart Out 5K (Race 18): Rabbits Lindsay and Murat dragged me to my first sub-20 5K. That was the goal and we did sneak in just under the 20-min barrier… but it required a ferocious kick and felt much, much harder than it should have.

17: Draft Day Dash 5K (Race 25): A good time considering this race course was at least a quarter-mile long and it was unquestionably the most annoying course. I didn’t quite meet my expectations, but they were misguided based on the information I was given. The end result was the best metric: 6th/1742 runners.

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16: Parks 10K (Race 12): My goal was to break 46 minutes and thanks to Rabbit Lindsay, we managed to crush that barrier by about 40 seconds in the rain. It was quite exhausting.

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15: Founders Day 5K (Race 7): A decent performance relative to recent races on an average course without much competition.

14: Dulles Day 5K (Race 8): My first 5K averaging under 7min/mile of the campaign, thanks to a strong finishing kick and quicker last mile. I’m looking forward to running this race again…

2010 Boston Celtics
Started off weak, picked it up when it counted, still no cigar.

13: Leesburg 5K (Race 4): Though my time wasn’t very impressive, I ran a tough race on an moderately-challenging course which was good for 2nd in my age group.

12: South Lakes 10K (Race 5): Planning to ‘see how I felt’ and run around 8:30/mile, I felt good and picked up the pace to average about 7:45. My last mile was my fastest.

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11: Rock the Coast 5K (Race 18): My goal was to win this tiny event and to break 20min. Once it was clear I wasn’t going to be challenged for the win and was off 20min pace, I shut it down early and cruised. Got the W, as desired.

The Restaurant Scene in Goodfellas (Funny how? Funny like a clown?)
Highly memorable and makes for a great retelling. A lot of unexpected improv.

10: Butterfly 5K (Race 22): My bachelor party 5K was run under non-ideal physical conditions. This included both a hangover and running in a bunny suit. I didn’t go all-out and started a bit too fast, but finished as the top bunny in the race while Murat and Terence ran strong times.

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9: Reston Runners Marathon Relay (Race 23): We crushed the event in a relay course record, however, I was waived in the wrong direction and wound up running an extra few slow miles. Frustrating.

Marshall Faulk’s 1999 Season
Big-time performances that are already under the radar.

8: Holiday Hustle 5K (Race 15) My time and finish were nothing special, but I ran faster than I had planned on a very difficult course in very cold conditions. It was my fastest 5K of 2017.

7: Loudon 8K (Race 24): Months prior, I set the goal of running a sub 32:30 8K (5 miles), which would mean a 6:30/mile pace. Secretly, I had hoped I could run much faster. Coming off injury and getting ditched by my rabbits midway through the race, I was ultimately pleased that my time of 32:24 was good for 6th/340 runners.

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Larry Bird Scores 60 Against Hawks in 1985
Season’s best performance. 

6: Long Island 10K (Race 26): This was brutal. I was hoping to break 40min for a 10K and missed by about eight seconds. I did finish 9th/1,017 runners in a massive PR, but man, was I pissed. Thanks to Kelli for coming to watch.

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5: Running of the Balls 5K (Race 29): My best 5K time of the campaign in 18:42, finally smashing the 19min barrier. I ran a really gutsy race, opening up in 5:45 for the first mile and hanging on for dear life. It was one of the more physically miserable running experiences of my entire life as I was just exhausted half-way through the race and was passed by several runners in the last mile. But in the end, the finishing time spoke for itself.

4: NYRR Night at the Races Indoor 1-Mile (Race 19): Hoping to run 5:45, I smashed my goal an ran 5:28 thanks to a viciously quick final lap (200m in approx. 34 seconds). Racing indoors for the first time since college in the very arena where I spent many days as a nervous high school runner, I experienced more pre-race anxiety than during any other event. I overcame it and have the footage to prove it.

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The ‘Diner Scene’ in Heat
Simply the best.

3: Lucky Leprechaun 5K (Race 20): Although it was only my second-fastest 5K of the campaign, it was by far my best 5K race. I felt smooth, light, and fast. In the cold weather, I crushed the last quarter-mile and finished 19th/913 runners in a then-seasons-best 19:06, which was way ahead of my expected progress to that point. I had been hoping to run about 19:45 and killed it.

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2: Naples Daily News Half-Marathon (Race 16): The longest distance I’ve ever run. Scheduled mostly out of travel convenience, I spent a few weeks ramping up for this race and beat my goal by a wide margin. Hoping to run at a 7:45/mile pace, I averaged just under 7:30/mile and my last 5K was my fastest. It was a major, unexpected success.

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1: Scarsdale 4-Miler (Race 21): Prior to this race, I wasn’t feeling great. Once the gun went off, everything changed. I crushed this wintery race. Hoping to break 26min (6:30/mile), I broke 25, running 6:14/mile for a 4th place overall finish in 24:56. My closing mile was in 5:31. After the race, I felt like I could run it again.

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For complete recaps of every race, visit the Race Schedule page. 

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