No doubt, there is excitement involved in a record attempt. Seeing the women's indoor 2 mile record smashed this past weekend was a rush. However, I think even more thrilling is a close race where you get to see strategies played out and you don't know who is going to win until the end. I also don't think anyone is denying that records are impressive displays that deserve respect, the question is whether they make for exciting events to watch. To some extent, yes, I'd rather watch a record set in a solo attempt than watch a slow solo attempt. However, I'd prefer even more to watch a close competition even if it didn't result in a record. In my opinion, the two most exciting races of Geb's career were his Olympic victories. Neither was nearly as fast as his records but those battles with Tergat were far more exciting than watching the clock as he takes his final lap.
I would disagree with you on the definition of a race. It's not how fast a person or group of people can run. A race is about two or more people lining up and seeing who can reach the finish line first. As far as I have seen, the first races weren't even timed and I've run races as recently as a few years ago where there was no official timing, all that mattered was the order in which people crossed the finish line.
The sport does change over time and I'm going to love this sport no matter what comes of it. However, I'm also going to be appreciative of the fact that events like the World Championships, Olympics, Boston Marathon, etc. still support head to head competition. In the best case scenario, there is a nice balance of events, some of which are rabbitted time trials where record attempts occur and others where head to head competition is the name of the game.