For if you only bring one with you on race day, likely you will find yourself struggling during the race, questioning your previous training or, even worse, questioning why you are out there doing this in the first place.
This weekend was jammed-packed with races all over the U.S. With many of my Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition athletes racing in events this weekend, I stayed busy tracking athletes and updating my Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition facebook page.
I think we all strive to have a good attitude on race day but sometimes that is easier said than done. Hopefully you want to be participating in the event that you signed up for, that you registered for and that you trained for, but sometimes the body is saying something different on the days leading up to the race. Sometimes you feel tired, depressed, anxious, nervous, moody and overwhelmed and you find yourself comparing yourself to others, expecting perfect performances and doubting your potential. Many circumstance are within our control - not only having a good attitude on race day but making sure your training is reflective of how you want to feel on race day. One thing I try to instill with athletes is that you don't have to spend extra energy on the other competitors, weather or terrain.... for your race day performance is solely based on your current level of fitness. For if your mind is ready but the body is overtrained or fatigued, it's hard to find that second gear when the body is running on empty. But if you accept where you are today, well, that is going to be your best tool for how you should perform on race day. Of course, surprises come when you have a game plan and you go into the race with confidence and the belief that you can let the body and mind work together.
As for pacing, it all depends on the race but for most of us, is is a deciding factor on race day. For many times, holding back just the slightest on the bike in a triathlon can make the difference of running a consistent pace during the last leg or walking and jogging inconsistently, only to wish you had conserved 5-10 minutes on the bike to save the extra 30-60 minutes on the run - sadly, nutrition can't save you in a race when the tank is empty.
I want to give a special shout-out to my best friend and Trimarni Coaching athlete Jennifer Patzkowsky who paced her race at IM Texas. This was Jennifer's first IM and she didn't miss a beat in her training. Well, let me rephrase that. With a full time job, you better believe workouts were missed, schedules were re-arranged and creative workouts were required. However, thanks to good nutrition, proper recovery and dedicating time to streng training, recovery gear/tools, massage, epson salt baths and rest days, Jennifer spent her time training and recovering. For many, when a training plan is not balanced, I find athletes spending much of their time and money on MRI's, physical therapy, lost training days due to injuries that can't heal and of course, the waiting game to get back that mojo to feel sharp again.
Jennifer is a strong runner. She loves to run and I knew that in designing her training plan. With extra emphasis on the bike and swim, I made sure that on race day, she arrived hungry to pace her race and run her run. The last thing I asked her on the night before the race was "what are you most looking forward to on race day". Her reply "the run".
I reviewed her training files in great detail and I knew exactly what she was capable of doing on race day. By developing a good pacing strategy for the swim and most importantly, the bike, Jennifer was primed for the run. And she did not disappoint.
Finishing time: 11:34
Run: 3:47 (5th fastest age group run), moving from 33rd to 16th in the last 13 miles of the run
|8.4 mi||8.4 mi||1:05:44||8:53:06||7:49/mi|
|16.9 mi||8.5 mi||1:17:30||10:10:36||9:05/mi|
|25.5 mi||8.6 mi||1:18:22||11:28:58||9:08/mi|
|26.2 mi||0.7 mi||5:53||11:34:51||8:24/mi|
Jennifer controlled her HR by pacing the first 6 miles as instructed and once she found her groove, she got into the zone. She walked every aid station and stayed fueled with a gel flask, filled with 4 gels + water at every aid station. Perfect pacing, couldn't ask for a better race day performance.
As a coach and an athlete, I learn a lot every day. With every training session, I am creating memories. Sure, fitness as fitness improves I am able to analyze workouts to create better and more efficient training plans for me and my athletes, but on race day, you are there to do the best you can do....on that day.
Taking into account previous training sessions, the timing of the year, the terrain, personal issues going on in your life and weather, it is only up to you, on the days leading up to the race, to decide what will give you the best favorable outcome on race day. For with every race finish, there will likely (and hopefully) be an upcoming race with upcoming goals. This is what is so wonderful about sports. You should always find yourself getting better as an athlete.
And when I say better, it doesn't mean coming in first or setting a PR. Better, stronger, faster, smarter.....never forget that your training is not defined in one race and at the end of the day, you are the one you have to go home with and decide whether or not you will reflect positively on the race in order to get better OR beat yourself up because you did have a good attitude or a good race day plan.
With my big race on June 2nd, training did not slow down over the last week and a half. I have a few unbelievable training sessions in my memory bank, which will come with me in Macon as I will need every bit of strength to carry me through this tough and challenging course. I love a tough course where my mind is my only limitor and thankfully, this year, I have stayed healthy and strong all thanks to taking every step possible to getting myself better as an athlete.
I re-arranged a few of my workouts this week due to my work schedule and racing a fun 5K on Saturday so with my long bike-focused brick being on Thursday, long swim on Fri (didn't do my normal strength) and long run-focused brick on Sunday, I was excited to run the inaugural Spa Me 5K at the beautiful St John’s Golf and Country Club, just a few miles down the road from where I live.
I just love racing in new venues but I also enjoy the community feel of races. Over the past few years, I have discovered races that fit my strengths and desires as an athlete, I invite you to do the same. For it is always fun to race with training buddies but at the end of the day, you are putting your body through the event so you may as well find a venue that fits your needs.
What I look for in races:
1) Country and beautiful scenery
2) Warm weather
3) Lake swims
5) Smaller or local races
6) Not repeating an Ironman
7) Easy travel
8) Safe race day conditions
Of course, I can't have everything but I take a lot of time scoping out my races, especially the longer ones.
As the clinical dietitian for Dr. Townsend (family physician with Baptist Primary Care), I was really honored to be part of this 5K event as an effort to bring more fitness into the St. John's community. There was a fantastic turnout with over 100 people for this first-time event. I saw competitive runners, families and lots of kids...which all make me incredibly happy - people of all ages, wanting to challenge themselves and feel the rewards of training and racing.
I spun my legs for an hour before the race and arrived to the venue at 7:35am to help with the race. At 8:25pm, Dr. Townsend spoke a few words and I had my turn on the mic, reminding everyone to just keep moving forward.
We lined up at 8:35am and off we went.
By .3 miles, the kiddos who sprinted up the slight grade in the parking lot, were done. Perhaps their pacing strategy was non existent :) I couldn't help but smile.
The course was beautiful and Ultimate Racing INC did an AMAZING job with this event. I absolutely recommend them in the future if you are needing a well-organized company to put on your event.
By mile 1, I was so thankful that I did a long warm-up with many jogs and pick-ups because my heavy legs that I felt around 7:50am were feeling strong.
Mile 1: 6:20 min/mile
Heart rate 159
I was running with a group of guys so I tried to stay with them the best I could. As we rounded the corner to the right, I could feel a little wind as the sky was beginning to get a little bit cloudy.
I managed to stay close to the guys in front and I tried not to look at my watch. For the lactic acid in my legs was not going to slow me down. I kept telling myself...."Marni, it's only 3 miles!!!"
Like every race, I was playing games with myself...so when I got to mile 1, I told myself "only 1 more mile until you only have 1 more mile to go!"
At mile 2, I was breathing heavy so I tried my best to get out a good exhale and to keep a steady stride. Thinking about my last long brick a week ago where Karel had me do a 2:30 ride with long tempo intervals, followed by an 11 mile run w/ 6 x 1 mile repeaters at half ironman pace w/ 2 min walk recovery, I had absolutely NO excuse to not give it everything I had.
Mile 2: 6:31 min/mile
Heart rate 181 (I'm fairly certain, I don't see that HR very often..luckily, I know I can push hard and I'm still alive :)
I took a look behind me at mile 2 and I amazingly, I got into my rhythm when I noticed I was all alone. Certainly, I couldn't keep this pace more than the 5K course required but I felt like I was able to run a decent last 1 mile without slowing down too much at the end.
Calling every fast twitch fiber in my body to come into action (perhaps I needed to wake them up today!), I picked up my cadence, pushed hard and when I saw the clock, I was overjoyed.
Mile 3: 6:45 min/mile
Heart rate 170
Finishing time: 19:52 (PR - best time!)
Pace: 6:32 min/mile
Heart rate average: 170 bpm
Overall female winner
After the awards and spending some time chatting with the other athletes (I love answering sport nutrition and training questions and what better than at a race!), I spun my legs easy for around an hour and spent the rest of the day on the computer (work related stuff and tracking athletes) before my last long brick on Sunday - which went amazing!!!