The greatest challenge with every race is being able to walk away satisfied, knowing that you gave it your best effort. With a season of PR's, I've been able to write many race reports thanking my body for how well it performs on race day.
Yesterday (11/18/12), Karel and I joined hundreds of other cyclists in Clermont, Florida for the Horrible Hundred. Not as horrible as it sounds, it is a very challenging event that we have enjoyed for the past 4 or 5 years. This was the first year that both of us did the event on our tri bikes and I'm really glad with our decision to not ride our road bikes as we haven't been on our road bikes very much over the past year. I also felt really strong on the climbs with muscles that have been trained on my tri-bike all season long. The last 100 mile ride that we did was a year ago at this event and with very little riding in the past few weeks, I'm happy with how things went yesterday at this fun event.
Every year, Karel waits for me at this aid station stop and we do the last 30 miles together. This year he only had to wait about 15-20 minutes because I was able to ride much stronger than years past. The last 30 miles are the hardest in that they have the hardest climbs of the event, including the famous sugarloaf "mountain":
Native Sun 10K
With the race a few miles down the road in the beautiful area of Mandarin, we woke up around 5am for the 8am start and brewed the coffee before we digested a pre-race "meal". I first walked Campy around the block as he was super excited to get up knowing that with two small bags packed for the race (change of clothes), we may be traveling and he wanted to make sure we didn't forget him.
The morning was cool out and a bit windy so I stayed warm in the morning before I removed some articles of clothing before the start of the running race.
Race day gear:
For my race outfit I wore my Louis Garneau Corsa cycling shorts (more like tri shorts as they have a comfortable yet non bulky padding), my Oakley Women Convert Tank, Oakley Align Bra top, CEP compression socks, Brooks Launch running shoes and Oakley headband (originally had my visor but it was becoming more windy throughout the morning hours so I opted no visor) and my new Oakley Commit SQ Commit (breast cancer awareness edition).
I had my normal shredded wheat with a few raisins and milk and a spoonful of PB. I also sipped on a sport bottle of water to help with digestion and a cup of coffee.
Karel and I drove two separate cars to the race because he had to be at work at Trek Jax at 10am. We didn't end up meeting up until right before the start because we left a few minutes apart from our place and as soon as I arrived to the race, I did a long warm-up. I've learned that the shorter the race, the longer the warm-up to get the blood flowing and to create a little lactic acid for the upcoming high intensity effort.
I did about 2 miles of run, walk, sprint, jog, dynamic stretching, including running the first 1/2 mile of the course so I could know exactly where I was going.
Around 7:50am, the 5K started and it was time for the 10K runners to get ready for the start. A few minutes before the start, I spotted Karel, gave him a kiss and wished him a safe race and just around 8am, the announcer started the 20 seconds countdown.
With my Garmin 910XT screen set on lap pace, current distance and lap time, I was ready to press start when the gun went off for the start. 3, 2, 1...go!
In warming up for this race, I felt good. All has been going great with my running and so incredibly thankful for a strong, injury-free body, I was really excited to see what I was capable of running for a short race. With a body that is made for endurance events, the "sprint" training and racing is only helping me long-distance steady efforts. Rather than training more volume, I just train harder and it has been paying off. Although painful in my legs at times, it is a nice change of pace to step outside my comfort zone and run along "runners" with my triathlon-trained body. To be honest with myself, I knew that breaking 40 minutes was only possible if I had the perfect race. Although this is a time that I want to break as a goal of mine, I am not one to get stuck on times when it comes to races - especially triathlons. I rarely care about times when it comes to tri's because you can't compare race to race and every day brings something unique to a swim, bike and run performance. As I always say - it's not about the time on paper but rather the behind the scenes that makes for a great race day effort. I believed that breaking 40 minutes was within my capability so long as I was able to draft well off other runners and stay consistent and strong. I knew it would be a major undertaking for my mind and body because I am not a sub-6 minute runner. To average ~6:25 min/mile for 6 miles would be one of the hardest things of my life for I have only been training consistently with my run for the past 2 years. But never have I been able to run this "fast" and running under 7 min/miles has been a major achievement for my slow-twitch body, who loves challenging courses that require strength...not speed.
The first mile was tolerable. I focused on my breathing and form and managed to stay around a group of guys who were running a similar pace. I tried to not go out too fast so I just stayed as consistent as possible. Karel was near the front and I never saw him again until the finish. I kept my eyes on a friend of mine, JC Pinto who is an extremely talented runner and triathlete. I know she has been racing a lot this year with a half marathon recently and Kona in Oct so I tried to keep her in my sights as motivation to suffer.
By mile 2 on this fairly flat, loop course, I was starting to feel "it". I hoped to make it to mile 4 but I could tell that the effort was a bit fast for me. I tried to slow down a bit before mile 3 but the race just seemed to get longer and longer and the miles just didn't seem to come fast enough. Around mile 3, I was with a group of guys and suddenly, 3 of them had a burst of speed and dropped me. Ugghhh, the wind was strong and I was struggling. I really needed them because I knew I couldn't do this effort on my own and I started to give up in my mind. All those thoughts that we all think when the going gets tough. I almost convinced myself that I couldn't do it and I was on the verge of walking because my body was really suffering with 2.5 miles to go. I saw a guy walking about 1/2 mile ahead of me and envious of his decision to walk (as that looked like so much fun compared to my decision to keep on suffering), it took everything I had to not walk. So, I just slowed down. Breathing was getting heavy and not worrying about my heart rate (as I knew it would be high), I just tried to get my body and mind to become friends again.
Nearing mile 4, I changed my mind. "I DO want this!" I convinced myself that I didn't train this hard to just give up and I started to perceive a faster effort than the mile prior. I had my gel flask filled with 1 huckleberry gel (Hammer) w/ water and I sipped it at every mile (starting around mile 2 and a swig before the race start as I also sipped on water and 1/2 gel as I was warming up) so I didn't need anything at the aid stations (mile 2.5 and 4.5 I think). The miles were marked well and with running time at each mile marker, I did what I normally do when I run....MATH.
I figured it was going to be close. It's just too bad that I wasn't able to have that magic effort a mile earlier for my margin of error in the 10K was very small. I was dealing with seconds compared to minutes in a long-distance triathlon race.
Giving it everything I had, I picked up the pace like I was running one of my intervals that my body knows all too well. So many half and mile repeaters in training for more speed in my endurance body and with 1 mile to go, I knew I wasn't going to make my goal time of sub 40 minutes.
(Thank you Kathleen Kaye and First Place Sports for the picture)
I crossed the line in 41:11.
Mile 1: 6:20 (heart rate 149)
Mile 2: 6:22 (heart rate 163)
Mile 3: 6:33 (heart rate 167)
Mile 4: 6:49 (heart rate 165)
Mile 5: 6:51 (heart rate 166)
Mile 6: 6:42 (heart rate 169)
Mile .2: 6:29 (heart rate 171)
1st age group, 6th female
Karel was waiting for me at the finish and he could tell that I was disappointed but that moment passed very quickly. The first time in several years that I was able to run a race without my leg going weak (previous piriformis/hip injury by doing Kona in 2007, injured), I found this race as a huge confidence builder. My goal over the past two years is to always be able to train consistently hard, race strong and smart, stay balanced and be healthy. Mission accomplished at the Native Sun 10K.
After the race, we chatted with a few friends and met a few new ones (thanks Jen Vogel and Anthony Duran for saying hello) and enjoyed the yummy food from Native Sun. Karel had to leave before the awards due to work so after we bundled up in warm clothes, Karel left as I stayed for the award ceremony.
It's amazing that at every race, I learn something about myself. I realized that my body is designed for long distance racing. With success in longer distance triathlons, my main focus moving forward is to continue to step outside my comfort zone, work on my weaknesses and to continue to work hard for my goals. Realizing that as a triathlete, I am going to be pushed by racing amongst runners, I do not need to prove anything at a running race. I am out there to better myself as a triathlete and at the end of the day, I know that a healthy and strong body is going to be able to race for a lifetime. Every race is a different experience. The weather, the terrain, the competition, the time of the year. As I mentioned in my previous blog on pre-race nerves, we must be content with our expectations as to what the body is capable on race day. I do not feel as if I exaggerated my potential to run sub 40 minutes. I also don't feel as if I need to change my goal of running sub 1:30 at the upcoming half marathon (Jax Bank Half Marathon) on December 16th.
As athletes, we all have our own goals and reasons for achieving them. I do not feel that sports should come with risks such as stress fractures and overtraining in order to reach them. I firmly believe that we can live a balanced lifestyle and still work hard for our goals. Secondly, do not let your goals be mixed-up with another athlete's goals. Live your life within your own capabilities so you do not overlook your own successes. A few years ago I would have only dreamed about running under 7 min/miles for a 10K. As athletes, we can not feel defeated by our own performances only to hear about others who are faster than us. I feel one of the hardest things for athletes is reading a race report where someone is honest about feeling defeated in their effort and feeling like they didn't live up to their potential, knowing that someone slower would give anything just to have your "bad day". Keeping in mind that your worst day may be someones best day, do not let your own goals be confused with the performances of others.
Karel had a 3 minute PR without training for this race. I trained my butt off - literally.
Averaging 5:54 min/miles, Karel placed 2nd age group and crossed the line in 36.4 minutes. If you can't believe it...neither can Karel. I'm not surprised - Karel can suffer more than anyone I know.
I am so proud of Karel for enjoying his new multisport lifestyle and enjoying the process of testing himself as an athlete. My job is to keep Karel well-fueled, as well as staying on him about his stretching so he can remain injury-free as he gears up for his first Ironman in July as we share our first Ironman together (my 6th). Karel's performance made it so easy for me to remind myself how grateful I am to share these experiences together. It's hard work to get to the starting line at races and it's hard work to execute a realistic and practical race day plan. The easy part is having fun, enjoying the journey and making memories along the way.
As I rest my tired and exhausted body, I may not have a PR in the record books for my 10K but once again, I get to write another race report, thanking my body for not failing on me and for helping me live a fun, active lifestyle.
Thanks for reading.