Board Certified Sport Dietitian, Master of Science in Exercise Physiology, 23-year Vegetarian, Writer/Speaker, 11x Ironman finisher including 4x IM Kona finisher, Doggy-mommy, Wife to an amazing Czech cyclist turned Ironman Kona finisher, Triathlon Coach.
Reedy River 10K - race recap
This is me, smiling, suffering and doing my definition of "sprinting" downhill to the Reedy River 10K finish line in downtown Greenville. This is Bernhard Heulmanns who pushed me for the last .5 miles. I have never met Bernhard and only know his name because I looked him up after Pace Magazine tagged this picture of me and him on Facebook but I am grateful for his push because that's what I love about racing.
What a challenging course for a 10K! 720 feet elevation gain!
With every up and downhill (especially the final long climb to main street) and sharp turn, I could feel my training paying off. Triathlon training, that is.
Standing at the start line of a running race can be a humbling experience. No taper, plenty of swimming, strength training, running and cycling training occurred over the 5 days leading up to the race and the uncomfortable "unknown" of what my body was capable of without having any planned speed work in my training plan this season.
I woke up at 6am and after my morning coffee and water, I had my pre-race meal of a dressed-up rice cake w/ peanut butter, honey, granola and banana (around 250 calories).
Around 7:30am, I walked Campy (when he got up with Karel) and then I did 15 minutes of hip/glute warm-up exercises at home (mobility work). It was a comfortable 46 degrees out so I got myself dressed with my Brooks Pure Flow 4 shoes, CEP compression socks, Ironman World Championship finisher hat, Oakley Women Commit sunglasses, Oakley align sport bra and long sleeve top and Trimarni shorts. I put on my charged Garmin 910 and heart rate monitor, grabbed 1/2 sleeve (3) of Clif Block Black Cherry shot blocks and filled up my run flask (8 ounces) with 1 scoop Cran-Razz electrolyte drink from Clif Bar and water. I put on my Saucony running gloves and off I went for a 1.2 mile jog to downtown + .8 miles of warming up.
I didn't go into this race with any expectations or goals. The 10K served as the state championship and since I am a triathlete - not runner, I had nothing I needed to prove at this race. I was simply there to enjoy a run race in my community and to run with hundreds of other athletes. Although my Garmin is a helpful advice to check-in with, it's also serves as safety net and object to feel discouraged by. I didn't need to play it safe and stick to a pacing plan and because I have never ran on this course before and the course was very technical and challenging, I wasn't going to let paces on a watch detour me from the freedom of racing my closest competition.
With 30 minutes to spare, I kept myself moving in downtown and with 15 minutes to go before 8:30am (start time) I kept myself close to the front of the race start line....a few rows behind the "elite" runners. I had 1 Clif block while waiting for the start and took a few small sips of my flask and saved the rest for the run.
When the gun went off, I just ran. And boy oh boy, did I feel good just running hard. Although I was pushing myself, I could really feel how my training thus far, this season, was paying off. My hips and glutes were working really well. My quads, core and lower back felt really strong and I felt light on my feet. All the swim training w/ our pool toys was paying off as I felt like my arms were really balancing the work load with my legs on every hill (and there were a lot of punchy ones!).
I was all around happy and suffering for 6.2 miles and by the time it came to the last long climb, I took a 5-10 sec breather (walk) and gave it my best effort up the hill and then for the final sprint. For the first time in a very long time, I felt like my form at the end of the race was no different than my form at the beginning of the race - and this made me smile. Even though my stranger friend Bernhard was making me step way outside of my comfort zone, I was so thankful to my strong body for letting me race strong in a training race.
After the race, I ran home (slowly) and checked the results on my phone (through the Go Green Timing app) and couldn't believe what I saw....
Not only did I average 6:52 min/mile pace without any type of speed work this season but with the top 10 females receiving a cash prize, my 12th place female finished also put me first in my age group!
I told Campy the great news at home (since Karel was off for a long bike ride) and he joined me for another run back to downtown for the awards.
After a little over 10 miles of racing, warming up, cool down and fun running with Campy, I called it a very successful training day and started my recovery with a piece of fresh bread and glass of organic milk with whey protein powder (while sitting in the tub for an epson salt bath) and then had my post workout meal of french toast (more bread) with scrambled eggs and fruit (strawberries and banana).
This race was not mentally and physically taxing yet I gave a strong effort and stayed mentally strong. I recovered very quickly and had a great 3:15 bike ride (on rolling hills since we have nothing flat here) followed by a 4 mile transition run on the track (with 3 x 1200 descend 1-3 w/ 90 sec rest in between. 70-85% effort).
Although we can't sacrifice our development as athletes to jump into races just to push for a PR or to enjoy the social aspect of racing with others, there is something special about being able to push harder than you can in training, in a race situation. If you have the right mentality, training races can benefit you in many ways. But you have to be emotionally detached to the results as a training race is simply part of your development and it, in no way, should sabotage your future training.
If you find yourself in a training race, remove the pressure that you may put on yourself to run a certain pace or to reach a specific time. Free yourself from your gadget and just race. It can be scary at first without your safety net if you are a slave to the numbers on your gadget and for those who never use a pacing device, this isn't to say that you should be training and racing without valuable feedback that you can use for your development. If you truly want to redefine your limits and reach your full potential when it really counts, mentally remove yourself from your perceived expectations and just be in the moment in a training race.
Don't let your mind convince you of what it's going to feel like when you get there or what's going to happen when it hasn't even happened. Every time you think and then believe a negative thought or emotion, it may come true because you are setting yourself up for something that you think may happen. There will be highs and lows in every race - from the short races to the all day races and everything in between. Embrace the hurt, toughen up and believe in yourself. Remove yourself from the emotion of how uncomfortable it is to hurt, specifically when you are not injured and just working hard. When your body gives you defined signals that you are racing beyond your potential, just slow down. You should have plenty of training sessions in your memory bank to know what is sustainable versus not practical. Every time you race (training races or when it really does count), use the feedback from your body and your gadget to help you train and race smarter.
Remember - you are always developing. One race does not define you.