It’s All Mental

My last event/race of the 2013 season was last Sunday up in Schroon Lake at the Adirondack Distance Festival. I mentioned a couple posts ago that I was thinking about running it. I figured, the 9 miles I ran at the olympic duathlon, and a recent 10k were enough training for a half marathon, right? Plus, after my obsessive race-searching, I realized this would be one of my last opportunities to participate in a race on one of my weekends off.

Schroon Lake is a little less than three hours away from R’Beck, and it was a nice overnight trip in the Adirondacks. I had never been to Schroon Lake, and must admit I do prefer it over Lake George where I spent summers growing up. It just seems more “Adirondacky”–if you get what I mean. It felt more like fall up there, too, with more copper and amber leaves speckling the mountains.

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The town itself is quite small, and seems to come alive during this Distance Festival every year. As Kevin was not going to join me, I coaxed my mother into a mother-daughter bonding race trip (in other words, she would be the official race photographer).I waited until the very last minute to find a place to stay for a night, and who would have thought that almost all accommodations in the small town were booked? Finally, I found a super B&B close to Paradox Lake (there are zillions of little lakes up in that area) whose keepers welcomed us as if we were long lost friends. I found out later she is a nurse, and we instantly found things to discuss before having to say goodnight.

There were a couple other runners staying at the B&B, and everyone gathered the next morning for breakfast. The non-runners devoured homemade pancakes, eggs, bacon…While the runners had their “pre-race” meals. Funny, how runners have their rituals when it comes to what they eat before races, huh?

My go-to pre-race breakfast. PB+ banana.

My go-to pre-race breakfast. PB+ banana, and coffee, ofcourse

Unsure of what traffic would be like, and road closures, we got into town around eight am. To keep warm, I sipped on some more coffee at a local coffee shop before taking the shuttle bus to the half marathon start in Adirondack Village. The ride definitely felt longer than 13.1 miles away.

Random runner, "Do you want your picture taken?"

Random runner, “Do you want your picture taken?”

My only gripe about this race was having to wait about an hour in Adirondack Village before the start of the race. I probably could have waiting longer in Schroon Lake Village to catch a shuttle, buuuuut I didn’t. It was chilly and windy, and there is so much standing around I could tolerate. I found solace in taking an excessive number of pictures. What would we do without iPhones?Plus,  I’m used to early race starts from duathlons, and this was a late start(I consider 10am a late start), especially since my breakfast was eaten at 0700. By the time we were ready to start, I was already hungry.

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I didn’t train, but I still passed you.

Waiting at the start

Waiting at the start

Whoa colors

Whoa colors

The course was pretty flat with some rolling hills. Scenery of the lake helped pass the time. The race course went through the Word of Life Institute (I’m not sure if it is a camp, or a college), and I must admit, having all the young folks along the route cheering you on helps lift your spirits, especially when it decides to downpour and become cold quite quickly. It reminded me of running past Wellesley during the Boston Marathon, except on a much, much smaller scale.

Thankfully, the downpour was short lived and I continued trudging along.

The volunteers along the way were wonderful. Very excited for you, and encouraging–the way race volunteers should be. As with other races I compete in, I make sure to acknowledge them as I pass, smile, and even joke around. At one point, the course entered an intersection, and a group of volunteers were pointing in the direction you had to go, as well as cheering. Being the somewhat goof I am (racing makes me silly), I pointed to the opposite direction and exclaimed, ” Wait, are you sure? We don’t run that way? I want to extend the race.” And started running the opposite direction before then heading the proper way. They all found it funny. I know little things like this that I do does not help me finish the race any faster, and may even prolong my race time. But, for the few seconds I can mentally ignore the physical discomfort I am in from running 13.1 (or any other distance) miles helps give me energy to continue.

My pace was fairly consistent at around 8:30, and for most of the run, I think I felt good. My legs were a little tired as the day before the race I decided to go on a 50+ tough bike ride (not smart!). Well, I told myself I felt good. It was not until mile ten when I thought it would be fun when this was over. Later on I realized that had I been two minutes faster, I would have placed in my age group. I guess that is some fairly good motivation to actually train for my next half, when and wherever that might be. My time ended up being 1:52, which was a teeny tiny bit faster than the Lake George Half. As always, the best part is when you pass the finish line and can say, “I’m done!”

Finito!

Finito!

Cutest trophies ever! Maybe next years goal?!?

Cutest trophies ever! Maybe next years goal?!?

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The real reason to run races: post race food.

The real reason to run races: post race food.

So what did I learn from this race season?

I’ve learned from races, whether or not I was prepared for them or not: a large majority of racing is mental. Yes, you have to be physically prepared for what the race will demand of you. But if you are not in the right frame of mind, you have a disadvantage. Especially if it is an endurance event, when you have lots of time to think. Negative self-talk, or thinking that you cannot make it…It’s too hardI didn’t train enough…I’m not prepared…can, and will work against you. When I didn’t finish the race a couple years ago, I had so much self doubt and I don’t think I ever thought, “I can do this.” (There were other circumstances that lead to the DNF too, mind you). In recent races, I’ve found lifting yourself up, however that may be, whether it is kidding around with volunteers, or giving yourself mini pep-talks, gives you a renewed sense of energy to continue, and to be successful. And that success does not necessarily mean earning first place. It’s a more personal achievement.

I must admit, I am rather sad that my last semi-planned race of 2013 is over. Completing three races in the past month alone is the most races I’ve done in that time frame. A huge thank you to those who were there to keep me company, whether being official photographers, personal chauffeurs, cheerleaders, or a combination of all three (K-dawg). I know it wasn’t easy or fun all those weekends, but it was awesome having you there.

Now, what will I do from now on with my weekends off??

Thumbs up to a great season.

Thumbs up to a great season.

Let’s Du This…Olympic Style

The lack of creativity in the title for this post may be due to recent lack of sleep, or due to the fact that, after writing about six duathlon races since beginning this blog, there simply comes a time when it can be hard to think of a fun title.

Last Sunday I took part in New York Triathlon Club’s Wheel and Heel Olypmic (distance) Duathlon. I participated in the W &H sprint duathlons twice, and was supposed to do this particular race last year, but from what I remember, I could not get anyone at work to switch a weekend with me. Bring on 2013 with new distance duathlons. Whereas a sprint duathlon is usually a 1 mile run, 14mile ride, 3.2mile run (some of the NYTRI sprints vary in their leg lengths), the olympic duathlon has a 5k run, a 40k bike , and a 10k mile run. (You math wizards out there will notice that is about 9.5miles of running total).

Just a tad bit longer.

I must admit, I had a lot of pre-race jitters before this race. I am not really sure why….I was not worried about the riding part. Dutchess County has given me a plethora of opportunities to work on riding up hills (and racing up them, too).  I was worried about the running. The last time I ran over 6.1 miles in one day was back in May, and that was for a marathon–slow, steady run. The Mad Dash killed my legs, and for six days prior to this race, I did not run whatsoever. Minus all the running around at work. I think another contributing factor to the pre-race jitters was the fact this would also be my first race being solo.*

Anyway, come race morning when the alarm went off, a part of me wanted to stay in bed and ignore the race. But, after some contemplating, I decided I would hate myself for not at least trying the race. I gulped some coffee and, I admit it, I did not give myself loads of la-de-daa time to get to the race.

My goal: to finish in under 3.5 hrs. No records needed to be broken, no muscles torn…Just attempt it. 30minutes for the 5k, 2 hrs for the bike, and one hour for the 10k.

My plan of race attack: Go out on the first 5k easy. Go out on the bike easy. Go out on the last 10k easy and walk if need be. 

What actually happened:

I got to the race with barely enough time to collect my bib, but did decide it might be smart, for this distance, to actually warm up and stretch.  (Yup, I just said I stretched. For reals.)

There was a fair number of racers, and the venue was quite serene: Lake Taghkanic is lovely. 

I set up my bike, and spoke with a few racers I’ve met at other races, or know from the non-racing world, and kept telling myself, “It’s just a long run and ride.” My main competition was an athlete (I can say that, because she truly is one) from up north who beat me in another race earlier this year. Mind you, she is almost twice my age,just competed in the International Duathlon Championships up in Ottawa, and has a tri-bike. Oh, she also was wearing a race kit from the championships. If you are thinking the same thing as I am, than yes, she is quite good at the sport. She also looks like a duathlete. Pshh, maybe next year I will just order a race kit to wear from the championships…It might help my race self-esteem 😉

The field of athletes doing the duathlon was quite small, and the first 5k was an out-and-back run through the state park. Rolling hills. I actually wore my garmin watch for the first time in about a year so I could keep track of my pace. Did I remember how to use the watch? Kind of, at least basics. I did not want to sprint to fast and have no energy for the rest of the race. Nine minute or so miles is what I was aiming for. I kept up with Ms. Championships the whole 5k, and felt good after the first run was over. The bike, ohh the bike portion. It was two loops around the park, and, I have come to the conclusion that in order for a race to be one of the New York Triathlon races, it must involve hills. Having not pre-ridden the course, I had no idea what the extent of the hills would be. Below is the image posted on the Facebook page of the race course….

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The elevation guide does not do it justice, and is actually a bit confusing.

On the second loop, I managed to find a gel (they are growing on me) which I do not think necessarily gave me energy physically, but mentally. Going up the same set of hills twice is just wrong in my book.

For some odd reason, I thought the 10k would be in the Park around the lake. That is what it looks like according to their website photo, right? Or, was it just me and my innate inability to read maps correctly?

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Well, the last three miles were in the park. The first four followed the bike course. Up the same hills. At this point, I was pretty fatigued, not going to lie. But, I kept thinking, “C’mon, you’ve ran marathons…you’ve climbed mountains…This, this is just another hilly run.” When my legs wanted to walk, I walked. When they felt good to run again, I ran. Once the course veered back into the park, I remember continuing to wonder when the finish would come.  Things people have said crossed my mind, “Go get em’ killer!” Finally, after what seems to be the longest 10k I have ever run/walked, I crossed the finish line. 3:02.

With tears in my eyes.

I do not know what brought the tears on. Maybe it was the fact I finished my first olympic distance race quicker than I thought I would. Maybe it was the fact that I finished, but had no one I knew there to give a sweaty, exhausted, thrilled-that-I-finished hug to.** Maybe it was because I finished my last duathlon of the season, and managed to pull off second overall in the Women’s duathlon. Who knows. I did have to pull some major self-control in order to keep the tears from continuing to stream down my face. You ever try to stop yourself from crying in public when your body is exhausted? It’s really hard to do, and I kept trying to cough in order to hide the fact I was crying, and then choked, which wasn’t helpful. Lake Taghkanic State Park  has a paved sidewalk along the beach near the parking lot which was perfect for cooling down and gaining composure.

After packing up all my gear and brining my bike back to my car, I headed to the post race food to score some free water and mini- cliff bars. On my way, I bumped into a fellow Fats in the Cats member who is also a duathlete/triathlete/runner. In her first olympic triathlon, she placed first in her age group. See? Mountain bikers are hardcore. We not only ride bikes over logs and roots, but can kick ass in the water and in a pair of running shoes.

Fats in the Cats!

Bev and I…Way to go fats!

God bless the volunteers along this race course. They were amazing. So so encouraging, especially the volunteers along the hills. I even got a smile and nod from a State Police officer when I said, “Hills are my favorite!” on the bike.

A huge thanks to the New York Triathlon Club for an incredible event, and awesome race season!

* Except for races back in college, I’ve been blessed to have friends or family either participate in a race with me, or at least be present at some stage of the race, even if it was only the end of the race.  I guess I got a little too used to this “luxury.”

**Don’t worry, I awkwardly gave that hug to a random other female duathlete who finished her first olympic duathlon that day.

***If you want to see the real elevation change, the link to my Strava activity is here. I am not tech savvy enough to get the “imbed link” to pop up on this blog.

My apologies for the lack of photos in this. Out of all the photos taken at the race, there failed to be just one caught of me. I think I searched through the events photos at least three times. Ohh well.  Win some, and lose some.

😉

C’est la Vie, C’est la Chance, C’est L’amour

A couple years ago I took a chance.

On a guy.

Who knew two years later we’d be in love?

To the best, most patient, loving, funny, and strongest man I know.

xoxox

M

P.S. You already know I’m a dork when it comes to music 🙂

From fall ramblings

From fall ramblings

To pumpkin patch photo shoots

To pumpkin patch photo shoots

To christmas bloopers

To christmas bloopers

And spring skillz clinics

From spring skillz clinics

To your addiction to bicycles

To your addiction to bicycles

You put up with my failed attempts at selfies

You put up with my failed attempts at selfies with uncooperative cats

Never trusting my navigation skills, when I know I right

And never trust my navigation skills, when I know I right

...Okay sometimes I am wrong

Okay, sometimes I am wrong and get us lost…

Je t’aime.

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Sometimes You Surprise Yourself…

….And realize you can accomplish something were not planning on accomplishing.

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I was debating over the weekend on whether or not to do the Mad Dash 10k race I had signed up for (a local race) this morning…Craziness at work the past two days, having “a bug,” and not having gone for a run in at least six days dissuaded me from from running it.

Waking up to a downpour, thunder, and lightning gave me a perfect excuse not to participate in the race.

After a restless sleep, and dreams which included running races, at 8:40, staring at the rain outside, I decided to just do it. It’s rare when my schedule happens to accommodate a race, and when did anyone ever die from rain? The 10k started at 9:15.

Grabbing my rain jacket and a towel, with a goodbye peck to sleeping Kevin, and after a couple gulps of coffee and water, I headed (the one point five) miles to the race start.

You would think I would be familiar with the roads around the town in which I live. And, I am familiar with them…On a bike. The terrain is different running than when you are riding.

Leaving my iPod and phone in the car (why risk your phone getting wet just to Strava your race?), I made it to town, parked, did my usual “warm up” ( consisting of a couple jumping jacks) and found the start of the 10k. Due to the recent downpour, the race start was delayed. Yay! Giving me time to do a couple air jab punches in order to warm up.

Since I was not feeling 100%, had no music (I cannot remember the last time I ran without music–excluding the run portion of duathlon races), was still somewhat tired from a crazy work weekend, had not eaten any breakfast, and still digesting my inhaled coffee,  I decided this would just be a “fun run.” There was no need to set any records, nor any need to prove myself to anyone. Just use the race as something to do on my holiday off.

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Even though the start of the race was downhill, the course contained some rolling hills. At the 5k mark, I glanced down at my watch–yes, I was old school and used a simple watch to record my time–and noticed I was not doing too bad. And that is when the humidity struck. And the realization that there were rolling hills. And then trying to hum songs I knew in my head.

Without music to keep me going, I had to find things to occupy my thoughts as I ran. Shortly after the 5k mark, I noticed my shirt was inside out (I guess that is what happens when you decide last minute to run a race?). I’ll tell you, un-clasping small pins attaching your race number to your shirt, when you are drenched with sweat and running, isn’t too easy to do. But, I managed to switch the location of the bib to my shorts, and take off my shirt to turn it inside out (or is it right side in?) without running into another runner, or falling into the ditch. I am sure other runners figured I was simply nuts.  Hey, whatever diverts your attention away from the fact you are running helps, right?

Once the shirt was correctly on, it was mile 5. Glancing down at my watch, I noticed the time was 40:01. At the beginning of the summer, I made it a goal to run 5 miles in under 40 minutes. As the summer progressed, I forgot about that goal, and thought it was not possible. Today, I was surprised to see that I was one second off my goal. It may be one second, but considering I did walk a bit (to pick up the pins I dropped), I’m going to say I accomplished that goal.

And despite the last mile being composed of an incline, when I saw the clock at the end of the race read under 50 minutes, I figured, just kill it. Finish the race in under 50 minutes. That I did.  It may not be the fastest 10k time, but it ten minutes faster than I planned. I do not consider myself a competitive runner—all of the runs I run are done never with the intention of placing in my age group. I just always felt I was a slow runner. But placing in the top third of all runners, and receiving a first place medal for your age group, changed the way I think of myself as a runner.

I guess your personal goals are possible. Especially when you least expect them to occur.

The first time I have ever placed in a running race. First  in my age group.

The first time I have ever placed in a running race. First in my age group.

Never doubt your abilities to do something. Because if you put your mind to it, you can achieve them.

When was the last crazy post written?

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