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.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Kevin
    Sep 28, 2013 @ 11:40:11

    🙂

    Reply

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