Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Hardest Part

The hardest part about endurance sport is when you train and race your heart out, make sacrifices, put everything on the line and come up short in meeting your goal.

There is no lying I love the most brutal workouts. Bring on the workouts that make you grimace and find that inner strong.  And this is why it  stings to work so hard only to fail. After Ironman Louisville I immediately called Ry and cried and cried and cried because I felt like I had let so many people down.

I also felt like my body let me down. I always thought I could do everything. And why not try to do everything, right? Life is short. I chose to race on the pro Ironman circuit, trying to be the best physical therapist and coach and trainer and rebuild a home.  As it turns out, training hard is really only beneficial if you can ABSORB it and ADAPT.

Sounds obvious as I type it but it is so easy for the type A triathlete crazy girl to fall into a bad habit.  Subpar result? I can fix that with extra training.  It's easy to fall into the mindset that endurance sports rewards the athlete that goes the extra mile and pushes a little bit deeper. But that is not always true.

I am definitely not giving up.  I have too much passion and love and respect for the sport.  So I am going to do the hardest thing right now and take an extended break.  A break to let my body and mind fully heal.

My plan is to get a little out of shape ( yikes ), focus on yoga and daily walks and let the body that has raced 20 Full Ironman, 33 Half Ironman , 3 Marathons and countless bike, run, uphill races in the past 6 years REST.  I don't know how long I will have to rest but I am going to put all of my energy into this scary endeavor.  I am motivated to make 2018 my strongest season!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Finish FAST

I raced DOUBLE this weekend!  (Talk about a little pig in shit.)

First up was a SUPER trail race in Gilford NH to benefit the local conservation and recreation land. My soon to be brother in law race directed and did a fantastic job!!

The course was delightful (even for someone like me who is a disaster on trails). Ry guy took first overall, I took 1st female overall, Deidre snagged 2nd female overall (!!!) and Kanoa took first overall in the 3 miler. Kanoa is coming off a dominating performance at Vermont 50 miler so I won't give him any crap for choosing to race the shorter event. I'll save the sh!t talking for next blog.

After weeks of high volume and intense training for Ironman Louisville I was gifted a mini taper for the upcoming weekend of racing. I chose to participate in the trail race because I had a hunch it would lend optimal Muscle Tension for the half marathon I was racing the next day.  Tapering properly for a race is probably the hardest aspect of training.  The goal of taper is to drop fatigue and sharpen up for race day.  But if you drop too much volume and forgo intensity you risk feeling "flat" on race day.

What works for me is a drop in volume with the right amount of intensity to keep me sharp and keep muscle tension optimal.  I would say I am predominately a slow twitch athlete (duh) so I do well with this set up. A good coach will know their athlete and what is optimal for the athlete and the event they are racing.

My plan for the trail race was to race smooth on the flats and push it on the short, steep uphills in hopes I'd feel "snappy" the next day.
It worked. On half marathon race morning I was super BOUNCY and ready to roll. However, this brings me to the point of this blog which is the importance of the NEGATIVE SPLIT (or how NOT to start a race like a crazy lady.)

I was so excited on race morning and feeling so rested and amped up that I literally started my 1 mile warm up jog at 5:40 pace. Talk about little spaz. Reign it in AMBER.  This got me thinking how important and beneficial it is to start a bit slower and build into longer races to PR YOUR NEXT HALF MARATHON:
I get to race 2x this weekend?! Is it my birthday?

(Just so we are all on the same page a negative split run means the second half of your race is FASTER)

A few keys to a Negative Split and a Race PR:

1.) Start the first 1/4 of the race as what feels like painfully slow.  I promise it will probably only be slightly slower than goal pace. Remember, on race day there are all sorts of stimulants working to make you perceive the race start is easier than it is: adrenaline, coffee (!), a loud starting gun/race music, recent taper.

Personally, I was also born with the Hyperactive Crazy Gene so I have that to deal with as well.

It may be nerve wracking to be slightly behind in pace the first few miles but trust the training and trust the fact that you are setting yourself up for a strong second half which is where the majority of your competition will lose the most time.

At the 5K mark I was paying close attention to Heart Rate

2.) Starting out a bit slower than goal pace helps tolerate taking in a bit more fuel (Infinit Nutrition - super sugar) earlier in the race which can help glycogen stores in the later stages. If you have enough glycogen stores in the later portion of the race finishing faster won't be as difficult and will help you avoid hitting the dreaded wall. 

Furthermore, if you slowly build heart rate to race pace you won't burn through as much glycogen as compared to sprinting out of the gates and spiking your heart rate. Trust me, let the guy wearing the American Flag Tutu sprint up ahead. When you eventually catch and pass him you can tell him how much you love his tutu.
Just chugged 4oz of Infinit. If you look closely you can see me licking my chops

3.) Overtaking people in the latter stages feels great.  No matter how fit you are the last 1/4 of a race hurts! To be passing athletes in the later stages can give a huge mental boost and can inspire you to finish even faster.
Finish FAST

 4.) Focus on crossing the line feeling strong and perhaps it will allow you to recover and adapt a bit quicker for the next race. A race is hard but finishing fast can lead to a feeling of: ‘I can do anything,' rather than feeling like someone just bull-dozered over your legs.