I’ve referred to myself in the past as a lazy triathlete, which is more of a joke than anything but its truly in honor of my love for race and recovery weeks. I really enjoy the lower volume, extra time to catch up (ahem…nap) and allow the little niggles in my body to go away. I love the pre-race ramp up, excitement and extra carbs as the race gets closer. Beej and I started this week with a 3-day reboot because we thought it couldn’t hurt to blast our bodies with vitamins and we were both eager to see how we felt since we’ve been off caffeine for 9 weeks. Well we thought wrong and after day 2 we decided to call it quits. It seems that 2 days with no fat and low calories while training for an Ironman does not work well. Our decision was validated Wednesday morning after eating sprouted grain toast with homemade peanut butter. Immediately, we both felt better, more energetic and ready to train. It was a good experiment but we probably won’t be rebooting again until after Lake Placid.
With eating and energy stabilized it was back to race prep. I decided to go gluten-free for my pre-race ramp up and it seems to have treated me well. Friday night I started with simple quinoa pasta and marinara. Saturday morning I ate a million vegan, gluten free pancakes (I had this recipe but without the fruit). I snacked on gluten-free pretzels all day, had the rest of the pasta for lunch and a protein blend prior to teaching yoga Saturday night. I finished up with a smaller portion of brown rice pasta and marinara Saturday evening. My race morning breakfast was the tried and true applesauce, Vega and banana. This combination has proven to be the best pre-race breakfast for me. I make sure to get it down 3 hours before the race start. At first I’m very full but by the time to gun goes off I’m light in my belly and ready to race.
Before breakfast, I started my day with an hour meditation which set the tone for a very calm morning. The forecast was for chilly temperatures and lots of sun. I felt confident in my clothing choice, we kissed the pups and headed to the race. Everything continued to go very smooth and once we got to the starting area I headed out for a short warm up with a few sprints. I checked back in with Beej for some love and final words of wisdom then headed to the starting line. I seeded myself as close to the 8 minute pace line as possible and soaked up the body heat. In the moments before a race I like to ground in. I started by feeling my feet in my shoes then worked into a 3 part breath – lower belly, middle belly, upper belly/chest – hold until I feel pressure – release slowly. I did this 3 times and followed it up with one relaxing breath – inhale for 4, hold for 7, exhale for 8. Held presence for the anthem and the gun went off.
I fell right into the first mantra that came to mind, one I have used before. I thought joy on my inhale and no pain on my exhale. This mantra keeps me focused and focus keeps my mind quiet. I had decided to keep this race simple which meant I left my watch at home. I tried this for the first time at the Newport Half Marathon last fall. Not only did I PR but it felt so good to let go and just race. I was hoping today would feel the same, it did.
The beginning of the course starts on a downhill then within the first 3.5 miles there are 3 pretty decent hills. I found a steady pace, one I felt I could hold for a long time. I kept focus on my mantra, relaxed in my body and remembered some tips from a video I watched earlier in the week from Kinetic Rev with Pete Jacobs (a dude that knows how to run). I was putting his tips into action and instead of simply engaging my core I checked in with my yogi locks mula bandha and uddiyana bandha. I thought to myself, “all energy moving up, long spine, belly in and up, now relax”. I returned to this check list each time I hit the hills a place where I find much vital energy can be lost.
Just before the 10k mark, I saw Beej at the park and tossed him my arm warmers and gloves. A decision that gave me an immediate boost but one that I paid for after mile 9 where the course gets very windy, exposed and on this day, freezing cold. I knew this as I was taking them off but I decided to take the boost now and if I suffered for it later that would just push me harder to the finish. “Don’t worry about those miles just be in this step right now, you have no problems right now”.
At the 8 mile mark I took a half of a gel for a little extra boost and I’m glad I did because as predicted mile 9 came and so did the headwind. Hearing my mind creep in to berate me for ditching the warmth of my gloves and arms warmers I quickly turned it into gratitude that I had decided on my long running pants. Although I could feel the cold through my pants my legs were protected and I needed them the most. I stayed with my mantra and upped the no pain part. I knew that the faster I ran, the faster I would be back into my puffy jacket. I passed the mile 10 marker and shifted into a final gear to push home but the headwind was sucking up that gear. I looked down at my legs to make sure I was still moving and when I looked up I noticed a girl in front of me. The back of her shirt said “The Power Behind Me” and below that was a cross. I fixed my gaze on those words and listened to my new mantra, “I am power”.
I knew from the clock at mile 10 that I was on pace to PR this course so I continued to push hard while remaining as calm as possible. I heard my voice, I was teaching yoga and I’m talking to my students about finding peace in the chaos. Finding more calm, relaxing into their effort and letting go of trying. I continued into the wind then made the turn back into town towards the final hill. It’s a long climb and I fell in step with a guy next to me which helped tremendously. We passed a guy on the right and he was screaming, “when is this freaking hill ever going to end!”. Vital energy that he clearly needed, gone. I was visualizing the brutal climb back into Lake Placid on the run course which made the present hill pale in comparison. I saw BJ about 3/4 of the way up and pushed my ass as fast as I could, completely breathless to the finish in 1:48:09. More than a 10 minute PR on this course and just 20 seconds shy of my best half marathon time. Considering I’m in the depths of IM training I would say I’m pretty damn pleased.
Now…time to recover so I can get back at it.
1800 yd swim
60 min heated vinyasa
1h 25 min z2 ride
20 min z2 T run
55 min recovery bike
60 min heated vinyasa
1hr 20min z2 bike
2000 yd swim
49 min recovery bike
15 min recovery run
30 min vinyasa yoga
New Bedford Half Marathon