YES! It Really is About the Journey!

 

My relay mates - Andy Hart and Tony Peacock

My relay mates – Andy Hart and Tony Peacock

Gather a group of triathletes and runners together and very quickly the conversation will turn to racing. Races you’ve done, races on the horizon.

Have you ever noticed that hardly, if ever, does that talk center around races you’ve done great at. Usually these conversations revolve around shared struggles, whether at the same event or another. Or the same event under various conditions in different years.

I mean let’s face it, you just aren’t going to PR every time out. And as you continue to advance in age groups, well, hitting your late 40s and closing in on 50 doesn’t at all mean you shouldn’t be out there, but it does mean those blazing fast splits of your 30s and early 40s are harder and harder to come by. And OK folks let’s be real about something else. The vast majority of us are not Olympians! Wins and podium finishes might be rare and may never happen at all, so some might ask, “Why bother?”

That’s the easiest answer of all. Because it’s fun and about the journey!

Of course I have fond memories of my best events, my big PRs. But the details of those races aren’t as vivid. It’s the struggles, the big challenges that I still feel. It’s the final climb at Mountains of Misery, the experience of Savageman, the heat at Rocket’s Landing and all the folks I met along the way. And when I recall the tough ones it is always with a smile, a sense of accomplishment and pride. Overcoming the tough stuff, finding your way through it is ultimately what shapes us as athletes and more importantly, people.

I can give you a lengthy list of why I knew going in that my portion of our relay at Giant Acorn wasn’t going to be stellar…the past two weeks have been crazy busy, which sends my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Lyme Disease into overdrive, my training focus had been on others instead of myself, I spent the race weekend itself, planning, cooking, taking care of everyone else.

Five or so years ago I could have pulled a speedy 10K out of my hat. And mentally I expected to be able to do the same on Sunday. So while my head was fully in the game, my body quickly reminded me it wasn’t quite ready for the race my head was running. So I smiled at the dogs along the way, talked to the beagle who wagged his tail at me on the first lap, and was sleeping soundly on my second lap. I breathlessly thanked volunteers, cheered for my peeps when I saw them. Said to myself that I wished this was just a 5K, something I have never in my life wished for! Laughed because this trail-runner-at-heart shifted into a different gear for the brief period on the course that we were in the woods, it’s a reflex action! Then at the finish I passed a couple of guys with just yards to go and encouraged them to come with me. One of them did and he pushed me hard to the finish. We high-fived, laughed and hugged at the finish like long-time pals, because in that moment we were athletes sharing a triumph.

Those are the moments I will remember from Sunday. Not that it was the slowest 10K I have run in my entire career! I joke about that because I am OK with it. I gave the best effort I had on Sunday and I had fun along the way. So when you have a less than stellar day, especially if you expected a better outing, I want you to ask yourself two very important questions…

Did you give it everything you had on that particular day?

Did you smile, have fun, make some new friends, create memories along the way?

Answer yes to both of those questions at EVERY race and you have won the most important battle!

Perspective…valuable thoughts from a client

I actually had a different blog ready for this morning when I came across this one from one of my clients and I couldn’t resist sharing.

I met Heidi before she did Augusta 70.3 last year, and a few months later she asked me to coach her for not only her return to Augusta, but also for Raleigh 70.3. As is the norm the road to these races is often paved with unexpected aches and pains, injuries and illnesses that we contract, kids contract and give back to us, work travels, family events, in other words LIFE!

While I , of course, think triathlon and running and any activity that makes you happy should be part of your lifestyle, it should not become your life. It needs to be woven seamlessly into the fabric of your days, weeks, years, otherwise it becomes a burden, an obligation, a job that no longer holds any joy and thus really the best benefits from such a lifestyle are then lost!

Here is Heidi’s blog from today about just that, keeping it all in perspective…and thanks for letting me share!

Perspective

Photo Mar 23, 11 34 22 AMYesterday I was scrolling through Training Peaks, the app my coach uses to schedule my workouts, and I saw that next to the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile race for next Sunday was a note that Ironman 70.3 Raleigh was eight weeks away. And my coach, who already knows me so well, also left a comment that the note was intended to excite me and not freak me out.

My impulse was to freak out, and though I almost choked on my coffee, I wasn’t settling in that that anxious place. I’ve been anxious plenty of times about Raleigh. I’ve questioned whether it was a race I wanted to train for or if I really wanted to race it at all. I’ve allowed insecurities to creep in and mangle my confidence to shreds leaving me to gather up the pieces and, with the support of friends, move forward.

But suddenly, I’m realizing it doesn’t feel quite so huge and looming as training for Augusta did last year, and a friend reminded me that my mental space was occupied for that September race in January of last year. For nine months nothing else mattered but September 29, 2013. My world, my thoughts, my time revolved around that ultimate goal and all of the hours and days required to get there.

And maybe that’s what you need to do to get through something so colossal the first time, but looking back, I’m still not sure all of what I was trying to prove (or to whom). It almost felt like a race getting to the race, and I know I was trying to prove to myself that I had it in me to do something big. I know that confidence (or lack of it) was the driving force. And I don’t regret that part. I don’t regret the changes it brought, and the sense of accomplishment I have.

Photo Mar 26, 2 22 05 PMThis spring is about balance, and with it half ironman training is finally falling into a proportional place. It is no longer a defining label I cling to; it is now simply something I love to do. It is part of the whole of me instead of the only thing I held onto in an attempt to find a deeper understanding of myself and my perspective of the world. Because when we cling to one hyper-focused thing, we eliminate so many other factors. We eliminate friends and family; we eliminate other activities we love. I built a wall around myself using the race and training as an excuse, which allowed me to sink back into old protective habits and thought processes. I might have made great strides physically, but in many other ways, life was not about growth last year. It was stunted, and looking back, I wonder if I even felt alive. Did I ever exhale or did I live holding my breath simply hoping I’d find the end of that 70.3 mile course and cross the finish line? Sometimes I’m afraid to look for the answer to that question, but I’d imagine a glance at my Instagram feed from last year would clear it up.

That tension is in stark contrast to this year that has felt alive and pulses with a beating heart and deep, cleansing breaths. It has been organically filled with friends and date nights and girl nights and family time. What felt taxing or too involved or too scary last year has naturally fallen into place. My friend Kristy is focusing on finding breathing room this year, and that is the best way to describe what is happening. There is breathing room and it is not just seeping in around the edges of training and thinking about a race. It cushions me and generates a kinetic energy that flows and connects.

This breathing room gives me the space to add ironman training in to my life as part of the whole. Instead of being the sole thread that bound the days and weeks of last year, the most important keystone that anchored me to myself, it is now something less and more. It is one of the many variegated parts that are coming together to create the brilliant mosaic that is this life. It enhances who I am and provides me with a place to test myself and grow in many ways, but it it is not the only litmus test for growth.

Instead the litmus test for growth is the happy moments that exist alongside and in front of the hard training. It culminates in the date nights and girl nights, the social trail runs and chatty family bike rides. It is noticing that race day is about nine weeks away, choking a little on my coffee, and then smiling and moving on with my day.

 

The Answer is REST!

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The question is get out there and train…or not?

It’s that time of year where even the healthiest of us are not immune to some coughing and sniffles. And every year when that cold strikes, the question becomes do you suck it up, get out there and train or wimp out and opt for rest?

Sometimes the answer is obvious. If you can’t escape the bathroom for more than 15 minutes at a time, if you have a fever, chills, aches…rest is ALWAYS the right choice. Give yourself the time to recover and then bear in mind that recovery most certainly will require a couple of days of easy or moderate training sessions before returning to high intensity or volume. Those type of illnesses, even if short in duration, rank high on the energy and fuel stores depleation scale.
More often the answer is less black and white. Those sniffles, sinus pressure, throat tickle, cough.

A quick Google search will give dozens of articles offering variations of all the advice you have already heard…go if the symptoms are above the neck, don’t if they aren’t or wait, is it the reverse?

So my non-medical-degree-but-years-of-personal-experience-backed advice? Listen to your body…and then take a day off anyway!

Our bodies are truly amazing and they almost always let us know what they need, but we rarely listen. So if your body says it wants to rest, let it!!! I can almost promise you that pushing through instead of taking just one day off will at the very least lengthen the duration of the cold and potentially make you worse, or more susceptible to additional symptoms.

Now that I’ve preached that you need to do what your body tells you, I’m going to go against that and say even if you think you can push through – and that is most likely your brain talking and not your body – don’t do it. Take one day off, rest and hydrate well. See above for my reasoning!

Now I’m going to finish my bowl of steel cut oats with blueberries and almonds, grab my box of tissues and settle in for a day watching the Olympics…feel better everyone!

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Happy Snow Day!

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I know many of you are grumbling about this fresh blanket of the white stuff!

Don’t grumble, get out there and have some fun with it!

The gyms are closed, so the treadmill is out, but before you decide to skip your run, think again. Use this as an opportunity to run for fun, no Garmin, no pacing, no targeted speed work, just some fun, fresh air and a workout that you’ll be glad you did!

Of my entire apartment complex, mine – and the beagles – were the first steps out this morning, and when I left for my run an hour later, no new imprints had been made. I was surprised given the number of kids in the neighborhood. When I was kid and still living in Virginia and we had a snow day, I was up at first light and outside and on my second change of clothes by 9 AM from playing and getting so wet. It was probably the only time I was so willing to get up in the morning, as my mother will certainly attest to!

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But this morning I was the lone runner, lots of other folks with dogs out playing. All in pairs, a pair of Springer Spaniels all toasty with booties and coats walking their people, a pair of yellow labs helping shovel a driveway and a pair of chocolate labs ready to join me for the end of my run. And, of course, my beagle boys, who were initially excited, but when the snow is up to your shoulders, it can be a bit challenging to take care of business.

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OK, Mom, let's go back in!

OK, Mom, let’s go back in!

The first hours and day of the snowfall is typically the best in Virginia, as it has not had a chance to turn to ice and slush and then refreeze yet. The first concern most folks have when it comes to running in the snow is falling. Legitimate concern. First rule, SLOW down. This isn’t the time to fret about your pace or try to do a targeted speed session. This morning I ran down the middle of the road in the tire tracks along the neighborhood streets, still slipping a bit, but I just took it slow and enjoyed my surroundings and quiet!

Foot selfie

Foot selfie

In the days ahead as this melts, refreezes, gets chunked and potted with holes and treacherous patches, go ahead and walk the few steps required to traverse a tricky patch of ice that you can’t go around.

When all these crazy slick spots get too annoying to deal with seek out a place with dirt or grass underneath, ie; the grass beside the sidewalk. The snow is more likely to remain snow on these surfaces, stay soft and you’ll be able to navigate more safely than you would the sidewalk where it can go from clear and dry to slick every few feet.

Another option is to hit the trails, such as First Landing or even the hills at Trashmore in our area. Again the soft earth under the snow will help keep the surface runable.

I would recommend you avoid running in the dark on icy roads, if you must, be sure to wear a headlamp and pay close attention to your footing.

I’m a Colorado girl at heart and get so excited when I get to get out there and enjoy the flakes. There is just nothing like that hush a layer of snow creates, temporarily turning all chaos tranquil. Even if it doesn’t bring you the joy it brings me, don’t let it force you inside, embrace it, layer up and take it as a new challenge!

 

Foot selfie 2!

Foot selfie 2!

Is it Time to Refresh Your RoadID?

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Even if you choose not to make resolutions, January is still the month we all tend to take stock of things. Clean out cupboards and closets, get a fresh start. I have one for you…do you need a new RoadID? Are the phone numbers still accurate?

Maybe your contacts have moved, changed numbers, made a name change, maybe you need to change who your contacts are…Regardless take a few moments, check it out, make updates and get it ordered. And if you don’t have one, haven’t ever bothered…please do it now. You may not be riding outside consistently this time of year, and it’s for that reason that now is the time to order a new one and everything ready to roll for when you are.

And don’t forget about running.

We don’t always think about safety when running, but how often are you doing your weekday runs alone?

Forgive me for sounding like a paid spokesman for RoadID – I’m not! But this one little safety time every athlete needs to have so as you head out the door, don’t forget your reflective vest and please, please always wear your RoadID!

 

Happy New … Quarter!

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2014 is a week old…how are those resolutions going?

Frustrated? Overwhelmed? Have you already bailed on them? Maybe you didn’t even make any because they never work out.

I wrote a blog a couple of years ago suggesting you set goals instead of making resolutions. Goals just have more a more positive feel to them, imply a favorable result and also require a plan, usually detailed, to get there. Experts, whether they be diet, fitness or business, alway stress the importance at this time of year of setting smaller goals along the way – achievable ones! – to keep motivated. As athletes, we’re pretty good at setting goals and mapping out a plan to achieve them, picking smaller races along the way. But when your race is months away, maybe even more than a year, keeping your sights in the target can be difficult. Maybe you have some goals that don’t involve athletics that you’d like to achieve this year as well.

For the first time in quite a few years I have made some actual resolutions as well as set several goals, not all PR or race related. While feeling excited about making these resolutions stick, I could already feel that a target 12 months away, or without even a specific end date, was setting me up for trouble.

So, I had an idea.

Let’s just focus on the first quarter! Three months! 90 days! Even if you didn’t make any resolutions, why not make some now, or look at your goals for the year and pare them down to just the next 3 months! Simple and oh so manageable!

Apply it to everything you want to work on…pounds to lose, money to save, recipes to try, books to read, miles to swim, bike, run… I also encourage you to write down whatever it is, that really does help make it real. And if you want, let a family member or close friend in on your plan to help hold you more accountable. And don’t forget to forgive yourself for any slips along the way!

I’ll check back in at the end of March, let you know how I feel like I did with my resolutions, you can let me know how yours went and we’ll hit the reset button for the second quarter!

Happy New Quarter everyone!

RHR Book Sale and Food Drive!

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My bookshelves are overflowing! And the pantry shelves at the Foodbank are a bit sparse…so let’s give some books new homes and fill my truck with non-perishable goods!

I know we all have ipads and kindles and nooks, but don’t you still just love to hold a book every now and then? Of course you do!

P1020643The deal is simple:

EVERY hardcover book is $2 PLUS a non-perishable food item.

EVERY paperback book is $1 PLUS a non-perishable food item.

Topics range from historical biographies, sports biographies, interior design, thrillers, travel, you name it! With authors from Stephen King to Jodi Picoult and Patricia Cornwell.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 19

4408 LOOKOUT RD

VB

8-11:00 AM

Come on by after your morning run, bring a friend or three!!

 

 

Never Too Early to Look Ahead!

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Is it too early to celebrate New Years?

Anyone else ready to put 2013 in the rearview mirror?

It’s been a strange one for lots of folks. Between injuries with hard-to-pinpoint causes, illnesses that linger for weeks and weeks, personal and professional stresses, getting into a groove has been difficult to say the least. So, I for one, am ready to start looking forward.

In the world of endurance sports it’s never too early to start thinking, planning and entering races for the next year and even beyond….Chattanooga 2015 anyone?

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Registration for the ever popular Eagleman and Raleigh 70.3 opened last week, these tend to fill fast.

There is still some racing to do…Austin 70.3, IM Florida, Richmond Marathon.

Are you done racing and in need of some inspiration, the Ironman World Championships are this weekend in Kona. Our very own Tom Vizioli is there acting as support crew. He will be volunteering in the med tent and at the finish line. I know I’m excited to hear his account of the event from that perspective!

 

Head Through the HRBT for Tons of Weekend Fun!

Two super fun events happening this weekend on the other side of the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel.

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Head to Richmond for the Martins Tour of Richmond Gran Fondo. Three great distances, all wrapping up with a spin around Richmond International Raceway followed by a big feast! If you’ve not done much riding around Richmond, you are missing out and this is perfect opportunity to see some gorgeous scenery!

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And after you’re done riding and refueling, on your way back to Virginia Beach you can stop in Hampton for the second Crawlin’ Crab Half Marathon and 5K is in Hampton on Sunday. Those of you who were out there last year…well the weather for this year’s race looks to be much improved!

Good luck to everyone racing this weekend!

Be Considerate of Others…Remove Your Headphones!!!

Headphones are fine for training...leave them at home on race day

Headphones are fine for training…leave them at home on race day

 

Go ahead and sit down to read this.

 

I have some really bad news for you as you prepare for and dream about your big race.

 

Guess what? Race day is not all about you. That’s right. The big race you have been training so hard for, practicing your nutrition plan for, pacing execution, your clothing, right down to your socks, pre-race dinner, breakfast is not just about you.

 

On race day, you will be joined by a few hundred or thousand others. Others just like you who have had a singular purpose for months, whose families and friends have sacrificed and supported to help get their athlete to the starting line. Everyone wants to have a terrific day, whether that means a PR, a BQ, whether it is a race with a group for charity or your first time out. One way to help that experience for you and everyone around you…take your headphones OFF! Leave them at home!

 

This is a hot- button issue for lots of folks. People go so far as to claim they cannot run a 10K, half-marathon or marathon without music. Well, pardon me, but that is just a load of crap!

 

It has never ever occurred to me to wear headphones during a race. Part of racing is overcoming the mental challenges as well as physical. Of course, they didn’t really exist when I started racing! And when they did become an extension of every runner’s ear, USATF banned them, although it was a largely un-enforced ban. They have since rescinded that rule, leaving the decision up to individual race directors. USA Triathlon maintains a ban on headphones at all USAT sanctioned events and you will get penalized.

 

To me part of the whole race experience is just that; to experience it, take in the crowds, enjoy your surroundings. Fighting and beating those demons that try to demotivate you when things get tough, isn’t that part of the challenge, part of the accomplishment, part of the reason we all do this?

 

All of that aside, my main reason for writing this is to get you to consider other runners on the course. It was during The Marine Corps Marathon several years ago that I noticed the tremendous safety hazard the runners with headphones on presented.

 

MCM is a very popular marathon – read crowded! – the course is not flat and on those rolling hills, the wheelchair racers can get up a huge head of steam going downhill. I witnessed numerous people nearly get run over because they couldn’t hear the racer shouting “on your left” as he cruised down the hill. I literally pushed a person out of the way at one point.

 

Since that day I often see people trot along oblivious to the world around them as safety vehicles try to maneuver through the crowd.

 

These are not small issues. But if that isn’t enough, think about your fellow runners out there working hard. Runner’s who worked just as hard as you did getting prepared for this day; runner’s for whom this day is just as important.

 

So maybe in a road race, with lots of room to jockey around for position, it is a mere annoyance to try to get around someone who is oblivious to your presence, but maybe not a direct hindrance to your performance.

 

What about a trail race?

 

Trail racing is a different beast. On most courses you are spending 3/4 of the race on a single-track trail, navigating roots, rocks, puddles, leaping over creeks, twisting around trees to get up or down a hill. Chances to pass people are few, and you need to seize them as soon as you can. In my experience the communication that occurs during a trail race is endless, and vital. You need to be able to hear the person breathing down your neck, know when they want to make the pass, and likewise you want the person in front of you aware of when you are ready to make a pass. People in front often shout out about hazards such as roots or puddles or even sharp directional changes.

 

As trail racing continues to make popularity gains, I urge organizers to set – and enforce – a ban on headphones. Xterra states on the entry form to its trail races and triathlons that headphones are not allowed.

 

Headphones make you a safety hazard. If that isn’t enough to convince you, then show some consideration for the other racers. Put yourself in the position of that wheelchair racer, ambulance driver, faster runner trying to get around you.

 

Finally, consider that you are truly missing out on the entire race day experience by shutting yourself off from it. And race days, even the bad ones, are some of the most memorable days of all!