For my last long training run, I raced a trail marathon. Trail running is like zen running (and the trail running community is awesome, another blog post). Not once did I think about holding a particular pace, racing another person, or finishing in a certain time. I simply ran on "feel", pacing myself to complete 26.2 hilly miles to my best ability. I was absolutely, 100% positive that I was going to finish the race, and finish it without walking. This quiet and calming confidence moved me up from 10th, to 5th, and then finally taking the lead at mile 20. From mile 20 on, I was in it to win it. Though I was running a marathon with over 5000' of climbing, and on no rest, the thought of not finishing, or even walking ever crossed my mind. Why is it that I've never had this feeling in any of my five ironmans? I suspect it is because I am so worried about racing and/or maintaining a certain pace. I put this theory to test during my brick run today. Off the bike, I immediately tapped into this zen state of mind, and solely ran on "feel". My mental outlook was so different. Rather than wanting the run to end, I felt like I could run for as long as I needed. I'm so stoked to have had this revelation. I have no idea if I'm going to have the race of my life in two weeks, but I know for certain that I have a tool to get me one step closer.
Before the sabbatical, I would have never dared to run a marathon on no rest or taper, and then to follow it up with a 5 hour ride and 6 mile run brick the following day. But now I know it's possible because I've seen countless other athletes doing it day in day out. I think about Ben who raced 4 ironmans in a five-week period, or Andrew racing a 9:06 at ironman New Zealand, a 4:30 at Singapore 70.3, and then finishing under 9:30 at ironman Australia all within a five week period. I also think about Charisa and Ian who are just absolute workhorses. And then there's Bree who is the toughest competitor I know. She is relentless and she will push you until she collapses. And did I mention Bek Keat, Javier Gomez, Emma Snowsill, and Belinda Granger, all of whom I had the privilege of seeing "at work". I am constantly reminded of a particular Kiwi who told me: "Kiet, the secret is just train hard - race hard. Never stop." And to HTFU.
And in between all of this HTFU training, it's nice to be reminded of other things like spending time with the cute knee-biters.
70.3 Liuzhou Race Story
2 weeks ago