I signed up for WHAT??!

January 21, 2018

 

 

Have you ever signed up for a race and then had buyer’s remorse? You hit the payment button and then get that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach? That goal that sounded so fun and exciting now made you want to throw up. And you thought “What did I just do???”

 

I felt that way with each and every new triathlon distance.  From my first sprint triathlon to my first iron distance race, I was always a bundle of nerves. Will an alligator eat me mid-stroke? Will I get a flat tire? Will I cramp on the run?

 

Ultimately, I loved training and learning from every triathlon. Whether it is a 5k, a sprint triathlon, a half century bike ride or a mile swim, something will always trigger that internal doubt.

 

Have you ever signed up for a race and then had buyer’s remorse? You hit the payment button and then get that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach? That goal that sounded so fun and exciting now made you want to throw up. And you thought “What did I just do???”

 

I felt that way with each and every new triathlon distance.  From my first sprint triathlon to my first iron distance race, I was always a bundle of nerves. Will an alligator eat me mid-stroke? Will I get a flat tire? Will I cramp on the run?

 

Ultimately, I loved training and learning from every triathlon. Whether it is a 5k, a sprint triathlon, a half century bike ride or a mile swim, something will always trigger that internal doubt.

 

first sprint tri - scary but did it! 

 

first 140.6 - scary but did it!

 

My biggest, hardest, scariest race that filled me with the most butterflies was my first 100 mile trail run last year. The conversation with the TBFF (Training Best Friend Forever), who lives nine hours from me, went like this:

 

Me: What do you think about us doing a 100 mile trail run in California next May?
TBFF: As a relay?
Me: Uh no. If I am going to fly all the way to California, I want to do the whole race individually.
TBFF: Ok
Me: Wait! Really? WOOHOO!!

 

There it was. We were going to do a 100-mile trail run in California. I knew it would be the biggest challenge of my athletic career and was I really ready for it? I had a year to plan and train for this event and I went about my research. I read race reports from that particular race, but also other 100 milers, followed a few ultramarathon Facebook pages, un-followed a few ultramarathon Facebook pages, downloaded podcasts and just started Googling.

 

The more research I did, the more I started to lose my nerve. Can I really do this? I had a good fitness base from long distance triathlon, but could my body and mind actually hold up to this tough demand? Could I stay awake for 30+ hours? Because of health issues, I went to both my rheumatologist and pulmonologist and got their blessing, although they both looked at me like I was crazy. I made lists of gear, clothing and nutrition that I would need. I found ultra-distance races that were within an hour or two from my house and incorporated them into my training plan. I used those races as training events to test out gear and nutrition.

 

I read countless articles and created a plan that would work for me and my family. The training plan allowed for a slow and effective buildup. I didn’t want to go into the race injured, so I knew that I had to be smart in my training. All of my long runs, unless they were races, were done by myself. Some of my 25 and 30 milers were done on Friday nights after a full day of work due to family commitments over the weekend. I mapped out two five-mile loops near my house and ran those over and over. It got to be mind-numbing, but they were close to my house and I felt safe. Training for a 100-mile trail race when the closest trail is over an hour away was a challenge. Thankfully, we have wide medians in my neighborhood that have grass, trees and roots that I was able to use as my “trails”. My shoe charm that said “SUCK IT UP” had made it through a few pairs of shoes and I was dialing in on my clothing, nutrition and race strategy. My TBFF and I were constantly chatting back and forth on our progress. Having the support of my husband and kids was HUGE. They were my sounding board, they kept me grounded and loved me through all my hangry times.

 

Just as with all the other scary-seeming goals, my preparation and faith carried me to the finish line. (top photo; read race report here)

 

Taking that next step in your racing adventure is hard. Whatever the event, you need to do your homework and be as prepared as you possibly can. You need to make sure that you have the time to properly train for the event so that you can enjoy the experience and stay healthy. While every race comes with some elements of the unexpected, you can minimize the hiccups as best you can. One way is to hire a coach. Your coach will have your best interests in mind and will get you to the starting line prepared so you can cross the finish line of that big, hard, scary race. Your coach will help you with logistics, create a solid training plan, and get your mind and body ready for your next adventure. You paid good money for your event, so prepare to enjoy it!

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