Wednesday, May 18, 2016

RACING FOR FUN:A TOP 10 LIST

Back in December of 2014, my running teammate, Kirsten, and I picked the Maine Coast Marathon (MCM) for our spring marathon.  In January of 2015 it started snowing and it didn't stop until April or maybe longer; I can't be sure as I seem to have blocked it out.  I tried my damnedest to train through it, but I missed several key workouts and long runs because I couldn't get outside.  By the end of March, I realized I had two choices, I could run the MCM as planned and just shift my goals and expectations based on the training I'd been able to do or I could push it off completely and find something later in the season.  Hmmmm.  Meanwhile, Kirsten, who had injured her foot back in the fall but assumed she'd be good to go by May, was, in fact, not good to go.  In April, her doctor told her she wasn't fully healed and that a May marathon would likely put her right back where she started.  Well, that would suck and she sure as hell wasn't going to risk it so the MCM was officially out for her.  So, now it's mid-April and I had to ask myself if I really wanted to head up to Maine on a solo mission to run a sub-par marathon just for the hell of it.  The answer, I finally decided, was no.  Fortunately, the MCM had a deferral option that gave us automatic entry for the following year at a discounted rate which we both took advantage of.  Thus Kirsten would have the time she needed to heal and re-build and I was able to jump into a June marathon instead of the MCM which gave me the time I needed to make up for the training I'd lost. Problem solved.  About four months later, we both successfully completed the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon, which was a fantastic race that we really enjoyed (yes, we do a lot of them).  The plan after that was to take a break and then begin our training for the 2016 MCM which we were already registered for.  But plans rarely stay in place, particularly when it comes to running.  As many of you already know, I up and joined the Loopsters and many of my Oiselle teammates out in LA in February to watch the Olympic Marathon trials on Saturday and then to race the LA marathon on Sunday.  It was an opportunity that I couldn't pass up and while it was worth every second it took everything out of me and by the time I got back home and the dust had settled I realized that a May marathon was just not in the cards for me.  At this point, Kirsten was fully committed and her training was ramping up, so rather than bail all together, I decided I would still join in her in Maine but rather than running the full marathon, I'd jump in with here for the second half.  Thus, she gets a wingman and I get stress free road trip and a long run with a friend.  It's a win-win.  It's not often that I head off for these race adventures with no agenda other than to have a good time.  And, from the minute I started to prepare for our departure all the way through to the drive back home, I took note of the very significant differences between racing for fun versus racing with my eyes on the prize - whatever that may be.  Here's what I discovered...

TOP 10 REASONS TO SCRAP YOUR RACE PLAN & RUN FOR FUN



1. There is absolutely zero packing anxiety when you're racing for the hell of it.  Forget your Body Glide?  Whatevs, you can just grab something similar at CVS when you get there.  Don't have enough GUs?  Not a prob....just throw some jelly beans or M&Ms in your bag and hope for the best.
2. When you aren't worried about your race day performance, you can eat whatever you want all week up through the morning of the race itself.  Ok, no, I wouldn't experiment with a Chia seed burrito the night before the race, but at the same time, I could stray from my normal diet of bagels and pasta for multiple dinners in a row.
3. If you're not worried about your race time, you can stay up later with friends the night before and enjoy a glass of wine without an ounce of guilt.  Personally, I did not do either of these things as Kirsten and I were pretty wiped from our road trip and ended up  going to bed early.  I know, not a shocker.  But, still, it's a nice option.
4. When you're planning to take it easy, you don't really need to taper the week before which means you won't be dealing with the usual TAPER MADNESS.  That's all I need to say about that.
5. No race agenda means no pre-race freakout.  On race morning, I was excited to meet up with Kirsten but my usual pre-race jitters remained behind.  That was easily one of the best differences.
6. My typical pre-marathon ritual includes checking the weather at least 20 times a day for the entire two weeks leading up to race day.  Sure, I wasn't thrilled about the prospect of running in the rain or the heat for two hours, but at the same time, it wasn't going to impact my game plan, so it was not something I was checking on a regular basis.
7. With no pace plan there is no need to check your watch every mile during the race.  That's a huge relief.  Now, granted, I had planned to do this for Kirsten so she could take the pacing off her list but she's admittedly a bit obsessed with checking her watch through her races, so she took that job off my hands for this one.
8. Usually, when I've pushed hard and finished a race with nothing left in the tank, the post-race food and drink options aren't even remotely appealing.  This time around it ALL looked good and I was not afraid to help myself.
9. Normally, I'm hobbling back to my car, my hotel, my house, whatever; barely able to walk when I've "gone for it" on race day.  Stairs?  Forget it.  When you're just running for fun, your body thanks you by functioning as it should afterwards.  This was particularly nice for Kirsten as I was able to drive us home in her car giving her a much-needed break from having to deal.
10. Bottom line, regardless of the outcome, there's nothing like truly going for it on race day.  But, having had a grand old time this past weekend in ME, I now can appreciate how nice it is to sit back, relax and enjoy the ride (and the views).

Kennebunkport, ME on race day

Listen to this:
Runnin' - David Dallas

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