I came into 2012 without any major goals, a fact which I struggled with quite a bit, so that means no report card ... and I didn't keep track of my mileage as well as I have in the past (I seem to be getting a bit more relaxed), so my reflection of 2012 is a look back on reminders, lessons learned and pearls of wisdom I gained over the last 12 months.
Oh, and for those of you who are new here, I did finally stumble across a few goals for 2012, including a big one which will spill into 2013. This summer I raced several short triathlons (even placing in my AG!) in an effort to go fast and have fun while searching for a bigger goal ... which is running 100 miles at Rocky Raccoon on Feb 2/3, 2013.
Without further ado, in no particular order ...
1 - Completing a race and racing a race are very different feats.
This one might be obvious to the rest of you. I "knew" this already, but I really experienced it this year. In my 100 mile preparation I have used a lot of races as training runs. Going into a race that is really a training run means finishing the race with something left in the tank, sometimes a lot left in the tank. This makes a huge difference in how I feel the days after the event.
I did do some racing this year, mostly short triathlons and the Chicago Half Marathon. I PR'd the Chicago Half at 1:44:14 without a lot of speed work to prep. I had a good mileage base because I had already started my Rocky 100 training, but the weekend of the race I played tourist walking around Chicago and the weekend before I did a 60K. Race morning I decided to jump in with the 1:45 pace group and hold on as long as I could ... and I held on! My legs, however, were trashed for days after the race. Compare that to the 12 hour race I did in November where I logged 53 miles and felt absolutely fine the next day.
2 - Making time for recovery is important.
I never used to pay much attention to recovery, in fact I lamented about not having time for recovery back in 2009 when training for IMFL. I don't know if my age is catching up to me or it is simply what I am asking my body to do, but I am finding that I need recovery. Rest days, foam rolling, the stick, and most importantly, my NormaTec Recovery Boots. I can say with confidence that the boots have made a HUGE difference in my training and recovery. Check out my product review on the boots for more info.
3 - Learn to be flexible with your nutrition.
Consider this ... you spend your season dialing in your nutrition. You have it down to a science and you are ready to execute your well researched plan on race day. You start the race and all is going well ... but at some point become turned off by your nutrition of choice. Now what? Practice variety and you will be ready. I know that I will be racing for 24 to 30 hours at Rocky so I am planning for the unexpected. My staples will include a variety of PowerBar products (link for product review), PBJ, boiled potatoes and potato soup.
4 - It's all in your head.
Fear. Doubt. Pain. Your mind will play tricks on you if you let it, so don't let it. In the words of Christopher Robin to Pooh, "Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."
I put this into practice at the Reveille Ranch 60K when I was sick to my stomach with a twisted ankle and a blister the size of a half dollar. Check out the linked race report on my experiences of overcoming pain and adversity during a race.
5 - There's more than one way to skin the cat (no offense to the cats).
Another obvious one. For every person training for a triathlon, marathon, ultra,
6 - It's all perspective
Whether I am running 4 miles or 50 miles, the last 2 miles are my "victory lap". If I set out to run 4 miles, running more than that would feel like a chore, but if I set out to run 20 it isn't a chore. It's perspective because it's all in your head (see #4).
7 - Everyone needs a little help sometimes
Everyone starts as a rookie. Don't be afraid to ask for help. I feel really lucky to be a part of some pretty incredible organizations like Rev3 Triathlon, Bicycle World and Fitness and more recently Tejas Trails. I learn so much from my teammates and other athletes that I race and train with. Social media makes it so easy to get connected to others that have the same interests and goals that you do. Finally, to quote Dr. Seuss, "Those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind."
8 - Support those that support you
See #7 and #12
9 - Don't just go through the motions
I know that I am guilty of this one. Do speed work on speed work days and hills on hill days. Time on your feet, in the pool or saddle all matter, but pushing yourself is what makes your better, faster and stronger.
10 - Size matters
If your dreams don't scare you, they may not be big enough ... also see #4.
11 - Don't be afraid to try something new
My kids are so bad about this, I have no idea where they get it?
Kids: Mom, that looks soooo gross.
Me: Have you tried it?
Me: Try it! (followed by bribes or threats)
Kids: Hmmm, that is good. I want more, please.
Once upon a time there was a girl who did all of her running on the road because she didn't think she liked running on trails (or even a dirt path). That girl is running 100 miles on trails in just over a month.
12 - Pay it forward
I love this one. A good reminder for all of us. Pick up a piece of trash on the trails, give away that encouragement you got when you really needed it to someone else who needs it. Give away a gel if someone is without, share your extra batteries, tissue ... you catch my drift!
That's it ... those are mine. I would love to hear a few of yours!