A good friend of mine always used to talk about “putting your hand in the fire” in reference to not being afraid to get in the mix and go to your limit in a race or training session. You see it all the time… athlete’s that are in good shape, talented, and have the ability, but are afraid or hesitant to get in the mix, put it all out there, hang on for dear life, and suffer on race day.
lyrics of one of my favorite rise against songs about the same thing, Satellite:
“You can’t feel the heat until you hold your hand over the flame
You have to cross the line just to remember where it lays
You won’t know your worth now, son, until you take a hit
And you won’t find the beat until you lose yourself in it
You can’t fill your cup until you empty all it has
You can’t understand what lays aheadIf you don’t understand the past
You’ll never learn to fly now
‘Til you’re standing at the cliff
And you can’t truly love until you’ve given up on it”
For me the that feeling is what it’s all about. It’s the reason I always get nervous on the start line. It’s not because I’m worried about how I’m going to do or how the race is going to go it’s because I know I’m about to willingly put myself in a lot of discomfort (putting my hand in the fire). Saturday I got a chance, after many months and another injury, to get back out there and get to that place and feel the “heat”.
Like i wrote about in my last post my training has been going really well with more of an overall balance. I was looking forward to racing to see just where I was race fitness-wise. The only hard running i have been doing has been uphill. That lets me work hard and minimize impact and overstriding. I don’t worry about pace. I just make sure I’m properly hurting on the climbs. I haven’t done any structured workouts either. I’ve just been trying to better my times on all my local climbs and chase some Strava CR’s. Maggie and I were talking on our run last tuesday about I probably hadn’t run a sub 7 mile since racing Oriflamme back in April. So Saturday was truly a test of how my new, sustainable method of training, would translate into racing. I didn’t rest at all going into the race. Monday through Friday leading up to the saturday race was just liked all the past weeks. 2 runs, 2 rides, and 2 hard strength sessions.
The race went very well. There were quite a few quick dudes on the start line ready to rip. Straight away I was in a 5 man/1 woman pack. Some cross country kids (college & HS) were leading the charge and I was just sitting in. We went through the first mile in 6:15 and it felt good, not hard at all, and it was by far the fastest mile I have run since racing oriflamme.
we hit the first little climb and 4 of the guys surged and got a little gap on me. i was thinking “shit they’re either going to smash me or crack”. I kept running my pace and a minute later they all came back to me and I took the lead. they were breathing really hard so I surged over the top and rolled the short descent opening up a gap. then it was on to the single track before the bulldog climb. i rolled it figuring my technical skills were better then theirs. by time i hit the start of the climb at 3 miles i couldn’t see anybody behind me.
i ran steady up the climb and then had a solid lead. i unleashed it on the descent and was hitting sub 5 min pace at times (probably why my quads felt like they hand knives stuck in them for two days after the race). the race was pretty much over at that point. I ran steady/hard the rest of the way but didn’t kill myself.
It was a really fun and good day. I’m always stoked to get a win but more than anything it was just good to feel everything (good and bad) that goes along with racing.
Maggie was the first woman and 4th overall in the 50k and set a new course record. She worked hard for that one. I saw her come through the last aid station and she was suffering but she kept her head down and got the course record by 30 seconds!
As we often do we celebrated that night at Priority Public House with some awesome beers and killer food.
Up next is the Endure the Bear 30k on 9/6, and then the race I’m really looking forward to, the Noble Canyon 50k on 9/20. I’m going to keep doing what I’ve been doing as it seems to be working.