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The weekend

February 3, 2013

On Saturday Midtown Athletic Club (along with several other local clubs) hosted the annual Cycle for Hope. Participants raised and / or donated money to ride 1-6 hours and helped to raise money for Camp Good Days. I was fortunate to ride 5 of those hours and then teach the Tour de Cure spin class at the end, allotting me 6 hours for the day. At the end of the recovery week it felt extra good to not only be on the bike for 6, but to be doing it for good causes.

Riding 6 hours is not something to applaud me for. I have been doing that for over ten years. A six hour ride is not an enormous feat. Try being a cancer patient for one hour, much less six. THAT is an enormous feat. What I get to do…. is easy. It takes, fitness, proper fueling….. and a reason. With training it is something anyone can do. I don’t take that for granted. I also don’t see it as something being special, I see it as an honor and a privilege. I get to use my health and the gifts I was given as an endurance athlete. I ride my bike, money gets raised for kids who need it.

Doesn’t get easier than that.

On Sunday morning we had the Spin for Charity at Studio Move. Marti Casper and Dylan Chase dedicate several Sunday mornings throughout the winter to several charities. Classes are donation based and 100% of those proceeds go to that week’s given charity. Hosted at Studio Move in Mendon, this week the chosen charity was our very own Teens Living With Cancer. This ride was only one hour, even easier than Saturday.

Of course as you know….. Teens Living With Cancer is near and dear to me. What made this event even more special… is that Luc came and rode for an hour right next to me. He has been involved with Teens Living With Cancer as well for the past year…. kind of as my sidekick. He’s been my silent partner through all of this.

I was really proud of him for coming and riding. He did amazing. It was really, really special to ride alongside him!

It was my plan to later race a 5K. Eeks. I know. I set the target to race a 5K at the very least at the end of each recovery week with the objective to get in there and practice learning how to hurt and learning how to race again. The timing was not ideal in terms of Saturday’s antics…. but it was $5 and it was at noon, 2 miles from my house. A chance to race is a chance to race.

My objectives in this race were very simple. As I stated one of them was to get in there and race, practice hurting. The second was to go hard enough to not injure myself. The third was to establish some kind of 5K time to work on improving. Any time my athletes run through the first test of the year I remind them….. be happy if the time is what you consider to be crappy. It’s February. I don’t even begin to race triathlon until May. My big race is in August. We don’t want to be PR’ing a 5K in the beginning of February. That’s not how progression and periodization work. We work systematically to peak at the right time. Give this about 12 more weeks and this time will come down. I love to see that progression happen.

I chose to pace this race by heart rate…. because trying to pace it by pace was just not a realistic target for the day. In all honesty we pace most of our races… especially Ironman… by heart rate. Why? A lot of folks say… I want to go XX:XX time in the Ironman, we call that an outcome related goal. They will say at the beginning of the season… I want to swim XX:XX, bike XX:XX and then run XX:XX.

Good, that’s fine. But where are we right now? Do our current abilities support that today or in 6 months? Maybe they do.

The gun goes off, there are 3,000 people swimming together. The athlete comes out of the water 1 minutes behind their target time. That sets the stage for the rest of the day. Then they get on the bike and it’s 10 degrees hotter than expected, with an unexpected headwind of 30 miles an hour as opposed to the 10 they were expecting. Behind a little more. It’s a downward spiral.

When we pace by HR and utilize power and pace to set a loose guideline….. we allow the day to unfold. Instead of outcome related targets we work with process related targets. We control what we can control in that moment. Now picture the same athlete. Instead of shooting for a swim time per se we work on certain targets in the swim. Get on someone’s feet. Stay with the pack. Once out onto the bike our athletes know how to adjust HR ranges to compensate for the heat. The headwind becomes a nonexistent factor because we look to stay with HR and watch that our power remains within the range that we set.

Depending on weather alone the winning time can vary 30-45 minutes year to year.

Working on the process and the things we can control in a race creates a really positive race atmosphere for our athletes. We execute the process and let the cards fall where they fall. Even in Kona. And our results speak for themselves. Click here for those.

So for this little 5K, I stuck with process targets. And a quote that a friend posted on his facebook page. I had every excuse in the world to not hit my targets today and trust me, they were legit.

“Sometimes you just feel tired, feel weak. And when you feel weak, you feel like you just wanna give up. But, you gotta search within you, try to find that inner strength. And just pull that s**t out of you, and get that motivation to not give up and not be a quitter- No matter how bad you wanna just fall flat on your face and collapse.”

Marshall Mathers (aka Eminem)

This wasn’t about the 5K. It was about the process of racing and my approach. Too typically I show up without much thought for myself. I have athletes and life to worry about. This season I am carving out that whole 5 minutes to focus on myself, my process. I am allowing myself and my performances to be important as well.

My coach would kick my ass if I didn’t. My coach is me!

After the Spin for Charity I dropped Luc off at home and made my way over to RIT. The weather was perfect. 25 degrees but the roads were 100% clear. I pulled into the parking lot amidst many… many runners. Wow… I thought… everyone is out getting a good warm up in. Geez… that guy is running a little hard for a warm up. Why is everyone running a warm up together? Realization hit. I looked at the printed entry I had sent in. The date stated Feb 5, 2012. 2012. A quick look up on my phone…. I had missed the start by at least 30 minutes. UGH!

More like GIANT F BOMB.

I sat there for a minute. face booked it. Called my husband, laughed at myself. Texted Wheeler. Stories from him and several others started to come in about how races have been missed by hours, days and even a week. It happens.

I looked out the window of my car. Screw this I said. I threw open the door, gulped some water. Turned on my garmin and started to run. After 5 minutes of warm up I dropped the hammer. I glued myself to my target HR and I ran the inner loop of RIT. The cold suddenly disappeared and my irritation with myself became my fuel.

There was not one thought between my ears.

My pace was off as expected but I was here to run for a reason. It wasn’t about time it was about getting my head in the game.

It went fine. I was alone. Nothing dramatic was happening. I had wanted to aim to pass some people in this race. Ahead of me was a guy walking his dog. Mary the guy is walking… doesn’t matter… PASS HIM AND PASS HIM LIKE YOU MEAN IT! It didn’t take long. Ahead a girl was walking with a pretty heavy book bag. She became my next target. Sad… but necessary. No they weren’t running…. or even aware of what I was doing. It didn’t matter. I passed two people. Bam.

The finish was non dramatic. Theirs was gone. I used a crack across the road. I tasted blood in the back of my throat. That is what I was here for. To get comfortable being uncomfortable. I did that and I did it well. I could have just as easily gone home.

Mission of the weekend accomplished. I have much work ahead of me but I know what that work is now when it comes to running. I have body comp to improve, hours to hit and paces and power to nail down. I am on my way.

The most important thing to me about this weekend…. through my athletic abilities I was able to do what I love (sport) to help raise a little bit of cash for three good causes:

1. Camp Good Days

2. Teens Living With Cancer.

3. The RIT Women’s soccer team.

All I had to do was bike and run? For real? For real. I train and workout and people benefit. That’s the real victory from all of this.

I call this a win win weekend for everyone.

As far as 2013 goes….. I am spot on track, which is a great feeling considering what I have been through the past few seasons. To be on the upswing feels good. I am confident in my progress, in my team…. and in the plan. Bam. Game on.

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