Race Week is Here Again

The trouble with not writing regularly is that once you fall out of the habit, it’s really hard to get back into it. And the whole prospect of putting your thoughts to paper can feel a bit overwhelming .

The same can be said for racing. Not that racing ever gets easy, of course. But when you do it often, you fall into a rhythm. The prep, the nerves, the adrenaline…it becomes part of the everyday noise. The thrill of an upcoming race excites instead of cripples; creates a manageable hum instead of full out nausea.

Right now I’m out of practice with both. Writing was once a huge part of my work and personal life. Now it’s a background activity. And racing? In high school and college I would race at least once a week. And I continued a habit of regular races throughout my twenties. But over the past couple of years, the number of times I have toed the starting line has decreased dramatically. And suddenly I find myself transported back to my first tri meet during freshman year of high school. The shaking nerves, the anxiety, the lack of confidence about what would happen when the gun went off. I’ve got it all.

The only difference? I now know that once the race starts, instinct will take over. My body will move independently of my brain. I know how to push, I know how to hurt. No matter how the race unfolds, the process of racing is instinctual. A bit rusty, perhaps, but the basics never go away.

hilly runScene from a hilly VT run

So what do you do when you’re out of practice? You jump right in! To a short and rambling blog post. To a weekend filled with racing.

That’s right — it’s race week in the HOTR-household. Or rather, race weekend. The races are here! Tonight I will be heading down to Manchester, NH for the Cigna 5K with a team from work. It’s an annual activity that’s awful and fun at the same time (Oh — traveling almost an hour to run a 5K on a hot August evening is not at the top of your Fun List?). This 5K also happens to be the first 5K Evan has ever beaten me in (not race, just 5K)….so as you can imagine, the stakes are high.

Then to continue the fun, we’ll be heading up to Stowe, VT on Saturday to run the 100on100 Relay. This will also be my very first weekend away from Amelia…ever. That’s right — it has taken me over a year and a half to leave my daughter overnight. My pre-motherhood self would be horrified. But that’s a story for another day…

Last year was the first year I ran 100on100 and it is nothing short of amazing. Exhausting in a different way than an overnight relay (same distance to run per person – less time to rest in between legs). I’m so excited that our team, Tread Lightly, will be back for Year 2. But this year feels like higher pressure. I’m running the same legs (Runner #2 for those who know the course – with a last leg up Mt Killington – barf) and so of course I want to do them faster. Even though there’s no real indication in my training that I am capable of doing so.

But I have been training. Never as much as I feel like I should, but there have been some great runs….and some crappy ones. Some speed work and hills and long runs and rest days. I’ve been reflecting a lot on training in general over the past couple of months, actually. And thinking about why I’m so quick to make excuses about what I’ve done at this point – why I’m so hesitant to even call it training. Despite the fact that I’ve fallen into a manageable rhythm, there’s still this tiny voice way in the back of my mind telling me I should do more. Relatively speaking, I’m running much less now than I used to. Taking more rest days. Where weekends used to revolve primarily around running (the prep, the run, the recovery), now they’re focused on lower impact activities. So it’s easy to discredit the work I am doing; to feel like it’s not enough.

walkingAmelia’s favorite activity – walking (or running!!) up and down and up and down the street.

 But the reality is I’m not training for marathons at the moment. My mileage, while lower, is not nothing. I may run less than 35 miles a week, but there’s structure to those runs. I push hard some days and recover on others. I hit the roads at 5:00 when I’d rather be sleeping, face the heat of the middle of the day to get my body acclimated, and seek out big hills when I’d rather run the flattest route possible. Could I do more? Most certainly. But I’m also proud of the work I have put in. Proud of the balance I’ve been able to strike between motherhood, work, and running (even though some weeks things feel anything but).

So I am determined to go into this weekend confident. This is my pep talk to myself. I am strong. I am able. And it’s going to be F-U-N.

Now you’ll have to excuse me. Just typing this post has caused my heart to race and hands to shake. If you need me, I’ll be in the bathroom….



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