Monday, July 11, 2011

Post-Race Head Case

I think the amount of time it takes to prepare for an event is directly proportional to the amount of post-event mental disturbance I experience. I don't obsess much following a 5k, but that's because I can decide to run a 5k the morning of the race and run it without any extra preparation. Following a marathon is an entirely different story.

Today is a scheduled rest day following yesterday's triathlon. To be honest, I've had absolutely no trouble taking today off because it's 100 degrees and humid outside and I want nothing more than to soak up the beautiful air conditioning.

But just because I'm resting my body, that doesn't mean my mind has slowed down. I definitely have that post-race hangover that involves several things:
1) Repetitive Race Assessment
2) Renewed Enthusiasm and Dedication
3) Addictive Race-Seeking Behavior

I know yesterday's post was super long, so I'll just talk about the first post-race habit today.

Repetitive Race Assessment
When I got married, I was heavily involved in the planning and execution of the wedding day. It took months of preparation and work to create the event. After all of that work, the actual wedding seemed to fly by way too fast and it was over before we knew it. I think big races are similar.

I train for months to run a marathon. Liz and I trained for months to do the triathlon. And then the actual races are over in a matter of hours. It can seem a little anti-climactic if you don't learn to savor the event.

After a big race, I find myself reliving memorable moments for several reasons... One is to really take it all in and make the most of it. Another is to acknowledge any improvement I might have made after all of that hard work. But another reason I replay races so often is to look for things that I still could have done better... searching for wasted time I could squeeze out of my performance.

In a race that lasts as long as the marathon, there are a lot of opportunities to make mistakes. I have never finished a marathon and thought, "I couldn't have done that better. I didn't leave any time out on the course." I missed qualifying for Boston by just over 4 minutes when I ran the Cincinnati Marathon last year. I could name several times during that race that I could have made up that 4 minutes.

In fact, I've only run one Half Marathon that I was completely satisfied with. When I ran the Disneyland Half Marathon last year, I decided the night before the race that I was going to change my goal from just having fun with it, to having fun while seeing if I can run a time much faster than I thought I could. I set a goal that was very ambitious, took off hard from the start, never let up on the pace over the entire 13.1 miles, and finished in a time I didn't know I could reach. I still look back on that race and think I ran it the absolute best I could for the condition I was in at the time.

That feeling hasn't happened since.

And that's good, because it gives me another reason to keep training and working. I always feel like there's room for improvement.

So... Lessons I learned from yesterday's triathlon:
-Checking out the swim course the day ahead is a huge help for calming the nerves.
-Avoid a mob of swimmers by taking the turns wide on the swim course.
-I think I can get through a triathlon this length (or shorter) without socks. They took a long time in the transition area and I don't think I really need them.
-A second water bottle cage would be helpful on my bike for races this hot.
-Don't trust how fast I feel like I'm going in the run. I felt like I was running much slower than I was and I still could have run faster. I held back too much in the last two miles.
(Frazz by Jeff Mallett)

I had a great time yesterday and it was definitely a positive experience. I'm happy with how the whole day went and can't wait to do another tri. I just can't help going back over the race and trying to streamline my performance.

Goal For The Day: Rest
Distance: 0.00 Miles

Notes: The high yesterday was 99 degrees with the heat index between 112 and 115. I'm glad they schedule races early. We hid inside the rest of the day and I'm still a little tired today. It's even hotter today and looks to be a hot week. Back to marathon training tomorrow!

Daily Miles: 0.00 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 80.11 Miles.
  Bike - 62.51 Miles.
  Swim - 3,700+ meters.


  1. So my (uneducated) thoughts on a triathlon...would the vibram 5 finger shoes be the perfect shoes for the event? They're designed to go in water, so you could swim in them, ride in them, and then run in them without having to take them on/off.

    btw, congrats and excellent job on the race!

    in other news, I found your blog to be very inspirational. I found that when I read about running from runners, I just want to get out there and run. So yesterday, I knew that if I got out of work just on time and didn't waste any time at home, I could get a couple miles in before I went to my krav maga class. Turned out to be a great warm-up for class, and all of our in-class warm-ups seamed unexpectedly easier.

  2. I thought about the fivefingers for a tri. I haven't had them in the water yet so I have no idea how it feels to swim with them. Then I'm sure they would be great for the run portion. The problem is, I wear cycling shoes that clip to my pedals on my bike. So I would have to change out of the fingers for the bike and then back in for the run.

    I'm glad you're getting something out of the blog. I didn't think other people would really find it interesting. You'll have to tell me about krav maga when you come to town. I've heard it's cool.