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“Dispatch” is an online column from Triathlete Editor-at-Large Holly Bennett that features pro updates, industry news, happenings afield and otherwise random reports related to multi-sport. Look for “Dispatch” every Thursday on Triathlete.com. Look back on the other “Baker’s Dozen” entries from Bennett.
I knew at some point during this year I would race twice in one month to fulfill my goal to complete at least a baker’s dozen (13) of competitions within a 12-month period. So why not seize the opportunity to race back-to-back weekends on opposite sides of the earth?
As the crow flies, it’s 6,478 miles from Taiwan (where I was just over a week ago, racing and reporting on Challenge Taiwan) to my home in Boulder. As American Airlines flies (including airport shuttles and layovers), it’s a 27-hour door-to-door trip. Well rested I was not. In fact, after racing the swim and half marathon relay legs in Taiwan, spending a celebratory late night clubbing in Taipei, making the long-haul journey home, experiencing the lung-crushing shock of a return to altitude and suffering jet lag that prevented me from sleeping more than four consecutive hours all week, racing again so soon was probably a stretch. But on Friday night, two beers deep into a conversation with a friend, it made perfect sense. “I’m racing a 10-miler on Sunday. Want to join me?” she asked. “Are you kidding? Of course I do,” I replied, ordering us another round.
I’m not going to lie–after waking up at 2:30 a.m. on race morning (darn you, jet lag) I considered excusing myself from the start line. But I’m not one to back out of a plan with friends, so I sucked up my exhaustion, donned my SOAS Racing kit and headed out into the warm spring morning. Glancing at my wrist just prior to the 8:30 a.m. start I realized I still had my running watch set to Taiwan time, where it was 10:30 at night. For some reason, with my body and sleep schedule so out of whack, that seemed appropriate. I’ve always been a first-thing-in-the-morning exerciser, but who knows–maybe night running would become my new thing? Then again, maybe not. My race went a little something like this:
Miles 1-3: Dang! I’m on top of the world! My muscles don’t feel fatigued at all. I’m a racehorse! A rock star! Look at me go!
Mile 4: Oh. Wait a minute.
Miles 5-7: Just hang on. You’re halfway through an out and back course–all you have to do is get back. Yes, you’re panting louder than a dog in labor. Yes, it feels as though a fire is raging in your lungs. Yes, that’s yet another runner passing you. Ignore all that and ease up now, then kick it up a notch for the last three miles.
Miles 8-9: Kick it up a notch, my ass! I’m clinging on for dear life!
Mile 10: It should be easy from here–just like four swift laps around a track. So why does it feel like my legs are stuck in quicksand and my lungs are filled with cement? This. Hurts.
Normally I smirk at people who positive split their races. It seems a sure sign of an immature athlete. Don’t they know better? Obviously if you got out far too fast you’ll blow up spectacularly by the end. But then again, sometimes you just feel good and want to go for it. It’s that whole risk vs. reward thing. I suppose you really never know what might happen until you try, even though failure is an option you may be forced to reckon with. Complacency is boring, and I do believe it’s important at times to push your body beyond its comfort level to learn what it can do.
Equally important, I now know, is to learn what it can’t do–and why certain things (sleep, for example) actually are vital. I took a nap as soon as I returned home after the race, and I’ve taken another one each day since. Finally last night I logged a solid and successive eight hours of shut-eye. Today I feel like an entirely new human being–one who’s eager to get back to a regular training and recovery routine and hone in on my next race.
RELATED – Dispatch: The Baker’s Dozen At Challenge Taiwan
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