One Week Left to the Adventure
After six months of solid training, race day (or should I say race days) is almost here. There’s no better feeling than being excited about a race you’ve been training for.
I can honestly say that it’s been many years since I’ve been so excited about participating in a race. I think the last time I was this excited was in 2008 when I did my first 100-mile race. That time, I was more nervous than excited — this time is pure excitement.
The last couple of weeks before a race can be a tricky:
As for most athletes, tapering for me is probably the hardest and least enjoyable part of the training. Our head and bodies go crazy during this phase of our training. We start doubting ourselves and our training. “Did or didn’t we do enough?”
We can’t help wonder about doing one last hard workout to make sure our fitness is still there and that we still feel as strong as that last great day.
We feel totally lazy and therefore can’t help but think that all of our fitness is just disappearing. Aaggghh!!
What about those “new aches”? Isn’t it crazy how parts of our body that never hurt before decide to start acting up all of a sudden? Oh my gosh!
And of course, let’s not forget about the feeling of gaining at least 15 extra pounds since that last long run.
It sucks doesn’t it?
Tapering also requires us to become part mathematicians. How much to drink? How many grams of carbs? Do I take one or two gels per hour based on my body type? Do I start at this pace or should I start 10 seconds per mile slower? It’s almost too much!
All this thinking, doubting, part nervousness, part excitement is crazy and it sucks and, well, … it is supposed to suck! If you are tapering and going through any or all of these symptoms, know that your taper is going well. I’d be more concerned if I didn’t feel this way.
My advice to you? Accept it all and deal with it.
While I am confident in the training I’ve been doing, realistically, I am also keenly aware that there are parts of the race I’m not prepared for. Such as the altitude (the race takes place at altitudes between 9,000 to 13,000 feet). It’s kind of hard to simulate that on the east coast.
I am also aware that some of those ‘Rockies inclines’ will make me cry. While I have run some pretty good inclines here on the east coast, I don’t think any of them will compare. Take, for example, Hope Pass on the second day of the race: a 2.5-mile uphill with about 3,000 feet elevation gain. The closest I came to that was when I ran up Okemo Mountain in Vermont, and that’s half the gain.
Let face it, even the fact that I’ll be sleeping on the ground inside a tent instead of my comfy bed will be an unknown. But you know what? I love me some “unknowns!” That’s why I chose this race, for the “unknowns.”
I hope and want this experience to be hard and challenging. I want to get to that edge where my brain is between “this sucks” and “this is awesome.” What would be the fun if everything we do was easy, right?
For me a race only has meaning if I am fully invested in it. Only if my life has been revolving around my training, and only if the training has been a part of each and every day (whether actually running, recovering or preparing the next training week), do I know I care enough about the race.
While I feel physically ready to deal with the distance and the inclines, mentally I feel even more confident to deal with whatever I have to deal with, just because I am so excited about this event.
Confidence and excitement is more than half the battle when we race!
I am a believer that if you want something really badly, you will find a way to achieve it. In the case of running, it may not be as fast as other races, and it may not be pretty, but if you are smart at setting your own goals, there’s no reason for you to fail at trying.
In the past I remember being nervous when I lined up at the starting line of a marathon shooting for that big PR, or at the start of my first Ironman 17 years ago, and definitely before my first 100-mile race. For this one, I am not nervous, not a bit. Why? I think I am just excited to deal with it. Of course that may change in the days right before the race, but today, as I’m writing this, I’m as calm as a turtle. (Question: are turtles really calm, or do they just look it?)
Competition vs. Enjoyment
This final week is also about studying the course, planning logistics and of course, the packing!
There’s only one thing I still have to decide before the start of the race on Tuesday, August 11: “Do I push the race to try and do as well as possible (compete), or do I just really concentrate on enjoying every mile of it and getting those pretty cool pictures up on the mountains?”
Part of me would like to see how much I can push this 48-year-old body, but part of me doesn’t want to miss the beauty of the course and the opportunity to “socialize” while up there. I think I am prepared for both, and I am sure that will be a game-day decision. Stay tuned.
Motivation and Dedication
Like many of you out there, I am a person that drives on inspiration from others. Since I am sure I’ll be spending plenty of time with myself and my thoughts, I’ll have plenty of time to think. I am dedicating each of the days to people who have inspired me and people that I am keeping in my thoughts as they go through some hard times:
- JD. This good friend and amazing athlete is battling the bravest fight of her life.
- Vicente. This friend from my hometown in Spain is currently in a coma from a bike accident.
- Raquel Klaufer. This amazing lady — who shares a nickname with me (Raqui) — inspires me everyday.
- Aaron Purmort. The true Spiderman and the person that brought us Still Kickin!
- Kelly Cravey. My boss! A true, strong cancer fighter!
- Kate Davis. The little girl (no so little anymore) has inspired me since I got involved in the charity world.
Of course, a journey like this is never traveled alone. I want to thank Michael Conlon and Finish Line Physical Therapy for getting me here and for literally making this adventure a reality, for the support and for taking care of this old body so I can handle all that was needed in training. It will be an honor representing Finish Line.
Time to have fun, bring on those inclines, bring on that lack of oxygen!
Want to follow me? Results will be posted here. We’ll see you on the other side!
Coach Ramon Bermo has been an athlete for 37 years and a coach for 17. He completed his 60th marathon this year and has finished 13 Ironman triathlons and multiple ultra marathons in addition to hundreds of other races varying in distances. Ramon is the founder and coach of Tri2B and currently works as the Senior Director and Head Coach for the American Cancer Society DetermiNation program. Through the years, he has coached thousands of athletes in achieving their athletic dreams through such programs as NYU running club, Niketown, Team in Training, DetermiNation and Tri2B. Without a doubt, his favorite coaching moment was watching his 12-year-old daughter complete her first triathlon.