Before getting into this post, I want to preface with my view of competition. I absolutely love each and every runner and triathlete that I have met in my life. They are a wonderful collection of motivating and encouraging people. I cannot get enough of them and absorb as many of them as possible into my life. It is a major reason why I started this blog, to become more connected to the running and triathlon communities. I wish them all nothing but the best in every race and will always make sure to encourage and motivate them before, during, and after the race. I also am of the belief that running is a race against the clock and with oneself. However, I do also believe that competition with others within a race can serve as a means to reach time goals and personal records. With this being said, we move on to the post.
When I began running back in seventh grade, I was an extremely weak mind. I recall searching for reasons to not run a race, to slow down, to cut a workout short, and to give in to the voice in my head that said “can’t”. I was always the “hunted” during races and almost never the “hunter”. I was inside my own head and this would knock me out of races before they even began.
Then during my sophomore year of college at Penn State, I experienced a drastic change on a crisp morning in Bloomington, Indiana during Club Cross Country Nationals. I was in the final 1.5 miles when I realized that I felt “good”. I took off. I began targeting various runners ahead of me and would track them down, each time identifying a new target to pass before the finish. Over the past few years, I have worked to further develop this mentality and have made it into a hunter/killer mentality. I have learned to identify motions and body language that indicate a fellow competitor is getting ready to throw in the towel. I employ techniques such as speeding up on corners, passing on hills, and many other techniques to track down the competition.
This past weekend, I was chatting with my coach about race strategy for Ironman St. George. Luckily for me, the race plays to my greatest strength, running. In Ironman, the swim and the bike are more about conserving energy so that you have enough left for the run. When the run begins, every ounce of energy left is laid on the line. Once the run portion of the race begins, one song will play in my head on repeat for those 26.2 miles: Clubbed to Death from The Matrix. While the song has quite the awful name, I promise it is a fantastic instrumental song to run to. Around the 3:58 mark in the song, it launches into a beat that takes over my body when I hear it. For me, it is the blood in the water. My eyes glaze over and look through everything in front of me as I stare off into the distance. My body loosens and my legs quicken and I track down every athlete in front of me. Once I have entered this realm, there is no coming back. I zone out and let my body take over the race. All feelings of pain and thoughts of doubt disappear and everything going on around me is reduced to white noise. It is the killer within that leads me to my goals and this race…to Kona.
Always in Stride,
Quote – “To move into the lead means making an act requiring fierceness and confidence. But fear must play some part…no relaxation is possible, and all discretion is thrown into the wind.” -Roger Bannister