Monday, June 10, 2013

The race switch

Tend not to race often. But when I do I don’t seem to be able not to fully commit to the race and ‘race’ it. Even in a ‘training’ race I’d go a bit faster than I should have.

Last weekend I got to visit one of New Zealand’s premier multisport locations for a ½ marathon trail run. It was the usual NZ bush run in a great super-scenic setting .

I didn’t have any ambitions, as it was at the end of a busy week. We travelled 200 odd kilometers on the day, which meant a 4:30am start. We didn’t have a lot of time for stretching or warming up. But it didn’t matter, it was good to be out in the trail ready for a bit of action. I’ve been unable to go out of the city for over a month and was keen to get back in the soft surface.

A bit underdone by lack of hill-specific training, I thought I still had a chance to do well. All of a sudden it was less than 2min to go. I placed in, and for the next minute and a half I enjoyed the effects of turning the race switch on:

The heart rate slowly raising, the muscles tensed and alert. The breathing getting lighter and the head thinking on the past weeks training and how every session was clinically placed to produce what would be today’s outcome. The eyes scan for the competition, look for familiar faces and the ones that look to make the front pack. The chest broadens and the arms get into swing.

And then we’re off.

A shot of adrenaline shoots through the muscles, we all go hard for 100/200 metres and then harder, sorting the field as we advance. The mind gets focused on the road ahead, any obstacles and a check of form, of the self and the people around. The eyes move 5 to 7 metres ahead and start looking at clean paths that the body will follow.

It is not aggression, is the alertness, determination and synch of it all that makes the turning of the race switch an exhilarating experience.

The fun continues for a few minutes and then is back to business, another check of the form, tactics, banter and the other more mundane aspects of racing.

As for the race itself it was a great result, 3rd overall. I paid for my lack of climbing, but I was proud to hang on to the two tough guys that beat me. I was even prouder of my downhill running.

It is good to be reminded of another reason why I race. I race to turn the race switch. And what a great feeling that is.

Stay safe out there, and get muddy.