I remember when I was in high school, every time I laced up my cross country spikes I felt like a superhero. Dressing up was always accompanied by an electric anticipation each time I put the uniform on or slicked my hair back into a neat ponytail. The night before a race always carried with it a feeling of overwhelming anticipation. Butterflies dancing vigorously in my stomach, my thoughts deadpan on the moment of the gun going off. Regardless of the stakes, the level of excitement I carry with me feels like trying to capture lightning in a bottle.
Much like a painter in preparing a portfolio to showcase, racing feels like putting on display the countless hours of training I’ve subjected myself to. The desire to finish the journey set in part with nothing but integrity and heavy lungs. Coming across the finish line is sweet validation that all the mornings I didn’t hit snooze were worth it. It doesn’t take being an elite or professional athlete to recognize what an achievement it is to set a goal for yourself and see it through to the end. Hearing tales of pre-race rituals across different sports, listening to ways in which close friends prepare for their own pinnacles inspires me to keep pushing myself to mine. As I get ready to voyage 100 miles on foot, I thought I’d reach out to some of the ladies I look up to very much. Both train with as much heart and dedication as anyone I’ve ever met.
I posed five questions:
Do you have a mantra you tell yourself during a tough workout or race?
What is your favorite way to decompress?
What is your favorite pre & post-race meal?
What is your biggest motivation?
What is your favorite training or racing memory?
Here is what our resident sports nutritionist at GU Energy Labs, mountain climber extraordinaire, and dear friend Roxanne Vogel had to say:
Smooth is strong, strong is fast.
Massage, herbal tea before bed, epsom salt bath with lavender oil
Pre-race: brown rice cakes, almond butter and a banana. Post-race: Grass fed burger with pepper jack, grilled veggies, avocado, roasted Brussels sprouts, oven baked spicy sweet potato fries and dark chocolate and almond/coconut butter cups for dessert.
My workouts. Rise and grind! Thinking about my goals (races, mountains, etc.)-knowing that my training will get me closer to achieving them.
My favorite racing memory would be every time I finish something I didn’t know I was capable of finishing. Transrockies Run, Double summit of Mt. Diablo, summiting Denali. Proving to myself that I can push harder than I thought possible is the greatest feeling in the world!
This is what my co-worker, bad ass ultra and road runner, phenomenal chef and soul expanding super star friend Rebecca Murillo had to say:
- When workouts are getting really tough to push through, I ask myself “if you don’t push now, when?” as a reminder that the race will be just as tough, if not tougher! And there is always the mantra of “you are much stronger than you think you are,” which I have realized time and time again in races of all distances. It’s not like these things always work, there have been days when I can’t mentally get through a workout, or I feel disappointed, but even getting through a part of it is progress, and is helping me train a different part of myself.
- I love cooking and have always enjoyed spending an hour or two in the kitchen to take my mind off of things. It’s surprising how meditative chopping vegetables or measuring out ingredients is.
- Pre race I have a few meals I rotate through: steak and sweet potatoes with some good bread, curried salmon with veggies and brown rice, or a burrito. It’s a bit of a mixed bag but I definitely pay attention to how I’m feeling the night before and indulge a bit, I’ve also been known to go out and grab a slice of post-dinner pizza to make sure I’m not showing up to the start line hungry. Post-race I love a good burger and beer! But I will really eat anything salty at that point.
- My biggest motivation on days when I’m just not feeling it is to just convince myself to take the first few steps. When it feels like my bed is holding me hostage I convince myself to just get up and change into my running clothes. Its surprising how much my mood changes as soon as I put on some layers of spandex and dri-fit.
- My favorite racing memory is the Way Too Cool 50k. I was training through the race and my legs felt tired for the first 7 miles so I stopped trying to hang on to a group that had gone out ahead of me. I reminded myself I was just out there to have fun, and run some new trails. Surprisingly, towards the last miles of the race I started passing a few people, encouraging each one as I made my way closer to the finish. In the last mile I came upon 3 women within my sight, and realized if I passed them I would be in 4th place. I have never felt a surge like the one I did in that last mile! I chugged some Roctane and charged up the hill, passing each one, securing 4th place, and getting the BEST hug from my friend Alice Baker at the finish. It still makes me smile thinking of it.
Leading up to a race for me means playing my favorite music, on repeat, until I annoy every other human who has the misfortune of existing in the periphery to which they can hear, “Higher Love,” for the millionth time. It means annoying the sh*t out of my boyfriend and coach, asking incessantly, “You think I’m fit enough? Did I put in enough training? Should I be doing core today? Is it okay that I slept in a little extra?” It means writing little sticky notes to myself reminding me to take a deep breath and most of all to be proud of all that I’ve worked for.
I am fortunate enough to have a boss who writes me good luck cards before my big races, a coach who sends me pre-race emails that elicit all the feels and co-workers who make me laugh until I pee my pants. A boyfriend who puts up with my manic pre-race emotions, makes me the perfect cup of coffee every morning, pushes me to be a better athlete and most importantly to enjoy every moment, of each day, celebrating the fact that we are alive and healthy.
There is no one perfect way to prepare for a race, but my best advice is this; stay true to yourself. If you feel like eating a banana and Nutella for dinner the night before, do it! Watch movies in bed, drink a lot of water, and celebrate all the hard work you’ve put in. Leave everything you’ve got out there. A sweet friend of mine gave me this piece of wisdom, “plug into bliss and gratitude when things get tough and celebrate reaching that start line. It will carry you all the way through to the finish. Half the battle is just getting there in one piece.” I’ve put in a lot of early mornings, run through sniffles and a gnarly cough, dug through workouts I had no desire of doing and taught my body how to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Now for tomorrow, I’m just ready to dance!
Run Hapi and Healthy,