First race of the Bivouac Outdoor Wild Auckland series has been completed! We had some fantastic weather for the race at Tāpapakanga Regional Park last Sunday. Overall it was a stunning course, with great views, great weather, and some fantastically loud people at the aid station (seriously, you guys were awesome!), and encouraging race marshals.
It’s taken me a little time to mentally decompress after the race as it was also tougher than expected. This was partly because the course itself was a bit of a tough one, particularly with the rough ground in places, and partly because of my own health issues thanks to spring and hayfever deciding to make a dramatic entrance in the days prior to the race. But I still went out there, took my time, and managed to avoid faceplanting down grass hills or in those big mud patches, and I enjoyed myself. So overall, I consider my race a success!
My brain tends to go to all sorts of places when I’m out running or hiking. Sometimes I’ll just go mentally blank and take in the scenery around me. Other times I’ll start thinking all sorts of profound things (and often forget them as soon as I cross the finish line). I was in ‘thinking’ mode on this race, and a number of things stuck with me afterwards. I’ve learned most of these over past races, and they become more relevant with every single race I’ve done, especially races I’m going into where I don’t feel 100% or are more difficult than expected because I underestimated the course or something unexpected happens.
Be adaptable. You never know when you’re going to have to adapt to a situation you didn’t expect, be it slowing down for a big hill or a piece of kit breaking.
Leave pride at the start line. We all have great runs / hikes. We all have less than great ones. Learn from the ones where something didn’t go so well and apply the lesson to improve. Telling yourself off at length about it probably won’t help much in the long run. For me this means not telling myself off about my less-than-confident uneven terrain skills and instead increasing my ankle stability and balance exercises. I know that I can be faster on that terrain if I work on those exercises and make my ankles stronger, so I’ll focus on that rather than how slow I felt during the run.
Race yourself. The pointy end of the race is fun to watch, they’re all racing each other and it’s often dramatic. At the mid-back of the pack I find it a lot better to race myself – either my time from a previous run in the same place, or by pushing against my own boundaries. I enjoy pushing my limits and challenging myself. I may not be getting a podium place, but I’m enjoying myself and improving myself both physically and mentally.
“It doesn’t matter if you walk, as long as you keep moving.” I overheard this at the finish line, and it’s very true. If you have to walk the hill, walk the hill. You can walk faster or run on the flat. Just keep moving and you’ll get there!
Get out there and enjoy! That motivational blurb “you’re lapping everyone on the couch” popped into my head at one stage on Sunday. It feels trite to say it, but it’s true. It doesn’t matter what distance you do. There are all sorts out there – from Expedition racers absolutely smashing it, to a family doing the Kid’s Dash and looked like they were having a great time.
So that’s first race done and another great day out exploring a regional park I hadn’t yet been to. Fun times!