“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” – Charles Dickens: A Tale of Two Cities
During my career as a triathlete I’ve experienced many of the most uplifting moments of my life and likewise come face to face with some of the most crushing disappointments. It seems to be in the nature of the sport that we pass through such extremes. Some would say it’s a bit like being bipolar but then what else would you expect from people that enjoy doing the same thing over and over expecting everything to change. Despite the low points I get up every morning looking forward to the challenge of another day. Choosing to focus on the positive and forgetting the negatives is a skill that has only grown stronger through training for the Ironman. Along the way I’ve found a few happy people, places and things that help me stay positive. Here are my 10 best.
- Best Inspiring Movie – Ironman World Championships
With their over the top life-and-death struggle story lines, voice of god narrators, stirring music and way too much slow motion, the Ironman World Championship movies are my guilty pleasure. I don’t think I have found any Hollywood movie that gets me more juiced. Some of the music they use I have found and listen to on race day. It just sets the mood right.
If you haven’t tried one yet check out the Revista RunOnline coverage of Kona 2013 on YouTube. Make sure you have some tissues handy.
- Best Pain Cave Soundtrack – Pink / The xx
I go through phases but anything by Pink really gets me going. Get the Party Started, Just Like a Pill and Raise Your Glass are a few of my favorites. To get warmed up I always listen to the instrumental piece by The XX called Intro. It helps clear my head, get centered and focus on my intentions, whether I’m getting ready to crank out some miles in the basement or it’s race day.
- Best Pre-workout Snack
My pre-workout snack routine is pretty set and by this time I think my body knows what’s coming up. If it’s a morning session I eat a half cup of steal cut oats or plain white rice. If it’s an afternoon session I will generally eat an apple and string cheese right before heading out.
- Best Time of Day – Before 5 in the Morning
I am a morning person and always have been. For training I find it’s an ideal time both mentally and physically. My day typically starts around 4:30 or 4:45 or even a bit earlier if I have a long morning training session planned. I enjoy the quiet and peacefulness while I go through some of my morning rituals. I generally make oatmeal for the family and then stretch and sip on a cup of coffee. If my vegetables are blooming I head out and water them.
- Best Day of the Week for Training – Friday
Ever since we moved to Oakland and then continuing when we came back to Portland I have reduced my work schedule to make Friday a training day. The kids are at school and I make it a day to really focus on training without distractions. I usually do a long brick session. As well as a great boost for my training it helps free up some family time over the weekend which everyone appreciates.
- Best Road Cycling Route – Marin-Big Rock-Highway 1
My favorite route of all time is through Marin County. The hills are challenging on the way up to Big Rock but then you get rewarded with a ride through the redwoods. The trees just envelop you on your way down the mountain and then it dumps you out on Highway 1 where you have a beautiful view of the ocean and get to smell the ocean breeze on the ride back.
- Best (and scariest) Swim – Alcatraz to the Presidio
There were strong currents, the water was freezing and I was scared to death of jumping off the ferry into the bay but this turned out to be my favorite swim ever. What made the difference was chatting with a 10 year old who was doing the swim for her 10th time. I shared with her how scared I was to jump and she gave me this awesome pep talk. When they gave us the signal to jump everyone sort of edged back while my little friend jumped right in. As she went I found myself stepping forward and jumped in right after her. It was the coolest swim start I’ve ever experienced.
- Best Workout Partner – Rodney (Hubby) Hicks
Despite having almost the polar opposite attitude toward training and racing (or maybe thanks to that) my husband continues to be my most valuable training partner. He makes my long runs on the weekends one of the highlights of my week. Connecting with my triathlon peeps has always been difficult to line up because everyone is usually on a different schedule.
- Best Race – Oceanside 70.3
The Oceanside 70.3 has to be my favorite race. I’ve done it twice and hope to do it again. It’s held at the end of March and this year it was a pretty typical 75 degrees and sunny. The course is set up really well with lots of aid stations and there are volunteers and fans, many from the nearby Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base, every step of the way. You never run out of water or ice and people come out and set up their sprinklers and hoses along the course if you want to cool off.
- Best Trail Running Route – French Trail, Redwood Regional Park
This is an absolutely gorgeous trail run through towering redwood forests just a few miles from downtown Oakland. It’s amazing that this place exists so close to such a large urban center. It makes you feel very connected with nature. There is a whole network of trails in the park but the French Trail goes deep into the ravine where these gnarled old trees are covered in moss and there is this mesmerizing energy there that I always like to stop and soak in for a moment. Then I take off and climb the next hill.
Have you got BEST? Leave me a comment and share it with the rest us. Everybody needs something to make them smile. Thanks in advance for sharing yours.