by 10k Tony · October 26, 2011
There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative.
W. Clement Stone
Last year at Cactus I was not doing real well early in the race. I had to make a long aid station stop at mile 5 due to issues with my camelback and having to use restroom. I arrived at Nachos (mile 10) about 10 minutes behind the previous year’s pace and was really questioning why I was even out there and what a long day it was going to be. In fact I wasn’t really in the mood to talk to people. As I climbed up Ice Cream a couple of miles later two positive things happened to me. One, the sun was coming up and we all know how beautiful Bandera is in the morning. Second I started running with Tracy Holland. Tracy is a very upbeat person with lots of positive energy. Some of that positive energy rubbed off on me and I ended up having great attitude and energy all day. In fact Olga commented to me about how positive I always seemed to be when coming in to her aid station. Attitude can really make a difference in how well your race goes and maintaining your energy levels. Here are some things I have discovered that have helped me to maintain a good attitude during Cactus the last 3 years.
Socialize –The first loop during Cactus is a great time to talk and meet people. It really makes the first loop go by a lot faster and it makes the race a lot more fun when you cross paths with them later during the race. Plus you can really feed off each other’s positive energy. I usually start conversations with the basics (name, where from, what races have you done) and go from there. If your single and find them attractive inquire about marital status etc. Just kidding!!
Break out the music – By the end of the first loop people are starting to spread out a bit so I get my Ipod out for the 2d loop. By this time I am starting to get a little tired and the music really provides a nice pick me up and helps keep the positive attitude going. It is also fun to create a special race playlist.
Enjoy the day/night – Determine ahead of time that no matter what happens, you are going to enjoy the day/night and the adventure that it brings. It’s the one time when you can really focus on yourself and not worry about the demands of everyday life. Enjoy the experience.
Stop and smell the roses – Bandera is a beautiful place and don’t be in such a hurry (unless you are trying to win) that you ignore the scenery around you. Enjoy how the light changes throughout the day. If you are running at night make it a point to turn off your headlamp and gaze at the stars. I usually do this either at Ice Cream or the middle Sister every year. Enjoying the scenery is the payoff for being out there all day.
Smile as you greet other runners – With changing directions every loop you will cross paths with other runners. Even if you are hurting a bit, greet them with a smile and a nice job. It will really help you stay positive. I also try to come into the aid stations being as positive as possible for the same reason.
Maintain a sense of humor – During my first year of doing Cactus I was going down Mt Fuji and I was miserable. I had 68 miles on my legs and feet were really hurting. It was all I could do to maintain enough muscle control to keep from falling and my toes were jamming into my shoes. It felt like it was taking forever to get down that stupid hill. Finally I yelled out, “This is so stupid! Why am I even paying money to do this!”. Right after I yelled that my pacer and I both start laughing by the absurdity of it all. Having a good laugh really helped my attitude at the moment. So don’t take yourself too seriously and laugh about how ridiculous the idea of running 50 or 100 miles on that terrain is. It’ll make it seem easier somehow.
I’m sure I have left out some things so chime in if there are any tricks you use to maintain a good race attitude.