Last week I did something that I have never done before (and wouldn’t necessarily recommend): I did 3 races in less than a week–two duathlons with the 5 peaks trail race in between. In addition to thoroughly enjoying each one (the fact that I placed well in all 3 was an added bonus!), doing the multiple races was a great experience for me on various levels. The part that I found most interesting and fascinating, however, was the difference in my pre-race response and psyche to the races. Despite being fairly similar in terms of experience and performance with both types of races, I felt much calmer, less nervous, and more at ease prior to my trail race compared to my duathlons.

Although some people (including my husband) may think that this difference in response is due to a) an increased confidence on the trails and b) increased (self-generating) performance expectations with duathlons (greater competitive field=more pressure I put on myself), I actually beg to differ. I think that my calmer mind and happy-go-lucky attitude prior to trail races has to do with one simple factor: the beautiful nature that surrounds us.

Trails are where I encounter my “inner bliss” and where I naturally feel calm and grounded. It is also where I tend to achieve some of my deepest forms of meditation.  But it is also a place where I feel a greater sense of connection-not just to the natural environment but towards others as well. One of the things that I love the most about trail running is the genuine friendliness that you encounter at these races.  It’s not about who is the fastest, who has the biggest accomplishments, or who has the fancy gear and clothes.  It’s about all of us being there together, with one common goal.  Unlike other race environments that I have been exposed to, trail running is a sport that unites us regardless of our abilities.  As beautifully described by a fellow named B.A after his first trail race last Saturday “even though we ended up running with the last group, the experience of being outside with only the forest crowding me was awesome”.  How can someone not love trail running?

So why am I doing duathlons, and not focusing solely on trail running?  Because I love them both for different reasons! As Lululemon says (at least on their window and on re-usable shopping bags)—do something each day that scares you!  Racing duathlons is definitely more scary for me, and I have to work harder at in order to be competitive.  It doesn’t come as “natural” as it does with trail running.  I need to sweat a lot more and put i

And they love to run the 5 peaks races too!

And they love to run the 5 peaks races too!

My fans at Woodstock Duathlons!

My fans at Woodstock Duathlons!

n more hours.  There is a also a much larger learning curve, as I am still discovering my abilities on the bike and learning how to better handle my bike. But I love all of this; it gives me a rush knowing that I am getting better everyday an I love pushing my body to new limits.  And I have a great sense of accomplishment after the races.  Trail running is a wonderful compliment to all of this, as it provides such an amazing mental break from training and enables me to encounter sheer bliss without even trying. It provides a nice balance.

So for the time being, training for both events works well for me and they satisfies my needs. Will I still be doing both in a few years from now? Probably…but only time will tell!

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