The first of the Triple Crown of Running races is coming up this weekend and as I was working on my taper by fishing on the Taylor River this morning I got thinking about the similarities between running and fishing. The water is really high so the fishing is tough, like the hills in the Garden are tough. How you approach them is the same, it’s a mind game.
At the start of the race adrenaline is kicking in and the emotional thought is to stay with everyone around you. In fishing you want to get to that spot on the river where you have the best chance of catching “the big one.” However, if you fight the current and get to a tough place where you have to be right on, before you’ve loosened up, your cast might be poor and that fish you wanted is gone. In the Garden 10 miler the first ¾ mile is downhill so the temptation is to run as hard as possible. I have learned through experience that if I run a little faster than my desired pace, I’ll be able to maintain my effort throughout the race and finish with enough in the tank to cross the finish line.
On the hills, I think about how hard I want to run for that particular stretch. Knowing the course helps. On the river, I’m always trying to think of what fly might be best given the depth, speed, and obstacles. What presentation do I make to the fish? Where on the water is the best place to cast my fly? In the Garden I’m going through the same thought process. Do I want to hang on the inside of every curve, even though the angle of the pavement might make it a little steeper or do I stay a little farther out so I’m running farther, but less steep?
When I get to the top of a hill in the Garden, do I want to really pick it up, or should I increase my effort just enough to not drop behind that person I’m always trying to stay with? When is the right time to strike? In fishing if you strike too early, the fish won’t have time to close its mouth and the fish swims off. In running if you strike too early you might not have the energy to maintain a good pace until the end. On the other hand, if you strike too late, the fish, or your fellow runner, is gone. Pacing and timing are important in both sports.
If I maintain my awareness in both sports I’ll have a good day. In fishing if I keep my mind in the game, I’ll keep my fly out of the trees and other fly-grabbing obstacles. I’ll watch the water for insects and the changing currents. And as happened yesterday, I’ll see the big log coming down the river that could have swept me under had I not been aware. In the race, I stay aware of my speed as I’m going up the hills, and remember to increase my speed as I go down, but not too much. I watch as I enter the aid station to make sure I have a clear shot at a water cup and then catch up to my former position in the pack after drinking. It took me a long time to learn that lesson. I watch to see what the other runners are doing so I can stay with them, or pass them, or let them go. In the end I have to run my own race.
My good day in fishing is to have fun, watch the incredible scenery around me, not lose too many flies, and if I do, lose them on big fish. I want to finish the day tired and invigorated. Even when I don’t catch anything if I have the sense that I did things right it was a good day of fishing. In the Garden of the Gods race I want to have seen the incredible scenery, even if just mere glances. I want to finish the race tired and invigorated without hurting. I will have thanked the volunteers as much as possible. If I place, that is value added but if I sense that I ran the race right I will have had a good race. What makes for a good race for you, or even a good day on the river? I’d love to know what others think.