Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Race Bunnies

Race bunnies: the ultimate race motivators

how many of us can honestly say that we've never had this thought in our minds when we first scan our competitors on race morning?:

"ah! if he can do it, i'm sure i can"

or more brutally,
"i think i'll finish before he does"

it's really demeaning/condescending to hear our thoughts out loud but none of us really had malicious intentions when we had these thoughts. besides, if there's one thing i learnt during races is that looks can really be deceiving.

so, even though it's a 50-50 chance that our thoughts may be wrong, we still do it on race morning.

why do you think that is?

some say: healthy competition
others say: checking out your competitors build your expectations for the race
i say: picking a race bunny is one of the funnest things to do race morning

my first race bunny, and for most races that she participated after that, is karen sia.

sweet, 21 year-old and an absolute gazelle in love (read post on best athlete if you're lost about the gazelle)

i first spotted karen at the a'famosa sprint last year. being a newbie, i was scanning the scene and feeling really inadequate because everybody looked very intimidating. then i saw irregular swim strokes in the midst of people warming up in the lake.

"a-ha! a struggling swimmer!"

* i must apologise before i continue (especially to karen if she finds her way to my blog). the thought had no ill intent and being a swimmer skewed TRYathlete, a weaker swimmer is a 'joy' (read: comforting) to spot on race morning of your very first tri every.

i looked at arif and smiled: "i just found me a race bunny"

and what a motivator she was! kept tell myself "keep close to the race bunny, finishing before she does is a bonus"

i finished slightly ahead of karen that day and it was a true bonus.
(but! i must say, she has improved tremendously over the year. combine that with her natural running talent, she has kicked my ass at races countless times. you go girl!)

If you haven't officially picked a race bunny before and would like to give it a go, this is how you can start:
1. separate the fluffies from the furies
There is a difference between race bunnies and head on competitors. choosing a race bunny is like choosing your single focus goal during races, it is meant to motivate and elevate personal glory if you cross the line before they do. they are not meant to add stress to your race, that's the job of the head on competitor.

the head on competitor is usually someone on par or stronger. he's someone you will constantly have in mind during training and you find yourself checking their recorded timings to see how much more you will need to train to beat them in races.

in a nutshell:
head on competitor: you know their performance level and where you stand with them. to improve, you train hard to either match or exceed their performance.
race bunny: someone whose performance you're not sure of. on first impression, they look weaker or on par. normally somebody you have not met, so beating or losing to them at races would be an unexpected outcome.

2. save it for raceday
you should only pick a race bunny on race morning itself. having somebody in mind during training doesn't count as a race bunny. it has to be on raceday because you'll sometimes see new faces that you'll like to pick and/or sometimes realise that you're not ready to take on your predetermined race bunny and would like to switch to a less intimidating bunny.

3. be personal about your bunny
the great part about race bunnies is they often do not realise you're trying to beat them. so, they are in absolute ease with you throughout the race. choose a bunny that matches your condition on raceday. if you're feeling pumped, choose a challenging one. if you feel like crap, choose a meeker bunny.

4. death by bunny
i can't emphasise enough that a race bunny is there to motivate you, not stress you during races. as such, don't kill yourself trying to keep up or beat your bunny.

it's a good day, push hard to beat your bunny.
it's a bad day, you decide that it's a matter of surviving the race more than anything else and your bunny's just pulling away from you, relax and choose another bunny that is still on course

i've switched race bunnies regularly over the past year, sometimes i even have two or three rotative ones during the entire race course. it's strange though, as much as i have switched bunnies, it's always a thrill to see karen at races.

kinda like, you'll never forget your first race bunny thingy.


-kev- said...

You write the most interesting posts. Triathlons... a topic so close to home... but from your perspective... never occurred to me to see things that way. Anyway, my sis has read your post. But don't know why she hasn't posted a comment. Maybe unsure of what to write... I don't think she has ever been marked down before hahhah. I'm off for my 1st marathon tomorrow, wish me luck!

beyond cut off said...

hi kev,

how did the marathon go?

am sure you have done well :)

nurina said...

hihi, I've picked quite a few bunnies, just never knew there was a term for it. have been beaten by bunnies quite a few times....

Shenners said...

on the topic of race bunnies, as a 5 yr old triathlete, i have only 1 race bunny throughout. Although she wasn't the ultimate race bunny but being consistently 10mins ahead of me at every race was irking me.

for 3 yrs I've been chasing her. Finally after my 3rd yr, in my last race b4 retirement I finally did! Can u imagine the woo-hoo!!! that I was going through?

the icing on d cake was tt it was a 1/2 ironman race and for d past 2 yrs she was at least 15mins ahead.

So Triathletes out there...race bunnies are good.