Is This Asking For Too Much?
We had some ambitious goals for this tri season (IMLP flanked by spring/fall 70.3’s), plus we needed to figure out how to adapt our usual tri season training so we could also execute a late-season 100K ultra run.
As for the bigger picture, we also wanted to carry the foundation from this year forward through the out season so we can crush our respective ‘A’ races next year.
Oh, and this had to fit inside a hectic family life with two school-age kids, a couple of dogs, our respective work demands, travel, etc. And, y’ know, stay married.
We Didn’t Think So…
This was an ‘in-between’ kind of problem i.e., there’s plenty of resources for tri and ultra independently, but we needed to figure out how to mash them into the same season and tailor the training to our respective athletic profiles.
(For those that haven’t met us, imagine T-Rex and Velociraptor running side by side. That’s us.)
Having enlightened coach support was key to adapting our tri season training while building the run durability we would need for the longer distance event at the end of October. Add to that the tools so we could self-coach throughout the length of our season plan meant we could adjust to the usual life curveballs. Training-wise, we had everything we needed, nothing we didn’t.
With the training locked down, I can’t overstate what a help it was to us to be able to tap into the deep well of real-world experience of wicked-smart members. The play-by-play of what to expect from teammates that had done the race before was invaluable to us. All those million and one questions you have leading up to a race – where do we put our drop bags to where are the excellent vegetarian restaurants – all the details we needed so we could have radar going into the clouds.
Simply put, we arrived at our race feeling as prepared as we could be.
Reaching Success… Together!
Wow. Just wow. What an experience for a couple of ultra first-timers. Toeing up to the start line, we felt prepared, healthy, ready, and keen to race — Twilight desert sky before dawn. The tribe was slowly gathering at the start line. Great tunes. Crazy costumes. Fire dancers. Beat of the drums in your chest. Look around, nodding. Everyone is part of it. Everyone is feeling it. Hook this energy into your veins.
This is a course through the desert, so you’re working to prevent heat exhaustion during the day, hypothermia at night, and all the hazards the rocky course terrain can throw at you. Plus, we did this self-supported i.e., without a crew. We used just about every tip and trick we had loaded into our “execution tool-belts” – nutrition, cooling, hydration, night trail running – everything. I don’t think we encountered anything that we didn’t feel prepared for (including a brush with a cactus, no joke!).
Don’t Think It Won’t Hurt
Make no mistake: it hurt as in, a whole new level of hurt. But our bodies were ready for it, and we never entertained the question of whether or not we would finish. Psychologically, feeling trained and organized and prepared toughened our mindset going into the race. And we needed it. All of it. Headspace. Fitness. Execution. Take care of your machine, because there are countless reasons why the DNF rate hovers around the 50% mark.
We finished well after dark, somewhere in the middle of the pack, no other runners around us, no crazy fanfare at the finish line. Didn’t care either way. All that matters to us is that we never broke down, kept moving forward, finished strong, ran it in together.
An Almost Guarantee of Success
iIt’s as close as a guarantee of success that you can get in endurance sports. There’s a team culture of bringing out the best in people, paying it forward, constant learning, and sharing what works. The coaches and members of the Endurance Nation “get it” on all the important levels, not just about being the best athlete you can be at whatever level you want to compete at, but also about how it needs to fit into your life. And have some genuine fun while you’re at it.
Bonus: Teamwork Means Friendship
All training and execution aside, one of the things I love most about this Team is plugging into a community where, on any given weekend, people are out doing fun and epic things with their fitness, or training for the next thing. It’s inspiring. It shows you what is possible. It brings together good-hearted people who go to extraordinary lengths to help each other to get there.