Sparked by Dom, who insisted that I write an article about my Du experience. He also wrote a blog post from his perspective.
At the outset, it only makes sense to start and close the article in the same manner the race occurred. Dom and I warmed up by physically jogging and finding mental peace during Dom’s prayer. I was living in, and loving the moment. Honestly, I believe that was the first time I’ve prayed before a race. It used to occur towards the end of my 100 mile races; for example on my first 100 mile attempt I prayed to ask for the sleet balls to be smaller and the lightning to not strike me. Dom’s perspective to seek spirituality even while times were good was refreshing. I highlight this part because of the physical condition which I am currently in and my final race performance was jaw dropping. Probably one of those top 5 performances of my life time.
I had decided last summer I wanted to transition away from long endurance training miles and racing, in part due to the health implications that result from endurance, as well as the larger focus on developing other areas of my life (hydro gardening, kombucha tea making, etc.). It’s probably great I started down that road last year, because training the hours I did is not quite feasible anymore unless I stop sleeping.
Nonetheless, I’ve been following pro triathlon for a few years and it has three aspects that are very compelling: the bike leg, the solo effort without drafting, and the immense suffering. All things I enjoy and look for in a sport. The downside was the running and the swimming. My frustration with running is the inability to find any enjoyment. Swimming was largely based off a lack of knowledge and experience. I am still not a proficient swimmer, but really enjoy getting in the pool a few times a week. I decided to skip the competitive swimming this year, when possible, and follow around my fellow teammate Dom during his Xterra off road escapades. Prior to the Fort Custer Last Stand Duathlon, I had a total run distance of 3 miles at any one time, and I was only running two times a weeks. I try to limit running because of the recovery time it takes, and the lack of enjoyment I have for it. Dom says this will come and I’m still waiting.
So when I arrived in the parking lot and saw tons of ultra fit people walking around, I constantly remarked to Dom that I was immensely going to get my ass kicked. These people were lean and muscular. Neither characteristic that I directly attribute to myself. Dom kept telling me not to worry, but it was hard to look like I had any self confidence. I was so unconvinced of my running depth that I thought the 2 mile warm-up before the race would probably toast me, but I did it anyways. Since I’m a biker, my Garmin is large. I decided that duct taping it to my wrist was ridiculous. Instead I decided to run by feel. I did have the Garmin on the bike giving out just heart rate data, and I ran the last segment by feel as well.
The tri guys (including Dom) and the du guys (including myself) all started down in the sand near the lake. The race started and we headed down the sand on the beach, around the transition, eventually wrapping back around the transition for a 2 mile run. It wasn’t hard to sprint behind three guys to get on my bike (running to your comfort place is ultra powerful). I hit the transition, throwing off my shoes and, completely out of breath, attached my bike shoes. Once on the bike, my anxiety went to zero as I felt back at home. I kept punching it on the bike for two reasons. First, I knew I would lose time to the runners on the 4 mile run after the bike. Second, I wanted to inflict some pain in any chasers hoping my bike legs could soften their running legs. I knew my run off the bike was going to be slow and I doubted slowing down on the bike would help in any regard.
I kept a steady pace on the bike, but not so fast as I risked crashing or was unable to take in the trail. My time on the bike came to a head as I entered the final section back to transition. I threw on the running shoes and headed out the back of transition. Again running across the sand for the 3rd time, I had little ability to move my quads. I remember hitting the first incline and waiting to just trip. Eventually, I started counting to 100 over and over again. Although at times, I would forget and my restart of counting would not happen till about 120. At that point, the numbers were too high and I’d miss a number causing a restart to 1 anyways. The consecutive foot counting allowed focus and compartmentalized the whole race into manageable segments. Eventually Dom caught me, but I was in survival mode and not at all in the mood to chase.
I must admit, I was already impressed with my performance, so finishing was the goal. Finish I did, running a 5:45 for the first 2 miles. Insane for me, given that the only 2 mile runs I did outside the two weeks leading up to the race netted a 7:10 under my willpower. Probably a display of how willing I am to block out any external and internal indicators when it comes to chasing down the competition. I actually remember thinking that the beginning pace was not as fast as I thought it should be as I was sitting on the back of the lead runners (again, just relishing the 14 mile bike time trial that laid ahead).
My lack of running long miles showed when it came to the last run, with an 8:10 pace off the bike. I also failed to get into the top three for bike splits (out of all the du and tri guys), getting beat by Craig Geitzen by at least a minute thirty. Dom suggests that the first run could cause the discrepancy in the times as opposed to swimming.
Here are the results. You can see who is listed at the top:
Check out Dom’s results here: Also look at the overall winner, who took the final run at some crazy pace with a respectable bike leg. A good indication of the improvement yet to be had.
In the end I felt unworthy to win the overall, but I definitely seem to be on to something with these once a week 2 mile outside runs. Either way, I’m heading to Torn Shirt (Brighton) in June to get my ass kicked. I’ve been informed the run is one of the hardest in the areas. Given that I’m physically large and a poor runner, the elevation on the final run at Brighton will be painful. Either way, toeing the line at my first DU certainly had its return on investment.
Also, for any that can tell me how the hell I eat while running and counting in the end, I’d be pleased to know. I ate 3 eggs in the morning at 5 AM before we left, but I had nothing on the first run, forgot food on the bike, and just drank water on the final run. I’m guessing this is part of the learning curve. God Bless!!