Thursday, May 3, 2012

Norseman Xtreme Triathlon chapter 1

blueseventy has become the swim partner/sponsor for the Norseman Xtreme Triathlon in Norway.  In the words of last year's Norseman champion  "Norseman is like going back to the roots of triathlon"  Leading up to the 2012 edition (August 4-5th) of Norseman we are following the training and thoughts of Drew Marlar. Drew completed Norseman in 2011 so he provides a "been there, am doing it again" perspective triathletes can relate to.  Follow Drew's journey and learn about one of the purest, most challenging, and unique triathlons on the planet...

It sounds strange to say but when I think about my first Norseman experience I have to say that the race was my chance to relax and have fun.  I know there are many other ways to relax . . . a cruise, a week at the beach, a leisurely bike tour in Europe.  But then I think, wait a minute I could do that ride from Paris to Prague that I saw in that guidebook and that could help me train for Paris Brest Paris.  This is where my crazy head is- so when I think of  fun I sign up for the world's hardest Triathlon.  

One thing about triathlon that I really struggle with is defining what kind of triathlete I am.  I think I want to be the fierce assassin who relishes beating up on the competition and leaving everything on the race course.  But honestly- that just isn't me.  When it comes to training and race day my natural instincts are to enjoy the journey.  I happily wake up at 4:30 every morning and put in 15-25 hours of training a week without complaint.  I push myself everyday through pain and enjoy it.  My training partners are my best friends and I live for the feeling that you get during your last 6 weeks before race day.  You know what I am talking about.  You hit that last notch in your belt loop and have that swagger in your step.  You eat 4 full meals a day but are still 5 pounds under your normal weight.  Your 45-minute neighborhood run loop now only takes you 30.  It is a quiet self-confidence that you are in the best shape of your life and it is just going to get better.  Perfect health, strength and fantastic friendships.  This is really why I train so hard.  Race day is gravy.   

Norseman made give in to my natural instincts and focus on the training instead of the performance.  I trained harder than I ever had but without the pressure of Ironman age group rankings hanging over my head.  The pressure of the Norseman course was enough!  When I trained for Norseman I did things that I never would have tried leading up to an Ironman race.  I would ride crazy mountain bricks that ended with 7-mile uphill sprints.  I swam extra yards and pushed the watts on my trainer rides.  My highs were bigger than ever (and so were my bonks) and I got away from the narrow heart rate, power and cadence ranges that have become the staple of my Ironman training year.  I just figured that the Norseman course was so far beyond the norm that my training had to be borderline crazy.  The point of the race day became to enjoy it.  
Athletes jump into the fjord to begin their journey
And enjoy it I did.  The anxiety about Norseman race day was different and refreshing.  I was stepping into the unknown and it took me back to the feeling of my first long-distance triathlon.  I wasn't certain what was ahead of me but I loved the idea that it was going to be new.  Norseman scared me but it wasn't about obsessive data crunching and age group rankings.  I raced without power and heart rate and felt every mile.  I focused on getting enough nutrition and enjoying the experience of something bigger than I had ever done before.  I didn't know how bad this race would hurt but I loved the idea of jumping off that ferry to find out.  This is why Norseman is so special to me.  I'm training even harder for it this year but I don’t think I will ever have it figured out.  No one really aces an 11-mile climb on the marathon course and that is why I will keep coming back.  Norseman promises that terrifying and exhilarating feeling of your first big adventure.  Nothing beats that, not even the fierce assassin in you.  


Learn more about the Norseman Xtreme Triathlon here:

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