Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Norseman Draws Near

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.  This is Drew's second installment to our blog.

Here we go again . . . I just read the notification from Norseman that there was a rock slide on the bike course and they are going to need to re-route us this year through a long dark tunnel.  This is exactly why I love these people so much.  Other race organizers would simply cancel this portion of the race but not the Norseman.  They know Norseman athletes can handle a little adversity and simply ask us to make some smart decisions to accommodate the challenge - like bringing some extra lights and a reflective vest for the bike.
Adapting to the unexpected is at the heart of endurance training and racing to me and Norseman is no exception by any stretch.  Norseman asks athletes to go beyond what their normal race expectations are and to keep reaching outside of their comfort zone.  Way outside.  Last year was my first Norseman and I was frightened by the steep ascent late in the run course.  I met an athlete during the race meeting that assured me that almost no-one will try to run the last 11 miles because it is too steep.  Hearing that was a relief and felt like a warm hug.  I instantly relaxed and felt satisfied that I could walk that portion of the course without because many athletes would.
This year I am thinking differently and I am inspired by my good friends and training partners at Dynamo Multisport.  My buddy Haley Chura (www.haleychura.com) recently broke 10 hours at IM Houston and won her age group by a huge margin.  She was already fast before this race but she kept pushing herself to meet this goal.   She worked her butt off to run an incredibly smart race and I was standing in front my computer screaming my head off as I watched the live video of her finish at 9:59:43.  My other friend (and coach) Matthew Rose (www.thebackhalf.com) recently blew through his swim and bike PRs at IM Brazil only to have a terrible bike wreck at Mile 100.  He was on pace to blow away his prior bike split with a 4:46 when he crashed in the last aid station.  Bloody and pissed off he put his bike back together and finished the race in an amazing 19th place in his age group.  He was surrounded that day by volunteers and spectators telling him that it was okay to quit (and a few even tried to force him) but he shut those doubts away and pressed on.  Amazing.  I think Churchill said "If you are going through Hell, keep going."    
Most impressive of all is my running friend Molly (no time for blogs when you run as much as she does).  She just completed her first 100 mile trail running race in San Diego.  She held on strong until she got to the aid station near mile 75 and the wheels started to come off (if only she had wheels).  She pushed doubt out of her mind and got some much needed help from one of the aid station volunteers.  Her "trail angel" put her back together and she hobbled out of that aid station, and then jogged and then ran to finish in under 30 hours!  People talk a lot about not quitting but this is the real thing.  Her body was screaming at her to stop but she put 100% of her focus on her goal and that determination carried her to the finish.  It's crazy for sure but there is nothing I respect more.     
Drew on the Norseman 2011 run
These examples are inspiring me this year to take what is already a huge challenge and see if I can push myself even further.  The diversion through a tunnel only makes Norseman more "interesting" and the last 11 miles of the marathon begs to be walked but does it have to be?  I'll be thinking about Haley, Matthew and Molly on that last turn when I hit the ascent and accept the challenge to see how much farther I can push myself.  Watch out Gaustatoppen.  I'm not scared of you this year and I have these three incredible athletes that will carry me up your little mountain.     
Learn more about the Norseman Xtreme Triathlon here: www.nxtri.com

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