Category Archives: Doing

tour_of_sufferlandria-FB-Banner

2014 Tour of Sufferlandria Strategery

The 2014 Tour of Sufferlandria commences in less than a week. This will be my rookie year on the tour, yet I think I still have a pretty good idea of what to expect.

Suffering.

The fine people at Trainerroad are working with the Sufferfest folks for a cross promotional ass whooping to keep TR subscribers honest. There’s no way out of riding the videos to the exact instructions–failure to achieve the profile will leave behind a digital relic of your failures.

There’s a loophole provided though, and I intend to take full advantage of it. There’s a 50 hour window to complete each stage. For me, that means I can start Saturday the 25th’s “Rubberglove” ride at 5:00 am on Friday the 24th.

And I have until 4:00 am on Monday the 3rd to finish the puke-inducing “Violator” stage that’s scheduled for Sunday the 2nd.

I think the key for me is going to get optimal rest in between “A Very Dark Place” (a ride I’m pretty good at–ends with a climb) and the two days of “Angels”+”The Hunted” followed by “Blender”. That’s two days straight of 2 hour rides.

Sufferfest A Very Dark Place - TrainerRoad.com

I’m going to try to finish the first 6 stages on the mornings of the days before they are scheduled, then take a rest day on Thursday to try and go into Friday’s stage somewhat rested.

Saturday is the scariest day for me–the only time I’ve ever tried “Blender”, I got cracked. I may be taking it right to the wire to rest up for Sunday’s finale.

Anybody have a better/different strategy for positioning rest? Bonus points if your advice isn’t “HTFU”.

The Unplanned Off Season

Dang it the money. It happened to me.

I was really happy with the way I kept up the fitness momentum throughout the holidays–the beginning of the “off season”. The plan was that there really wasn’t going to be an off season. I didn’t feel burned out at all, and I wanted to keep in the flow.

Between Thanksgiving Day and New Year’s Day I was able to pull off a full marathon and a self-supported 50k.

But in the last couple of weeks the wheels have fallen off. Well, not horribly–it’s not as if I’m not working out. But the volume has definitely fallen off.

Do I get some kind of reprieve for the fact that the intensity has picked up? I’ve been riding Sufferfest videos on Trainerroad in between rest days…does that count?

My run volume is definitely down as well, but I’m not throwing many junk miles in when I am out running. Intervals and higher paced (for me) long runs are showing up on the schedule regularly.

The fact that the schedule is a little bare right now definitely plays in. Other than the Tour of Sufferlandria, which starts next week, I don’t have much set in stone for 2014 except for an Old Boys Rugby Tournament in April.

So training is changing up a little bit for the next couple of months. I’m going to try to focus on bike improvement, run maintenance, and rugby whoop-ass. The only swimming I have planned for right now is a 1 mile OWS on Thursday nights before rugby practice. If the rugby thing falls through (what is it with these guys being able to commit?), I’ll join my local masters swim club and get some Saturday workouts in too.

Oh yeah…this year’s Bridge to Bridge is closer than it seems! Tick. Tock.

Sufferfest Blender - TrainerRoad.com

“Sufferfest” – It’s Not Just A Marketing Gimmick

Here’s a classic case of “be careful what you ask for”.

For my birthday, I received the entire set of Sufferfest videos. I was (am) super-excited about this. Even though I loooove watching movies while I’m on the bike an playing Trainerroad, everything I’ve heard about The Sufferfest videos is great–hard rides, great music, cool video to keep you motivated.

But then came the realization that those “hard rides” are no freaking joke. I’ve been using Trainerroad for several months now, and the rides in their training plans are definitely tough, but Sufferfest takes it to a whole new level.

I’ve completed done three Sufferfest rides so far. The first was “Rubber Glove”, which is an FTP test. Of course that was hard–FTP tests are always hard. Nothing special there. A couple of days later I rode “Fight Club”, but I did it 90% FTP. I was fresh off a test and a big FTP jump and was a little nervous about it. Turns out I was right in being cautious–I was barely able to hang on to the end.

And then Saturday I tried “Blender” on 100%. This is an hour and thirty seven minute bludgeoning. Or, in my case, an hour and twenty three minutes of bludgeoning. I just wasn’t able to hang on for the last set of time trial intervals.  I could blame this on a few things–full belly, not fully recovered from the 50k I ran a few days before, all the stuff I did on Saturday before that, etc. But the truth is, it’s just a really hard workout.

One of the things I really like about the Trainerroad training plans is that they run you just up to the edge, but they are doable. They build confidence. Sufferfest is something completely different entirely. From the description of “Blender”…

This is the video that softens you up, takes you to the edge of exhaustion, sneaks up behind you and kicks you over that edge and down the hill, then makes you run up while being chased by a raving mob all the while pouring molten lava down toward you.

I got caught in that lava.

I tried to find a gear that I could grind hard enough to get to the prescribed power, then I tried to find one I could spin fast enough to get there. I just couldn’t pull it any longer. The heart rate never recovered from the sprints that came before the time trial, and I was even going embarrassingly easy on the recovery.

Just toasted. I didn’t have 399 watts left in me. I barely had my dinner left in me.

But this is a good thing. This is like going out to ride with a group that you know you can’t hang with. The game becomes to find out how long you can hang. Then you come back a few weeks later and try it again (after you’ve forgotten how horrible it felt) to see if you can make it a little further. Then, all of a sudden, you make it one day.

I don’t think I’m going to be using Sufferfest videos for my day-in, day-out triathlon training. The beat down is just too severe when you consider you have to go out and run and/or swim the next day. And I’m not interested in doing a lot of training above my lactate threshold. But these are great for checking in every now and then to see where you are.

This is also changing my plan a little bit with regards to the Tour of Sufferlandria at the end of this month. My plan was to ride on 100% for as many days as I can, but that doesn’t seem feasible at this point. Lots of people have recommended 90% FTP, and I think that would still be pretty tough. I’m not trying to win the thing after all…it’s my rookie year.

I may give it a go next weekend with “It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time” at 100% just to make sure my previously mentioned excuses of full belly and exhaustion weren’t valid though.

Feel free to throw things at me in the comments. Apparently there are quite a few people out there who think riding the ToS at 100% isn’t all that hard.

I think these people may need to re-test their FTP.

2013 Done and Done

289 Hours of Swim/Bike/Run: 35:32 | 123:49 | 129:27

I think I see a problem here–a little heavy on the run and not as much bike as I should have. I can remedy that in 2014. The good news is that compared to last year, all numbers are up, and I more than doubled my time in the water. Bike time was up about 39%, and run time was up slightly.

Going by mileage, which is something I’m trying to move away from, I was at 3081.21 total miles (54.59 | 2252.91 | 768.7). All of those are up significantly from last year too, although they’re a little short on my goals. I’m very happy with the swim increase though.

Best part of 2013 was race management in my big events–Rocketman 70.3, Bridge to Bridge Swim, Battle of the Bridges Olympic tri,  Space Coast Marathon, and Self-Supported 50k run.

 

20131228_162128

[Insert Your Name Here] 50k Race Report

Wild Hair 50k? Dumb Idea 50k? Never Again 50k?

Again, this isn’t a race. Or wait…maybe it is. Since I was the only participant, it may serve me well to consider this event a race. Look at me–I’m a winner!

The original idea for this run was to wake up on New Year’s Day and see how far I could run. I’d go until I quit or until my average pace was 13:00/mile. I really wanted to make it to 50k and wasn’t interested in quitting before I made that distance. The real idea here was to do something big, but do it self-supported. I did end up getting a little bit of help with a drink mix.

Plans changed–an advantage to doing self-supported events is that you aren’t stuck with someone else’s schedule. During the week of Christmas things were pretty hectic. Lots of cooking, lots of cleaning, and lots of people coming into town. As a result, I got in an 11 mile run on December 22 and didn’t get to work out again until a (pretty hard) bike ride on Friday. I got to sleep in pretty late on Saturday morning and decided about 5 minutes into my first cup of coffee that I’d do the run the next day (12/29) instead of New Year’s Day.

My thinking was that I’d gotten a lot of sleep the night before, and I was about as tapered as I was going to be. I’d taken so many days off that week already, and I wasn’t interested in resting for another three days just so I could put off the run. So I didn’t really do a real and proper taper, but I was reasonably rested coming in and had done a marathon exactly 4 weeks before. Added bonus–this would give me two marathons in December!

The Nutrition


I’ve been working pretty hard on fat adaptation and moving away from fueling on a ton of sugar. This paid off, because I don’t think I could have handled living on Gu for 6 hours. I got a great cookbook a few weeks ago called “Feed Zone Portables: A Cookbook of On-the-Go Food for Athletes (The Feed Zone)“. There’s also something really gratifying about prepping your own food before an event. It sort of reminds me of the times I’d spend the night before a rugby game polishing up my boots. Just another added ritual, and I could see this being a really good calming activity pre-race.

There are some really good recipes and ideas in this book, not just for training and racing, but also just to keep healthy snacks around and available for the kids. A great example is the peanut butter jelly rice cakes. The kids love these things, and they work out great for delicious fuel that’s easy on the stomach.

 

I also changed up the recipe for potato leek frittatas. I just dumped some bagged hash browns into a bowl and added three eggs, some cheese, and some ham left over from Christmas. Mixed it up, filled some muffin tins with it, and put it in the oven on 180 for about 20 minutes. These things were great on (it’s not a) race day!

egg_potato_ultra_running_fuel

My plan was to make it as far as I could without resorting to an onslaught of sugar. So I was going to eat pretty often, but not too much at any one time.

The Execution

The plan was that there wasn’t going to be much of a plan. I knew I’d have Neighbor Ben along for the middle part of the run. I also knew those miles would be a little faster than my overall average. I was meeting up with Ben at 6:30, so I left home at about 5:15 am trying to hit 11:00 miles for 7 miles or so. I ate a banana and a frittata before I left the house and hit a couple of water stops while I was out.

I met up with Ben at 6:30, ate some more, stuffed my pockets with rice cakes, and we started out again. His plan was to do 16, and my plan was to run with him for a while and also catch some walking/eating breaks here and there since a big part of this part of the run was going to be in Wickham Park doing loops and trails. My heart rate stayed in control for the most part, except for the sections on the trails. No hills here, but there’s a lot of sugary sand that slows the pace while forcing the effort level. I tried to stay under my LT, but snuck up over it a few times.

I started realizing around mile 12 that even though I was keeping the pace in check, this was going to be a really tough day. As we headed back and I hit 18 miles I realized I was down to about a half marathon left. Any ideas I had about bailing before 50k were out the door. I was still averaging around 11:45/mile at that point, and the walk breaks had paid off. I made it back to the house at mile 21. 10 miles left to go, and feeling pretty good.

I lost a lot of time at this point, but it was worth it. My shorts were soaked–a really humid day out–and my shoes were well on their way. I took a few minutes to change shorts, socks, and shoes as well as get some more food in me. There’s a half mile loop around the house, and I did that 7 times  with the family, then did a quick one mile out and back while The Missus mixed up a heavy-on-the-Gatorade water bottle. I was pretty deep in at this point, and felt no shame resorting to sugar.

With 5.5 miles left, I went out on my usual 4 mile out and back course, leaving myself 3 more laps around the house to finish off the 50k. I planned some walking breaks during the 4 miles, and on the way out I took them. On the way back I started getting a little contrary and denied myself the walks–I just wanted this to end.

I got back to the Gatorade and started on my final three laps–1.5 miles left. I’d run seven of these already, and I knew that there was a headwind on one section of the loop that felt really good. I decided I’d walk that headwind on each lap and soak it up. I did that for the first two, but by the last one I was in “finish this thing off” mode. I ended up finishing 31.16 miles  in 6:23:52, which was a 12:19 pace overall. I was really happy with this, but even happier that it was over.

50k was plenty for me–I quit there.

Reflection

I’m not sure I want to do this again. Granted, I didn’t really train for this distance. I just figured since I was already in decent marathon shape I’d go out and give it a shot. I don’t know if I’d even want to dedicate the time it would take to really do this distance correctly. Ironically, or maybe not, I’m not nearly as sore the day after as I am the day after a marathon. I’m guessing that’s because the effort level was scaled way back. Time on the feet is a major factor here–over two hours longer time taken here than for a race only 5 miles shorter.

Still, I’m pretty excited about going out and doing a big self-supported event like this.

What’s next?

tour_of_sufferlandria-FB-Banner

My Rookie Year On The Tour

I’m doing a challenge run on New Year’s Day, but my next “race” is going to be the Tour of Sufferlandria.

Technically, this isn’t a race either. It’s just a 9 day beat down on the bike.

I got an awesome gift this year–every single Sufferfest video. I can’t decide if that’s because I’m loved, or because people really want me to suffer. I’ll take it either way. They’ll at least respect me when I finish, right? I’ve wanted to try these videos out for a while, and since I’ve been using Trainerroad my interest has peaked.

I’ve been off the bike for a couple of months and focusing on marathon training. But that race was two weeks ago, and I still think my biggest triathlon gains are to be had on the bike. So last night I did a new FTP test, using the Rubber Glove video from The Sufferfest. My old FTP was 305, and I expected that number to fall. (Un)fortunately it went up.

Way up. My new FTP is 399.

I blame it on the hot chick making omelettes.

I’m honestly not sure how this happened–bike setup on the trainer was the same. The only real difference was a slightly cooler environment. I’m hoping this is a true measurement, and that I gained this power with a 2 month focus on high running volume and ample rest going into the test. Either way, I’ve set myself up for some absolutely brutal training rides over the next 6 weeks heading into the Tour.

I’m not sure what’s going to happen over the rest of 2014. I’m reconsidering the self-supported 140.6 because of safety concerns. But I think I’m ready to step up to the big boy plate this year. I’m about 2 years into uninterrupted training and steady improvement–big gains on the bike in the second half of this year and a new found ability to run long distances without bonk.

The two major factors have been Trainerroad and a much cleaner diet with a lot less sugar and grains (thanks Vinnie!). I think I finally have a decent handle on race management as well. That’s probably a fleeting window of opportunity. I’ll start messing it up again soon. But I need to take advantage of this window while it’s open.

So…Great Floridian?

5817898537_4757ff9d2d_500

Self-Supported Running Event – January 1, 2014

And I don’t give a ladybug who you are or where you rank in the running world, I want you to get in on this!

I’m really excited about the prospect of doing a self-supported 140.6 in late 2014, but I’m in decent marathon shape right now and I don’t want to waste it. I also don’t want to plop down the money for another winter marathon. So I’ve come up with alternative–something that would be good to do annually.

The way I look at it, this will achieve one of two things every year. It will either keep me out of trouble on New Year’s Eve or make me pay dearly for the fun I had.

It’s a pretty simple event–”How Far Can You Run?” #howfar2014

Here’s the deal…

Wake up on New Year’s Day, take off running, and see how far you can go. The only rule I’m setting for myself is that I have to stop when my average pace for the day reaches 13:00 miles or I just plain quit–whichever happens first. Then the next year I’ll go out and try to run further. Of course, it’s entirely possible that I’ll never do it again because of the pain that ensues, but we’ll see.

No medals.

No t-shirts.

No fees.

Feel free to set your own rules and parameters. Step outside your own door and do the same. Jump on your treadmill. Run your local New Year’s Day 5k and keep running right through the finish line!

It seriously doesn’t matter how far you go. You may make it a mile, 10k, 15 miles, marathon, 50k, 50m…whatever. Just see how far you can go!

“Play a train song!”

[image credit]

Space Coast Marathon 2013 Race Data

“Man…I think a lot of people don’t realize how hot this race is going to be. A lot of these people are going to be struggling in the second half of this race.”

–Big Ben at ~ mile 8

We thought we were running at about the right pace, and I finished the race very happy with what I’d done that day.

I got a chance to break down the data a little last night.

I passed 195 people on the second half of the course–finished ahead of 195 people that made it to 13.1 faster than me. I was passed by two people. One of them was the wise man who spoke the words above.

Not patting myself on the back for the performance, but for the great job we did pacing. I really think 4:05:13 was all I had that day.

Good feeling!

2013-space_coast_marathon_ bib

2013 Space Coast Marathon Race Report

2013_scm_medal

Short version

No PR, but the best marathon I’ve ever run race-management wise.

4:05:13

Long version

Going into taper, I had one real goal for this race–don’t make a mental mistake. I did a very crunched marathon training schedule from the end of September with less volume than I wanted, but I knew running a really smart race would give me a great shot at sub 4.

We were traveling to see family for Thanksgiving (and eating), and I only got a couple of workouts in during the last week. No real problems with that. Traveling is stressful on its own–pretty much counts as a workout–and it was time to rest anyway. Regardless, it can mess with your head a little to let your running fall off like that. But I was prepared for it.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the Miles of Love team meeting we had on Friday night before the race. I didn’t know we were going to have the chance to meet some of the families and kids that Miles of Love works with that night.

That was a game changer.

Meeting Jackson, Nolan, and Jarod (sweetest kids ever) and their families was an extra nudge going into the race. I’ve  felt marathon pain before, and I knew it was nothing compared to what these kids have been through or what it must feel like to know your child is sick. But they were all smiling and in good spirits. Very inspiring.

There’s nothing I was going to face in a few hours time that was going to keep me from finishing with a smile on my face.

Pre-Race

I’ll refer to last year’s race report for everything leading up to the race–all the same. The only real difference this year is that the #1 Contender for the Fastest Man on Davidia Drive picked up my race packet for me. It’s nice that they’ll let someone pick up a packed for you with a copy of a drivers license.

26.2

As I said in the short version, this is the best managed marathon I’ve ever run. Splits for the first 20 miles are below with bathroom breaks noted:

  • Miles 1-5: 9:59, 9:31, 9:35, 9:17, 9:24 (BR)
  • Miles 6-10: 9:09, 9:12, 9:13, 9:08, 9:14
  • Miles 11-15: 8:59, 9:07, 9:00, 9:02, 9:13
  • Miles 16-20: 9:35 (BR), 9:00, 9:04, 9:00, 9:06

So breaking it down scientifically…I hit mile 20 at 3:04:49. That’s pretty much what I wanted to do. I knew if I could get to mile 20 feeling good and still be within a couple of minutes of 3:03:00 I’d have a shot at turning it on for the last 10k and breaking 4:00:00. I was going to have to run at an 8:53 pace for the last 10k, which at the time I hit mile 20 seemed completely reasonable. I felt great–actually never felt this good at mile 20 before, so I decided to give it a shot. Here’s an abbreviated version of the self-talk in each of those miles:

  • Mile 21 : Ok…speed up, but not too much. You don’t have to get it all back this mile. (9:01)
  • Mile 22 : Um…didn’t I tell you to speed up? Re-double your effort. (9:00)
  • Mile 23: You made a mental effort, and nothing happened physically. You’re now 14 seconds behind your original schedule, and you aren’t going to make 4:00:00. Physically, you felt like you poured the coals, but the reality is that you’re just plain tired. But you are still in this mentally, and that’s what is important. I’m going to allow you to walk two water stops between here and the finish, but there is no other walking allowed. That’s a bad precedent. (9:27)
  • Mile 24: Here’s one of your walk breaks. Enjoy it. (10:15)
  • Mile 25: Take your other walk break here. Savor it. Milk it. (10:39)
  • Mile 26: Make it to the mile marker you are essentially done. The last 0.2 is through a tunnel of supporters. You will run faster there no matter what, and you won’t even feel it. (10:02)
  • Last 0.2: Smile! (2:05)

I’ve been reading that a slight positive split is actually the optimal method for the marathon. I ran a 1 minute positive split on the back half. Very happy with this effort. I gave myself every opportunity to hit my goal, and I walked away knowing this is the best I could do that day. Maybe there were 30 seconds or so that could have been saved, but nothing that would make a real difference.

No regrets. No complaints. I don’t think I have mastered the marathon or anything like that, but I now know I can run one correctly. That puts a lot of pressure on for the next one.

Did I just type “next one”?

*** UPDATE ***

Can’t believe I forgot to mention how cool it was to run alongside Jeff Galloway for several miles on the first half of the race. He was doing a 30/15 run/walk and we were with him for quite a while. We were also with a lady who just wouldn’t leave the poor guy alone and let him run his race. The burdens of being a great running coach!

Post Race and Thank Yous

Biggest thanks to the people who supported me with donations to Miles of Love. I beat my fund raising goal, and our team beat our fund raising goal. You guys have no idea what an impact your donations are having on real families here locally. I’m not against making donations to large organizations at all, but when you can meet people who are impacted by your generosity within hours of the contribution it’s pretty amazing.

As always, thanks to the Fam for putting up with the training and coming out on race day. The medals for this race are crazy big and heavy, and it’s nice to have people who are more than willing to carry it around their necks so that I don’t have to.

And thanks again to the volunteers and handing out Gu, water, Gatorade, and  cold towels on the course along with all the food and beverages post-race.

1456060_10153587795280457_1038017918_n

The Miles of Love team was also very lucky to have post-race catering by Vital Flair. UNBELIEVABLE ribs, a delicious omelette, burgers, snack food, champagne…everything you need to celebrate a race! Check these guys out if you have an event that needs some great food and friendly people to help out!

 

Daily Reading List — November 13th

OK, You’re a Runner. Get Over It – Haters gonna hate, but I actually agree with this for the most part. I go on the assumption that the only people who care about my fitness exploits are keeping up with it on my blog or DailyMile. Based on the feedback I receive on each, no one care that much about it. I'm cool with that.

New Half-Ironman race coming to Lake Logan in 2014 – This will be a tough course. Guaranteed.

I just may have to…

Splunk Spawns Hunk Hadoop Tool

One step closer to a two-hour marathon – Hopefully I'll survive in a Google data center long enough to see this.

4356 5.2  Running route   dailymile

Self Supported 140.6 Run Route – First Idea

I’ve been kicking around a few ideas for how to structure the run for the (yet-to-be-named) self supported 140.6 I’m planning on doing next year. There are two basic paths of thought here–one is to do a bunch of laps of the same course. That’s what I’ve mapped out here. This is a 5.23 loop around my neighborhood beginning and ending in my driveway.

There are some big support benefits to this course.  First of all, we have plenty of room in the driveway to set up an aid station for people to put their stuff. We can also rent the neighborhood pavilion for the day and set up aid there. That would give us aid stations at Start, Finish, 3.5, 5.23, 8.8, etc. We could also have some volunteers make sure the intersection between 1&2 and 3&4 have some liquid and food if needed.

The downside of this course is that we’d have to do 5 laps. That would get old after the 2nd lap for sure. Then again, it’s a flat and fast course with very minimal traffic, so there’s really no reason to complain.

Another possibility I’m considering is a two-lap 13.1 course. I’ll post that layout later. There are definitely some advantages there too.

Marathon Training – Somethin’s Missing Alright

Hey! Did you know I have a marathon in less than 4 weeks?

It would be hard to know this, because I’m so out of my training, I hardly even mention it. I mean…I’m training, I’m just not that into it. I’m not excited about the Space Coast marathon the same way I was last year. I’m going through all the motions, hitting all the semi-planned runs at the semi-planned paces, but I’m just not very enthusiastic this time around.

Somethin’s missing alright.

During the 18 miler I (begrudgingly) ran this morning, I had plenty of time to think about what is missing. I spent most of this time listening to Dan Carlin’s The Wrath of the Khans instead, but I did do a little thinking. I came to the conclusion that physically, I’m pretty close to where I need to be. But mentally, something is off.

I think the big reason for my mental letdown this time around is that this has never been on my schedule as an “A” race. I mean, it was an “A” race last year, but not this year. This is the first time in a long time I’ve even done a race I didn’t consider an “A” race. That’s not my usual M.O. They are all “A” races in my book typically, or I don’t do them. And if this were a 13.1, it probably would be an “A”.

But I got a late jump on marathon training because I was focused on Battle of the Bridges. I kept my long run mileage up to 10-13 miles, but I was never pushing through any big hurdles mentally. That mileage was pretty easy for me, and I’m paying for it now that I’m up to 18 miles; I’m not ready mentally to push through these distances.

I don’t have recent experience with overcoming that struggle.

I’m still pushing through and making the miles, but it’s mostly because I’m drawing on past experience and knowing I can get it done. But I’m not relishing that battle the way I typically do.

So I’m dreading every long run, and I’m not even that excited about the mid-week kinda long runs that are relatively easy to knock out. I’m just not that into running at all right now. Right now, all I want is to get this done so I can spend more time on the bike again.

Ahh…and that’s where I reached some kind of realization of a meta-struggle that’s going on. I’m struggling with the fact that I don’t want to go out and fight for these runs. But…I’m going out and doing it anyway.

And although I’m not running as fast as I have in the past, hopefully I’m winning some other kind of struggle here that will pay off more in the long term than winning the struggle of individual runs. Hopefully I’m starting to gain ground in some sort of inner-war of doing something I really don’t want to do week in and week out.

As silly as it sounds, it’s easy to go out and run 20 miles if you want to go out and run 20 miles. Not so easy if you don’t want to do it all all.

Self-Supported 140.6 – And So It Begins

For the last couple of months, I’ve been thinking a lot about doing a self-supported 140.6 mile race event in 2014. Unfortunately for The Missus, I’ve been talking about it too.

A lot.

First things first–why do a self-supported event instead of an official race?

There are quite a few reasons. The biggest reason is just a matter of convenience. The costs and logistics of traveling to a race I have no hope of winning are hard to justify. I’d also have to tow four other people along with me, and they probably would rather do other things than sit around all day waiting to see if I survive.

There are a few races that are within a reasonable distance like the Great Floridian and HITS Naples that are doable, but anything the WTC puts on is off the table. Actually, WTC is off the table anyway, just because they are so cost prohibitive. Seriously, why pay hundreds of dollars a year in advance for some race nutrition and hydration (and a t-shirt, backpack, medal, etc)?

Ok, fair enough. The WTC perks are pretty nice. And you get to hear, “[Your name here]…you are an Ironman!” announced by Mike Reilly. I get the draw there. Really…I do get it, and it’s valid. And maybe one day I’ll be in a situation where this makes sense.

But my current situation is that I don’t really care about the medal or the t-shirt or whether or not WTC considers me to be an”Ironman”.

I just want to do it.

And doesn’t it make sense to take all that money I’d spend on an entry fee and put it towards a good cause instead? Maybe even use the event as a way to raise even more money for a good cause?

Yeah…that sounds better to me.

That’s crazy talk–where do you get the idea to do something like this?

I know this can be done and be a great event, because Coach Brett does it with the Iron Baby every year. Cruise over to his place and check out. It’s an amazing story, and he’s a true guru of self-supported racing. He’s done 9 Iron Baby events already, and he’s a great resource for information on what it takes and ideas.

I’ve also been inspired by some other events I’ve done (or missed out on) locally over the past year. There are the Bridge to Bridge and John R. Mathers swims organized by Rob Downey (events, not races) and the Wickham Park Ultra Marathon (event, not a race) Matt Mahoney organizes going on just a few miles from my house. These are yearly events with great participation. And they don’t need medals or official timing chips to make them great.

In fact, I’d argue that the absence of all the frills is one of the things that makes them great.

I could go on and on about the beauty of self-supported and non-sanctioned events, and I probably will in subsequent posts. There are lots of other things I’m going to have to figure out and plan over the next year as well, and I plan to document these activities as a go. Just a few of the things that will be covered:

  • Event Date – I’m thinking some time in November
  • Race Course – Will need a few different options I think
  • Sponsors?
  • What charity to support – that one is easy
  • Aid station placement and manning
  • Prizes?
  • Publicity and fundraising

I’m really looking forward to this adventure, both as a (it’s not a) race director, as a participant, and as a guy trying to tackle this distance for the first time. Stay posted for more information!