The last two days have been inspiration station! On Wednesday I heard that our local running shoe store was doing a fun run and afterwards Mark Allen, Luis Vargas, and Mighty Mouse Angela Naeth were doing a panel with Barry Siff moderating. Please note here that although blurry, Barry is sporting a PxRx Hat. Boo to the Yaaa!

Then on Thursday night I had purchased tickets for a fun run and book signing with Scott Jurek in Boulder. He was showing a video and doing a panel chat and a reading. It was to be a busy few evenings, but with the opportunity to talk to some superior athletes and learn some stuff too.

Of course, I want to share it all here. Mostly because despite the fact that some of you read this...I read back on these things too. I like to get it all down before it fades.

L to R: Luis Vargas, Mark Allen, Angela Naeth, Barry Siff. L to R: BAMF, BAMF, BAMF, BAMF

Of course when they asked for questions from the audience my hand was the first one up (duh...overachiever #1 here). I asked Mark to give me some advice since I am 11 days out from CDA on what I can do at this point to set myself up for a good race. I actually phrased it more like "There are a lot of us here doing CDA, can you give us...." but really, I just wanted to sit in a room with him and pick his brain for about 18 hours. So yes, clearly the hay is in the barn at this point from a training perspective, but come on folks, training is only 1/2 of 1/2 of the battle. So what can we I do at this point? Here is what he said.

  • Make sure this week that you get everything for the race set aside in a corner of your house or room. Make sure you have enough water bottles, that the bike is tuned up and ready to go. Do all of that this week and don't leave any running around to next week.
  • This weekend he suggested a 1:15 run on Saturday, followed by a 3:00 ride on Sunday
  • On Thursday of next week he suggested a 30 min swim, followed by a 1:30 bike, followed by a 30 min run. He said to get those done as early as possible in the day. The point here was to deplete the glycogen reserves 72 hours out of the race. He said they take 72 hours to completely refill and after this workout is when you should focus on getting the glycogen nice and full by adding a serving of carbs each day, don't go overboard.
  • On Friday he suggested a day off. He said this was the most important day for rest so he would make sure to be in bed come 6pm and to sleep in the following day (Saturday) as much as possible (I find it interesting that the day you need the most rest is the day they keep you out until 10 pm with a banquet and mandatory race meeting)
  • Saturday he suggested a 20 min swim, 30 min ride, 10 min run all back to back to back, and then eat early and get to bed. He said sleep the night before is not a big deal. If it doesn't happen that's fine, it's 2 days before that's really important
  • He said to focus on hydration at least 3 full days out from the race. It takes that long for your cells to really fully hydrate. He also suggested over-salting foods during this time period.
  • He also advised against doing a lot of heavy thinking the week before the race. He talked about how our brain needs to stockpile resources for race day as well. So having a quiet mind and allowing the brain rest as well was important
  • He said the most important thing on race day was the ability to quiet the mind. He talked about positivity and how people always talk about having to stay positive in an Ironman, but he said that sometimes there isn't anything positive to find in the situation. If you are hurting and struggling, there isn't a lot of positive stuff to focus on, so he said that he prefers to quiet the mind, stop the chatter, and race. Once he figured out this skill, his racing took on a new dimension.

Those were the major points of his answer to me. He got asked another question about balance in life. He brought up that he loves to surf and someone asked if he and Luis advise athletes to take breaks on a weekly, or monthly basis to seek balance. There were some great comments from Luis and Mark on this one.

  • Luis said that something he sees interacting with a lot of athletes is the concept of honesty. You have to be honest with yourself and your needs. Different people need different things and part of this sport is assessing your own needs. He said most AGers do the sport as a hobby and a passion, and so they need to be honest with what their needs for a balanced life are.
  • Mark brought up an interesting point. He asked how many people went on a 6 hour ride last weekend? A lot of hands went up. He said "There is nothing balanced about a 6 hour ride." On a day to day basis balance does not exist. He said that what he sought was balance over the year. So when he was training for Hawaii, the 7-8 weeks before it was all tri all the time. Nobody saw him unless it was in a training setting. But then after Hawaii he would take 2 months off and would see his friends and family, and have a lot of fun with them. He said his life was balanced over the year, but not in any one day or week.

Everywhere I had read that Mark was kind of a serious guy, but I didn't find that at all. He cracked a lot of jokes and he exuded a very quiet and confident peace. He has that ability to relax a room full of people and to make the task at hand seem easier and more straight forward than you might have once thought.

I didn't talk much about Ang. She was asked a lot of questions about her own training and her work with Mark. The talked about breaking her season into thirds and how that has helped her this year. I can tell that she is happy and thriving, which from a friend point of view makes me happy too.

So, last night was Scott Jurek. I went to the fun run with him and 200 other people that I didn't know. But I did make some friends. These two were totally cracking me up and I'm sure that I'm going to be addicted to their YouTube feed for years to come. They were hilarious and adorable all at the same time.

When we got off and running I was in the front and Scott was right there. See...

And this is what it looked like behind me...

Go ahead, I'll give you a minute...make all of your overachiever jokes now...


Okay, I got to talk to Scott a little, tell him I really enjoyed his book, listen to some things he had to say about his experiences writing it and going on this book tour. All in all it was well worth it to get to run a bit with him. He's a really chill, and a really NICE guy. You just get that feeling straight up.

During the book signing he did a reading, and they had a panel discussion. This really got my thoughts flowing as I sat and listened to them speak about ultra running. As silly as this sounds, Ironman is about speed and the pain to go fast, the pain to turn yourself inside out, while all around you other athletes are posturing, walking, blowing up, puking, and then some of them passing you, hurting more than you, better than you. Ultrarunning is different, even for the guys at the top, ultra running is about pain. The genetic factor has honestly been mostly removed with ultra running and the guys who excel are uniquely a different breed.

The question was asked "why?" It always gets asked. But this time is was more like "What kind of sick demented person does 100 mile races and does well at them?" One of the panelists answered...At the core of it, most great ultra runners don't feel like they are good enough. They hit the trails to either punish themselves for that, or to try to prove that they are good enough.

Damn. Someone finally sat there and told it like it was... only in ultra running. It was none of this CW BS "I'm just trying to get the most out of my body" (say it in a British accent...). No, at their core, anyone who repeatedly goes out there to F themselves up royally (do I need to repost the pics of my toenails from the Moab 100?) is trying to prove something. Either to others (that usually doesn't work) or most likely to themselves. That point was discussed and it was dead on.

Why do people that clearly excel at things need to hurt themselves to prove worth? Well, for that you are going to need a chaise lounge and a few hundred hours. Sometimes, 100 miles on foot is just easier.

After the panel Scott stayed around to sign every single persons book, and I know that because somehow I ended up at the end of the line. He spoke with every person, he was genuine, he asked them about themselves. He was just a cool dude. He asked Annie if she was a runner. She said yes.

These last two evenings, while they threw me out of my routine, they were really good, and really needed. I have been really focused on the "work" these last weeks and I have worried about my fitness level, especially after the saddle sore incident. Following a new plan this year it's been hard for me to feel like I am ready. I'll say it, I don't feel fit, not like I have been in the past. These last two nights I was reminded that good performances can come from a place of insecurity. They can stem from something to prove, to yourself, to others. So maybe going into this race feeling like I'm not "there"  is an okay place to compete from.