“fight till I am dead, eat till I am fed, never stop to catch my breath. I fight till I am dead, eat till I am fed; and then I do it all again…” -hungry
I wanted an adventure. I wanted to race. I wanted to travel and do something epic, some place epic, and found it all in Israeliman, Israel’s half and full ironman distance races. The course is brutal, the event baller, and the country one of the places I most wanted to visit in the world.
One issue, it’s held in January. So how do you prepare for a race in the middle of winter living in NYC? You grow a mountain man beard and HTFU. Chicks can skip the beard part. I embraced a ton of winter suffering. Namely cylco-cross and trail racing to keep me engaged in this pursuit. Both require a beard. So after a million reps in the gym, a diet of leaves and twigs to drop to race weight, and some base l, it was time to start the hard work and I figured 3 races in 24 hours then a marathon would do the trick.
RACE 1 NJ TRAIL SERIES
Race 1 was Saturday, a 10k trail race with the NJ Trail series. I love the trail/ultra runner scene. It’s all sport, pure and brutal. To vs the other runners and nature herself. Pre race I warmed up, rocked a carboom gel and then did some light yoga as the race director set the tone with announcements and a nice handful of jokes with us. Dude has the voice to lead a hardcore band and will never need a megaphone.
The course started out with 1k flat around a lake and I took the lead giving me first digs at the single track. Three guys sat behind me and we hit a down hill then the first series of switch backs and I got a gap on the down hill so I attacked the first climb. This was risky because there was still 9k of hard hard hard stuff ahead. But as a long course guy I tend to think it’s good to make it hard all the way rather than leave it to a sprint at the end. At the top of the first series of climbs I was clear of the three behind me and used the downhills to pull away more as a cyclists my downhill running is strong because it uses cycling muscles but I was clearly going at an effort I would have trouble maintaining.
The course grinds on with more and more uphills and downhills and by the final big uphill I was for sure feeling less snappy. Second place caught a glimpse and I became the hunted. With 2k to go he saw me at a switch back and I needed to shift gears into turbo and run hard to the line. I never ran so hard to go so slow! That course is sick. I was stoked for the win! I used my Brooks Launch, a lightweight trainer. Perfect for racing but enough shoe for rocks.
After that it was time to hit the gym. I working on swimming too so I did my dry-land swim workout and core. An hour later and I was cooked. I like ST Racers, pure flow or T7 for the gym because it feels minimalist and close to barefoot.
RACE 2 and 3. ELM CITY CYCLO-CROSS
The next morning was back to back cross races. But first a swim. I mean, I am a triathlete after all! The plan was to use this as my long ride so I road 80 minutes before my first race. Well, I stopped for 10 minutes to break up a domestic assault by two locals in the park not affiliated with the race which was in new haven. That counts as cross training. MMA work. Crack is whack, just saying.
After that I lined up, for the 4/5 race. I guess I had some points after last weeks racing and so I got a good starting position based in seeding. Sadly I suck at starts at cyclo cross so being in a good starting position isn’t as useful when you suck. I am gonna learn how to do these some day. One of the reasons a good start is critical is that cross has a lot of crashes at starts. 200m into the race I was reminded of this when the field looked like a football running play: a nice pile up. I lost a lot of time as grown men untangled bikes tantrum style.
The course had a sick climb that is about 30-60 seconds and put me right on the edge. I got to do it 20 times that day between racing and riding before between and after races. I made it each time with my heart rate at about 180 beats per minute. It was nice to be riding the Evil Racing Cult Carbon Cross
Bike. Contact me for one! The next section was a power section and that’s where I moved up or dropped people. As a guy focused on Iron distance racing cross is about 8 hours short but even in these 45 minute events I move up late and in the final lap got a few guys that gassed out. The results table had me 7th over all and I was most pleasantly surprised since this is only my 3rd weekend of racing this year. The day had been non stop snow and I was really coming down during the race changing the course each lap. I was SO thankful I scored a Champion System fleecy cross kit! I was totally comfortable for all four hours!
I had an hour between races so I just kept riding because this is my long ride. I had several Carboom gels, once before the race once after and once before race two.
Race 2 was the 3/4 and a better field. My legs were cooked and I could tell 1/2 way through the first lap. My heart rate was a full 10 beats lower than the first race. But I just focused on the workout and kept it hard. One reason to use a heart rate monitor when racing is that even if the race isn’t going great you get to see the work you are doing and that’s motivation. I got into a few battles with people and that motivated me to go as hard as I could. Plus I was still seeing good numbers so I new I was doing work. 45 minutes later it was over and I road 15 minutes more just to hit 4 hours.
The next day I was pretty tired and sore but me and Christine had planned a trail marathon run to prep for the ultra coming up. It was also Coraline the dogs first unofficial-official marathon. All I can say is that It made sense at the time. Also christine was clearly taking advantage of my exhaustion and weakened mental state to convince me a marathon was a good idea. We ran and ran and ran loops of the 50k course we have coming up and I was oddly ok. christine said she would lead the last 10k loop and she dropped 10 minutes off the first loop. That’s 1 minute per km! So it pretty much turned into a race. The dog won. I took 3rd out of the 3 of us. Podium? At 125k a week of running it’s good that Brooks loves me as I am going through shoes quickly. Also huge thanks to Caveman for fueling me before and after all these races!