With 30 days to go until my first race of the year and my most challenging race to date I figured I would share the top 10 reasons that I am attempting the ultraman distance next month.
10. It's Unique. With about 7.2 Billion people in the world and millions having run at least one marathon and probably close to 1 million having completed an Iron distance race there is something special about ultraman. Only 481 people have completed an ultraman 385 of them completed the ultraman world championships in Hawaii, 138 have completed ultraman Canada, and 22 have completed ultraman UK, which is no longer in existence. 42 of those athletes have completed both Hawaii and Canada and only 4 have completed all 3 of them. The Florida race is new this year and it's 320 miles of racing will be sure to provide me with a challenge.
9. It's Invitation Only: Yes that means that you actually have to apply and be invited to participate. With most races all you have to do is pay the entry fee and you are good to go. With ultraman you have to submit and endurance race resume and the race director and their committee decide whether or not you are qualified. That not only adds to the uniqueness but it ensures some pretty stiff competition as well. This years race includes a past ultraman UK champion as well as some other strong ultra athletes, so it's likely to be a good race for the title.
8. I finally got invited! I've had this race distance on my radar since late 2007 and have even applied and been rejected more than once in that time span. In a way I'm thankful that I haven't been accepted up until this point because I have had a lot of time mentally and physically to mature as an athlete. I have no doubt that the extra racing experience over the last 7 years will help me immensely as I take on my ultraman journey.
7. It's an early season race: While some of the winter training has been a little challenging I have been able to hit most of my sessions without issues. A great benefit of the long training is that it will build a great base for 2014 summer racing, and should set me up for a great season. Being properly trained for the race I don't believe race recovery should not eat in to my prep for summer and my goal of getting on Team USA once again for the 2015 world championships in Chicago.
6. I enjoy the training: while some days are obnoxiously long with 7 and 8 hour bike rides and 3 hour long swims and runs, most of the training is "normal". Getting to the start line has certainly been, and will be a process but so far it's been an enjoyable journey. Don't get me wrong, I sometimes get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of some workouts, but the powerful feeling I get after overcoming those long distance sessions is second to none. For example I absolutely loathed my planned 10,000 yard swim this past Monday, I wanted to quit 2,000 yards in to it, halfway in to it I started thinking it wasn't that bad, and when I finished 10,000 I felt like I could go to 15! it's sessions like these that will make that finish line a beautiful sight. Plus after riding your bike for 7 hours you can justify eating pretty much anything without any guilt!
5. It's a team effort: Your success in this race is as much about your physical and mental preparation and training as well as your support crew. You need to make sure your crew is well educated on what you want, what you may need, and what you absolutely need in advance of the race. They are there to keep you on pace when you should be going faster, to slow you down when you are going to fast, and just make sure to keep you on your game overall. They say to pick your crew wisely and for good reason. There is no one I would rather have heading my crew team than my wife, sometimes I think she knows me better than I know myself.
4. Strong Community: The Ultraman races are based on the guiding principles of “aloha” (love), ”ohana” (family), and “kokua” (help). I have asked questions of many former participants and many athletes competing against me and they were all very forthcoming in their willingness to help out. From the research I've done and the stories I've read it's very common and you just don't get that anywhere else.
3. Vacation: I get to go somewhere warm, and get a break from the winter here in the Northeast. As much as I enjoy the change of seasons and running in the cooler temps it's always nice to get a little break midway through the winter. By the time I get back from racing it will be close to March and the spring weather will be on it's way. Not only that, I get to spend some time after the race with my Mom who lives pretty close to the venue, since I don't get to see her that often that is a huge plus.
2. Front row seat for support crew: After spending countless hours on the sidelines supporting me and never really knowing what goes on during one of these races, I'm happy to have my wife be able to experience it first hand. Since the crew is following you around ALL day, and is responsible for your well being and support they get to see how and when the action happens. No wondering how I am feeling, what place I am in, and where I am. They get to experience it all first hand, which might not necessarily be a good thing, but another unique aspect of the race.
1. It scares me: I will admit this is probably my number one reason for doing this race. I have done roughly 177 endurance races which include 4 Ironman triathlons and a 50 mile trail run, but I have never raced something of this magnitude. I like to be challenged and this race is certainly putting me out of my comfort zone, but not so much that I don't believe I can complete it. I have total confidence that not only will I finish, but probably do quite well in the process. The level of competition has elevated my training and I am going in to my last 30 days feeling stronger and more ready to compete than I ever have. I'm up for the challenge and I can't wait to experience my ultraman journey!