One key goal in my 4th upcoming book was to share some of my personal stories, learning experiences and lessons from other athletes. All of my past insane stories are covered in live presentations, but I have often forgot to include in the books. The books have been centered around the race, history and the athletes and not a personal day by day account of my race. However, there will be plenty in It's All About The Deca. You will love the The DECA Tool Kit in the book.
My first DECA was in Monterrey, Mexico with the 1 Ironman per day for 10 days format (must finish in 24 hours each Ironman - that sounded so easy!). My training had averaged 20-25 hours per week for the most important weeks leading up to the race (the last 6-8 weeks). My maximum weekly hours trained was around 45 hours (a majority of the weekly hours that peak week was from competing in a 100 mile running race that was being used as part of the training plan). The typical breakdown of overall time each week was 30% swimming, 30% cycling and 40% running.
The strategy worked well during the race. I knew that ultimately any given day’s race performance would be dictated by the last ½ marathon of the run. As I have mentioned throughout the previous chapters, the vast majority of any athletes race performance in the DECA is dictated on how they handle the last third of overall time in the event (for the 1x10, it’s the last 3-4 hours of the race and the classic DECA is at the halfway point of the 262 mile run).
One learning lesson takeaway: I should of incorporated more cycling time in preparation for my first DECA (specifically, 3 or 4 consecutive days of 6-7 hour bike rides all in the aerobic zone) while reducing my swimming hours. The main reason was that I had not fully developed a “tough ass” and it would of eliminated a few days of saddle sores during the early stages of the race (by day 4, the saddle sores had subsided).
Another important learning lesson of that first DECA, was how our muscles adapt over time. As we approached the 4th day in the 1x10 DECA, many athletes were already dealing with minor injuries. Thankfully, my only issues were foot blisters and saddle sores which I knew nether would inhibit moving onward to the goal of finishing.
What happened on the run was rather quite interesting as I was a rookie in this race and kept thinking of what might happen in the future (big mistake – stay in the present as much as possible when the mind starts to drift). I remember it vividly as we were required to do 21 loops on the run and during my 12th loop my legs just felt great.
It was if I had brand new legs and at the time I happened to be listening to Pink Floyd’s classic song “Run Like Hell – Live Version” on my IPod. Music helps! I played this song on repeat mode for a good hour or so before moving on to another song (listening to music during the run was allowed in events, but has since changed in many venues because of dangerous situations with pedestrians, etc.).
As my confidence grew and overall pace picked up, I was running with the goal of lapping competitors that were a few spots ahead of me in the overall standings (keep in mind the top 3 leaders were way ahead of me). I kept telling myself the same words over and over again “push until I lap them”. This simple little move set the stage for several good days and I knew my legs would be there during the later part of the marathon.
As the injuries mounted day by day for many athletes, several dropped out and I moved further up the leader board to 5th position (remember I am an AVERAGE athlete) and mentally felt that I could push the pace on the run. Every night, at the same time it became like a routine habit and I would tell myself it’s "Go Time!" to make sure the competitors that I had passed in the overall standings would not be able to catch me until I had several hour overall lead. The key learning lesson was that I was able to push the pace even on fatigued legs as the running muscles adapted over time, day after day. I assumed going into the race that every day, the last 10-12 miles of the marathon would be a death march! Thank goodness it was pure bliss. I will never forget the memories of running in the warm evenings of Monterrey, Mexico at a pace that I would of never expected.
Learning Lesson and Tip: When you experience these higher energy times and positive mood swings, everything becomes easy (it will happen) just go with it. Don’t hold back but remain relaxed. Make sure you temper your pace that’s appropriate based on your level, to make sure you don’t go overboard and get injured. Typically, this upbeat feeling of mood will occur in day 1, day 4 and then day 8-10 for most athletes.
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