Training between Philadelphia and Whistler
Coming off my win in Philadelphia I needed a break. The day of the race in Philly a lot of people asked me “this is your race man you ready to take it?”. I love their confidence in me but I was honest with them. I wasn’t ready, everything in my body was tight and I felt the constant training/mental stressing over injury had worn me out. Toughest Mudder has been the only thing on my mind all year and I have had enough. I needed a break from training and thinking about it all after Philadelphia. So I told myself and Mendoza (to hold me to it) that I would not run for 2 weeks after the race.
We all know how the race went. I pushed myself over the edge to win and I felt it the following week. So Alisha and I flew off to Mexico for a dive-cation to recharge. I held true to my promise for 5 days but chilling on the beach drinking beer is not my thing anymore. I need to be active. So 5 days after Philly I started doing a little running. 20-30 minutes after diving. That was it.
But the next week I ran 40 miles and the week after that 50. I didn’t listen to myself or my body and I did what every athlete instinctively does to keep the furnace burning. Between the Mexican heat, 10+ tacos a day, beer, and constant travel in car and plane I wasn’t nice to my body and I paid for it. I went to Whistler feeling burnt out.
What I should have done was stay home, relax, and do some focused “key” workouts with plenty of rest in between to let my body and mind recover between the 2 races while staying tuned to run another 8 hours. I have a problem with chilling out though, I like to squeeze every last drop out of everyday. Because of this energy I can run 8 hours on a whim anytime, but being able to run a “good” 8 hours means that you have to control that energy and save it for race day. I have a problem doing this…..If there is a lesson to learn in 2017 it’s “don’t overdue it”.
Leading up to the race I followed Jason Rulo’s plan of eating frequent small meals all day. I snacked mostly on small pancakes with jelly.
During the race I did not wear my hydration vest like I did in Philly and Atlanta. Since I was wearing a wetsuit I did not want to be too bulky for the obstacles so I just slammed a red cup of my hydration mix every lap when I came in to pit.
I would have carried a gel for mid-lap but TM announced that we could not for fear of attracting bears. Because of bears we were also ordered to carry a bear whistle in whistler.
Whistler was the smallest Toughest this year. Driving into the festival area at 2230 there was no parking line, no registration line, and only 300 of Tough Mudders most die hard followers. I loved it though, it felt like a grass roots event. Everyone had a chance to mingle pre-race to take off the tension and there was no rush to get to the starting line.
When the gun sounded I started out feeling great and hung behind Atkins and Kilian for the first mile or so. The terrain was logging roads mixed with muddy root covered single track. Atkins slowly disappeared from sight only to reappear moments later running towards me. Right behind him was Kilian. The top 30 or so people had taken a wrong turn after bypassing king of swingers. I don’t know what happened because I just followed the crowd but I heard that a volunteer turned them down the wrong path. I met up with Mendoza that lap and we finished it together around the 55:00 mark.
Lap 2 was a game of continued catch up. Getting lost for so long so early in the race really puts you back in the pack. When we started lap 2 all the obstacles were already open and with lines. We finished lap 2 around the 1:50 mark and at this point I knew I would not get 45 miles. Running my usual pace I can get 1.5 laps in without obstacles and be 2 laps into the race by 1:20-1:30. We were a little behind but so was Atkins and Kilian.
Somewhere around lap 3 I started feeling really tired and it hurt my stomach to climbing over all the wall and log obstacles. At one point I felt so drained I laid down inside the pipe on shawshanked and wanted to quit. Some guy behind me said “hey man are you ok?”. “yup” I replied and I rolled back over onto my stomach and started to crawl again. I was hurting and had no energy to walk up the hills. I was in a dark place and the fact that I was so far behind wasn’t helping.
In the pits I told Jeff (pit crew) that I felt like quitting and then ran off to start another lap. Before 4am you could already see light coming into the sky and we all knew that Tough Mudder would make their infamous course deviation by adding a massive hill climb up the Olympic ski jump landing. The ski jump was right after the start line so there was no lingering in the pits. Everyone wanted to get out and past that ski hill before they opened it at an unannounced time.
As the sky lit up I started feeling better. Instead of chasing bobbing headlights I began to chase human figures. Eventually one of those figures became tough to catch. I was gaining on him but very slowly. When I saw the beard I knew it was Marco Bedard. I figured he’d be in the top 3 and at this point I had no clue what place I was in (Jeff and I had to no placement update rule going on again). This got me optimistic but after talking to him I found that he was on a downward spiral as with most people. This 8-hour races starting at midnight are unnatural and break down a surprising number of people. It’s tough to run a peak race after midnight when you’ve been awake all day.
With Marco behind me I figured there couldn’t be too many guys ahead and I started to think I could maybe pull off a top 3. I knew Atkins and Kilian were up there and maybe Azar. I put a little pep in my step and with a new found purpose pushed on.
Little did I know, Austin was right behind me and I was in 5th. When I started my 6th lap I passed the ski hill and a TM race official closed the course behind me to reroute it to the ski hill. And Austin was the first guy up the dreaded ski hill.
When I started lap 7 Jeff updated me that 4th place was 4 minutes ahead of me and that at my pace I could close that in 2 laps. “awesome” I thought still not knowing Austin was closing in too. On top of the ski hill I pulled over to lower my wetsuit and do business in the bushes before moving on. I thought I had 5th secured with Austin, Kilian, and Atkins ahead of me so instead of sacrificing my wetsuit I fertilized the ground. This proved to be a mistake.
On my 8th lap I still had the same gap behind 4th place but Austin was right on me. I saw him as I finished stage 5 clinger and we actually stopped on opposite sides of the course to chat for a bit. I thought he was ahead of me so I had to quiz him to find out what happened. Once we figured out he was chasing me conversation was over. He ran me down in less than a mile but I kept him in sight until the finish. I even saw him stop to help Allison Tai over Everest before the finish line. Austin is a class act and continues to impress me every year.
I finished my 8th lap in 7:54 and 6th place overall. A TM official approached me and said I could start another lap and finish it before 0842 if i wanted (a little payback since the volunteers mis directed us) but I declined. With that massive ski hill I knew I could not throw down a 48:00 lap. I ran a clean race failing zero obstacles and my gear selection was perfect for the mid 40 degree weather. What caused my stomach problems early in the race? I talked to Jeff and Jason Rulo and we all conclude that it was the excessive amount of coffee I drank pre race. Everything in moderation I guess.
Great Job Ryan and Lindsay on the win. Awesome job Alisha Miller on your first Toughest Mudder/first race run longer than 13.1! Alisha ran 25 miles in 6 hours before pulling out of the race after falling and hitting her head on Kong.
Thank you Goat Tough for the support this season. See you at at World’s Toughest Mudder!