Tuesday, February 2, 2016

April 2005 By Gordo Byrn

April 2005
By Gordo Byrn

It’s been a pretty busy last few weeks in my life. After each Ironman race, I like to schedule a bunch of real-world activities. So in March, I probably logged over 20,000 miles of travel visiting with clients and athletes. One of the trips I did was back to Hong Kong. I love the craziness of that city. After a little over four years on-the-outside, I don’t even get tense when I return there.

Similar to a lot of us, I suppose, I tend to get a little neurotic when I am not training. Don’t ask me why, but I decided that it would be a good idea to go to a zero carb diet for the duration of my stay. A lot of people think that I eat low carb but my diet training diet is actually about 50% carbs and I eat a heck of a lot of fruit. So I did two trans-pacific flights within five days, combined with a radical nutritional shift. Oh yeah, and I got completely heisted, twice.

Needless to say, upon return to Palm Springs, I was pretty worked, shelled and fatigued. I shared my predicament with Scott and he suggested that I give myself some goals. Alright, goals… what could I come up with. They grow wind around here and I was having trouble with cycling motivation. It’s mainly road running on the streets so a big run period wasn’t very appealing. However… they have an outstanding outdoor swimming facility and after five months in New Zealand… well my tan had seen better days.

I fired off a note to Scott that I was going to go for a 100,000 yard swim week. He didn’t even reply – maybe he knew the insanity of what I proposing. Anyhow, the 100,000 quickly got cut down to 75,000 (overnight actually). I wrote out my plan, which was to take-it-out hard and open with a 20,000 workout. Probably only a five hour session…

Problem with that was that my longest workout following IM New Zealand was in the 50-65 minute range. My energy metabolism systems weren’t exactly firing on all cylinders…

Monica got a kick out of the concept and said that if I was crazy enough to swim 20,000 then she’d swim alongside me. Here’s how it went…

The first 2,000 went really well – I was thinking “cake walk” bouncing around, acting like a little muppet during the rest intervals. Monica told me later she was shaking her head on the inside, “dude’s got NO idea of what’s coming”.

The first main set was 100x100, with each 1,000 I become a little more quiet… and at 6,000 managed to negotiate a pee break. My head was swirling and I headed to the gents. Returning to the water, my pecs were starting to cramp, my right shoulder was showing major signs of impingement and my speech was slurred. Not good at all.

Somewhere around the 75x or 80x100 mark, I felt a lot like crying but just didn’t have the energy. All of a sudden, Monica gave me a kiss and smiled… “half way honey!”

Ground it out to get the 100x100 finished. Slumped against the lane line, I was convulsing and shaking. It was totally ridiculous and we were busting out. At that stage, I asked if it would be OK if we called it a day. Coach Caplan agreed and I rolled out like a rather exhausted Sea Lion.

So kicked off with 12,000 that day. The days after went…
7,000 - 14,000 (double) - 13,000 (double)
6,000 - 11,000 (double) - 10,000 - Off
2,500 - 8,000 - 7,100 - 9,000
8,000 - 4,500 (including a life best 400 scy) - 10,000

All fine and dandy but I sure paid a price in the last week!

If you’ve been reading for the last few years (xtri’s been publishing me since 1999, thanks!) then you’ve likely seen that the “middle way” isn’t exactly my forte. In fact, I would say that moderation is probably the thing that I do least well in my life. I’m OK with that. Maintenance, being in balance – they just don’t do it for me. My head seems to like moving forward – moving towards a somewhat unreasonable target.

So this past week has been an up-and-down one. If you ask me about performance… and if I tell you what I really think, rather than what is most palatable… then I’d likely share that in my own life, the things that I’ve achieved that provided lasting meaning have been the one’s where I was forced to go further than I thought possible.

Knowing the path to achievement, knowing the method to achievement can make it harder in some respects. How can I do it better? How can I improve on what I did last time? Because once we realize how much focus and effort is required to achieve at the highest level, that level of commitment is pretty daunting.

We can try to do more. We can try to do it harder. But how do you top – base training across America and Dave’s IronSchool? There are a lot of nuked Ironman champions that figured if they could just go a little harder, a little longer… then they’d be even faster. “Fortunately” I tend to crack before I can do much damage to myself.

It’s also impossible to fool one’s self into a sense that we are doing what it takes when circumstance, or our physical limits, or our mental limits mean that we can’t follow the optimal path.
…and that’s a tough thing for anyone to face
…and that’s why people selling the easy way will always have plenty of customers

But there is no easy way, and even if there was, it’s not much fun. At least not for me.

Running this morning, I was thinking about Tom and Cam – Canada and New Zealand. Both are great guys, both beat me. But the races, the experiences, were completely different for me. I have far more lasting satisfaction from “losing to first place” in Penticton than “winning second” in Taupo. …and if I am honest with myself, I am haunted by the knowledge of what it took to achieve that superior experience.

Perhaps I don’t need to achieve it again but a life best performance is pretty addictive.

...and I think that’s what many of us are chasing. Heading out to see if we might, just, be able to that.

100,000 in a week? Not right now, but it was fun to try.
- gordo