Life As An Endurance Athlete

Squamish 50 Ultra Trail Race - August 2016

Squamish 50 Ultra Trail Race - August 2016

Sure I am that this day we are masters of our fate, that the task which has been set before us is not above our strength; that its pangs and toils are not beyond my endurance. As long as we have faith in our own cause and an unconquerable will to win, victory will not be denied us.
— Winston Churchill

As I entered my thirties I was on a mission to find new challenges, I had a desire to push the envelope, extend myself further outside my comfort zone, and do some crazy things that I never have done before. Well, that "crazy" turned into a lot crazier than I ever thought, but so is life, the journey of an endurance athlete chose me and I was more than happy to take the reigns on this new found venture...

I can vividly remember standing on the shores of Tucelnuit Lake in beautiful Oliver, BC, anticipating what would be my first shot at the 70.3 triathlon distance. I had no training under my belt, literally, none. I had just bought my bike a month before the race, a wetsuit 3 weeks prior to the race and all the apparel and gear that I figured a triathlete would need. When most had anywhere from 3 - 6 months of training under their belts, I was probably the one and only athlete with nothing! But, I was ready mentally to tackle what would be the first event of many, training is overrated anyway...said no one ever!

I learned a lot on that warmer day in Oliver...

1) When in the water: Pick a lane and stick with it (preferably the outside, as this was my first race), Practice sighting (swimming less is more), People will swim on top of you, kick you, punch you (obviously unintentionally) and try not to take in to much water.

2) On the bike: Chaffing, it happens and you just have to learn to deal with it! Headwinds are not my friend, Riding with a full bladder with 15km to go - do I go on the bike or stop in the portable washroom?? (Hint: If I got off that bike I wasn't sure if I could get back on, peeing on the bike takes a lot more concentration than you think).

3) On the run: My legs were like jello (took a couple kilometres to get my legs back underneath me), a half marathon seems much longer after you already swam and biked beforehand, salt tablets (endurolyte capsules) are my best friend and maybe some advil!

All is all it was an experience that would forever be etched in my memory, my first triathlon was a success, as in I crossed the finish line!

Life would never be the same after that race, I set a bar that I would forever seek to raise over and over again. To this day I have embraced the life of an endurance athlete with open arms. I have raced in ultra's, marathons, both 70.3 and 140.6 triathlon distances and the races I continue to chase only are getting bigger, longer, harder and crazier. In August of 2018 I will take on the infamous Ultra520k Canada in beautiful Penticton, BC. Over the three discipline of swim, bike and run I will endure my biggest challenge yet!

The life of an endurance athlete comes with ups and downs, many sleepless nights awaiting the race start the following morning, countless hours of training in the pool, lake, slamming the pavement or the trails, cruising the streets on two wheels. To compete in these distances it take time and commitment, and a whole lot of it. It's time away from my family, long days become even longer when you have a pool session, topped off with a long bike ride. Equally as important as the training is the hydration, fuelling and recovery. Being completely honest the recovery is what is left over at the end of the day, those hours of sleep are worth there weight in gold. 

What I love most about being an endurance athlete is that its about having a balance of challenge and support. Every race I find myself loving it, then questioning myself why I am doing this, then again loving it and again questioning myself why I am doing this. "Hitting the wall" becomes a norm, I almost welcome it, as this is when your tested and your character and training comes into play. The body will always push on, it's the strength of the mind to overcome those challenges along the way, endure the pain, the voice in your head that is telling you what you don't want to hear. It's a battle that you are playing in your head as much as you are on the course.

But no matter what happens out there, before every race in preparation I always see myself crossing that finish line. I visualize that finish line for months and months before I ever cross it. Before I even start training I have seen that finish line numerous times and I've crossed ever one to date!

Endurance racing is as much mental as it is physical and being out there on course you are never short of inspiration, seeing other athletes tackle the same course fills you with joy and appreciation. And of course the fans, those devoted family members, friends and other competitors family and friends, you are the energy that has fuelled me when my energy was low, to my own family I look forward to always seeing your smiling faces and hearing your words of encouragement. I could not do all of this without the love and support of my family, my wife takes on the weight of my duties, but she knows what it means to me to race and compete and I am forever grateful that I have her on my team. 

As I continue to evolve into the biggest, fastest and strongest version of myself, I anticipate many, many more finish lines filled with the love, support and smiling faces of my family. What it all really means to me is growth, all those hours that add up to days which eventually turn into months of training, and for the hours that you are racing (or days) you continue to grow and learn more about your true potential. Crossing the finish line is just the icing on the cake, the cherry on top of what is an accumulation of time + commitment + hard work + persistence towards accomplishing a goal. 

Ironmanmike

 

Michael GlasserComment