I wrote this on the plane coming home from New Zealand. The sting of disappointment was still flowing through my veins. Muscles are more sore after failure. Even the food does not taste as good. I don’t like it.
I will start with what I knew pre race. The race was on a synthetic track. In lane one. 400 meters each lap. I found Centurion success on the track in Australia. I was well trained. I had a great taper and was fully rested. I am well experienced with Centurion walks. I have travelled internationally four times and found success at each race. I slept more pre race than I ever have. I had developed a sinus infection almost exactly one week before the race. I was on an antibiotic. I was better but not recovered.
What I know during the race. I started out strong. My intended pace was to walk each lap in 3 minutes 20 seconds. I was a little ahead of my intended pace. I felt very good. At the first direction change at four hours the judge told me I had a left lean. At the eight hour direction change I was out of gas. I drank a Coke and got a nice boost. Only thing hurting was my left big toe. I will lose that toe nail. I have always had this problem in long races. When tired my toe bends upward. Hits the top of my shoe. Boom kills the nail. I just walk through the pain. I ate good and drank regularly during the race. By the twelve hour mark it had been raining for two hours. I was struggling to hold a sub 3 minute 50 second pace. After two hours in the rain I put on my rain jacket. Our race judge told us no break in the rain was expected all night. At eighteen hours I was still on pace to make centurion. I would have to maintain 3 minute 55 second splits to just beat the 24 hour clock. I was able to hold that pace till hour nineteen. Just into my next hour I was shocked to see 4 minutes 10 seconds on my watch after a lap. Same hard fought effort but slower result. I had nothing left physically to walk any faster. If I could not hold pace there was a zero chance I could pick up any lost time.
What happened next is something I have never done before. Never considered before. I pulled the plug. Five hours is a long time to play the fall behind pace, catch up pace game. I Walked a very slow stiff lap and told the timing tent I was done. I just could not go on. Not for five hours. After I quit so did my body. I suffered from mild hypothermia, body aches and cramps. I laid on the floor completely spent and violently shaking. With medical advice my Wife was able to get me to a point where I could at least leave for a warm bed. Knowing what I know now. The smart move would have been to pull out earlier in the race. Tough call when you have so much invested in training and a strong desire for success. I need to learn how to read the warning signs. Some races you are not going to be able to finish. Save your body for another day. There will always be another race. Something you can only learn through experience.
So what happened? Could the sinus infection have been my undoing? I have leaned at several long races over the years. Never as early as in this race. Is leaning our bodies way of telling us something is not right? I had not recovered from my sinus infection. While better it had not run its course. Post race it has been the worst ever. Making the fourteen hour flight home almost unbearable. Without a doubt the race did not help it. I had no energy after eight hours. The back of my legs felt unusually tight and I had no drive. I never got cold even when wet. I tend to race hot. The rain had little affect on my race. Even wet socks caused no blisters. I did have bad shaffing between my thighs.
In summary. I had never thought of a Centurion race as being hard. That is till I had a hard Centurion race. I had early and often Centurion success. I realize now I was very lucky. These races are hard. They are very hard. You must be trained. You must properly recover from training. You must be mentally strong. You must be healthy. You must be rested. You are going to need a little outside luck (weather, course, no blisters, good support). If there is a break down in any of these your Centurion will be in jeopardy.
I was not healthy. My sinus infection left me weak. This weakness showed up early as a lean. Leaning starts to have an affect on your bio mechanics. You are working harder. Makes holding the pace harder. Working harder burns through your energy supply. A chain reaction that leads to failure. Success was doomed.
Going forward. For several years now I have raced and tracked Centurion races all over the world. I have walked with and met many Centurions. We have a good network for staying in touch. Many I am able to follow some of their training. It is a great Sisterhood/Brotherhood. I was always amazed when any Centurion walker pulled the plug on a new qualifier with enough time left to finish. I just could not imagine a scenario where I would not be able to finish late in the race. It has been the messages and personal notes received from these racers that has brought me the most comfort. As bad as this stings. As disappointed as I am. I now know much more about the race. I know much more about the people that attempt the race. This knowledge will make me better. It will make me more compassionate.
I am not quitting my goal. I still want to earn a number at every Centurion qualifier. New Zealand 2018. Maybe. I have a busy race year planned for 2018. A January marathon in Louisiana. 50K at Cowtown in February. March and April Marathons in Oklahoma. A return to the FANS 24 hour United States Centurion qualifier in June. If that all goes to suit me I will turn my eyes toward Auckland. Going to be fun.
My quest to join every Centurion Club in the World is winding down. Only New Zealand stands between me the finish line. While New Zealand is last on my list, New Zealand has NOT been last on my mind. I wanted to try New Zealand in 2015 after my successful United States Centurion Qualifier. I just could not wrap my mind around the idea of international travel for a race. My how times have changed. Now I want to travel around the world and race EVERY Centurion Qualifier. When I can’t make a race I feel disappointed. I have signed up for the 20th Sri Chinmoy 24 hour track Race in Auckland this October. Just over 17 weeks away. A couple of weeks to catch my breath. Start training on the track near home. I am already excited.
The quest to Walk 100 miles in 24 Hours in New Zealand!
Going to be Fun!
For me 2016 was a BIG Year. Four years ago I made my New Years resolution to walk 6 days per week. Who knew how far walking would take me? Took my first ever international trip. Flew down to Melbourne, Australia in April. While I was there I joined the Australian Centurion Club. C68. Only the second American member. The trip to Australia was so much fun in August I flew to Edinburgh, Scotland. Rode the train down to Redcar, England. While I was there I joined the British Centurion Club. C1169. Only the second American member in the 105 year club history. If you can walk two one hundred mile races in a year why not attempt a third. In October I flew down to Cape Town, South Africa. While I was there I joined the inaugural African Centurion Club. C11.
What did I learn from 2016. Just because you can do something does not mean you should. Three international One hundred mile races in the same year was tough on my body. My goal has been to join all six world Centurion Clubs. In a Centurion race you must pace yourself. I also need to pace myself on the number of Centurions I race each year. What would be wrong with one a year? I did that in 2015 with the United States Centurion.
So now I have two Centurion clubs left to join. The Continental Centurion Qualifier in Weert, Netherlands and the New Zealand Centurion Qualifier in Auckland. The races are four months apart.
My Goal for 2017. Finish my quest. Attempt Both Centurion Qualifiers. I think I would go crazy in October watching the New Zealand race on the internet. Knowing I could be there racing. After all, two International Centurion Races in a year can’t be that hard. Right? Going to be fun!
Wow I find myself once again this year setting a Goal. I have had a BIG year. My goal now is to continue on with my journey to join every world Centurion club. Only two are left. Next up is The Netherlands. There are no American members of the Continental European Centurion Club. The race is the first weekend of June in Weert, Netherlands. I have wanted to race in the Netherlands for a long time. I just could not make a race there fit my calendar. I have never raced a Centurion Qualifier without at least two Dutch racers in the race. The Dutch are very good even paced Racewalkers. I am excited. However the race is seven months away. Back to using Marathons and a 50K for training. Kick off with Back2Back Marathons New Years eve and Day. Then I plan to race for a big personal best at the Cowtown 50K in February. A local Marathon in March. Then my Big Goal Race in The Netherlands.
The quest to Walk 100 miles in 24 Hours in The Netherlands!
Going to be Fun!
I did it. I Achieved my Big Goal of Becoming a British Centurion. The oldest Centurion Club in the world. Now it is time to set my Next Next Big Goal. The Inaugural African Centurion on Robben Island, South Africa, October 22nd. The opportunity of a lifetime to have a New Centurion Qualifier Start up while I am in peak Centurion condition. The moment this race became a reality it has consumed my thoughts.
The quest to Walk 100 miles in 24 Hours in Africa!
Going to be Fun!
My Big Goal of becoming An Australian Centurion was achieved. Now it is time to set my next BIG goal. I want to earn a British Centurion Badge. The British Centurion Club is the Oldest. In fact this years race in Redcar, United Kingdom is the 105th British Centurion Qualifier. An old and VERY proud Club with a lot of History. 1164 Members strong. My Goal.
The Quest to Walk 100 Miles in 24 Hours in Great Britain.
The Redcar Blast 24 Hour Centurion Qualifier August 6th.
Going to be Fun!
Looking back on 2015. I had a FANTASTIC Year. Met my Goal of becoming a United States Centurion. Set personal best mileage and times in the 24 hour, 12 hour and the Marathon. Maintained my weight. Achieved a fitness level I have never held in my life.
Looking ahead to 2016. This starts my fourth year keeping the same New Years resolution I set in 2013. A long time to keep a resolution. I feel like I worked very hard to reach this level of fitness. I am not willing to give it up. This will be a BIG year. I have a 50K in February at Fort Worth, Texas. Looking for a sub 6 hour finish. Then my Big Goal Races for the Year. The Australian Centurion Qualifier in April. The 105th British Centurion Qualifier in August. The American Centurion Qualifier in September. Three 100 mile Centurion races in 23 weeks on three Continents. Whew Big Year. Going to be Fun!
This article written by Tim Erickson in the November 24th 2015 Heel and Toe online sums up my 2015.
I am goal oriented. I need a goal. A BIG goal. My last BIG goal was achieved. I became a United States walking Centurion. A very satisfying feeling. Now it’s time to set a new goal.
I want all Five active World Centurion badges. United States, Great Britain, Australia, Continental Europe, New Zealand. Only six people have all Five. A lofty goal to be sure. A goal like that needs to be taken in steps. I’m thinking like two steps per year.
My Goal, A BIG Goal. Earn my Australian Centurion Badge.
The Australian Centurion Qualifier is in Coburg, Victoria April 2016. That is about 10 months from now. I will use this Blog to record my Training and Races leading up to my Goal Race. Going to be fun!
The quest to walk 100 Miles in 24 Hours in Australia.