• GlennValentin

1. Bearman XTri (20/09/2019)

The spark:

Reading 'Finding Ultra' from Rich Roll. One year before reading this book, I got diagnosed with hip dysplasia. The doctor advised me to stop competitive triathlon. This book made me believe again that endurance sports are what I really want in life and that all the health issues of the last 3 years can be overcome.


Big: In 11 years of triathlon, I had never done a full distance triathlon (I hadn't even done half distance). My last result worth describing was the 3th place in the Nisraman in 2015. Besides, the Bearman Xtreme Triathlon is one of the toughest races in Europe with 3800 altitude meters in cycling and 1500 altitude meters in running.

Right: I value discipline. I would need this a lot. Participating in the Bearman Xtreme triathlon would hurt no one (except myself). Attractive: For sure. I always dreamed of doing extreme triathlon even while I was focusing on Olympic Distance.

Visionary: I saw myself already in transformation from athlete to adventurer. But it felt as an empty space to never have completed a full distance triathlon. I felt like I had to empty this space before going all-in on adventurous projects. Emotional: Oh yes, read on.

The Struggle:

From the 5-month preparation, the first second months were definetely the hardest. I was doing a replacement as a physiotherapist in the Alps, there were a lot of trouble with paperwork, there were a couple of weeks of extreme heat (while I was living in my van) and on one particular swim session in open water I got bitten by duck fleas. Worst itchiness I had ever encountered in my life. Subsequently, I found a nice job in Vallée d'Ossau in the Pyrenees. This was were great training spot. Trainings were very hard tough. The last couple of months this is how a typical Sunday looked like:

4am: waking up, letting the dog out, eat a small breakfast

4.30am: going to Lourdes, 1h15 drive

6am: jump in the lake of Lourdes, swim 3 to 4 km

7.30am: jump on the bike, ride 6 to 8 hours in the mountains

2-4pm: ride back home

4-6pm: run 10 to 14km

The Reward:

Raceday went great. Of course, I got a couple of small issues: I swam (just as most participants) around the wrong side of a island, so we had to swim back and turn it the right way, the zipper of my t-shirt broke, so I had to ride 7,5hours with a hairpin keeping both ends together, and there were some stomach issues during the final km's of the run. But overall, the race was really the easy part of this whole project. Despite rain for most of the time, I never got cold in my 1 layer and I attribute this to being in the flow for most of the time on the bike. I came in second transition in 8th place. During the marathon, I overtook one after another to finally finish 3th! One of the best feelings ever in my life! Goosebumps for an entire week! This definetely openend some brain gates to what more is possible?

The Lessons Learned:

There was one particular training where I had planned to trailrun 4 hours. Already after 1 hour I was done. I sat on a rock and meditated for 10 minutes. Then, continued. 15 minutes later, same story. I really didn't see how I would be able to run for 4hours if already felt like shit not even at 1/3th of the duration. I changed tactics: I just had to run down the mountain again to the apartment. Then, eat something and reboot. During the downhill, I had to stop a couple of times more. My mind and body really didn't want to cooperate today. I got at the apartment, with exactly 3hours in the legs. I ate a couple of biscuits and said to myself: "You're just going to run one more hour. I don't care how slow, even if you run it at 8km/h, but you're just going to finish this." What happened after was amazing: I flew! I ran the lap at almost 12km/h (on hilly terrain). I had experienced what I had only read about before: a second, third, fourth, fifth wind phenomenon.

Other lesson learned: I focused on this project for 5 months. I really isolated myself. Most of the tasks were postponed to after the triathlon. Later, I would pay for this. It's clear that with focus and determination, a lot if possible. However, I can't see myself doing this every year. The impact on my personal life is just too big, and the chronic fatigue in combination with a job feels quite terrible. If I really want to develop further as an athlete/adventurer, it's clear that I need to change my circumstances, so it can be done in harmony with a social life, enough rest and sleep. And this is going to be a complicated process.

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