“I am a wanderer, the road is my home. Just a stranger, as the darkness comes and the danger…I am a wanderer searching for my soul.” – Matisyahu
I love travel. I love adventure. I love people. I love sport. Israman had all of it. A crazy trip to a very different place. Where camels and mountains combine with new foods, smells, languages, religions art and history. You can’t imagine how different different can be until you go some place far away. Travel more than anything keeps your soul awake and expands your mind. As an athlete we have a special kind of passport of sorts; one we can stamp with all others who share are passion for life and sports. The Israman triathlon combines all of these things; and is one of the hardest events of not THE hardest event I ever did.
The race got underway with a swim in the Red Sea. 2.4 miles of blissful warm water, schools of fish in water with limitless visibility as the sun rose over the Jordan Mountains. I came out of the water with the leaders of the race only to realize we swam too fast and likely cut a corner on the first lap thanks to my Xterra wet suit. It wasn’t intentional and the race ref gave us a 12 minute penalty which was fair but brutal as I likely only shaved 3-4 minutes off my time. Later this would cost me 2-3 spots.
The bike here is just epic. You climb 1000 feet or more into the Eilat Mountains forged by the Great Riff Valley. Once you get to the top after about an hour of straight uphill riding it’s desert wind and endless climbs. I was catching people on the way up; but as I started down some of the first downhills I realized I didn’t tighten my headset on my bike down properly and had “death wobble” where the front wheel shakes and can lead to a crash. This was my fault as I failed to put my bike togerther right. Its a real shame by my Valdora TT bike is perfect for this course, it climbs great and because its a compact frame, handles awesome in wind and downhills. This meant I had to take the countless downhills slowly. At this point a top finish was out of range and it became more about survival. I survived but a long solo ride along the boarder just got longer. At this point I was so thankful for my Original Warrior Pak Gloves. They are warm and it was chilly but also they have way more grip then normal gloves and that saved my life when the bike started to shake. I really battled the desire to give up but I just couldn’t fail to finish. Call it pride. Call it respect for the event. Call it stubbornness. Maybe I just have been in long races enough to know you never know what can happen.
I focused on what I could control and decided to just run as hard as I could. I kept the pace high and tried to enjoy it while fueling on Carboom gels. The marathon kilometers ticked off until I was done with one of the better runs on the day. I was rewarded with a top 10 finish and the satisfaction that I finished something hard and battled all day long. Also there is a lesson here: in long races, be it a Beast, Ultra Beast, or ironman triathlon or Grand Fondo bike ride something will go wrong. Likely many things. It’s not about preventing bad moments in these long events, it’s about how you deal with them. It might be overly simple to say, but life is a long event and I suspect the lesson applies to that too.