For those of you that don’t know Gant Enderle and Grant Folske, they are two very tough Ironhead team mates of mine that recently completed a 7 day stage mountain bike race up in Canada.  This was an extremely grueling and physically demanding race that they needed to push as hard as they could every day.  According to Grant’s race report, in order to do this they had to enter the “pain cave” and dig as deep as they could and push as hard as they could through the pain.  We all know what this threshold is, and I am sure that we have all convinced ourselves at some point either in a race or in training to enter it.  I for one seem to be very afraid of the cave.  Yes I have gone into it, but only twice that I can think of, last year’s Mid Summer when I had to hold off Bill Thompson on the run to win my first race;  and at Clearwater, when my body just wanted to stop running.
I bring this up because with all my hard training leading up and a fairly light volume week this last week,  I was very excited to to see how fast I could race this race.  I told myself all week I was going to push this thing as hard as I possibly could, but for some reason when it came right down to it I chickened out.  Don’t get me wrong I raced hard, but I just could not convince myself to go beyond that pain threshold, the pain cave, no matter how bad I wanted to.   And of course after I went home and thought about it,  instead of enjoying my performance I became frustrated because I am certain I could have raced faster.  So I turned to Scott, my coach, for his thoughts and advice, and as always he put things in perspective.  He put into three simple terms:
1.  You need a very good reason to go into the Pain Cave.  Without that and a legitimate one, you will not get there.  Your mind and body need to be convinced it is worth it, you can’t fake that in my opinion.
2.  It is trainable.  Gradually in hard training sessions and races, you can learn to push yourself over the edge.  Like those hard swims I gave you last week.  Those should hurt!  This is actually one reason I like people to race shorter distances before an IM.  Usually in a race you can push yourself harder and get used to dealing with pain so that you are prepared to go there in an Ironman.
3.  HOWEVER, and quite importantly.  You really do not want to go into the Pain Cave a lot or for a very long time.  You need to gradually build it.  Build the motivation, get the rest and be fresh for your biggest races.  However, points 1 and 2 are needed to really get there when you really want to.  You just can’t do it, or it simply is not worth it to go there in every race.
So, I need to not worry about it here at this point and time, and enjoy the outcome of this race.  I will  learn to push beyond this threshold when the times are right.  Now onto to my report….
I was trying a new wetsuit for this race, as I have recently become concerned that my Orca 3.8 is a bit too constricting in the shoulders causing early fatigue in my shoulders.  Thanks to our friends and sponsor The Athletes Lounge, I was trying the 2XU elite from last year.  The swim was good, I got out quickly and led to the first turn, when Mickey Alberle made his move, which he usually does, I tried to draft on him, but could not dig hard enough to stay on him so I let him go.  I found a pretty nice rhythm and kind of just cruised home.  The wetsuit felt really good, no shoulder fatigue, however it might have been one size too big, as I was taking in a bit of water around the arm pits. Swim good.  11:15 good for 2nd.
T1 was fine other than I should have put my helmet on prior to the race to check things out.  The strap was tangled and I struggled with that a bit, but don’t think it really cost me too much time,  I passed Mickey in transition and was first out on the bike. 1:55.
My bike start was once again a struggle.  It seems no matter how much I practice and how smoothly I can mount and slip into my shoes while practicing, come race day I struggle with it.  Oh well more practice I guess.  I started strong on the bike, but quickly fell into that “comfortable” wattage, when really in a sprint it should be borderline or all together uncomfortable.  I just could not push myself on the bike no matter how hard I tried.  I would surge into proper wattage for about 10-30 seconds and then quickly fall back a zone.  Other than that the bike leg was great.  While maybe I could have pushed it harder, I did have the fastest split of the day with 29:52.
T2 was smooth in and out, no issues.  1:03
I think I started the run a bit hard, and then settled in too slow.  I tried to push the return home, and probably negative split.  I had a comfortable 3 minute plus lead at the turn, and just cruised home in 19:16, wish I was faster but thats good. 
I am very happy that I was able to defend my win from last year, and I took over 3 minutes off my time going 1:03:22.
Darrin Smith also raced the sprint setting a new PR for himself, congrats Darrin.
The Olympic distance race was also filled with Ironheads in the top 10.  Big PR for Bill Thompson who finished 4th overall, nice work!  Bill is heading to Canada in a few weeks and I think is going to have a HUGE day!
Also congrats to Ann Ciaverella 2nd overall at Troika, and Dave winning yet another Masters title and 7th overall. 
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