Deca Iron event – May, 2016
Posted on 28 July 2015 | No Comments »
Over the years, I have not been the best at writing race reports for all the various events. However, based on the overwhelming experience competing at the Oregon Double Anvil, I thought it might be a good time to provide some highlights for those considering doing an over the top, tough, slow, hilly and grueling double which is Oregon.
This race worked well with my work schedule and current project in Oregon so why not jump in and race! Thanks to Steve Kirby for giving me the extra push. The Oregon Double Anvil would be my 10th Double Iron and 99th lifetime Ironman event and could not of been a better venue to make some memories. A big thanks to all the amazing volunteers and the race directors Steve Kirby and Teri Smith for hosting and executing such a great event. Personally, I know what it takes to put on events and their experience, organization and most importantly motivation to get athletes to finish under the cutoff of 39 hours was over the top!
As I have learned with my normal busy travel schedule, I decided to fly the 6+ hours the day before the race and not worry about time zones, lost luggage (bike), no review of the course or pre-driving and just enjoy the journey. Many times surprises and obstacles make it so much more fun. In most cases every location has a bike and running shop in the event everything was lost and ultra tri athletes are the most giving with respect to equipment, clothing, etc. So, no need to change the pattern and Rick Freeman (super crew) landed mid day Thur. (race start Friday 7AM).
Based on the fact that since the 2013 Triple DECA, my training has been focused on running and cycling, I actually swam only 5 times since the Triple DECA. The swim memories of 30 days of 2.4 miles in freezing cold water just made it mentally difficult to swim. So the Oregon Double Anvil would be an easy slow swim for sure. All went according to plan and did not kill myself by any means and just some shoulder soreness. The lake is beautiful and so much better than lap after lap in the pool.
Knowing the next 24-36 hours were going to be very warm, lots of sun, low humidity (not my preference as our climate is much more humid and to my liking) biking during the morning and evening would be times to push a bit harder. Just to clarify for all the athletes who hear about the Oregon bike course and rumors of hills – they are true! It’s not much different than the hills in Pittsburgh, PA that we train on but the road is just slow, not sure how to best describe it as this: going downhill in several sections it was hard to get the speed over 13 mph. It’s such as strange feeling. Please prepare for a slow course no matter what and enjoy the great scenery and climbing.
My personal strategy for every ultra tri bike section is to not get off the bike. There are many highs and lows during the bike section of a double anvil and the key is to keep moving. So maintaining this strategy, I focused on moving the bike without getting off as the time adds up, especially with the climbing. There is no question, this is one the prettiest rides around and I HIGHLY recommend you consider this double because you will work beyond for that finishers medal. There is a reason that the time limit was extended 3 hours (39 hours for an official finish). Overall, the bike course for me was several hours slower than a “normal” flat course. An interesting personal occurrence for the bike happened at 180 miles into the race in the evening hours when my light burned out and was slowly going down the dark road. I wascarrying my Iphone and used it to light the road until I got my lights again. So a good tip in the future if carrying your IPhone, you can always use the light to see where you are going! Also, for this course there are not many benefits of the TT bike and would recommend athletes consider a light road frame with aero bars and aero wheels.
The 1.3-mile run course loop offered on the road hills and heat along with a section of shaded single-track trails. I think every athlete could not wait to get out of the heat of the open road and make the left hand turn into the trails. It’s a slow run no question. Just keep on grinding the 20 loops and that was my strategy.
Amazing performances from everyone including many athletes running hard to make the cutoff. It was inspiring to everyone there watching Nick Mallett pushing Rory hard, Alin and Jean crewing non stop. Also, Rick, Mark together and Shane notching yet another Double Anvil. However, Tim stole the show with an incredible finish to make the cutoff by 8 minutes – CONGRATS! These types of experiences make the ultra triathlete family like no other in my mind.
Thanks to the best friends and athletes who participated in the race!
If you are looking for one amazing Double Anvil course, longer bike course, lake swim and beautiful viewsin the Pacific Northwest then I HIGHLY recommend you consider the Oregon Double Anvil. www.usaultratri.com
Also, if you have any questions from an athletes perspective feel free to email me at email@example.com Hope to see you again next year!!
Posted on 27 May 2015 | No Comments »
In preparation for future DECA Iron events – (1 Iron per day or continuous formats) I have been working on a resource of “all things” DECA. For many ultra triathletes this is a major step up in terms of moving from the already difficult Double and Triple Iron’s. Nothing against the difficulty of the Ultraman events, but there is no comparison taking into account the sleep deprivation and mental fortitude requirements of doing the same course day after day.
The DECA Iron guide will highlight not only the training requirements and necessary tips/ideas but most important the book will scare you. This race and the magnitude of the difficulty must not be taken lightly. The DECA is an event that will punish the body and mind. There is no question; you will encounter significant feet, but, shoulder, knee and back pain. Of course there is the common DECA shin issue so many athletes face and it will be covered in the book – specific treatments to help alleviate the pain. Every athlete must dig very deep to finish the event with plenty of suffering to become an official finisher. The average official finisher rate from 1992-2008 for the continuous DECA was 75% (there is plenty of time to finish the race – 335 hours) but the 1 per day version average finisher rate from 2006-2009 was only 48%.
Are there health benefits from the DECA – in one word NO! Yes, it’s exercising and racing day after day, but the boredom of doing the same short circuit course will exasperate injuries, and mentally it can become crushing. Your body will take a pounding in this event.
Can you train for the event and keep a “life”? Absolutely Yes! Like anything else, it depends on your time management skills and the book will offer ideas to manage time. Most experienced DECA athletes train in the 15-20 hour per week average range. So it’s probably not what you thought in terms of hours per week and the training guide will follow this same approach.
I have raced over 1000 hours in DECA Iron events and the Triple DECA, there is no exact science by any means of finishing – but the DECA training guide similar to Beyond The Iron will provide an overview of every idea I have learned from so many amazing athletes around the world. The goal is to have the e-book out by the end of 2015. If you are interested in being on the mailing list, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Not finishing is not an option!
Posted on 26 March 2015 | No Comments »
I remember the first time I heard about the DECA in the early 1990’s and thought, that sounds brutal, a 24-mile swim, 1120-mile bike and then 10 marathons! As I was scanning Tri-Athlete magazine back then, there was a tiny article about this unique event.
As we hear so often in racing conversations, time will eventually catch up with you. We all will get slower, but the good thing is that we all have the ability to go longer. Those Ironman times will plateau at some point.
Personally, I still remember the conversation with a great friend in the ultra triathlon space – Michael Gaertner (former IUTA president) when he told me that I should jump from the Double Iron event to the DECA and “there is no event like it”. Trying to fathom the length of the event was mind-boggling until I actually broke down the specific training regime into a manageable timeframe. Yes, it’s very manageable and with a specific training program it’s not an overwhelming time commitment that many athletes think when they first hear of the DECA.
As ultra running races have continued to grow exponentially on a global basis, the ultra triathlon scene has been a slower progress. One key differential is that it’s just harder for many athletes to do all three events vs. one with these extreme distances. Therefore participation numbers will always be lower than just one-sport events, like running. However, the progression of the DECA as the premier ultra triathlon achievement has started to become a bit more of a known conversation in the triathlon world. Of course there are many who think it’s beyond crazy, not healthy, and all the same issues that happen with new ultra distance events.
The DECA has become the signature event for athletes in this small global space of ultra triathlons – however it’s slowly starting to become known with the help of social media and new race opportunities in Europe, Mexico and the US. In the last several years, the DECA has grown through word of mouth with events occurring in Italy and several locations in Mexico.
In my mind (yes I am a bit biased) there is no other event like the DECA. The highs and lows competing every day for over a week in the multi disciplines of a triathlon for such long time frames is the attraction. For many, they think it’s insane but just like everything else in life we all have our specific preferences.
Over the past several years, I have heard from so many athletes inquiring about the DECA and how to actually train for it. There are two different approaches to the training depending on which format (1 Iron per day for 10 days or continuous version).
So after consolidating all my learning experiences of 3 DECA’s and the Triple DECA, I will be writing a book specific to this unique event. The book will include comprehensive mental and physical training programs specific to each version of the DECA to prepare athletes for this unique event (similar format to Beyond The Iron). Also, included will be a history of the event along with personal stories from many athletes around the world. Also, all DECA finishers and respective times will be listed to remember all those individuals who toed the line.
The DECA will be coming to the US in 2016 with the DECAMANUSA in California, www.decamanusa.com.