One of the most exhilarating aspects of my business is embarking on a journey that takes a client out of his or her comfort zone, into a world where previously unknown levels of fatigue are encountered and where the onset of such fatigue has to be delayed and managed.
Today’s post is about a one year journey my client Alex and I tackled and finished as a team. It kicked off in March 2013 with Alex buying his first ever mountain bike and culminated in him becoming an ABSA Cape Epic Finisher in March 2014.
In this race stubbornness, good luck, a solid base of endurance fitness and bike technical skill will get you to the finish line. Be reminded that these ingredients cannot be bought at any price on any market. Fitness and skill are earned through planning, dedication, and discipline. The required degree of stubbornness is cultivated through getting to know yourself better each time the limits you thought your endurance had, expand a little bit further. The luck part one has very little control over.
The first sign that luck was on our side, was when Alex managed to secure an Early Bird Entry, which is an achievement in itself! These 100 online entries become available a year before the race and are grabbed up in seconds. It was crucial to have race entry certainty as early as possible…building endurance takes time and the sooner we had a confirmed goal, the better. I got the news of our successful entry just as I finished stage one of the Namib Desert Challenge…there were no bounds to my excitement, fueled by an endorphin rush after a day’s running in the desert.
We made a good team. Alex brought a dogged determination to the party. I already had some valuable ultra and endurance experience in the bag. I soon was reminded how daunting a challenge an endurance event, the magnitude of the ABSA Cape Epic, is to an ultra-virgin. Being the world’s most televised mountain biking stage race, I don’t have to go into too much detail.
Alex set out on his first mountain bike training ride, without any endurance sport experience or endurance level fitness. Fortunately Alex was a natural when it came to the mountain biking skills required for riding technical terrain. We stuck to a conservative training plan, as it had to fit in with other demands on Alex’s time, such as regular work travels and family time with his wife and three kids.
Time flew by, as it does. In the blink of an eye we were looking back over the progress made during the year. Alex trimmed down by 25 kilograms, gained endurance fitness, developed a much improved ability to suffer and completed three multi-day mountain bike races to boot!
Once we found ourselves at the start of the ABSA Cape Epic, confidence made way for reality and the moment hits you: you are about to embark on a journey with an uncertain outcome. You are filled with the hope that your team will reach the finish line, a place in time filled with overflowing emotions of achievement, gratitude and relief. What you do know for sure, is that between the start and finish you will get to know more about yourself (and your team mate) than any amount of time spent in therapy could ever reveal.
Our keys to success during our long days in the saddles, were delaying the onset of fatigue and believing that even slow progress was better than no progress. We focused on distractions to ease the suffering: race related (calculating split times and time to the next water stop, adhering to our predetermined plan of when to refuel) and non-race related (beautiful nature scenery, spectator support, fellow rider antics and adrenaline filled downhills and single tracks).
Eight days later, of which 58 hours were spent on the bike, we crossed the finish line with much fanfare in the aptly named Lourensford Bowl at Lourensford Wine Estate. The last days’ minor crashes, a serious mechanical issue, blood and sweat, made way for tears of joy as we stood on the podium stage and received our medals. That evening we attended “Stage 9″, the after party at The Grand Cafe & Beach in Granger Bay, Cape Town and felt like champions as we toasted our success more than once.
It was a privilege to be part of Alex’s incredible journey of self-discovery and success. I have a passion for getting someone through what he or she perceives to be impossible, by making it crystal clear that there are no limitations once we empower ourselves through our imagination and commitment.
If you’ve ever fantasized about changing your life through wellness and fitness, contact me and let’s talk about starting your journey together.