21 Consecutive 70.3’s in 21 Different Cities
You may remember Jeff Fairbanks from this blog, talking about his Triumph Project. Well his 21 day journey is complete as of August 16, 2016. We hope you enjoy his guest blog on the best and worst lessons learned from 21 consecutive 70.3’s in 3 only weeks!
Not sure I would have believed you if you would have asked me if I could pull it off. I honestly had no clue. I had never run two 70.3’s back to back. In fact, I had never run more than 6-8 miles during my self-taught training for this journey, so there were a lot of “what if” scenarios playing out in my mind as the journey approached.
Let me back up, just a tiny bit, to explain how we handled the logistics of even getting going for a 3 week East Coast journey when we lived on the West Coast. That was simple, we sold almost everything we owned! Packed the belongings and kiddos into a truck equipped with a camper trailer and made our way East! And why 21 days, you ask? Simple, that was as much vacation time as I’d saved up from my normal job.
So with the startup logistics handled, let’s describe the best/worst and lessons learned from such a journey.
Hands down the community responses and communication (virtual) was beyond anything I would have ever imagined. My biggest fear was being alone during the entire process, and that definitely was not the case. It was important to me to engage and keep people “in the know” with what was happening on a day to day basis. All of the social posting and comments were handled by me personally, and it was a huge thing to me to make sure people knew I was receiving their comments and responding to them. I would make the posts after each discipline (as quick as possible) and take time at the end of the day (generally at night) or bright and early the following day to respond to any comments.
I believe I had awesome equipment. I chose a BMC TM01 for my bike, equipped it with Shimano Di2, 3T bars, Enve wheels and Vittoria tires. The bike worked flawlessly and believe it or not, I incurred only two flats. One of which was on the final day when I attempted a wheelie after the final ride to celebrate!
One piece of key equipment that I had utilized was a Garmin Forerunner 920XT. Now this piece of equipment has more technology than I was able to absorb prior to the journey, but let me share what a little piece of magic this was. The 920 allowed “live tracking” which was a huge sigh of relief to the mothership and a key feature to keeping me on course since almost all of the courses had been created virtually, and were changed ad hoc upon arriving to each location. The mothership could literally see my every move and correct me should I fail to remain on course. The live track feature also allowed the community to “travel with me” via virtual means which was really cool to see how many people loved that feature!
Not only did the Garmin track my distances and allow me to see how I was doing on a day to day basis, but it also allowed me to have communication with the mothership via Bluetooth connection to my phone. It ended up working like this- at almost every ride location, we altered the mapping. Mainly to keep me doing smaller loops that kept me closer to the mothership and for any needs that may arise during the efforts. Due to the ad hoc changes, the mothership could send real time text changes to me that would Bluetooth as a banner on the 920. This was another huge benefit. I would receive updates for upcoming turns, things like “L Knighthorse” 2 miles, allowed me to be on the lookout for a left hand turn and relieve me of worrying about getting lost. Another advantage was that I could send a voice message from my phone should there be unfavorable road conditions, and the mothership could redirect accordingly.
I also greatly appreciated the notification ability of the 920 which I kept at 5 mile increments on the bike which left me smaller incremental countdowns…things like (2 blips received- 9 more to go!!) It also really helped with pace to know if something was too fast and/or too slow. Especially with regards to the bike and run. The bike, if too slow, felt extremely long and taxing and if too fast, wore out my legs for the run…so keeping to the 3-3.5 hour ride effort for 56 miles seemed to be the sweet spot. With the run, right around the 2-2:15 mark for running seemed to be the mark to get it done.
So what are my overall thoughts now that it has been all said and done? What are some of the most memorable spots? First and foremost, I’m in complete shock that it all got done if I’m being honest. I think I’m as surprised, if not more, than anyone who may have been unsure if I could pull it off.
Heading into it all, I wasn’t sure how it would unfold, I just knew that there was a lot of pressure on me (put on by myself) due to all the sacrifices my family had made to get to the starting point of the journey. Some of the highlights were definitely the community that had come out to support me along the journey. In particular, Grimesland, NC introduced me to my first experience of being in a “peloton” which was completely foreign to me. A good friend of mine had passed away before my journey had begun, and this was his hometown. I had nervous feelings about being able to make it that far, especially because of the comments I had been receiving about what support was going to be waiting for me once I got there. That would be day 14.
Riding with 15-20 people in a riding group brought back memories of motocross. Hearing the sounds of wheels moving, the tightness of the group and the ability to converse with multiple people along the 56 miles was incredible. I still think about that day.
New York was probably one of the most challenging days (logistically speaking), after being denied access to the ferry due to clearance issues with the trailer; we were not allowed to swim at the desired pool. Two pool locations actually shut us down for not being NY residents. The area was beautiful, but we had to adapt quickly to get going on the days efforts. It was one of the longest days with logistics and pushed us the furthest back for start times.
Finally the last day in FL. Was definitely one of the hottest and most humid with an index of over triple digits. Due to travel logistics for our camera man, we began at 7 am sharp which put us out on the run during the middle of the day (nearest to the hottest part of the day as well). Huge company for the final day’s efforts. One couple in particular, had traveled from Texas to endure three days of efforts with me, which was just amazing. The swim and bike were amazing especially the coastal ride which was flat and didn’t encounter a ton of headwind! But the run was another story. Not much wind, and a ton of heat and humidity were taking its toll on everyone. I would do 1.5 mile out and backs to return back for the people needing ice and to drop off people needing cooling efforts as a means to not overheat. It was important to me to not leave anyone behind so most people would do portions of the run with me and then wait to cool off and join again. It was nice as it allowed variation for everyone and ample opportunity for the community to not have to suffer the entire 13.1 miles if not desiring too.
All in all it was a huge undertaking for little old me. My amazement were the responses from the community and knowing that I didn’t let anyone down (mainly myself) by driving forward day after day especially during the challenging points. Sure I had pain, fatigue and was wearing out, but inside my mind, I knew there wasn’t a question of making it to day 21, it was more of what condition would I be in on day 21 (meaning would I still be standing? Still able? etc.).
So if any part of my journey, helps shed light on something that was once thought out of reach, please relook at that, make a plan, and never let the darkness get in the way of driving forward towards it. Oh yeah, and along the way, crush it with a smile!
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