Jard sur Mer Aquathon, France 3:30pm August 9. Dede drove Adam, Hortense and I about an hour south to Jard sur Mer, a village town in Vendee right on the coast. Feeling spent from a tough week of training both Adam and I opted out of the scheduled 3.5 hour bike ride in order to perform at a higher level for the race. Our race did not start until 6:30 pm so we had a lazy lead up, lounging near the house all day.
It should be called the Runathon with 3 short dips in the bay to cool off. The format is three swim/run combinations with a short (10 min) break between. 1st race: 200m swim / 1.5k run (one lap on swim & run course). 2nd race: 200m swim / 3k run. 3rd race 400m swim / 3k run (two laps on swim & run course). Worth noting is the 110m run sprint to the water to start off each race. Wanting to work on my run ability, this proved the perfect race.
Jard sur Mer 6:30 pm. Starting the first 110 sprint to the water it was all I could do to keep the horde from running me over. Everyone seemingly overzealous to blast off from the word go. After 100 meters and being engulfed by the crowd we all took a hard left turn and ran down a boat ramp to the water’s edge. Some navigated this corner better than others, I took it conservatively and still nearly pushed Adam over while I drifted wide through it. “Sorry!” I yelled as I scanned the water for a safe place to dive. Six or seven athletes were already churning up the bay. Diving left of the group; a few streamlined dolphin kicks put me near the front. Managing to get behind one of the Roy brothers by the first turn around the pace was comfortable while drafting the corner. Coming back I made a move to pass but he held tough until the last turn where I edged him out.
Running up the boat ramp heading back to transition slowed the progress and spiked the heart rate. I had a good transition but Adam smoked it and actually left just before me to start the run. We took off at a blistering pace. Adam is an excellent runner; I knew this would be an opportunity to move me closer to that status.
Forest’s of Saint Jean de Monts August 6, 10:49am. The smell of fresh pine permeated the air; the rain refreshed the land and my body and my breathing played a strong chord with the beat of my feet as I flowed over rolling terrain. Breathing in copious amounts of air filled my lungs with just enough to keep my body hurtling through the forest. It was the freshest of sea breezes, eternal in its revitalization. The pine needles on the trail softened the blow of my feet striking the earth and sometimes soft sand would absorb much of my forward progress. The trees flew by, yet finer details of many were taken up by my senses. The bark, the green needles, the leaves, the girth, the ancient age, the roots in the trail and the smell. I heard bird calls, saw rain falling from the clouds and delighted at the site of vibrant flowers. The subtle but somehow intense smell of the sea and pine needles mesmerized my soul and I ran on. I ran hard. I ran fast.
Jard sur Mer 6:38 pm. Coming down the finishing stretch my body flew on two legs like few get to experience. I felt fortunate to have kept Adam just a few seconds in front of me. The run had been a breakthrough for me and I tasted blood as proof.
Doing a mental check of the body I realized just how hard these next two races were going to be. Intense, flat out efforts. Perfect test for a body, mind and soul in training.
Just ten minutes later after several cups of cola and water we were in another mad dash to the water’s edge. Fairing a little better but still diving into the water behind several athletes, I was able to pull into the lead before the turn around. Feeling strong but not fast I exited the water with a small gap. This time, just getting out of transition before Adam. It wasn’t until cresting a hill and taking a sharp descending turn that he accelerated away from me. Starting the second lap he was still holding that same gap but he increased it again on the same corner. Adam finished a solid first place and I came in with another genuine run about fifteen seconds back.
In a routine now, I walked over to the refreshment stand and hydrated while coaxing my body into a quick recovery.
Forest’s of Saint Jean de Monts August 6, 11:03am. Nearing the end of a broken six kilometers of fast running I had IT. Yes… IT. That thing which we all yearn for. The reason people climb mountains, base-jump off bridges, go to church, kite board, pray, dance, take photos, surf the web, kayak…that natural state, most of us have lost. The state of connectedness with something incalculable and permanent something that, strangely enough is essentially you and yet much greater than you. Sometimes we get forced into the moment…the ever present moment to a degree that brings beauty, love, creativity, joy, and peace. Many endurance athletes refer to it as ‘The Zone’. Running through the forests along the coast of the French Atlantic seemed an intimate and ancient experience. Running this fast ensures a high degree of suffering, yet I was thriving. The air was alive, the forest was alive, I was alive and running for my life. A heightened state of awareness, feeling my surroundings and my body. Yes, my body was tired, suffering even, but accepting it gave me energy to keep going.
Taping into this kind of power is easy, quiet your mind, accept your situation and be present. This simple formula has no end to its depth.
Jard sur Mer 6:52 pm. It took almost the whole first lap of the last swim for me to take the lead. Overcoming a lethargic dash to the water, being tired from the first two races was the culprit. I enjoyed the clean water on the 2nd lap and Adam and I had a sizeable gap starting the last run. We both kept the pace honest and finished up much like the 2nd race. I won all the swims and finished 2nd in each race while Adam won every race with the fastest run. I am thrilled with how I ran and appreciate having a teammate push me to the limits. We are both going to have some very good races in the coming weeks. The short intense races are just the ingredient needed for our success in French Grand Prix racing.
Better quality photos HERE