Team Total Domination: Back from Switzerland!Sep 29, 2014 Comments (0)
As many athletes know, there are things that happen on race day that you just can't control. Equipment breaks, the weather sucks, or, as our Team Total Domination all-star can unfortunately tell you: severe sickness can knock you down. We chatted with Barret after his trip to Switzerland where he flew to compete in the 2014 Long Distance Duathlon World Championships in Zofingen, Switzerland as a part of Team Total Domination. While this race did not exactly go as planned, you need to check out what our duathlete is planning to do next!
Ninkasi: First off, welcome back! Tell us what you thought about Switzerland!
Barret: My first thought when I looked out the plane window was of disbelief. I couldn’t believe I was there. Everything had a very different feel and look to it. But the people and the atmosphere were great! Everyone was very polite and extremely courteous. Zofingen was very nice and quiet. Super chillax atmosphere. Everything closes by 5, including grocery stores and convenient stores. The only things that stay open are restaurants, where unlike here were we go, eat and leave, they spend hours chatting over many glasses of wine or beer. The portion sizes there required some adapting (I ordered a large sandwich and it was only 4 inches long and 2 inches wide). They definitely eat plenty of fatty stuff but they have tiny portion sizes and everyone walks or bikes instead of driving. The chocolate is to die for too and their coffee packs a killer punch. I found this out the hard way after pounding several of their tiny 2 ounce cups thinking it wouldn’t do anything. And then I was buzzing for the rest of the day.
Ninkasi: Walk us through what happened in the days leading up to the race.
Barret: Well, immediately after our interview from Suissie, I fell ill to the traveler's stomach bug. Somehow, somewhere I managed to pick up some alien germs that my system did not like. I don't know if it was from the water or the food, or maybe a yogurt drink, but starting Thursday night, I was feeling rather off. And then it finally hit full force on Friday making it hard to go anywhere away from my room. Friday was also the day the rest of the team showed up so that was a bummer. I missed the opening ceremony because I couldn't leave my room. A teammate and I went in search of a remedy around town and discovered a big problem with the language barrier. Which was strange because there were no issues with it until we had to try and communicate about getting sick. First, we discovered that bismalk is illegal in Switzerland because it was deemed poisonous. And when we asked for Immodium, we ran into more confusion because of language barrier issues. In the end, the pharmacist stated that they use these super probiotic type things and "give it a week." Great! So, on Saturday we went to check in and attend the briefing meeting for competitors. The whole time I was just trying to consume whatever calories I could stomach, which was mostly soda and bread. By the end of the day I thought I was finally kicking it.
Ninkasi: So, did you kick it then? What happened on race day?
Barret: Sunday morning finally came! Judgment day at last and I was still hovering around the bathroom. I forced myself to eat some calories and drink some black tea. I thought I would still have legs despite everything my body had been through. Prior to the start, I started throwing up. Oh boy. I was hoping the sickness would finally leave now and I could work through it. The start gun went off and we began running the 10km with the first 1.5km up a good hill. I felt pretty off and really tried to keep it mellow in the early miles since it's a long race and I didn't want to tank early. I found myself easily moving through the field up to the pros. Then the end began. I had to stop multiple times because I kept getting sick. As this happened, I was losing my legs more and more. I thought if I could just make it to the bike, I could spin it out and maybe find my legs. I quickly cyclocross style mounted my bike (which is sprinting at full speed and then jumping on the bike to start pedaling) and away I went. At first I found some decent speed in the mid 20s and was like "okay, if I have this now, I should get better." But only 6km into the first roller, it all started to unwind. The next roller was worst. I finally hit the first of two major climbs and I just shut down. I lost my legs and was slowly grinding up. Finally, my body quit on me at the top. I collapsed into a ball of severe shivers. They had four winter coats on me plus those emergency blankets, and I was still freezing, shivering uncontrollably. I waited there for hours, watching everyone compete, heartbroken and crushed.
I finally made my way back to the hotel where I stayed for hours, processing what happened and trying to hydrate. I left to go to the award ceremony, which was crushing because I knew I had the form to be there. It was great to see our women sweeping the podium in one age group!
After that, I spent the rest of the night packing and talking to family, still trying to make sense of what happened.
The next day was a long day of traveling home, 26 hours total. I spent lots of time going over what occurred and trying to cope with it.
Ninkasi: Obviously that's a hard thing to do and it sounds like a situation you didn't have much control over. What helped you get through it?
Barret: By the end, I refound my drive and set my goal for the following season: to return to the world champs next year as an elite/pro. I feel it's a very attainable goal after seeing the great progress I made in running in just a mere three months. A whole winter of training and I feel I'll be ready for the challenge
But, with that said I find myself with a 6 to 8 week setback in training as I am writing this from the hospital with a broken rib and lacerated spleen from a mountain bike crash a few weeks after returning from Switzerland. But it's probably much-needed rest anyways since I've been going hard and long all year. Come January, I'll be hungry and ready to compete again. So in the end, this could be a good thing mentally and physically.
Ninkasi: Way to see the (pint) glass as half full, Barret! Tell us a little bit more about why you're so eager to go back and race that course.
Barret: The course was perfect for me and I just loved it. I expected massive Goliath hills but it ended up being like western Oregon The hills felt like they were just a typical climb I’d find back home in Blodgett. The air was cool and crisp and thin. And the tops of each climb had amazing vistas. The run courses seemed to somehow go more down than up which enabled me to run faster times. And the bike course felt very fast when I rode it for the preview. Riding and running it before the race got me super confident and made me feel at home. I also felt like I had a really good shot at taking the top spot for my age and to do well not just in amateurs but overall. Especially after listening to other people talk about how they felt on the course. Remember, sports performance is 90% mental.
I also felt that despite only three months of any sort of specific training for duathlons or running, that my fitness was on point. I made major gains I timed my peak perfectly. Europe got me this year with the stomach bug, but next year, I’ll be back!
Ninkasi: We're so proud of you for having the courage and strength to start the race and to try to persevere through such challenges. We KNOW you'll be back to Totally Dominating duathlons in no time!
Barret: Thank you! And I want to thank you all for following along with me on this crazy journey. I would like to thank everyone who supported me through this: Ninkasi Brewery for making it all happen, my family for doing all they can to help me chase the dream, and my wife for her great support and picking me up when I'm feeling down or anxious and keeping me feeling confident and motivated to be the best I can be as an athlete and a person.
So train hard and go for your goal no matter how big it may seem. If you believe you can, you can.
Run like the wind and keep the rubber side down!