Rick Sederberg started this season a little less than perfect. He was nursing a nagging injury that required short stints of rest and, as any endurance athlete will tell you, a good amount of frustration. We followed Rick’s lead relative to the healing process and just took advantages of small windows of clear sailing. It was a challenge as a coach and much more of one for the athlete.
And the goals aren’t small! We start with the big races and work backwards to establish a road map for the season and Rick’s started with the National Marathon Championship and World Cross Country championship.
The heat was brutal in Augusta Georgia with actual temps hitting 95 degrees Fahrenheit and a heat index over 100. With one national championship to his credit, 2 thirds and a second Rick knows how to get it done and came prepared for the conditions. The good news about awful conditions is that they negate a decent amount of the field before things get started. Rick knows this and stayed focused on the goal that we discussed in the dead of winter. Hydration, acclimatization and mental toughness were as key as the reps on the bike. TSB was 14+, almost exactly where we wanted it to be, and it is testament to his preparation also that Rick’s best numbers from maximum wattage to 90 minutes were his best of the year on his “A” race day. So he showed up well prepared and laid it down on one of his two most important days of the year!
I love this race report because it outlines the fact that many different people can win on race day and in the end the ability to inspire yourself and just keep going makes up the difference. It also re-iterates the fact that we don’t do these things alone and the extra bit from those supporting you can be the difference between winning and losing:
“When the gun went off I went all in to open an early gap, and was going well until I discovered the reason my legs had begun to fatigue only 90 minutes in, was an ever softening rear tire. It took 3 stops and 14 precious minutes to get it fixed while #2 slipped by. Not the start I was looking for ! Now I had to double down spending valuable energy to reel him back in, from 7 mins down at Aid 1 to 2 mins at Aid 2 to finally closing the gap 2/3’s into the 60 mile event.
Great, however the heat had long ago begun to take its toll, sick to my stomach from taking in as much fluid as possible to delay dehydration, combined with dreaded leg cramps which began at the 2.5 hr mark and both of which continued to the finish. I was leading but barely. I tripled down to make a strong pass and slowly extend it, knowing psychological tactics were my only remaining weapon.
Then it was an interminable epic of survival to hang on. My mantra, “Just don’t quit.”
Finally, at ~ 6 hr mark, when we transitioned from single track to forest road with ~ 3 miles to go I could smell the finish, the end of suffering and the win. From that I found yet one more boost of inspiration from the hidden recesses of the well that seemed empty, and a final kick in the rear from the ghosts of races surrendered in the finale of those taken for granted too early. I won by 2 mins 36 secs, after 6:26 hrs, a narrow margin that could have been squandered in so many ways.
But there is one last factor that often goes unnoticed, and on that day, made the difference, a strong support team without which there is no way I would have won, my wife DeDee who suffered her own symptoms of severe dehydration after sitting in the sun most of the day. Her seasoned efficiency getting me out of Aid stations quickly, having iced down drink bottles and camelbacks, additional iced water to pour from head down, energy gels shoved in jersey pockets, words of encouragement, accurate comparison times for my main competition, and a ready repair kit to fix the flat, all total kept me focused, in the game, and saved far more than 2:36. “
Next up is world’s and Rick Sederberg is looking good to hit his stated goal of a podium finish.