Around a year ago I made the decision to take on the 2,700 mile race from Banff, Canada to Antelope Wells, New Mexico (the Mexico/USA Bordertown). All I knew at the time was that I *must train* and spend 12 hours a week doing it I had no idea I needed an endurance coach or what that an endurance coach was. My goal? Hop on bike and pedal. I remember doing 50 milers on the road, in the rain thinking “yeah this is how you do it, yo.”
Bamacross’s race director Brent Marshall came up with an idea to have an endurance race called the Skyway Epic that spanned across the Talledega National Forest on fire roads. The first time I tried it (as a training run) it was utterly miserable as it rained for seven hours straight. The second time was even worse as I was with extremely seasoned riders who practically obliterated me and I made every mistake imaginable in the book. While miserable, I liked getting up early and meeting everyone for pancakes at IHOP and then going to burn it off doing 8,000 feet of climbing over 60 miles of technical fire roads.
There was another training ride posted up on the Skyway’s facebook page and I decided to go. I noticed that Tracy McKay had said he was going, I had seen him post on Facebook from time to time and knew he was a cyclist and that was about it. When we met up at IHOP that morning he sat reserved at the table and intently listened to everyone chatter…well, mainly me just flap my mouth about how I was going to do the TourDivide and everyone saying “suuuure you are…”
When we got to the trailhead I slowly started my pace up the nasty climb and watched Tracy and a few other strong riders take off like a bullet. A few hours down the road I remember hearing the slapping of gears and tires as I saw Tracy barreling down past me as he’d already made it to the turn around and was making his way back.
As I trudged past him I remember saying to myself “I want to be like that.”
When we got finished with the ride, I told him “hey I’ll friend you on Facebook” and said adios.
I got home, fired up the behemoth friend sharing site and found Tracy McKay’s info that read:
Tracy McKay, endurance coach.
I inquired, we came to a mutual agreement and I started training under Tracy. He had four rules for me:
I thought the pee part was ridiculous but now I get it, it’s super important and you can read all about it by an article he wrote by clicking here.
Tracy has been a great endurance coach to me and is very sharp, while he has a reputation for being unconventional, the training program itself follows tested and proven methodologies. I sat down with him before the TNGA and asked him a few questions.
I’ve been racing for 23 years and have been an endurance coach for 17
Diane Davis had zero experience and ended up training to conquer a 1,032 mile road ride from Alabama to Mexico. With only 9 months to train, she completed her 1,032 mile event in 21 days. Did I mention she was 70 years old?! Aside from her lack of experience, she had a 4 inch screw in her elbow form a fall she took during her training. Her entire crew needed to be prepped trained on how to care for their athlete during the trip. They followed Ride Across America (RAAM) protocol to insure her safety
Helping the weeekend warriors with big goals, manage life as an athlete around the other roles they play at home or the office. Also, when an experienced athlete pays good money for good advice and the compromises the value and design of the training program by doing whatever they feel like. There is a science to a training schedule, there is no cookie cutting.
Drink more red wine…but as an athlete, I’d like to go back and finish Leadville Silver Rush.
Yeah, those, well its been a mix but my best performance was the Ultra-Marathon Cycling Association (UMCA) record for crossing the Alabama state in 225 miles / 10 housr 34 minutes. I can throw down on some Krispy Kremes.
Well there is the break-in period with all the excitement of fulfilling this goal then the reality of what’s required comes into play. You have to “manage the suck” and deal with all the psychological effects. It can weigh heavy on an athlete, their family and finances. They have to learn how to manage it.
The first thing I always ask is “Are you safe?” and “What’s happening to your body?” Then I sit and listen to the athlete with compassion. Ultra racing can be overwhelming, fair enough and never mind the 20+ hours you have been pedaling. If they are not at a health risk, I tell them break down their goal into manageable pieces and to focus on smaller pieces of the puzzle.
These events can take over your life, temporarily or permanently. What I try to do is bring up the reality to the both the spouse and their athlete about what each person is going to go through and what is required. During the event, I make contact with the spouse to make sure they are okay and if they need to get anything off their chest. Usually we see our loved ones strong and grimacing through a few hour of discomfort, but when they see their athlete cold, shivering or tearful and sleep deprived, it can be a bit much.
For the athlete, thats where the sweet spot is, right there on the fulcrum getting their ass beat or beating their demons and pushing through, the loved one has to let the athlete go through this “sweet spot.”
Tracy is not only a great endurance coach, but now has become a friend as well. He has transformed my life and body into something I never knew I could be. I have found his coaching invaluable to me and I honestly think I would not have been able to have conquered the Trans North Georgia Adventure Ride (the TNGA) or would have stood a chance with the TourDivide if it wasn’t for him.