I've been having a tough time getting the blog updated and especially coming off a huge high of the Switzerland trip, it is almost tough to try and give such and amazing experience justice.
My buddy, Gabriel Rodriguez, (who was originally a part of the team) asked how it went. I sat down and sent him an email. The email has essentially turned into my blog update of the event. Gabriel is also the Under Armor hookup and supported Team USA with great gear. I love gear, so it was awesome.
Here is the email I sent (let it be k own that no words can do justice to the beauty or difficulty or just the general experience. It was beyond all expectations or thoughts.
This trip was the athletic highlife of my life! I feel amazingly fortunate and still shake my head when I think about the opportunity and place I got to got to and race I got to race in.
The region of Switzerland was the most amazing backdrop I've ever seen. It was unreal. I could still be there exploring the trails and mountains (and possibly the fragments of my soul from the race!).
They say that the Jungfrau Marathon is the most scenic marathon in the world, and they are beyond right. It was, at times, too much and surreal as we climbed out of the villages towards Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau.
The first 10k was pancake flat with literally 0 feet elevation gain. But over the next 10k we averaged a steady 3-4% incline, which was wicked deceiving bc it still looked and felt flat.
At halfway (1:19:45) we hit our first climb, and dear sweet holy cuss, it was unbearable. It was about a 1000m of 18+% grade straight up! Then, it was a series of switchbacks at 15-17% grade. I asked how many switchbacks there were and they told me 7, but there was actually 16!!! Holy cuss, that part was epic and hard. That one section alone was the hardest thing I had ever done. I had to walk, but was reassured by spectators that I wasn't the first... At his point there were 250m markers! This was hard bc they seemed like mile markers and just getting to the next 250m mark was a bear in places.
The next 10k following to the village of Wengen was steady and had some tough sections but amazing views.
I was still doing "well" at this point and maintaining my position in the top 30. At one point, later on I was in the top 20, due to people dropping out, but only knew that by seeing some people's finishing places that past me with 5k to go.
The villages were exactly like the tour de France, people were banging on the barriers, the whole village was out to watch, thousands of cowbells and I even had a few dudes run beside me and give me a push here and there, it was epic.
Out of Wengen, we have about 8k left. The first 2k of it was nothing new, but brought us up to a point where we had a downhill. This was nice and there was an aid station with coke (all said and done I really feel like I drank about a 2 liters or 2 liter-cola of coke over the second half of the course). You then duck into a small tree section and pop out to see the last 3k of climbing... This was nothing I've ever seen in my life, it was both amazing and demoralizing at the same time. I really started to struggle here and really starting soul searching. It was so unreal in ways of beauty and devastating destruction. It is unfathomable, even now.
There is an awesome ridge that I was determined to run across (I ran about half), and is the quintessential photo shot of the marathon and is wicked tough.
This is epic: a dude caught me on one of the earlier unreal climbs, and as he past me, he told me the best thing anyone has ever said to me in a race, "keep your head and eyes up. Don't forget to look around. You are doing great, this is the hardest race in the toughest mountains in the world. Don't forget all the beauty, keep going and keep it up!"
This was humbling and oddly comforting.
I finally climbed to the last stretch of 800m downhill to the finish. I tried as hard as I could the whole time, even when I was physically reduced to a walk.
I never knew how my teammates were doing (praying to the universe they were doing awesome), but fought all the while just in case I was the 3rd man. I def did not want to let down my teammates.
I know I was there by my own doing, but I felt I was there for much much more. I had a feeling of: don't let down your family, your friends, and myself... The mountain really challenged every bit of me and reduced me to nothing, but I love this race (it's my favorite ever), I love Switzerland and I'm grateful for the experience. I get to say that I was on the team that finished second in the world. Team USA beat all the african nations plus all others. I got a sweet silver medal that is a reminder of how important a team is to me. I know I'm good and I will have some great achievements, but to have the success I truly covet I need a team, and was blessed to be a part of a great group of dudes to make a great team.
The race is epic, the experience was life changing and I can't believe it all.
Nature never did betray the heart that loved her.