To summarize my experience at Norseman, here is the conversation I was having with the sensible part of my brain:
215am Saturday morning, in gymnasium with 50 other people
Matt: Wow, people are up already?
Sensible Matt (SM): Of course they are. Most people went to sleep hours earlier than you and don`t want to be late getting on the ship.
400am on ship as the sun the is coming up on the fjord.
Matt: Wow, it`s cold!
455am standing on edge of ship, waiting to leap 12 feet off the edge into the water
Matt: The longer I wait, the less time I`ll be in the frigid water!
SM: Jump in you wimp so that you are actually ready when the race starts!
About half way through the swim you had to climb out over these big rocks, walk past a fire, show the organizers that you are not hypothermic, then climb back in and swim along the coast to the transition area to finish the 2.4 miles.
Approximately 724am after an hour and 18 minutes of swimming
Matt: How do you walk?
SM: Act normal so that they don`t pull you out of the race for being disoriented!
On the first climb, 3500 ft of switchbacks.
Matt: Why am I not passing tons of people?
SM: Maybe because the people in this race are actually well prepared and are not the standard triathletes who have less climbing skills than you. If you did more than 3 triathlons in preparation, maybe you would not be as surprised.
Matt: But, I did the World`s Toughest half-iron and passed dozens of people on the bike and even placed.
SM: But that race is only marginally harder than other half irons. This is way harder and twice the distance in difficult weather. Toughen up!
On the exposed ridge line at mile 105, after the 5th climb, in the cold fog and rain.
Matt: Wow, this is hard.
SM: What did you expect? You are in the mountains of Norway, on the course of the world`s hardest triathlon. Did you expect sunny So Cal weather and tail winds?
Matt: Well, no, but, you know, just saying. I don`t know. I guess, maybe.
Transition 2, after 125 miles of cycling with 10,000 ft of elevation gain:
Matt: Wow it`s not cold! I can feel my feet. Can`t wait to run.
SM: Remember how Nick told you how important bricks were and you did one?
Matt: Yeah, of course, so I did one.
SM: Just wait and see.
After 3 or 4 miles of the marathon
Matt: My feel and ankles are killing me! wtf?
SM: See above conversation, dumbass.
From mile 5 to 15 I was feeling pretty good and able to keep a decent pace. Not as fast as I`d hoped to be going, but not just shuffling. When I reached the bottom of `Zombie hill`, a 3000 ft winding climb up to the checkpoint 4 miles up, my crew informed me that I was at risk of not making the cut-off to enter the mountain.
Matt: I can run up this!
SM: If you do, you risk being in poor mental health at the checkpoint and not being able to continue.
Matt: Let`s listen to Norwegian black metal on Max`s ipod. I`ll kill all the zombies on this hill!
At the mountain checkpoint, about 20 miles into the marathon.
Organizer: You missed the mountain cut-off by 10 minutes.
Organizer: Don`t worry though, you would not be able to go to the top anyway. We have not let anyone all the way up for the last couple of hours.
Why did I not push harder if I was close to missing the cut-off? Well, my bike computer stopped working in the rain and I don`t wear a watch. I just had no idea I was close until it was too difficult to make up the time.
Matt: Let`s walk the last 10k.
SM: Hanging out is pretty cool.
So Max, Aidan and myself walked together for the last 10k and finished at the hotel 1000 meters above sea level. I was slightly disoriented and very sore, but not miserable. We had some great conversations about life and about adventure and about what it all means.
My goal time was 15 hours. Factor in the extra miles added to the bike, the headwinds and rain, and my decision to walk the last 10k, and that adds the 3 hours to make my finish time of 18 hours totally fine with me.