Stonebrixiaman ("You want to do what?")
When Mauro contacted me and talked about Stonebrixiaman I thought he was crazy. Motivated but crazy! 4km of swimming in the dark to cross Lake Iseo, 175km by bike with the ascents of the Aprica, Mortirolo and then that monster of the Gavia, and to end 42km of trail with 2200m + ending at Rifugio Paradiso. But he convinced me. As always the first thing to do was to make an analysis of the athlete and the specific difficulties of the race. From the beginning it was obvious that a normal training plan would not be enough. We decided on a plan that included 2 days with double training, Tuesday and Friday - one of running plus swimming technique and one of Strength & Conditioning plus volume swimming. Wednesday was bicycle – bike trainer in bad weather and outside in the summer. Thursday quality running. Saturday and Sunday would be dedicated to endurance running and long bike rides (but in the winter it was often also ski mountaineering). As we got closer to the day of the race the Saturday sessions became brick workouts with both bike and run so as to mimic more closely the moment of change between the two disciplines during the race.
Here is a table showing a typical training week:
One important thing - Mauro rarely missed a workout unless it was due to circumstances beyond his control. He never had an injury during the program period and was not ill. Was he strong or was the program calibrated almost perfectly?
A few numbers (5 months)
Bicycle: 88 hours, 2000km, 35000d +
Swimming: 56 hours, 140km
Road Running: 44 hours, 500km, 5000d +
Trail Running: 30 hours, 200km, 12500d +
Ski mountaineering: 40 hours, 145km, 12000d +
Bike Rollers: 40 hours
How did the race go? I leave the story to Mauro.
On the evening of Friday, after the preparation of the change zone and the ceremony of the bib collection, I had dinner and I retired to bed with the idea of sleeping as much as possible. I slept well until midnight, and again until 1 am on Saturday, when the alarm went off. Good sleep, well rested and calm. This is a great sign !! Breakfast and go, finally we go !!
After the last operations in T1 (tires, clothing, wetsuit, etc.), at 3.20 there is a check and they board us onto a boat directed towards Tavernola, exactly on the opposite side of the lake. Obviously it is dark, but I am calm and during the navigation I eat some pre sports fuel. The lights applied to the buoys of the various competitors begin to light up and they all seem to be as agitated as I am !! We disembark, and we see on the other side, which we left just a short time ago, the civil protection have lit up a powerful beacon that sends a beam of light towards the sky; it will be our point of reference, the direction to follow during the crossing. At 4.00 am we leave.
After the first agitated strokes, I settle into autopilot and follow the direction, straight ahead towards the beacon, passing under the coast of Montisola and keeping the island of San Paolo on the right. I try not to push the pace and slowly the competitors spread out until I can no longer see anyone around. me But I just keep going, montisola on the left and then straight ahead, just keep going. I pass close to the coast of Montisola, all lit up, now the island of S. Paolo is on the other side as dawn slowly arrives. Cool!! While breathing on the left I see my Mount Guglielmo (ski mountaineering mountain), and now beyond the beacon I can see the town of Sulzano. Keep going! The last strokes and I land in Sulzano.
I am welcomed by many fans among whom I recognize Angelo, my supporter and team member. He accompanies me and prepares the bag containing the bike clothing. I sit in the locker room and while Angelo helps me to make the swim-bike transition, preparing the outfit (Mico undershirt, complete Tibi, socks, buffs, gloves, glasses and helmet) for the next fraction of the race. I leave at 5.30am. I set four partial goals that I hope will ease the load: Edolo, Mortirolo, Ponte di Legno, Passo del Gavia, and I start pedaling at a good pace. Here there is little to say, I just have to pedal. I will apply my food strategy: every hour I alternate gel, bar, briquette, candy, and the energy bomb. When I need him I call Angelo who comes up to my side by car and fills my water bottles.
As planned I arrive in Edolo after 2 h and 30 'and the climb begins. Immediately I can feel the difference towards Santicolo and Corteno Golgi, then towards Aprica and right towards Trivigno. I haven't stopped yet and so I plan a technical stop where Angelo massages my quadriceps with my magic cream. I take this opportunity to fill the water bottles and eat. The people who overtake me urge me not to give up, but mine is just a planned stop, I’m not stopping but making sure I look after myself! I am joined by Pezzini (not in the race). He will keep me company while staying ahead the legal 15m all the way from Monno to Ponte di Legno. In Trivigno there is my red bag containing a supply of gels and a sandwich with bresaola. Up to the Mortirolo pass and down to Monno like a missile. 15 km to Ponte di Legno, then there's the monster, but I'm here for that!!
Another technical stop with a massage in Ponte di Legno and up towards the 2600 m of the Gavia pass. 16 km long with 1400 mt d +. I'm fine, but as soon as I leave the village I feel the first cramp in my thigh; everything is going exactly as planned, including these cramps. I slow down because soon there will be a 14% grade for a kilometer. Obviously this worries me, but trying to breathe well I continue. I see the group surrounding the first woman and I understand that I'm going well. The surrounding environment helps, I keep going till the next cramp arrives. This time I have to stop, stretch and drink. Another 6 km of uphill during which I will have to stop again due to cramping, but then the altimeter says 2600, nearly at the top, and there is no cramp that can stop me. I go round the turn about, I eat a sandwich with bresaola, I drink, I put on a jacket and down I go. Great bike, I love my Bianchi !! Right on plan!
I arrive in Ponte di Legno just before 15, after 9 h 20 ' on the bike, 175 km and 3800 mt d +. Angelo helps me in T2: I strip naked and get dressed for the trail part of the race (Mico underpants, socks, calf socks, compress shorts, shirt, glasses, hat, poles and backpack). I say arriverderci to Angelo and we make an appointment to meet in 20 km and 1000 d +. This is familiar terrain and I know exactly what I'm doing and what awaits me. I walk well uphill and run flat and downhill. I feel that I am prepared and when I accelerate I can feel my body responding. No cramps!! I continue with the same food strategy. Also in this fraction I have divided it into 4 parts: ascent of 500 d + and down to Temù, another climb of 500 d + and down to Ponte, up to Tonale (500 d +) and then the last 800 d + towards Paradise.
As planned at 6 pm I am in Ponte di Legno, where Angelo is waiting for me dressed in his own trail set up. How nice to see him again !! It begins to rain and, with just the time to put on the waterproof jacket, a strong storm begins. But we are equipped and proceed at a good pace towards the pass. Obviously he is fresh and fast while I am focused on maintaining my remaining strength. A bit of a stomach ache, some feeling of nausea maybe due to the gels and bars that I have eaten, but again I manage by breathing slowly. After about two hours we arrive in Tonale, where there is the last time gate; we are ahead by an hour, great news !!
We are ready to go, but the direction of the race does not want us to continue, because it claims that at the top it is cold and there is wind. There are some people in hypothermia, because they went through the storm without adequate clothing. But we are actually ok, we are equipped and we have not caught got cold at all. Plus the sky is now without a cloud. The doctor does not want to take responsibility (however and tells the race director (Andrea) to have us sign a release form. We sign on the fly and leave on our way up to Paradise.
Angelo again sets me a good pace and in the meantime the light begins to fail. I turn on my headlamp as we realise that we are getting close to the finish. Still no cramps, amazing!. Just ahead is the first woman and Angelo wants to overtake at all costs. I see the lights there on top, just 400 d + and I am managing great!! Last gel and go, let's overtake a few more few people. We arrive at the pass and finally I see the blue carpet and the inflatable arch of Paradise. Go, here we go ... Emotions!!!
Angelo and I arrived after 39 km, 2300 d + in 7 hours and 20 minutes. Finisher in 18 h and 16 minutes, 39th overall (but the ranking does not count here !!). Athletes at the start 108, arrived 60.