ISB teachers show balance, commitment, and courage
We have a talented group of teachers here at International School Bangkok (ISB), who go above and beyond, not only in their day-to-day classes but in their after school coaching and their hobbies and activities outside of school. Last year, we saw two of our staff members, along with a parent, compete in the Ironman World Championships – an incredible life achievement.
Being able to go above and beyond in ones professional and personal life requires a great degree of balance, commitment, and courage and these are the values that guide our school and that we look for in the staff we hire.
Lucas Rivera joined ISB this year as our Community Sports Manager in the Community And Arts Activities Office and coordinated this year’s ISB Tri-Kids. He is also an Ultra-Marathon runner! We took some time to sit down with Rivera to talk about ultra-marathons, what it takes to run one, how he balances this with work and what he thinks of his new role at ISB.
A short Q&A about Ultra Marathons with Community Sports Manager, Lucas Rivera.
What is an Ultra-marathon?
It is a long-distance running race that is longer than a marathon (which is strictly 26.2 miles 385 yards/42.195 km). Distances for these races are typically 50km, 100km, 50 mile and 100 mile races. Longer distances have been gaining popularity with a 200 mile race series in the United States which offers (3) 200 mile races in Washington, California and Utah or from 206 miles to 240 miles.
What races have you completed?
World’s Toughest Mudder Four time finisher: 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016 Completing 210 miles via 4 races over 800 obstacles.
Leadville Trail 100 Run Two time finisher: 2014, 2016 @
Planning for 2020 North Face 100km Thailand
Planning for 2020 Hell Race 480km Manali India
How did you get into this sport?
I played tons of sports growing up from the age of 5. I played 4 sports in highschool and played 4 years college football at Bethany College, Kansas. After graduation, I was out of my element with nothing official to train for or compete in. I gravitated to trail running growing up and living in Colorado, where trails and mountains were always accessible.
Trail running lead me to Warrior Dash which is a 5k obstacle course race. Warrior Dash lead to Tough Mudder which is an 8-10 mile obstacle course race similar to a Spartan race. Tough mudder lead into World’s Toughest Mudder which is a 24 hour obstacle race completing 5-10 mile loops with the goal of completing as many laps as you can in 24 hours. I did this race 4 different years completing 50 miles three times and 60 miles once.
Naturally after completing these distances I was ready for more. I decided to sign up for one of the hardest 100 mile races in the United States with the Leadville Trail 100 Run in Colorado. I knew nothing about running ultramarathons and I learned by trial and error. I grew up a sprinter and an American football player, so endurance sports were completely new to me. I needed to learn about proper training, injury prevention, nutrition, gear and pacing information to make it 100 miles at elevations up to 13,000ft almost 4,000 meters. Late August of 2013, I lined up at the start line around 3:45am with my race pack full of water, electrolytes and a new headlamp. I was nervous and felt like I didn’t belong with all these super athletes.
14 hours later I made it 50 miles and failed to hit a time cut off which ended my race. I was devastated. I knew in my heart that I could finish the race and just needed more time which simply meant I needed to get faster. I went back to the drawing board and read book after book and blog after blog and immersed myself in everything ultramarathon. I trained hard for the remainder of 2013 and felt confident that I could make it happen in 2014. I had a moment of déjà vu at around 3:45am, with the start of the race just 15 minutes away and my heart racing. Part of me knew I could complete this distance, but small piece of doubt loomed in the back of my mind. The race gun went off and the fear and doubt disappeared. I felt strong and confident. 29 hours later, I officially finished the Leadville 100.
How do you train for these events?
I took a controversial route to training for these races. I used lower mileage training combined with strength and functional training methods. I chose this route because I am a father of three and I don’t want to take time away from them training for these wild races.
I try to compete in 1-3 races a year. Recently I have been training for distances of 200+ miles or 320kms, which take all my focus.
How do training and running these races help to develop character?
These races push you far beyond your perceived limits. I believe that we create limits in our head mostly based on fear. I enjoy doing these races because they open up a new dimension for me on what is possible which then my children pick up on. They know 100 and 200 mile races can be done. Normalizing these feats gives them a unique perspective as well.
How would you say our ISB values and attributes apply or have been applied in your training?
All of the values from ISB have been applied during these races, but the ones that strike me the most are commitment and courage. These endurance events require a massive commitment in time, training and discipline to be successful. They have helped me grow into a better husband, father, son, friend and colleague. Courage is another big one. I’m not going to pretend I’m fearless! These races to this day still make me nervous. There is a great quote by the famous actor, John Wayne, “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.” He is referring to saddling up on horseback even though he is scared to death. I know what grit and perseverance these races take to complete and the fear of failure is always there. The amount of training it takes to pull off a successful 100 mile or 200 mile race is so intense it still scares me, but these races have taught me to be the best version of myself so I keep signing up.
Can you talk about the type of mental and physical discipline it takes to train and compete in these events?
90% mental and 10% physical, I think this is a famous baseball quote, but it certainly applies to ultramarathons. You must get to a certain level of physical fitness to finish an ultramarathon, but the percentage if compared side by side would be much greater on the mental toughness side of things.
The mind will breakdown before your body in races like this, so knowing how to fuel yourself mentally when your tank is on empty is key. This comes with time and learning and knowing that you can push far past your perceived limits. Doctors in the 1980’s said it was physically impossible to run 100 mile through Leadville, Colorado because of its high elevations. That was proved wrong, just like when it was said that breaking the 4 minute mile was impossible.
How do you apply these values and attributes to the way you interact with students and carry out your job?
ISB is the ultimate place to grow and cultivate these values. They have so many choices to find and grow their courage through commitment. I love working in the Community and Arts Office because our team offers so many opportunities for our students to grow and become the best version of themselves. My goal with my daily interactions is to make people’s day a little bit better, be it in a budget meeting, in the cafeteria or through one of the many activities offered.
Can you tell us a little bit about your job – what you do, what you enjoy and why you wanted to come to ISB?
I work at ISB as the Community Sports Manager. I have worked in sports management and recreation for the past 11 years and I love it. My love for endurance sports has been answered here with the ISB Tri Kids Triathlon, which is on December 5th. This amazing race gives our students a great opportunity to grow and test their courage and push past their limits. I am blown away by the way the ISB community comes together to support one another and put on great events for the families..
Sign your child up for the next ISB Tri-Kids event, which takes place at ISB, in partnership with Amorn Group Thailand!