“YOU ARE F&%KING KIDDING ME...YOU ARE SUCH A DUMBASS DAVE!” - Naptown Race Report with Coach Dave

 

My Naptown 70.3 buffoonery

Yeah, the title is a little long but those are the exact words that started a long and ugly conversation with myself around 6 PM the night before the 70.3.  I called myself some pretty harsh names and it’s going to take a while to get over what I said…. Now the back story:

Like most triathletes, I am way OCD.  I’ve been racing a long time, I have a list printed out that I use to pack/prepare for every race.  I collect EVERYTHING I need into a 44 gallon tote and then go back through the list as I pack everything into bags for travel. I have this down to a science, or so I thought.  This weekend I found the weak link in all my planning: DO NOT GET INTERRUPTED AT ANY COST until you have completed the entire task!

I had an injury early in the season and had to DNS the Gulf Coast IM70.3 (yes, I lost the money) so I added a late season 70.3 to the schedule.  I needed an opportunity to get back under the 5 hour mark and I knew 70.3 Madison with the heat and hills was not going to give me that. So I signed up for the inaugural NapTown 70.3 in Indianapolis. It was close to home, I could leave the day before and drive home right after the race.  My friend Lee is the RD and it sounded like the course and cool weather of October where the ingredients needed to make a Sub 5, possibly a Sub 4:50 happen.

I work 48 hour shifts and had to work the Wednesday and Thursday before the race.  Came home Friday morning and started going through the list and dumping the gear into the tote.  By 10:00  that morning I was packed.  I headed to the pool and off to a meeting with my Coach/Boss.  I had to get back to the house by 3 to get the kids off the bus.  Done.. this is going to be smooth.

If you have been previously married and have an ex-spouse, life is easier if they are cool.  Mine is and we co-parent really well.  She needs a free day, I give...I need a race weekend she helps out.  So on this weekend I decided to keep the kids on Friday night and exchange in the morning before I left.  I was up at 6 and the amazing, beautiful Lynne Marsala (aka: THE BEST ATHLETE IN OUR HOUSE!) was making me the go to Evolve breakfast.  Pancakes, eggs, bacon.  This is why we can be successful, we know the deal, understand the sacrifice and help out when and as much as we can.  I digress, back to the crap storm that is beginning to unfold.

While breakfast is cooking, I grab the bike, pump, transition bag, computer...BING BING! My phone goes off with the familiar “here” text that my ex and I share when we arrive to get the kids.  Everything stops and it becomes a mad house.  Do you have your shoes?  Do you have your skateboard?  Do you have your meds? Do you have your school bag? Do you have your saxophone? Do you have your drum pad and sticks? Etc.  Yes, they are young boys and never prepared to leave.  So I get in the mix and help out. A hug and “good luck” from my youngest and a fist bump and a “go ride them down” from my oldest.  Poof! The kids are gone and I am ready to get on the road.  Kiss to the wife and I’m driving.  4 hrs later and 5 podcasts I pull into Eagle Creek Beach for packet pick up.

I’m starting to get excited, the venue looks great, the water temp is 72 at 2:30 pm and will surely be wet suit legal.  I sticker the bike, tape gels to the top tube and put the bike into transition. I drive the course and get an idea that this may not be a PR set up.  Lots of turns and a half mile of gravel road on a downhill uphill “S” turn.  This isn’t sweepable gravel, the whole road IS gravel.  So I thought to myself “well it’s a crappy surface for everyone not just you, move on”  So I head over to  T2 (this is a split race with two separate transitions) and take a look at the in and out .  I now move to drive the run course.  Again I realize that this is not my kind of race.  Hilly double out and back with some decent ascents.  “Maybe 5:05?”  But it is what it is.    With set up and recon complete I head off to my hotel 10 minutes away.  This is where the buffoonery begins!

I park and check in without a problem.  I head back to the car to gather my stuff.  Pop open the hatch and pull out the transition bag.  Open the back door and pull out the computer.  Think to myself that I have another bag so I go to the other side of the car and open the door.  NO BAG!  Now I open all the doors, NO BAG!  Open the hatch again, NO BAG!  I do this 20 or so times until I realized what has happened.  I GOT INTERRUPTED BEFORE THE TASK WAS COMPLETED!  In the hussle and bussle of getting the kids out of the house, I had only placed 2 bags in the car and the 3rd was sitting on the floor of my bedroom.  My transition bag carries everything to race.  And my clothing bag carries everything I need to put on before the race starts.   It also has clothes for after the race, tooth brush, hair product etc.  “Are you fucking kidding me!..’You are such a Dumbass Dave!  UGH!!!!! “I can not believe that you have done this….100s of races and you can’t get your shit together!  How do you expect to coach/mentor when you can’t even get it right yourself’….on and on and on.  I was pretty hard on Coach Dave for a bit.

I’ll be honest, I get out of the game when things go wrong.  Once in NOLA 70.3 I was killing it and on pace to run 4:48 but at mile 30 or so got nailed with a drafting penalty (should have been a take over penalty but that is for another post) and it derailed my whole day.  If I would have kept my shit together and went after it as if it didn’t happen I would have run a 4:53 and a new PR.  But I didn’t, I couldn’t let it go and ran pissed and without focus to a 4:59.  I regret that day and my wife reminds me of it often.  This was no different.  I had already made up my mind and decided to try and get a refund on my room and just go home.  I called Lynne and told her what had happened and what I intended to do.  She had some great advice, but I didn’t give 2 shits...I was pissed and leaving.  We hung up and I said I would call her back.  I started going through my gear and realized that the only thing I was missing was a kit (I was wrong).  My phone started going off and it was my wife sending me links to bike shops in the area (thanks Love!).  It was 6ish on a Saturday.  I called one, closed! 2 closed! Then I remembered a FB post about one of the race sponsors, The Endurance House.  Looked up the shop and saw that they were closed but I called anyhow.  They answered and informed me that they had just closed.  I told the nice lady about my problem and she kindly said “What size are you?  I’ll have Justin bring it in the morning”  She asked if I had a color preference and if I wanted a one or two piece kit.  Black of course and medium one piece.  I forgot to mention that this problem (or so I thought) was solved after I ordered my dinner and a bottle of wine…. Luckily I was only a glass or so into the bottle.  The race was back on!  Went to the store and got some water and breakfast and was back in the hotel by 7:30 catching up on Blacklist on Netflix.  Set the alarm and went to bed still angry at the position I have put myself in.  “What is this kit rides funny….blah blah”.  Didn’t sleep well and the alarm went off at 4.

Breakfast in and off to the race site.  I got to T2 and set up.  I had my shoes, race belt with nutrition and a towel. This is when I realized what else I didn’t have.  No socks and no heart rate monitor.  I can live without the HRM, but I haven’t ran sockless in a year, and have never run sockless in the shoes that I had with me!  “This is going to be painful!”  Done and ready to find Justin.  I found the RD and asked where they were set up.  “T1 across the lake”  UGH!!!!.  So I get on the bus that takes athletes to the start.  Once there, still wearing the same clothes from yesterday, I didn’t have much to do.  I couldn’t get in my wetsuit because I didn’t have a kit.  I pumped the tires and checked the bike for gearing, made sure bottles were good and snug, made sure gels were still there.  Now it was time to find Justin.  It was 5:45 when I asked where the Endurance House was set up.  I don’t know was the answer and they were supposed to be here already. 6:00...6:15….6:45…..finally at 6:50 I see a big white panel truck pull into the lot.  I run over to the truck and ask “Justin?”  Yes, and you must be Dave he replied.  He handed me a Tyr one piece black kit and told me to try it on.  The line to the bathroom was way long.  2 toilets for the entire field.  Off to a dark tree at the edge of the park.  Kit fit great and I went back to the truck ready to throw down the $250 for my mistake.  Justin pulled the tag and showed it to me.  $100?   Damn that’s cheap!  Justin said to just call the shop with a card when I got home….THANK YOU ENDURANCE HOUSE ZIONSVILLE!

So I got in the wet suit and was getting excited again.  The sun was up and damn it was bright.  I had a pair of non-tinted goggles in my swim bag in the car.  These are gonna have to do.  The swim was a 2 loop square.  The gun went off and everything was going well.  Hung with the speedsters to the second turn and BAM! The sun was brutal.  I couldn’t see anything or anyone.  Very few buoys to spot so I just swam towards the sun and hoped for the best.  The buoy was supposed to stay to the right and at one point it was 100 meters to the left.  Yeah, I was little off course.  So finally to the 3rd turn and it got good again but I had been spit out the back.  2nd lap same thing…. Came out of the water at 34 minutes in 13th OA.  Wetsuit stripper had a hard time getting my legs off and that time was added to swim.  T1 was less than one minute even though you had to pack your bags.  They were giving out 4 minute penalties if your stuff was laying around.

Out on the bike and settled in.  Had a plan to ride NP 209-221.  No heart rate monitor so power was the metric of the day.  The bike consisted of 4 loops of 11.5 miles after a ride out to the loop.  The loop was a square and on 2 sides the wind was up.  At one point I was pushing over 350W and going 19 mph.  Then we turned to the gravel road and the pace dropped just to keep the front wheel straight.  I felt good and really comfortable on the day.  I’ve had some fit and seat issues due to a saddle sore from hell.  But all was good on the day.  Started picking off some people on the bike despite the traffic from the Olympic that was running on the same course.  Nailed the nutrition on the bike which is my key to success.  NEED LOTS OF SALT!  4 loops and into T2.  Off the bike in 6th OA with an average of 22 mph, NP 239.  T2 was 37 seconds.  Shoes on (No socks), race belt on and off on my way.

Sam (my coach) and I have come to realize that in order to run well over the 13.1 I need to come out slow.  I have the tendency to come out sub 7 or 7ish all the time and never be able to recover.  I usually pay the price.  So I came out slow and on plan. First mile not as slow as I would like but kept it to 7:52.  Legs felt great through 2 miles until I got a cramp in the left hamstring.  Base salts to the rescue.  Once I start on it, I hit it regularly every half mile or so.  So I stayed with it and the cramp never returned.  The course felt hillier than I thought it would.  2 loops of an out and back and very little time spent flat.  You are going up long or down long the whole way.  My right foot started to feel “wet” at about mile 4 and started to hurt inside and out.  At this time, I was  caught by a smooth runner, beautiful form, 45 y/o.  We stayed together at 7:55 pace for the next 4 miles or so and the foot was getting worse.  Finally I couldn’t stand the pain.  I have been in the “pain cave” many times, but this was new.  It wasn’t fatigue, it was like a razor blade in my shoe.  I got to an aid station and had to let my AG buddy go.  I grabbed some water and pulled my shoe off to find that the wet was a foot covered in blood.  Dumped the water on the foot and the blood returned.  Asked the aid worker if they had vaseline and they did not.  I grabbed two hammer gels and opened one.  I emptied the packet all over my toes in hopes that it would act as a lube.  Shoe back on and tried to get up to pace.  The pain in the foot was bad with the higher turnover of 7:55, but felt bearable at 8:15ish.  I ran another couple of miles cussing myself out about forgetting my damn bag. The gel didn’t work, it was sticky and not lubricating at all.  The wetness returned so I took the shoe off and did it again.  It may have not lubed, but it damned the hemorrhage.  I dropped to 9th during this debacle but kept my head in it.  I knew I was in 2nd AG so I just kept at the 8:15ish to reserve something in case I had to fight to stay there.  I didn’t need to and crossed the line at 4:57 with a 1:48 half marathon.  Had my shoes off before I crossed the 2nd timing mat. 9th Overall and 2nd Age Group.  I wanted so much more, but put the best down that I could on the day. The count is 11 blood blisters and 4 open sores.  I love rest weeks.

Here is the short that follows the long story above.  Even veterans of this sport make stupid mistakes.  Once the gun goes off, you need to roll with the punches and make the best of what you have.  Keep your head in the game, run your race and good things can happen.

Big Thanks to my wife!  Thanks for trying to help me with my mess even though I was being an angry ass and not receptive.  Also, my Coach Sam Murphy for trying to keep my shit together and getting me ready to race…..

Thanks for reading and see you on the other side.  

Pitty

Group Training Evolve Style!

Training for endurance sports can be lonely. While this is arguably a draw for some, and there is much to learn as an athlete when training solo, it can grow old after awhile. And it usually grows very old by the last weekend of the final build block heading into a Marathon, Ironman or 70.3. This is where having a team behind you, can make all the difference!

Last weekend was our training weekend for IM Louisville and like every year prior it was an amazing effort by all from the athletes to the volunteers!

It is always fun to know where you are going!

It is always fun to know where you are going!

Each year we put together a weekend for our athletes headed to race an Ironman in their last build before they taper. And along with our Ironman athletes, many of our late season 70.3, 13.1 & 26.2 athletes come along for part of the ride and run, making it a great weekend of training and cheering. This has proven year and again to be an invaluable experience for the athletes and even for the coaches.

Here is how this past weekend went down!

We use a course that will give us a similar elevation profile for race day. Which means that we rode out in Wildwood, MO to prepare our athletes for the hills of Louisville. We break the 112 miles into a four loop course which allows us to SAG and monitor the athletes with ease and is also a great way to collect data which the coaches use later when writing race plans for race day. Unlike many group rides, we do not promote riding in a huge cluster of riders with athletes of all abilities. Rather, we prefer to link up each athlete who is racing with a volunteer athlete who is similar in ability. What we are trying to avoid is having an athlete ride too fast or too slow for their ability, which in either scenario leads to a low quality training day. We are lucky to have a super supportive group of team members along with five coaches so we can divide up the work at hand! The Ironman athlete will ride the entire 112 and the support athletes rotate in and out as needed.

This past weekend we had three groups of athletes, and therefore we also had three support vehicles stocked with water, ice, sports nutrition and back up bike tubes and tools. These vehicles monitor and assist each group out on the course. This was super important this weekend due to unseasonably high temps and we needed to have ice at the ready for the athletes as the temps and humidity skyrocketed throughout the day.

Once the athletes complete the course on the bike, they head out for a transition run and coaches either support via bike or by running along. This year we supported on the bike so we could hand off ice and ice water to keep the athletes cool.

Saturday was an incredible day of watching and cheering as our athletes faced very tough conditions and were able to overcome and nail their training. It was also a perfect day for each one of them to learn to test their limits and troubleshoot any gear, pacing, mental toughness or nutrition issues.

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Quickly, and I am sure far too fast for many, Saturday gave way to Sunday am, and it was another hot and humid day, but the athletes were at it once again for their final long run leading into the race.

Because we coach athletes who run at a variety of paces, we also chose to run in loops so that coaches can support and monitor athletes, and on a day at hot as Sunday, it allowed athletes to replenish fuel and get ice. Another benefit is that many Ironman and Half Ironman courses are looped and this enables an athlete to work through the mental pacing of a multi-loop course.

Once again the team showed up to offer support by biking alongside athletes to hand out ice and water and to cheer. While only a few of the athletes were able to run with one another due to pacing, it was awesome to watch athletes support each other as the made loops around Forest Park.

In the end the athletes put in a ton of high quality miles which will pay dividends on race day!

Thanks again to all of you who volunteered and made this weekend possible.  

 

P.S - If you want to read a WAY funnier and more detailed account of this weekend, check out this blog by Sarah. 

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It's that time again ... IRONMAN freak out - with Coach Samantha

This one was initially written three years ago, but it still holds true. While I think we can all agree that this can apply to any endurance event, but I would argue that there is a special kind of freak out that happens when training for an Ironman. 


Ironman training WILL make you crazy. It is not a question of if it will, more when and how will it affect you --- and the only part that matters is how you take it all in stride.

If you signed up for an Ironman, whether it is your first or 20th, you need to know that at one point you will lose your mind. What we care about as coaches is not that you will lose your mind –we think that is totally normal, but how you will deal with it, and what you learn from it when it happens.

We have the opportunity to train all types of athletes – I am not really talking about speed here – more, about what their life out of sport looks like. We have some who travel on a weekly basis for work, some who have children, some who have jobs that demand 50 plus hours a week without including the commute, and some who have it all: children, demanding job, and weekly travel.  Many of these athletes are long course and they are the masters of balancing it all. We work closely together to get it all in and create an equilibrium, but let’s face it – balance and 140.6 is an oxymoron. It is not a balanced lifestyle – that’s what makes it what it is, and that’s why in the end when that medal gets put around your neck, it is so very sweet. When our lives, which for most A type people get to a place where we cannot control every last thing, then we tend to lose it a little bit. There are so many factors in Ironman that are out of your control on race day and adapting to that starts with your training. The way you learn to adapt and overcome in  training, is a very important tool to have in your tool kit come race day.

Back to the mind losing part. What do I mean by that? Well, it depends on who the athlete is and what life demands from them. What I want everyone to know is that it will happen, no matter how well you think you deal with stress, or how easy the rest of your life is, the training will at one point make you crack. Case in point – last year I had an athlete who was very lucky to set up his life in a way that many of us can only dream off – he cut way back at work, he had weekly massages, he did everything in his power to make it an easy process, but even with all of the cards seemingly in place, he still had his mind losing episode. It was a short freak-out, but it came. No one is immune to the stress of long course racing.

Now, the real questions from my stand-point are how we can do our best to mitigate the freak out, and what we do when that stress hits?

Let’s start with the mitigation part:

 

1.       Hyper organization is key. In my mind the things that become overwhelming are the daily things – the laundry, cooking, cleaning. Do what you can to make those tasks easier. Set aside a day for meal prep, get bins to store your workout clothes in so you can cut down on folding times, space out the cleaning in the house so that you do one small task a day.  If you start your week with all of the little things taken care of, the workouts will be less stressful and more likely to get done without excuses.

2.       Avoiding procrastination. Do not put off the workout. The more you do this the harder it is get to get it done. Make a plan each week with a timeline that includes when you will work out and stick to that. If you can keep it the same each week it will become a habit. If your work schedule changes each week, then make plans around that.  When we put off workouts and skip them then the guilt is compounded – it is ALWAYS easier to get it done on the day that it is scheduled rather than trying to make it up.

3.       Find a dedicated tri training partner or a great group to workout with. This will help to keep you motivated and stay on task. Ironman can be really lonely and just having one other person to share the long hours with is helpful. Evolve coaches work to facilitate training partners and run group sessions to ease the training pain.

4.       Remember why we do it and when the pressure gets to be too much think about how even if you are getting paid to race, you are doing it because it is a passion. You asked for this right?

 

The stress will come and so will the freak out even if you have done your best to try to prevent it. It’s all part of the process, so what to do?

1.       Remember that is natural to freak out and that you are not the only one who feels overwhelmed. I think that sometimes athletes think that the freak out is a sign of weakness, or that they are the only one who goes through it. If you are using Facebook or Instagram posts as a judge, it can seem like the rest of your tri buddies are out there hammering, never missing a workout and holding it all together. Don’t be fooled. Embrace the freak out, work through it, learn from it,  and then move on.

2.       Assess why the freak out happen and address what you can do to prevent it getting out of control.  When it happens, take time to address the major stressors and see what it is that is causing you to be pushed over the edge. Is it relationship pressures, house work, work, family? Take some time to look at the hours you have each week and where you are wasting time. Are you watching more than an hour of TV a night, are you drinking too much caffeine and not getting to sleep early enough and therefore missing the am workouts, do you need to find a group to get out with to get you through? Can you set aside one night to prep all meals, can you pack all of your workouts clothes, nutrition, and write down all of your swim, bike and run workouts for the week on index cards, so that you don’t have to think about. How can you incorporate your family in the workouts? I did all of my recovery workouts with my daughter in tow, either in the stroller or behind the bike. Was this ideal – maybe not, but it helped keep my husband happy! Can your partner join you for these too? Maybe the vegetable garden needs to get put off until next year.

3.       Finally, know that the freak out and how you handle it is a perfect analogy for race day. Just like the training, Ironman is a long day and a lot can happen. How you deal with the stress in training can translate to how you deal with the stress in racing. Ironman is sure to throw you a few wrenches, learning how you deal with stress can help you to figure out how to deal with it on your big day. This to me is the biggest reason why the freak out needs to happen. Training is the way we get our body ready, but it is also the perfect medium for how we learn to deal with issues and solve them on the fly. If all of your training went off stress free and without a hitch, what would you do come race day if you hit a bump in the road?

And know this – the training is the tough part, when race day rolls around, it will be a breeze in comparison and when you hear your name calling for you at the finish line it will all be worth it!

 

 

On Any Given Week

Over the course of the next few blogs we will reveal a more detailed look at what makes Evolve unique giving you a glimpse from the inside.

I wanted to call this blog On Any Given Sunday --- but then I realized that many of our weekend races take place on Saturday and to be honest the workings of race week start long before race day. The goal is to take you through the paces of what coaching is like during pre-race weeks and on most weekends as it is something that we are really proud of at Evolve.

We do not travel to all of our athletes races, but try to make it to the local races, the big team events and as many Ironman events as possible. We are fortunate that we have 5 coaches to fill the gaps and therefore we can be at as many places as we can at once.

This past weekend was a big weekend of racing for the team, it was also a big training weekend for our fall A races, and for some who have started to focus on 2018 they are in testing mode.  Needless to say we had a lot going on with the team with athletes at WTC 70.3 Worlds, Lake Placid 70.3, the Litchfield Triathlon, a local 10K, and Ironman Wisconsin.

So how do we manage all of this? Here is what it looks like from an inside view.


Early in the week, the coaches send out detailed race plans. These plans are focused on the physical, mental and nutritional needs of each individual athlete. They include metrics, holistic guidance, and mental cues for each athlete to focus on. These plans range from 4 to 6 pages and become a great guiding point for the athlete. By the end of the week, it is time for athlete calls. While some athletes prefer to just rely on the written race plan, others enjoy a phone call. These phone calls usually review last minute concerns, course questions, or just a fun little conversation. For this week,  the things  we needed to tackle included how to deal with cold weather at race start, where to stand at the start of the swim, what kind of clothing to wear - you get the idea. And since we had an Ironman on tap, and the athlete was local, the coach met with the athlete in person instead of the call.  

And before you know it, it's race day!

Here's how this weekend unfolded. Saturday am was 70.3 Worlds, and JP was racing. She was up bright and early along with coach Teresa who was right away sending pics and updates to the team. JP was off the bike by the time I had to hop in the car to make my way to Wisconsin to be with Lynne and Coach Dave. All along the way my watch was buzzing with updates from both the new tracker (yay Ironman) and Teresa.  Teresa was keeping me up to speed and the whole team was chiming in cheering her from afar!

Then it was time to check in with JP post race and hear all about just how awesome it was! It was the best to hear JP's recap and the excitement that was oozing from her post race glow!

Run out for JP at Worlds!

Run out for JP at Worlds!

And then my phone buzzed and it was an awesome pic of some of our athletes who were training in Louisville for their first full!

Saturday's racing and training was in the books and it was time to prep for a busy Sunday.


We often send out a group text for all of our athletes who will be racing the same venue. This allows them to have a chain of communication to help one another if an issue arises or to make plans to meet up post race. We love watching how relationships are fostered or even germinated on race day.  Group texts sent! Check! Final round of checking in on our athletes the day before the race and then just one last thing to do.

One last stop before heading to the hotel for the night. A quick check in on Lynne to make sure that she was ready for the am! And of course she was!

Sunday started at 4:30 am with Coach Dave and me at transition with Lynne. Since Dave plays the role of an Evolve Coach and Lynne's husband, he helped her to transition and I met her by the water. But before being able to locate Lynne in the chaos of all of the athletes, I spotted Dave. Who was on the phone with one of his athletes who was racing that am and had a last minute question. Even though Dave’s wife was racing he did not shy away from his coaching role and was ready to help his athlete with his needs.

All was good with his athlete and it was time to help Lynne with her final preparations. Which meant Dave locating a sharpie as she forgot to get marked and me holding her place at the porta  potty line:). Then it was time for one last pep talk, a good luck hug and off to stake out a spot to watch the swim. Dave and I hung and watched the swim for a while and then once we knew she would be coming we split up so we could cover the swim in and also the bike out!

ALWAYS PACK A SHARPIE IN YOUR TRANSITION BAG!

ALWAYS PACK A SHARPIE IN YOUR TRANSITION BAG!

And while we were waiting on the swim we made sure to check on the athletes in Lake Placid. We had boots on the ground there who were keeping us updated and sending pics in addition to the tracker.

Back to Wisconsin - Dave caught Lynne on the way in and I saw her come out.

It was then time to walk back to the car. I should mention that I hate waiting for things so rather than parking and riding the shuttle I had run 2 miles through the foggy darkness to get to the swim start. The walk went by much faster than the moderately freaked out solo run! And as we walked we could cheer on bikers!

Then it was off to the bike course with a quick stop for some water.

We made it to mile 53 of the bike course just in time for the male pros to go flying by, set up our chairs and check in again on Lake Placid. At this point Greg had suffered a mechanical on the bike and had decided to pull out of the race. A quick check in with Greg’s crew to tell them to assure him that he had done the right thing! DNFs happen and it is important for the athlete to be supported and also given space if needed. Luckily Greg was excited to go right to work cheering Joe on!

Before long the sprint was over  in Litchfield and we were able to check in on our athlete there! Tony has rocked it and won his AG! Woo hoo!! And we also learned that Tori and Scott had placed at their 10k. And Scott had pulled out another PR!

Scott and Coach Tori take 2nd in AG!

Scott and Coach Tori take 2nd in AG!

Then boom, Lynne was coming and it was time to cheer and check in on how she was feeling. All good! She is moving well through the field and looks strong!

By now Joe was on the run in Placid and was looking really strong with a 5th place off the bike. Let the obsessive tracking begin!!!!

In an ideal world I could teleport myself to Placid, but clearly that can't happen, so what's a coach to do, call the team on the ground in Lake Placid and have them spread out to cheer Joe on. It's fun and awesome to hang in town to cheer, but let's face it athletes need you most where the crowds are sparse. The middle of a hill is a great place to cheer!! Dave F was out on course in no time. I however, was in my car charging my phone and watching the little map of Joe move along on the run. I had also entered all other athletes in his AG into my phone and knew he had moved into 3rd and was in a good place to hold it - but first a text to Dave to tell him to relay that he cannot slow down! Dave called back as soon as he saw him and told me that Joe looked great, felt great and was 3 miles out! He continued to rock it and before you know it he's had his first ever podium finish in and IM! And I was fist bumping in the car! Joe had nailed the race!!!

Two miles to go! Thanks to Dave F, Greg and Regina for all of their help!

Two miles to go! Thanks to Dave F, Greg and Regina for all of their help!

Phew--- just in time to hear from Betsy who had killed the aqua bike and PRed her swim! And sure enough as I jumped out of the car to tell Coach Dave about Joe and Betsy, he was on the phone with his athlete Joseph who had podiumed in his division at his first Olympic.

Coach high five!

Not long after Kelly checked in on her first ever Olympic finish and sent over some great pics of the crew -- some of whom had just met :)

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And did we mention backup chargers are a must!!

Then it was back to focusing on Lynne as we would see her again at mile 91!!!!!!

Another awesome Lynne spotting. She was getting stronger as the day went on. This is what you want to see in Ironman. Far too many burn up and fade.

Once Lynne came by, we hopped back in the car and hauled back to town. By this point all of our  athletes aside from Lynne were in and we had chatted with them all. Text messages and Facebook posts were coming in from the team as they all turned their support to Lynne.

Onto the run course. Dave and I found a spot before the .5 mile mark on the course and waited as the first women started to come off the bike.

We quickly established the order of women coming off in Lynne's AG and got a look of how they were starting the marathon. Then around the corner came Lynne and she was all smiles. We cheered and made sure she was good and then it was on to our next spot! The beauty of Wisconsin is that the course has a few out and backs and it sort of doubles back on itself so we could easily get to mile 6 and wolf down some food on the way! I drank my 50th green tea of the day and Dave grabbed another Rockstar Energy drink at some point - you forget to eat and drink when you coach and you need as much energy as you can get out there.

The first girls in her AG were coming by. Lynne was off the bike in 7th, moved up to 6th but was passed before we saw her and was in 7th again. Although by the time we saw her it was clear that she would move back onto 6th as 7th has made a hard attempt and already faded at mile 6.2. Two more Lynne sightings and then off to our next spot which was about mile 12. However, we decided to divide and conquer, and Dave went closer to 10 and I stayed put at the top of an incline. Our goal here was to cover the gaps where the crowds were thinner. Most people stand and cheer near transition and we knew our efforts to motivate her were not needed there, so we hung outside the main cheering sections. 

TRACKING!!!!

TRACKING!!!!

Up the hill she came and off she went still looking strong. Dave and I reunited and waited for her to come back around to mile 14. Another sighting and some more cheers and then back to mile 19 where we saw her two more times before she was in her final 10k. This is the pain cave and so we crafted a plan! We made the call to both stay out on the course (as a coach I rarely see my athletes finish as they beat me back to the line) and part ways again so we could cheer during the tough miles 22 and 23. Husband Dave of course wanted to see her finish, but Coach Daveknew just where he was needed.

Off to the finish line!

Off to the finish line!

As soon as Lynne passed Dave, he texted she was running strong still! This is no easy task to push through the late miles and run solid when so many others are walking! And before I knew it she was right there at mile 24. By this point there was zero smile and zero talking, but she pressed on! Lynne was onto a 6th AG, 20th OA and her third IM! She had raced her heart out!


While this is just one weekend of what it looks like, this is pretty status quo for Evolve. In  just a few weeks we will be at IM LV with 6 athletes racing and nearly twice as many athletes cheering. I can't wait to report back to you all about how that day unfolds, but no matter who is racing, where the race is, the Evolve coaches and teammates are tracking, cheering, and encouraging even if it is from afar!

A Warm Welcome to Lindsey Ehret!

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We are very excited to announce that we will be adding a swim coach to our team of coaches. Lindsey Ehret is joining the other Evolve coaches in an effort to offer more opportunity to current and potential athletes. Her primary focus will be private swim instruction. 

At Evolve we recognize that no matter your experience level, swimming is something that can always be tweaked and improved. Lindsay's experience as a swim coach and as a triathlete herself lends itself beautifully to the Evolve coaching team. We are honored and excited to have her on board. 

Read more about Lindsey here:

Lindsey is a St. Louis native, who describes herself as a life-long swimmer.  From her early days participating in summer league, USA club swimming, high school and college, to present as a Masters swimmer, Lindsey has always been passionate about the sport. 

After a successful Missouri state high school swimming career, the mid-distance freestyle specialist knew she wasn’t ready to stop swimming.  While majoring in History at Truman State University, Lindsey was a four-year team member on the NCAA Division II squad, which won four consecutive National Championship titles. Following graduation, she tacked on another year to earn her Masters in Secondary Social Studies Education. 

Lindsey’s swim coaching experience spans over ten years – working with all ages and ability levels.  She’s coached summer leagues, club teams, high school teams, and worked with adults.  Currently, she coaches a Masters team and can be seen working with the St. Louis University High School boys swim team during the Fall, when she isn’t teaching Social Studies.  She also enjoys open water swimming and recently won a 2.4 mile OWS on Donner Lake in California this summer.      

Lindsey focuses on getting her athletes to be as efficient as possible in the water through identifying and correcting weaknesses in stroke technique.   She uses multiple approaches and drills to ensure her athletes are able to reach their full potential and power in the water.   She hopes to instill confidence and a better feel for the water in her athletes.   

 

If you are interested in lessons with Lindsey or any other services that Evolve has to offer, please email us here! We 

Athlete Insight with Scott Kolbe: Race Report: USAT Age Group National Championship 2017 Omaha, NE

Talking with your coach about what your next season is going to look like is always the best conversation. At the end of 2016, I told Coach Sam that one of my goals was to qualify for AG Nationals and race it to the best of my ability. I know people who had raced AGN before and they said it was a great experience. I told her I was going to go to a regional qualifier and try and make it. She then told me you would totally qualify at a local race, you don’t need to go to a regional qualifier. I was a bit skeptical at the time she said that, but said okay. The trust between an athlete and coach is key to a successful racing season. I pretty much follow what any of the Evolve coaches suggest.  So I put my trust in the process and went after each workout.

Sure enough after my first local race,  I got an email from USAT, “Congratulations you have qualified for USAT Age Group National Championship”. I didn’t really understand how you qualify. I learned that you have to be in the top 10% of your age group at any USAT race, unless you race at a regional championship where they take the top third. I registered immediately and luckily my teammate JP qualified the same week. So we both signed up.

JP and I traveled on Thursday for the Saturday race. JP drove and we headed out to Omaha. About 2 hours in, we get a flat tire on her car and we are on the interstate. JP said she would call AAA, I said it will be faster if I change the tire and she finds a tire place while I do that. We unload all the gear from the vehicle: club tent, chairs, gear for two triathletes and get to work. As we load the tire over the two bikes, we both cut our hands and are bleeding, but JP in her usual way has already made friends with the guy at the tire store (via the phone) and now we need to get to Ozzy, so we can get a new tire put on.  JP had negotiated with Ozzy and he had promised to get us in and out of Marshall, MO quickly. We get to the tire place and a guy who is smoking a cigarette approaches, of course it is Ozzy, and he complements JP’s muscles and says I bet you're fast. JP says he is faster (she is pointing to me) and I don’t think Ozzy could see past JP’s muscles, nor cared to. But he gave JP a great deal on three new tires, I think cheaper than 3 new Continental GP4000s. In the meantime the crew pulls out a huge first aid kit and tends to JP’s wounds. Mine… Walk it off. I don’t think Ozzy noticed me the entire time. It made for a really fun way to start what would be an epic weekend full of fun and adventure.

Sometimes you just need to kick the wheel!

Sometimes you just need to kick the wheel!

 

So let’s get to the race, the rest of the commute was uneventful. The weather in Omaha had been cooler and I am a boater, so I know how to find the water temps of many bodies of water. I was watching that week as the water temps dropped to 78.6 degrees. I was thinking kick ass. This race should be wetsuit legal if the weather holds. Well the temps warmed up and when we get to the race site and ask Coach Tori,  who had already been to packet pickup what the water temps were – 80.6 was the answer. Well this is not a wetsuit race. At this race there is no wetsuit optional choice. So I realized it is what it is. That day I went out and did a practice swim. We were the first ones there in a line of athletes that all looked like they should be on the cover of Triathlete Magazine. I just sat there and thought damn – do I even belong at this race?  Well I am here, so I did my warm-up swim and it went fine once I got settled in. But as can happen I started getting doubt in my mind. I didn’t say anything to the Evolve crew, but decided to log it in my training log. Sam responded in 4.3 milliseconds.  

 

You can totally swim! Think of your nerves on the first day of masters - these are the same. You are in uncharted waters so you are nervous. But logically you can swim super well now. I like the idea of strong as your mantra - because that's what you are!!

 

So that evening I worked on my mantra, which was “Strong and Belong” and went to bed, slept great and the next morning went to the race site. Coach Tori drove JP, Terri and myself to the site, of course she figured out the way to circumnavigate traffic and we got into the race site while everyone else sat in traffic.

 

Transition:

We get to transition, which had the best transition racks for a tall person; my bike never sits right on the typical racks you see at races. My seat is high. I start talking to the two guys in transition on my rack. Making small talk  is how I relax. What race did you qualify at for this? The guy responds “All of them, I am going to Kona this year”. The guy on other side says I am going to Kona again. I laughed and realize okay these guys are all freaking fast. Said my mantra smiled and went to the club tent.

 Announcement one – 15 minute delay due to traffic, announcement 2 – 20 minute delay due to traffic, announcement 3 – 30 minute delay due to traffic. I was scheduled to start at 8:04 and the race starts at 7:00 AM. I am thinking 8:34 isn’t the worst but I had hoped we would start sooner.

Plenty of times for pre-race pics!

Plenty of times for pre-race pics!

 

Swim:

 At about 8:20 the 130, 45 to 49 year old males walk out on the dock and the thing is moving side to side like crazy. We get to swim on the other side of the dock for a practice swim. I swim the full area and take advantage of every minute for the warm-up and feel pretty good. I get back on the dock and there are no spots to stand. So negotiate a spot in the middle of the dock. The guy next to me is from Chesterfield the other guy is from Tallahassee. Like I said small talk relaxes me. The whistle blows, I decide to wait 3 seconds and let these guys take off. Everyone is spread out. But I could tell it was going to be war on the swim. Coach Sam wanted me to hold back until buoy 1. So that is what I did. I am thinking buoy one was a couple hundred yards out. By the time I got there, I saw guys treading water, stopping and suddenly I realized I just passed multiple swimmers. That is all I needed to realize I had this swim. After that I just kept swimming, and found a guy I could pace off of. I did that until the turn buoys where war broke out. After I got around the last turn buoy I was heading in. Coach Tori had suggested going inside the sighting buoys, because at the athlete rules meeting they said you could go on either side. Well that move was genius. I was swimming by myself and everyone else was swimming long. I quickly made my way back in. I thought to myself this was my best non-wetsuit non-sprint race swim ever. The swim was a PR for me for this distance and my other Olympic race this season was a wetsuit race.

 

T1:

Went running up the ramp through the grass and Tori yells run faster. She knew what I was thinking. I got into transition, put my helmet and shoes on and was out. I hit my Garmin lap button and realized whatever the transition and swim were, they were both great – because that is a great time for me just for the swim. I was smiling and thinking time to HIT the bike hard!

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Bike:

Get out on the bike and I am feeling solid. I recently bought a Garmin Edge 820 and had that on my aerobars. I am cooking along when I hit the big hill around mile 7 – I look down and my average speed is 22.8 mph, I try and keep my average speed up without blowing my legs out. Sam said I could stand if I wanted to and was feeling strong and hitting my metrics. I do, and I passed a bunch up the long hill, including people walking their bikes and a guy who dropped his chain. I get to the top and the average speed says 21.3 mph. By the time I got to the turnaround I was averaging 22.9 mph. Then I turned around and realized that I was going to fight a headwind back. All in all it was good. Only had one group that I had to worry about getting around that seemed to not like being passed. After I passed a guy on a Specialized, he immediately sped up after I broke the plane, I hammered for a second to get around and then 2 minutes later he was passing me. Then a few minutes later he couldn’t hold his pace, so I did what Charlie Crawford, head of USAT officiating suggested at the athlete meeting which was just come up fast and tight to their rear tire and they won’t even know you are there and won’t have time to speed up as you pass. He was right, I never saw him the rest of the day.

 

They hand out a ton of penalties at this race, they estimated 200 to 300 penalties would be issued. So, I knew the rules were really important, and I was glad to have a clean race. I finished the bike and was pretty happy with my time. Just under 22 mph fighting a headwind back. I did my flying dismount with success, this was something I did at every race this year and have actually gotten to the point where I enjoy it after a few challenges earlier in the season.

 

T2 – This transition went great as well. Every triathlon this year I probably lost 10 seconds wrestling with a shoe or something. This one went off flawlessly. Again the transition area was nice with the tall racks. My bike easily slid under the rack!

 

Run:

 I get out on the run; I am feeling real good. I am running much faster than my earlier season Olympic; my stride feels solid. The Coach Andy advice is helping from the spring clinic. The great thing at AG Nationals is almost everyone is running and you can feed off of the energy. I am running solid. The run out had a bit of a headwind I could feel, so on the way back the run felt really great. This was a 2 loop run. I saw other Evolve athletes Terri and JP on the 2 trips out and back. That always lifts your determination when you see the blue and green!  As I approached the finish, Coach Tori is yelling at my to pick it up and has Coach Sam on the phone. I said I am good! Somehow while I had a great run, I felt I should have had even more, but we need goals for 2018 - right?

 

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This was a great time with great people. Qualifying was something I never expected until this year and ironically I qualified at my first race of the season. If you get a chance to race AG Nationals, definitely give it a shot. It has a lot of amazing athletes. I want to thank all of my Evolve teammates for a great season with many memories and also Coach Sam. This season was the most fun I have had in triathlon.

In the end just believe you belong and you will end up making your dreams become goals that happen.

 

 

 

 

 

Athlete Insight - IM Lake Placid with Randall Howard

This race report will take you right along the course and the highs and lows of racing! While we would never recommend racing with a known stress injury, we can never perdict what race day will throw your way. One thing is clear, whatever it is, Randall will be able to tackle it!

 

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I arrived in Lake Placid on the evening of Thursday July 20th just in time for dinner and sunset on Heart Lake at the Adirondack Loj (ADK.org). Cheap bed and breakfast lodging with complimentary breakfast from $60/night, about 5 miles outside of Lake Placid up route 73 past the Olympic ski jump. It is hard to find cheaper housing in Lake Placid, so this place is a steal!

The following morning I headed into town to the Lake Placid Visitor's Center for athlete check in and then headed out for a 45 minute bike. I ended up riding the out and back section of the run course on River Road and hitting the last small portion of the hard climb from Wilmington back into Lake Placid on to Mirror Drive.   The course at Placid is beautiful and a challenge all in one!

Fast forward to Saturday morning before race day. I did a short practice run consisting of a loop and a half around where the swim would be (Mirror Lake is only about 3 miles around). During the run I experienced a tight, almost debilitating feeling in my right leg which had been bothering me for the past couple of weeks and just figured it was muscle fatigue from my last few weeks of  training volume. I actually thought a nerve was being squeezed real hard/was out of place. I discussed with a few people that I was having some issues and this could definitely ruin my marathon....I actually was thinking this is not good...how far can I get into the marathon, before I start having pain in my right quad? But it was hard to tell exactly what was going on, and I was nervous, but hoping for the best. After my run,  I immediately went down to the expo and got ART Therapy to see if the therapist could loosen it up.....eh,  he loosened it temporarily for like 30 minutes.  I got the last of my nutrition and headed back to the lodge to get off my feet in preparation for race day, not knowing what the marathon would bring, but ready to get started.

Race morning I headed down to the transition area around 4:45am to get the last of my nutrition on my bike and my transition bags dropped off, then it was off to meet Coach Sam at the body marking area. She asked me how I was feeling and I said I was good, but a little nervous about how my right quad might do on the run. We both agreed 112 miles on the bike to loosen it up would probably do the trick, and it is natural to have some aches and pains headed into race morning. The first age group swim went off at 6:40 with the pros starting at 6:30. It was a self seed swim start, so I placed myself in the 1:00:00 to 1:10:00 group. The good thing about IMLP swim course is the line/cord running 5 feet beneath the surface of the water following the perimeter/buoys of the rectangular two loop swim course, so if you stay on that line...you don't have to really sight. Tough thing about this is survival of the fittest. I stayed directly on top of the line and got the shit beaten out of me for the entirety of the first loop. I was punched in the head twice...knocking my goggles sideways once and having to sit up and tread water until I fixed them and got my bearings back together (jockeying for position with big dudes suck, especially if they are fast too...just let them go and get on their feet for a sec). This was almost 40 seconds or so trying to regroup. I finished up first loop ran up on shore around the dock and headed back in for loop 2 which was very smooth and I found a rhythm. Out of the water in 1:10:00 and change...I guess I was okay with that, so I ran into T1 which was a long run from the water to the changing tents and headed out on the bike.

    The first loop of the bike was a little crowded in the beginning for the first big climb. Once I got to Jay and started the fast screaming descent into Keene Valley I parted ways with the mass of age groupers. I ride a 55 42 chain ring setup and on the IMLP course it is for those that like to crush descents and are fairly strong on hills, otherwise I would not recommend it.  I stayed left and just barreled down the mountain. I don't have an issue with going 47-50 mph as long as I stay to the left and other riders stay away from me. The road on the descent got a little sketchy with bumps and holes filled in...that is the only time I was like...........fuck, when you're moving that fast, it can be scary. I found a fast group who were riding legal, but hard, and just pushed with them for the entire first loop taking turns setting the pace off the front. By the time I got to Wilmington to start the last 13 miles of "HELL" climbing (yes...Hell climbing) before loop two,  it was only me and two others. As I hit the 2nd loop, I was thinking...I maybe rode that a bit hard, but I was okay and continued. The course became sparse...I wasn't in contact with as many riders the second loop, then at about mile 75....here comes the nasty headwind ....There is usually a headwind in Placid, and this is what I believe can kill people, if not pushing the first loop too hard. I was alone for a good while pushing into the wind staying aero. My  power meter would have been helpful here, but it was inoperable....I did the entire race on HR. Last 20 miles was a bitch with that Wilmington to Lake Placid 13 mile continuous climb again...this is what ruins people's race and kills their run. I was off the bike in 5:36:00, not to thrilled as the headwind on the second loop killed my bike split. I was hoping to do 5:20ish. But ... on to the run.

I came out of T2 feeling good and was like wow...no pain in my legs on the swim or bike and managed high 6's-low  7's heading out on the run.  As soon as I hit mile 2.4 of the run out River Road, I started experiencing severe pain in my right quad....I was like,"no no no...this is too early." So I kept running in  pain and managed to make it to a medical tent at  about mile 4. They are like what's going on and I told them I think I fractured something in my upper leg. They asked if I wanted to call it a day. I just asked them to contact my Mom and have them get a hold of Samantha and see what she wanted me to do....whether it be walk it back in and call it a day or keep going and see if I could just make it back in to town on the first loop, then decide whether or not to take the DNF and call it  ... or get back to town and walk the second loop and finish when it was getting dark. I said fuck it and kept running......I picked up the pace as I was pissed off and running in absolute pain out River Road. Medical caught up with me on an ATV and said stop back at medical after the turnaround and the Medic would let you speak with your mom or Samantha. I was running  fast at that point trying to get back to the tent....I was doing low 7s, high 6s for a while passing people and getting the "nice work", and I'm like I'm injured...just trying to get to medical. I got back to the tent and got a hold of my Mom. She said Sam was heading out on course from town to meet me and see what's going on. And sure enough as I came up one of the 2 significant climbs heading back into town, I saw Samantha and she started helping me mentally. I told her I knew something wasn't right pre-race, but she helped me keep it positive. She asked what I wanted to do. I told her it hurt so bad, but I don't want to take a DNF on my 11th Iron-distance race. I decided I would run it back to town and decide. I had IM 70.3 Worlds Sept 10th and that was my primary concern. All of a sudden, Sam is like, you've dealt with much worse and one of the leaders in your age group is currently running at the same pace or slower than you (a little motivator). The truth was that when I was running, I was running well, the issue was that I was just not running a ton which was hard for me to manage mentally. I doubted myself because at that point, I knew Kona wasn't going to happen, but literally was flustered seeing people pass me on the run as I had to break stride and walk from time to time because of the pain. Running is my strength and this was the first time where I was not able to get to work. What really made the difference and I'll be honest...seeing a few strong athletes on the run go past me. I usually see these guys on the bike which is their forte, and because of my current condition, three of them in a group shuffled passed me as I began a walk/limp in pain. Yup, I got mad, and said not today...I usually am able to ride with these guys at races on the bike, but always pass them later in the day on the run.....and at that point, I wasn't racing my race anymore and that fueled my fire. At this point it was how quickly can I get my ass to the F@#$ing finish line and have the pain be over........and I wasn't finishing when it got dark.... no sir, not doing it (much respect to those that raced all day and into the final hours of the night...true warriors)! I somehow was able to channel my anger and pain and will myself to push on!  I finished the first loop passing Pro athlete, Paul Ambrose (he cakes his face with sunscreen...yeah, that guy) up the big climb on Main Street (he was on his last loop), he was struggling (the placid hills are killers) and I was like, nice work Paul as I hobbled by...he didn't seem to like that too much, or at least showed no emotion. I headed for the turnaround along Mirror Lake Drive and headed back out and for my final loop on the run. This time it was let's see how many people I can pick off running on a messed up leg in shear pain. When I was running with my hobble and limp, I was doing 7:20's to 8's. What killed my overall time was the walking....13,14,15 minute miles and stopping and chatting with the Med guys on the first loop. The pain was so excruciating, I thought I had fractured something which I kept telling myself is better than muscle, tendon, or ligament damage. I saw a really strong runner that was running hard.....what did I have to lose at this point? I skipped several aid stations on the run because my pacing was a lot slower than it should have been, so my HR was very low for me. The runner's  name was Saudi, and she was running really strong...I ran with her for a good while out River Road passing people at a pretty good pace....We talked as we ran and discussed what I had going on. She's like hang with me...I'll get you as far back into town as possible. I stayed with her until about 6 miles left, then I let her go...I couldn't sustain the pounding. (You can read more about her and how cool she is here). I battled my way back into town running, walking , hobbling, and finally running the last big climb on to Main Street. I did not walk other than to quickly kiss my girlfriend, who ran out on course. As I made my last mile or so around Mirror Lake to the final turnaround before heading back in to the finish line in the Olympic Oval...shit got real!!! Talk about the world freezing right before your eyes and you are the only living thing conscious and in super slow mo. That is how the last mile was...both of my legs were done. I was thinking bad things about what the results would be with my legs once I went to see an ortho doc back home, but I tried to soak it all in. I staggered the last mile.. and heard a volunteers on course say, "Holy shit that guy with the possible stress fracture is still going!" I hobbled my way into the Olympic Oval and onto the finish (4:16:00 marathon), only to be greeted with a medal by the man with the plan.....Andy Potts and got a finisher photo with TJ Tollekson (2011 IMLP Winner...the year I volunteered before my first race there in 2012)......this made all the pain worth it. All that for an 11:08:00 day...I'll take it! 

I'm currently on crutches with no weight bearing activities for 12 weeks (hello, time to work on my swim!!!) ...so no IM 70.3 Worlds for me September 10th. The MRI showed a stress injury to my right femur. I learned a ton about myself at IMLP; I learn more and more every time I race. This race taught me to "Make the best possible outcome, out of the worst possible situation.", "Everyone wants to eat, but few are willing to hunt." Take these few things into consideration when you end up in a dark place...whatever it is that you're doing, and you'll come out fighting on top....I promise!!! I want to thank my Mom, Jillian, family and friends, the entire Evolve Team for their love and support. I want to especially thank Coach Samantha for putting up with my shit and believing in me. I'm very stubborn at times and will eat bullets before laying down and rolling over.

2018 IMLP anyone? I'm in!

Triathlon Has Been Very Good to Me - with Coach Teresa

Remember the iconic Garrett Morris skit from Saturday Night Live when he says, “Baseball’s been berry, berry good to me?”  Well that’s how I feel about triathlon.

Coach Teresa and JP at 70.3 Worlds in Austria!

Coach Teresa and JP at 70.3 Worlds in Austria!

When I began doing triathlons at the age of 42, I had the distinction of having never won an award for sports.  At my first sprint triathlon, I came in last in my age group - and loved it!  At my second triathlon, I won a trophy and was hooked.   Initially, I was a terrible swimmer and, at best, an average biker and runner.   Although not an outstanding athlete,  I discovered through hard work and perseverance, I could achieve success in triathlon.  Most importantly, for me triathlon revealed a new world – a world where I developed priceless friendships, enjoyed travel, acquired the confidence of an athlete, and modeled a healthy lifestyle.

Where it all started!

Where it all started!

Since 2000, triathlon has provided me with opportunities and travel previously unimaginable.  While I know that my experiences pale compared to those of many of my St. Louis peers, for a late blooming athlete, the ride has been amazing.   I’ve participated in over 125 triathlons, as well as adventure races, gravel races, trail runs, halves & marathons.   I’ve raced locally, throughout the Midwest, and in Boston, Myrtle Beach, Birmingham, Texas, Florida, Canada, Austria, and France.  Through the many training hours, road trips, shared hotel rooms, and highs and lows, I have formed friendships that will last a lifetime.   As a triathlete, I became an athlete role model to my kids, and discarded some of my longstanding insecurities.  I’ve grown stronger from grueling workouts and races and I’ve experienced the exhilaration of a perfect race day or cycling 40 mph down a mountain road.   

One of the rewards I’ve experienced through triathlon arose from an encounter at Steelhead Triathlon in 2008, when I struck up a conversation with a young French family at the race.   We stayed in touch and last year the family visited us in St. Louis.   During their visit, we learned that our friend created and directs an aquathlon (swim/run), the “Aquathlon Lac du Bourget” in Aix-les-Bains.  The Lake of Bourget is the largest freshwater lake in France, nestled among mountains, in Savoy, a region that has been a resort area since the time of Romans and a vacation destination for royalty.   At the invitation of my friends, on July 14, 2017, my husband and I participated in the aquathlon as a relay team, with me as the swimmer.   On race morning, the athletes were loaded onto six tour boats and were dropped off on the far side of the lake, with the goal to swim across to the transition area.   Over the years, my swimming has improved, but I still get anxious when I’m in the middle of a rough lake with a 1.8 -mile swim ahead of me.   On this day, I managed to keep my nerves in check by marveling over the fact that I was swimming across a gorgeous lake, in the mountains, in France - and event that would have been inconceivable 18 years earlier.    Though neither my swim nor my husband’s run were remarkable and we finished amongst the last of the relay teams, we were elated  to race in this exceptional setting amongst friends and claimed for ourselves the title of the First Place American Relay Team.  

All athletes eventually face a time when they can’t do what they previously did, whether due to the gradual decline of age or from traumatic injuries or health issues.   Sometimes we can make a comeback and sometimes it’s time to wrap it up.  I’ve had doctors holding me together for a few years now, but last month was told definitively that I could no longer run.  In the scheme of world issues, this news is miniscule; it doesn’t even qualify as one of the top crises of my life.   Nevertheless, it is still a change and loss.  Even though the door to triathlon may have closed for me, the door to coaching opened to a whole new realm of  fulfillment.  As an Evolve coach,  I continue to grow through new challenges  and am rewarded daily with the friendship, feedback, and progress of athletes.  As I contemplate adjustments to my athletic activities and lifestyle and morph from participant to coach (although I am excited to take on some aqua bikes),  I am, above all, cognizant of how fortunate I’ve been to be able to participate in this sport and all it has given me.   And I gratefully remember that triathlon has been berry, berry good to me … and will continue to be!

Another View From Muncie - Athlete Insight with Anita Schnapp

Here I am, less than a week post race, already thinking about what my schedule for next year is going to be. I think it is safe to say I am hooked.  I knew that it would feel great to cross that finish line, but I had no idea how great.

I felt ok waiting for the start.  I got in with my wave and waited for the horn.  And then it was terrible.  In the first 100 yards, I almost quit!  I felt trapped in, unable to breathe and completely panicked.  I started looking for a kayak and was about to ask to get pulled out of the water.  Luckily, there was no kayak around.  So I switched to breast, started swimming and before I knew it I was at the second buoy.  By then, things had spread out and I didn’t feel trapped, so was able to settle myself. It seemed like every time I switched to crawl, I took a mouthful of water, or someone hit me swimming past.  But I also noticed that when I would switch to crawl, I would end up passing people that I had been swimming with on breast.  Confirmation that crawl is faster, if I could just get more comfortable with it in rough water and crowds. I did grab a kayak probably at about 1600 yards just for about 15-20 secs to grab a few good breaths.  I am sure I could have made it without, but somehow got it in my head that I needed that little break.  

As I left the water, I looked at my watch, and realized I never started it!  But I also saw the time was 8:42.  With a 7:50 start, that gave me just over a 50 minute swim.  I had known all along that if I got out of the water in time, I should finish.  So then I was just grinning.  I got my watch started and kept moving.

The bike was awesome.  I was in my heart rate zone every time I looked. I probably could have pushed a little harder, but was worried about the run.  Mental state was really good on the bike.  No negative thoughts at all.  However, I still have a tendency for my mind to just wander.  I am not sure if that is good as it keeps me calm, or if with a little more focus, would I be pushing a little more.

In T2, I changed my socks.  I had on thick run socks, which got wet, and I could feel the bottom of my foot getting irritated.  So into dry socks and off on the run.  I am a little disappointed in my run.  While my time was ok, I do feel like I let myself quit a bit.  I walked a lot more than I expected to.  When I did pick up a run again, I was consistently at 5.8-6.2 miles/hour, and I was able to pick it up at the end and sprint it in, which tells me that I had more in me, and was holding back.  The blister on my foot was part of it but by far the bigger part was that stupid mind block. I don’t know what I am afraid of if I really leave it ALL on the course.  

At the very end, at the bottom of the last hill, I could see Tori’s bright pink tank in the crowd.  Nothing to make you pick up your pace like your coach standing at the 13 mile marker!  And then all of sudden Sam was right there yelling encouragement, and that’s when I almost lost it.  I really was going to not only finish this, but absolutely blow my goal out of the water.  

The biggest lesson I learned was about my nutrition.  I was absolutely under hydrated on the bike.  I didn’t even get through 2 bottles on the bike.  I did try, but the nausea got to me.  It took me until Tuesday to feel like I was caught up on fluids from Saturday.  I did take my blocks on the bike, although I think I missed one 45 minute interval.  When I got to the run, it was like I just forgot I was supposed to do that.  I did Gatorade, ice in my cap at almost every stop.  I did oranges at probably 4 or 5 of them.  But I did not, even once, take a blok or a gel.  It didn’t even cross my mind.  In fact, I didn’t even realize I had done that until Monday!  I don’t know how much difference it would have made, but it sure wouldn’t have hurt.  Even when I started to feel hungry on the run, it didn’t occur to me to take some bloks.  

I have known since I started this that the mental part would be my biggest challenge.  I had some tough spots with the first 100 of the swim, grabbing the kayak towards the end of the swim, and many places along the run.  The only real negative thought was in the first 100.  The other spots were just places that I let my body decide what I was doing rather than having my brain make my body do what it should.  It also took me way too long to realize that the aid stations were not exactly at the mile marks.  That made it tough when I got to the aid station, and several minutes later,  saw the mile sign.  Next time I will know not to count on the aid station being at a certain distance and only count on the signs.

Good points from a mental standpoint—looking at my watch getting out of the lake was sheer joy.  On the bike (and even a time or 2 on the swim), I used every person I passed as a positive reinforcement.  During the run, even when I did run-walk, I was able to pick up to a run over and over again, and I did climb the last hill at a run with a sprint finish.  

I don’t know what races I will do next year.  But I do know that I will hydrate better, count on my mile markers and not my aid stations, doubt myself less, and hopefully, learn to leave it ALL out there.  

Muncie Race Report - With Coach Samantha

Please note that there is a lot of foul language in this race report - but in order to truly be athentic, I felt it needed to stay as is - so appolgies in advance!

F*%K You I Won’t Do What you Tell Me …

 

To begin here’s some backstory - if you know the history of my racing then just skip ahead, but otherwise here's the long and short of it:

In 2013 I had a post baby comeback year where I raced three 70.3s and one Full IM. It was a great year of racing for me, and I felt absolutely amazing at my IM from start to finish (except for about 300 feet at mile 18 where I got this odd cramp), but the next morning I knew that there was something wrong with my right knee. The truth is that it was tendinitis, and had I been smart and calmed down and gone to PT I would probably have been fine, but instead I went full throttle into denial and training mode as I wanted so badly to build on my previous season - and tendinitis turned into tendonosis and some serious pain. I was so anxious for a fix, that before even taking a step back, I paid a hefty sum for some PRP - which in the end was a very bad idea for me as I was the lucky winner of the side-effect lottery and my tendon was completely destroyed. It then took me another year to find a doctor who was willing to remove the dead tendon. Most and that should really read many as I went to any and all doctors I could, told me to hang up my hat and just ride my bike. In January of 2015 I finally had surgery which for all intents and purposes was a success - but did take me a very long time and lot of hours of PT and rehab to recover from. Three months out from surgery I was still not fully functioning and by that time my doctor had taken a position at John’s Hopkins and so I was left to see her partner who very bluntly told me that he would never have done the surgery and that I might not ever recover fully or run again. At that point walking still sucked, so I was really freaked out - which lead me to demand an MRI on the spot and in some ways that MRI proved to be the theme for the next two years. I have no clue how the MRI tech determined the song choice, but the MRI tech put headphones on me and blasted Rage Against the Machine in my ears and while I tried to hold my body still all while bawling my eyes out (the tech actually had to empty out the ear holes in the headphones from the pools I had created) I crafted a plan in my head to do what I could with what I had to get back to at least walking without a limp. This plan included tons of work with my amazing PT and a strength and conditioning coach. And a year later I was released to run!

 

The Silver Lining

Being injured allowed me to slow down my training and pour myself into my coaching with abandon. I think many athletes who start to coach feel a strong pull between their racing and what it takes to start a successful business and I was in some ways lucky to not have this tension in my life. I was also able to “cross” the finish line with so many athletes, who continue to produce fabulous results and inspire day in and day out. While of course I was devastated to not be racing I loved, and continue to love every minute of coaching, so the hole that racing left in my life was overfilled with the joy brought by all of the Evolve athletes.

 

Let’s Give This Thing A Tri ;)

In the late fall of 2016 I began to work with my current coach and she created a plan to get me to the starting line of Muncie 70.3. In all honestly I would never pick Muncie as my comeback race if I was not a coach. I picked it because I am a coach before an athlete and I knew that I would not have any athletes who I coached personally with me racing. I was also lucky enough to have Coach Tori who had one of her athletes there racing, so it was the best of both worlds. Why would I not pick Muncie - it’s nothing against Muncie, it is just a race that does not play to my strengths - the bike is pretty flat and the run is a series of rolling hills. I like to bike up hills - have you seen these legs - and my knees do not like to run down them, but it fit my life - so Muncie it was. I will level with you all and tell you that I signed up so late for the race that I was told that I would not have my name on my bib (which was not the case in the end). I did this because if you have ever had a major injury then you might be able to relate to the overarching fear that will rule your life. So I waited until the last minute when I knew that I could atleast get to the run and walk it if I needed due to my damn tendons.

 

My Greatest Strengths Are My Greatest Weaknesses or Race Week

Remind me that racing the weekend after 4th of July is never a good idea when you have a kiddo and live someplace that is hotter than hell. I was on my feet all week and went to numerous firework displays way past my bedtime. My daughter was home from camp and she is not really one to sit around, so I spent a lot of time at the pool in the blazing hot sun! However, in some ways these were really welcomed distractions from the race - which I really, really, really, really needed, as I have never ever, ever been so nervous. Here was the fundamental issue - it was like I was racing my first 70.3 in many ways, and yet I was armed with the knowledge of the pain and also previous times that were infiltrating my mind whenever I allowed them to creep in. So I just went through the motions of packing, hydrating the best I could, and begging my husband to devise some kind of master plan so that I would have a great excuse to get out of racing. My husband is a scientist and prides himself on his rational and evidenced based approach to all things in life, so when I would tell him that I was scared to death and thought that I would not be able to make it to the starting line let alone the finish line, he would give me a pep talk on all things rational about my training load, how I had done all the work, blah, blah, blah to which I would look at him and tell him in a semi-bitchy way that he could never relate - so sorry Ryan!

 

So what was I afraid of - here is the list:

 

  1. THE PAIN OF THE LAST THREE MILES OF THE RUN!!!! This was a big one - I know what this feels like and I was dreading it.

  2. That I would mentally give in to said pain and fall apart. THIS WAS PROBABLY MY BIGGEST FEAR. I hate hypocrites so I did not want to be someone who could not practice what I preach on the daily.

  3. That I would realize that I no longer loved racing - I really love coaching and knew that this could end my desire to race.

  4. That my body would make it clear that this was the end of the line for me in racing.


 

The Day Before

WAS SHEER HELL! I have never been so nervous. I was basically in a state of total and utter anxiety. I used all of my tricks to calm myself and did what I could with the state I was in. Thankfully Tori was there to keep me from heading back to Saint Louis and I was able to go through the pre-race stuff with Anita which kept me distracted. At one point I even made Tori go over the worse case scenarios with me, just to know that in the end it would all be okay. I was so out of my mind that I struggled to eat - which I do not think has ever happened to me. The night before, I swear I got 10 minutes of sleep, but at 4 am I popped up like a total lunatic and faked myself into a state of race excitement. I also can deal with very little sleep, so I knew I would be fine. I just needed to be in the water! There is really one road into Muncie, so I did almost lose my shit in the traffic getting into the race site, but before I knew it I was in transition and the crazy shakiness that my body was experiencing was over with. I am at my best when I can be at work, so I got right to work at setting my transition up, which worried the hell out of me as I felt like I had half the crap of the other girls next to me. I left transition, put on my wetsuit and got in my practice swim. This was key in calming me down, except for the total chaos of people swimming in all directions. It was then time to head to my wave and wait to start.

This is my fake it til you make it face!

This is my fake it til you make it face!

 

The Swim:

I got right to the front of the wave. I knew that I would not be out of the water in top ten, but I should not be far off from that. My coach told me to get out there and get after it , so I was right there in the front line. And then before I knew it, we were off. Since it has been so long since I raced an IM, it was such a lovely experience to have so many buoys and I swam a pretty straight line on the way out, just picking off one after the other. As in the past, the front pack gets away from me right away and I am left in limbo to swim. The first part of the swim was uneventful, until we turned into the sun. Here is a tip -  you do not need to be able to see objects clearly, you just need to have a general idea of where you are going and this is even more true with all the buoys in IM. We were swimming straight into the sun, so as long as I kept that up, the buoys would arrive quickly at my right. However, this is really disorienting to many and at that point I was catching up the first two waves in front of me and many of them were bobbing around in the water so it was a bit of an obstacle course - which for me meant swimming over people and getting hit a few times. And then just like that the swim was over! I do not race with time on my watch - the swim is the swim is the swim, why freak out over a few seconds or set a negative tone and while there was, a race clock I am sure, I never saw it. I made eye contact with a wetsuit stripper, made sure my wetsuit was off my butt and was out of it in a second and running up the hill. The run in transition was basically a preview for the rest of the day, most of the male waves went off before me- passing men who hate to be passed - sorry guys, but it is true - just be kind and get the hell out of the way!

 

T1

Totally uneventful - other than I could see that most bikes were still on the rack so the swim could not have been that bad and due to the storms the night before you had to carry your bike out of transition.

 

The Bike:

This is where I feel the most at home… but this was not the case at this race. I had done one other race this season which was an aqua bike in which I felt pretty crappy through the first 28, but felt great after that , so I knew that it was totally normal to feel kind of blah. Muncie is a closed course and the majority of the course is a two loop out and back on a major road. The roads getting out there were not bad, but not great, and I did notice that there was a little wind. The course was a little different this year due to flooding, and we had to go through a neighborhood for a very short time where I got stuck behind a car( this was the only part that was not technically closed) but I remained calm and just did what I could - which was remain calm and not get hit by the car. The first lap went by fine - I concentrated on being smooth, hitting my Hr and power goals and getting in all the fuel I needed to survive the run. My stomach for the first time ever did not feel awesome, but I was able to fuel to plan and knew that I just needed to do the work and not stress the stomach not feeling 100%. This is where race experience came in, I knew that underfueling would make for a very long run and that there are times when you just have to force the fuel a little even if you do not want to take it in.

 

Loop one went by in a flash and then it was time to turn the corner and hit lap two. I was so excited to get to work on lap two and hit the last 28 miles. I was feeling pretty awesome at this point. I turned the corner and like some odd stroke of the opposite of luck, I ran over a piece of electrical tape which got stuck to my wheel and every time it hit my brakes would make an awful sound like my own personal clapper. While it might be nice to have my own cheering squad in the form of the clapper - it instantly started to mess with my head - I had two choices - ignore or stop and take it off. At that point i was worried that it would get lodged and slow me way down, but I looked at my power and my HR and knew that I was fine physically, but mentally I was losing my shit - I decided not to stop. I then attempted to reach down and pull the tape off while riding - dumb idea and total waste of energy and time. I just needed to ride and deal. So I tried to will myself to ignore it and started to repeat a mantra in an effort to focus on that and not the motherfucking piece of tape that had to be laying on the road in just the right way to get stuck on my damn tire. At one point I even ran over a honey stinger waffle in a vain attempt to get the tape off. At this point I was about half way out on the last out and my right hip and inner thigh started to hurt me. This is the first time in my life that I have ever had any pain on the bike (other than the usual leg pain so to speak) and between that and the fucking tape, I was really struggling with the mental side of the ride - oh and of course I know that a bike is only as aero as a person who can maintain aero position and I was all over the place.  The rest of the bike went something like this - fuck you tape, fuck you hip, fuck you Sam, stay focused, fuck you men who keep blocking me as I try to pass you legally and why do you all ride at such and uneven pace, and a little bit of fuck, fuck, fuck, I am going to be fucked for this damn run if my right leg feels like this. Coupled with my coach voice, of control what you can, your body follows your mind, stay smooth, the pain you have now could not affect your run, your numbers look fine.

 

Needless to say I was so very happy to take the right into the neighborhood and head back to T2. At this point I had become one with the tape and just needed to be done, but I still had 6 miles which was apparently enough time for part of my aero bottle to come unscrewed and go flying and then rattle around and spray me with Gatorade for the last few miles and have a  guy try to do a flying dismount and crash full force in front of me and I had to scream my ass off and weave through the crowd to get around all of the people who did not think before they ran out to help him.

 

T2.

Well at least if the hip/leg hurts I won’t feel my knee - right? Business as usual here.

 

The Run:

I went through the motions and hit the run and much to my very pleasant surprise my hip and inner thigh were not an issue. My knee was my knee and I knew that for now I was going to be fine - it was not the best I ever felt coming off the bike, but it was not race ending either. It was clear however, that I would be running based on feel right from the get go and then see how my HR was responding. I did not want to push too hard too soon after how my right leg felt on the bike.  So off I set - right out of transition I saw Tori and she yelled at me some words of encouragement. Muncie is NOT a spectator friendly course. It is an out and back and there really is no way to get to the course on an alternative route. I am totally fine with this as I train mostly solo, but this might not be fun for others. The other thing to note is that  it truly defines a rolling course, there really are only two actual hills that I can remember, but there is a lot of up and down. I set a pace that I knew would not make me implode - and concentrated on my posture, my cadence and my attitude. Before I knew it I was at mile 4 and then 5 and then 6 - at each aid station I would make eye contact with a volunteer and grab ice and sponges and fluids. My legs felt fine, not great, but fine. At mile 6, I came up to a woman who had passed me at mile 3 and she begged me for a gel - and as I am a coach before an athlete, I gave her my gel (I needed it later, but knew I could use shot blocks) and she was pretty desperate. I never saw her again, and I turned at the cone and headed back in. From mile 7 to 9 I felt pretty good - not amazing, but I was able to start to get my HR up to where I wanted it. At the aid station at mile 9 I yelled out for shot blocks and was informed that they had none! Yikes - well onward we go. They had gels, but I could not stop or turn back so I figured that I would just keep moving. I grabbed some coke and took some salt and pressed on. At mile 10, I saw Anita heading out and we had a few seconds of pure joy where I screamed and jumped and was so happy to see her. Right about there you turn to the left and go down an incline and over a bridge and it was there that my left leg just said - to repeat a phrase - fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me! I should add at this point, that due to my injury and my very smart coach, we were very conservative with my running, which meant that I had run over 10 miles once since 2013 and my legs were keenly aware of this fact! Here is where I could also pull on past experience and will myself to deal with the intense pain in my left leg. I have never had cramps, but I know how awful they can be and how they can end a race for an athlete or make for a long, painful walk, and while I knew that I was not having my best run of my life, I also knew that it could not be terrible as I was passing a lot of people and had not had to walk, and I was maintaining a reasonable HR and cadence. I was sure however, that I was seconds away from a cramp, or that if I stopped running that I was done. I have crossed enough IM finish lines to know that if your quads felt like mine did, that as soon as I stopped running, I would be done for the day. So I started to whip out every mental trick in the book that I had. At mile 11 we went up a hill, and took our final turn before we hit the finish line. At this point, I was in a ton of pain, but I knew that I all I had to do was pick up and put down my legs for 2.1 more miles. In an effort to pump myself up and because I love to talk to any and all humans that will listen even if I can only muster a word of two, I yelled to the guy to my left, let’s do this shit! I thought this was an awesome plan, and I am sure that he was a super well meaning human, but his methods of encouragement were making me insane. He would tell me how many meters we had every few minutes and also tell me our pace, oh and every hill that we saw in the distance and they now felt like hills, he would tell me the chute was right up that hill - which was impossible as we were not at mile 12 yet. At mile 12 he told me he needed aid and stopped and I kept going. Finally, there was the last hill - and this is a legit hill, and I was closing in on 13. I gave it my absolute all on that last hill and took out some boys, (let’s be clear my all was not fast, it was just about moving my legs faster than I was). There was Tori - who yelled to me - this is what all those hill sprints are for, and I crested the hill, turned the last corner and ran down and then back up, and then back down (they had to squeeze in one last undulation) and into the chute - where for some dumb ass reason, I sprinted my ass off which lead to me collapsing into the arms of 3 teenagers who I told through tears -  HOLD ME!

Last push up the hill!

Last push up the hill!

 

I had made it - I was alive, but I could hardly walk - yet much to my joy it was not due to my knee! I hobbled down to find Tori and she gave me a huge hug, I collapsed in the grass and cried!

 

So those fears -

Well - I was right to be scared of the pain, but I was beyond prepared to deal with it - and even though I swore up and down the day before that I was never doing this shit again, I can say that the last thing I told my coach when I talked to her after the race, was I’ll call you this week to figure out our plan for next year!

 

The race for me was over, but I have to say that the best part was yet to come as I was able to witness the joy of Tori as her athlete Anita blew away her goal time and ran  up the whole last hill into the chute!