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!
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!
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!
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!!!
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 :)
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.
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.
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!