Peak Performance: 5 Race Week Don’ts

Peak Performance: 5 Race Week Don’ts

1)  Don’t change your diet the week of the race. This is not the time to go Keto in hopes to lose a few extra pounds of water. We are nervous and rested which means we have extra time on our hands to think. If you simply continue on your healthy meal plan on high quality carbohydrates, fats, and proteins you are set.

2)  Don’t pretend you are a camel. If you consistently drink 80oz of fluid a day, don’t think that drinking 120oz will help you have more fluid on race day. In fact, the only performance it will increase if your ability to urinate in the middle of the night. What you should be doing is hydrating at the same amount but add in electrolytes in the form of Nuun, Skratch, or Osmo to your water bottle. These products are low in calories and high in electrolytes. Adding a small level of glucose to your water actually increases your hydration levels.

3) Don’t neglect carbohydrates the day before the race. Have you ever heard of carbo loading and how it’s an out dated method? Its not and its very effective for endurance athletes. If you neglect carbohydrates the day before the race, for whatever reason, your performance will suffer. Your race is powered by your brain, engine and muscles which are all fueled by carbohydrates. Don’t show up to the start line with a tank thats low on energy.

4) Leave your bike alone. How many new mechanics and bike fitters are certified on race week? Too many. When you’re tapering the training volume is down, which means your anxiety is high. You need to burn off energy so you start looking into things to screw up, the week of the race isn’t the time to change your bike fit. Your body is accustomed to stabilizing and producing power in a certain position, thats what you’re doing for hours each week when training. The point of training is to get your body accustomed to producing power in a certain position. Don’t raise your saddle, move your saddle forward, lower your front end, bring your elbows inwards to gain every ounce of imaginary free speed. These changes so close to the race completely throws off your bodies ability to produce power because it completely changes the firing patterns and muscle recruitment that takes weeks and months to develop. However, the bonus on your new fit is you will feel terrible while racing. We’ve all heard countless stories of Professionals doing this before race day and those stories typically don’t end well. Mine is the story of IRONMAN World Champion Sebastian Kienle written by his wife Link to Article HERE

5) Don’t expect miracles to happen on race day, doing so is why people end up underperforming. If you have never broken 2:00 for a half marathon but you expect to on race day there is a 100% chance you won’t, unless the course is short. Tapering and peaking could give you an extra 2-3% on race day but you should expect to do exactly what you’ve seen in training. When you have unattainable goals it will only provide insecurity and additional stress. What your mind is thinking during the race dictates how your body will feel. If you are constantly frustrated that you aren’t performing where you “think” you should be, your expectations are too high. Thinking negative thoughts will create muscle fatigue and your central governor turns on to protect yourself. However, if your expectations are in line with what you’ve previously done you will be thinking happy thoughts. Happy thoughts leads to you crushing it on race day and high-fiving countless spectators. This is such a simple concept but its the root of countless bad performances. 

All in all, this entire post can be summarized into the well known saying: Dont Do Anything New on Race Week!

 

Winning Door County Sprint w/ Bobby Taylor

About 400 yards up the road, the brake lights from the lead vehicle snapped me back into the moment. He went straight, I would go left, and I now knew I was close and going to make it.  The road was smooth and I picked my line, doing my best to keep turning the legs over as I put in one last dig. I was closing quickly and now heard for the first time the muffled din of music from transition, punctuated occasionally by the PA announcer calling out the last of the swim waves.

 

Approaching transition, I quickly inventoried all the fancy metrics I had been ignoring-- normalized power, heart rate, average speed and distance.   Today, they simply didn't matter.  I was riding as hard as I possibly could, all out, and I didn't internalize them, didn't process my data.  What mattered was that I was at my limit and just chasing for that little bit of extra effort and speed.  This is what makes sprint racing awesome-- the fact you get to chase competitors on the road, not a power number, and those times when you "blow up"  are just part of the deal.  And today, things were looking up.
 

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Roughly 9 miles earlier in the ride, I had made a big tactical decision at the turnaround.  I knew that same tailwind that pushed us out had set us up for a return leg of 9 miles into a headwind and would make for a tough closing stretch for everyone.  I had worked my way steadily through the field on the outbound leg, sensing that no one on the road had the bike legs to come with me.  I also knew that because it was hot and humid, the run would be a wildcard .  Someone from the field might be sitting on blistering 5k-- but I definitely wasn't setting on any 5k PRs today.

So my best play was to put as much time into the field as possible before T2, and I needed to make something happen. I have done a lot of Zwift racing in my training in my buildup this year, and I've launched some pretty big (and definitely some pretty dumb) attacks from the safety of my trainer.  I've also learned a lot of lessons along the way about tactics and my own psychology.

 

Some moves stick, some don't, but that is racing, and that is what makes it fun. Each time, there comes a moment where I inevitably say myself… "screw it, let's do it!" and I commit.  That moment came just after the turnaround, where I pulled into first, put in a big dig, and went all-in on the attack.  I decided that if anyone was going to catch me, they were going to have to do it on the run. It was going to be a painful 20 minutes of riding if I was going to hold on to T2.

 

Fast forward then back to the entrance to Frank Murphy park.   A small crowd of spectators had formed and in a moment I was on them, hanging a hard left, and rounding back towards bike in.  I looked back briefly down the road to see if anyone had stuck around.   No one was in sight.  The attack had worked. I had averaged just under 26 mph for the ride-- an all-time best ride for me-- and the fastest bike split of the day. 


It was a short stretch of pavement from the turn to the dismount line so I had to move quickly. I unvelcroed, removed my right foot, then my left, and I swung my right leg over and behind my seat to set up my dismount. As I have visualized and practiced hundreds of times (I literally do this after EVERY ride, even on the trainer in the dead of winter), I dismounted cleanly and in-stride.

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I racked my bike, slid my shoes on, grabbed my cap and belt and was away.  I heard the PA announcer as I passed through run out say that "we just heard that the first athlete is in transition and heading out onto the run course," and I grinned ear to ear heading out onto the empty 5k course.
 

It was a lonely out-and-back run on an exposed and hot country road.  I ran scared, not knowing how strong the runners in the field behind me would prove to be.  I pushed it as hard as I could, but could feel that I was paying for my bike effort and the heat was taking no prisoners.  I focused on a quick cadence and allowed myself to look backwards to see if anyone was behind  as I clicked off my first mile in 6:20.  Still no one in sight.

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I got to the turn-around, and then almost to mile 2 before seeing the next runner on the road.  A little mental math told me I was up a couple of minutes, but I knew someone could still come out of the age group waves.  My watch beeped 6:22 and I allowed myself passing through mile 2 to finally imagine myself winning the race.

 

The countdown and mental negotiation began in earnest with just a mile remaining. Just six more minutes! I thought about all of the track sessions, winter runs, and late night treadmill runs while travelling and at hotel gyms that had lead me here.  Just 4 more minutes.  You love running, I reminded myself.  Just half a mile. That's not even a loop of the bike path around the park at home.  Just to the arch.  So close.  Just down the hill.

 

Finally, I stole one more look back to make sure I wasn't going to get out-sprinted and saw the finishing tape in front of me.  I've never broken the tape before, so it was a special experience. Definitely unreal. I grabbed it, slammed it, and took a bit of time to soak in what I had just accomplished.  I had just won the freaking race!

 

I still tempered my expectations a bit, knowing that a winner might still come out of the AG waves, as I had started elite. I didn't let myself get too high until the final results were posted.  My time held up, though second place came from a later wave. In the end, I got my crystal lighthouse, capping off a nearly perfect race for me.

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Coming in, I knew I wanted to finish under 1:10, and finished in 1:09 high.  Based on past results, most years, 1:08-1:09 is good enough to win.  Had it turned into a footrace, could I have gone faster?  Maybe, but I didn't have to. Ultimately, in that heat, the race was won on the bike.  I minimized my losses in the water,  raced to my strengths, and held it together on the run.

 

What a day! What a race! What a weekend! 

 

So what are the takeaways?
 

  • Racing is awesome.  Mixing it up, pushing your limits, failing and succeeding are all part of the game.  I've learned to embrace each part of it, the ups and the downs, and learn from each time I toe the line.
     
  • Swimming matters:  You can't win a race in the swim, but you can lose it.  I've been swimming a lot more this year and a lot harder, trying to minimize my losses out of the water.  I'm not where I want to be yet, but I'm definitely improving and my swim has kept me in the hunt.

 

  • Zwift (trainer) riding and gravel riding translates well to TT'ing: I choose to ride indoors or off of the roads whenever possible.  It's a personal choice, due to both schedule and safety. This means that 3 hour weekend and late night Zwift rides are a staple of my training.  We're also blessed with great trails in Madison (Military Ridge/ Badger State) and I'm trying to ride more gravel as a way to get outside.
     
  • The run remains a work in progress and is the next area for improvement:  I've been running well, but not to potential.  I know this will come with more experience and training.

 

Next up for me, Tri'ing for Children Triathlon (sprint) and then Steelhead 70.3 in August.  Thanks for reading and until next time,


~Bobby

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Door County Half Ironman- Coach Steve

Every race has it’s positives and negatives and it’s highs and lows. My ultimate goal is Ironman Wisconsin 2019 and trying to achieve my best Ironman. Cindi and I have discussed the best path for me to achieve this performance. With all of this planning happening, I’ve found myself wanting to shut this season down, take a break and start the preparation into 2019. However, every time I start to think this way, I question the reasoning and I continue to come to the realization that i am in the process of self sabotage. I’m desperately trying to find the easy way out of this season. Maybe the stress of being a new father has taken more out of me than I expected. I know this because the drive to get in each session isn’t there and I’d rather get more rest than do the important sessions needed. Hard sessions turn into recovery. Simply put, this season hasn’t gone to plan and I haven’t seen the improvements I would have liked. Each races is a reminder of how much fitness i’ve lost. As I do find positives from each race, they seem to be stripping my motivation rather than increasing it. I still have 3 races on my schedule but plan on doing only 1, Steelhead 70.3. 

 

The Days Before:

I felt good going into this race because I was able to put in the bigger, high quality sessions. Everything seemed to be on track. Robin has been building for Ironman Wisconsin and its been nice to ride with her. I’ve also made chances to my bike position that continue to be a positive in regards to having a better second half to my races. The drive to Door County was pleasant. Justin was very helpful with meeting us at the race site to help us put up the tent. We settled back to our place, ate dinner, and relaxed at the pool. 

Lucy slept pretty well Friday night. She had a not normal wake up at 4am on Saturday and I was able to get her back to sleep. I decided to just stay up and do work. Being up at 4am is not an ideal thing to do the day before the race but work needed to be done. Saturday was the Sprint Distance and Cindi went down with the team and I stayed back till Lucy woke up. We made it to the race and was able to watch our athletes compete, one of whom won the entire thing! Way to go Bobby! Watching his race certainly motivated me. Lucy started to get tired so I brought her back to the condo for her first nap. My plan was to ride the trainer while she napped. Well, her nap only latest 30’ which meant no ride. I started to get in this panic where I know I needed to get my pre race workout in. It sounds incredibly selfish when I think of it. So I focused on the fact that I was able to stay inside, rest my legs, and relax while it was blazing hot outside. I was also able to have the ITU WTS Hamburg race play in the background. Cindi made it back to Condo and we switched roles. Bike done on the trainer, felt great. Drove to the race site to do easy run and stride, felt good but WOWZA it was hot. Then I went in an swam, felt awesome. Ready to go! Lucy slept awesome Saturday night which meant Cindi and I got great sleep. 

The Swim: D+

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I sucked and have no clue why. Well, I know why… I dont swim much and still believe I can fake my way to a 30’ swim. NOT THIS TIME. 500 into the swim my arms were completely shot. “Ah your arms aren’t warmed up, they will come good”… They didn’t come good. I also was constantly drifting left. I literally couldn’t swim straight. I was convinced I was going to see 40’. The beauty of endurance sport is you get what you earn. I wasn’t trained for this and I got exactly what I deserved. 

 

The Bike: B+

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When you aren’t swim fit you suffer the first part of the bike because you are trying to recover from the swim. I was uncomfortable. Heavy legs. Low power. Alone with no one in sight. Unmotivated. Making excuses. Convinced my brakes were rubbing.

Then… I saw people in-front of me so I made it my goal to catch them. From a distance it appeared these people were drafting which set me off into a hissy, it was exactly what I needed… some motivation. I rode past them pushing well into my threshold trying to create a gap so they wouldn't jump on my wheel. Looking back on this, it was quite stupid but it helped me mentally. Slowly I started to catch more people which changed my mentality. My goal coming into this ride was to execute a better 2nd half of the ride. Be more focused, consume more calories. I commonly see 8-10% of a drop off in the 2nd half which is unacceptable. Poor nutrition and bike fit caused me to slow down. This time it was only 5%. This was my best ride at DC by almost 2 minutes!

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The Run: B

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I got into transition ready to get after it. Earlier someone told me i was top 10, so after passing people I would thought I was 6th or 7th. When I ran past Cindi, she asked “Are you feeling ok? Jason Landretti is 7 minutes up” (Jason is a good friend and someone I like to race because of the banter back and forth)… However, these are not the words you want to hear. These words mean, you’re farther back then we discussed! Apparently I was in 13th place… note to self, don’t believe some random person’s place count. I went from being fired to running on auto pilot. When I looked at the results afterwards, it appears the front of the race was a draft fest as 4-5 guys were rewarded drafting penalties. One athlete was given 12 minutes!

The only turnaround is at 5 miles and up to this point I didn’t see a single runner. It was the perfect place for someone cruising, no pressure. THEN, I saw two guys coming up on me and one in-front of me. They were coming fast and I didn’t want to get passed. I started to push very hard and at times I had to slow down because I had crossed that lactate level line. “Dont look back, don’t look back, don’t let him see you looking back, it’s a sign of weakness, he’ll know you’re hurting” With 3 miles to go we are essentially on two long roads till the finish. I felt with every step I was losing time but I kept pushing. There is an acronym that sticks with me and its TUF, Toughness Under Fatigue. When you're at your limit, it is no longer up to your legs but your mind. How you mentally handle pressure, fatigue, and lactate determines your race results. I was literally at my limit. 1% harder and my legs would completely flood with lactate, 1% easier and Matt would have caught me. Weak mind? I would have been walking. It always funny because 5 miles earlier i was having a pitty part and now i’m at my maximal effort. The ups and downs. Here we are, 1 Mile to go and Matt was within 30 seconds. With the finish being downhill, I felt I was at a disadvantage because i’m short and Matt is tall. With the short rise before the downhill I had to push hard to get some extra time. I was able to hold him off, but holy moly I don’t think I’ve ever pushed that hard. Competition brings the best out of you. 

I joke with people that "every time I cross a finish line is a victory" and the feeling after maxing out is the reminder of why I love to race. Even if it's slower, I'm always chasing that feeling. 

Coach Steve: Lake Mills and Elkhart Lake Recap

Lake Mills and Elkhart Lake Triathlon Recap

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Have you ever been stuck in a frame of mind that doesn’t parallel your current physical state? This is my current situation and it’s a very hard place to be because it tugs at the motivational heart strings. 

In 2010, I was 24 and training like a professional. My weekly training hours were between 15-25. I didn’t have a girlfriend, a real job, any responsibilities… it was fantastic! I am now 32 with a wife and a beautiful 10 month daughter who isn’t a fan of sleeping at night. The priority levels have shifted. But the problem is that I still want to train 15 hours a week. 

The past 4 weeks I have averaged 8 hours of training. I only swam 9,000 yards the past month. That’s not a lot of training. But, that is how my life goes. 

Lake Mills Sprint Triathlon

This is the first time i’ve raced Lake Mills and was very excited to see where I stacked up. The funny part is I had no reason to be excited. I spent the last 4 weeks with a calf injury limiting my running. I took a hiatus from the pool because when life gets busy the pool is the first thing that goes. The week before Lake Mills, I took a complete 7 days off of running so I could treat my calf with rest and self massage in hopes I could run pain free at Lake Mills… it worked. 

Lake Mills was one of the most mentally challenging races as I was excited to race, but I was incredibly unprepared. The whole week I fought the mental battle of not racing so I wouldn’t embarrass myself in-front of some of the best Wisconsin triathletes I used to race alongside. I continued to tell myself, “You quit once, quitting becomes a lot easier the next time.” 

Plus, I am not a professional triathlete. I used to put alot of pressure on myself before races to perform. There were years where I wouldn’t communicate with people before the start because I thought it would enhance my performance to remain “focused”. But the reality of this type of thinking is that it’s a complete waste of energy. In fact, it made my performances worse. I was losing the excitement of triathlon by creating so much unnecessary pressure. If you find me before a triathlon now, chances are I won’t shut up.

If you were to ask me what my goals were before Lake Mills, my reply would have been: “I don’t have any goals”… People look at me funny when I said that. They would then ask, “well what kind of paces are you going to try and do? “I have no clue, I’m just going to go as hard as I can and focus on what I can control”

It’s 100% true that during a triathlon I never start my watch for the swim. I rarely look at my power meter, and I NEVER look at my running watch. The races are done almost 100% off of feel. Why? It keeps me mentally positive. Countless times I have seen people get so wrapped up in their numbers that the second they are not riding or running to their numbers, they mentally quit. They start to blame some factor for quitting when in doubt, they were not flexible enough to adapt on race day. It’s an ego thing, I get it. However, do a race and don’t look at your pacing device. 

Lake Mills did go ok for me. I was able to place 19th overall. Not bad.

Elkhart Lake Olympic Triathlon

I love racing Elkhart Lake. It may be my favorite triathlon. It’s a family run event on a challenging course. Flat courses don’t interest me, their boring. Again, what was I thinking? I only swam 1500 yards twice the past month and it was done race week out of complete panic that I needed to swim 1500 at Elkhart. Let alone the fact that I havent run 6 miles straight in more than 3 weeks. But hey, lets have some fun!

Elkhart Lake is an event where you can see ahead of time who is racing. You get to size up your competition! What’s funny about this concept is that it doesnt help your performance. The worst thing IRONMAN does is release who racing ahead of time. Why? For the people looking to be competitive, they spend hours scanning through their age group to see how competitive they will be. Isn’t that ridiculous? You can’t change how you race off this information. Its the easiest way to come into a race with a deflated, fixed mindset of how they will do. It just adds more pressure that will sink their potential on race day. Literally, all of the hard work and fun you were looking to have is now gone. A poor mindset will haunt you. This year, I didn’t even bother checking the list. 

2016 was the last time I raced at Elkhart and I got demolished. Literally demolished by everyone and the course. There was a-lot of walking involved. I was also still trying to impress my now wife at the time. What do they call these moments, character building? Yea, sure. Also it’s a good thing she didn’t marry me for my athletic ability.

2018 was about redemption and it turned out that I had one of my best races in the past couple years. I was pumped! I was able to swim 1500, I biked one of my best power outputs, and I ran very strong on a challenging run course. No quitting, no walking, only fist pumps. 

I finished with a time of 2:26. In 2016 when I got obliterated my time was 2:23. In 2010, when I was 24 my time was 2:13. 

In 8 years I’ve managed to get 13 minutes slower over the same course. How could I possibly take confidence from this? Here we are full circle to where this post started. I had an amazing day of racing. Pushed myself very hard only to be reminded that i’m 10lb heavier than I was 8 years ago (too many IPAs) and 13 minutes slower. 13 minutes is over 2 miles! 

To conclude, it is ok to race when you aren't fully prepared. In fact, not many people show up to a starting line 100% ready. I love this sport. I love feeling healthy and I enjoy being around like minded people. Taking a step back and being able to remove unnecessary pressure is the reason I still do this sport. It’s not about times or placement, its about enjoyment.

A Year Without an IRONMAN

A Year Without an Ironman

 

Everyone has been in these cross roads and the decision is very tough. As a coach I have seen people enter this sport because of IRONMAN and when an athlete enters a season without one, their motivation drops. I am currently at this situation and its been challenging to motivate myself to train like i would when i’m signed up for an IRONMAN. 

 

Training at such a high level becomes addicting. When you are in your final IRONMAN build, you start to develop a “healthy” habit of training so much. Repeat that for 4 months and when you are forced to lower your training volume you have withdraws, The IRONMAN Hang Over.  

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When you add in the fact that you won’t be doing an IRONMAN this upcoming calendar year, you start to create excuses that justifies missing a session is OKAY because you won’t be enduring such a large event. One missed session becomes another, and another, and before you know it you haven't trained for a week. Once you’ve missed a week of training you start to question you’re entire triathlon career. I have seen people quit the sport from this, it’s depressing. Every year you see people selling all of their equipment. These are the people who entered the sport because of IRONMAN, NOT because they were investing into their-self. These people probably needed better guidance. 

 

How do you combat this? You develop goals that motivate you. You create goals that make sense on a long term scale. You create goals that make sense financially. You DON’T create goals off of peer pressure. You create goals that again, make sense. 

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I've written before that since since 2012/2013, I have actually gotten SLOWER every single year. During these years I have transitioned into a full time endurance coach which means that my athletes come first, not my training. I don’t coach athletes to fund my habit, I coach athletes because I care about their goals and passion. As you become a better coach you spend more time investing into your athletes instead of your training. This means that my 20+ available training hours diminished to 10-14 hours. When you add in that Cindi and I are proud parents of a beautiful 5 month old… that takes up even more time. For everyone who has a family and still does IRONMAN, there is a huge level of respect for being able to balance it all. You don’t understand it until you are in it!

 

What are my goals for 2018? Here, I’m going to fill you in because sharing your goals are important to sticking with them.

 

Swim: Swim a 10’ TT averaging 1:15 per 100 yards.

Bike: Increase my FTP to 4.4 watts per kilo

Run: Run a 5k at 16:45 and a 1 mile on the track under 5:00. 

 

How am I going to accomplish all of those? I have no idea and thats the fun part. These goals are challenging to me because I’ve never accomplished any of them (I’ve run sub 5’ mile in high school). These goals will require something different because if i go into this season with the same expectation as before with less available time, I will experience a burnout.

When you don't do an IRONMAN for a year or two, the financial strain is reduced tremendously. The pressure of racing is also reduced! The fact that I will be able to race over 10 times this year and i will still be spending LESS on entry fees, training, and nutrition feels incredible. I do triathlon because I love the sport, not just IRONMAN. 

Don't take this as me hating on IRONMAN, I will be doing one in 2019. But when you are developing yourself into a life long athlete, you have to learn to balance your life. If you can balance an IRONMAN every year, that's awesome! However, in my experience it would be in most peoples interest to do an IRONMAN every 2nd to 3rd year. 

Let's have a great 2018!

 

Am I An Ironman?

I crossed the finish line at Ironman Wisconsin and Mike Reilly told me I was an Ironman. I thought that would mean something to me when it finally happened. It didn’t. It still doesn’t three weeks later. I trained for over a year to complete something people tell me “is quite an accomplishment.” So, why don’t I feel different?

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I honestly thought crossing that finish line would change me in some kind of meaningful way. I thought it would answer some questions I had never had the courage to ask out loud. I thought I would be overcome with emotion.

 

None of that happened. I crossed the finish line. I got a medal. And then... Then my life went on, but with a gaping hole in it. I had completed something I didn’t know I could complete. I was an Ironman. People wear that label around like a badge of honor for the rest of their lives. They get a tattoo so other people can show it off.

 

I wish it was that simple for me, but it’s not. Becoming an Ironman was a point-in-time event for me. It started and ended in the same moment. The moment I crossed the finish line. The moment I realized that nothing had changed and nothing would change because I finished. I was not a different person that than I was the moment before I crossed the finish line.

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That’s not totally true. I am a different person since I finished Ironman. I am lost. I am drifting through life without any answers to the questions I set out to find the answers to at that finish line. At the moment I feel more like a victim of Ironman, than a victor.


 

As I struggle to get out of bed each morning and search for the motivation to do my workout each day, I’ve realized something, my goal was never to cross that finish line. I don’t care about being an Ironman. I don’t care if anyone knows that I finished that race.

 

I don’t care because for me, Ironman wasn’t a race. It was a 14 month journey of training, camaraderie, teammates, solitude, fatigue, fear, loneliness, friendship, pain and for the first time in my life, a sense of calm in my mind. A calm that comes from a daily fatigue that forces me to focus only on what matters in my life. A calm that comes from feeling like I’ve really lived each day.

 

I’ve lost that calm and that glorious fatigue over the past few weeks as I’ve “recovered” from the race. Now, it’s time to find it again. It’s time to begin the journey all over again. Training for Ironman WI 2018 starts now.

 

I didn’t change when I crossed the finish line, I changed when I took the first step in a very long journey to get there.

Couch To IRONMAN w/ Lauren Taylor

Some time ago in the not so distant past, my husband asked me if I would ever do a triathlon. “No way!”, I answered. “Swimming is gross, and you know I don’t like to get in the water. Biking might be okay, but I don’t even own a bike.” Yet... I didn’t shut the door all the way.  “I should just do a half marathon or something.”

 

In 2015, he joined MM and by the end of the season, I was warming up to the idea of becoming active. As I spent more time around the team, I was certain this was a group I wanted to be a part of. I still wasn’t sold on the whole triathlon thing, but I decided to do a sprint tri in 2016 and my goal was “just to finish”.

 

Starting in the new year, the consistency (or maybe unrelenting frequency) of my new plan was a complete lifestyle change. This was my first week of what I came to call the “couch to Cindi” program:

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I had bouts of fitness in the past where I would run or have a dedicated yoga practice, but there was no consistency and there certainly wasn’t much intensity. When I started, I struggled to run a single 10 minute mile without walking. But it didn’t really matter where I started, because as long as I showed up for practice and did my best to try to keep up with anyone on the team, I was improving. Having a coach and and a supportive group to train with was a game changer for me.   

 

The rapid improvement I experienced was exciting. Not only did I complete several sprints, I crushed my goals as well as my perception of what my body was capable of every time. My dreams and my goals got bigger as the year went on.

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By the end of that summer, I was thinking really big and it was time to decide if I could take on Ironman in 2017. Even the thought of it would have been crazy seven months earlier.  


But everything in my life felt like it was settled enough that I would be able to dedicate the time and energy required to training. Conveniently, my “carpool” and near constant companion, Carly, was also ready to take the leap. A group of us exchanged excited texts as we registered on September 12th.

 

In November, I told Cindi I wanted to run a marathon. I knew I would feel more secure in my Ironman decision if I had at least done each portion of the race by itself. She said it wasn’t really “required,” but I knew I needed to be confident in my ability to cover the distance. Plus, a marathon seemed like a good way to keep motivated over the winter.

 

The Mesa-Phoenix Marathon was my first race of the year. My goal was to run under 4 hours, but I wanted to push myself see how close I could get to 3:30. Lofty for someone who could barely make it a mile just the year before. The course was pretty flat, the weather was mild, and I even had amazing teammates show up to surprise me in Phoenix and catch me every few miles.

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In the end, I ran 3:41:40. I was very happy with my result and loved the experience, despite it being more painful than I possibly could have anticipated. There were many moments where I thought, “Why did I sign up to do this after a 2.4 mile swim and 112 mile bike? What was I thinking?!?” Good thing my teammates assure me that “the Ironman marathon is just different”.

 

After the marathon, I decided to race less frequently in the year ahead. I had just two 70.3s on the calendar. The first, Ironman Madison 70.3, was a grueling introduction to the distance. After a beautiful swim and bike, I was destroyed by the heat on the run. Like many others, my pace suffered as I slogged around Lake Monona. I didn’t meet my goal of breaking 2 hours on the run, but I was happy to have covered this distance without any mechanical or nutrition issues.

 

Luckily, I had another shot at a sub-2 run at the Door County half in July. After a shortened swim and relatively flat bike, I was ready to go.  I watched my average pace on my watch knowing that it had to be under 9:09 to break 2 hours and that I would need to bank some time for hills in later miles. I executed according to plan and my run time was 1:57:11.  All that was left now was the full distance in September.

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Now, in the days leading up to Ironman I am unusually calm. As I see others on facebook worrying about the swim start change, bike course, or other things ultimately outside of my control, I am not fazed. The hard work is done, now it is just time to execute and enjoy the day.

 

In writing this and reflecting on my journey,  I think about where I started and how far I have come. From my first sprint, to my first marathon, to my first 70.3, I have had great races so far and I simply trust the process. My training and race planning I have done with MM has never failed me in the past. Thinking about race day, about that first swim stroke until I cross the finish line, ultimately completing my journey from couch-to-226k, I am excited and ready to take on Ironman.  

How I Got Back In The Saddle w/ Carly Hasse

“Oh man, this is not good.”  That was my thought as I was trying to gain control of my bike.  Turns out, hitting a pothole on your bike while going downhill at 30 mph isn’t too great.  After a few swerves to the wrong side of the road and trying not to go head first over my handlebars, I ended up laying my bike on its side in the ditch.  Too bad my left shoulder took the brunt of the force, as I was kind of hoping the bike would and I could get a new one!  As I sat in the ditch with 2 teammates and my coach, I had the same thought “oh man, this is not good for Ironman training.”  I was banged up pretty badly & I knew I was hurt.  An afternoon in the ER and a few x-rays later, the orthopedic surgeon confirmed that I had 3 fractures in my scapula and said the dreaded words I didn’t want to hear.  “You’re for sure not going to do any races for the next 8 weeks, and maybe not Ironman Wisconsin either.”  The tears came fast and hard, and I was devastated.  

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I wallowed in those sorrows for a good 48 hours.  Maybe it was the pain meds, maybe it was the awful concussion I got that let me have these “poor me” thoughts.  Then I had a realization.  Why just give up on a goal you have and worked so hard on for nearly a year?  That’s not you, Carly.  Get back in the saddle and finish what you started.  So I talked with my coach and came up with a game plan.  Speed walk. Do yoga.  Kick in the pool.  Do whatever you can.  Just don’t quit on your goal.  

 

Over the course of the next 8 weeks, I slowly but surely progressed back to being on a normal Ironman training schedule.  Was it easy? No.  Were there days I wanted to quit?  Yes.  Did I have doubts that I could actually get to the start line at Ironman Wisconsin?  Absolutely.  But I knew I needed to persevere and push on.  That first time back riding my bike on the open road was by far the most nervous I’ve been in my adult life.  Pretty sure the first hill I went down there was smoke coming from my brake pads and I was certain I had wore them out!  Lots of positive self-talk and just getting back in the saddle helped ease the fears that come with crashing.  I got more and more confident during every ride I did, and before I knew it, I was doing 100+ mile rides without fear. With a visual scar reminder on my leg (from my handlebars digging into my thigh when I crashed), I reminded myself how fortunate I am that I am a healthy, strong woman who has goals to be met, and nothing can stop me, not even a bike crash.

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Having a positive mindset, having coaches that work with you on a daily basis to set small & manageable goals, having teammates that support you (and who are willing to speed walk with you or drive you everywhere!), and remembering that broken bones heal but broken dreams do not are all things that got me to where I am now----less than 2 weeks away from achieving my goal of racing happy and having fun during Ironman Wisconsin!

 

Food For Fuel, How I Conquered 70.3!

I am Wendy! I'm currently on my third season of triathlons and started training this past year with Madison Multisport.  

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This year my big goal was to compete in my first half Ironman, Steelhead, in Benton Harbor, Michigan. I knew that in order to achieve this goal I was going to be spending a lot more hours running and biking, especially on the weekends. With the training I had received so far I knew that there's no time like the present to get going. 

 

Fast forward to Saturday, July 1, which was one of my long ride days. From what I recall there was nothing unusual about the ride, other than maybe being a bit hot outside. I was following the training plan, doing intervals, feeling pretty good. The next thing I knew I was on the ground coming to in a dreamlike state with people standing around me telling me that I had been in an accident. I had ran my bike into the back of a parked car. I had no recollection of why it had happened, I wasn't sure if a car had gotten too close or if I made some mistake while riding. I probably will never know but that day I ended up in an ambulance and was taken to the emergency room. Thankfully there was nothing serious, just a badly sprained wrist, a banged up face, and diagnosed with a concussion. 

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Over the next couple of weeks it really bothered me that I didn't remember what had happened to cause the accident. As I was sharing my story with a clinician at work she mentioned that some of the details I was providing could be linked to dehydration. Up until that point I honestly didn't pay very much attention to what I was eating or drinking even though my coaches talked about it frequently. Even if it wasn't the cause of my accident the wheels started to spin and I knew I needed to start taking nutrient more serious.

 

The morning of my accident what I can tell you is that I probably didn't start out with enough calories or liquid in my system to accommodate the workout I was about to do. I was running on empty pretty quickly into the ride and the couple of gel packs I had and the calorie free water were never going to catch me up to what I really needed. The possibility that I blacked out while on my bike, on a busy road, scared the crap out of me. If that was what happened I am pretty lucky that getting banged up and totaling my bike was all that happened.  

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Being overweight my whole life and being on numerous diets throughout my lifetime had gotten me in a mindset that eating less was better. I had recently lost 95 pounds, so the thought of increasing my food intake was pretty scary to me. After doing some research and at the recommendation of my coach I scheduled an appointment with a dietitian. I kept track of my food and liquid intake in addition to my workouts for several days.  Within a couple minutes of reviewing my journey the dietitian asked me how I was typically feeling during my workouts. I let her know that I generally could make it through most of my workouts but that I typically felt pretty drained by the middle of the workout on most days, running days were the hardest. From there she started going over the journal entries with me and based on that information alone she told me that I wasn't even taking in enough calories to sustain someone who doesn't work out at all, let alone someone like me that was working out on a daily basis, especially several hours on the weekend.  With my half Ironman just over 3 weeks away we immediately worked on a menu plan that was easy for me to follow to make sure I was taking in what I needed. We more than doubled my calorie intake, mainly through protein in the weeks leading up to my race.

Since implement I can tell the positive difference these changes are making. I'm feeling more energy during workouts, I'm not coming home completely exhausted. I competed in the Ironman 70.3 triathlon the second week in August and was amazed at how much stronger I felt especially during the run which is my least favorite part. This I competed in my second sprint triathlon of the season and I was able to take about 7 minutes off my time, more importantly I didn’t need to walk during the run.

I'm really excited to see how I perform next year seeing that I will be training more fully charged than I was before the beginning of this year.

Why I Love MM Tuesday Brick Workouts

I used to hate them, now I love them.

5:45pm we meet at Mckee Farms Park and you can feel the anticipation of the workout, everyone knows whats coming because we do it every other week. This is a staple workout for Madison Multisport athletes. If there is one workout per week that makes me a stronger, more confident athlete... it is Tuesday Bricks. 

We warm up 8 miles to the park that we do our transitions from. We then rack our bikes, set up our shoes and helmets. We do this exactly how we would for our weekend races... practice makes perfect. 

Cindi gives us the final instructions for the workout and then we start! It's nice always having Cindi coaching the weekly sessions. If its simple encouragement, or tip on how are transitioning, a running form tip, or even a reminder of one of our individual goals to motivate us... its always helpful.  

The Brick Workout (2-3xs)

400m Run at a 10k effort. Strong but in control. We do this to elevate our heart rate as it would be coming out of the swim.

3.5 Mile Bike at Z4 (Turns into Max effort). This is when the pain begins! This is a rolling terrain with uphills, fast downhills, and flats where you can really hammer. These bike efforts usually last 8-10 minutes depending on the wind. The best wattage ive done over 8-10 minutes have been during this workout, typically it is 310-320, but this time it was 290s. Fatigue is high at the moment, but thats OK! Even when you dont feel good, you have to push!

800m Run The 1st 400m is a gradual uphill, flat, then downhill. The 1st 400 really hurts! You are always wondering why you feel slow and you never want to admit its the hill :)

Rest 3-5 minutes, start again!

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How did it pan out yesterday?

JP is a new athlete on the team and he's gotten quite good. He was finally able to crack Racine *70.3 this year after Madison 70.3 didn't go as planned, he's still learning. The one thing about JP is that he is a competitor and has certainly pushed me out of my comfort level many times in practice. It can get very competitive, but we know its to make ourselves better. A good training partner can really push you but also know when to turn off the competition mode switch. JP wasn't traveling for work, so i knew with him being at the workout it would be hard.

I beat JP on the 1st one as i ran away from him on the 2nd run portion. JP evened the score on the 2nd one by dominating the bike harder than i could afford to push. By doing this he opened up 10-15 seconds that i couldn't pull back on the run portion. When we finished i was greeted with a smirk that said, "tie game". That was all the motivation i needed for the 3rd and final round.

I decided that if JP wanted to beat me on this one, i would make him work for it. The 1st run portion i decided to run much harder. This took him by surprise and he accepted the challenge. I took him out of his comfort zone with this tactic. Onto the bike i had a 5 second advantage and held it till half way before he powered past me. He needed the gap if he wanted to beat me, but i refused to let it open like before. He did not let off the gas till T2. I was pushing as hard as i possibly could to keep up. There was alot of self doubt, but I didn't let up. Coming off the bike together i was contemplating how i should run the 2nd run. Go out as hard as i could or run steady and then attack on the flat. I decided to go out as hard as i could! It turned out he had T2 issues and started the run late allowing me the win. Score 2= Steve 1=JP.

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As I mentioned, every hard workout I use as an opportunity to grow. They are not just workouts, I go into them knowing the goal of the workout, what i need to work on personally and try my best to execute it. 

Pushing outside of my comfort zone and trying to sit on that discomfort has been my weakness. Sure, these sessions have a GREAT physiological boost, but I use them more as a physiological practice for race day. When the going gets hard, do i quit or do i push. I failed on the 2nd one, but i recognized that and regrouped. 

When I get negative or discouraged during a rough patch is the use of "power words". These words are what snaps me out of the negative chatter and keeps me focused on the task at hand. It can be a simple as "GO, GO, GO" or "PUSH, PUSH, PUSH" or "Commit, Commit, Commit". When i drift too far negative, its typically when I haven't refocused and just swallowed myself with negativity. Practicing these power words are very important for keeping yourself engaged on race day. 

Successful workout.

 

 

Coach Steve: Verona Triterium Race Report! 3rd Overall!

All,

Verona Triterium is done and dusted and my legs are still shaking from the race!

I have been wanting to do the Olympic Distance for quite some time as i've always heard its extremely challenging! I am fortunate to get to ride these roads for training, but to be racing on them is a different feeling. This year they changed the course due to construction, which forced us to ride up and down observatory road twice!  I find that many people seek out races that are flat so they can get the fastest time possible, as fast times look good on paper. I won't deny that I pick races that are flat and fast and racing on flat courses do present their own challenges, but this is one i wanted to conquer for awhile. Believe it or not, Verona Triterium Sprint was my first ever triathlon! This season, one of my goals was to race a lot for than i typically do. I find that racing a lot of sprints and olympics really puts me out of my comfort zone, something i often struggle with.

The week leading into the race wasn't an easy one. While ive wanted to race VT, it wasn't a key race for me so i was training quite hard till Thursday night. Madison Multisport was doing our key run session and i was slotted for 6x800 at 5k pace, with 1 minute of rest. It is a killer session and i had intentions of going easier because of the race on Saturday, but the workout was going great, i was in a good mindset, so i kept pushing. 

For shorter races, I do warm up in all 3 disciplines. Bike first, run second, swim last. The run i go through 10-15 minutes of a progression, 5min easy, 3min moderate, 2min at race pace. I then walk for 1-2 minutes then complete 3-4x100m pick ups, with 1 minute of rest. I was feeling ok, not fresh, but just ok. 

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I need a swim warm up! I typically never swim well without one. I was able to get in a solid 300-400 warm up and felt good. The race started and i was off! The swim was 3 laps where we had to exit after each loop and dive back in, i loved this! Shorter 3 laps is much better on the mind than 1 long triangle. This is why i love IMAZ, 3 short bike loops make the race go by quick! the 1st lap of the swim, there was alot of pushing and knocking... 2nd loop, i found myself in the front of our group knowing that Vant was ahead. It was a confidence booster as it felt like i was swimming well, then somewhere in the 2nd loop my arms started to fall off. 3rd loop i tried my best, but i was suffering to keep them moving. A wave started about 20 second after i went past them and could see a bunch of white caps coming up on me quick, i had extra motivation to get to the buoy before them as i didn't want to get clobbered!

Swim done, 2nd out, cool.

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I was passed by Ben in T1 which isn't a surprise, I am very good at Ironman transitions, short course transitions I might as well bring a bucket to sit on and a beer to drink. Once i started riding the first hill, i could just tell my legs were toast. The hard week of training was certainly knocking on my legs! Oh well, carry on! They quickly flooded with lactate and i couldn't generate any power... here i am riding a 40k course with 2,000ft of elevation gain and i'm suffering one Hill #1... sweet! Here is where i tried to settle myself down, "It will be fine, you arent warmed up yet, you'll come good" Nope... i didn't come good. Luckily, no one passed me and i held 3rd the whole ride.

 

I was convinced that the run was going to be a struggle, but once i started running i felt ZERO fatigue. I felt fresh and light on my feet! At this point, Vant and Ben were probably 3-4 minutes ahead of me and i was trying to hang on to 3rd and have a solid run. Mission accomplished.

Overall, I am happy with the race but it was what it was. I pushed hard when i didn't feel strong but gave it my best. 3rd isn't too shabby but looking for better at Pardeville and Door County Half.