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Blog posts of '2015' 'August'

The Value of Training Camps: Hidden Gem in Brevard, North Carolina

 

Summer in Austin, Texas…not the most pleasant place to be, especially if you are training for an Ironman. Having lived in Austin since 2006, my husband Derick and I have taken to leaving town every summer, preferably in the July/August time frame. The forecast every day is pretty much the same: 75 for the low, 98-100+ for the high, but very high humidity in the early mornings so you cannot seem to escape ‘extreme heat’ training even if you start early. While we have spent time in Salida, Colorado the past 5 years, we opted to change it up this year. The ultimate goals of these training stints include: 

1) Getting out of the oppressive heat (which allows for better quality training and more ability to recover from sessions)

2) Focusing predominantly on the bike; quality riding (lots of climbing), little road interruptions (light traffic) and a change of terrain from the norm

3) Simple change of scenery; while it is not ‘necessary’ to do these training trips, they refresh me a bit from the change of pace (different roads to ride, trails to run)

4) Mini-Vacation…we often end our days in the river where I’ll soak my legs, playing with our pup, and exploring a new town

We drove north to Indiana on July 11 and stayed with my parents for a week prior to me racing Racine 70.3 in Wisconsin (just a 4 hr drive north). I then took a nice mid-season break (a week off) post-race relaxing at their cabin. July 26, we headed to North Carolina, where we tucked into Brevard; a cool little town near Asheville (but smaller, at about 7500 people), sitting at 2300 ft. of elevation, and right at the foot of the Pisgah National Forest. We had been here briefly in the past but never spent more than a day or two here. The goal for me (having opted to do Ironman Hawaii) was to kick back in some good training but with 2.5 weeks, essentially get in some quality rides, elevation gains we cannot find in Austin, and set the base for the training towards Kona; while also enjoying a change of scenery, change of roads, and slower pace than we know in Austin.

So what have the days looked like here? I often start off with a swim at the Brevard Health and Racquet Club. This is all of a 1.5 miles from our house, and they have 4 lap lanes in their outdoor pool from 6am until 8pm. So as long as I avoid any afternoon storms, I’m able to pop over there for an early morning workout, or even a mid-day/late in the day easy loosen up swim. I do feel as though my swim takes a bit of a hit on these trips since I swim solo the entire time, and I’m used to swimming with a group in Austin; I feel I can ‘maintain’ but lose a bit of top end speed. However, I think it is worth it for the gains I can make riding. One thing we all have to remember about triathlon; constantly working on our weakness. I’ll try to head out on the bike by early morning, as they often get clouds roll in late morning and storms can hit often by 1-2pm. You want to be down from ‘up high’ at least by then, which is about 5-6k ft of elevation. One of my staple rides has been 80 miles, which I take basically 3 roads the entire time (very straightforward and easy to navigate) but I get in 6100ft of climbing; and some incredible views. Brevard is also known for its mountain biking, so while I’m not great on a mountain bike, I enjoy riding with Derick and it is a great way to get stronger but with a completely different feel than being on roads. I joined him in DuPont National Forest a few times for a real change of pace, vastly on trails that were not too technical.

For the running, we discovered numerous long gravel roads. Especially when you dig into Ironman training, it’s always best to try to get off the pavement as much as possible to avoid added stress on the body. On one of his fly-fishing excursions, Derick found a gravel road that went uphill for about 5 miles, flattened off then descended; a total of about 7.5 miles ‘out’, right through Pisgah National Forest. I managed to get in a few hill interval workouts on this road, but also a few long runs; accumulating 3k feet of climbing on a run of 2.5 hours, which is incredible for strength work. And again…the best part is, I wrap this up with a soak in a cold river; nature’s ice bath!

While all good things must come to an end, we head back to Austin after about 2.5 weeks. While I’d love to stay longer, there is something to be said for ‘normalcy’, being at home, and having the perks of your regular routine. For me that is sleeping in my own bed but also access to the gym 5 minutes away (where I’ll swim on my own, but also do strength/core work 2-3 times a week as well as have access to treadmills), but most notably being in the heat a bit in Austin before Kona to help be fully acclimated and most importantly access to my regular people for massage, manual therapy and chiro work when needed. However, if contemplating a training camp for yourself, I say go for it. Decide what you’re looking to get out of it, talk to others, and research where may be best for you. You’ll find yourself happy with the change of scenery and refreshed when you return home. I’m personally a huge fan of Salida, Colorado and now Brevard, North Carolina! 

-Kelly H Willamson

kellyhwilliamson.com

@khwilliamson 

 

Recovery Pump Mid-Year Racing Update

This year, with Kona not part of my race plan, it took a lot of pressure off of having to chase points. I decided to cram the year with 70.3 races. I decided to start the year off with Pucon, Chile - a race I've heard a lot about and always wanted to do. I trained hard over December and January to get fit early for the early season races. That race went according to plan and I was able to pull off my first win of the season. However, starting training so early and not taking  a break much from last year started to take it's toll early. Being so fit early, I decided to chase a couple of the big races early on in the season, the next stop being Dubai. Unfortunately I picked up a bug either there or on the way there and had about as worse a race as you can imagine. Around this time I started to get some issues with my feet. I'd never experience planter before and it was definitely a new experience being injured. I decided to keep training through the pain and from Dubai went on to race Monterray 70.3. I managed to finish 4th there. I got back on a plane for another long haul international flight for Brasil 70.3. Much the same as Dubai, this race was a bit of a disaster. Maybe I'm just getting too old for long flights. After Brasil, I came back to Boulder where I managed to get a bit more training in since the weather was starting to improve. The next race took me back to Galveston to defend my win from the previous year.  Unfortunately on the run, I went the wrong way on the run course, which was a big brain fart on my behalf considering I'd won it the last 2 years. The year started off great but for some reason I just couldn't string together any luck. Racing is sometimes just as much luck as it is fitness. Next up was St. Croix, which is a race I've done 13 out of the last 14 years. Using that experience I managed to finish up with a second for the day, but I really had to dig deep. I think I set a record for the amount of time I spent in the Recovery Boots after a race.  After St. Croix, I settled down to do a big block of training which led me into the Boulder 70.3. I had a decent race and ended up 4th there. The next week, I got back on the plane and headed to Mont Tremblant where I finished 4th again. It seems to be my number for this year. Doing races back to back is probably where Recovery Pump has been most valuable to me this year. A few weeks later I went out to Racine where I finished... yes you guessed it... 4th! With my feet still troubling me and not being able to get the high volume of running in that I needed, I wasn't able to perform how I wanted to at Wiesbaden European Champs. I decided to pull out of World's after that, knowing that my fitness is not where it needs to be to compete at a world championship race. My next race planned is Cozumel 70.3. I've now started an aggressive treatment for my planter, which should hopefully let me get the training in that I need to hit the last half of the season hard. I still have another 5 races to go until the end of the year and I'm looking forward to improving on 4th place. Despite my injuries, I owe a big thanks to Recovery Pump for getting me this far and still able to race. Thanks to Recovery Pump, I've already done more races this year than most athletes do in a full season, so it's been a huge help. Good luck to everyone else for the rest of your season. 


Richie Cunningham

www.richie-cunningham.com

2015 TAHOE-SIERRA 100 MILE MTB RACE - 1ST PLACE OVERALL

Only a few days have passed since the 2015 edition of the Tahoe-Sierra 100 MTB race, and I’ve already lost track of how many times I’ve opened up my laptop, fully intending to write this race report, only to stare at a blank screen struggling with where to start.  It’s been a bit of a whirlwind for me since the race ended this past Saturday.  After an all too brief pit stop at home for the night after the race, my post-race recovery sleep was interrupted by the sound of my alarm at 4:30 AM Sunday so I could catch an early morning flight out to Boston for a few days of business travel.

Even still, I’ve tried several times to pop open this laptop and start writing, only to stare at a blank screen with empty thoughts.  I thought writing this race report would be easy.  Easy, because I won.  Easy, because everything finally went right for me in this race.  Easy, because my race wasn’t affected by my contact lens popping out like it has at the Annual Cool MTB Race in March. Easy, because my race wasn’t ruined by a malfunctioning clutch derailleur like it had in the Napa Valley Dirt Classic in April.  Easy, because I didn’t go from 2nd place to 5th by crashing so bad at the Sea Otter Classic that I broke myself saddle off, cracked my helmet, gave myself a slight concussion and had to finish the race standing up the whole way. Easy, because I didn’t taco my wheel in a crash like what happened at the Lost and Found 100 Miler in May. And easy, because I didn’t get completely crushed by the high altitude like what happened to me at USAC XC Nationals in Mammoth in July.

I guess trials and tribulations give better material to write about.

I also kind of find hard to write about a win without coming off sounding like a jerk.  When in reality, the way I feel is best summed up here by one of my favorite bands/songwriters lately, James Snyder from Beach Slang where he says at the beginning of this acoustic recording: “I feel like a kid who got invited to a party that he has nooo business being at”…Somthing like that….

Anyway, here at the Tahoe-Sierra, things just went smooth.  We lined up at the start behind the Summit Restaurant in Soda Springs for our 6 AM start and the pavement start toward Ice Lakes Lodge starting calm and well enough. Racers chit chatting about what is to come and spinning lightly in the cold early morning light. And then just 50 yards or so before we hit the dirt, two Team Chico riders, Rich Thurman and Aren Timmel (both former Tahoe-Sierra 100 winners themselves) picked up the pace and separated themselves a bit.  So naturally I bridged up and grabbed their wheels and just like that the three of us were off together down the first decent of  Soda Springs Rd.

Rich and Aren held pace down the decent with me following their lines closely being careful not to flat on the many hidden rocks buried in the moon dust.  I choose a risky tire combination this year and wanted to be extra careful here at the beginning. Normally, I’d go with some solid, durable trail worthy tires as the course is known to destroy rubber…but this year, I took a risk and went with a Schwalbe Rocket Ron in front and a Thunder Burt in the rear.  Both pure XC tires.  The Rocket Ron certainly has grip for loose conditions but it’s sidewalls are very thin.  Same with the Burt.  Pure XC lightweight, pinner tires.  I carried 3 tubes with me expecting many flats, but hoping for the best.

We got to the bottom of the descent all together and then I rolled to the front setting pace, glancing down at my power meter from time to make sure I wasn’t going anywhere near the “too hard” mark.  Then a few minutes later, as the grade began to kick up I looked back expecting to see Aren and Rich right on my wheel but they were already a few hundred yards back.  “Huh….am I going too hard to early?”, I thought, then glanced down at my wattage numbers and confirmed it was a manageable pace and saw no need to back off.

And then just like that, they were gone and I was off the front.

Alone, just 30 minutes in.

And it stayed that way for the next 8 hours.

My tires rolled fast and didn’t flat.  I blasted through the first aid station without stopping (just checked in my number and out), and then I rolled into Aid 2 at Robinson Flat in just a smidge under 2 hours and basically just rolled right through that as well.  Then blasted down Cavanaugh Ridge as quickly as I could, and onto Aid 3 at Dusty Corners.  Here the helpful volunteers cleaned and lubed my chain while I took a leak, then grabbed a PB&J square and wolfed that down before the single track of Pucker Point.

Pucker Point went fine except for the COWS. I rounded a corner and came face to face with a small herd of four cows standing right in the middle of the singletrack and I skidded to a stop and we all just stood there staring at each other no more than 20 feet away. I rang my bell.  They shook their heads and stamped their feet and rang the bells around their necks but they didn’t move.  It was really funny and wanted to take my camera out, but I really had no idea how much of a gap I had to any chasers so I just wanted to keep moving. I basically had to get off my bike and run around the cows and eventually they ran away too and it probably only cost me a minute of stoppage time at most.

The loose singletrack of Pucker Point soon ended and I found myself on a dirt road looping back toward the Dusty Corners aid station again which pulled double duty as aid 4.  I quickly came upon them, rang my bell to get their attention and shouted my number out, and then just continued on up what I thought ended up being one of the toughest sections of the course…a big long 10-ish mile climb through deep dust on torn up logging roads.  This slowed my pace down considerably, but I was still able to make it to the half way mark, back at Robinson Flat Aid station at mile 51 in just a little bit over 4 hours.

It was here I ran into my buddy Jeff Barker who graciously took a few pics, and then cleaned and lubed my chain while I refilled some bottles and slugged down a bottle of coke.

Rolling into Robinson Flat half way aid station

No one seemed sure what my gap was to the chasers so I rolled out as quickly as I could and began the rough descent down the Western States singletrack toward Duncan Canyon, and the Poppy Trail singletrack that hugged the northern edge of French Meadows Reservoir.

I didn’t think I was riding these parts very fast, and I thought FOR SURE I was going to get caught here, but I saw no one as I exited the last bit of trail and into the campgrounds at the far end of the lake.  From there I rolled down to the Aid Station 6 at the bottom of Red Star (mile 64) and I finally got my first time split to the chasers that I had heard all day.  They said “well, we think you’ve been holding about 15 minutes on 2nd place since the first aid station”.  That was a surprise and a relief.  I was starting to get a little tired, and knew that I had some big climbs right in front of me, but I knew that I was climbing well lately and the last 30 or so miles of the course would suit me just fine.

So from there it was literally just put my head down, pedal, and try not to screw anything up.  Luckily I was able to do just that, and rolled into the finish in about 8 hours and 29 minutes total time according to my Garmin to take the win.

Rich Thurman from Chico  ended up rolling in some time after to hold down 2nd place, and then I think it was Alex Work from Rock Lobster for 3rd.  Someone else I didn’t know snuck in for 4th. And Aren Timmel rolled in for 5th…I think…results are not up yet, so can’t double check.

At the end of the day it is a bitter sweet victory. I’m glad that my name can be added to the list of Tahoe-Sierra 100 winners.   And I guess I’m now the only rider to take wins in both the Single Speed category (2012), as well as an overall win, but unfortunately, this is the last edition of this race in it’s current form.  For next year, this race is moving to a new different location in a slightly different format (i.e. 3 x 33 mile giant loops).  I won’t get into the reasons why here, but I sure am going to miss the remoteness and ruggedness of the Tahoe-Sierra 100 in the form that it’s existed in since 2008.  But change can be good, and knowing Jim Northey inclination for “hard” races, I’m sure the new format won’t be…..easy.

Thanks for reading –

Ron Shevock

Putting Together the Pieces

 

Everything this year has been about building a program, training and recovery wise, that is sustainable and that I will be able to use next year as I prepare for the Olympics in Rio… iron out those kinks so-to-speak.  Changing events from the marathon to the 10,000m meant putting together a new puzzle and making sure each puzzle piece fits.

So here I am, training in South Korea before heading over to Beijing, China for the IAAF Track and Field World Championships.  I have continued my season jet-setting across Canada and the USA for training camps and races… lots of races… and am happy to say I sit here less than two weeks out from the Championships with a body that has held up and is ready to go.  I am happy to have found a recovery routine that keeps my body happy and put together (even when I am racing national championships on back to back weekends in cities located across the country from each other)... it has proven to be one of the most important pieces.

It has been a busy but successful season so far with two national titles (10k Road Race Championships & Half Marathon Championships) and a bronze medal at the Pan Am Games (10,000m), and I am not done yet. 

-Lanni Marchant, Canadian Marathon Record Holder 

 

One on One with Professional Triathlete Richie Cunningham

 

"I’m Richie Cunningham. I’ve been a professional tri athlete for nearly 20 years. I come from Australia. Now living in Boulder, CO. Some of my highlights, I’ve been top 3 at world championships twice and top 5 three times. I was 2nd at Boulder IM last year and I’ve probably have the most amount of seconds in any 70.3 out of any 70.3 athlete luckily thanks to Craig Alexander who beat me a lot when I was staring out."

 
When did you realize you wanted to be a professional athlete?
"I was at school with my brother. So he came to me one day and said, there is this new sport lets go and try it out. I would always run and had ridden a little bit. Never really swam and this was back in the 80’s and the sport was really new then. Yeah, we sort of jumped in and you know, I really enjoyed it. We did 3 or 4 races I think with our age group that year. Then I joined the military and sort of didn’t race for another 4 or 5 years. I always wanted to be a runner and when I moved back to where my running coach was at school, which is in a little town called Ballarat in Victoria. They just had fun local tri athletes meet on Tuesday night so I thought I would start doing them again. Doing some cross training for running and I guess I enjoyed that a little bit more and had a little bit more success with that then I did running then did I ever think I was going to be anything fantastic as a runner, so yeah I guess I just pursued the triathlon. So I sort of jumped right back into it. You know I packed up pretty much and moved to Queensland where there’s a professional coach and just rung him up and said, you know I’m coming to join you and didn’t take no for an answer. I just packed up the car with my brother and drove up there. You know 2 days of driving and yeah, got up there and the rest was history."

 
What is a typical day like for Richie Cunningham?
"You know, I like to race so like that’s one advantage of you know, enjoying the sport and having longevity. It’s hard to describe an average day, I guess its swim, bike, run and a little gym somewhere. I just switched to a new gym, Rally Sport, and they have a really good swim program there so I’ve sort of enjoyed that. Its most mornings not super early unless I decide to do the 5:30 one which is not very often. But yeah, basically get up, leave and go for a little run or head down to the pool, go swim and then during winter it’s a lot different than summer. You know here you don’t have that much daylight to get everything done so you have to swim early mainly in the dark or run in the dark and once it warms up enough you can ride outside. Then your sort of you know fit what you can outside. Leading into summer, like it is now with the better weather if the clocks have changed I manage to get longer riding done now which is a lot more enjoyable. You can get up into the mountains do some enjoyable training for a change."

 
What are your thoughts on the topic of Recovery?
"Early on in my career I was young and I guess I was very fortunate I never got injured and I was always a strong athlete. I think that was one of my strengths. As I got older in life, I actually started to pay attention to that massage and thankfully something like the product RecoveryPump came along which I definitely think has helped prolong my career. You know you sit in the boots for an hour every night and it sort of gives you a kick start for the next day. I have been using that religiously now for nearly 6 years now. I don’t want to change that program I have now with RecoveryPump."

 
How did you approach recovery prior to discovering RecoveryPump?
"I mean it could go a lot of different ways even with just the older age and you’ve got a lot of younger kids who sort of neglect that side of it like I did but now there are so many new tools like the RecoveryPump that you can use that would give some of these younger kids a big advantage. It would put them on at least the same playing field that I have now. It is certainly a big factor. I mean it really does come down to recovery and nutrition as well as just being smart about things. When we are all younger we all went out a lot more and partied a little bit more and I think now its becoming way more professional of a sport. You know, even like I said with the tools we have now like RecoveryPump where we didn’t have earlier on in my career."

 
What is your protocol for using RecoveryPump?
"Well luckily with the new one it has an even higher pressure which I really enjoy so I’ve pretty much have it set up on high all the time. Generally, I just use it after the most intense sessions of the day. I mean if I do a long run in the morning which I do Sunday so I do a long run, come home normally and me and my wife have a fight of who gets in it first. Then you know I might sit in them for an hour or 45 minutes on whatever setting I have for it and then normally on a Sunday I like to go for a 2nd run in the afternoon. It’s not a bad tool to use right before a pre training session so I like to get in it just short like 10-15 minutes to get the blood flowing again and then go out and do a 2nd session. But generally I just use it in the evenings when we’re sitting down eating dinner. It’s a lot more relaxing and recovery is more beneficial when you can actually relax and not stressed about the next session. So definitely for the recovery side of things I definitely think the longer period is beneficial. If you sort of want to wake the legs up or before you actually get into a hard session especially if it’s early in the morning and you don’t get a chance to do the proper warm up or it’s cold, I think that’s where it’s really beneficial. You know I really don’t think a lot of people use it that way just yet so I want to kind of keep that a secret. "

Tell us about your experiences using the latest RecoveryPump products.
"I mean its head and shoulders even above what I liked before about the old product. I mean the biggest advantage I think is 1. The pressure so it’s a lot higher, Even the boots, the tubes are all integrated. They don’t get all tangled and everything. But I think the biggest advantage is 2. The battery life. As I wrote in one of my blogs. I can take it with me to a race overseas and I just came back from Brazil and you know you use it a couple times in the airport makes people look at you a little funny but you know it certainly gives you that option and the fact that it’s a lot more compact and fits in your carry-on bag and you don’t have to recharge it. About 3-4 years ago I actually took the old system to Germany, when I was racing there and I plugged it in and blew the unit up because it wasn’t compatible yet to the European voltages. So now it gives you that 6-7 pump sessions on the battery and actually I never have run the battery dry which is more than enough to go to a race and recover after a race then fly home. Also, if I did run the battery dry the system is now universal so I could plug it in and recharge no matter what country I am in which is great."


What kind of results are you getting with RecoveryPump?
"I guess the biggest benefit and when you actually notice it the most is like something like on your longer sessions so a long run or a long ride or a really intense day and your legs are actually swollen and you have a lot of blood flowing and I love it when I go in after those kind of days because then it just squeezes and flushes everything out and then my legs are really skinny and I feel like I’m a little runner or something. You actually notice the difference like it’s night and day between when you get in and when you do one of those hard training days and you get out. I mean it instantly feels recovered. It feels like a good night’s sleep."

 
What is it like working with the RecoveryPump team?
"This day and age to keep a sponsor for more than a couple years is a hard thing as a pro athlete. You know the fact that RecveryPump has been with me for going on 6 years now speaks volume for the company. It’s been a privilege being with RecoveryPump from the ground up and seeing it now used on Rugby players, football players, basketballers, etc. all around the world. You know it’s not just a triathlon device, it’s also a main stream sports device which is awesome!"

 
Would you recommend RecoveryPump to other athletes?
"Absolutely, I mean I’m proof of the pudding. I’m going on 42 this year and I’m still racing with the young guys and still winning races so you know you can’t argue with the proof." 

-Richie Cunningham, Professional Triathlete 

@SirRichieC