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Maintaining Balance through the Holidays

 

Another season has come and gone, which means the holidays are just around the corner. Some of you may be putting the final touches on your race season with one last event, others may be well into the “off season” and enjoying less routine and more flexibility with your days. But no matter where you are in terms of your race year, most all of us will be enjoying holiday festivities, a few more social events, and travel to see family and friends the next few weeks. That may instill fear in some; fear of losing fitness, gaining a few pounds, or a bit of both. While both of these things are not necessarily a bad thing at this time of year, if you’re seeking to maintain both fitness and a social schedule, it is possible with a little bit of planning ahead. I wanted to offer up a few tips for enjoying the season without worrying about ‘guilt’ while indulging a bit.

1-      Plan a few short fun races. Anyone who knows me well knows, I love my off-season 5k races! There is rarely a shortage of finding these with Turkey Trots and Jingle Bell 5k events, no matter what city you may be visiting. Put a few of these on your schedule as a fun way to keep you motivated to stay fit but also have a fun time out being active with family and friends. Maybe you can coerce a family member or friend who doesn’t run regularly to join in; even for a 5k walk. I know my niece and nephews have recently gotten into running; find siblings or kids to come along. The beauty of these events is they’re short, quick, and only consume a few hours on a weekend morning. They let you get out and move but spend the rest of your day being social, which is how this time of year should be.

2-      Maintain some routine with your eating. They key word here is “some”. For me this is just a few small things, such as enjoying lemon water in the morning, and dark greens most days, in some capacity. So I can plan to travel with a few lemons, and offer to throw together a salad at dinner one night. Don’t let this consume you, but if there are a few small things you do regularly that make you “feel good” try to maintain these. You don’t have to cause a scene or make meal requests, rather think ahead and choose to keep them incorporated into your holiday and travels. I find usually your body thanks you for doing this.

3-      Plan ahead for holiday visits. If you are heading to the in-laws house for a week, and you know you want to get in a few swims, look up to see if are any YMCA’s nearby; check the hours (I often call to double check) and see if you can squeeze in a few quick swims in the early mornings to avoid conflicting with daytime events. Check the weather forecast where you’re going and if you hope to run or walk a few times, be sure you plan ahead if it looks to be very cold (or hot). It’s pretty easy to get in some exercise if you think about it ahead of time, do your research on what is available in the area.

 

4-      Something is better than nothing. You may have wanted to do a 1 hr run but you sleep in (or stay up too late) and it becomes 20-30 minutes. That is ok. I am guessing most of us don’t have a goal event right after the New Year; and even if you do, missing a little bit here or there probably won’t make or break you. Enjoy this time of year when routine and structure are a little less strict. 

5-      Improvise & Enjoy It! My parents live in a very hilly area. After I run down their driveway, I come upon a very large hill. I love doing hill intervals at their place and the beauty is, the entire run can be 30-40 min but with 4-6 x hard hill intervals. If you are heading to the mountains, take advantage of it and get out to play in the snow! Cross country skiing or snowshoeing is phenomenal exercise. The key is if you want to get in some activity, try to do it in the early morning or perhaps afternoon when there is a lull in social activity. But if your ‘intended’ becomes a bit less, roll with it and enjoy what you can get in.

 

6-      Everything in moderation – even moderation itself. One of my favorites! Life is short. While I am a creature of habit and I like my routine, the times we get to visit with family and enjoy holiday festivities are a gift and something we should fully enjoy. If one glass of wine becomes a few, or an evening night campfire goes late into the night, roll with it. It is OK to have a bit more dessert or an extra beer. Most of us maintain structure and regimen the majority of the year. Let yourself relax and go with the flow over the holidays. Soon enough, January will be here and we’ll be ‘back on the grind’. Savor the celebrations and take the time to let your hair down a bit. There is a reason I enjoy a beer most evenings regularly; because that is all I really usually want and I don’t like how I’ll feel the next day if I have more! However if and when I go beyond that during a family visit or a holiday get together, just make sure the story is well worth the headache.

- Kelly Williamson, Ironman Champion

@khwilliamson

 

Kona Tips from the Other Side

I've raced the Hawaii Ironman five times (twice as an amateur and three as a pro), and have been there to watch and support athletes on another seven occasions. I've been fortunate to coach many age group athletes to Kona-qualifying and through their first, second, and third outings on the island. There are a few things that make this race unique, relative to other races of this distance, and that lead to some of the most common errors I see in race execution and prep. 

Save your energy.

It seems that with every passing year in Kona, there are more pre-race hype and activities and more opportunities to spend pre-race energy. Race week also means taper week-- it is time to store up energy. Beyond being on one's feet all day "taking it all in," remember that in Kona this also means being in the heat--which is a double whammy. 

Use discipline and spend non-training time out of the heat, ideally with feet up--you will be able to enjoy the experience of the race itself so much more having not spent your tokens on "the experience" before race day.

(Nearly) everyone is fast.

This seems like an obvious statement, but what I think so many athletes fail to realize before their first outing in Kona is what this looks like in practice. The vast majority of the athletes in Kona have qualified to be there. This means that even the majority of the age group field is comprised of the caliber of athlete who is accustomed to being at the pointy end of most every other race. Having people "up in your business" from start to finish all day in Kona can be incredibly disconcerting for these athletes even if they think they understand what this will feel like. 

Have confidence in yourself, your training , and your race plan, and don't let energy escape to the outside. 

Be willing to ignore the clock.

Despite its reputation, the course itself in Kona is relatively fast. So why are Kona times typically a good bit slower than other ironmans? Well, for one, because of the head trip people like to do on themselves (described above), and second, because the conditions in Kona will almost always throw a curveball our way. Be it a crazy current or swells on the swim, extreme, blow-you-off-the-bike wind, or relentless heat on the run, you simply cannot predict how much the times on each discipline will be affected by the conditions on the day. It is only in hindsight when evaluating everyone's splits that we can evaluate what the times mean. 

Never look at your swim split until after the race. Having target power on the bike and paces on the run is okay as long are you are willing to adapt to whatever the day brings and focus in on your desired effort/ perceived exertion.

 

-Hillary Biscay, Ironman Champion and Coach

@hillarybiscay

@smashfestqueen

What I have Learned about Recovery as I Grow Older

 

 

As we grow older, we need to train smarter. Aging is a process we all have to deal with, unfortunately, and you wake up one day and realize you don’t have twenty year old legs anymore. As a professional triathlete who has completed fifty-five Ironman distance races, there comes a point where you have to be smart about your training and recovery or you will not be able to perform consistently in endurance sports. I have really concentrated on recovery the past few years in order to hopefully stay at the top of my game and continue to compete with women who are only going faster. I have outlined some tips to help you recover as you grow older and those once young legs need extra encouragement to move!

 

After most every hard workout, training session, and race, it is marquee to religiously use my Recovery Pump boots which expedites the waste from your muscles and cells so they recover faster. When I was an age grouper working long hours at my day job in my 20’s, the toughest thing to do after a race was recover. I was back in the office and sitting for ample hours a day which pro longed the fatigue. After discovering Recovery Pump, it was so convenient and helpful to be able to use the boots after a race before going into the office and at home after a long day. As I have grown older, this commitment to Recovery Pump has only increased. I use the system at least once a day and a lot more in the days leading up to a race. This includes in the car traveling to a race, when I wake up the morning before the event, and always after. Why wouldn’t you use a system that has proven to help you recover faster? We all want to be consistent in our training and racing and this helps the cause.

 

There are a lot of athletes that define a race as the culmination of all their hard work which leads to excessive binging in the days after. Of course it is ideal to have that pizza and beer after a race yet the sooner you start eating correctly, the faster you will recover. I define a race as a blip in your overall triathlon journey to eventually reach your goals in the sport. The faster you can get back on the horse as far as training goes, the quicker you can get ready for your next challenge. This is magnified as you grow older and the niggles from a race can last a lot longer than if you were in your 20’s. It is such an imperative value add to start eating healthy, hydrating, and getting as much rest as much as possible after a large volume of training or a race.

 

It is very tough to receive all your nutrients from food so I have been taking supplements for years to prolong my career and help with recovery. Please consult your doctor before taking any supplements yet it can be a great way to absorb additional beneficial nutrients into your body that may be lacking from your diet. Some of the ones I ingest are calcium, magnesium, Omega 3 fish oil, and Vitamin D yet there are a lot of good things on the market, if you do your research, to aid in recovery. I take them every night with food and, even if some of it is a placebo, it makes me feel that I am doing all that I can to help the body.

 

These tips may seem obvious to some athletes. However, it is good to continue to be reminded that what you do to your body before and after races can mean the difference between running through that finishing chute completing a great race or trudging through in a march of agony. Hopefully recovery becomes a part of your routine just like brushing your teeth; it is a part of your routine and not a chore. There is really no substitute to sleep, hydration, and nutrition yet performing the tasks above will aid in your overall recovery and vibrancy. Your body will thank you!

 

MBK: www.meredithkessler.com 

www.lifeoftriathlete.com

Road to Recovery

 

My last post for Recovery Pump left off following a track sprint camp in Colorado Springs in late April. I had plans to race overseas with the US National Team, I had set new PRs in the flying 200m at the LA Velodrome, I was working with a new coach, and I was excited about the summer leading into the last round of qualifying for Rio 2016. Everything seemed to be falling right into place, following my incredible world cup season. 

I celebrated my 25th birthday on May 9th, which was also my three-year track sprint anniversary. I was taking off for Germany two days later. I woke up the morning of May 10th, (also Mother’s Day), grabbed all my race gear, and headed to my final training session. Not long after, I left on a body board in the back of an ambulance.

 

When I look back at it now, I had no idea how hard this was going to hit me. I was riding at my absolute best. I’d just hit some HUGE PRs, and I was riding faster and better than I ever had in my entire life. And in a split second, that was all taken away. Fracturing my L5 in my back was a challenge in itself, but I had no way of preparing myself for the months that were lying ahead of me. 

I broke my collarbone in three places. When I arrived in the Emergency Room, they scheduled a surgery immediately to repair it. While lying there, they also discovered I had fractured and dislocated my wrist. There was also evidence of meniscus and ligament damage, but I didn’t receive surgery on that until two weeks post-crash. And lastly, I sustained a concussion, one that left me with a chronic pounding headache five months later, into October.

As an athlete, I’ve experienced physical pain, and mental stress. But like I said before, nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to experience. Just as racing season was getting started, I was a swollen beat up marshmallow sitting on the couch. The house emptied out, as my boyfriend took his athletes for two weeks of racing in t-town in June. I was home alone, less than two weeks after surgery, with our three large dogs, a nest on the couch, and my own thoughts to battle with. I fell into a state of depression those around me weren’t prepared for.  I saw my lost training time, medical expenses, and not to mention that my bike frame was cracked, my rear racing wheel had a hole punched through it, my front racing wheel literally exploded, and my helmet was cracked. But as soon as I could, I climbed on my Wattbike, got a fork mount stand for my rollers, and got in the leg press in the gym.

Two months later, I was driving up to Seattle for the Marymoor Grand Prix. After months of sifting through UCI points, selection criteria, and calculating what I had to do to make the Pan Am Championships team. Only one keirin spot was open for Team USA, and I was determined to have it. This was my only chance, with less than a week left before the point cut off deadline. I pinned on a number, wrapped a splint around my arm, pushed myself a little too hard, but I won. I accumulated 90 points, became world cup eligible, and retained the #1 ranking for a US sprint female in the keirin and match sprint. I was then qualified, after only two races.

I continued through physical therapy, and as the US National Championships approached on my home track in LA, I took a hard blow realizing I couldn’t financially afford the entry fee to participate and defend my national titles. But, with my ultimate goal on Rio 2016, and nationals having no part in team selection, I wasn’t worried. As we left for Chile in September for the Pan Am Championships, I was excited. Racing in South America is dirty, rough, and full of contact. I was nervous, but I was excited to show that I was back. Here’s an exert from my blog about my keirin,

“I felt like a pinball. Getting bounced around, getting thrown to the back. What just happened? But it’s ok. There is a rep ride. This was my first real keirin back from crashing at 66kph straight onto my face. I got the first one out of the way. And this is South America. You aren’t going to get this much contact anywhere else. It was time to line up again. I was ready to get bumped this time. I was ready for all the illegal moves that are somehow legal in these countries. And I went through, by the skin of my teeth. You could feel the lack of belief in the air. But that just made me more pissed off than hurt. And I was going to prove everyone wrong, because of it.

I was ready for the second round. My hip was still in its place. I wrapped my wrist tight, pushing the pain aside. I had two more rides. And I was going to make it happen. The motor pulled off and I went straight to the front. 500m to go. I pushed the speed higher, and higher, and higher, and at one lap to go, we were going. I stood up, but there was nothing left, we went into corner one, and I held that black line as hard as I could. Still in the front going down the back straight, I told myself, “Just keep pushing. This is just like training,” I pushed. Coming around corners three and four I could feel them breathing down my throat. But I led through the finish, and won my semi-final, putting me into the 1-6 final for gold. Just like the world cup in Colombia. That was the first time I felt like my old self again. I wasn’t timid, I wasn’t scared. I didn’t feel the pain. I was just, me. And I was proving them wrong, one pedal stroke at a time.

One more ride. I’ve been sitting on the floor of our hotel room applying for jobs, grants, and setting up interviews. I’ve been fighting with insurance companies and hospitals. I didn’t go through all this to give the doubters what they were looking for. But, I fell one place short. A 4th place finish burns worse than finishing 6th. One step from adding to the medal count. One step from a Pan Am Championships.”

I did it.

Back from Pan Ams, I took on three new jobs: Teacher at a tutoring center, coaching with Big Picture Cycling, and working at ERO as a fit specialist. Since then, finding the balance between training and working became harder and harder, as my goals became centered around becoming financially stable, and paying the bills related to my crash in May. Making this transition was one of the hardest decisions I have had to make, after reaching out to my NGB and other resources, it became a reality that I just didn’t have the means to continue living the life of a professional track sprint athlete. But…I’m absolutely in love with what I’m doing. I’ve taken some time away from the bike, but now I’m back riding, and pursuing a few new goals. Without being able to attend the 2015/2016 World cups, my Rio 2016 Olympic dream is a little derailed, but I do believe everything happens for a reason.

Over the past five months, I have experienced an unbelievable amount of support from my sponsors and supporters. The rollercoaster of winning national titles, fracturing my L5, winning a world cup medal, and having my world turned upside down shortly afterward, again, has brought me back to the roots of why I loved this sport.

We might think we have our lives planned out, but in a split second, everything can change. It is how well we adapt to those changes, and become stronger and better because of it. I’m proud of everything I have accomplished, I’m proud to represent Recovery Pump in those efforts. I can’t wait to see what the future unfolds for me, and I welcome it with open arms!   

-Missy Erickson, US Track Sprint Cyclist & #RPInspiration

 

2015 Recap

 

Training has been going great, preparing for a big world championship year in Beijing, China. Recovery has been a key aspect, so using the recovery boots has really been helping keeping my legs fresh from training session to training session each and every day. I have been using Recovery boots since 2013, and can’t see how I can go without them especially during training. Great addition to add along with massage sessions, acupuncture and cold ice baths during training. This has been the best off-season up to date for me. A big season is ahead, and I’m looking to make some big splashes and to PR.

 

First competition in Clermont, Florida in April, the earliest I have ever open up. Outcome wasn’t what I wanted but was the best opener for me. Next race was in a street race in Manchester, where I suffered a severe hamstring. Three weeks later with little recovery, I raced at Prefontaine, and ran a season best thus far with a 20.4. Following Prefontaine, I raced in Rome, Italy and suffered a grade 1 hamstring that caused a downfall for my season. Due to injuries I was unable to prepare properly for USA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Oregon. First round of USA championship was great, came in first place. During Semi-finals I was unable to sustain the momentum due to injuries. After USA Outdoor Championship, I ran a few more races then went to Ireland to get treatment and start to recover properly. I am currently training and preparing for a great season and the upcoming Olympics. 

-Curtis Mitchell, USA Track & Field

My Mess Ups from the Last 20 Years

Just because I'm a pro doesn't mean I always execute races perfectly. As most of you know, I've been racing a long time and I've certainly made my share of mistakes in triathlon. I thought it would fun to do a run down of the more ridiculous mistakes I've made in races. 

20 years ago in my very first pro race back in the Gold Coast in Australia, I did a sprint format race. I had been training with my coach Cole Stewart who at the time had probably the best group of professional triathletes in the world with the likes of Miles Stewart, Matt Reed, Chris McCormack, and Shane Snuffy Reed, just to name a few. I had big shoes to fill in my first race with these guys either watching or racing. Back then I was a pretty terrible swimmer. As I got on the bike to start chasing, I realized I had put my left shoe on my right pedal and vice versa. At first I tried to put my feet in and ride like that, but after a couple of miles it got too painful, so I decided to try and switch them over. Instead of stopping, I thought I'd be smart and reach down and unclip one and put that shoe in my mouth while I switched the other shoe over. Although it worked, I lost a lot of time and a lot of dignity as most of my friends saw me doing it. I became the butt of everyone's jokes for a few weeks.

A few years later, I was racing in Phuket, Thailand. Me and Miles Stewart were putting our bikes together and I'd realized that I left my front skewer at home. I knew there was a bike mechanic down at the expo, so I thought it would be a great idea to just put the front wheel in and ride a few miles down to transition. As I was getting to transition, I was quite pleased with myself for making it without crashing and for some stupid reason, I sat up and took my hands off the handlebar. As I did that, I hit a pothole and my front wheel popped out. As my forks dug into the ground, I went over the handlebars and landed on the head stem and broke two ribs. Of course I tried to race. I made it a couple of miles into the run and then had to pull out.

 

After battling a few years of Cole Stewart's training, I managed to get a start at the Grand Prix sprint series in Australia, which was doubling up as the Commonwealth Games Selection Trials and also the Australian Sprint Championships. I was having probably one of the best races of my career at that point. I came out in the lead group in the swim and broke away on the bike with a group of legends including Hamish Carter, Miles Stewart, and Matt Reed. Towards the end of the bike, I managed to break away from them and put about a minute into them leading into transition. However it was a multi-lap bike course and when other athletes were lapped, they had to pull out. Riding on my own, I came up behind a large group on the bike and I got really excited to pass them all, but I was on my final lap and should have gone into transition. I ended up riding down to the turnaround and back which was an extra couple of K's that I wasn't supposed to do. By the time I got into transition, the group I had broken away from was just leaving on the run. That day I probably missed getting an Australian title and a spot at the Commonwealth Games.  

In the early days when I was in racing in Germany, I quite often raced double Saturday and Sunday races. This particular time I raced in Darmstadt on a Saturday. I borrowed my friend's hatchback car and drove to the Netherlands that night. Unlike America, small hotels in Europe close their doors around 10pm. I arrived closer to midnight and couldn't get into the hotel. I had to put the seats down in the car and just sleep in the back of that. I used my wetsuit as a blanket. All I had for breakfast was leftover pizza and a banana and then I went and raced.

Another race I did in the Netherlands was a ETU cup race. This race had two transitions. I had a great swim-bike and got off the bike with 2 or 3 guys in the lead. However when I went to get my shoes out of the transition box, they weren't there. I forgot to check them in at transition in the morning. Without thinking too much, I took off on the run in bare feet. This race was a 3 lap course. Luckily back then I was only doing Olympic distance and my friend was also racing. For some reason he had pulled out so he gave me his shoes going into the second lap. He's 6'2" and size 11 feet and I'm 8.5, however it was way better than running on bare feet. I still managed to hold on for a top 3 finish.

 

In 2009 at the 70.3 World Championships, I was probably in the best shape of my career. I had start number 2 and for some reason Ironman started using the plastic transition bags in 70.3 races. This was new for me and for some reason the pros just had to lay our bags out on the ground. I had a fantastic swim coming out of the water in the top 10. As I ran through transition, I grabbed the second bag and what I thought was my bike bag. I ran into the change tent where I dumped out the contents on the ground. As I put the helmet on, I realized it wasn't mine. At the time, I picked up the sunglasses and decided to race anyway, but as I exited the transition tent, my conscience got the better of me, so I ran back to grab the correct bag. By the time I got everything sorted out, I'd lost close to 2 minutes. This particular year, there was a 50 man front group on the bike and I got stuck riding alone behind them. I ended up with one of the fastest run splits running from 50th place into 11th, but it didn't do me much good. This led me to my next stupid decision, which was doing Ironman Arizona the next weekend. I had a great race in Ironman Arizona until the last 6 miles, where I completely imploded. I still managed to finish fourth but it scarred me for nearly 5 years.

The last time I raced at 70.3 Austin, I woke up early and had all my nutrition packed and ready in the fridge from the night before. Once I got up, I put my race kit on. I was still feeling a little sleepy and laid back on the bed. I still to this day don't know what happened. I thought I only laid there for one or two minutes, but apparently I'd fallen asleep for an hour. Once I got up, I went into the kitchen to make breakfast and then saw the time on the clock and it was only one hour before the start of the race. Luckily I had checked the bikes in the day before. I had a major panic attack and just ran out of the house and got in the car and started driving to the race, which was half an hour away. Once I got close to the race, I got caught up in the age group traffic trying to get into the parking lot, which took another 20 minutes. While I was sitting in the car, I realized that I had left all my nutrition in the fridge. I made an emergency call to BigSexy McDonald, who was living in Austin at the time. He managed to call his wife who brought a water bottle from home. As I ran into transition, she passed me the bottle with a couple of gels. I dumped the gels in the bottle and ran down to the swim start. As I got there, everyone was lined up and ready to go. Luckily the race was delayed 5 minutes, which allowed me to get my wetsuit on and start with everybody. I still managed to finish 2nd on just one water bottle.

Another dumbass mistake was when I raced down in Costa Rica. I thought I would be smart and charge my DI2 battery before I left so I wouldn't have to take the charger with me. Once I got there, I realized I had left my DI2 battery at home. This was back in the early days when I was one of the only people riding electronic shifters.  Back then, nobody had spare anything for electronic gears. Luckily a friend got delayed in Chicago coming to the race and they went to a bike shop and borrowed a battery and it ended up working out fine. You'd think I would have learned from this mistake, but it's happened a few more times since. 

Sadly this isn't all my stupid mistakes and I'm sure I'll make plenty more. I hope this makes all of your feel better anytime you make a dumb mistake. Don't stress or panic about the little mistakes - things always work out in the end. And if they don't, at least you'll have a good story and a laugh.

 


Richie Cunningham

www.richie-cunningham.com

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