You Can’t Break Me (aka Pleasant Prairie take 2) – 6.26.16

Pleasant-Prairie-Tri

(Photo courtesy of Lindsey Cook)

“It’s like deja vu, all over again.” (Yogi Berra) And quite frankly, even while I was in pain during the race and for a few days later, I would have gladly taken that yesterday. But instead, this happened….

After arriving at Pleasant Prairie at 4:30AM, we ggot the bike set up and went for a test ride. It was a little uncomfortable doing all of this in the dark when I couldn’t see much of anything. But this is one of the many places where complete trust in your guide comes into play. I knew it would all be fine, and it was.

With the bike set, we went into and set up transition and got pumped to rock the Tri. And then the rain and thunder came… An hour later, the Triathlon became a Duathlon (Run/Bike/Bun)I realize that this killed the race for a few people that were the swim part of a relay team, but I saw a LOT of people leaving. One of the main things of being a triathlete is that you have to be flexible — conditions won’t be perfect but you’ve still got to roll with the punches.

I’ll admit that I’m not a strong runner, so going from a Triathlon to a Duathlon wasn’t what I wanted to hear. But I was still optimistic for the day since we still had the bike. We started as a group, and it seemed to go well. We made it about half way around the lake before the 2nd group started.

I was feeling good as we made it to the bike. And it went well until we took a hard left turn on a wet surface. This was the point where the back tire went from a slow leak to flat. When it happened, my immediate reaction was “we are not giving up”. So we started walking the tandem back to the RecPlex, passing a set of course marshals soon after it happened. They asked us if we needed the assistance of the van (aka getting pulled from the race); our response was ‘hell no, we’re walking it back’. I wanted to reply more emphatically, but profanity is a USAT violation, so I left it with that.

After about 5 minutes of walking the tandem, Keri and another team member passed by us. Thankfully, Keri had a flat kit so we thought all was good. Lindsey fixed the flat, and all seemed well. That was until we took the next turn and the tire went flat AGAIN. That meant there was something within the tire, and rubber coming off of it confirmed that thought. So all we could do was walk it in about 3.5 miles. During that walk, Lindsey and I had a chance to talk and get to know each other better. And during that walk, we had a lot of people asking if we needed help and sharing words of encouragement.

When we finally made it back to transition, we had been out on the bike course for two hours. After getting changed back into run gear, we headed out for our 5K run. After about the first half mile, my body was just done. My right side hurt so much that I couldn’t even jog, not even after stretching it out. I think that was because of the extended walk back with the tandem. So we walked the rest of the way back. There was a lot of encouragement for us on the run, and even more surprisingly a big cheering crowd at the finish line. Lindsey said that a lot of those were people who had seen us walking the bike back. Very, very cool that they stuck around until we finished.

So as you can see, what was expected to be a great day went south. And while I could have made it much shorter than the 3:30 I was out on the course, that wasn’t happening. Put simply, I don’t believe in DNFs —

1) I’ve got too much pride to ever tap out.
2) I’ve got too much respect for my teammates and the Dare2Tri organization to do so

We all have struggles out on the course, it’s how you deal with them that defines you. I found out after the race that one of my teammates (Eris) had gotten a flat as well and rode back 10 miles on it so their race could keep going.

Naperville is the next planned race, but I may add another before. I’d like a ‘do over’ for this race. Not because it went badly as a Duathlon, but because it went from a Triathlon to a Duathlon. We’ll see what I can put together. And regardless of when it is, I plan to have a seat bag with a flat kit in it.

Thanks so much to the RecPlex for a great day, Dare2Tri for all of their support and Lindsey Cook for guiding me!

Extreme Pride – 6.20.16

DK1

At the beginning of the year, I was selected as part of the 2016 Dare2Tri Development Team. A very exciting moment, as it not only validated my hard work in 2015, but also showed that I had people that believed in me going forward. And in the 6 months since, I’ve been pushed – both by coaches and support from team members. So understandably, I’ve been proud to be wearing the team gear while on the race course and at events.

But I’ve been missing one piece of gear until today — my team kit. I now get to wear this with great and extreme pride throughout the rest of the season. Yes, it is a piece of clothing, but it means much more than that to me. I am truly honored and proud to be part of the team, and look forward to breaking the kit in at Pleasant Prairie this weekend!

To learn more about the Elite and Development Teams, visit www.dare2tri.org.

Back on the Horse – 6.19.16

fow

Last weekend took a lot out of me. Two days of being pushed by coaches followed by a grueling Triathlon on Sunday put me down for the count for a few days. Monday is my standard off day, but I was limping through Wednesday — even with 3 solid days of heat and Advil. And with other commitments in the back half of the week, today was my first training session since last weekend.

If you want a good Triathlon simulation, head to a local pool on a hot summer day. I wasn’t even thinking that with today being Father’s Day a lot of people would stake places during Adult Float and stay most of the day with the Beach being their Father’s Day event. So instead of a moderate crowd, there were a lot of people — and thus a bigger obstacle course.

So we worked around the crowds, first in the shallow (4ft) end and then in the deeper (13 ft?) water. I played around a little bit with my most favorite drill (bilateral breathing), but gave it up quickly due to the traffic. When we found a little clearer spot, Terri introduced yet another ‘fun’ drill. This one was swimming sidestroke, and IMO is far less fun than bilateral breathing. Like saying a root canal is more fun than a frontal lobotomy.

But just like with bilateral breathing, sidestroking will continue to be part of the workouts. Not because it’s fun, but because you need to have a Swiss army knife of skills out in the water. And since I know bilateral breathing saved me at Leon’s, I won’t fight sidestroking… too much. 😛

And after struggling to do 50m of sidestroke swimming, I have a new found respect for my guides. A lot of them are swimming 10-15 times that without issue to make sure we stay on course.

Back to the scene of the crime (Pleasant Prairie) next weekend. Hopefully I can get at least 2 runs and a swim in before heading back.

2016 Dare2Tri Paratriathlon Camp (aka Pleasant Prairie Take 1) – 6/10 – 6/12/16

D2T-Award

(Thanks to Dare2Tri Paratriathlon Club for the photo)

For those of you who haven’t read my 2015 Camp blog, please read my 2015 camp blog first. Or if you don’t want to, the thumbnail is this — I had never done a triathlon before, I struggled at camp and managed to cross my first finish line and had some amazing experiences.

Prior to this year’s camp, I had spent about 6 months in the pool, continually getting my ass kicked by one of my coaches. Never fun to wake up at 3:30AM for a 5AM session, but oh so worth it… And there were other times and other ways that both of my main coaches (Coach Stacee Seay and Terri Hayes) pushed me during the last year since camp. If you want details on any of it, just backread through the last year – it’s pretty well chronicled.

Day 0 of camp went pretty much like last year – get to 31st Street Marina, get on the bus to Pleasant Prairie and then crash out early. The slight wrinkle to this year was that I was so spent from the week to that point that I didn’t bother going out to dinner and just crashed.

Day 1 of camp started with the introduction and then led us into the pool with Coach Stacee. Last year I was struggling to do a 50 meter swim and having to stand up at the middle sandbar. This year, while they weren’t as smooth as they should be, I was still churning out 50s, 100s and multiples of 100s. And then I got to do my oh so favorite drill of all time – bilateral breathing. Never a fun one, but oh so useful. Much more on that later on…. When we finished in the pool, we did functional strength drills and then had lunch as a group.

The afternoon of day 1 started out on the bike with Coach Chris. While there were a lot of fundamentals (start/stop, mount/dismount, turns, etc.), it was still great to do. We finished with a run session with Coach Judy that started with the fundamentals (paw and more) and then went to tension running. Last year, I know I struggled on the tension runnings; this year, I was close to beating the camper I was running against. And we got to finish up with the ‘fun’ of running up hill several times, during which I was told I had great arms.

Day 2 started out hot and then only got hotter. I know that I put on full suntan lotion 3 times and had someone else do my legs/face a 4th time. But it was still so hot that I ended up burning in a couple places. Our day started out on the bike doing interval rides up H/88 and lots of turns. For those of you who have never been at Pleasant Prairie, H/88 from Park Place is mostly uphill. Not much fun to do 8 loops of that during training (or 3 loops during the race), but all part of the day. After about 90 minutes on the bike, we went onto the run.

During the run, we did 2 800s and then 4 400s. After the first 800 (5:33), I was tempted to sit out the 2nd (run in 6:04). And the same was true of wanting to sit out parts of the 400 (first 3 run at about 2:55 each, 4th run at 3:17). What kept me from sitting out ANY of those regardless of how much I was hurting was this simple thought – ‘there are a lot of people here with a lot less than me. If they can do it, I’m going to push myself until I at least fall down on the course and someone has to pick me up’. None of the runs were any fun, but I pushed through all of them. What got me through was that thought above and a LOT of ice, water and ice.

Our afternoon ended in the lake. As it was about 7000 degrees out, jumping into a 65-70 degree lake felt really, really, really good. So much so that after 800 meters of practice I joking told a friend that I was just going to stay in the lake until the morning. If you haven’t gotten the point by now, “the sun [was] a mass of incandescence gas. A hot nuclear furnace. A gigantic nuclear furnace. Where hydrogen is built into helium at a temperature of millions of degrees” (Thanks to the 2 Johns for that. And I take no responsibility if that’s now stuck in your head.)

We finished Day 2 with Yoga and then a group dinner, at which I was blindsided. They do camp awards each year, and I was presented with the one for most improvement. I would not have received that had it not been for all of my coaches – especially Coach Stacee and Terri Hayes – continually pushing me forward throughout the last year. I was very proud to receive the award, not just as validation for my effort but also to validate Dare2Tri’s support of me. At the beginning of the year, they selected me to their Development Team, which means a lot of support from them and a lot of investment into me. I am very proud to be able to show that their support and belief in me is starting to pay off. And I meant what I said that night – it’s never going to go perfect, but you just keep pushing forward and it’ll all come together.

Day 3 (race day) started off with a very patriotic salute led by Melissa Stockwell and others. And then it was time to race – 800 meters in the lake, 15 miles on the bile and 3.1 miles on the run (aka Sprint+). For added fun, that meant 3 loops uphill into a 20-25 MPH headwind.

We started out in the lake as a group and the swim went well for the most part. One of the buoy turns took straight into choppy water. This is where the bilateral breathing came into play. And when I forgot to do it, I got a VERY stiff correction to do it right by getting a huge mouthful of water. It was going so well that I was surprised when Lee told me that we were done with the swim. Along the lines of Day 2, if he hadn’t told me that, I probably would have done another loop. We headed out of the water and onto T1 (aka long transition).

Towards the beginning of the bike, I made my first mistake. We were close to the tandem team of Caroline and Ashley and I decided to try and keep pace with them. For those of you who’ve never seen them ride together, just think of that Jim Croche line “You don’t pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger and you don’t mess around with Jim” and substitute Caroline/Ashley where it says Jim. Sadly, I will never remember that lesson for the simple reason that as I continue to push forward, I will see them out there a lot. And I’ll continue tor try pushing that envelope. Charlie Brown eventually kicked the football out of Lucy’s hands, right? 😉 😛

The bike portion really was no fun. As I’ve already mentioned, it was 15 miles with big chunks of it uphill into strong headwinds. But we pushed through it and made it back to T2. That was after we listened to the incorrect information from a volunteer and lost a few minutes.

From T2 out onto the run after putting nutrition into my body. To say I was spent at that point would be an understatement. But I was determined to get that 3.1 miles in, even if it was 1/1 intervals. And unfortunately there were a few place where it was like that. But in the end, we made it back to a lot of cheering campers, staff and volunteers.

In summary:

1) THANK YOU to all of the volunteers, staff, coaches and sponsors that made this weekend possible. And a special THANK YOU to Luke Migalla and Lee Dunbar for helping to guide me thoughout the weekend.

2) Even if you struggle, don’t give up. There will always be bad days, bad race and people that continually beat you at a disciple or on the course. If you give up, you’ll never have a chance; if you keep pushing forward, you will eventually get to a point where you can. It won’t happen tomorrow, but it will happen…. Eventually.

3) I am so glad that I did the Shamrock Shuffle last year. If I hadn’t, I would have never have met Keri and NONE of this would have happened.

4) If you want to succeed and push forward, the words don’t, can’t, won’t and will not need to disappear from your vocabulary.

I’m looking forward to being back at Pleasant Prairie in two weeks to race with an even larger field!

And if you would like to support me as I move forward with my season, you can do so through my Race2Raise Page

Leon’s Triathlon – 6/4-6/5/16

Leons-Triathlon

And so the outdoor season beings… Leon’s Triathlon (Hammond, IN) was my first race of the for the season. While the training hasn’t been perfect, I felt confident heading into it. Especially With th swim. Simply because Coach Stacee has been kicking my ass in the pool for the last 6 months.

There was a camp/team dinner that we went to Saturday night. Leon’s mom showed up, and I ended up sitting next to a wounded veteran (I believe Navy) and got to hear all kinds of amazing stories from him.

On Sunday, we practiced with the tandem that Dare2Tri loaned us, and then got ready to race (including the new magnetic race belt set up — thanks to Dare2Tri) They did an amazing opening ceremony with the garason flag and a multi-service (I believe Army/Navy/Narines) veteran singing the National Anthem. As we were the second-t-last group to start, we had about 45 minutes to wait after transition closed. This gave us a chance to see some of the other groups start, and antics from the wheelies. We’ll see what photos turn out… 😉

Prior to starting, Leon met us at the gate to the lake and welcomed each of us. There weren’t big waves in the lake, but they were consistent. The course seemed to be a sideways J, so the straight part out was into the waves and a challenge. There were a couple of times that it got hard to breathe because of the consistent waves. That’s where the bilateral breathing (one of my least favorite drills) became very helpful. I was able to make it out in my target window (less than 21 min) and we moved onto T1.

For me, T1 always takes — or at least seems to take — an eternity. There’s a lot of gear that need to get switched. Wetsuit/goggles/cap/tethercap off; towel off; socks/shoes/vest/camelback/helmet/gloves/sunglasses on and nutrition in.

Once all of the changes were completed, we were off on the bike. For almost the entire course, we were riding into a headwind. The softglide seats helped during the bike, with my ass falling asleep less times than it normall does during a 12mi ride. I thought we made it back within my target window (30-32 min), but when I saw the results it showed 42 min.

Back to transition for T2, which is always shorter since I’ve got most of my run gear already on.

On the run, my body was just spent. The majority of runs, I’ve been doing 4/1 or 5/1 intervalss, and have been close to 13 minute mile averages. I wasn’t able to do anything close to that on the run course – maybe 2/1 at best. I think there may have been minor ITU band issues, but stretching didn’t fully help. It allowed me to run a bit longer but nothing in the normal 4/1 area. So the run ended up taking 44 min.

Overall, the race went well. I was able to shave 23 minutes off of my sprint PR. And I believe that once I finally have my tandem and can practice on it consistently, I’ll be able to shave even more off. It was an amazing race setting and weekend, and will definitely be on my 2017 schedule. The only thing that I think needs to be changed for 2017 is a better fitting swim cap. This year’s were extremely tight — to the point of hurting. So unfortunately it won’t get used again. I know that TYR makes better fiting ones, as I’ve almost worn out the one from last year’s Naperville Sprint from consistent wear.

Thanks to Lee Dunbar, Dare2Tri and everyone else who helped to make it a great weekend. Next race is Dare2Tri TriIt (Sprint).