I hope and expect that 2023 will be a strong and productive season. As I’ve been told by my coach umpteen times ‘practice to race; don’t race to practice.’ Meaning – put in the work so that the races are ‘fun’.
As part of this, I went to Columbus during the offseason to work with a swim coach. I found Ryan through a Google search, and as I learned over the sessions, I made the right choice. If you’re in or will be visiting the Columbus area and need a good coach, reach out to him via rct.coach!
Because of a scheduling change on my end, what we ended up with was 2 sessions each day. So the first one would be drills / easy 100s and the second would be a much harder / tempo set.
While I don’t remember all of the specific drills or sets, I did make it through everything. I know that I came out of the sessions having learned a great deal.
All in all, this ended up being a great training trip. I will definitely connect with Ryan in the future for more off-season swim training!
I am extremely grateful to the Naperville Noon Lions Club for their continued support of my athletic endeavors!
Since the very beginning of my Triathlon journey in 2015, the NNLC has assisted me in some way.
Their continued support means a tremendous amount to me. This is why when given the option of the local race (Naperville Sprint) or a National race (USAT Age Group Nationals – Sprint) in 2022, I immediately went with the Naperville Sprint.
Welcome to Santa Claus, IL… um, I mean the Santa Rotary run.
About 5 years ago, one of my guides mentioned this race in Arlington Heights. I did it in 2019 for the first time, and had so much fun. It’s become one of my standard winter races at this point.
For 2022’s race, you couldn’t try the suits on (due to the pandemic), so I had to guess on sizing. Even though I had shrunk a bit at that point, I still went with the same size as in the past since I had to guess. That was a bad choice, as I’ll explain later. [For reference, the Santa suit was over an Under Armour base layer and Saucony running pants / t-shirt.]
As I’ve mentioned in the past, pacing was a concern. So Natalie made sure that we kept things fairly slow for mile 1, and started to negative split from there. Mile 1 went great, and mile 2 was decent. And then the wardrobe malfunctions began…
When we started running at a decent pace for the final mile, first the Santa pants started coming down. After stopping to fix them twice, I gave up and stripped them off. However, that didn’t stop the issue. The running pants were also too large, and started coming off as we ran.
While I haven’t found them, I am certain that there are some very ‘interesting’ photos of us coming into the finish line with me holding up the running pants so that I’m decent. Yes, I did have on the UA tights, but I didn’t want it to get to that level…
Even with the wardrobe challenges, I still felt that it was a solid race and a great way to end the 2022 running season!
The FraidyCat races have been one of my consistent fall running races. While I did the 10K at one point, I’ve primarily focused on the 5Ks.
The 2022 race was my first chance to use the new Hoka shoes in a 5K. It was also an opportunity to put into practice everything that I had learned at the Welcome 2 Running camp.
One of my biggest challenges in all 3 disciplines of Triathlon is going out too fast. In swimming and cycling, I can usually compensate and ‘smooth the curve’. But in running, if I end up going out too fast, it can bonk the race later on.
Knowing this, I had asked John to watch the pace. Unconciously, multiple times during the first mile I was in the 9:30-10:00 / mi range. That’s at least 3 min faster than the target had been. And that was with him telling me I was going too fast, allowing myself to correct the pace, and then unconciously going back to a too-fast pace.
Needless to say, things started falling apart after the first mile. The second mile was a respectable mix of run and run/walk. However, the last 1.1 was a choppy walk/run at best.
While it wasn’t the race I wanted, I did at least confirm that the Hokas worked and that they will be the right shoe going forward!
As I’ve mentioned in the past, the run leg has been where I’ve struggled the most. So when the opportunity to participate in a run-specific camp with Team Catapult presented itself, I jumped at it.
Day 1 of camp started with a run gait analysis, followed by a shake out run before dinner. Both of these were done in the new Hoka shoes that were generously provided. After dinner, Oofos added the recovery sandals into our gear. These will be incredibly helpful as I continue running more and longer.
Day 2 included run training and two specific runs (moderate and faster pace) along with strength, yoga and nutrition sessions.. Almost 8 years in, I still am NOT a fan of Yoga, but the instructor did an amazing job.. I learned a lot from the nutrition session, and got a fair amount out of the strength session.
The first run session of the day started with drills (active warmup such as butt kickers and the like) followed by intervals. The second session was more of a longer run at medium pace, and the last session of the day was doing loops around a neighborhood at a faster pace. I’ll admit now (and I told the coach on the way back) that I was hiding the vomit to avoid being pulled from the run session. Especially as I was able to have a conversation 5-10 seconds on either side of it, I was confident that it was just my body not being used to that pace vs. anything being wrong.
At the end of Day 2, we all ended up in the pool. It was honestly one of the strangest and most mesmerising things I’ve ever experienced. When you went under the water, you could clearly hear music that wasn’t audible at or above the surface. Think of The Sirens from the Odyssey… I did want to try the 25 ft water slide in the dark, but by the time I got up the nerve, it had closed for the night.
The camp concluded on Day 3 with a relay (coaches and athletes). I believe each team had athletes from each type (amputee, VI, WC), with the coach being the anchor. I also believe that it was a 1/4 mile loop for each member of the relay.
When it was our turn, I had to trust Blake (my guide) tremendously. Whether it wasn’t fully light or it was overcast, it was hard to see. While it was only 1/4 mile, I still treated that last 50 yards or so like a normal finishing chute. There’s a great video floating around of our leg finish.
This was a great weekend, and I learned a lot. I came away having formed new friendships, gained knowledge and picked up some really great gear that will get used from here on out. And I will be switching to Hokas going forward — I can definitely feel the difference.
THANK YOU to Team Catapult for putting this event on and to ALL of the sponsor!
In the early part of 2015, Naperville was supposed to be my ‘one and done’ Tri. As I’ve talked about in the past, it was simply a springboard to the next 75 Tris…
Going into the race, I was still a bit ‘shaky’ from the crash in The Woodlands and the issues in Hammond. But I had a strong pilot and guide for the race, which helped to calm some of the nerves.
While Centennial Beach is a great venue for the race, it’s a challenge to get a car close to after 90 minutes prior to transition opening (so say after 5 AM). While we had a plan (Todd riding the bike solo and me taking an Uber), it didn’t go off as smothly as hoped because the Uber had trouble getting relatively close.
We were able to regroup and get transition set up just in time. After having a few minutes to say hello to Coach Joe and friends, we headed over towards the beach to wait for the swim start.
In 2015 and for a couple years after, I was almost the first one in (after the Elites). While this was good in theory, it also meant that those who could legitimately swim 65 second / 100s were climbing over us within the first 50m. To try and combat this, I moved further back in 19. Even though we were about 2/3rds of the way back, the ‘swim over’ issues still occurred. So for this year, we decided to try being the final adult Triathletes into the water.
While this worked better than in years past, and we passed a fair number of people, there were still issues. After all these races, I accept that there are going to be arm strikes and unintentional one-off ‘swim overs’ in every race. It just happens as you’re going full speed.
But what happened at about the 2nd to last turn was far beyond unacceptable. For about 3-4 full cycles (meaning a good 20-30 seconds), someone not only was fully on top of me, but they kept going on top. I would subtly nudge them off, and they’d be back on top of me less than 5 seconds later.
Even with those issues, we made it out of the water successfully and into T1. I had told Todd that I needed to keep the curves a bit speed conservative given the nerves after The Woodlands.
The bike itself was uneventful. We passed a large number of people and got the standard smart-assed ‘that’s cheating’ responses as we passed some (to which my response always is ‘I’ll trade you the tandem for your eyes…’) Even with keeping things conservative, we were able to take advantage of some of the ‘straighter’ downhills.
Going into the race, I had decided to try a different tact for the run. In the past, I had started running at run out and had pushed things up the hill that goes from within the Riverwalk path up to Jefferson and over the bridge. As that had led to me being spent by mile 1, I planned to run the flat part from run out to the base of the hill and speed walk until we were over the bridge.
This seemed to work well, and even with a run / walk due to the heat, it seemed to be better overall.
Although I was still working through the issues I mentioned in Hammond, Naperville seemed to be a solid race. Thank you to Todd for guiding me!
Since 2019, Team Catapult has continually provided amazing opportunities for me.
This has included opportunities to do some amazing ‘comfortably uncomfortable’ things. From being part of the Texas INdependence Relay (TIR) and running in the dark down two lane country roads to 25 ft platform diving in the dark and so much more. In addition to those group opportunities, their support has opened up individual opportunities for me.
Because of their continued support, I have the opportunity to get individual swim coaching. THANK YOU Team Catapult for your continued support!
I have contstantly struggled with finding running guides for practices. While I had a routine with a few in 2020, the Pandemic killed that. Post-pandemic, many of those haven’t been able to guide for practices.
In the past, treadmills have not worked for me. Part of it has been the narrow running band surfaces; part of it has been my inability to read the ‘video game’ type displays due to my vision issues. But I believed that if I could find a more accessible treadmill, things might work better.
Because of the USA Triathlon Foundation’s generous support, I now have that accessible treadmill! I was able to find one (made by Horizon Fitness) that has the old-school number display, a wide running band and easy to use controls. I am extremely grateful to have it, and I look forward to getting a lot out of the treadmill and improving my run!