Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Elite Race Series Finale

When you think of Myrtle Beach, you probably think of spring break parties and beaches.  Well, this last weekend I ventured there for an ITU draft legal race.  I was a little worried when the race was put on the schedule because it could be hot there and not in South Bend in early October.  Well, as it turns out, South Bend had warmer temps and sunnier skies this past weekend.  The course was fantastic and UltraMax organized a great event.  The course had a good roll to it which is a lot more fun than a lot of the pancake flat courses I have been on this year.  This course was one of my favorite of the year.

Swim – It was a two loop swim in the intercostal waterway.  The women had to fight a strong current, but that was not the case for us.  This was my first race seeded in the top 10, so I got announced before the race, which was pretty cool.  This also meant that I would get a great starting spot!  As the top guys went to the left side of the starting line I ventured to the right hand side.  I breathe to the left so I like to have the group on that side, plus the first turn was a left hand turn so that meant I would not get pinched off by people coming in on me.  I got a great start and was in good position at the first buoy.   I was on feet early but they slowly pulled away.  I am not sure what happened.  With my swim where it is I think I just lose focus for a few seconds at a time and this time it was very costly.  I lost the front pack and I tried to close the gap, but I could not.  I was in a small group with Jeff Helmer and an Australian guy, Tim George, so I stayed with them and hoped there were more people close, so we could get a bike pack together.  But I realized this was not the case when I exited the water.

Bike – I had a good T2 and was off on the bike.   I was able to get my right foot in my shoe before going up the only hill on the course, right out of transition.   Once at the top I got my other foot in and commenced to chasing.  Tim, Jeff and I got organized quickly and were making good time.  We caught a few guys and by the end of the second lap, of eight, we were 5 strong, organized and chasing.  We were all working well together, but the front pack of 15 was moving a little faster than we were.  We kept the chase on and Karly was giving us split updates until I gave her the sign to stop.  The time gap was getting larger and that was not helping me stay motivated.  With 3 laps to go the gap was steady, if not coming down.  This gave me a little more hope and started taking longer pulls at the front.  At this time I could not worry about the run.  I had to be close enough to have a chance to run people down.   Going with the wind we were hitting speeds of 34 mph, so I was having a lot of fun with that! 

Run – This race T2 went well and I was off and running.  I was about 1:35 down to the lead pack, so I tried to set a hard pace to catch some guys.  I knew it was going to be lonely on the run, but this is how most races have been this year.  It was up to my run to get me in the top 10.  I knew if I could pull off a good result I would end up 3rd in the elite draft legal series, and take home a nice yearend bonus check!  After the first lap, or four, I had not caught anyone but the announcer was trying to get the crowd pumped up – I had a shot at the top 10, maybe even the top 5 if I could keep up my current pace.  The wind and the hill were taking its toll on everyone, including me though!  I knew I could not quit, this was my last race, plus I hate to lose.  I had to stay on the gas, for my coach, my sponsors and most importantly my family that was there cheering me on!!   I was finally catching people halfway through lap 2. At the end of the lap, the announcer said I had a shot at the top 5.  By the last lap I was starting to fall apart and sitting in 9th place.  I kept it together as best I could and made my way into 6th place.  As I got into the finish chute 5th place finished, so I shut it down and handed out high fives.  The crowd was small but it was great throughout the entire race.

After the race I found out I ended up in 3rd place in the series.  The two people ahead of me were Jarrod Shoemaker and Hunter Kemper.  Not bad company at the top!!  A big thanks goes out to my sister for cheering for me and giving time updates the whole race (except those 4 laps on the bike).  Thanks to my grandparents for once again making the drive to my race.  I have a great family that is very supportive!!  Thanks Greg, for not only getting me ready to race, but for your words of wisdom during the race – through Karly!  I could tell you were giving her things to say!  And thanks to Champion System, Profile Design, John Cobb, Skip at Nytro , Look, Hammer Nutrition, and Rudy Project for helping me be competitive at races.  Hard work and great coaching get you so far, after that quality products get you across the finish line quickly race after race.

I made it through my first season as a pro successfully and learned a ton!  I am planning on giving updates on training throughout the off season.  But get excited, next year should be a fun one!

Never, never, never give up.  ~Winston Churchill


Thursday, September 29, 2011

USAT Nationals

This last weekend Buffalo, NY hosted USAT Nationals.  It was a very well run race, and the course was great.  We swam in Lake Erie and the water was cold enough to be my first wetsuit swim of the season.  The roads were fantastic on the bike, and although it contained two 180s it was very fast.  The run was flat and fast, like most of the run courses this year.

A big thanks goes out to everyone who made it to the race.  My Mom was once again my personal driver for the weekend.  I am not sure how she continually puts up with me, but I am glad she does.  It was great to have my Grandparents there as well!  They stopped by the hotel before the race, so it was nice to chat with them pre-race.  It is always great to have Greg there cheering, he always knows what to yell to keep me focused on the task at hand.  I am glad that the Housands made the trip.  Tom is a training buddy, and he brought his daughters, Addison and Aubrey, with him.  They brought some great energy to the race.  I would have to say that I had the best cheering section of the day!!

Swim – ITU races always have a fast start.  Not just the pace of the swim, but the actual start.  You have to be ready when the race is handed over to the starter.  As soon as he says, “On your mark,” you might as well jump in because there is less than a second usually before the horn sounds.  I am now ready for this when I show up at a race, and this race was no exception.  I got a good start and was in the middle of it all.  I was surprised at how nice everyone was!  Usually there is a lot of fighting all the way to the first buoy, but that did not happen this weekend.  Either that or I just happened to be a good position.  Although I did not get beat up at all, the swim was very hard.  I was on feet early and I really wanted to make a bike pack, so I swam as hard as I could to stay there.  The whole time I was swimming I imagined a solid line of guys from the very first swimmer to me, and I believed that if I could stay on feet I would be in the front pack.  This was not the case but it kept me in a good position!  By the end of the swim I was dizzy from being on the rivet for about 500 yards so I was happy to be heading to the bike.

Bike – Once I was out of my wetsuit I was around a few guys and I could see some guys leaving transition.  I ran out and jumped on my bike.  I got my right foot in my shoe and that was all I had time for.  I was at the front of a few guys and there was a pack of 5 about 5 seconds ahead.  I put my head down and tried to close the gap.  Once I got close, I swung out and let someone else pull us the rest of the way to the group.  Once we got there I was able to get my other foot in my shoe and tighten them down.  There were small packs on the road, but the pack I was in was working well together.  Hunter was in a group of 7 at the front that was moving the best, but my pack moved well and caught the 3 packs in between.  I didn’t miss a turn at the front on the first 6 laps.  I wanted to do all that I could to try and catch the front pack.  The front pack got a max lead of 80 seconds, but it did come down on the last lap and a half.  On the last 2 laps I had nothing left in the tank.  I did all I could to just stay in the pack and make it to the run.  Toward the end of lap 7 Kyle asked me if I was ok and told him I was fine, but I was in survival mode.  Draft legal racing can be easier than non-draft, but it can be harder as well.  They are different styles of racing.  I am used to a steady hard pace for 40k, and this was like a roller coaster.  There was a lot of easy peddling, but there were a lot of hard accelerations.  I think the hard pushes took a toll on my body!

T2 – I broke this out separately, because I made a huge mistake here!  Usually this is routine and simple, but something happened out of the ordinary.  I missed my bike rack!!  I am not sure if it was the mental state I was in or the size of the group that threw me off.  For most of the season I have come in to T2 toward the back, all by myself.  I ran in to transition too far and when I realized it I had to turn around and head back in to everyone coming in/going out.  Not what I wanted at this point, but there is nothing I could do about it; there are no do-overs.

Run – I was out of transition almost last from my group so I tried to stay calm and tried not to get ahead of myself.  I knew I had ground to make up, but I could not do it in the first quarter mile.  I just tried to set a hard pace and make up as much ground as I could.  By the end of lap 1 I was in the top 10, and I had caught the majority of the guys from the front bike pack.  By the end of lap 2 I think I was in the top 5, but my mind was wondering, so I was not sure what place I was in.  Before the race I told Greg that there were two things I would like to hear during the race, other than words of encouragement.  The first thing was if Maddie won her cross country race earlier in the day, and the second thing was if Notre Dame won their football game.  I think it was on lap two Addison let me know ND won.  I couldn’t help but smile!  It is amazing how happy thoughts keep you going.  It had nothing to do with the race, but it made me happy and maybe even gave me a little extra spring in my step.  By the end of lap 3 I was in fourth, moving in to third.  I passed Andrew Yorke for third but he passed me right back so I let him stay in the lead and break the wind along the only stretch with wind.  At the end of the straightaway, I passed him and tried to put it down.  He hung on for a while but I slowly pulled away from him.  I tried to speed up and go after Ritchie for second place but he was too far ahead and I was not going to catch him.  I ended up in third place!! Second American!!  That was the same result as I had at USAT Sprint Nationals.  Not bad for my first year as a pro.  Hopefully I can improve on that next year!!

Good Job to Kyle!  He was right at the front coming out of the water, and finished with a strong 22nd overall!  It was nice to have a teammate in the bike pack as well! 

Post race – I got the call from USADA.  But since awards were coming up right after the race, I got to stay out of the tent for a while.  The awards were fun, and it was the first time I got champagne.  I still had some left in the bottle when I left the podium so I poured the rest on Greg!  He deserved the champagne just as much as I did.  He is the one that got me to the podium.  Once the awards were over, I had to head to the doping tent.  It still took a while for me to fill up a cup, but I think it is getting better.  I just hung out with all my nice USADA friends until I was able to go. 

Thank you to all my sponsors: Profile Design’s Marlin wetsuit for getting me out of the water in a great position, Look Bicycles, Profile Design for my Altair 52 wheels and bars, Rudy for my helmet and sunglasses, Hammer for my nutrition, Champion System for my tri suit and clothing, and John Cobb for the comfy V-Flow Max saddle.

“Either you run the day or the day runs you.”  ~Jim Rohn


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

LA Triathlon

LA has been a great trip because I got to hang out with my dad, brother and brother’s girlfriend- the weather is ridiculous here, I met a very cool homestay triathlete from west hollywood and I always love going to the conejo valley multisport masters swim group here.

As far as the race, I am still on the upswing after being sick for 3 weeks so I am looking forward to continuing to get stronger going into Dallas next week. LA is defiantly a swimmer’s race- the swim was very choppy and some notable surf- nothing like year but still very challenging. The majority (middle 2/3rds) of the course is only marked with corner buoys without any sighting buoys along the way so it is really hard to sight off anything in the water- this was a major issue for me and the swim pack I was in - (we resorted to breaststroke more than once)- Definitely a course for the open water swimmers…

After the swim I was pretty far behind- more so that usual - I pushed the bike and was happy to catch a few people but the swim really took me out of it and I was still way back after the bike so I decided to cruise the run and save my legs for Dallas next weekend. The run was actually fun as I got to interact with people on the course and my family who was there to watch. I am looking forward to next weekend and Dallas and continuing on the upswing from here…

The big story of the weekend was really superstar Kaleb- who was 3rd at Elite Nationals!!! Ridiculous!! So happy for him and such a testament to both Kaleb and Greg and all their hard work this year! Kaleb just keeps getting faster in the swim- very exciting to watch!!

On other big news…very excited for Lisa’s debut at Kona- so awesome- I wish I could be there to cheer!

Looking forward to Dallas!!  ~Nicole

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

From Hyvee to LA

Hy-vee was one of the best triathlons and one of the more disappointing triathlons I have ever been too- all in one.  

First the best part…

The event itself was like nothing I could have imagined. There was fireworks at the start and finish, great TV coverage, huge huge crowds, a great concert from the gin blossoms, and I could go on and on.  The city of Des Moines and Hy-vee put such tremendous support into this race. It seems to be a passion for the city and this company to put on the best, highest quality triathlon in the world and they have succeeded in that.  The way Hy-vee supports our sport and the pro athletes is tremendous, they are singlehandedly changing the lives of pros that race there and adding prestige and reward to the sport like no other event. I am just so thankful and appreciative that they are doing so much for our sport and for the pro athletes that get to go.

The other thing that made the event so awesome was having Wes, Lisa, Greg, Kaleb, Brian, Jake, and Rudy there- it was so awesome to get to share the experience with everyone.  Greg, Kaleb, Brian and Jake (and Rudy- my buddy from Charlottesville) all had tremendous races and it was so great to share that with them.  Greg won his age age group Kaleb crushed the run with the fastest run and being a rockstar overall too!! The whole trip was just so much fun and I was so proud and honored to get to stand on that pontoon with all those incredible athletes at such a great event before the start of the gun. Definitely something I won’t soon forget.  

Then the gun went off…haha. Well. As far as the worst race goes, I will be brief. I woke up Wed am before the race was some time of viral flu and didn’t get over it until the week after the race (about 10+ days) so that more than a bit of a chafe on my race.  I was hoping my body would just be able to perform well under the circumstances with enough adrenaline but my performance was certainly not indicative of my fitness at that point. I was actually happy with where I finished considering the circumstances… that may sound weird but I honestly do not think I could have gone harder that day and I actually rarely feel that way.. so in that way I was proud of myself.  And I got a great preview of the course for next year- looking on the positive side.

For AG athletes, I would strongly recommend this race if you are thinking about doing a race to travel to next year. The atmosphere is something you can’t experience anywhere else, maybe Kona, I don’t know (lisa will have to let me know =)  )  but it is certainly in a different universe in terms of atmosphere and quality compared to other events.  Thanks so much to Greg and Lisa for being there for us, for Wes who is my #1 fan, and definitely to Hy-vee and the city of Des Moines for setting the highest standard of what a triathlon can be.  As always, thanks to our awesome sponsors! Profile design, Quintana Roo, Rudy, Champion Systems, Hammer- So happy for the support necessary to get to this huge events!!

Excited for the LA triathlon this week!!  Good luck to Kaleb at Nationals!!!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Racing with the Big Boys

The Hy-Vee triathlon can be summed up in one word – Awesome!  The race may not have went well for all athletes involved, but the race was brilliantly planned out.  There were hundreds of people spread out over the course cheering for everyone racing, and there were grandstands full of screaming fans set up at the finish area.  It was the most fun I have ever had while suffering.

Pre-Race – I went down to the river, right next to my hotel, to watch the women swim.  The current in the river was pretty intense so I wanted to watch the women to know where the best place to swim was.  There was a bridge support in the river coming back to the start/swim out that seemed to slow down the current a little bit, but there was no easy way up stream.  This was going to be a hard swim!

Swim – The start to this race was brutal.  In most races the first buoy is at least 300m away.  Here it was about 25m away into the strong current, therefore 30 guys got to the hard left at roughly the same time.  The action at the first buoy was total chaos.  People were getting punched and kicked, and well as grabbed and pulled backwards.  I took what felt like a punch straight to the eye.  I thought my goggle was broke for a while, but I continued to swim and try to stay on feet.  The current played a huge role in the swim, as no one wanted to break the current on their own so almost everyone tried to find feet.  Josh Amberger led out the swim and put about a min on Andy Potts and the rest of the field.  Impressive!!  I came out of the water about a min off the back of the front pack.  I will take it for the conditions.  I was happy to be out of the water as I ran up the steps to T1.

Bike – As I headed out on the bike, I heard that I was ahead of David Thompson.  We go back and forth on the swim so it was nice to hear that I beat him out on such a hard swim.  As I started the bike I noticed my legs did not want to go.  Not a good feeling in a race as large as this one!  I let them relax for about 5 min and then I tried to push.  They were having none of it.  The course was technical and rolling so I thought I could make up some time on the down hills and turns.  On the first downhill section there was a 90 degree turn at the bottom.  I knew it was coming but I was not ready for it.  I hit my brakes, but I was not slowing down fast enough.  I squeezed down on the brake levers and my back tire locked up and started to skid out!  I was out of control and heading for the crowd!!  I crossed to the other side of the road, luckily there was no one coming in the opposite direction, and hopped on the curb as spectators jumped out of the way.  I finally got turned and rejoined the race.  After that I started to take turns a lot less aggressive!!  It was a fun bike course but my legs were not cooperating with my head.  I wanted to go harder but my legs were winning my internal argument.  On the last lap I could see Jarrod Shoemaker.  Once I caught him I knew I had to put some time on him if I hoped to beat him, I was not sure if my legs were going to be there for the run.  Finally off the bike I had a respectable T2 and was off on the run.

Run – The run started on a slight uphill and then came a large downhill. It took me a little bit to get my run legs going, but I set a goal for top 15 before the race so I had to get moving.  I was in 26th coming off the bike so I had a lot of work to do.  The first lap went well and I was moving through the field.  On the second lap I was starting to come unglued.  I went in to what I like to call energy conservation mode - I try not to use any more energy than I have to.  That means running with my eyes closed for long stretches and only controlling my legs and arms.  By the start of lap three I was still moving well but I could not catch my breath.  I tried pulling my jersey up and down to find a comfortable position, but I could not find one that allowed me to breathe.  Lap three was my slowest lap by 15 seconds.  Oops!  Finally in a last ditch effort, toward the end up the lap, I pulled my jersey up as high as it would go.  It was really digging in to me arms and what pec muscle I have, but I could breathe!!  Finally I could concentrate on running again!!  I ended up with the fastest run split of the day which always makes me happy.  If I cannot win the race, I at least like to come away with something.

What an amazing race.  It was the hardest race I have done this year, but I will not remember any of that.  I will remember the crowd and the overall competitiveness of the field.  Since I don’t know any better, that is what I imagine the Olympics feeling like.  Everyone in the race has a great resume and being able to compete with them was very exciting.  And the crowd was unbelievable, there was constant noise and words of encouragement.  The city of Des Moines was a great place for a race, if only triathlons were this big in other cities.  I feel that if people could experience something like this in their city triathlons would be more mainstream in the US.  There was no entrance fee and the action never stopped in any of the races, from the Age Groupers to the Pros.  The roads were full of great racing all day!  I truly love this sport and I hope you do as well!

A big thanks goes out to all my family and friends that made the trip.  Usually I name everyone out there, but my support team was too large this time!  Not a bad problem!!  Thank you everyone for your words of encouragement.  That run would have turned out differently had you guys not been there!  And thanks to all my sponsors, I would not be as competitive without you!!

I hope Nicole gets better soon!  She raced tough and hung in there all day.  She will rebound!  The Toyota Lifetime Series better watch out, because great things are going to happen for her!!

I only have a few races left until my first season as a pro comes to an end.  It has been a learning experience, but it has been a fun ride!  A little training motivation for everyone still chasing goals this season! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUEl5NKjF5c


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Giant Eagle Triathlon RR

Just got back from Columbus, OH- which is an awesome city.  Another 2nd place by just 9 seconds….still seeking that elusive win this year… Here is a great play by play of the race on slowtwitch that covers both Kaleb and I:  http://www.slowtwitch.com/News/Yoder_Parker_top_Giant_Eagle_Triathlon_2227.html

I posted the fastest bike and second fastest run- which was great. The bike was flat and super-fast with great road surfaces for the most part and very few turns at all.  The run was somewhat of a struggle for me because I haven’t started my run training yet going into Hyvee and I didn’t back off at all this week from the intense bike training I have been doing.  I definitely felt my training load and lack of speed workouts on the run more than anything- but I was happy to hold it together and I am excited to be where I am at right now and I wouldn’t have changed anything- I know I am in the right spot for right now.  Having patience and the right timing is so incredibly important in this sport and I know Greg has me doing the right things for right now.
However, my swim was the only bummer (10th best and 1:40 back from the leader!).  It is hard to lose a triathlon in the swim but that seems to be what I am managing to do. I have seen glimpses of myself as a great swimmer during certain sets in practice and I have had races where I have been much closer to the front but I need to translate that more often.  A lot of pro triathletes come from great swim backgrounds but most age groupers come from bike and run backgrounds so I know there are a lot of folks out there who can relate.  I am excited for the work ahead and to improve from here…Greg and I have already talked about trying some different things out and some new ideas...I am excited because I am going to improve in this area!

Kaleb and Kyle both had awesome races…Kaleb had a killer swim and second fastest bike!!! (and obviously the fastest run because he is half gazelle)  Kyle had a rubbing brake the whole bike ride and a rubbing wheel but still managed a top 10- that dude won't give up and always manages to pull off a great result no matter what!! 

 The triathlon was very cool.  The race was a point to point that started in a park outside the city and ended next to the baseball stadium in downtown Columbus. It definitely had a great local feel to it and the race director was quite responsive to athlete concerns.   They have the best road surfaces for the bike that I have seen yet this year for big city races.  Thanks to volunteers, directors, Greg, Wes and the awesome VanOrt Clan for a great race!!

Giant Eagle Triathlon

Nicole and Kaleb finished in close seconds at the inaugural Giant Eagle Multisport Festival in Columbus, OH.  It was a fast and fun course that yielded exciting finishes.  Nicole had the fastest bike split of the day and the second fastest run to come within 9 seconds of the race winner, Jenna Parker.  Kaleb had the second fastest bike split and the fastest run of the day to come within 13 seconds of the race winner, Andrew Yoder.  Kyle Lee had a great performance as well, finishing in the top 10.  Good Luck to Nicole as she heads to New York City this weekend to dominate the NYC Tri!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Lifetime Minneapolis

This past weekend was Lifetime Minneapolis.  This triathlon is still a big deal, but back in the day, this was it!  It was the largest prize purse in the sport and everyone showed up for a chance at life changing amounts of money.  Although the large prize purse is now spread out over an entire series, this triathlon still had some big names.  Four male athletes had participated in the Olympics and the talent did not stop there, this seems to be the norm for races this season.  I have not yet found a race lacking talent.  I am not sure if that is my good fortune in racing this season or just the way the pro races are.  Oh well, I was ready to race coming off my lackluster performance in Munich.  (I still plan on doing a write-up on my adventure to Europe, but I am still waiting on a few things that may sway my overall perspective of the trip.  Plus I don’t have a race until September, so I may need some topics to fill the long drought between race recaps.)  Lifetime also brought back the Equalizer this year, which is a very unique and awesome, I feel, thing at this race.  The women started 10:43 ahead of the men and the first person across the line, man or woman, is awarded a $5000 prem. 

Swim – I got out well as I usually do on beach starts.  I think I was winning for three strokes. J  Then the pack started moving.  I was on feet and feeling good but then something happened, not sure what, but the pack was gone and they were 5 seconds ahead.  Did I lose focus?  What happened?  I tried to close the gap down, but they just kept getting farther away.  It is still a mystery to me how I fell off so quickly, but I was now swimming solo for the last 1100 meters.  The water was rough so maybe that had something to do with it.  Living in South Bend, it is hard to find anywhere to swim with waves and current.  Enough of the excuses, I had a bad swim.  I had to stay positive and limit my loses.  I was happy when the water got shallow and I was able to dolphin dive a couple times and get out of the water.

Bike – The bike course layout is very nice.  Rolling hills, winding gradual turns, and some miles along the Mississippi makes it a fun course, but the roads themselves are terrible!  They are very rough and you have to ride heads up to make sure you don’t hit any hazards that would pop a tire and end your day.  I did not mind it too much since I was riding completely solo, I got to pick my lines and avoid most of the hazards.  Riding in a group would have gotten interesting though, trying to stagger off the person in front of you and find some smooth road at the same time.  I did hit a couple good bumps that threw me around but it added some fun to riding solo.  My power output was good and overall I had a good ride for my current biking ability.  There is still work to be done, but it is nice to improve from race to race.

Run – I am always happy when I finally get to the run.  It is possibly the most painful part of the race, but it is what I have been doing the longest, so I am usually able to keep it together.  There was something in the air or water in Minneapolis, because my allergies were ramped up during the race.  I noticed it mostly on the run, my chest got tighter as the race progressed.  I was not going to let that slow me down though.  There was an $833 run prem up for grabs, and I could see two guys running together ahead of me.  I caught Limkemann and Lavalle at about 1.5 miles and continued along.  I started catching some of the girls and when I caught up to Nicole I saw she had a little road rash on her thigh.  I figured she went down on the bike because, 1) I should not be catching her this early in the run and 2) the road rash.  I later found out she went down early on the bike, so hats off to her for fighting to the finish!  (She ended up with the fastest run!!  Well done!!)  After the first lap of two my mind started to wander and I started to relax a little, but I was able to keep myself going for the prem.  At about 4.5 miles there was a hair pin and I could see Dave Thompson.  We have gone back and forth all season and I was going to give it a go and try and catch him.  It is funny how different we are, but we usually finish close to one another.  We are similar swimmers, but he is a stronger cyclist, and I am a stronger runner.  He actually had the fastest bike split in the race.  With 600 to go I had a good feeling I could catch him, but he had a large cheering section that was letting him know I was coming.  With 200 to go I caught him and we both started to kick.  I edged him out for 6th and because of the chase I was able to grab the fastest run split of the day.

Post Race – I kicked my way into a drug test!  Here we go again.  The top 3 were drug tested as well as 2 randoms, which 6th place happened to be one.  I was taken off to a little church which was about a half mile away from the finish via golf cart.  I was the first one there and the last one to leave!  Once everyone was done and gone, I spent a while just talking to the USADA employees, just passing time before I was able to fill a cup.  Finally I took care of business and was able leave.  Once I returned I found my mom and grandparents who were relieved to see me.  They did not know where I went after the race and were getting worried when they could not find me.

A big thanks to my Mom for driving the whole way there and back!  I kept asking her if she wanted me to drive, but she never let me.  She was a great spectator as well, she gave me updates on place as well as splits to the leader.  It was great to have my grandparents at the race too!  And Nicole decided to bring Wes along as well!  It is wonderful to have a cheering section when racing.

Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it's always your choice. ~Wayne Dyer


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Philly Triathlon- 4th place

This past weekend was the philly triathlon.  This is one of the coolest race courses on the circuit.  The swim is a point to point, the bike is a hilly 2 lap course right through the most beautiful parts of philly and the run is an easy, flat double loop that is mostly shaded…amazing.

I was happy with my race and effort. I defiantly need to perk up my swimming a bit though. I was about 40 seconds further down than I usually am (the lead girls got to draft off the men cause we started together and that front pack cut the last buoy- bummer for me who stopped and redirected myself around that last buoy  =(  )  Starting a little further back after the swim was tough on this course because it is so turny and hilly that you can’t see anyone up the road.  Nonetheless, I had a similar bike in terms of watts to last week – which means I was hammering the bike- and my run was better than last week I thought. The run was cool under the shade and temps were in the 70s- perfect for a fast day.  They top 3 women broke the course record so it was evident that conditions were perfect.   All in all a good day putting me second in the series now- I am definitely consistent if nothing else!  Now Greg has some new things to try for swimming and time to go back and work on that now… There is always something to work on when you are doing 3 sports!! 

Congrats to Kaleb, Kyle and Greg for also dominating this weekend- Kaleb had a great race in Munich and Kyle showed his running prowess in his first continental cup!!! Nice work guys!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Washington DC Triathlon- 2nd Place

Washington DC Race Report
Maybe it is all about the bike?

So this weekend I came 2nd behind a formidable Alicia Kaye by 30 seconds even.  I was really pleased with this result and even more pleased that I learned a ton about myself and about strategy. Greg has been telling me to hammer the bike but I am not quite sure I understood what that meant before this weekend.  Greg has had me swimming and biking a lot more in the past two weeks and it really paid off during the race.  Unfortunately I still ended up swimming alone for most of the 1500m but I emerged only about 1 minute down from the leaders.  Getting on the bike I was quite far back in about 15th place – this field seemed to be very heavy with super-swimmers and I passed only a few people in the first lap of the bike.  Then I had this moment of revelation- about ¾ of the way into the first bike lap I thought to myself, “What if I tried to pretend this was a 40k TT all out with no run afterwards??  Maybe I should just see what happens?” 

I have never really bonked on a run in triathlon before- I actually think this is my race strength. When it is hot or freezing or I drop my water bottle and have no water or lose my nutrition or it is terrible conditions- I can always hang on in the run while a lot of the field falls apart.  This strength has caused me to probably over-perform in several races already (like 3rd at USAT elite nationals last year behind Laura Bennett and Sarah Groff in my first ever ITU race- of course I wasn’t at that level yet but it happened to be 95 degrees when we started the run….so the entire field came back to me)  How can I leverage that strength in races when it is not 100 degrees out?  I think drilling the bike may be the answer for me and a unique asset of my physiology? Or maybe this is what everyone does in Olympic distance racing and I just caught on for the first time last week..? Either way- it worked.

Anyways, so I took the risk and went really hard on the bike.  My husband Wes knew exactly what I needed to hear and kept yelling split times down from the leaders every time I saw him which was super helpful.  I posted the fastest bike split by 30 seconds and put myself right behind the leaders going into the run. My run was probably 30-45 seconds slower than it has been but I still had the second fastest run split and I know Greg is waiting to train up my run until we get closer to big races later in the season.   I still ended up way ahead of the game at the end of the day with an awesome result for me at this point- I didn’t bonk on the run and I finally learned how to utilize what I have known for a while is a strength in a race. I just can’t wait to put all the pieces together when the time comes…how exciting!!  Greg has been telling me to drill the bike and now I understand why. Having a great race and learning something that you can use in future races is the best feeling ever!!! 

I think the take away point that everyone can use is:  Try to identify your strengths.  Maybe they are a little unconventional and a little more specific than, “I am a good swimmer.”  Maybe they seem situational and difficult to leverage but then keep thinking about it and brainstorming creative ideas to use your strengths.  It wasn’t obvious for me at first.  Just keep thinking on it and it will become clear eventually…

Kaleb is racing in Munich this weekend- how awesome is that!!! Good Luck Kaleb!!!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Top 5 at MIM

Since I met Greg, he has talked about doing the Memphis in May Triathlon. Last year my sister, Karly, got married the weekend of the race so I was unable to make it.  This year I finally got my chance to race there, although the race was held at a new venue in Tunica, MS.  Lucky for the athletes, the race took place on the other side of the Mississippi River levee.  The race was very flat and very fast.  The area would have been great, but a lot of the restaurants and casinos were closed due to the Mississippi flooding.  As long as Mother Nature cooperates in the future, this race will become a must!  Even with all the weather related problems this year, it was a great experience and I am glad I got to race.  A big thanks goes out to the race organizers at start2finish for allowing the race to go on!

Pre-race – Kyle Lee, who is now part of Team IE, was here so I was excited to have a teammate in the race.  Our race was supposed to start at 10:30 so I woke up at 7 and ate my normal prerace breakfast.  It was pouring down rain, so I did not venture out early to watch Greg, Lisa, John, and Enrick race.  I felt bad, but at the rate it was raining I wanted to avoid getting soaked as long as I could.  At about 9 I headed to transition to set up my area.  After I finished setting up transition I headed out to get a jog warm up.  On my way out Greg was finishing so I stopped and talked to him.  About 5 min into my warm up, I saw Lisa on the run course so I yelled some words of encouragement to her.  After warm up I stretched in the hotel since the rain was still coming down hard.  At about 10:15 we had a meeting to see if we were going to get to race, since the lighting had started up about 9:30.  They said we were going so it was into the water for a little swim warm up.  About the time we were going to start they decided conditions were too bad to let us swim.  They were going to postpone the race up to 1 hour, after that they were going to cancel the swim and have a ride-run, not even a Duathlon.  They decided on this since they only had the police and volunteers until 1:30.  With all the waiting around I was starting to get hungry but I did not want to eat solid food so close to the race start.  I found Greg and he was able to get Hammer Gels for Kyle and I.  Greg saved me once again!!  Finally at about 11:15 it was race time!

Swim – Memphis in May is a unique race, in that the race starts in a time trail fashion.  The pros went off in alphabetical order, alternating men/women, every 10 seconds.  I went off about 6 minutes after the first person.  A time trial start for the swim was a very hard thing for me.  I am a very competitive person and I like being able to race head to head, but here I just had to swim hard and hope I could stay focused for 1500 meters.  I caught a couple people and I was happy that no one passed me!  I had a great swim and I ended up catching David Thompson at the end, he started 20 sec ahead of me.  I was feeling good and I knew I had just put together the best swim of the season!

Bike – Once out on the bike, Thompson went around me easily, and I knew there was no way I was staying close to him.  I used watts as my pacer and just settled in to my usual race pace.  I caught Michael Poole after he got a 1 min stand down penalty at about 5 miles.  I wish I was faster because putting up with him on the road was a hard task.  He swerved a lot and was very inconsistent with his speed.  This would not have been a problem, but the pro rules on the bike are very different than the age group rules.  At no point can you be directly behind the person in front of you, even if they are ½ mile up the road, and everyone has an imaginary draft box that you can only be in for 15 seconds.  This is where his swerving became a problem.  I did not want to get a stand down penalty because of someone else’s inability to hold a line.  I just road my pace and tried to stay a legal distance from him.  Coming in to T2 I had a great bike dismount and when I entered transition Greg was in there cheering me on!!

Run – Starting out on the run I could see Kyle so I figured I was doing well.  He started well ahead of me and he is a very strong swimmer, and a good cyclist.  The run was very painful!!  Greg and I have been messing with my position on the bike, to try and get more speed at a lower effort, so my back was not happy and it took a little bit for my legs to come around.  I had no idea how I was doing since everyone started at different times, so I just had to push to the finish.

Post-race – It was a tense few minutes waiting on results.  I felt like I pushed hard and had a good race, but it was so close, I was not sure where I ended up.  When the results came out, I ended up 5th!!  My highest placing as a pro in a non-draft race.  I was very happy with the result, but I later found out I missed 2nd place by about 35 seconds.  Things are getting better and I am satisfied with the fact that I am continuing to improve throughout the season.

A big thanks goes out to my mother and my grandparents for being at the race!!  And thanks to Greg and Lisa as well for cheering me on.  Greg’s booming voice and constant race updates always make it easier to compete at a high level!  I always have a great race when you guys are there!  My mother also drove Greg, Lisa and I down to Tunica, so she was a saint for putting up with us for the weekend!

Congrats to Lisa for winning the sprint on Saturday and the Olympic race on Sunday!!  By winning both she ended up winning the amateur challenge by about 3 min!  And Congrats to Greg for winning the masters title and ending up 5th overall!  Kyle had a great race as well, in his first ever pro race.  It is a big step up to the pros and he will only get faster as he gains experience.  Team IE once again had a great weekend!  Good Luck at CapTex Nicole!!  You are gonna rock!!

“Constant dripping hollows out a stone.”  ~Lucretius


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

St. Anthony’s Race Report

Kaleb and I just got back from St. Anthony’s triathlon this past
weekend in St. Petersburg.  Wow! What an amazing, world class field. I
have never been in such a deep, competitive field before.  With a
bunch of international folks and some of the fastest WCS racers on the
ITU circuit, it was certainly going to be a competitive day.  The
men’s race was even more ridiculous, with olympic medal winners and
ITU world champions in the mix- crazy!!  I guess that is what happens
with St. Anthony’s becomes double points for the Hyvee triathlon
qualifying process.

The swim was cut short to 1K because of bad wind and there was
certainly a bit of chop in the water.  The short swim was compensated
by a long 800m+ run to transition and we were off on the bike. Only
one word to describe the bike- windy!!!  Now I realize why cyclists
have tended to win this race in the past. Wow- it was a challenge!  I
am pretty sure I pushed higher watts on the bike than I have yet this
year in a race. I knew I had to push the bike more than I usually do
in this race and so I did it and tried not to even contemplate the
run.  I made a bigtime amateur mistake at the dismount and couldn’t
get my shoe off before the line- I ended up unclipping the shoe as I
practically fell over on the bike standing still on the dismount line,
running for a while in the shoe  and then stopping to take it off and
carry it- must have been hilarious for spectators to see this from a
pro- but, oh well- it is good to be humbled sometimes!! The bike ended
up as a 1:02:07 which I was very happy with considering the wind.   I
think my new profile 80 Altair wheels were the secret to keeping my
set up super aero on this bike.
 My friend Allison (hey Allison if you read this! =)) just purchased
these wheels too after I told her how great they were and we both
loooove them- I am sure Kaleb is super happy with them too, they feel
extremely fast and I am so happy that profile design is entering the
wheel market.  Anyhow, the run was HARD, I think because I had pushed
the bike a bit more that I usually do – the start was rough for
me….slooooww…but the funny thing about me is I always speed up as the
run progresses.  I am pretty sure I am always getting faster and this
is unusal because most people are slowing down as they get to the end
of the run.  My 5k splits were 18:30 and then 17:35 according to the
chip- pretty dramatic- for a 36:05 10k that was only 10 seconds off
the fastest run of the day and the $1000 run preme- bummer- but I had
the fastest run in south beach by only 2 seconds so I cant complain
too much- you win some/you loose some.  Overall I got 7th and 5th
american behind some tremendous performances from the competition. I
was very happy with the result and considering I am now second in the
hyvee point series I think I will hopefully by ok for a spot for the
big race come september after a few more 5150 events =))

Kaleb was an absolute super star, he finished 12th is a ridiculously
competitive mens field. Pretty awesome for a first year pro. Way to go
Kaleb!!!!!!! Great day (yet again!) for Team IE!!

Lisa Mueller and Jake Rhyner also deserve some huge recognition for
their 3rd and 4th place finishes at Duathlon Nationals on a super
tough course…wow!!!

I thought St. Anthony’s triathlon was really a top notch event and I
understand now why it is so popular and has such a storied history.
Althought I know everyone would have liked a 1.5k swim,  I admire the
race directors for putting the safety of the age group athletes first.
I know they will figure out a way to hold a 1.5k swim in the future
that will be safe no matter what the wind conditions.  After
paricipating in a race last year where an athlete passed away in the
water, I admire and respect those who had to make tough and unpopular
but right choices. The race personal seemed great and I know they will
have a safe and creative solution to this issue in the future.  Great
race in everyway- definitely going back next year now that I know
where the bike dismount line is =))

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Stiff Competition at St. Anthony's

The best of the best showed up at St. Anthony's to gain much needed points for the 5150 series.  Nicole and Kaleb had great races on the biker friendly course.  A shortened swim, due to high winds, helped Nicole and Kaleb come out of the water closer to the front.  Nicole ended up 7th overall and Kaleb finished in 12th - securing valuable points toward Hy-Vee!  It was a great weekend for TEAM IE!! 

A big congrats goes out to Lisa Mueller, who made the podium, with 3rd place, at Duathlon Nationals!!  And Jake Rhyner had a great race as well to finish 4th overall!!  Congrats!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Making Strides at South Beach

PRERACE – It was a 6:55am race start so I was up early to eat breakfast and get my stuff around for the day.  I got into transition around 5:30 and I felt like a freshman on the first day of school!  With a couple of the big names from the Ironman circuit here and a handful of the usual suspects for the non-draft Olympic scene I felt a little out of place.  I just went about my business and got my transition area set up and headed out for a jog warm up.  The swim was about 1200m away from the swim exit/transition, so I did a little shorter jog warm up because I was planning on running to the swim start after stretching and doing swim cords.  After a few last minute transition checks I did swim cords, grabbed my Profile Design speed suit, and jogged to the swim start.  The beach in South Beach has a “road” running down it so I jogged on that.  It is very hard packed sand, and I felt more comfortable running barefoot on that versus the concrete path.  I did a 5-6 minute swim warm up and then waited on the beach for the start of the race. 
SWIM – It felt like they held us on the beach forever, but finally the horn sounded and we were off.  I am starting to enjoy beach starts more and more!  With my height and natural bounce in my running stride I am able to run a lot farther out into the water than everyone else.  This time around, that meant I was winning the race when we started dolphin diving/swimming!!  My lead only lasted a few seconds but it was fun!!  After we rounded the first buoy, I was still in a great position so I tried to stay on the feet of some of the best swimmers in the sport.  It did not last long, I quickly found myself swimming solo so I just set tried to set a solid pace for my current swimming level.   The water was rough and I was getting tossed around but it was fun to be swimming in the ocean as the sun was coming up!  A couple people went around me and I tried to draft them but I could not hold on.  Finally a pack of 4-5 caught me and I was able to stay at the front of that pack.  Coming out of the water there were sprayers since it was a salt water swim, but I think I was the only one to run through them!  Oh well!  I also noticed I had lost my chip!!  This was the first time this has ever happened to me.  I did not know what to do but so as I ran into transition I yelled “Number 14.  No chip!”   I think I was hoping that would allow them to record a time for me and mark that I was not cutting the course in any fashion.
I had a great swim for the conditions and I knew I was doing well when Wes (Nicole’s husband) yelled at me that I was 30 seconds down.  I did not know if that was to the front or the next pack, but I was feeling good!  I think the Profile Design speed suit played a huge role in this and I was happy to have it on!  With no results posted for me I believe my swim time was somewhere around 21:10.  I’ll take that!
BIKE – This was my first time in a large race riding a disc.  I just got a Quarq on my bike, so I am able to ride a disc now and have power data.  I have heard a lot about how a disc is faster, but I had no idea!  I felt like I was flying and the sound it makes as it rolls down the road is one of my favorite!!  If you have ridden a disc, you know what I am talking about, but if not, to me it kind of sounds like a quiet jet engine.  Hence the feeling I get that I am flying!!  I felt great as I started out on the bike but a few guys went around me pretty fast so I just kept myself calm and rode a tempo I thought I could handle.  There were two 180 turns on the course so I was able to get time checks on the guys ahead of me.  At the first flip I was about 4 minutes down to Cam Dye, who was leading the race, and about 2:30 down to a group of 5-6 guys.  At the second flip I was about 4:30 down to Cam and about the same down to the group.  I knew I was doing well!!  I have never been this close to the top 10 at a non-draft race!!  With about 2 miles to go on the bike I started to feel the power leaving my legs.  This is a normal felling for me at the end of a 40k but I was doing well so I fought it off as long as I could.  I was around 13th coming off the bike, and I thought I could get in the top 10 with a good run.  I had finally put together a swim-ride that would allow me to be competitive!!  I was very happy with my wheel combination of a disc on the back and an 80 deep Profile Design on the front.  Profile Design just entered the wheel market and they make some very good wheels!  I think my ride was around 57:10, which is by far the fastest split I have ever had!!
RUN – My legs were not happy, which is normal coming off the bike, but I had a shot at the top 10 so I had to push.  I hit the first couple miles hard.  At most races the volunteers do a great job and overall they did at this race as well, but I had issues at the aid stations.  At each aid station they had accelerade and water and not only did it change what cup each was in from station to station, but the volunteers where mixing it up as they were telling me.  This would not have been an issue, but accelerade is similar to Gatorade, and contains too much sugar for me!!   I am a Hammer Nutrition man and I cannot handle anything else during a race.  I did not want to bonk on this run, so I did not get any fluids at the first 3 aid stations.  At the third station I tried to grab both color cups to be sure, but I just knocked a white cup straight to the ground.  Of course, that was water at that one!  Finally at the fourth water station I slowed down and made sure I grabbed 2 water cups!  It was hot and I needed a drink!  I am not sure if it was the lack of water during the run or the fast pace I was running early but with 1 mile to go in the run, I was cramping up but gaining on Andrew Yoder, who was in 5th.  I tried to push and catch him but my body was out of energy.  Had it been 11k I would have caught him, but I did not have enough speed at the end this time.
POST RACE – I found Nicole who was 2nd overall!!  Amazing!!  She is a rock star!!  I congratulated her and we got some photos together.  What a great day for TEAM IE!!  With extra points and money involved with the fastest run split, I went to the timing tent to see if they could get a run time for me.  I was not sure if I had the fastest run or not, but I at least wanted to make sure!  They ended up being able to calculate my time based on when I left transition and when I crossed the finish line.  I did it!  I outran the second fastest run by 13 seconds!!  We later found out that Nicole had the fastest run for the woman!
I believe Greg is the best coach in the world, and results don’t lie!  All TEAM IE athletes get faster, but it still amazes me on how well they continually do!!  There will be ups and downs in life, especially as an athlete, but there are far more ups than downs on this TEAM!!  Thanks Boss!!
And a big thanks to Wes!  It was great to have you on the trip!  It was a lot of fun to hang out with you and you were a great spectator, with your strong words of encouragement and split updates.
“The surest way not to fail is to determine to succeed.”  ~ Richard Brinsley Sheridan

Sunday, April 10, 2011

TEAM IE Posts Fastest Run Splits

Nicole and Kaleb had a great start to the Toyota Lifetime Triathlon Series at the Nautica South Beach Triathlon.  Nicole had the fastest run split for the women to end up 2nd overall!!  She ran strong to the finish line to have the fastest split by 2 seconds!!  Kaleb posted the fastest run split of the day on his way to 6th overall!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Adventure down South

I wouldn’t be giving my South American adventure justice if I only write about two hours of my trip (the race).  I was a bit nervous about traveling to Lima alone especially with the language barrier. A good friend of mine who lived in Lima last year helped me find a cheap hostel to stay in which was next to the host hotel.  I highly recommend the Dragonfly hostel to anyone who is planning on going to Miraflores. It was so much better than I had imagined. The best part was the delicious pan con fresa marmalade (homemade rolls from the bakery with strawberry preserves) in the kitchen waiting on us every morning. I recruited Joe Maloy, Chris Lutz, and Harry Wiltshire to stay in the hostel as well. We made a great group and it was quite entertaining listening to Chris pretend to know fluent Spanish, Harry’s British vocabulary and Jersey Joe. There was this awesome cafĂ©/bakery underneath the hostel and we ate pretty much every meal there. So many tortas….I think Chris and Harry ate at least 3 desserts a day!

The fabulous four with our waiter at dinner

I was there for a few days before the race so I had to get some training in. Luckily, the guys got there earlier in the week so they had already found a pool to swim in at a private health club a few blocks away. I got to get in a swim with a Pervian club team. It was interesting swimming with a group who does not understand anything you say. The running was beautiful. We stayed right next to the beach and there was a running path along a cliff that overlooked the sea. Cycling was pretty nonexistent which I would regret later in the race. 

The running view

The pool we swam in

The race was about 45 minutes away by bus from where I stayed.  I was very thankful that the race director organized a bus to take the athletes and bikes to the race site. The weather was pretty strange…it was not really hot but it was. That makes no sense at all but needless to say I got a wicked sunburn L The swim was wetsuit legal and the water was quite freezing. The swim was a beach start, but the beach was made out of large stones. I was kind of nervous that I would slip on a rock at the start but when the gun went off I just forgot about it. Swimming with the boys gave me a little boost of confidence so I decided to go out hard on the swim and see what happened.  I ended up swimming alone the whole time leading and it was SO COOL! It was really hard to site because the sun was in my eyes but I made it through and was first out of the water. I have been struggling with swimming in races so it is very rewarding to see hard work pay off.  The bike course was 8 laps with 10 speed bumps (or sleeping policemen I was informed) per lap. I rode the first lap by myself not really knowing what I should do. There was a huge group and I knew I would probably get caught so I decided to just ride and not kill myself because I knew I could probably outrun the field.  On lap 3 my seat fell down and made it really hard/uncomfortable/painful to ride. Note to self #1 -always make sure the seat and handlebars are screwed in tight enough. The ride was not very challenging but it really took a toll on my quads because of my awkward bike positioning. I told myself this would not ruin my race so I just kept going. The run was pretty technical. There were some round abouts, sharp turns, slippery pavement, children and their toys, pets, and steps! It made things interesting to say the least. I went hard out of T2 and I got a minute lead and decided to just chill out for the last lap. 

My bike seat position--yowzers

Start of run

Four goals were met at this race: won the swim, got to grab the tape, sprayed champagne, and got a cardboard check! Note to self #2- champagne smells REALLY bad and I thank Joe and the boy from the Netherlands for the way my bag currently smells.

I love racing abroad. At the end of the day a race is just a race. The important thing is the people you meet and the memories you create. This trip to Lima was one I will never forget and I am so happy I got to spend time with other great athletes from across the world. Thanks for making my experience a great one :) Next time I hope I know a bit more Spanish!

Now I am on my way back to South Bend to get recovered and start training for my next race. I am retiring Miss Green Machine and starting a new relationship with Snook the Look. I am SUPER excited to get on my new Look 596 and go fasst! I am also excited to see Nicole and Kaleb dominate this weekend in Miami!