Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Half Full Triathlon

Doug Ulman, CEO of Livestrong, and Eric Shanteau, 2008 Olympic Swimmer - at the Inaugral 2010 Half Full Triathlon...
Both these guys are Cancer Survivors...

Before Lauren dominates in Peru this weekend, I wanted to get a quick post up about the Half Full Triathlon Oct. 2 in Ellicott City Maryland.  The Wassner twins and I are the current head spokes-athletes for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Yound Adults, which runs the event.  UCF is a young adult alliance of Livestrong and is one of the largest advocacy, patient education and research funds in the county benefitting young adults with cancer.  Young adults are a really marginalized population within the cancer community because there are relatively fewer young people with cancer.  This can make their battle with cancer even more challenging.  Young adults with cancer face unique issues with regards to fertility options and just finding other people that are going through the same thing.  UCF was founded by Doug Ulman, the current CEO of Livestrong and multiple-time cancer survivor, and is headed up by Brock Yetso and Brian Satola- both former elite college athletes with strong connections to cancer.  I want to encourage anyone out there looking for a late season half or olympic triathlon to think about doing this race. 100% of race registration goes to UCF.  Last year, the inaugral even was a huge success. The Half Full is the most top-notch, professionally run event you can find and the atmosphere is really special.  Watching young cancer survivors cross the finish line last year was a moment I will not soon forget.  There is so much hope and humanity tied to this event- it is not just a triathlon, it is something much more.

The site for the race:

The Wassner Twins and I have an article coming out soon in ESPN W magazine covering the event and life as professional triathletes- I will be sure to well as coverage in the REV 3 event series literature. Laurel Wassner is the first professional triathlete ever to have survived cancer....

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Buenvenidos A Miami!!

Miami International Race Report

Last weekend, Kaleb and I went down to Miami for the Miami International.  First off, Miami is actually a really nice place. I was really surprised- the water was green/blue Caribbean style, the sand was white- there was a lot of traffic- but out on Biscayne Bay it was really nice.  We are going back there for the first race in the Lifetime Fitness Series in 2 weeks and I am really excited about returning.

As far as the race, there was some really great competition and I was happy to be in the mix for most of the race. My swim went really well- for the first time ever I figure how to draft most of the way. Last year, I would lose the main top swim pack after about 400m- this race, I made it to about 1000 m before falling off the back- a huge huge improvement for me!  I had tons of endurance and felt very comfortable the whole way- totally a new open water experience for me. I came out of the water only about 25 seconds down off the main lead group-  which is not a huge deal in a non- draft race.  The best part of the swim was our really incredible new speedsuits from Profile Design.  These things are AMAZING- and I think they might have been a big factor in my swim.  They fit perfectly, came off easy and just felt really comfortable and fast compared to other speedsuits I have had.  I highly highly recommend this suit.  I am a huge fan.

The bike went great as well.  I have to figure out how to not grind in a low gear during a race.  In training, I am able to maintain a cadence of 90rpms + for harder efforts since I have been with Greg. In the race I reverted back to my old ways of grinding in the high 70s and low 80s…I definitely need to fix that and just have the confidence in my cycling to know I can catch people with a  cadence of 90.  I caught everyone on the bike except the top two girls and backed it down a bit coming back towards transition because I was trying to spin a higher cadence.  Most of the girls I caught stayed up right behind me so we all came into T2 together.  I am really really excited about my cycling this year, I think I am going to have huge improvements in this area this year!  Miami was a great indicator of that considering what we have done on the bike so far.  Greg has a very long term vision on the season so we are building slowly with everything and I am happy to be where I am already.  The other great product that came out of this race that I have to share is the Rudy Wingspan TT helmet.  This helmet has been getting a lot of buzz because it is supposed to be more aero, according to wind tunnel testing, than the long tails for anyone who does not stay in perfect aero position the whole race (ie most triathletes).  The helmet was incredible. It is the lightest on the market, comfortable and fast- huge huge different from my last helmet. Practically all the pros were wearing this helmet so the best in the world have really bought into it and I think for good reason- this is an incredible new product:

The run- felt terrible.  I thought I was going soooo sooo slow. My legs felt heavy and my cadence was so slow (I think because of the grinding bike issue). I got outkicked in the last 100m by a college miler and just felt blah.  I knew I might not be super fit yet for this run and I was disappointed when I finished- but then I saw my time and how close I was to the fastest split and I was pumped.  I ran awesome! Especially for not doing practically any run workouts yet this season- I was in absolute shock!  Goes to show you the benefits of a slow build and a long term vision of the season. I know I have tons more fitness to gain yet on the run this season and I am already in a great place.   This is all Greg- I was a little nervous when I started with him last December that I would not be ready for race season given his model- now I am a total believer.  Because of my background as a college running coach and athlete- I know that you start a limited window on your running season when you start working out hard- you can only get faster for so long, and then you just get slower or kill yourself trying not to.  Greg really understands that and I am shocked that Lauren, Kaleb and I are doing so well right now given what we have done so far- but we are!  I can’t wait to see what happens later in the season because I know what we are doing is outside the box, but I think we are seeing that less might be more sometimes.  I am so happy where I am for many different reasons right now. =)  Best of luck to all early season racers!!!

Final results: 4th place pro female:  19:24 swim, 1:02 bike, 35:10 run for a 1:59 finish time...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Miami International Triathlon

Nicole and Kaleb fought hard in the Miami heat and were able to secure valuable points toward a spot at the Hy-Vee Triathlon.  Nicole competed with a strong women's field to finish in the money with a 4th place finish.  Kaleb ended up just outside the top 10 in a competative men's field, 12th place, but had the fastest run split of the day.  Check back in the coming days for results and further info.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Strength in numbers

The inaugural USA Sprint National Championships have come and gone and I am left feeling not only ready for the season but also thankful.  My only goal going into this race was to have a good swim. I had not yet done any running faster than long endurance pace or out of the snow so I must say I was happy with my 8th place finish and a new 5k PR!

I have pretty much settled down finally in South Bend, IN and have gotten on a routine of training, working, and grocery shopping. Often times I am so caught up in “swim, bike, run” and I overlook those that are making my dream a reality. I am so fortunate to be able to do what I love and not have to worry about outside stressors. My family has been extremely supportive of me achieving my goals and taking chances. Hands down, I have the best mom ever. So many times I have called her complaining about my bad workouts, financial situations, or the cold frigid weather and she listens and talks some sense into me.  My coach, Greg, has poured many outside hours of his time into getting us sponsors, planning races and travel, finding me a job, and helping me mature as an athlete.  My friends back at school and at home stay in touch and keep me updated with what is going on back in South Carolina. They are also cheering for me and it motivates me to train harder and perform well. Finally, my teammates, you guys rock and are such an inspiration. I have never been a part of a group with such hard working and driven athletes. Without these people in my life I would not be able to race to my potential---so THANK YOU!

Also, a young guy on the US Junior team, Kevin, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma this week after placing 10th in the Elite National race. Please pray for him through his journey of becoming cancer free. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Front Pack!!

PRERACE:  I am new to this sport, so I am still trying to find a nutrition plan that works for an early afternoon race.  I may have found it!  I woke up on my own in the morning and went for a short shakeout run.  After that I enjoyed a very normal breakfast of eggs, fruit, cereal, and a biscuit.  I figured whatever I ate in the morning would be out of me by the time I race.  I wanted to watch Greg and Jake Rhyner race in the age group draft legal race, so I made my way to the park about 9.  The race took place at Lake Louisa State Park just outside Clermont, FL.  Jake is a new athlete to Team IE but we have known him since the race and clinic at the OTC in Colorado Springs last season.  Their race was about 3 hours before mine so I ate my normal prerace meal during their race.  It is a lot of fun watching a draft legal race!  Greg came out of the water with the front pack, so Lauren and I went crazy when we saw him come through transition.  Then Jake came though just a little off the front pack.  The bike was fun to watch and Jake ended up winning the race!!  He had a great run and was able to start the day off well for Team IE.  Greg ended up 9th in the race, not bad for a Master!!  After their race I got away from everything and relaxed for a little bit before I headed to the elite tent to get checked in and set up my transition.  I went for a jog and caught some of the women’s pro race while I was warming up.  Lauren came out with the front swim pack, but was not able to hang on to the lead pack on the bike.  My confidence just grew with this news.  If Greg and Lauren could make the front pack in their respective swims, I started to believe I could too.  It was a long shot, but I was excited to get my chance.  After a run warm-up I stretched and headed to the beach.  I did some swim cords to get warmed up and then swam the course once.  The water was a little chilly, but it felt good.
SWIM:  There was a quick “on your mark”, and then the horn sounded!  We were off and…running!  The swim was supposed to be 750 meters, but I was able to run out for about 150m and then I started dolphin diving.  The water was shallow and slowly got deeper.  The first buoy was about 400m out and the water there was about 5 feet deep.  After dolphin diving for a bit I started to get out of breath.  I knew this was going to happen, since dolphin diving takes a lot out of me, so I started swimming.  I alternated a few dolphin dives with a few strokes of swimming until about 300m.  Then the actual swim started.  At the first buoy, there was utter chaos!!  I was shoved under water and came up gasping for air.  When I tried to start swimming again I had a hard time since people were all around me and on top of me.  I finally caught someone’s shoulder with my arm and I was able to finally propel myself forward.  I was off and swimming again.  There was about 100m between the turn buoys and then the mayhem was back at the second turn buoy.  As we headed back to the beach, I started to fall off the pack a little bit.  I thought I was in trouble until I started dolphin diving again.  Coming back to the beach I was able to dolphin dive at a relaxed pace while keeping up with everyone around me swimming.  Once someone finally saw me dolphin diving, he started and then everyone else did too.  About 150m from the beach everyone stood up and started walking/jogging out of the water.  This was my shot at making the front bike pack so I ran full out to the beach and down the board walk to transition.  There was no way I was missing this!! 
BIKE: I left transition and went straight VO2 with my feet on top of my shoes.  I bridged halfway to the group and then swung out to allow someone to pull though.  I needed to get in my shoes if I was going to make the pack and stay there.  Will Huffman pulled though, so I got on his wheel.  I knew he was a strong cyclist so I had good company!  I was still nervous the pack would get away, but Nic Tautiva pulled up beside me and said, “We’re in, you’re good!”  Finally I was able to relax a little bit and enjoyed the moment that I finally made the front pack at a triathlon.  It was a good feeling, but the swim “conditions” were a huge advantage for me.  On the first lap of four, everyone was antsy and two guys crashed at the first time around the 180 turn.  They got up quickly but one guy flatted.  He was not happy!!!  After going through transition the first time, everyone finally calmed down and I then started to move toward the front of the pack.  Being at the back is harder, since the whole pack is like a whip when you are at the end.  I knew where I needed to be, I just had to get there.  The bike was a lot of fun!  I felt like I was in a stage of the Tour de France!!  As we came into transition I started to get excited.  This is what Greg and I have been working on for about a year!!  I was finally going to get a chance to win a race with my run!
RUN: As we left transition Ben Collins got out first, and fast.  We were all chasing.  Once we caught him, there was a large pack moving down the road.  I could tell by the way my legs felt I was not going to be able to kick at the end.  I was going to have to shed the group if I was going to win.  At 2k I started pushing the pace and tried to draw the kick out of everyone.  At 3500m it was Greg Rouault, Jarrod Shoemaker and I.  Greg went to the front and started pushing the pace.  I responded by going back to the front but the only kick I killed was my own!  Jarrod kicked first at about 500 to go and then with 200 to go Greg threw it down and pulled away from everyone!!  I looked back to make sure no one was going to catch me.  I was across the line in 3rd, 2nd American!  Not too bad for my first USAT Elite National event!  I was happy; I did what I could to place among the top athletes in the race.  That was the hardest I have run since graduating college, and I loved it!!
POST RACE:  Since I finished 3rd I got the call from the USADA doping team.  I was dehydrated and I was going to have to stay in the holding area until I finished my business!  Chris Foster had a plane to catch so he came and got me for the awards.  I had to be escorted by someone from USADA since I had not finished my testing yet.  The awards were not ready yet, so it was back to the USADA holding area.  I pounded a lot of water and Gatorade, but was not able to do my business yet.  One of the USADA  guys in the holding area told a story about the table tennis world champion that took 8 hours to finish testing!!  This was not words I wanted to hear at that moment.  Finally I was able to fill a cup, but then I was worried it was too diluted since I drank so much water!!  It had to have a specific gravity of 1.05, and mine was about 1.06 or 1.07.  Squeaked by!!  I was free!!  I was finally able to celebrate with my family and teammates.  A big thanks to my Mother, my Grandparents and some of my extended family for making the trip!  It is always easier to compete when I have a large cheering section!!

I may not have won the race but Greg and I are on a great path and I am happy with the result this weekend!  Stay tuned, this season could get exciting!!
There is no happiness except in the realization that we have accomplished something.
Henry Ford

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Clermont Sprint Nationals

Kaleb runs his way to third in his first Pro national champs!

Jake Rhyner, also on Team IE, wins the draft legal  AG race and gets his pro card!

Kaleb VanOrt- 3rd overall, 2nd American
Lauren Goss-8th overall, 5th American
Jake Rhyner- 1st AG draft legal
Kyle Lee- 2nd AG draft legal
Greg Mueller- 9th AG draft legal 

More to now :) cheers!