Wednesday, November 25, 2009


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Years, 1 Month, 5 Days....

That's how long it had been since I last raced a full Ironman. Although I had only planned on taking off a full race season of Ironman racing in 2008 to foucus on 70.3, the change of date for IMAZ extended my absence by an additional 8 months. Almost long enough to forget the pain, but not quite. To say my 2007 rookie Ironman campaign was a success would be an under statement. I exceeded all my hopes and dreams and I considered myself very fortunate. But ever since KQ at my first IM and finishing that race in Kona on October 13th, 2007, I have had to ask myself the following questions: Could I do it again? Had I found the key to unlock that door? What if I couldn't replicate a perfect race and how would the potential failure make me feel? For some facing the fear of 140.6 is their challenge. For me, it was what it was just a fluke, beginners luck. Although I was anxious about the prospect, I knew there was only one way to find out. I knew I had to put myself on that line again.

Once I had signed on the dotted line..and wrote the check to WTC..the expectation game began. Friends talking about how much fun it would be to rent a place in Kona again to come and support me, my wife looking at condo's in Kona where we could stay. Despite the assurances that even if I had a bad day, it didn't matter, I felt the pressure to perform, but mostly from myself. I wanted to feel like maybe I had earned my place in the sport, maybe I belonged, maybe I wasn't a fluke.

There is only one thing you have any control over when it comes to an Ironman and that is preparation and it is likely my greatest strength. I hired my coach again and he set forth a plan which he knew I would complete to the letter. The plan was different from my other two IM preparations. IMAZ 2007 was about finishing and hopefully a Kona slot. Kona was all about finishing. but this plan was new. This plan was designed with one goal in mind. Not finishing, or KQ'ing, or even AG podium. It was to RACE an Ironman for the first time.

I woke up on Sunday morning about 4:00 am after a very good night of pre-race sleep. I had my Cliff Bar and coffee and by 5:15 were off to pick up my Mom and head on down. I was very fortunate to receive 2 VIP passes from my Janus Funds internal wholesaler that Jamie and Mom could use all day. The VIP program afforded us parking right next to Transition which eliminated any of that worry and I was able to show up to the race with only an hour or so before the start. Jamie and Mom would also get to watch the swim start from a boat, be wet suit strippers, have access to the hospitality tent all day, and special finishing line viewing are. They were so excited and it was so very cool.

So we arrive and park in our special lot. I went in and pumped up the tires and loaded my nutrition on the bike. The Janus rep. was right by Transition exit and Mom and Jamie stayed with her. When I came back from my bike, the two of them are standing there talking to Michael Lavato! He would be their Janus guide all day! I told Michael the race hadn't even started and my wife was trading up the triathlon ladder from me! I went to check on my bike and run gear bags but when I got back, they had left for the boat dock, so I changed into my wet suit and left my bag by our parked car. It was time and I felt a wonderful sense of calm. It felt less like my two previous IM's, it felt like the start of the many shorter races I have done since where my attitude is to go hard and race. I was going to RACE today.

Swim Race Goal Time- :59-1:00
I made the decision to line up in the front, towards the center of the lake. It's not as crowded as everyone tries to stay far right to cut the curve of the lake. I figured I could angle towards the curve and then head straight to the turn marker, keeping the crowds to my right. The gun went off and I swam hard to get away and was immediately in clear water. Drafting was terrific, there were just enough people to swim behind but not so many as to have a lot of contact. I felt great, great turnover, steady breathing, good body position. My plan became a bit confused as once I got to the curve, suddenly it seemed there were more people to my left closer to the buoy line. I made an adjustment and joined that group as we made for the red turn marker. It wasn't too crowded at the turn markers which gave me hope that I was toward the front. I made the turn for home and I think it's here I made my mistake. I should have swum into the middle the lake, no man's land, and stayed off the bouy line as it would curve and eventually meet up with me. But the group I was trailing was on the line and I stayed with them. I was concerned if I went off to the right, I would sight poorly and go over too far towards the north shore. I swam well all the way back, but the damage was done at that point. Despite feeling like I was really moving well, I hit the stairs and saw the 1:01. Not what I wanted but not the end of the world either and I put it behind me. An important part of racing and executing an Ironman is to keep moving forward, not to dwell on what has happened or might happen in the future, just on what IS happening right now. And that would be the super fast wet suit strip I was given by two great volunteers. :)

Swim Split: 1:01:42

T1- 4:38
The problem with getting into the change tent in anything over an hour swim is that the tent is packed. All the volunteers are busy and you need to deal with your gear alone. It was also very dark in the tent as the sun was still low on the horizon. I manged to get my socks on, decided to pass on the arm warmers and gloves, got my race belt on and helmet and sunglasses in hand. At this point a grabbed a volunteer who I asked to pack up my wet suit and swim gearm, which was great and I was off. A volunteer brought me my bike and I rounded the corner to the mount line.

Bike Race Goal Time- 4:50-4:55
I was chilly for the first few miles of the bike, but I was quickly warming up as the sun rose higher. When I started heading east, I heard the familiar sound of a headwind rattling through my helmet. Despite a weather forecast which called for light winds of 5-10 out of the east/southeast, I hit a steady 10-15 coming due east all the way up the BeeLine. I would need to adjust my pacing and gearing accordingly. I focused on the immediate and continued to move forward.

I managed to overtake the majority of the fish by the time I hit the BeeLine and found myself in a small group of men. there were about 6 of us within a few hundred feet of each other. There was the usual back and forth passing and some very questionable close riding in this group. The headwind was trying to compress us and I made sure to either stay off the back, or put on a big surge and overatke properly. Unfortunately, three of them were really trying to hard to stay in front and were way too close. Fortunately, that's right about the time the marshal rode into town. :) He went by me and then immediatly started writing down numbers. Bang! Bang! Bang! and three riders got their well deserved red cards. Once I hit the turn, it was an express ride back to Tempe. My HR target for the bike was 142, which considering the temps would be a solid pacing effort. I was more in the 144-145 range for the first loop and kept trying to stay in check. Nutrition was 2 Cliff Bars cut into 4 pieces as well as 6 gels. Hydration was Gatorade and water. I knew hydration would be easy to stay on top of as the temps were cool. I had a gel within the first few miles and then every 3/4 of a lap would eat some of the bars and alternate with the gels. I really nailed my nutrition on the ride, I never felt bloated or uncomfortable, sipped water and Gatorade when I felt like it and really stayed down on my aero bars for 99% of the ride.

About halfway through the bike, the wind began to shift to a more southerly cross wind which still made going up the BeeLine a chore but provided less of a boost on the way back. I even went into my small ring on the way up to save my legs and try and spin a bit more. I was able to completely avoid any drafting issues. I was far enough in front of the big packs of AG'ers so that I always had very clear road. That's not to say that there weren't big packs. They were out there and I did see a lot of penalties. I also picked up my own little drafter. I passed an AG'er on the last loop who had likely been in front of me until now and he stayed behind. Sometimes too close behind me especially when I passed people. At one point I sat up, looked at him and motioned for him to come on through. He did and lasted about 1 min before I passed him back and dropped him. I spiked my HR but it was well worth it. It was impossible to tell where I was in the overall AG race as the crowds were so heavy and my race plan really wasn't going to start until I got to the run. As I came into town on the last loop, I overtook Lindsey Corbin about a half mile from transition. She was fussing with something and I called "On your left, Lindsey". That was fun. :) I rode down the chute, feet on top of my shoes, stretching my back and legs, and feeling like I just had the best ride of my racing career.

Bike Split- 4:51:30

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I did my flying dismount and headed toward the run gear bag rows. I called out my number and ran down my row. I thought I was on the correct side, but I wasn't so I jumped over into the next row...and was immediatly smaked in the shoulder by a flying Lindsey Corbin! She knockd me out of the way and shot off to the change tent! It was AWESOME! Now the benefit of hitting T2 quickly? The changing tent was EMPTY. It was me and about 20 volunteers standing around wanting to help you! I was in and out in 61 seconds! As I hit the exit, Lindsey and Gina Kehr were right in front of me.

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Run Race Goal Time 3:15-3:20
As I left the change tent, my coach Nick yelled out that I was in 13th place in the overall AG race. I wasn't sure where I stood in relation to the AG, but figured I was in the top 5. Now it was time to begin my race.This run would be very different from my previous IM runs. This run would be based soley on pace, no HR. This would be a run where I would look to move forward, not just hold my own. This would be a run where I would not let myself get passed. This was THE RACE.

As I headed west on the rec path, there was one person in front of me. It took a moment to realize that it was Gina Kehr! Lindsey Corbin was just up the road from us. I was about 2 yards behind Gina for the first two miles. It's so wierd being at the front of the race at the run start. We were just all alone. I knew Gina would likely be running in the 3:10-3:15 pace and that wasn't where I should be and she gradually dropped me and I settled into my pace, a pace honed by running as many of my long runs as close to a 7 flat pace as I could. Nick and I figured that would translate into a 7:30-7:40 pace for the race itself on tired legs, but the PE would feel similar. I went through the first 3.5 miles @ 7:14 pace and then dialed it back to a more manageable 7:26 pace for the next 8.6 miles. That's exactly what it felt like, too. I had learned to race using pacing and PE. I never, not once, took note of my HR. Sitting here this morning, I couldn't tell you what it was at any given time. It didn't matter. Manageing my HR was about finishing, but this was about racing. I trained to run a pace and I was going to try and hold on.

I had a gel flask in my jersey pocket and for the first half of the run, i made sure to take a hit before each aid station and then grab some water to wash it down. I was able to finish more than 3/4 of that flask before I got too sick of it, which was great. I had to be at least 12 miles into the run and was still using my basic nutrition. My stomach felt very settled and despite thinking I had to pee while I was ont he bike, my bladder as usual just quited down and once again, I finished an Ironman without peeing once. I have an iron stomach and I retain fluids like a camel. It helps so much to not have the common GI problems and not stopping to pee is a tidy time saver. :) The only initial issue I had was some very severe tightness in my lower back but that calmed down with the first few miles.

But I still knew what was coming. The first lap was great. I was cruising, I felt terrific, my form was perfect, I was alone and running the Ironman. The second loop was more workman like. It's that grey middle area of maintenance. The course is more crowded, aid stations need to be negotiated more carefully, and the fatigue begins to set in. Coming around at the end of the second lap, my condition was deteriorating. It was time to dig deep and it was time to start hitting the cola like crazy. I knew I was slowing into the high 7's and no one knew where I was in relation to the field. As it turns out, 2nd in the AG was a few min ahead and running much slower. This would have been my opportunity to actually see if I could close out this event truly as a RACE. If I had known that holding that 7:30 pace would put me in striking distance...who knows. Maybe I could have done it. Maybe I would have blown up. I do know I would have tried. I had managed to move up into the top 10 in the AG race. I had raced myself into that spot, but now I just wanted to be done.

This is a moment all Ironman athletes share, regardless of their ability. That point in the race where you are so tired, you hurt so very bad, and the thought of running another 10K seems almost impossible. At mile 20, I did the math. I was 8:30 and change into this race. if I could get my pace back down closer to my target I could make that 9:20. I stared down at the concrete and like every other competitor out there, I just kept running, but I found my form again and got myself back into the race. I knew that no one word care if I finished in 9:20 or 9:25...but I would. I crossed over the lake for the final time and was on the soft gravel of the south rec path heading towards Mill Ave. I knew the bridge was close enough to the finish, that the crowds and cheering would be there, that my firends and family who loved me were waiting, and that they were proud of me. And so I ran a little faster. I knew I was going back to Hawaii and had really raced my first Ironman and so I ran even faster still. I knew I had earned it, I did deserve to be there, that God had given me a gift and I was so blessed to have found it, that I wasn't a fluke. Now I was flying.

The crowds were huge around Transition. So many people out supporting their loved ones. I saw that little sign on the sidewalk, the one with a little arrow pointing off to the left, the one that said To The Finish. I ran through the parking lot we had parked in early that morning and afforded myself the very first and only look back over my shoulder to make sure no one was behind me. Ironman is all about moving forward and this was the only time I would look to see where I had come from. Just one small hill to climb, a few folks sitting along the sidewalk saying great job. I smiled and thanked them. The Ironman inflatable arch and a left turn to see the clock. 9:19:52. I measured the distance to the line and laughed. I wouldn't make it under 9:20, so it was time to enjoy the chute. I slapped hands the whole way down, weaving from left to right. Mike Reilly was doing his thing and I crossed the line...and I felt like I belonged there.

Run Split- 3:21:23

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Final Time- 9:20:14, 35th OA, 10th AG'er, 3rd in M40-44

I just want to thank Jake and all the awesome people at ZOOT whose support has helped me so much this season. Also our incredible sponsors Orbea, GU, Fuel Belt, and SUUNTO. I feel so privileged to represent your products and I am humbled to be associated with my fellow team members who are such amazing athletes. See you in Kona, 2010.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

ITU LD World Championships Down Under!
Hi all! Above is the website link for the race results from Sunday's ITU Long Distance World Championships here in Perth.

I just wanted to give a brief synopses of the race. It was a pretty brutal day, for everyone. Very choppy 3km swim, we were all pretty spread out. Thanks goodness for all the years I have put in in the water. I got tossed around a bit but fought the entire way and survived coming out of the water 5th. With all of the jelly fish and slim in the river I came out actually not in bad shape. Transitions were good. The bike felt very solid. It was the best bike I have had in a long time, and it finally felt like everything came together. I felt like I was ridding my bike as opposed to it ridding me. My Orbea felt very solid and as always I feel very fortunate to be on it and not just smoking fast, but looking smoking hot out there as well! All of the 4, 20km loops were very consistent. Again, the bike was very windy. It was an X shape of 4 laps. About the first 4km was great wind at the back, then a 4km directly in your face, then a pretty good cross wind. So glad I went with my trust Zipp 404 wheels as opposed to using my new Zipp 808's that I'm not yet that comfortable with, I believe it would have been nerve racing out there had I. Though it was hot and dry, my nutrition went well. I had 3 water bottles and about 1/2 of my electrolyte drink, along with 4 GU's (2 Chocolate and 2 Latte). Coming onto the run I knew that my legs and body were tired and it was very, very hot. But my stomach felt well and I gave it my all and laid it all out there. It was again consistent in terms of the 4 laps. Running is my weakest link and it has a ways to go, this is exciting, but also frustrating as 2 or 3 girls passed me. But I am remaining consistent and patient, I know over the next year or so it will come along. As my friend, and the male champion on the day shared with me, it is all about the patience. "Decide what you want, then make the sacrifices to make it happen." Thanks TO and congrats!

All and all I'm really happy with the day. 10th overall, at my first World Championships race, and the first female American! Yeah!

Thank you so much to all of my family and friends and coach for your incredible support and making this possible! Thanks as well to my sponsors for their continued support and incredible products and equipment. First Endurance, Zoot/Zoot Ultra Team, Fuel Belt, GU, Suunto, Orbea, Zipp, ALCiS, Somerset Farms and USAT.

A proud day to be an American!

Many hugs! I'm off to enjoy this country! I'll explore Perth, going to Rottness Island today and then over to Brisbane. I may actually do a triathlon in Noosa next Sunday! Or just enjon the town and have a few days off b4 hitting the winter training!

Chat soon and all of the best with the rest of your seasons!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Augusta 70.3: Sprint Finish?!

Augusta was a bit of a 'last minute' race. I knew when I did not finish Canada that I would want to do something else. Ironman Wisconsin was just too soon, and the timing for this seemed pretty perfect. The bonus was that Derick's parents live in Greenwood, SC, only 1 hour from Augusta, so I could wrap a visit in with them along with doing a 70.3 race. Always a plus! I flew in on Friday, and had a very smooth day of travel. I arrived to Augusta early afternoon, got my little Kia Rio rental car (note: bike boxes DO fit into the back seat of tiny cars!) and headed to my hotel. The rest of the day really consisted of nothing more than building my bike and laying around my hotel room. It was awesome. I had dinner with some friends at Nacho Mama, a great little mexican place in downtown, enjoying a tasty margarita to wash it down with.

Saturday I awoke to some gloomy, rainy weather, so I opted to do a short run then eat breakfast. It cleared up by about 10, so I headed out on my bike for 20-30 minutes just to loosen up the legs and make sure the bike was in working order. All felt great. I then found myself with about 6 hours to spare! Lovely! I again proceeded to lounge in the room for awhile. Watched TV, computed, snacked for lunch. I went to the pro meeting at 4:00, but opted to not rack my bike; we had an 'option' to do this. There were thunderstorms predicted overnight, which hit us VERY hard, so I am very glad I kept the Orbea safe in my room until race morning. I had dinner with Fred and Donna (Derick's parents) at Macaroni Grill (salmon, orzo, and a Peroni... same meal I had before Redman in 2007! superstitious? maybe...) and was back in the room by 7:00 or so. Feeling very relaxed and excited to race!

Sunday morning I woke pretty easily and headed to transition area VERY early
. Transporting myself, I wanted to be safe with my time. I frequently have a 'transporter', that being my parents, Derick, or a friend not racing. I had to be responsible for ME! Oh so stressful. But, I made it there by 5:30 or so and got everything set up. We had a 1-mile walk or shuttle to the swim start. I waited for the shuttle at about 6:30 but it was not coming, so I opted to walk the 1-mile. BAREFOOT! I had my swim gear with me and nothing else (goggles, cap, and Zoot speedsuit) so away I went walking, in the dark, towards the start, some on dirt, some on rocks. I used to like to walk barefoot as a child; I believed it made me 'tough'. I guess I have not changed much since then.

The start was quite a scene! There was some jazz music playing, and it was very lit up and had a 'festive' feeling. They had a large dock jutting out into the Savannah River for us to start on, and the pros had a 'dive start' for the swim. How unique! When we wandered down, I tried to position myself right next to Pip Taylor and Laura Bennett, as I knew they would be the 2 fastest swimmers. We were off promptly 4 min after the men. We had a favorable current, so all you had to do was keep up with it! I was able to stay with them for a few minutes, then they gapped me a bit. I exited the swim in a comfortable 3rd place, just 20 seconds behind Laura, which pleased me considering she is an ITU specialist. Onto the bike...

I have been on a new Orbea Ordu for only 2 weeks, and I was excited to try this out in a race. I felt very strong from the start, but I did make a mistake which I knew going into it; I did not take enough gels with me. I had a Gu flask filled with 4 gels, and I had one stashed in a pocket. This is only 500 calories, and I can often take up to 700 on the bike. Stupid mistake. But, thankfully the aid stations had PowerGels, so I grabbed 2 of them about halfway through and was good to go. I held my position for awhile, but got passed by 2 women on the bike. I tried to keep them in sight, but for the majority of this 56 miles, we were all quite spread out. The course was deceivingly a bit tough, as it was not 'hilly' but not 'flat' and the wind picked up as we progressed. I really enjoyed it. There were quite a few false flats, which entailed a lot of gradual uphill work. On the fast sections, I got as low and little as possible and tried to conserve. By the time we headed back towards transition, I was (as usual) READY to get off the bike! But, the Orbea (and my legs) served me well, as I was right in the mix (5th place) coming off the bike.

I flew through T2 and was off on the run. They had a great transition area, with blue carpeting over much of it for us to run on. I came out feeling very strong, and I could see women in sight right off the bat. Yay! I had my 4 gels in hand and was ready to try to run some people down. My legs felt quite strong, but I try not to get too wrapped up in this the first mile or so...I just try to find a steady rhythm. One key thing in races is to keep your composure. (this lesson I'll learn fully in a few more miles). I plugged along the streets of downtown Augusta, which were lined with spectators; it was awesome! Great job to the crew at Premier Events Management on this run course. We did 2 loops whereby the fans could see us multiple times. By mile 6, I had moved into 3rd place. I saw Derick's father Fred at this point, which was nice to hear his encouragement. By about mile 8 or 9, I finally closed the gap on Laura Bennett. It seemed I was able to pass her feeling strong, but she is one tough girl and as I looked back, she was sticking right to me! I joked to her about 'loving sprint finishes' (but in my mind was like 'shit, she does those all the time!'). She is an awesome person and great competitor. We ran shoulder to shoulder for a few miles, which started to become rather painful. At mile 12, a small group cheered loudly for me. I have to admit, I got excited and surged. I believed that I had a 1-mile 'sprint' in me, and this was a not-so-smart move. At about mile 12.5, Laura passed me back and I thought 'damn...I went too early'. I did not give up, but by the time we turned the last corner, about 100 yds from the finish, she had a good gap on me and I was pretty waxed. I ran into the wonderful finish area, greeted by so many spectators, and despite being 6 seconds too slow today, I have to say I was one happy camper.

Final thoughts? I noticed that the week of the event, a few 'big names' popped onto the list. I will not say this makes me more nervous, but it makes me realize that I will have to up my game to really be a top contender. In all honesty, I love it. I love knowing that there are some bad-ass women stepping up to the start line, and it will take a great performance to be at the top that day. I fully believe that on any day, anyone is beatable. I went into this event with my game face on, and I think the bad luck in Canada contributed to some added fire in my belly. And while the finish is awesome, and the PR is a huge accomplishment, there is nothing better than walking away knowing that I am finally seeing results from the years of work I have put in. Today, finally, I found myself in CONTENTION off of the bike. A strong run split put me in the mix for first... not the frequent 4th or 5th, due to a weak bike. I have to give a huge thanks to the other women out there racing, notably to Laura, for being a damn tough competitor who never gave up; and also good friend Desiree, as I am always trying hard to keep her behind me on the bike! We have to appreciate our competition, because if not for them, we would not have the motivation to constantly be upping our own game.

Take home lesson... TAKE WHAT THE DAY GIVES YOU and enjoy every minute. Those spectacular days of racing are sometimes few and far between, so take them, run with them and let them propel you forward. Oh, and, learn some strategy for a sprint finish; just in case you are in my position. Sit on their heels and wait for them to make a move! Don't get too anxious, like I did!

-Kelly Williamson-

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Catching up

Hi everyone! I’ve been meaning to write a season update ever since July now. I’m terrible at sitting down at the computer... Anyway, now that my season is over I have much more free time. This season flew by, as it always does…My last race of the year was Augusta 70.3 which was a new 70.3 this year. I was a little hesitant to do a first year race but it fit nicely into my schedule so I decided just to go for it. While I was pretty disappointed with the town of Augusta, I was pleasantly surprised with the race itself. Everything seemed pretty organized and I loved the race course. The swim in the Savannah River was fast due to a strong current and I actually managed to stay with the main pack (a huge accomplishment for me!) despite getting constantly tangled in weeds. At least I didn’t see any alligators (there were rumors of alligators in the river)! The bike course had rolling hills and was pretty windy but I felt great and pulled off a new PR (thanks Orbea!). The wheels came off after that thanks to some awful quad cramps and my run turned into a survival just to finish. The run would have been awesome. It was a 2 loop run course up and down the main street of Augusta and was lined with spectators. Had I been feeling good, I would have had plenty of encouragement and would have loved the motivation and cheers along the way. However, I felt too awful to care at that point and just wanted the race to end. I did finish, pretty frustrated with my run, especially since I had such a good swim and bike. I am encouraged by the progress I made this year even though I left most of my races pretty disappointed. Lots of improvements happened all around and hopefully next year I will be able to pull it all together. I can’t believe I am mostly done racing for the year except for maybe a few small local tri’s and road races. For the first time ever I can actually say I wish I was still racing. I’m sure once the weather gets colder though I’ll be happy to be done :) Good luck to everyone still racing this year and a big congrats to Kelly on her 2nd place at Augusta!!! -Heather

Friday, October 2, 2009

Season Update #2...

Hey Zooter! First of all a huge congrats to my fellow team mates and their awesome performance's this year. A special shout out to Kim and Megumi for their conquest at Worlds. Way to go representing the "older" members of the team, like me. :) Summer is a short off season from racing here in Arizona due to the heat but training continued. Last weekend I had a solid Olympic effort at the Nathans Triathlon in Tempe, AZ., and placed 5th overall with my first 59min bike split thanks to Orbea. :) Next up is IMAZ in Novemeber and a ticket back to the Big Island for 2010.

Good luck to all ZOOT team mates in Kona next weekend!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Updates. Sorry I've been away so long! All the best as everyone ends up their 2009 season!

Hello hello! Hope everyone is well and depending on where you live enjoying the weather. Mother nature brought in a cold front with the first official day of fall here in CO and most of us outdoor junkies frowned at the inclination of summer coming to a close. I personally was put to the test when I debated a mountain ride in snow and below zero temps, and gave into a bit warmer flat ride in town when the settled. Time has flown since my last race here in town, the 5430 1/2. It was an amazing experience to race with many of my peers and women I often meet out on the roads or in the pool at FAC. I was thankful for their support and that of all the volunteers, friends and sponsors who cheer from near and far. I had a very successful swim, wearing my Zoot Speed Suit which has a great fit and always feels fast in the water and transition. Thanks so much Zoot for keeping me in snazzy and functional attire from head to toe every day in training and on race day! My bike was the best yet for the season. I cannot help but feel fast, and continue to improve my ridding on my awesome light, comfortable and aero Orbea Ordu and Zipp racing wheels! As the season has progressed, I have become more and more comfortable, and the guys here in Boulder at Retule are so right when they said that your TT bike should be your most comfortable bike and position. Thanks so much to Orbea and Zipp who have been wonderful support and additions to my team. My nutrition felt great. 30minutes b4 the swim I took a chocolate GU with water. On the bike I sip water from my aero bottle and take a mixture of GU gels (in my Fuel Belt bike box) and my mixed drink re-evaluating every 15minutes how I'm feeling and what I need. Typically I feel that the combination of sugar, electrolytes, sodium and caffeine take very well to my body and hit the spot without any GI trouble. When I got off the bike in transition I felt strong and took off on the run. The course is very open and on a hot day, although not that hot for 5430 1/2 history I heard, it was still hot. In a 2 lap course I had a successful first lap. My body died on the second lap and with 3 miles to go it felt like little more than a shuffle. It was frustrating and disheartening to have 4 women pass me in the last 2 miles, but on this day I had left it all out on the course and did my best to make it to the finish with all I had left. I ran through the finish to a cheering home crowd and was among many greats in the sport. It was my best performance of the season so far, and though many minutes from my PR, I was happy with the effort and the continuous improvement. Thanks so much to all of my friends, support and sponsors. Especially to Zoot Ultra Team and Team Sports including Zoot, Orbea USA, GU Energy, FuelBelt, Suunto, Zipp, and ALCiS for helping to keep me healthy and able to race in the best gear and on the best equiptment, I would not be able to be the athlete I am and continue to grown into without each of you and your amazing products. A big thanks as well to my coach Susan with C2Ecoaching for keeping me on track.

Onto more interesting news. I found out 2 days ago that I was in the top 3 with my 2 less than stunning 70.3 performances at Buffalo Springs and Vineman and could have the honor of represent the USA as part of the ITU (International Triathlon Union) Long Distance Worlds Team in Perth, Australia October 25. I'm in the process of deciding if I can financially swing it with the bit of assistance I will receive and be able to take the honor. Although I do not feel in the best shape of my life, as I've been working a lot lately and trying to fit in the best and most quality training I can. I know that I deserve the spot and hope I can make it work. I suppose we must always live in the moments and embrace what life presents us with without fear or judgement. Cheers and all the best to everyone as the wind down an amazing 2009 season! Hope to be winding mine down in Perth;)! Hugs Becky

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

World Championships- Gold Coast

Great job team Zoot at the World Championships!
Congrats to Kim McDonald, Mark Harms and Megumi Matsuda!

next up is Adam Jensen in the long course championships.
Good luck!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Ironman Canada

Ironman Canada is a race that I have wanted to do for a long time - it's 4.5 hours away from my house, the altitude and climate are identical to home, and I've been regaled with epic stories of the course and the support that Pentictonites lend to the event. Unfortunately, it's only 6 weeks before Kona and it is therefore a race that I haven't been historically able to justify doing. This year, without the burden of training for Kona on my horizon, it was the perfect opportunity to pack up the Suabaru and head north of the border. My prep going into the race wasn't exactly ideal, as I raced 6 consecutive weekends in the 8 weeks between IM Coeur d'Alene and IM Canada. The racing was fun, but it meant that I wasn't doing the volume that would ordinarily make me feel prepared going into an Ironman. I trusted that I had some residual endurance from my training for Coeur d'Alene, however, and felt confident that I could have a solid race.

The travel and pre-race obligations went well. I drove from Spokane with fellow pro triathletes Katya Meyers and Mark Van Akkeren, and we found a little downstairs apartment in a duplex in Skaha to call home base. My training in the days before the race never felt great, but I'm convinced that's always the case before a big race. The only thing I knew that I could count on for race day was heat - it was predicted to be in the mid-90s and the preceding days were certainly uncomfortably warm. Mark, Katya, and I did our best to avoid the heat and we calmed our nerves with nightly screenings of Da Ali G Show whilst fully decked out in our compression wear (I think I had the edge because mine was Zoot).

I was surprisingly calm on race morning, because I knew that the day would take up to 10 hours and nerves are useless in a day with so many ups and downs that most tribulations can be remedied. It's certainly not like an ITU race when the smallest misstep can take you from 2nd to 20th place. I had a good swim warm up and that's when I became eager to get things going. With 71 pro athletes on the line, the swim start was rough. Nonetheless, I found some great feet to jump onto for 2/3 of the swim. Swim conditions were perfect - wetsuit legal but not too warm, and relatively flat. I PR'ed with a 1:01:12. I had a similar swim in Arizona, but in this race I started the bike leg with women who it usually takes me a while to catch. This suggests to me that I swam relatively better than I did in AZ.

The first 30 miles of the bike to Osooyos were just as fast and windless as everyone promised they would be. I was careful to soft pedal and I actually saw my heart rate dipping into the 130s for sections of the ride. It was a little mentally tough to be so conservative, but I knew that I would need to save my energy for the two mountain passes on the course. I've also come to learn that I really have to dial back my effort on the bike in hot races to ensure that my digestive system can continue to absorb water and calories. Richter Pass was the first sustained climb, and it actually wasn't very hard. I tried not to let it zap too much of my energy though, so I sat up, spun, and kept the effort in check.

Then the badness began. The wind started blowing. Hard. The rollers after Richter were at least a little protected by virtue of it being hilly, but the flat section before Yellow Lake was mind-numbing. The winds were by no means Kona-esque, but they aren't supposed to be and I had assailed with tale after tale of being blown home for the last 20 miles after Yellow Lake. The wind would offer us no such assistence on this day, with one glaring exception -it brought in a thick layer of smoke from wildfires to the north. It was a bit gross thinking of my lungs turning black, but it did screen the sun's direct rays. I suppose I'm lucky that I don't have asthma. The wind continued to blow in our faces for the remainder of the ride and the last 4 mile false flat back into town was downright demoralizing. I certainly didn't have the bike split I expected based on previous years' times, but it doesn't look like anybody did really. I think my split was a 5:22, but I'll have to check.

I always get a little daunted in T2. Marathon time. Just a marathon. After a 112 mile bike ride. That's all. Here we go. Surprisingly, despite the heat, winds, and smoke, I felt really good starting the run. My goal was to start at 7:40 pace and to build from there, but I got caught up in it all.

I feel so good right now . . . I should go with it. . . after all, I have a tail wind . . . and I think I'm going downhill . . .

So I ran a few miles at 7:00/mi pace before settling into a more realistic speed. Around mile 5 I caught Kat just as Janelle caught me. Janelle was hauling and I didn't try to go with her in the hope that she would fade. There are some pretty substantial hills on the course, especially towards the turn-around at Okanagan Falls and, as on the bike, I backed way off of the pace and tried to conserve energy for the final stretch.

I suspected that fellow Zooter Sara Gross might catch me on the run, as I didn't get quite a very comfortable lead on her after the bike, and the girl can run. Just after the turn, she did just that and passed me with assertion. At that point, there was no going with her. It was survival mode all the way back to town and with some steep hills and headwinds, my pace slowed slowed substantially. I was nervous that the group of girls behind me would catch up as I watched my pace get slower and slower, but apparently the carnage back there was even uglier. I also got occasional snippets of information about a few girls ahead who were falling apart, and I chugged my way back into 4th after falling to 6th at one point. Apparently, I had the 3rd fastest female marathon split, which astounds me because I felt like a snail out there. It just goes to show what a hot, windy day with high stakes can do to a high caliber field of competitors. I'll take that as a learning day for Kona (yes, I'm crazy and I'm going).

In the end, it didn't feel like a very fast race, but I had one of my better executed Ironmans in terms of patience and energy conservation. It's frustrating to spend a day going so slowly, but when the last few miles of a marathon feel that bad, it suggests to me that my new laid back approach to the bike and early stages of the run is working. That being said, I have a LOT of work to do fitness-wise before Kona. I suppose I can only accomplish so much in 6 weeks and I am getting married next weekend, which means I won't be 100% dedicated to training until after the friends and family have departed. It's not an ideal build towards a world championships, but once I figure out how to get my bike and me affordably to Kona, I plan to enjoy it thoroughly. This season has been a blast so far, and I don't regret a single day of it.

Of course I have to thank my awesome support network for getting me to and through the race. Special thanks to Zoot and the ULTRA team sponsors: Orbea, GU, Zipp, Suunto, Alcis, and Fuelbelt. Except for the final 9 coke-fueled miles of the marathon, I subsisted entirely on GU20 and the new uncaffeinated pineapple Roctane. Yum yum! I also want to thank Lifesport for providing on-site assistance, and especially to Coach Dan for listening to me prattle on about whether or not to take a Kona slot before it was even an issue. I'm so lucky to have such a fun job!

happy training,
Haley Cooper

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Elite Nationals & Chicago

Strong performances ... Not as good as Mark Harms.

Due to the frustration from these races, please go to my blog to read the performance details...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Lake Placid 2009

I am a little tardy with the report, but hopefully better late than never...

In the days leading up to Ironman Lake Placid 2009, I looked back at my last race report, which was from Kona last October. Kona was not the race I wanted to have. I worried about things like who was racing and what the weather was going to be like; things over which I have no control. So for this race, I decided not to worry about the things I can't control, that I would go out and do my best, may be have some fun, and the rest will take care of itself.

Race Morning:

By 3:30 in the morning, I was ready to get this race underway. Mike (my spouse) was already up milling about our Kottage at the KOA (coincidentally, the airport code for the Kona International), doing the dishes and had our Bridgehead Papua New Guinea roast ready. I downed my oatmeal, banana, coffee and nutrition drink quite easily. We got out gear on, grabbed our bags and headed into town. We got our usual parking spot in town and walked down to body marking. It was at this point that I starting to get excited about the race. Next it was off to fill up the Zipps, put my drinks on the Orbea (which has been finely built and tuned to perfection all season by the staff of Cyclelogik - thanks very much!). I opened my bag of GU Chomps, or as Mike calls them. “GU-jubes”, and checked my supply of Vanilla Bean gels, and then headed over to the condo where other Ottawa triathletes were staying for the race. Before long it was time to get to the swim start.

The Swim - 53:38

On the way to the swim start, I said my good byes to Mike and received lots of support from the Ottawa crowd. I got in the water as soon as Mike Reilly invited the age groupers to get in. I had a really good warm up. I felt ready and very comfortable. The plan was to start at the front, get out fast and over to the left of the buoy line, and hopefully find some good feet. There was some pushing amongst the age groupers once the pro race was underway. Shortly after the anthem the cannon went off, without warning or countdown I might add. I started fast and after about 20 strokes I could see I was close to the first buoy so I hopped over a couple of people and got to the left of the line. I found some good feet to draft from and fought hard not to let anyone steal them from me. The first 500m went by so quickly. I just sat in on the hip of my “draftee” for the reminder of the loop. As I finished I saw the first loop time of 26:00, so I was right on target. I fixed my cap and goggles while running around the dock, hopped back in the water and got back on that good set of feet. We then relaxed into a really nice pace, as planned. The rest of the swim felt very good. Once out of the water I ran past “the good set feet” (I guess I should have thanked him…), I quickly worked on getting my arms out of my Zoot Zenith wetsuit so the strippers could do their thing. Once my wet suit was off I ran as fast as I could to the first transition, passing a woman who came out just ahead of me in the swim. That run from the swim to T1 is so amazing in Lake Placid with everyone screaming and cheering. It really got my adrenaline going!


A huge benefit of getting out of the water quickly is that there are very few other women in the tent, so I had about 3 or 4 volunteers helping me. They were so primed to get me through that transition that one volunteer just ripped open my bag and put on my shoes and jammed on my helmet. I was in and out in no time! I peeled out of the tent and my Ordu was waiting for me at the end of the row. The volunteers at Lake Placid are just tremendous!

The Bike: 5:51.

I wasn't on the course long when I passed another woman and Kim Loeffler passed me. She was smokin’. I thought about trying to keep her in my sights, but she was going away too fast and I reminded myself to do my own race and, particularly, not to work to hard on the way out of Placid because it is not an easy part of the course. Slowly, but surely, guys started to pass me but for the most part I was riding alone. Then it was time for the first part of the Keen Valley by the Lakes. The new pavement was good to ride on and before I knew I was at the top of Keene.

I am not a big fan of this descent. Most often it is done with vehicles travelling very close to you and at high speeds, but on race day there was almost no traffic of any kind, so I gave it my best shot. As usual, guys were going past me but I was going much faster than usual until I saw the deer in the middle of the road...OH *&#@$!! I started screaming at the deer, but it didn't move, so I had to squeeze the brakes a bit and tried more screaming in a much higher pitched voice. The deer moved while I was still a comfortable distance away, but my heart rate had sky rocketed for a minutes or so…

The rest of the ride was fairly uneventful, except when I lost my salt tablets and the wind picking up quite a bit on the second loop. I thought I was riding fairly hard for me but the legs just were not responding as I had hoped they would. I was eating and drinking a fair bit to see if that would help, but it did not seem to get the legs going. The second time up from Wilmington to Lake Placid, my back was starting to get pretty tight so I had to ease off in fear of not being able to run. I was so happy to finally ride over the Cherries and up that last blankety-blank Papa Bear Hill to transition.

T-2: Once I handed off my bike to a volunteer, I started running to my bag. My helmet was off and I was in the tent in no time. Again the tent was pretty empty. I got the same great service and some "recon" from a volunteer who told me as I was heading out that a woman in my age group had just left the tent...I thanked her and I was off.

The Run - 3:23

Once you come out of transition in Lake Placid, the course is literally all downhill. I find I have to be really careful not to get carried away here because it will catch up to you. The crowds here are also fantastic and really motivating. The Ottawa crowd congregates at the first corner on the run course. I was greeted with lots of cheering, extended hands; it was a real blur, but I had a long way to go, so I focused on making sure I was under control and not pushing too hard. Before the first mile I caught the woman in my age group. At mile 1, I looked at my split: 7:11.... oops too fast, but it is mostly downhill. Mile 2 I slowed down to 7:29, but then I was back down for miles 3, 4 and 5. I started to see people on the run course from Ottawa. The support on the course for all of the athletes is tremendous, and it is one of my favourite parts of the racing experience in Lake Placid.

At mile 5 or so I saw the first age group woman. It was Molly Zahr, and she had won this race before. Soon I was at the turn around. A couple of miles later I saw Mike. I was happy to see he was safely off the bike and running well. He told me that I was closing fast...I assumed he meant on the first amateur woman. I strongly resisted picking it up, but I am pretty sure I did anyway.

I noticed around 10km, that the sun was actually making an appearance: what a concept. I made sure that I had water and Gatorade at every aid station to ensure I was well hydrated for the second half of the race and maybe avoid the med tent.

I ate my second GU at the last aid station on River Road. Before I knew it, I was pounding up the ski jump hill. Just over the top of the hill, I could see Molly. I concentrated on holding a steady pace, and passed her just past the Horse Show grounds. Next it was up the big hill in town and again past the Ottawa and Zone 3 Sports crew. The cheering and encouragement was really motivating. The lot of them looked like they were having a great time. Since this is not an easy hill and I wasn't half way done yet, I kept my head down and kept on my pace. At half way I was 1:37+, which was a lot faster than I had planned to run. In fact, I planned to run the first half of the marathon slower than last year. The deed was done though. I acknowledged to myself that there could be consequences to pay later in the race. I just had 13 miles to go...

The second loop to the turn around went by pretty quickly. It was at the turn that I noticed that it was getting much warmer than was forecasted, but so far so good. It was getting harder to get to the aid stations and I had to really slow down and walk at a couple of stations to get enough coke into me. To stay focused, I concentrated on picking off the next person in front of me.

As I approached the ski jump hill, where I fell apart in last year’s race, I started to push. By the time I got to the top of the hill and, perhaps fittingly as I passed the Show grounds, I was running like a horse to the barn. I had about 3 miles left to go. I think this is where I saw Mike for the third time on the run. He congratulated me on my race. I think I said, “Go”. And that is it because it was getting hard to do anything but put one foot in front of the other as quickly as possible.

Soon I was at the bottom of that freaking long steep hill in town. This is it I thought: one more time up this…………hill and you are an Ironman! I started to smile half way up the hill. Yup, smile because I was going to finish. I tried to high-five as many Ottawa/Zone 3 people as I could, but I couldn’t really move quickly to get everyone. I really appreciated the gesture. It’s that kind of support that makes being part of the triathlon community in Ottawa special. I made sure that I high-fived Rick Hellard, my coach and the coach of the many talented Zone 3 Sports athletes, as my gesture to him for another coaching-job well done.

Shortly thereafter, I was at the top of the steepest part of the hill and all thoughts turned to leaving every last bit of what I had on the course. The turn on to Mirror Lake Drive and back to the Oval has got to be the longest part of this race. Soon I was on the Oval and as I rounded the last corner, I could see the clock reading about 10:13 and counting. Most people would just enjoy the moment and listen to Mike Reilly say their name and that they are an Ironman, but I gave’er. The family Ironman record was on the line! I knew Mike had gone 10:14 in Florida, but I didn’t know the exact seconds. I know what you are saying: Isn’t it enough that Mike is a long-suffering member of MWKMAATC? Nope. As it turns out, I now have the record by 22 seconds…My smile was ear to ear at the finish line. I even have finish line pictures this year!

Shortly after I finished, I went straight to T3: the med tent. There is nothing like 3 bags of saline, an anti-nausea shot and a coating of Alcis cream to straighten you right out. As I was trying to leave to find Mike, but I was told he was only two rows over in the med tent! After we left the med tent, we stayed and cheered for a while. I wanted to stay to see the midnight finishers, but I started to power fade around 11 p.m.

So all in all, Lake Placid 2009 was a very successful Ironman, which I could not have done without the love and constant support of my spouse and 10 time Ironman finisher, Mike Giles; my coach, Rick Hellard; all of my training partners extraordinaire and teammates at Zone 3 Sports, my swim coaches at the Ravens of Carleton, John Hawes and Claudia Cronin-Schlote, my expert massage therapist, Alison Graham; and my fabulous sponsors: Zone 3 Sports, Zoot, Orbea, Zipp, GU, Fuel Belt, Suunto and Alcis cream: I couldn’t do this without you, thanks so much!

See you in Kona!


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Couer d'Alene Triathlon

Awesome job Adam Jensen and Haley Cooper!

Adam Jensen 2nd
Haley Cooper 1st

Great racing Zooters!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Touch Base. Vineman, training and special thanks to sponsors and teammates

Wanted to say hi and congrats to all Zooters for some great races in the last few weekends. As always, thanks to all of our wonderful sponsors for helping us accomplish our goals and continue to train and race at higher levels.

I also wanted to give a training update and Vineman re-cap.
First off, training has continued to build since my late season start. With the help of ALCiS cream and continual maintenance I have been able to keep plantar fasciitas at minimal on the pain front. My Orbea is treating me amazingly well. As it took a couple weeks to become accustomed to the aero position and a great bike fit here, I feel more comfortable than any bike I have ever ridden. I continue to use trial and error with my nutrition as I think it is a fine dance and am really enjoying the GU products especially the Chomps and Chocolate and Espresso Love gels. My fuel belt has saved me on continuous long runs in the sweltering heat and dry conditions we have been having lately in CO. As always I continue to enjoy my Zoot attire particularly the tri shorts which seem to be the only ones I own that don't give me chaffage.

On the race front my last race was Vineman 70.3. An absolutely amazing and beautiful race course, I went out 1 1/2 days early to get settled in and do a day of training/registration etc... I'm really glad I got to go out early and enjoy the scenery where I'd be racing. It's hard to enjoy the view in the TT position. Anyhow, I knew it would be a solid test and great challenge, as the competition was deep and the day would be toasty.
Race morning turned out to be fairly chilly, and my Zoot compression shocks which doubled as 1/2 tights with my carpris and Zoot longsleave with fleece inside helped keep my muscles nice and warm. After a warm up and T1 organization I pulled on my Zoot Speedsuit and was headed toward the start. A quick warm-up and we were off into the water for our start. It was men and women all at the gun and funny to see how the men really enjoyed inching forward as much as possible. After the gun went off and the sprint began, I found myself in a bit of a cluster, as we continued forward and spread out I was next to then behind some guy. He cut over and I ended up loosing his feet and swimming in a familiar place called no mans land. This is something that I'm going to work very hard with my coach on over the next few months. Holding that high intensity pace for as long as it takes to either get ahead or hold on to feet and stay there. Inevitably everyone settles into a pace, but it is always key to get on feet a bit faster than your comfortable with and push yourself with their help, I need to get better at this.

I came out of the water and in to T1 about 1:30 back from the leaders of Joanna Zeiger and Pip Taylor. I knew my bike would have to be solid as I headed out on the course. The beginning seemed to go well. I did drop my salt container, so that was a bummer, but I knew I couldn't worry about it as I was certainly not turning back. My electrolyte drink and gels had enough to bget me through until the run. As I have been training and getting accustomed to my new Orbea, and with the Zipp race wheels was super fast. I think I had not prepared as well as I should have to be down in the aero bars for a very extended time period. My lower back really acted up a bit. All factors that could be ellivated with little fit adjustments (which I have since made). Anyhow, time wise the bike was not as wonderful as I had hoped for, but it was good all in all and my nutrition and mechanics went well so that is a major plus. I also had great reminders of when to check in with my body and refuel thanks to my suunto. sometimes it is easy for me to forget to eat when I get in the zone. Off the bike and on to the run.

A very toasty course and not too much shade. I got my long awaited salt at the first aid station. The first 1/2 of the run felt very steady, painful but steady. The back 1/2 was more of a challenge. The heat really began to pound down and I felt a bit of the shuffle. It is always so important for me to think positive and get proper and continuous nutrition and hydration. I'm glad I had gotten proper nutrition on the bike and early in the run b/c by the end I felt a bit nauseous. Luckily it was near the end and the crowd was amazing and all of the energy drew me to the finish line for another amazing experience and block to build from. It was amazing to have so much support on many bits of the course, not only by volunteers and spectators but all of our fellow teammates! Thanks so much to all of the other Zooters and sponsors.

As well a big thanks to the Zoot Ultra team including Suunto, Fuelbelt, FU, Orbea, Zipp, ALCiS for so much support through this 2009 season!

Another great race and test. Continually I can see myself coming back around and improving. I'm learning patience more and more every day and enjoying this sport and everyone involved!

Hugs and be well everyone.
Good luck this weekend and happy training!
Hope to see you if you're in Boulder for the 5430 1/2 Sunday!

Cheers Becky

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Steelhead 70.3: Yet again, don't give up!

I just returned from Indiana on Tuesday, as I spent a few days after Steelhead in Brown County to relax and recover from the race. Their place is true heaven; it is tucked in the hills of Southern Indiana, on about 100 acres, surrounded by forest, with a small private lake right off the deck. I was able to wrap in a few days visit here with a race this weekend, which makes for a mildly stressful (race) but in turn very relaxing trip away from Austin. Not to mention, I have had about 5 days out of the heat. Additionally, I get to swim in their lake every day. The water is the clearest they have seen it in 6 years, and I can stand on their deck and see anywhere from 3-5 turtles at one time floating on the surface! Luckily, none are snapping.

I opted to do Steelhead 70.3 about 3 weeks ago. My mom said "Find a race in Michigan to do!" Little did she know, I would do just that! I had no idea that this race was putting up a pro prize purse this year, and seeing that it was 4 weeks out from IM Canada, I figured it would be a great little tune-up. I tried some things I'll do in Canada, including 1) Zipp 808 clinchers (courtesy of Zoot team) which worked great, and 2) supplies in a cut open water bottle on my bike frame for a flat. Much to my surprise, all stayed in tact and the setup seemed to work well. I did not have the time to figure out my nutrition setup yet (ie: using a bento box, likely) so on that, I will have to wing it in Canada.

I arrived in Thursday to Indianapolis, spent a night here at 'the cabin' and then Friday my mom and I drove up to Benton Harbor. Beautiful drive! Indiana is so green and the weather so cool right now, actually made me miss Indiana. The logistics seemed a bit whacky when we arrived, as I did packet pickup, then back to the college for a meeting at 4, then to dinner then at about 7:00 we checked out where we would go in the morning (the transition area). It was a very pretty setting (I am still shocked that Lake Michigan is actually a 'lake', looked very much like an ocean to me) and despite being pretty tired by 8:00 pm from the hectic-nes of the day, I slept well for the 3:45 AM wake up call.

We headed out the door at about 5:00 to the race, all checked out of our hotel and ready to go. Arrived early, set up my transition area in the dark; noticed that when I spun my rear wheel, it stopped. Hmm... not good. I found a mechanic who fixed it, but I also noticed when racing every time I stood, I heard a 'swoosh, swoosh' so I need to get that figured out before Canada. We were off promptly at 7:02, 2 minutes behind the men.

Swim: The swim was what I call 'bouncy'. It was wetsuit legal, at a temp of 68-degrees in the water, so I opted for my Zoot sleeveless suit. I get warm very quickly; it takes low 60's or colder for me to use a full suit. We did not go too far out in the ocean (sorry, um... 'lake') but there were big rolling waves. I would sight and either see a big swell, or perhaps catch a glimpse of the buoy. So, you needed to sight frequently or you could end up getting pushed into the shore. I felt alright; though this swim felt long (one straight line). I was just off the back of the lead pack, ended with a 25-something which was OK. I mostly swam on my own. I tend to always do this. I like my space; though, the drafting would have been nice. :)

Bike: T1 was a transition, rather long run to the bike but I got there and headed out as quickly as I could. I believe I was told I was in 5th place. Unfortunately, I would not come back in in 5th place. :) I felt rather strong for the first 25 miles, but I could tell that it was not coming easy. I was passed by a few women out there, all of whom looked stronger than I felt, but I tried to stay positive. The course was nice, yet the roads were rather bumpy (chip-seal-ey) and the last 10-15 miles, we faced a pretty strong headwind. However, I felt bad for all those racers after us, because a storm was blowing in so they likely felt more of this than we did! Needless to say, the last 10 miles of the bike, all I could think about was "I cannot WAIT to be running." I came off the bike in probably 8th or 9th place, so I had my work cut out for me if I wanted to finish within the top 5.

Run: I entered our LONG transition area, threw on my new Zoot racing shoes (the Ali'i's, which felt similar to the Ultra TT), grabbed some gels and was out of there. I passed 2 women within the first couple of miles, so that felt good. I was checking my watch every so often, running anywhere between 6:10 and 6:25 miles. Not bad, but not scorching fast. But it was OK, I could not see many women in sight so I knew all I could do was stick the pace where I felt good and grind away. I felt a sharp pain in my lower right leg, it hurt every time my foot landed, starting at about mile 3. Pretty odd, but I just tried to ignore it; definitely something I had not felt before. Almost felt like an anterior tendon near my ankle. The run course was nice, it was a mix of roads, neighborhoods and even a cool little running path through the woods. Michael Lovato was out there telling us where we were, so at halfway through, he told me I was closing in on 5th place. That was nice to hear. The next time I saw him, I had about 4 miles left, and he told me that I was 2:00-2:20 down from Amanda, his wife; but finished it with "Keep it up!" Talk about class. I did not think I could catch her, as I know she is a great runner but with about 1 mile to go I saw what I thought was her up ahead. I tried to mentally do the "Only 1 mile, all you've got!" and just give it whatever I had left. I was able to push hard that last mile and run my way into 4th place, which considering the hideous bike I had, I was pleased with. Big props to the other women out there racing; I sure had to work my ass off for that finish today!

All in all, a solid race, beautiful day and nice setting. I was very excited to hear that I had posted the fastest pro womens run split by 4 minutes! However, looking at the bike splits, I still have a ways to go. It is tough to work so hard at one discipline (for me, the bike) and still see little progress. But, you know this is the sport; we all have our strengths and weaknesses. I am willing to accept this, and when racing, try to gain as much time as I can on the swim and the run and then on the bike, try to minimize my losses. While I often bike like there is no run in a 1/2 IM (or shorter), I am just not as strong as the other women. That is OK, my focus in Canada is to ride within myself. This is a huge challenge that lies ahead of me. I am sure the nerves will start to surface these next few weeks, and I'll put in one more BIG ride. But, I need to simply get out there, race smart and enjoy the process. 'Cause if I am not enjoying it, it is a LONG time to be in misery! The toughest part will be staying positive and strong, (especially mentally) on the bike. I think this is where we all struggle most in triathlon, not beating ourselves up from our weakest discipline; especially during the race.

I want to give a big thanks to those who have helped me out so much this summer and season thus far: Jamie and Andrea at Hill Country Running, Cecilia at 3 Cosas massage, AJ Zelinski and his crew at Advanced Rehabilitation, Zoot Ultra team (including Suunto, Gu, Zipp, Alcis, and Orbea) and of course Jack and Adams bike shop in Austin. You all help me so much and it is very much appreciated. And of course, my husband Derick, who is aways nothing but supportive; even when I get stressed and slightly crazy. :)

Thanks for reading. I am now back in Hot Austin for the final push to Canada! Happy and SAFE training to ya'll.... from Texas.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Steelhead 70.3

Race 1 - Decatur Triathlon - 1st Place
Race 2 - Lifetime Fitness Triathlon - 10th Place
Race 3 - Evergreen Triathlon - 1st Place
Race 4 - New York City Triathlon - 6th Place
Race 5 - Steelhead 70.3 - 2nd Place

Saturday morning was another 3:00am CST morning. Head over to race sight, not a cloud in the sky & Lake Michigan was flat. As I walk jogged the 1.2 miles to the race start in loose sand I went over the plan in my head (as I would during warmup of any workout). Plan the work, work the plan. I would run up to the start chute as the National Anthym was finishing (the oh shit I am late feeling). I ended up having 3 minutes to spare. I nudged a good starting location...Then "GO". Go? No cannon, gun, air horn, whistle..but GO? I think that thought went through my head at the same time my body was hurling ankle, knee, waste deep in water. I was in the lead for the first 200m or so. RACE the swim. Then I started swimming for Wisconsin, I sighted a boat (swimming straight into the rising sun) instead of the bouy. There went Potts, Kenny, and Doe. I decided to chase Remaly for most of the swim. I think we both swam 1.3 miles looking for the next bouy in the sun. As I exited the water I heard Keith or Chris yell, "Your sixth." T1 was a long run...but I just relaxed a cruised through it.

I hopped on the bike, I cruised hard through T1, my HR was way high. It took me a mile or three to get strapped down and settled in...Then I started rolling. Fifth, Fourth, Third...At mile 22 I caught Doe and Potts. It took me 6 miles to shell them, doing some interval work...Then it was down to business. Roll those pedals over. The new shoes from The Bike Shop were stiff and somehow I set them perfect (my second ride on them). The straightline speed of the Orbea was to the point of rediculous into the wind putting nearly 4 minutes into Potts & Doe in the final 12 miles. Coming off the bike I did not know the size of my lead...I learned after the race it was 5.5 minutes.

I got out on the run and felt great through 5K. Just a little cramping. Then my body said...WHOA, the longest I have worked out in the last 4 months in 3 hours (and that was easy)...You are at that point. I would have to focus really hard to hold my form the final 10 miles. At 8.5 miles into the run, Potts joined me for 100m. A few words of encouragement, then he set sail for victory. It was when he passed me that I found out that as long as I did not catastrophically blow up I will finish second (I had 4 minutes on 3rd, Doe). I still ran paranoid. Finally I could see the start of the chute (which was 600m long). Then it started to set in, wow, great workout. I just wish Bob Duncan, Chris Marks, Charlie Kern, my family, my friends, anybody was there to see it.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Ironman 70.3 Steelhead

Great job Andrew Starykowicz on 2nd place
and Kelly Williamson 4th

amazing race guys!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ironman Lake Placid

Congrats everyone on a magnificent race at IMLP!
And great job Leslie Sanderson on her 1st place age group and Kona Slot!
Way to go Leslie, see you in Kona!

Sam Mcglone 3rd
Tara Norton 7th
Leslie Anderson 8th

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

New York City Triathlon

4 down, 1 to go...(5 races in 5 weeks)
Race 1 - Decatur Triathlon - 1st Place
Race 2 - Lifetime Fitness Triathlon - 10th Place
Race 3 - Evergreen Triathlon - 1st Place

Evergreen Triathlon is just north of Bloomington, IL in a local reservoir. It is the Regional Championship, the Regional Collegiate Club Championship, Best of the US qualifier, and probably more. The race headlined Bryan Rhodes and also contained Daniel Bretcher, X-pro's (Eric Ott, Brian Hague, Joe Company), and up and comers (Gavin Anderson, Aaron Bachman, Greg Kopecky). It also had a huge contingent of local stars... All that did not matter once the gun went off. The swim was quick with Gavin Anderson (local horse) pushing the pace, at about 600m in, my thermostat popped (Water Temp was easily 80). I was overheating, sun beating on the wetsuit and warm water temps. I would watch the leaders draw away as I focused on being miserable and not swimming. By the time I got out of the water I thought I was going to be a month down. Instead I was less than a minute.

On the bike I hunted. I quickly road to 2nd, then realed in Rhodesy around mile 10. Once in the lead...nothing changed. I kept the strong rythem on the chip'n'sealed roads. It was fun and reminded me a lot of the riding I did around Purdue.

Once my feet hit the ground it was business time. The run course was a T with turnarounds at mile 2.7 and 4. I ran strong to the first turnaround and learned my lead was 84 sec. I continued at pace to the second turnaround, my lead had grown to nearly 100 sec. I relaxed and focused on form and brought it home with another dominating performance.

Race 4 - New York City Triathlon - 6th Place
Sunday morning was early. 4:10am EST, 3:10am at home. I could hear rain outside and I thought, GREAT! I love racing in bad weather. As I rode my bike to transition in the pitch black evading multiple collisions with taxis I dropped my stuff in transition and jogged up to race start.

After a long delay, the race was (finally) off. I dove in and had a great start. I swam hard and felt like a torpedo in the SpeedZoot, in brachish water, swimming down the disgusting Hudson River. I would swim well and sacrifice less than a minute to the leaders in the swim. I charged to transition (which I learned now I lost another 15-30 seconds) which was a tick over 800m from swim out to bike mount. Yes, in my barefeet I ran 1/2 a mile, did the swim-bike transition, ran with my bike in 3:16 and lost 15-30 seconds.

I got on the bike in 14th place, that number quickly came down on the rain soaked roads. I immeadiately found high gear. After mile 5 I was 6th place and could see nobody in front of me. Then I ran over glass. It flipped up and actually cut my ankle! I hit more glass seconds later. I would ride paranoid the next 5 miles through the rolling hills of North Manhatten and The Bronx. At the turnaround I saw people!!! I learned I was down, but not out. I would crank hard but focus on efficiency on the way home. The road on the way back was fast and the bike would surf on the downhills of the greasy pavement as I zoomed by tons of athletes with flats headed out. At mile 20 I could see the motorcycle trailing Potts, Reed, and Hayes. It motivated me and I was able to elevate the pace. I would close the gap to seconds as we entered T2.

I quickly headed out on the run. I could see Reed (really tall) and Hayes (wearing Red) for the first mile, they were just 15 seconds leaving transition and 25 seconds at mile 1. Then we entered a winding Central Park and I lost sight and that edge. I ran strong and smart, hoping somebody would pop and that I would be able to slip in my first big top 5. I finished strong in 6th place and for the first time in my pro carreer I did not lose ANY spots on the run. I ran a 35:08 (5:38's) and lose nearly 3 minutes...Now that is rediculous. The day was a success. I beat a lot of athletes that perform at high levels internationally.

Train Hard,
Train Safe,
Andrew Starykowicz
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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Six Hour Traning Run

My triathlon schedule has been lean this year, as I have been focusing on the next chapter of my athletic pursuits: ultra running. While cycling and swimming have been a nice form of cross training, I have been spending the bulk of my time running. Early this year I targeted my first real Ultra trail run - Where's Waldo 100k in Central Oregon which takes place mid-August. It also serves as the national 100k trail race which features 11,000 feet of climbing (and 11,000 feet downhill).

It has been a different kind of challenge. As an Ironman guy for the past 5 years, I am used to long weekend workouts. I had thought that a 5 hour run and a 1 hour brick run would be similar to a 5 hour run. Wrong!!! I would say about half the challenge is physical but half (and maybe more) is mental. Generally after 2.5 hours of running (when most Ironman runs tend to wind down), that is really the point that the challenge really begins. The body starts to go numb, but the mind starts to really goes to work. Can I run for another 20 miles?, how much should I be eating and drinking?, the temperature is rising, etc. are some of the questions your mind starts thinking about.

My mileage has been steadily building over the past 60 days - I generally run about 4 times a week and average 80-100 miles per week. The mid week two hour run is considered my short run or tempo run. The one that I try to mentally get my hands around is the long Saturday run which begins at 5 am and has been increasing in length by 30 minutes each week. The runs have been on single track, by myself with no Ipod in sight. I am reaching a point where it is simply hard to feel confident that a six hour run is something that I can get through and the follow it with a 2.5 hour run on Sunday. Generally the pace per mile is much slower than on the roads with the purpose is to just to keep my heartrate down.

So while I have not yet completed the race: I have been trying really hard to enjoy the journey. Here are some of my takeaways that might be helpful to some of you considering a longer run at the end of the season:

1. Patience - even if you feel great at hour 3 there is a good chance you are going to feel like crap in an hour. That said, you need to have the mental strength to know that you WILL come out the other side and feel good again.

2. Nutrition is different than Ironman - I tend to drink a bunch more and rely on GUs, but after about 3 hours you need some protein. By the way I have to throw out a special thanks to Holly at GU who has sent me boxes of product to keep going. Last week - I went through 15 GUs on one run.

3. The Zoot running shorts are awesome, but the recovery socks are outstanding. Putting them on right after the long run for just a few hours, enables me to recover incredibly well for the next morning.

4. It is an awesome way to spend some time just thinking about all the things that occured during the week that you never had enough time to focus on. Even on a group ride, you have a chance to chit chat a bit. When you are running by yourself and see more deer than people, you have plenty of quiet time just to explore.

5. The sense of accomplishment is outstanding. You feel like you can conquer anything. How many people can go for a 35 mile run and then head out for dinner and a movie.

So while I still have more training to get done before the race next month, my confidence is building. For anyone who wants to try something more low key (and less expensive), sign up for a 50k race with the goal of just finishing. You will be glad you did.

David Uri

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mid Season Update!

Hey Zooters! Bryan checking in from a very hot Arizona. It's a dry heat, but when it's 115 and you have an 8 mile run to do, it really BRUTAL! Due to the heat, racing stops until late September locally. Since my last update, I have raced three more times representing the Ultra Team.

On May 17th, I finished 8th overall, 1st in my AG at a very competitive Tempe International Olympic Race. Then on May 30th, my wife and I headed up to the Arizona high country for the Dueces Wild Triathlon Festival in Show Low. At 6300 feet, the air was cool..and a bit thin. I finsihed 7th overall, 2nd in the AG at the Half distance and Jamie fisnished her first Olympic distance race in a respectable 2:46 on a tough course. She credits the ZOOT Zenith for getting her through her first 1500 meter open water swim!

Finally, just this past weekend we headed north to Flagstaff for the Mounatin Man Triathlon at a lung busting 7000 feet! I had a soilid day and was 2nd overall, with a note worthy 2:22 bike split at elevation and with 2500 feet of climbing..the ORDU RULES! Now it's a brief respite before my build towards Ironman Arizona with a few short course races before hand. All my best to the TEAM!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Vineman 70.3

Another successful race at Vineman!
Congrats to all Zooters who raced their butts off at Vineman 70.3!

Kelly Couch 5th
Gina Kehr 7th
Rachel Challis 9th
Rebecca Witinok-Huber 14th

W 25-29
Beth Gerdes 9th

M 30-34
David Valencia 2nd
Kevin Jaruszewski 4th

W 30-34
Charisa Wernick 2nd
Rebecca Divita 21st

W 40-44
Kristin Mayer 2nd

W 45-49
Diana Noble 1st

Awesome job team Zoot!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Lifetime Fitness Triathlon

Congratulations everyone on a job well done at the Lifetime Fitness Tri last weekend!

And to those racing: Patrick Baldwin, Mark Harms and Andrew Starykowicz, GREAT JOB!

Awesome job ZOOT team!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Lifetime Fitness Triathlon

2 down, 3 to go...(Referring to 5 races in 5 weeks)

RACE 1 - Decatur Triathlon - 1st Place
The field had a few local pro's, but going into the race I had trained hard so I was not exactly sure what my body would give on the day. The swim was perfect, a local triathlete lead the swim with a strong pace, and with the help of the WetZoot I stayed right on his feet...Then it was bike time. I was rolling thunder on the bike, wrapping up the bike with a 27+ mph bike split on wet roads and the fastest by over 2 mph. I would run hard to the first turnaround where I would learn the destruction I caused on the bike...From there it was all about running efficiently. The community came out in their numbers to line much of the course and the race was very very well organized. Living in the Chicago area, this one will be on my schedule next year!

Race 2 - Lifetime Fitness Triathlon - 10th Place
The race most dream of winning. As I rode over on the bus to the race start on a cool Minneapolis summer morning small talk was short, faces long. Transition area was all smiles by all of us. This is fun, we love it, that's why we kill ourselves. Then it was swim time! The gun fired. I misfired. I swam hard the first 500 but lacked the razor speed I had at St Anthony's and Capital Texas Triathlon. I would come out of the water in the second pack trailing the leaders by what I felt was a few hours...95sec to the leaders, 60 sec to the lead pack...where I want/should be.

On the bike David Thompson and I shadowed each other, riding hard, but made little progress on the pack and the leaders. Both of us buried ourselves, we could feel when each other were weak and when the other was strong, and with an officials motorcycle behind us for nearly the whole bike it felt a bit like 70.3 Worlds last fall...the difference being I am not leading this time. We hit transition in 6th and 7th place...Okay, not as bad as I thought but I need to get down to business on the run.

As my feet hit the pavement I felt good...that feeling lasted 2 miles. Then the feeling went...I would run the final 3 fearing that I was going to get wiped out of 10th. I was able to keep 10th and finish strong. I felt good about the race and was happy with the result of another top 10 against a loaded field. Yet, when I looked at the results on Sunday I became frustrated with my swim and run...One of these days.

Visit for full training as race coverage (and more pictures)!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Ironman Austria

Hello! I have yet to post on this website, but I just got back from IM Austria and thought I’d send over my race report! Here goes:

Im never a big fan of race morning. The anticipation for an Ironman is always quite nerve-racking and I am always anxious to just get going. The morning of Austria was no different, but I must say that it didn't feel quite as "daunting" as races have sometimes felt in the past. My friend Erin and I headed to the race start which was awesome. Crowds of people packed on the 3 docks that jutted out into the lake, a huge balloon on the beach and almost 2400 people waiting to start. I was escorted to the "Profidis Start" which was located 30 meters ahead of the age groupers. We all jumped in, swam around a bit and next thing I knew, the gun went off! The start always scares me, but this one wasn’t too bad. I hung onto the group for as long as I could and then found myself swimming with another Pro, who I thought was a guy, but I’m not positive. Soon the fast age groupers would catch me and I would hang onto their draft for as long as I could. Once that group would drop me, I would wait for the next group to come along! Heading into the canal was AWESOME! People lined the side of the canal and it was the coolest feeling swimming along in such a narrow canal hearing the screams of the crowds!

Finally I was out of the water in 59 minutes! I giggled to myself because I definitely wanted to break an hour, but I knew that many of the other pro women were far ahead of me at this point. If anyone wants to help me with open water swimming, be my guest, because it is definitely a weakness of mine! On a positive note: Eli from Zoot shipped me a new Zenith wetsuit that I received a few hours before I took off for the trip to Austria and it was AWESOME! Super comfortable and the new size (small/tall) fit me PERFECTLY!!

I was so relieved to be through with the swim and onto the bike. My legs felt good right away and the watts came pretty easily, which is a great sign! I've done races where the legs do not feel good and it definitely ends up being a LONG DAY! The bike course is STUNNING! The section that lines the lake is FAST! Once you turn off of that road, the course becomes hillier. There a 3 major climbs and it feels as if you are riding in the Tour de France when you climb them. Crowds of people line the entire climb cheering and running next to you! The roads are covered with people’s names and the music is blaring! It's awesome!! I came in on the first loop in exactly 2:30 and I was PSYCHED!!!! I figured that even if I went 10 min slower on the second loop I would STILL do a 5:10!

My new Orbea was so fast and comfortable and I even made friends out there with another Orbea! The second loop on the bike went by fast! I still felt good, but of course I felt a bit more uncomfortable and the effort felt a bit more difficult. By the end, I was anxious to get off my bike and run! I was expecting a fast run! I got off the bike in 5:04, a personal best...Woo Hoo!

I didn’t feel "great" off the bike, but I am aware that sometimes it takes a few miles to feel "great". The sun was really intense and the first section of the run is hot without a lot of air movement. I felt like I was having trouble breathing, but after some time, I settled in. As I headed back towards the race site I was excited for the anticipation of seeing my friend Erin! There she was standing on the side as I headed out for the next section of the run! I felt uplifted as I ran past her! As I headed back into the race site to start loop 2 I saw Erin again, which was great, and headed back out to Krumpendorf. This is when things started to fall apart. "No!" I thought..."just keep it together"! I started to feel nauseous and the heat was getting to me. I was "running" but it felt more like a shuffle. "Just keep moving forward" I would tell myself. Soon I knew that I was entering a delirious state. "This is not good". I stopped. I poured water over my head and forced a gel down. I also took some endurolytes. "You have to keep running", I said to myself. "You will not stop again. You will run even if you feel nauseous. You can't walk". Off I went. It was a terrible feeling, but I just kept repeating "keep moving forward" over and over again in my head. I took gels every 30 minutes or so and said to myself that I was "taking my medicine". I think I gagged with every gel, but they really did help to keep me moving!

As I reached the only 38 K mark I knew I would finish. Also, I knew I would reach my goal of sub 9:50! I saw a woman who was close behind at the turn around and I hoped that I would run fast enough to make it to the finish without being passed. I still felt sick, but I was able to "run". Finally, I passed the 41 K mark!!! With less than 1 Kilometer to go and with the roar of the crowds at the finish line just ahead, I got passed. "Oh well...she caught me." I said to myself...then, "No! I can’t let her pass me with less than 1 K to go! How can I let that happen?! I have to at least put up a fight!" SO, I sprinted as fast as I could. I passed her and ran for my life towards the finish ! I gave it everything I had. The finish line was a blur of screaming spectators. The finish line was just ahead and the other woman was right behind me. I crossed the line just 5 seconds ahead of her!!! 9:38:51! 6th Female overall! I reached my goal of sub 9:50! After such a grueling run I couldn't believe it was finally all over! I was so excited, relieved, in shock, exhausted...

I HIGHLY recommend this race…it goes down as one of my favorite races ever! Thanks to Zoot for keeping me comfortable and totally prepared in all areas of my training, throughout the race, and in recovery post-race (I have my recovery tights on as I write this). Good Luck to my fellow Zooters on all of their upcoming races! I look forward to reading about them!! Ciao! Danielle