Friday, August 26, 2016

Top 10 Ironman Do's & Don'ts

A while ago we posted "Ironmen Don't Walk!!" which laid out the Top 10 things spectators should not say to Ironman competitors. A few members of our team got together for Ironman Coeur d'Alene last week... this follow up post actually crossed my mind a couple times on the course, so thought we'd share it again.

Note: most Iron men & women are positive examples of each of these… a small minority of the field, however, "not so much."


10) DON’T wave your arms in the air like you just don't care encouraging the crowd to really “give it up” for you. You should be excited. You deserve it. Not trying to be rude, but some actions just look foolish. Do you know how many hundreds of people we’ve already seen and rang the cowbell for from this very spot?

9) DO savor the day, especially the finishing chute, and celebrate crossing the line!

8) DON’T showboat at mile whatever on the bike course (eg. I witnessed a few exaggerated, arrogant nods of the head, people flashing the "I'm #1" sign, thumping their chest like a gorilla, etc.). Again, it just looks foolish.

7) DO have some fun out there, and acknowledge every person (a smile, thanks, thumbs up, etc… whatever you can muster) who’s standing in the sun giving you encouragement.

6) DON’T provide fodder worthy of @TriExcuse during or after your race. It’s Ironman, it’s haaaaaarrrrrddd. Everybody knows that.

5) DO promise yourself you’ll give 100% to finish no matter what obstacles come your way during the day.

4) DON’T allow your thoughts to turn negative on you… the mind is a powerful thing.

3) DO stay positive by, among other things, encouraging other competitors where appropriate and (if you have the strength), giving kids “five” if they’re stretching their arm out for you. My son was actually pretty bummed spectating at Boulder last year when he was ignored!

















2) DON’T give your support crew grief for not making it to every possible spot on the course… it’s not easy!

1) DO be humble, both during and afterwards. Thank all volunteers as much as you can, as well as any support you may have for being there for you. It’s a long day for them as well!



Sunday, August 14, 2016

Ironman Canada Race Report

Ever thought about Ironman Canada? Here is Michelle Andres' (Minnesota) race report for some inspiration!


Sometimes it can be the simplest words of advice which mean the most. One day driving in the car with Wes talking about my goal of qualifying at Ironman Canada for the World Championships he simply says…If you work for it, Mom, you can do it. Well I decided right in the car that day…we would be going back to Kona.

Yep, that’s right… I’m still a triathlete. I’m pretty sure it's in my DNA or something because each time I say I’m walking away and I completely plan on walking away (selling my bike and all my gear) I find myself at another starting line. We were having pizza (of course) as a family and one of my boys says, "Remember when Mom was done racing”. We all laughed. Yes, I know….I’m a broken record.

It was May 17th when I decided to race Ironman Canada…about 9 weeks out.


Continue reading here!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

USAT Nationals - Course Preview!

Omaha is famous thanks to now-retired legend Peyton Manning, but it's also the home of this week's USAT Age Group Nationals! Planning on making the trip? Here is a little preview of the course, courtesy of our awesome Nebraska teammate Katie Foster.

VENUE

The venue is located on the north side of Levi Carter Lake, which is less than a mile from Eppley Airfield in Omaha, Nebraska. These fields are the location of the venue, transition area, and parking.

SWIM

The swim takes place in Carter Lake, pictured below. I had an opportunity to swim in Carter Lake in a practice swim a week ago and the water temperature was around 84 degrees. Hoping that cools down before race day. There are plenty of open areas to the west of the swim start for spectators to watch.


BIKE

The bike route is an out and back course that starts heading east on Carter Lake Blvd, which has recently been repaved, as shown below. Then the route meets Abbot Drive which turns into Storz Parkway. Storz has a small climb before turning north on 16th street. The quality of the roads is nice and smooth. There are train tracks on 16th street that are particularly rough and I am hoping they are covered for the event. The route then heads northwest onto John J. Pershing Drive, which has been partially repaved. This is a long, low grade incline. The route continues north under the Mormon Bridge, and along Hummel Park. There are at least four manholes on the north side of the Mormon Bridge that can present obstacles for cyclists, otherwise, the road is smooth. The one significant hill on this course comes up on N. River Drive. It is a long, steep climb. I think it is a tougher climb on the way out than on the way back.

RUN

The run is flat and fast. It starts along Carter Lake Blvd and heads south on 11th street to T.D. Ameritrade Park and back. T.D. Ameritrade park is a beautiful venue and easy for spectators to access. Spectators looking to cheer on their athletes on the run course can drive on 16th street or Abbott Blvd to Locust Street.

OTHER

Looking for restaurants near the venue?

1) Twisted Fork Grill and Bar
2) Roja Mexican Grill
3) Hiro 88 Sushi
4) Blatt Beer & Table
5) Pitch Pizzeria
6) The Upstream Downtown

Make your reservations now as these places tend to fill up on event weekends.

Looking for activities for your kids?

1) Henry Doorly Zoo – bring their swimsuits to enjoy the new splashpad.

2) Children’s Museum – located downtown


Thursday, August 4, 2016

IMLP Race Report Part II: What Does it All Mean?

Considering Lake Placid?? Here's an excellent write up from Kristen Lodge (Colorado).

Now that six days have passed I can finally process what race day 2016 meant to me - what this 14 plus hours of swimming, biking and running meant to me.

First, I finally met Than’s wife, Kathy. Than has been Mark’s Ironman Sherpa since 2009. And he was both Mark and my Sherpa at Ironman Wisconsin in 2013. Kathy was my sherpa meaning that she would help me during race weekend (carrying bags, etc) and on race day would be responsible for getting my bike from transition to TriBike transport.

Second, going to New York I was on Nash and Oren turf since they grew up near Albany and both attended college in New York. This would be Mark’s third Ironman Lake Placid.
I knew I was going to be in good hands and would get all the pre-race prep done efficiently and on time. This reduced every bit of stress.

I wasn’t nervous since they took care of everything. I was in awe of the place.

I grew up one hour north of Lake Placid in Plattsburg so it was a bit of a coming home for me.
All the history of the Olympics was inspiring, being in the Olympic Oval and knowing I would finish in it, was pretty emotional.

The day before the race was the Nash Family Reunion and I got to meet Mark’s family. They were so happy to be there and I felt a part of the family instantly.

Mark handed out shirts to everyone (every year he designs a shirt for all the sherpas and spectators) and thanked them for coming out to cheer. 


Race Day:

The swim was fantastic. No fighting for space, no kicks in the gut or face, just swimming my race. The water was a perfect temperature – 73 degrees, clear and calm. I didn’t have to sight as much since I could see people next to me and just followed them in the right direction. After the first lap I felt pretty good and pushed the pace.

The wetsuit strippers were amazing. Since I have such back pain after swimming I asked them to help me up after they got my wetsuit off and the one man just grabbed my torso and I was up. Amazing.

In the shoot I saw many of our group cheering and it felt so good!

The bike was challenging. I knew I needed to pace myself for the hills so I tried to recover on the downhills. The uphills were intense, especially the 10 miles heading back to Lake Placid but I felt okay on the first loop. The second loop my left foot started bothering me, thinking it was from my inserts. But looking back I think that is when the swelling started from the heat and dehydration.

The course is really beautiful and everyone said to be sure to look around, but I didn’t really look around. I just biked like I always do. I was happy to see Mark a few times and I tried to keep up with him, but he took off and I didn’t see him again until the run.

I saw my Mom, Dad and Carol, my mom’s sister from Pennsylvania, a few times. I was so happy they came to see me.

The run did me in. I knew it was going to be slow. My feet hurt and it was hot. The crowd cheering was amazing. Knowing I would see our team made me run more than I wanted, which is a good thing. I started to walk a lot and knew I was never going to make my goal and I was going to be closer to a 14 hour finish. I was completely bummed out.
I just kept moving forward. I started to talk to people.

I started talking to a man who was wearing a shirt that said “Cancer survivor”. At first we talked about our race and other races we had finished. Then, I knew I couldn’t keep walking. I asked him if he would play my running game with me. I would pick a spot ahead and we would run to it. He was game. Then he told me about cancer. This race was his redemption race. He would finish; even if it took him 17 hours despite having 11 and 12-hour Ironman races in the past. We knew we had to run more so I started picking objects farther in the distance.

Finally after the last out and back we ran to the finish. I heard my Dad yell – Go Kristen – as I dropped my wings cover shirt and almost tripped. I saw my Mom and Carol just before the finish. I saw Than and Kathy.

I finished and got my medal.

I went into the food area and Than pointed out where Mark was sitting. Mark and I sat and talked about our race. My slowest Ironman ever – Mark’s too. We were happy to finish, but..

I got up to go meet our team and I looked over to people cheering and a sea of green shirts were cheering wildly! Mark looked over and I was happy again. Wow.

My sadness of my time slipped away and the accomplishment set in.

We sat and talked to everyone. Than grabbed my mother’s arm from the finishing area and guided her to sit next to me. She was so proud of me. We talked and took a photo.

This is what matters.

Family and friends sharing an important day.

I will always remember this day. Always.

What does it all mean?

I didn’t achieve the time goal I set out for myself on July 24.

But I didn’t do the training I set for myself either.

This is the all-important Life/Career/Sport take-away:

I cannot expect to the have the results I want when I don't put in the time required to reach a goal.

However, I was able to toe the start line and finish a race in one of the most beautiful places in the US – Lake Placid, New York.

I got to meet an amazing group of people from Mark’s family who reminded me how important it is that family supports family.

My Mom and Dad got to see me finish an Ironman for the second time.

I got to spend time with Mark who shares so many of the same goals that I have. I simply enjoy being with him for a few days a year for a Racecation. He is able to calm me just with his presence. I’m so thankful he is in my life.

Mostly I am grateful. I am grateful for my health so I can do these races. And, I am grateful for my family and friends who support me in my endurance goals.


Monday, August 1, 2016

Ironman Lake Placid 2016 Race Report

Still a teenager, Julia Slyer (New York) is simply an inspiration... here's her report from last week's Ironman Lake Placid. Rumor has it she's since signed up for October's Ironman Maryland as well!


As the oldest Ironman in the continental US, Lake Placid is an absolutely amazing place to compete. This year was my third time racing at Placid, but my 17th time (out of a possible 18) at the race, whether I was a three-year-old spectator, 15-year-old lifeguard, or, this year, the youngest female athlete. In short, IMLP feels like home, and I’m already signed up for next year!


Race Week

I drove up with my dad on Friday morning for check-in after trying to stay off my feet all week.  After a short ride Saturday morning (and a short freak out over fixing a shifting issue) I packed up my transition bags and checked my gear in.  I also got to meet Gina Shand (Virginia) and chat in the transition area!  Later, I met with my coaches to go over my race plan and goals before turning in early.

Swim – 1:09:01

A few years ago, IMLP switched from a mass, in-water start to a rolling start using self-seeding.  While I’m not a huge fan of this system (unable to gauge where your competitors are later, bad self seeding), the rolling start system is definitely safer for all involved.  That being said, this year’s swim was the most violent I have experienced at Lake Placid.  After a solid first lap (32:35) of being swum over and hit, I was forced underwater at the last turn buoy and swallowed a good amount of water.  The queasiness this induced forced me to slow down quite a bit on the second lap (36:26), giving me a final swim time of 1:09:01.  This was a fairly average swim time for me, but a bit slower than my goal of 1:05.  

Bike – 5:58:07

This year, I have been focusing on improving my bike with the help of my coach, a power meter, and training through the winter indoors.  Because of this, I have been feeling great on the bike, and set a goal of breaking six hours for the relatively challenging IMLP course.  My race plan was to temper myself and take in enough nutrition on the first lap, and try to ride both laps of the course as evenly as possible.  I felt great the entire ride, and even managed to get even splits on both laps (2:59, 2:59) for an average of 18.8 mph.  It was a little hotter than expected, but the headwinds LP is famous for were much more calm than in years past.  Although I met my time, power, and pace goals to a tee, my nutrition was not quite on point.  Due to the heat I drank more sports drink from aid stations than I had intended, and some aid stations didn’t have the bananas I prefer to eat on long rides.  Some of these nutrition decisions probably contributed to my run performance.

Run – 4:05:58

My goal for the run was to match my performance at Kona 2015 (3:44), and for the first six miles, I thought I might beat that time.  My heart rate was low, and I was easily running 20 sec faster per mile than I had planned.  Once I hit the first turn around on River Road, the uphill’s hit me hard.  After the first hard uphill at the ski jumps around mile 8, I started to bonk, badly.  Normally, a glucose tablet will break my bonk in a few minutes, but this bonk persisted for three miles, forcing me to walk on and off.  Feeling a little desperate to get running again, I broke to golden rule of “don’t try anything new on race day” and drank some Red Bull in hopes of the caffeine helping.  This turned out to be a big mistake.  While I did break my bonk and get running again at mile 11 (feeling good too!), I was unable to keep anything down, water included, on the entire second half of the marathon.  Although I can’t be 100% sure of the cause, I believe this stomach issue was at least contributed to by the Red Bull.  After switching from KQ mode to survival mode at mile 8, I was happy to finish and still perform well considering the circumstances of my run.





Takeaways – 11:20:46


I finished only 3 minutes off my 11:17 PR from Kona last year, and I beat my course PR by 33 minutes, most of those taken off in the bike.  Taking second in the F18-24 age group, I didn’t qualify for Kona, but I did learn some great lessons, and I’m still proud of my performance at Lake Placid.  Before next year, I will be working on learning to swim better with such a large group of people, improving my nutrition on the bike and run, and focusing a bit more on training for the run.  I also learned that even when times get tough, I can push through and finish.  My dad told me after the race that when passing me during my bonk, he thought there was a good chance I would be pulled to the medical tent then and there.  Although I was in a pretty bad place mentally at that point, I was able to get through it and get running again.  I’m coming out of this race without a Kona spot, but with an even great drive to succeed and push my limits in this sport.  Ironman Lake Placid is a truly amazing venue, with a beautiful and challenging course, and some of the best spectators and volunteers in the world.  I can’t wait to return next year!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Andres the Giant - Kona Bound!

Just a quick post to congratulate our teammate Michelle Andres (Minnesota) on the huge accomplishment of punching her ticket to Kona! She finished 3rd overall at Ironman Canada this past Sunday, winning the F3539 age group.

Check out that sweet ride!


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Tips For Exercise in the Heat

Elaina Biechler (Iowa) is fast, as in Kona fast. She's also smart, as in PhD smart, teaching college courses in Sports Nutrition and Anatomy & Physiology. Put these two together, and she knows a thing or two about athletic performance... here's some great info on training in summer heat.


Tips for Exercise in the Heat:

As we enter the dog days of summer, I’ve been asked by multiple clients for tips on how to deal with the heat. The unfortunate news is- no matter who you are, the heat will negatively impact your performance. I can however offer a few tips for how to minimize the negative effects, as well as a few nutritional advices in hopes of preventing dehydration in a hot environment.

If you monitor your exercise intensity via heart rate: know that in a hot environment, your heart rate will be elevated significantly compared to a cooler environment. If your heart rate is normally around 150 bpm while running an 8:00/mile, when it’s hot out, and running the same pace, your heart rate may be 165 -170 bpm. This tends to be more significant in females, but males will also see some increase in heart rate. This doesn’t mean that you’re suddenly out of shape. 

It means that your body is trying to complete two major tasks: maintain your exercise intensity, and get rid of heat. Our perception of exertion is also significantly higher in a hot environment. If running an 8:00/mile is moderately challenging on a normal day, in a hot environment, it might seem significantly harder. The more overheated or dehydrated you become, the more significant your increase in heart rate and perception of work effort will be. Don’t worry, this does NOT mean you are out of shape, it does not mean to throw your training out the window! Don’t panic! If 8:00/mile is your normal running pace, don’t be afraid to slow this down in the heat. Trying to maintain your regular speed in a hot condition (particularly if it is humid) could result in heat illness.

Can we acclimatize to the heat?

A classic study done by Nielsen et al. (1993) showed that heat acclimation can occur in 9-12 days of consecutive exposure to heat. Optimal exercise duration during the acclimatization phase is around 90-100 minutes. Following regular heat exposure, subjects were able to exercise 80 minutes to exhaustion on average compared to 48 minutes leading up to acclimatization! Subjects also showed a lower core temperature and an increased sweat rate following regular heat exposure (which is good!). Adaptations to the heat depend highly on exercise intensity, duration, number of hot exposures and whether the heat is dry or humid.

What if you can’t acclimatize to the heat where you live?

New research supports the concept that heat acclimation may actually occur with a hot water bath as well! Zurawlew (2016) recently reported that a 40 minute hot water bath immediately following exercise had heat acclimatizing properties. 17 males completed six days of hot water bath immersion after exercise, and resulted in significant improvements in endurance performance in a hot environment. Seems like a reasonable idea if you are planning on traveling somewhere warm for a race, yet you live someplace cold!

Regardless of who you are (novice or elite, male or female), studies generally report that a hot environment will decrease performance by at least 10-20%. With heat acclimation, you may evade this by about 5-8%, but will still ultimately have some decrease in performance. The traditional recommendations regarding heat acclimation:

  • 10 days 
  • 100 minutes per day (doing more than this doesn’t induce a faster/ better response)- less than this may require more than 10 days 
  • At the temperature you wish to compete at 
  • At the intensity you wish to compete at 
  • The majority (75-80%) of the adaptation occurs in the first 4-7 days 

Nutrition/ Hydration Tips for the Heat:

The key to proper hydration in a hot environment involves increased hydration prior to the exercise bout, increased fluid intake during the exercise, and rehydration immediately following. The major issue in the heat is with such a high sweat rate it is almost impossible to intake enough fluid during the exercise to prevent some level of dehydration. While drinking water might be good enough under normal circumstances, in the heat, it might be appropriate to also consume some carbohydrates and electrolytes as well. There are many effective brands for carbohydrate beverages and endurance supplements- my recommendation is to try many types, and find out what sits well/ works best for you. Ideal fluid guidelines, which of course can vary from person to person depending on exercise intensity, body size, and environmental conditions:

  • 20 ounces of fluid prior to exercise (1hr) 
  • 7-10 ounces of fluid every 20 minutes during prolonged exercise 
  • In a hot humid environment we can lose up to 2-3 L of fluid per hour!!! 
  • Following exercise, consume 16-24 ounces of fluid per every pound lost 

Related Posts:


Triple Threat Profile: Elaina Biechler - Iowa



Nielsen, B., Hales, J., Strange, S., et al. (1993). Human circulatory and thermoregulatory adaptations with heat acclimation and exercise in a hot, dry environment.

Tatterson, A., Hahn, A., Martini, D., & Febbraio, M. (2000). Effects of heat stress on physiological responses and exercise performance in elite cyclist. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport 3 (2), 186-193.

Zurawlew, M., Walsh, N., Fortes, M., & Potter, C. (2016). Post exercise hot water immersion induces heat acclimation and improves endurance exercise performance in the heat. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports 26 (7), 11.


A study looking at elite cyclists reported a 6.5% decrease in power output in a 30 minute cycling time trial in a hot environment when compared to a thermoneutral environment (Tatterson et al., 2000).