Thursday, July 31, 2014

Ironman 70.3 Racine Race Report - Michael Espejo

Racine 70.3 Race Report and Midwest Fun

This trip to Wisconsin will forever go down as one of my most memorable adventures. I had never been to the Midwest before and I tackled a lot of firsts on this trip. I had never flown to a triathlon, flown with my bike, been to Chicago or had deep dish pizza. I had heard horror stories of people flying to races with bike boxes only to find that their frame is cracked, brakes are broken or cables are snapped. Not to mention all of the bike airfare fees which can be up to $200 one way. After researching which bike traveling case I would buy, I went with the Ruster Sports bag. It lives up to everything that founder and pro triathlete TJ Tollakson says it will. I followed the video of how to disassemble a bike, which was pretty easy to do. I only paid $50 each way for the checked bag. My bike arrived at both airports (Milwaukee and Boston) with no problems whatsoever. I highly recommend getting this bag if you decide to fly to races in the future. Once my stress levels went down knowing my bike arrived in Wisconsin safely, I was able to rebuild it without issue. The day before the race I took it for a pre-race spin and everything was working perfectly.

Leading up to Racine I only had 4 weeks after Syracuse 70.3. I recovered well from that race and put in what little time I had to train. Racine was my 3rd 70.3 this year and I must say I love this distance.

Pre race

Saturday morning I over indulged in my usual breakfast of four chocolate chip pancakes, scrambled eggs, potatoes and sausage from Perkins. After, I went to the race site to get a quick 45 min ride in on the course and checked my bike into transition. Here I am "boasting" about my 3rd 70.3 this year, but I accidentally left my race stickers 30 minutes away at the hotel. What a rookie mistake! Once I retrieved the numbers I was able to check in my bike without any further problems. I was in bed by 8pm and asleep by 9pm. I had a really good night sleep. I didn't really have any expectations; I just wanted to finish under 5 hours.

Race morning: I read different race reports leading up to Racine 70.3 and heard that parking can be a nightmare, so this meant waking up at 3:40 and out the door by 4. I hammered down 2 packets of instant oatmeal, a boatload of apple sauce and had a large coffee from Dunkin Donuts. Fortunately I was able to get a spot super close to transition. After setting up my transition area I had an hour and 25 minutes to wait for my wave to go off.

Swim - 34:04

I had heard that Lake Michigan can be a monster in its own right. It has its own current, waves and it can be freezing cold. We were "blessed" with water that wasn't too choppy, but on the downside it was cold. This was my slowest swim of the year. I thought it would be an easier swim because it was a point to point course and less sighting needed to be done. I was wrong and was actually a minute or 2 slower than Syracuse. I kept being pushed by the current towards shore while swimming parallel. It was a little bit harder than I anticipated.

T1 - 3:32

The run from Lake Michigan to my bike was at least 800m if not longer and most of it was on sand. It pretty much sucked getting over there. I thought they would at least throw something down over the sand to make it a bit easier, but they didn't.

Bike - 2:36:41

Now I don't normally get excited when I have to bike, whether training or racing. This has been my weakest area since I started the sport. The first 5-6 miles and the last 5-6 miles of the bike were awful... the roads are so choppy with cracks and potholes. It took me roughly 30-40 min to get into a groove and find my pace on the bike. I decided to try to push my limits on the bike and see where I ended up. I wound up averaging 188-190 watts, surprising myself. The course was flat with some rollers, so that helped a bit. I nailed my nutrition and was very happy with my bike split. I ran into T2 with a lot of energy.

Bike nutrition: 6 GUs, 1 package of chomps, 6 water bottles.

T2 - 1:57

This transition was a little longer then I wanted - about 50 seconds longer then Syracuse. I forgot that I had my allen keys in my rear pocket as I left transition so I had to turn back before exiting and throw it into my wetsuit. Socks, shoes, hat and race belt on and off we go.

Run - 1:38:46

Mike cackles evilly while casting a spell on the competition
I took off on the run averaging 7:00 min/mi. Little did I know this was going to come back and haunt me. Like I said earlier, I was just pushing the limit to see where my fitness stood. I didn't really have any expectations, I just wanted to go fast. The course was a double loop with aid stations roughly 1-1.5mi apart. The volunteers were awesome on the run course, handing out anything you needed. I felt great on the first loop and was on pace for a 1:33 half marathon split. Not until the second loop did I start to fade. I don't really remember much of the middle miles during the run. Zoning in and out while conversing with another runner was helpful. During the second half of the run I struggled to get one foot in front of the other. My pace diminished to 7:45 min/mi then to 8:00, but wouldn't let myself go slower than that. The picture may be deceiving, but I was totally hurting and trying to take my mind off the pain. I cruised into the finish line and was thrilled to be done. I couldn't believe I ran a 1:38 half marathon; that was 3 minutes faster than Syracuse, granted Racine was a little flatter.

Overall - 4:55:00

Post race

I immediately went to the athlete food tent and grabbed a few chocolate milks, water and food. I felt alright after finishing and even better after eating and drinking. I hung out close to the finish to watch 2 of my friends finish, but was only able to see one of them. My friend Rado surprised us all with a 5:17 on practically no training so I didn't get to see him cross the finish. After they both finished, we were about to leave. I had no intention of staying for the slot allocation for Worlds until Tara, Rado and 2 of the ladies doing the slot allocation told me to stay. We all hung out and watched the awards. We got to see Starky (Andrew Starykowicz), Tim O'Donnell, and the guy who won it all, Lionel Sanders. Once the awards concluded they did the slot allocation and the roll down. There were two slots available in M25-29. The chances I would get one seemed slim to none. The first two in my AG weren't there and so it rolled down a few more... but no one was there! The Race Director called up anyone in the M25-29 AG, and there were five of us. I was a bit nervous as the RD rifled off names. He called one guy's name and he accepted the slot. My name was next and I couldn't believe it. I jumped up and hastily accepted my spot at the 2014 Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Mont Tremblant, Canada.

truly epic 

Related posts:

Ironman 70.3 Syracuse Race Report - Michael Espejo

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Interview with TruSox: The No Slip Solution

As triathletes, we're often intrigued by technological advancements that can make us faster, from carbon bike frames, to aero helmets, to wetsuit innovations to name a few. Well, what about socks?? TruSox were all the rage at the recently transpired World Cup in Brazil, with roughly 100 players wearing the latest and greatest in footwear technology. If they can help soccer stars run and cut better, can they also help you in your next triathlon or running race? 

Special thanks to TruSox Founder and CEO Jim Cherneski for taking the time to educate us on this incredible story.

How was the TruSox idea born? Can you tell us a bit about the company’s history?

I was a professional soccer player and coach in the third and then second divisions of US professional soccer over an 8 year period. I was frustrated with movement within my shoes all my life. I would go through new soccer shoes every month or so, looking for a tight, snug fit. I would wear my shoes (as most soccer players do) very tight (up to a size and a half smaller than what I would wear in a regular shoe). This helped, but did not solve the problem completely. I would still have movement when cutting sharply and exploding in the new direction, or when my plant foot was at an angle when striking the ball. Eventually, it dawned on me that, this is not an issue with the shoes, the problem was the connection point between the shoe and my foot. A slippery sock! (I often tell people, can you imagine playing tennis or golf with a sock on your hand?!- No way!). In 2010 we received an initial patent for a non-slip sock (with non-slip technology on the inside and outside of the sock! - this is our secret to a product that fully works in stopping movement within the shoe).

Once we had a product that worked, I started passing it out to some of my team members from Crystal Palace Baltimore (the professional soccer team in Baltimore at the time). The feedback was good, but the product only worked well in dry conditions. Over the course of the next 18 months I continued to build and test models to come up with a solution that would work in dry and wet conditions. Eventually we found the right formula and created a product that actually worked in all conditions and stopped movement within the shoe. It was a major breakthrough for us.

Two local businessmen invested in the original patent and in a newly formed company to continue to develop the solution. In January of 2012 I started taking trips to England to pass out the socks to players in the English Premier League via contacts that I had from my time with Crystal Palace (Crystal Palace Baltimore was an affiliate club of Crystal Palace Football Club in London - now in the English Premier League). Players in the league started to take to the product right away. They were giving me the same feedback that I was experiencing from the product. They said they felt like they were more snug in their shoes. They said they felt sharper in quick turns and their plant foot felt secure! The product worked and we were getting those testimonies back from some of the top players in the world.

Where are you based?

TruSox, LLC is a Maryland based company with company Headquarters in Glen Bernie, MD. We have a subsidiary company called TruSox Europe Ltd that is located in Manchester, England, which is where I now reside.

What differentiates TruSox from others? How would you counter someone claiming that “all socks are the same”?

TruSox are all about the technology added to the socks. TruSox have a patent pending non-slip technology pads that are applied to the inside and outside of the socks simultaneously. This is the key. If there is non-slip material only on the outside of the socks, then the foot slides within the sock. If there is non-slip material only on the inside of the socks, then the sock slides within the shoe.

So you've been able to patent TruSox technology?

We have one patent in place with a second in a patent pending status. We have filed in 54 nations worldwide, so we have invested quite heavily in Intellectual Property. TruSox are the only company in the world that can make these full coverage non-slip socks.

Are TruSox hard to put on and/or do they take some time to get used to?

TruSox are not hard to put on, but they do feel different than regular socks. The non-slip technology pads can feel a bit hard when you first put them on, but similar to a golf glove, once they warm up to your skin, they mold right to your foot and become very comfortable. This usually takes about 5 minutes for them to warm up and mold to your feet.

It appears that athletes wear TruSox for a wide range of sports, from soccer to boxing to baseball to name a few… how have you been able to expand from your soccer roots?

TruSox were designed originally to solve a problem for me in soccer. I absolutely hated movement within my shoe. TruSox did solve the problem for me and it was amazing to be able to play soccer with my feet completely secure within my shoes! What we found is that athletes in many sports felt the same way. We have seen a huge uptake in professional baseball, Rugby and Cricket (we are a very international business) to name a few.

I’ve read that several World Cup stars played in TruSox in Brazil. That had to be very exciting for the company... what has the response been from these athletes?

We had roughly 100 players from 16 different nations wearing TruSox in the World Cup. It was tremendous for the company. We have retail stores and chains all over the world calling us to stock TruSox now. The best feedback that we can get is that the players wear TruSox. This means they like them. They would not go through the hassle otherwise. Some told me that they were even fined for wearing them, but they wore them anyway because it helps their performance.

Sorry, I have to ask… Luis Suarez made headlines with his feet as well as his teeth in Brazil… what was your reaction to his meltdown?

We were just in disbelief that it happened. If you met him, you would say, wow what a gentleman and professional. His coach at Liverpool said that he is the hardest working guy and most professional player, in attitude, that he has ever worked with. That is what all his teammates say too. It is just a shame. He is one of the best soccer players on the planet and we are glad he wears TruSox. He was the second player in two consecutive years to win the English Premier League “Player of the Year” award while wearing TruSox.

I also noticed that MLB players Matt Kemp, CC Sabathia, and Dee Gordon are TruSox athletes as well. I don’t follow baseball like I used to, but have heard rumblings that Gordon is leading the league in stolen bases (looking it up he has 46 stolen bases in 99 games). I’m sure he’s pretty fast in anything he wears, but do you feel that TruSox give him an edge on the base paths?

It is great to see Dee Gordon having such a great year and it seems fitting that the player leading the league in stolen bases is wearing TruSox. His personal testimony is similar to other athletes who say that their foot just feels more stable in the shoe and the shoe feels more connected to the body.

You probably don’t recommend TruSox for swimming, but how could they be beneficial when biking, running, and/or racing triathlons?

We have had some great reviews in running. People have said that they feel more energy transfer on each step when running forward. It actually makes sense. If you move slightly within your shoes on each step, you are losing valuable momentum when running. I think TruSox makes any athlete feel sharper in their activities. Well, except for swimming as you say!

Greater energy transfer and no more blisters! Learn more at

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

That's What I'm Talkin Bout, Willis!!

A couple months ago I wrote a post entitled "Are You Not Entertained?" wishing there was more race coverage for tri junkies such as myself.

I wrote, "for example, the pro field at the US 70.3 Championships was absolutely stacked. When later reading about the pro race I thought, 'man I would’ve loved to see that play out!' Combine race action with breathtaking scenery and condense it down… would that format not be highly entertaining, even for non-triathletes?"

Well, they listened!!  

If you've got 25 spare minutes, check it out here!  It's also a great watch if you're seeking a little inspiration to get you moving.

Ironman 70.3 St. George TV Coverage

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Ocean Shores (WA) Toughman Race Report - Jeff Kirkland

So let me start this by saying, this was my first ever half Ironman. I started racing sprint triathlons three years ago and have been working hard to increase my distance with the ultimate goal of racing full length Ironman races. This race was my 12th triathlon and it was in an entire other level from where I started. I absolutely love to race and compete. I love the thrill of the finish line but more so, I love that feeling of the starting line.

This race was great. Very well organized and on a flat course which was a welcome sign as I am used to hill after hill. The weather was cold! It was cloudy and a high of 59 degrees. I was warmest in my wetsuit in the water.

On Friday night before the race, I made the mistake of going to the swim start and looking at the buoys which directly contributed to my lack of sleep that night. It was more like a night of panic.

The swim was a staggered start and I chose the third wave just to be safe. I started at the front of the pack and about 1,000 meters in, I caught and passed the second wave. By the end of the swim, I had caught the back of the first wave. My swim time was 38 minutes. At this point, I could have quit and it would have felt like victory. That is a PR for me! Last year I couldn't even swim an Olympic distance at that pace.

I hopped on my bike and set off on the two lap course that was along the Pacific coast. The temperature was still very cold (56 degrees) and I was soaking wet. My hands and feet were numb the entire ride but I was happy because I passed a few people and never got passed. The biggest advice I got before the race was ride slower than you think you should so I made that my goal. As I was riding, I felt like I tried to keep my effort level down a bit as to not crash on the run. When I got to mile twenty my average pace was 20mph which is moving pretty good for me on a longer race. I managed to hold a 20.1mph pace for the full 56 miles and my ride time was 2:51 which was well below my 3:30 goal and even below my "inside my mind" goal of 3:00.

Off the bike and on to the run. One thing I didn't know about this race was that 5 of the 13.1 miles was on the beach. Holy moly did that make it more difficult. By this time my training partner and I were together which made the run much more fun. As we ticked off the first mile he said only 12 more to go! I thought "ok just don't die." Two and a half miles in we hit the beach. It was brutal. It made my IT bands burn like no other but we kept on pushing. The first 6.5 miles seemed to go by fast but the last were a grind. Thankfully, I didn't bonk and kept up an ok pace. I am a runner first so my mind thinks that I should run faster than my body says after a long race. My final run time was 1:46. This is not my best half marathon time by a long shot but it is solid, all things considered, and with 5 miles of it on sand.

I crossed the finish line with a total time of 5:20 and good for 20th place overall and 5th in my killer age group of 30-39. Overall, I am very pleased with the race and the way my body felt. I have an Olympic race just 14 days after this one. It will be interesting to see what a recovery week followed by a taper week will do to that race. I will say that I am thankful for my Triple Threat team for the encouragement during this journey. Also, I would like to thank Rolf Prima wheels for hooking me up with an awesome wheel set and Honey Stinger for the nutrition. Overall, it was fun and a lot less scary than I thought it was going to be. I am already looking forward to Ironman 70.3 Henderson in October.

Related Posts:

Triple Threat Profile: Jeff Kirkland - Oregon

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Ironman 70.3 Muncie Race Report - Amy Fletcher

As is the usual, I had a very busy and physically tiring week leading up to Muncie 70.3 (due to marching band - our first performance on Friday night and first competition right after the race on Saturday). I actually didn’t eat dinner Friday night because by the time I got home, all I wanted to do was go to bed, which I did, but I could not go to sleep. I got up at 4:30 and ate a bagel thin with egg white and a slice of cheese and half a cup of yogurt and headed to Prairie Creek Reservoir. I knew I was probably dehydrated due to my activity Friday, so I was sure to drink water (two 20 ounce bottles between 4:30 and 6:30). After I set up my bike and transition area, I actually slept in my car for 45 minutes. I am just realizing that I was not the least bit nervous pre-race; I’m guessing I was just too tired to get worked up about it! My wave did not start until 7:50, so I held off getting in the water until 7:30. It was wetsuit legal, but I chose not to use mine.
there's more than corn in Indiana

The swim was non-eventful except two kayakers told me to go to my right, but I was sighting well, and was headed for the turn buoy. Going to my right was actually causing me to NOT take a straight line, but they were just trying to help. On the short leg of the swim, someone behind me hit my feet at least 20 times. I moved over, I sped up, I kicked furiously 15 times, but she continued to hit my feet. I was irritated and finally stopped, then decided to get over it. After the second turn buoy, we are usually totally blind due to the rising sun in our eyes, but it was overcast and sighting was very easy. The wind was blowing, however, and there was more contact on the way to shore, but I think it was mainly due to the current pushing people around. I was relaxed the whole time... pretty slow swim, but I was also asleep when I started it, so I’m counting it a success.

Prairie Creek Reservoir - is that buoy smiling?

After a little run up the hill to transition, I found my bike with no problem. I was practicing my IMCHOO (Ironman Chattanooga) nutrition plan, so I needed to put all my food in my tri suit pockets. I stood there trying and TRYING to stuff food in my back pockets and couldn’t find the pockets. I then realized that I had only worn this suit twice before and those times were at IMLOU (Louisville), and I guess someone had helped me find the blasted POCKETS. As it turns out, there are no back pockets... there are side pockets! Ok. Felt a little stupid, but moving on....

I really had no clue how the bike would go, except that it would be slow... like 15 MPH slow because my training rides have averaged around that. Also, I put on a new saddle on Wednesday... yikes. I had ridden on this saddle once for 45 minutes and once for an hour. Neither time was I thrilled with the comfort, but it was better than the saddle I had taken off. As it turns out, that saddle is now gone and I am trying another one. I saw my husband Doug on the bike course three times (he’s the BEST) and Heather Fink (nutritionist) was also out there cheering. I also saw my friend Gary on the side of the road waiting to be picked up. I didn’t know what had happened, but he did not appear to be hurt or bloody, so I carried on. I absolutely nailed the nutrition plan, and think I'll use the same plan for IMCHOO. I ended up averaging 17.1 MPH. Happy with that... not happy with the saddle.

My T2 is usually faster than T1, but in longer runs, I wear Injinji socks to prevent blisters, and it takes sitting down to get them on. It’s worth the time it takes though to not get blisters or hot spots.

The run is hilly and is often described as taking place “on the surface of the sun” because there is no shade. By the time I was on the run, however, the developing storm clouds were moving in and it was overcast with no sun, although it was humid. Muncie volunteers are THE BEST anywhere and every aid station on the run was full service and everyone was cheering and encouraging. I again nailed the nutrition plan (until mile 10) and ran everything, including the hills, but walked the aid stations. I kept watching the storm clouds blow in, and finally, at mile 9, it started to rain. It was a brief shower and actually felt pretty good. I jumped in a port-o-let at mile 10 and apparently dropped a GU down the hatch (editor's note
: you gotta let that go). I was supposed to take a GU at mile 11, but the on-course GU had Roctane and I had never used that... since I was only 2 miles out, I skipped it and took some salt and water and continued running. The run ends with a “fake” last hill (you think you are finished, but you’re not) then there is the real last hill. As I got to the beginning of the last hill, I heard Gary cheering and telling me to attack that hill! It was SO COOL! That’s one thing that the Tri community is so good at... nearly everyone encourages everyone else. That’s why I work more races than I actually do, so I can help other people complete their goal. Gary’s bike exploded or something; I don’t know because he didn’t explain, because it’s not about what terrible thing happened to him and his race, he just got a ride back to transition and started cheering for everyone else. Gary helped hundreds of people up that last monster hill and to the finish line. That’s cool. I ran slow, but I ran it all. I chuckled when I overheard a couple behind me say, ”Wow, they certainly don’t have a shortage of hills here, do they?”

great location, reachable from many Midwest cities

Post race
I cleared out pretty quickly to get home. I started drinking and continued to drink the rest of the evening, but I really was not hungry and didn’t eat much. I did get a two hour nap before the band contest and was able to stay awake driving home afterwards. I was a little sore Sunday and took Sunday and Monday completely off. I'll start some light training mid-week. This is the longest running “Half Ironman” in the country, as this was the 35th year for the race formerly known as the Muncie Endurathon. I think that says a LOT about the Muncie community.

Related Posts:

Triple Threat Profile: Amy Fletcher - Indiana

Monday, July 14, 2014

Triple Threat Profile: Sandy Altman - Ohio

Despite only recently discovering triathlon, Sandy Altman (Ohio) easily has the most impressive "adventure resume" on our national team. She's not your regular triathlon newbie either, as she is known to strike fear in the hearts of her local age group. Sandy has her sights set on USAT Nationals and a step up in distance this year, and we're thrilled to have her on our team!

What’s your background and how did you get into triathlon?

I have always been involved in sports, both organized team and individual (ie. scuba diving, spelunking, kayaking/canoeing, mountaineering, rock and ice climbing, and backpacking). I would work out and run to stay in shape, and when I turned 51, I decided to start entering running races. To add more toys to the mix and variety, I transitioned into triathlons. I fell in love with the training compared to just running. I am always up for more adventure.

How would you sum up last year, your first season as a triathlete, and what was the highlight/lowlight?

April 2013 was my first sprint tri, and I have only done Sprint and Olympic distance since then. The highlight was getting involved with my local team, making new friends in the sport and placing 1st/2nd in my AG (not hard when you're in my AG :) ). The low was not getting to the start line for my 1st half Ironman. I have a fear with start lines.

How has your season gone so far this year, and what are remaining goals for this year and beyond?

This season plans changed with the accepting of a work assignment out of town since spring. I slacked off on doing as many races in exchange for spending that time with family on weekends. I am still planning on competing at Nationals in the Olympic distance and doing my first 70.3 and full marathon yet this year. I have my sights set on a full Ironman for 2015 in the 55-59 AG.

Even though you're relatively new to triathlon, from what I gather you've always been very active. Can you tell us about your mountain climbing, scuba diving, and other adventures?

I co-owned an outdoor adventure brick and mortar store and ran trips and taught classes in scuba diving, spelunking, kayaking/canoeing, mountaineering, rock and ice climbing, and backpacking. This involved scuba diving around the world as an instructor in caves, shipwrecks, and under ice. I enjoyed making it almost to the summit of Mt Rainier, have climbed frozen waterfalls in NY, MI, and IL, and traversed into caves, belly crawled spelunking with my son in Southern IN. I have learned to set pro for rock climbing and top roped and bouldered mostly in IN, MI and KY.

What do you do for your day job, and what hobbies do you have outside of work and triathlon?

I have been a physical therapist for 32 years now. Hobbies? Don't find time for hobbies lately but I use to love ballroom dancing. Nowadays, I fill my free time with loving up my Grandchildren and Golden Retriever.

Speaking with your PT hat on, what are 1-2 pieces of advice you'd give to triathletes?

I would say add strength to training and pay attention to nigs and nags as they can develop into more serious conditions quickly.

On a selfish note, any advice for someone dealing with 
sciatic nerve issues?

Sciatic nerve pain - I would recommend seeking out an MDT trained PT. A radicular symptom of pain down a leg from the back should have a particular technique from a mechanical approach.

Rank the 3 disciplines from your personal strength to weakness. What is some gear you use for each?

I am lacking in all 3 areas for speed, but my greatest strength would be running, then bike, and lastly swimming if we are talking time. I prefer Altra running shoes because of the wide toe box and zero heel to toe rise. I train via power meter on the bike and prefer the wider googles by Aqua Sphere because of the aging thinner skin around my eyes. (editor's note: ha!)

Tell us about your family, and is your golden retriever a dependable running partner?

I am married, a mother, and a grandmother of a 3 mo and 9 mo old. My Golden Retriever is 7 now and becomes lame if he does much more than 7 miles, but running with him off leash on trails is 100% pure joy for both of us.

You represent Ohio on our national team, yet race in multiple states... can you give us a sense of triathlon in Ohio vs. your neighbors or is it pretty much the same in each?

I have only done a couple of running races outside of IN/OH so far as I can remember - the mind is the first to go...:). The biggest difference in racing in other areas is the elevation change, both hills and actual elevation level, as it is flat as a pancake in Northwest Ohio.

Editor's note: when she's not scuba diving under ice, belly crawling through caves, or winning her age group at triathlons, some have speculated that Sandy also occasionally competes in Big Air skateboarding competitions under the pseudonym "Tom Scharr."

Triple Threat Triathlon - National Team interview archives: