Monday, November 30, 2015

Rudy Project Wing57 Review: Activating Beast Mode

A little housekeeping... below is David Fernandez' (Florida) video review of the Wing57, which I've added to the original written review. Enjoy!

Being successful on race day requires equal strength in both body and mind. Let’s face it, the DNA you’re born with contributes to the equation, but regardless of the hand you’re dealt, you can train your way to huge individual improvement. On top of that is the equipment you use on race day. For example, no matter how good Mirinda Carfrae’s DNA and training may be, she’s not winning Kona on the rusted out beach cruiser in your neighbor’s garage (now that I think about it, I'm not so sure... she still might run everyone down).

The mental side is huge as well. Just like any sport, some people show up having conceded the fight before it begins. Of course everyone is there for some element of “fun,” but some show up with that X Factor, which is often described by phrases such as Marshawn Lynch (below) “activating Beast Mode,” “a little fire in your belly,” “a chip on your shoulder,” “Playing Angry," etc, etc. Basically it’s a drive or an attitude of winning, whatever “winning” means to you. On the other hand, others are afraid to really push themselves and stay comfy in “Safety Mode.” A good performance requires a huge helping of mental toughness in order to, as Macca famously puts it, “shake hands with the pain.”

regardless of the sport, we can all take a lesson in activating Beast Mode from this guy

Some days it’s easier than others to have both body and mind clicking on race day. Sometimes that’s on the physical side, if your legs just aren’t there, for example, but other times it’s more mental. It’s an interesting phenomenon: Have you ever gone for a run really pissed off about something? Or maybe really stoked about something? Suddenly you have a gear, and a drive, that you didn’t have before. For some it’s the competition, or could be a certain someone you really want to beat! For others it’s more internal, even a “look fast, feel fast” phenomenon of rocking a new race kit, new gear, etc. All of these benefits are obviously psychological, but they can sometimes play a big role in your performance.

After getting a chance to test out the Rudy Project Wing57, in my opinion the benefits are huge on both of these levels: physical as well as psychological.

On the physical side, the Wing57 has been referred to as an “absolute speed monster,” and was designed with the aid of legendary aerodynamics guru John Cobb. It underwent extensive wind tunnel testing, and it also comes with a magnetic, removable extension that can be added to the tail depending on your riding style (flat or arched back), to help break apart vortices which create a low pressure zone and drag.

In addition to its aero benefits, the ventilation is far superior to other brands I’ve worn. This is a big reason why Rudy Project has won the prestigious Kona Count 4 years in a row. Especially in hot conditions, this ventilation is crucial. That said, the Wing57 comes with vent covers so you can customize the helmet depending on race distance, conditions, etc. It comfortably fits a wide range of athletes, weighs in at a mere 300g, and features a one-touch adjustable dial in back, which makes transitions a breeze.

Lastly, the fully integrated (yet removable) optical shield obviously protects your eyes, but also enhances aerodynamics according to wind tunnel tests.

On the mental side, I’ve got to say there’s something about strapping this helmet on that immediately activates the aforementioned Beast Mode. Andy Potts touched on this power in our interview when he said “I feel like a fighter pilot when I wear it.” It’s easier to feel and be fast when you look fast! The visor is badass… I thought it might take some getting used to, but it really didn’t. You feel legit, feel fast, and it looks intimidating as hell.

Speaking of Andy Potts – He just won IRONMAN Coeur d’Alene wearing the Wing57 in one of Rudy’s 6 new limited edition colors. Check out how that wicked new Red & Black matches his kit perfectly:

photo credit: Nils Nilsen

There are reasons why some NFL players such as Marshawn Lynch (Beast Mode himself), the retired great LaDainian Tomlinson and others play with a visor, and I’d argue in many cases they are more psychological than physical. They strap that thing on and it’s go time… they look tough, intimidating, and it transforms them to another level.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

In summary, like all sports, succeeding in triathlon is both physical and mental. I would encourage you to put the Wing57 to the test and find that next level for yourself!

As previously mentioned, Rudy just released 6 new limited edition colors of the Wing57, including the slick black & red that Andy Potts is wearing in the image above. All-in-all, they now have 10 styles in stock, and I'm told they will be releasing a further line of 3 "custom" colors in August, which have been made specially for North America.

To see all the new Rudy Project Wing57 colors, head over to

Related Posts:

From Skin Hat to Speed Monster: A Brief Helmet History

Peeling Back the Onion: A Rudy Project Investigative Report

photo credit: Nils Nilsen

the magnetic, removable extension (see 1st Potts pic)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

That Didn't Go As Planned...

Amy Fletcher went through a lot this season... while many triathletes may lament getting knocked around on a swim or maybe a flat tire, she had legitimate things to complain about. That said, her attitude and resiliency has been nothing short of admirable. Being the week of Thanksgiving, sharing her story comes at a perfect time.

So, after Ironman Chattanooga in September 2014, I signed up for IM Texas in May 2015. IM Louisville had been moved to October thus rendering it WAY too cold for me. IMTX is historically hot, so that was the plan. Of course, the majority of the training was inside (because I live in Indiana), but I think the quality of indoor training is often much better than outside anyway. I was pleased with my training and was eager to get outside for some rides as soon as it was warm enough. Easter Sunday, 5 April, came along and it was finally warm enough for a long ride outside. Blue and I headed out for our first 100 mile ride. I rode 22 miles and stopped back at the car to refill bottles. I felt really bad the entire time… sluggish and heavy and my abdomen was crampy, maybe even borderline painful. I thought maybe it was just the wind or something I ate, so I refilled and headed south for the remaining 80 miles.

I continued 25 miles south still feeling bad. I never felt “right”, but at times, I felt better than others…the discomfort came in waves. At the Economy Trailhead, I decided I felt too badly to continue and turned around for the 25 miles back to the car. As bad as I felt then was actually the best I was going to feel for the next three weeks, but I did not know that. As I struggled to get home, it got later into the afternoon and it was a beautiful Easter afternoon and I started seeing people out on the greenway. I was feeling even worse and was getting a little panicked that something was wrong with me. I passed a couple of friends, who would have helped me, but I was scared that if I stopped moving, I might not be able to start riding again. So I kept going…slowly, but still moving.

I made it home. I could not eat all evening and once in bed, the pain increased and Mr. tried to get me to go to the Emergency Room. Since the pain would let up every once in a while, I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to have to tell an ER Doc, “My belly hurts …well, not right now, but sometimes.” In hindsight, I absolutely should have let him take me, but I might be a wee bit stubborn.

The next day of school was the start of a new grading period and I had all new students. Their class assignments and materials are all online, but it takes them some time to get logged in and figure out how to access their assignments. This would be the case on Tuesday also, because I teach every other day at two schools. I made it through both days, but coworkers considered sending me, against my will, to the ER. Once I had taught one day at each school, I could upload assignments and instructions from home if needed. And it WAS needed.

I got in to see Doc and was diagnosed with “Gall Bladder Sludge” (That can’t be good) and was scheduled for removal the next day. No wonder I didn’t feel good….SLUDGE? Before the surgery, Mr and I explained that I had an Ironman in 5 weeks. He didn’t actually laugh out loud, but he worked really hard to hold it in.

Recovery was slow and painful and I was out of school and basically relegated to the couch for several weeks. Obviously, IMTX was out of the question.

Once cleared to start training again, Blue and I headed out to the greenway. I ran into friends Beth and Janice and we were riding back towards home together. It felt great to be back at it – this was my second ride since being cleared to ride again. We crossed the intersection of 700 N ….and that’s it….the lights went out…I don’t remember anything else. Beth and Janice said that for some reason, Blue and I slipped off the side of the greenway into the gravel and I tried to get back onto the pavement, but wiped out and Blue flipped across the greenway and actually hit Beth. They say I was awake and talking and told them the passcode on my phone (they obviously called 911 then called Mr). I don’t remember anything until…I don’t really know when I “woke up” but it was a day or two later. Side note…no one stopped my Garmin, so I have the video of the ride, the stationary time, then the ambulance ride reaching 86 mph to the hospital).

I ended up having multiple CT scans (which, apparently, I do not like…after the first one, they decided to just sedate me rather than fight me over it…again, I don’t remember it). I had a Level Two head injury (Doc said that my helmet may have saved my life!), broken eye socket, broken arch (cheek bone) and broken finger. As a result, I had three surgeries and 3 additional procedures requiring anesthesia and eight weeks of occupational therapy to get my finger moving.

hey kids, wanna see a puppet show?
I am back to training now. I am slower. But I am training and I am happy. I am working on strength training as well as swim, bike, run. I am signed up for IMCHOO 2016 in September and am very, VERY thankful to be able to train again. During the recovery of both the gall bladder then the crash, Mr was amazing. He was always confident that “we” would get through this and I was going to be OK. He was always positive and reassuring. Even once when we were grocery shopping and I was falling behind because I couldn’t walk that fast, he came back for me and told me I would heal and would get stronger. I thank God for Mr.

I am writing this today, 23 November, because it is the week of Thanksgiving and I am thankful, but also because my crash, was exactly six months ago. Mr. was right. I swam, biked, and ran today. I am blessed.

Related Posts:

Friday, November 20, 2015

New TTT Sponsor: Stages Power Meters

Triple Threat Triathlon is pleased to announce a partnership with Stages, a top-tier power meter company famous for its affiliation with reigning Tour de France champion Team Sky.

Simply put, power meters provide an objective measure of your riding effort... unlike heart rate (which is susceptible to a slew of variables), power meters provide reliable feedback regardless of terrain, weather conditions, etc. Once you get a feel for your own personal "numbers," this information is critical to successfully pacing yourself in training and racing.

In addition to their success at the highest levels, Stages is also widely regarded to be the best value in the power meter market today. Riding with power is far more affordable than it used to be... check out Stages to see their full product line including closeout deals.

Much more to come, but for now check out the video below to learn more about Stages and Team Sky.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Triple Threat Profile: Elaina Mertens - Iowa

After finishing 2nd to last at her first ever triathlon, the odds in Vegas of Elaina Mertens (Iowa) qualifying for Kona within a decade were not good. In fact, if you had put some money down that day, you'd currently be enjoying retirement on the Caribbean island of your choosing. Elaina has clearly improved just a little bit, and we're stoked to have her on board as a new member of the Triple Threat Triathlon team!

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

Running was my first love, I first went out for cross country in high school to get in shape for basketball, and ended up loving it. I went on to run at Coe College, where I studied strength and conditioning. I did my first triathlon about 9 years ago when I was in college. There was a new triathlon close to my hometown, and my dad bet me I couldn’t do it. I love a challenge, so I gave it a shot. Coming from a running background, I was most nervous about the swim. I rode my Trek mountain bike for that race, and finished 2nd to last!! Somehow amidst a disastrous start in this sport, I loved the challenge. Needless to say, I’ve made several equipment upgrades, and learned a lot in the meantime!

How would you summarize your 2015 season, and what was the highlight and lowlight (if any)?

I would say my highlight and lowlight might have occurred on the same day! My 2015 training cycle was certainly the best I've had yet! Bike rides and long runs were consistently faster than what I did last year, and I felt the strongest I've felt heading into Wisconsin! I did several shorter races en route to IM Wisconsin, and competed very well for the season leading up.

Qualifying for 2016 Kona World Championships was without a doubt the highlight of my triathlon career (2nd in my age group at Ironman Wisconsin). This day was also probably my lowlight- complications on the bike course had me feeling rather defeated during the day.

Give us a quick recap of IMWI... did you go into it with Kona as the goal or was that an unexpected result? Did you know where you stood in your AG throughout the day?

I did not have the direct goal of qualifying for Kona. I thought it was a possibility, but I didn't think it was likely. The tricky thing about qualifying is that there are a few key factors that are out of your control- mainly who shows up in your age group, and how many slots are allotted per age group. My mentality going in was just to do the best that I could, and if that was good enough for Kona, then awesome! And if not, maybe some other year. 

Qualifying was definitely a lifelong goal, I never imagined I'd accomplish in my second ironman! Going through the race step by step, I felt more confident than I had the year previous, and felt that my training was substantially better than the previous year, particularly for biking and running. I figured my swim would be similar. I got out of the water in 1:15, about 20 seconds faster than my ironman in 2014. I felt great about that! My goal for the bike was a 19.4 mph average (5:46-5:48). This would have put me a few minutes faster than I had completed the bike portion of my ironman in 2014 (5:51). 

Unfortunately, I had a few unexpected stops during the bike portion of my race, in hopes of fixing a broken shifter. Somewhere around mile 70 my shifter came loose, and began defaulting to the highest gear. I stopped at the first group of spectators I saw, and a gentlemen gave me a screw driver from his truck so I could try to tighten the shifter. It seemed to work, but after I began riding, I found out that the shifter was unaligned, and I also could not use my lowest three gears. I spent the next 40ish miles shifting in and out of gears at the mercy of my bike, and grinding up all the hills. Almost in tears heading into T2, I have never been more glad to ditch the bike! My bike time was 5:58, a little over 10 minutes slower than my goal (the three stops actually cost me right around 10 minutes), I was honestly just happy I made it into the transition.

Heading out onto the run, I knew there was no way I would hit my goal time, and I was for sure I was out of the running for an age group award. I had no idea what place I was actually in. The run went relatively well (3:41), but my legs felt a little more burnt out than I had hoped, probably from the mashing up hills. I stopped worrying about pace, and enjoyed the course.

Upon finishing, my fiancĂ© met me at the finishers chute. I asked him if I even got top 10 in my age group. He laughed at me, and told me I was 2nd. I knew 2nd place would maybe be good enough for Kona, but I didn't get a whole lot of sleep that night worrying whether it was or wasn’t! I was ecstatic and astonished to get a slot for Kona! I still cannot believe its true!

Was that your first IM? If not, how did it compare to others you've done?

IM Wisconsin was my second. My first was 2014, IM Mont Tremblant, where I did a 10:55. Both races were absolutely amazing in their own respective ways. Mont Tremblant was amazing because I entered the race with no expectations for myself, and no idea what I was getting myself into. Just making it to the finish line was my only real hope! The course was absolutely beautiful, and I quickly caught the ironman bug! Wisconsin was a different type of beautiful. I live a little over an hour away from Madison, so I had lots of friends, family, and even some of my students came up to support me. It was amazing how quickly the time went by when they were literally all over the course! 
Heading into Wisconsin, I was planning on taking a year or two off from the long course and focusing on some shorter races. I suppose that can wait another year :)

You closed out IMWI with a 3:41 marathon, yet I remember you telling me you were "disappointed" with that run! On a perfect day what do you think you're capable of?

I ran a 3:37 at Ironman Mont Tremblant the previous year, and I felt that my run training leading up to Wisconsin was significantly better. My long runs were around 7:50-8:00/mile, whereas the previous year they were 8:30-8:40/mile. I also did more tempo work this year, and had been running slightly faster that 2014 in the months leading up to Wisconsin. Both Mont Tremblant and Wisconsin are similar in amount of climb in both the bike and run, so heading into Wisconsin, I was hoping for 3:35-ish.

Clearly your "A" race for 2016 will be Kona. At this point are there other races on the schedule as well? Will you do anything different in training for Kona vs. say, Wisconsin?

2016 will without a doubt be an interesting year. I clearly wasn't planning on qualifying for Kona!! So I'm getting married in March, and having a wedding reception in June, and going on a honeymoon in June-July! So things will be pretty different from Wisconsin training. I am planning on doing a 70.3 (probably Racine, or the newly released 70.3 Ohio), I will also do some smaller sprints, and Olympic Nationals in Omaha. Probably most importantly, I plan on enjoying Kona. My goal was to qualify, and while I want to compete well, I really want to enjoy the experience!

Many swimmers struggle to become great runners and vice versa. How has the process been for you as a former collegiate runner?

This is a process I still struggle with. Running is my first love, and I have a really hard time cutting back on runs and devoting time to the pool. I work out with our college cross country team, and coach track in the spring, so it's very easy for me to get plenty of running miles in and neglect the water.

I have made small improvements in my swimming over the years, but this has always been my biggest struggle. On the upside to this, if you come out of the water in last place, you can count on passing people for the rest of the race, which is super fun!

From the little I know, it sounds like you have a very interesting job... can you tell us a bit about it, and is there crossover value to your own training & racing?

I work in the Kinesiology department of a college, and I absolutely love what I do here. I teach Sports Nutrition, and Anatomy & Physiology. I also complete research related to sports performance- particularly endurance performance. I am currently working on a project involving the effect of compression socks on maximal performance and recovery. Next semester, I have a student who will be looking at caffeine dosage and performance. I love the research side of things because it allows me to be continually learning, and of course gives me insight on how I can improve as an endurance athlete. It's also great, because my students get to work hands on in the lab, and be involved in the whole research process from start to finish. I love seeing them grow in the process, and start to ask their own questions related to research. I also coach/ personal train a handful of individuals (around 10 right now). My ability to stay up on the trends of nutrition, and advancements in training allows me to share some unique insight with my clients!

What's the triathlon scene like in Iowa, and what are the pros and cons of being a triathlete in your state?

The triathlon scene in Iowa is great. It seems like no matter where you go with this sport, you can meet some amazing people, and hear some inspiring stories. We have a pretty tight knit community of triathletes in our state, and I have really come to love the local camaraderie you get here.

When you're not swimming, biking, or running, what do you like to do in spare time?

My fiancĂ© and I are big in the biking scene, and traveling. We are actually going on a Trek Travel for our Honeymoon- it’s a five day biking tour around Sonoma and Napa, including wine tastings at many wineries! On the weekends, we sometimes bike to different wineries or breweries around our area (prepping for the honeymoon). We ride fat bikes, or our tandem bike in the colder months, or just for fun. We also have two awesome dogs that love going to the trails. I guess both of those things still involve running and biking, so I don't think I do much other than that! Haha!

The majority of my students are athletes here at the college, and I really enjoy going to their athletic events as well!

Triple Threat Triathlon - National Team interview archives:

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Ironman Austin 70.3 Race Report

If memory serves, Micah Noland (Oklahoma) narrowly missed a major car crash a few months ago. Later that same day he signed up for Ironman Austin 70.3. What a great example... we never know what curveballs life will throw at us, so just appreciate and attack every day. No regrets!

Race Morning: 

I woke up at 4:15, transition opens at 5:00, walked out the door of the motel and the wind was already strong, you all know how this makes a triathlete feel, especially us not so strong swimmers. Got body marked and I am in swim wave 10, set to go out at 7:40.

This will be my 55th Tri and my 3rd HIM, I did not realize Ironman Austin was so big. 2296 participants, the largest one I have ever been a part of. Reality sets in when the sun is coming up and I see how far the dang buoys are out across the lake. It was 56 degrees and I was shaking uncontrollably. I know I have put in the time on the swim in the pool, but wow does that look long and this many people, I ain’t gonna lie, I was a little nervous. Getting ready for takeoff a guy is pulling his swim cap on and his hand slips and he slaps me right in the face. He did say “I am so sorry sir”, I laughed and said “that is about to happen many more times buddy”, good luck.

I told myself to not be intimidated and just take it in little chunks, we will get there. 100 people had to be pulled from the water because of the windy conditions according to; myself I didn’t think it was that bad. I finished in 44:30 and by the time I hit the transition mat I was at 46 minutes, about what I expected. 5 minutes faster than my first HIM swim that Collin rags on me about.

I usually average about 20 mph on the bike for this distance; I did not realize the difference a Tri-bike makes, hurry up Argon! It seemed that there was a strong head wind or cross wind all day long, that coupled with the fact the roads were in horrendous conditions from the rains made for a slow time for me on the bike. I feel this is where I lost the most time in trying to reach my goal of 6 hours.

I saw at least 5 bike crashes that resulted in ambulances arriving on the scene, being a safety major I opted to obey all the “slow down” and “Caution” signs.

My first mile on the run was a 7:15, but I would soon realize how much the rolling hills of Texas had taken out of the legs. I train all the time on hills like that, they didn’t seem hard at the time of the ride, but got to me on the run. I ended up averaging about 10 minutes a mile for the ½ marathon and finished with a time of 6 hours and 24 minutes, 22 minutes slower than my last HIM.

Things I learned:

The 2 transition areas cost me several minutes on trying to reach my goal. Coming out of the water and ready to get on the bike at T1, I had to pack up all my belongings and shove it in a gear bag so they could have it for me at 2nd transition area, same thing at T2. 9 stinking minutes in transition total.

2nd thing I learned: It is hard to set a time goal for a HIM. So much of this comes down to the conditions on race day. My best HIM is a 6:02, but I am more proud of overcoming these Ironman Austin conditions and finishing with a 6:24 while battling windy conditions on the swim and bad road conditions on the bike and 2296 others all day long. I am tired, I am sore, and I can’t wait to do another HIM!

Related Posts: