One Is Better Than Two

Greetings, friends! Its finally happened: The long anticipated merging of our two mediocre blogs into a Gestalt-like one. Figuring Jesse’s mom needed a break from switching from page to page (hi, Melinda!), and not wanting to lose Amy's three readers in South Korea, we have decided to keep our friends and family updated from the same internet home. This blog is a collection of pictures, recaps, and ramblings from a pro triathlete and elite runner. Jesse has been racing triathlon since 2007, turned pro shortly after, and has posted several top-10 Ironman finishes. His eyes are on Ironman Lake Placid, Ironman Chattanooga, and Ironman Arizona in 2014. Amy is a former division one swimmer turned triathlete turned elite runner. In 2011, she decided to stop cycling and swimming in pursuit of marathon glory. She has since won several races, including the 2014 PF Changs Rock n’ Roll Arizona Marathon. Her sights are now set on qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Trials Marathon.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Eurotrip Part 2: Switzerland

After our week in Denmark, we headed to Zurich for leg 2 of our Eurotrip. This was the last country added to our itinerary, and only made possible by my friend Chantal and her husband Ben offering us a room in their house! We knew nothing about Zurich and had zero plans for our week. We just hoped there would be some good running routes for me and some good beers for Jesse's post race recovery! After successfully navigating the train/tram system, we were thrilled to arrive at Chantal's apartment overlooking Lake Zurich. 

               This view didn't suck!

                   Exploring Zurich

We soon discovered the Zurichberg forest, a network of perfectly groomed trails less than a mile from the apartment. Since Jesse was taking a break from training, he accompanied me on a mountain bike for nearly every run. As we head home after seven weeks in six countries, these remain some of my favorite run memories of the trip!

             Trails even I can run!

After spending our days running, swimming in the lake, and exploring the city, it was always great to come home to Chantal, Ben, and their super cute kids. Turns out we didn't have to worry about post-race alcohol options: Ben had us covered! We enjoyed Swiss beers, good wine, prosseco, and even the occasional whiskey. Copious amounts of Swiss chocolate were also available, and Chantal and Ben were kind enough to let us join their family dinners! 

The Wylandlauf
After a few days in Zurich, we decided to keep exploring. Stop one was the area of Andelfingen for for my first post-marathon race - a 14.9k! After nervously hoping we were on the right train, we were happy to see several runners board our car! We abandoned our hand written train stop to race site walking directions and followed the Kenyan in the track suit to the registration area! We were surprised to find a complete race expo set up and many serious looking runners - this was about to get real!

As Jesse and I warmed up on the muddy dirt roads (which were getting worse with the rain), we realized it was going to be a tough course. I made a plan to race by effort, and tried not to be intimidated by the fit-looking women on the starting line. I asked Jesse his race plan, to which he replied "I'm going to try and win, but if I can't I'll run with you." Fair enough for being one week removed from an Ironman!

The starter began yelling in Swiss German and we had no idea what was going on. After a few minutes of confusion, the gun went off and I tried to stay upright in the mud behind the two lead women. I passed one after the first mile and the second on the first big climb. I was finally able to put my four years of high school German to use, as spectators cheered loudly and confirmed I was top female! Around the 8k mark, I saw Jesse up the road. After a short-lived stint with the lead group, he'd decided he was more up for a tempo with me. I wasn't complaining, as he kept tabs on the women behind me and let me know I was comfortably in the lead. Around 14k, however, our harmonious run together came to an end. One of the super fit looking women I'd noticed on the starting line was making a move! Jesse alerted me to her sudden presence, and I couldn't handle the pressure. "SHUT UP," I shouted to him while I tried my best to throw in a finishing kick in the mud and rain. A dirty look from one of my fellow competitors confirmed that he spoke English too. It wasn't my finest moment, but luckily Jesse was understanding! I was able to pull off the win, and we celebrated with beers and brats before the awards ceremony.

Two hours and few train beers later, we arrived in the town of Parpan to log some time in the mountains. Despite the cloudy weather, we were blown away by Switzerland's beauty. We spent much of the next day's 6 hour hike planning next summer's return trip!

   Snow, sheep, and a random pony! We also bagged a peak!

After two successful races and a whirlwind of travel, we looked forward to getting settled and logging some serious training kilometers in Italy for the next three weeks. The only problem? Our housing plans fell through, leaving us with a plane ticket to Rome in 48 hours and nowhere to live when we got there. After several intense hours of Internet searching, we found the perfect place on the Italian coast...

Thursday, July 2, 2015

EUROTRIP Part 1: Denmark

Ciao friends! We are settled in Italy for our Euro training camp, and are going to blog about our Eurotrip one experience at a time. We started with a week in Denmark, where Jesse raced his A race for the spring! Please excuse any formatting errors; we are getting used to blogging via iPhone!
 Jet lag and pre race nerves made us a tad crazy....

Jet lag is real. Our journey started with a drive, 2 flights, rental car #1, more driving, a flat tire, rental car #2, and three confusing gas station stops before we arrived in Filksov (voted best small town in Denmark in the early 2000s!). At this point, we were thrilled to meet our home stay family for the week, Hanne and Niels. They were awesome and welcoming, so much so that we may still have the key to their house! They helped us blunder our way through prepations for a two transition ironman in a foreign country, which was (un)surprisingly challenging!

Our host dog, Frodo, her cool family, and their gorgeous backyard! This was taken by a local reporter, who came to interview Jesse!

Teaching Amy to drive a stick shift while simultaneously trying to locate the swim lake proved problematic, resulting in her having to bail on the Challenge Women's 5k the day before Jesse's race. While she was sad to abandon racing as bib #1, keeping the awesome Schwag bag was a good consolation!

After setting up transition, we dialed in our race day plan. It required Amy to drive the stick shift car for 90 minutes solo and be ready to hand Jesse a mid race Snickers 2x during the bike. Let's just say we were both pretty nervous for the 3:30 AM wake up the next day.

Jesse's Challenge Denmark Race Report:
With an extremely solid block of training under my belt, I was feeling good despite a frantic, jet lagged few pre-race days. Walking towards the swim start was intimidating, as the local pros were a head and shoulders taller than me. This proved problematic from the gun, making the first lap feel like a boxing match. By the middle of the second lap, I saw some clear water and was able to bridge the gap, moving into third place. I came out of the water in this coveted spot, giving me an unfortunate confidence boost. 

I spent the next 2 hours riding about 20 watts too hard in order to keep the lead vehicle in sight. The course was flat, but winded through the Danish countryside, complete with cobblestone, roundabouts and bike paths. This slowed things down in the rain! Once I settled in, I tried to take in some calories after my foolish start to the ride. My 1000 calorie bottle slipped from my hand in the rain, leaving me in a bit of a rough patch. The special needs was self supported, and luckily Amy was there with the planned Snickers bar. I suffered through the second half of the ride, realizing that digging too deep early on was going to haunt me later. I entered t2 in 5th or 6th, grabbing a couple gels to work myself out of the calorie hole.

The first 5k of the run felt great; I felt smooth and strong. Then, in a matter of two strides, everything hurt. My left quad felt like it got ran over by a truck, and the pain from my mistakes set in. I settled I for two hours and forty-five minutes of painful, ugly running. I was still able to pull out a marathon PR (3:05, getting closer to sub 3!), an overall PR of 8:44 and top 10 finish!

                      Top 10 men!

My equipment worked flawlessly. I had great reach in the water in my flexible Zoot Prophet. My PRSix was amazingly stiff, and paired with my Easton EC90s, I felt incredibly stable on the wet cobblestones. For the first time, I ran the marathon in the Zoot Solanas. Not coincidentally, it was the first time my calves felt great at the end of the marathon. Huge thanks to these companies for helping me towards a new PR and podium spot! Thanks also to Well Food Company and RBar Energy for providing top of the line nutrition to get us through our travels!

We ended our week in Denmark with some celebratory wine and beer with our host family, a day trip to Ribe, and a night in Copenhagen. This also happened to be our wedding anniversary, and we made sure to celebrate with a nice dinner and drinks! Being in Copenhagen (along with the rest of Denmark) was really interesting. The Danes were recently named the world's happiest people due to their active lifestyles, universal healthcare, education, etc. You could really see this when strolling through the city - bikes were everywhere, along with other awesome things: people drinking beers at an outdoor concert, free swim lanes in the river, etc. We loved it and hope to be back someday! For now, though, more of Europe awaits!

    Eating our way through Scandanavia... 

          Free swim lanes in the river!

Anniversary beers, bikes everywhere, and a post-run Danish!