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 professional triathlete and passionate 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 Austria in 2016. Amy is a former division one swimmer turned triathlete turned 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. After just missing this goal in 2016, her sights are now set on qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Trials Marathon.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Eagleman 70.3

by Jesse

Better keep reading to find out where we are!
Race recaps are a funny thing. We train for hours and hours each month, then spend days toiling over how four hours went. The four hours and five minutes at Eagleman went well. I was able to place 5th, earning my first pay check from the WTC. In about ten more 5th places I MIGHT break even with them! My dream goal of breaking tape and winning a cardboard check are still out there, but I was excited to get on the podium. I also was 14 minutes off of the win, which is a good chunk of time. Cody was showered, dressed and casually chatting with reporters by the time I stumbled across the line and poured all the water I could find on myself. I was within 8% of his time, however, which means I can use this race to requalifiy for my pro card. This is always a thought in my mind. It is pretty easy to get injured, have a few bad races, and be out of the game. This was a PR by 3 minutes. All in all a good day.
Lots of prerace nerves with this bib!
The race strategy of the fastest guys seems to be swim fast, ride insanely fast, run well. If you look at bike-run splits over the past couple of years, bike splits have DROPPED and run splits have stayed about the same, or even slowed a little bit. This is a painful way to race, but can lead to fast times. I dropped 9ish minutes off of my bike split and added 4ish onto my run and voila! A PR. The run is considerably less fun when you race this way, but the overall time is faster. What is more interesting, to me anyway, is the build up to the race.
The view of the Choptak River from our homestay

Throughout my triathlon career, I have been dealing with left-right imbalances. This spring it has become a huge limiter. I think this is due to me getting stronger, therefore increasing my ability to torque my body even more. The increase in strength is hugely important for me to be able to ride fast. I have been increasing muscle mass over the last 18 months, and my bike splits from Challenge Denmark, IM Arizona, and Eagleman show that. Lifting with Craig Smith has been a great benefit to my bike split. It has been a detriment to my health, however, as it has brought out my imbalances even more. This killed my race at Wildflower and lead to very inconsistent training this spring. I would say that I derive the most confidence from looking back and seeing consistent training. Dealing with these hip injuries resulted in the opposite of consistency: Taking time off, getting treatment, training until another flare up and continuing the cycle made for a very spotty spring. About two weeks before Eagleman, I received some great ART from Melissa Hollman in Tucson, and my pain level instantly dropped. I got in a seven day block of training (a bit different from my preferred five week block!) and off I went.

I knew that when I was able to ride, I was riding well for me. I also had a PR in a 15k run earlier this spring and my track workouts from then led me to believe that I was running well, at least for the early season. I knew I had the pieces in place if I could put it together. So, on a bit of hope and some extra swimming I flew to Eagleman.

This kit looks better than my suffer face!
This is getting long, but if you are interested here are more of the race details. Amy and I had a great homestay (thanks Gerry!). We were about a mile from transition, along the run course. This made for an easy race morning with lots of time to do some glute activation, a prerace jog, and time to get to the race site early enough to still panic a little. When the gun went off I was shocked with how chaotic the swim start was given the small field. I had some guy on my back, and another guy using my head as a power-up button from super mario. I thought I was pushed way off the back, but soon realized I was I was sitting on the back of the lead pack! That extra swim a week must have helped! I felt good and in control. As we approached to beach the pace heated up and guys started dolphin diving and putting a little time in. I was trying to stay calm and tell myself it was a long day. That may have been the wrong advice! As I got out of the water, I saw Cody and Gerlach sprinting through transition putting a ton of time into me. I picked it up and got on the bike with Ray and Kyle.

Suffering with my moto 
We started riding and we hit it HARD. I was in the back of the line, and we had a moto the entire race. Kyle went to the front and rode away. Looking down at my power, I was over LT power so I decided against going with him. I spent the remainder of the ride trying to stay in sight of Ray. At about 45 miles we hit an aid station and I needed water. I had missed the last station and needed to slow down and make this one happen. I spent the next five miles clawing back time but promptly exploded at about the 50 mile mark. The remaining 6 miles were damage control as I was passed by 2 guys and tried to stay in the mix.

I made the awards!
I hit the run and was told I was in 9th. I was really hoping to be in the money (top 6), so I was not excited about being so far back. I knew Scottie was behind me, and he is a runner so I was nervous about that as well. I had told Amy if I was not on the run in about 3:40 to throw a shoe at me and knock me off course. I had a watch malfunction (read user error) and wasn't sure of the time, but no shoes flew at me so I thought I was close. My saving grace was the heat. I knew it was HOT, and believed that if I stayed within myself for the first 6 miles I could pick guys off on the back half. I passed a few guys walking, and another guy running. I did my best "I am not suffering" chit chat as I ran by. The fake out seemed to work since he didn't come with me. The last two miles I worked hard to catch Greg Close, just a few seconds up the road. He kept looking back and fueling the fire! I had ridden too hard to have any pop for the run. So I enjoyed the last 800 meters and celebrated with my parents, and wife whose amazing support is always there.

Green - Ocean - Rain... not Tucson!
Shout outs:
Huub - my new wetsuit and speed suit helped me stay in the front pack!
Craig Smith - My skater butt is really starting to pop!
Big Sexy Racing - I didn't win the race, but I was the best dressed guy out there!
Quintana Roo - my fastest bike split speaks for itself! Awesome having this local shop in my corner!
Zoot - I ran from 9th to 5th without socks on a hot humid day. Need I say more?

Just your standard shake out run to the other side of the Atlantic!
I am writing this from Ireland getting ready for Challenge Galway!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A Mile, a 5k, and Learning to Race

by Amy

I've been competing for twenty-seven years (swimming, triathlon, running), but I've rarely actually raced. With the exception of a few in-the-right-place-at-the-right-time-and-now-I-can-sprint-to-beat-the-person-in-front-of-me situations, I usually approach races with my own personal time goals (hello, Olympic Trials Cut) and plan of attack to reach them. I always marveled at the ability of elite runners to execute races - to surge, cover moves, or sit and kick in an effort to be first across the line.

I'm not even close to being an elite miler, yet it was a road mile last month that gave me my first taste of racing as a runner. Memorial Day weekend has long been the date for the Meet me Downtown 5k in Tucson, but this year race directors Randy and Tia added a Friday Night Festival of Miles as well. With prize money for both races, and the chance to race my first ever road mile, I knew I'd be lining up both Friday and Saturday nights!

The Mile
After watching several YouTube videos of the 5th Ave Mile Elite Race in NYC, I arrived for the Friday night mile with a conservative plan. No matter whom my competition was, I would not make any moves until the final 400 meters of the race. With the exception of one 5th Ave Mile in which Jenny Simpson led from the gun, the rest of them were won but someone who made their move in the final quarter. I have a tendency to get impatient and overconfident while racing shorter distances, and lay it on the line early only to implode later. I wanted to give myself the best chance at winning prize money, especially since I had planned to donate it to Bridge Rescue to support our foster dog Roman. Contrary to what my marathon running self might believe, it is entirely possible to take a mile out too fast and die in the second half.

As we stood prior to the 8:15pm start, I was chatting with another girl and asked her what she was hoping to run. When she replied "5:00 flat," I figured my chances of winning were zero percent, but I could race for second among some other fast runners from Tucson. Yet, I found myself right behind 5:00 girl in the first quarter mile, and it felt easy. At 800 meters, I was still drafting in third place, marveling at how effortless it felt. As we headed towards the finish line with slightly less than a half mile to go, I was tempted to surge. Everyone had told me how badly the mile hurts, yet I wasn't hurting yet. Shouldn't I be tired already? My excitement was building as I tried to suppress any thoughts of winning, prize money, or fast running with one mantra "NO MOVES UNTIL 400 METERS TO GO."

Trying to stick to the race plan. Thanks Damion Alexander for the photo.

When the sign marking a quarter mile left was in sight, I surged a few meters earlier than I'd planned (hello, impatience), taking the lead for the first time in the race. Fast girl covered my move, and I found myself a few steps behind her again. 300 meters to go. We were running out of ground, my legs were going lactic, and my brain was truly confused that I was in striking distance of winning the race. Could I actually outkick a girl who was planning on running a 5:00 mile? Don't you have to believe in yourself to win? I didn't believe in myself at all. As the finish line became a closer reality, it suddenly seemed possible. 200 meters to go. I surged again, trying to sneak a glance at the clock to see how fast I was running. I saw a blurry mess of red where there should have been numbers. My brain was unable to comprehend anything. Just get to the line, I thought. I feel silly typing this because my mile pace is basically equivalent to Paula Radcliffe's marathon pace, yet the final meters of the race were exhilarating. They embodied one of the facts I love the most about my chosen sport: No matter how fast you are, anyone can experience the feeling of running at your own personal limit. Winning was just the icing on the cake.

Holy crap, I won a mile! Thanks Oro Valley Photography for the photo.

I "only" ran a 5:15, so in retrospect I probably got lucky that someone else had an off day. For my first road mile, I'll take it. I can't wait to do another one.

The 5k
I woke up the next morning much more sore than I'd anticipated. Who knew a mile could have such lasting consequences? I downed cherry juice with turmeric, put on my compression socks, and walked the mutts to loosen up. Less than 24 hours after the mile, I lined up for the 5k in 95 degree temps with another conservative race plan. I threw my watch to Jesse at the starting line and ran completely by feel, taking the first mile easier than I thought I needed to. I moved from 7th female to 3rd by mile two, giving the third mile my best effort as my body began to feel the effects of the heat. I couldn't repeat the previous night's victory, but I was pretty happy to finish 2nd in the exact same time I'd run the Tucson 5000 a few weeks earlier. Given that Meet me Downtown was 30 degrees warmer, there is no doubt in my mind that it was the better race. Best of all, I earned $600 for the weekend's races, all of which went to Bridge Rescue to support Roman.

Adoptable Roman is going to get some extra training while we are gone this summer!

On the surface, running might seem like a boring, repetitive sport. In many respects, it is. Yet weekends like these remind me how much I'm still able to learn through training and racing. Although my times are not improving at the rate they were when I first entered the sport, I'm making gains in other ways. I'm typing this from our Lake Placid apartment, where Jesse and I are staying for  a week before heading to Ireland. With a summer filled with travel and free from work obligations ahead of us, I'll continue to work on my speed while making time for all of the little things to help me improve!

Hoping to become more athletic through trail running this summer!

Eagle man 70.3 podium finish for JV once we arrived on the East Coast! Thanks for making our travel money back!

At least one of us was smiling after the race!