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.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Don't Call it a Comeback: Slowest Half and Fastest 5k 8 Days Apart

by Amy

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of visiting Nashville for my dear friend Levi's wedding. The wedding happened to fall on my birthday, and the Rock n' Roll Nashville Half Marathon was also that morning. I love racing in new places, and wanted to get a long run in that weekend anyway, so I couldn't resist jumping in the race. A quick search of previous race results indicated that I had a chance to win, which was also exciting.

One of over 20,000 runners starting in Nashville. Who can find me??

As I'd hoped, I was able to contend for the win. On a humid, rainy morning, I decided to throw out any time goals and just see if I could run with the leaders on the hilly course. I did exactly that, holding back until mile 10 and then moving into the lead. I enjoyed a mile of glory with the best lead cyclist ever (who kept informing spectators that I was winning and asking them to cheer) before being overtaken by an even stronger finisher (whom I later met and cooled down with, which was super fun!). I ended up in third place, with a time well over 1:20. It was my slowest half marathon in 4 years! As much as I'd just wanted to race and have fun, I was pretty disappointed that I ran so slowly. Luckily, I had the wedding festivities and time with my Colgate friends to cheer me up.

So happy for the #twogrooms. Picture from our Lake Placid wedding!

14 years later and still one of my best friends! #gogate

On my shake out run the next morning, I entertained some negative thoughts, wondering if I'd be better served "running for fun" and giving up my dreams of competing at an elite level. I'll always love running, but was it worth making it such a priority when it suddenly seemed like my progress had stalled?

Over the course of my 8, sweaty miles, I concluded that I was being ridiculous. Progress is never linear, and sometimes you have to step back before moving forward. This spring has been a rebuilding season after putting so much emotional, mental, and physical focus on the OTQ for 4 years. On top of that fact, I really hadn't even trained for a half marathon. I run enough mileage and long runs to make it possible for me to finish 13.1 miles, but my workouts had almost solely focused on speed in pursuit of shorter races this spring. I couldn't get too upset about the outcome of a race when I hadn't put in the work in the first place. As much as it sucked to have such a "slow" time to my name, I decided to call it a fun run and get back to work.

Eight days later, I arrived on the start line of the Tucson 5000 determined to get that 5k PR I'd been training for. Due to my slow marathon recovery, I'd adjusted my goal from a 17:30 to "even a 1 second PR is fine," which would have put me at 17:50. I picked some mantra words and prepared for a short suffer-fest. Then we were off!

Tucson 5000 start

1-2 for SDP!

I came through mile 1 behind Autumn and Lucas and feeling like I was in a comfortably hard place. I was happy to see a 5:37 split and pushed the beginning of mile 2. In retrospect, I probably pushed too much, too soon, but this did help me get through the uphill mile in 5:46. I only needed to run 5:44 pace to PR, and it was time to make it happen. I was in a world of pain in the final mile, and knew I was teetering on the edge of missing my goal. I pulled out every mental trick in my arsenal to make it happen, and was absolutely thrilled to cross the line at 17:49. With a mere two seconds to spare, months of track workouts suddenly seemed worth it. I believe I can run faster in the future, but this was a victory for my spring season.

Rbar = PR!

In summary:
Specificity is important! If you have specific goals for certain races, you might sacrifice your best races at other distances in order to achieve them. That's ok.
Progress is not linear. A slow half marathon doesn't negate the progress I've made for the past 4 years.

With that said, I'm still dreaming of the 2020 Olympic Trials Marathon cut. I can't let it go, nor do I want to. I've had a blast running with more "fun" goals in mind this spring, and sometimes even staying up until 9pm (gasp!), but I'm the most satisfied when I'm intensely focused on really big goals. Deep down, I believe there are much faster times in my future, and I'm ready to work as hard I can to achieve my potential.

Up next, I'll be racing the Meet Me Downtown 5k and Mile on Memorial Day weekend, then running all over the East Coast and Ireland on our summer adventure!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The G.D. Asterisk

by Jesse

That is me in the Huub like, wait that was the gun?
It doesn't matter what you went through to get to the starting line. It doesn't matter what you went through during the race to get to the finish. Some of the best performances in sport have been from less than perfect build ups and less than perfect race day events. If you just look at the winners of the Kona World Championships, people have won after being hit by a car, running less than 10 miles in the lead up, racing sick, racing on stress fractures, getting flat tires and a myriad of other hiccups hindering their builds. In fact, in a interview with past 70.3 worlds champ Sebastian Kienle he said that his perfect builds tend to lead to off races, and his builds where he must overcome adversity tend to lead to the best races. The point is there are no asterisks after a race. Your time is the time it took you to get to the finish line on that day. It may or may not be indicative of what your  fitness level is, but you don't show up to a start line and get a fitness test. You show up and you race.

I love Wildflower. It is hard. It is an honest course. You need to be ready to rock come race day because the hills will ruin you if you are not ready. My fitness was pretty high, but I have had a lingering niggle since the Sabino Canyon Sunset race. My rectus femoris and my TFL tightened up and have been plaguing me ever since. But I took a few easy days and had faith I would be good to go. I was fortunate enough to link up with Maik Twilsiek for the drive. We made the most of an eleven hour drive with a fun stop outside of LA to visit friend/athlete Cameron Hummels. We finished it off and made to Wildflower for a easy swim!

Matt looks pretty happy in the background

The Race:

I started the swim and had some tingles in my quad and was nervous. The swim was good though. We were all in one pack for the first couple hundred and I felt comfortable. Then I looked up and the guy in front of me (NATHAN!) lost the feet of the lead group. I came around but I couldn't close the gap. So let Nathan come back around, and slapped his feet for the last 800 meters.

Chilly Morning! The PRsix didn't mind!

My quad felt great on the uphill run to the bike. Then we started ripping down hill, I lost contact with Chris Leiferman and and Nathan Killam. My quad started to twinge and was not firing well. On the ride, I could tell that my left leg was just not firing correctly. I was riding with Thomas Gerlach, and my watts seemed low but the effort was high.

Some flat and fun sections!

Chris Baird rode by and I thought I would give it a go and ride with him. That lasted a few minutes and I was alone. As my pedal stroke worsened, Gerlach and a few others came around and put some time into me on the last 15 miles of the course. We hit the run and I was reduced to a shuffle stride for the eleven mile slog. The friendly vibe at Wildflower is great. I can't think of another race where people be so positive as they were ripping by me on the trail. I got a ton of support from fellow athletes. Not a great race, but always a fun experience. It was great to see Nathan finish so well, and Maik make the top ten!

a bit of climbing
Since I have been back in Tucson, I have gotten a TON of body work done. Things are improving but my run stride is still off a bit. Trisports helped me dial in my bike position which may have been part of the problem. Craig Smith at Smith Performance Center has spent some serious time trying to get me stronger so that I can avoid this in the future.

Not my happy face

I am also in the last days of teaching high school. It has been a fun ten year run, but I am ready and excited for a change. Some big moves are in the works for the future.

In the immediate future is a trip to the east coast to race Eagleman, then off to IRELAND! In typical family honeymoon fashion, my wife, parents, and cousin are off to Ireland. I am racing Challenge Galway and my family is coming for the Guinness and Jameson! I am excited to race (especially if I can race healthy!) and pumped to check out a new country with an all-star crew. While we are back East we are going to spend time in Lake Placid for our anniversary, and hit up New Hampshire to visit Amy's brother and train a bit in the White Mountains. Then it is off to a wedding and back to the dirty T to cap off some IM training on route to Ironman Vineman.

Lake Placid!

A big thanks to all of my support system. has been amazing this year. They set up my bike and it felt the fastest it has ever felt. Thanks also to Big Sexy Racing. Besides being one of the sexiest kits out there, it is damn comfortable. Some times I sleep in it! My Huub wetsuit has great shoulder flexibility, and felt awesome in the swim. Thanks to Rbar energy for fueling me to Do More all year! They are too good! I am happy to be riding my Quintana Roo PRsix. Thank you to Kaori Photo for all of the high quality race day photographs. Finally, a huge shoutout to my longest running sponsor Ben Hoffman Racing. And of course, the crazy support of my wife and family.