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IMWI

One word: Disappointed. I saw yesterday as an opportunity to have a great performance, at my hometown Ironman, with the best fitness of my life. I had an excellent IM focused training block, specific to this race. I had a great race plan to execute. I was healthy and injury free. 2 weeks prior, I had the best 70.3 of my life. The stars were aligned. 

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After a choppy but ok swim, my gap to the front was smaller than ever at this distance. I’m the water we had a group of 4 for the first half, and then it broke up and I was solo. The waves were crazy and I felt like I managed them ok, but maybe spent a little more effort than usual doing so. Not much to report here.

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I rode my race plan, even letting others up the road to be committed to my own execution. I ate, I drank, and I stayed calm and smooth. Just as I trained. I had some hand/finger cramping start right away, which was totally odd. About 2hr into the ride I had a quad cramp, again very odd as I never cramp. Then about 3 hours into the bike I started peeing. Over the next 90min I peed 4 more times. My fluid intake was not higher than any other day I’ve trained that duration. Then there was a power drop off, which may have been happening regardless. But overall my power ended up being 20w below what I’ve done in training. Despite this, I rode into 7th place and was 6th out of transition. I had a decent ride split for the day, and thought maybe with the lower power I would have a little more in the run legs.

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Starting the run I was excited because I heard that 2nd place was 9min ahead. Knowing the past performances of these guys, I was expecting them to run 3hr or more. Me, I’m a runner. I am in the best run shape of my life, having just run 1:13 off the bike in Traverse City. All of my training has indicated that 2:50 was doable as long as I executed through the first 6hr of the race, which I had done. I went out and held myself to the pacing plan my coach and I practiced, only things felt much different than usual. The urination continued, now coming every mile. It was dark in color, but also extremely confusing because I was not drinking that much fluid. In the 6 Ironman races I have done, this has happened 1 other time (IMWI 2017). Never at any other races, never in training. Regardless, I pressed on, holding pace through the first loop, moving my way solidly into 6th and closing on 3 more up the road. I was in a good spot mentally, despite all of this. At the start of lap 2 I tried to increase my pace, as planned, but it just wasn’t happening. However, I continued to run decent, around 6:30 miles give or take. Then, mile 16 happened. 

*a lot of this is reported from athletes/friends of mine who witnessed this* I don’t remember a lot of it. 

I ran myself into the stadium wall at Camp Randall and let out a groan. Eventually I recovered and entered to stadium to run the loop. On the way out I stumbled, fell onto the curb, and stared off into nowhere. A course official asked me if I needed help, I said no. By this time my friends watching had called Kitty and she was on her way over. I got back up, then quickly went back down. I then started walking and seemed very dazed and out of it. My friends and a police officer started following me down the course. I tried to run, but had no motor control to do so. Eventually I ended up back on the pavement, passed out. I remember a lot of commotion. Voices from people I know but nothing specific. I remember Jenny rolling me on my side when I started as if I would throw up. But mostly I just remember feeling like I was sleeping. Then I felt Kitty touch my face and tell me she was there. That moment is clear. I opened my eyes and said “oh shit” because I realized I was done. The medics came. They asked me my name and age. I was wrong on age but right on name. I started saying some weird stuff about what I was doing. Then the medic told me it would be unethical for them to allow me to continue.  They tried to put an IV in, but failed. It felt to me like 2 minutes had passed, but apparently it was a long time. Eventually I was loaded into the ambulance and worked on for an hour before going to the Med tent for more attention. The peeing didn’t stop. I became extremely cold and unable to warm up. My blood pressure was under 100. My blood sugar was 120. They got an IV in me and gave me 3 liters of fluid. I peed 3 times in the med tent. It was brown. They wrapped me in blankets and used a space heater to warm me up. After some time the doctor told me I had life back in my eyes, and eventually I was let out to Kitty. Nobody there really indicated any possibilities of what was happening to me, or whether or not I needed to get more extensive blood work done, or anything. We quickly found a Porto potty so I could pee again, then went home. 

Right now I’m devastated. Mostly because I have no idea how it happened. I wasn’t making stupid decisions with pacing/effort or nutrition. I wasn’t underprepared. I don’t know what I would do differently. I’ve had multiple training days with higher TSS and better/faster/more comfortable runs off the bike. I don’t know what to point to. 

My body failed me. It’s hard right now, less than 24hr later, to sit here and not think about the hours and hours of training, the sacrifices I’ve made in order to do so, the sacrifices Kitty has made to support me, the countless conversations with her about this race, just to suddenly fail. I think that’s the hardest part for me to process. 

Now I start to turn the page from this and move on. I’m talking with my coach about how things unfolded and trying to determine what could have gone wrong. I’m going to contact a medical professional who may be able to help me determine the cause for excessive urination. I’m going to schedule a comprehensive sweat test to determine what my needs are, in case that has anything to do with this. Because there is no sense in racing this distance until I have a grasp on how to avoid this happening again. 

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I want to thank everyone who came out to support me on course, sent messages, and reached out to see how I was doing after the race. You are all amazing and I am truly thankful to have people in my life like you. It means so much to me to know I’m not alone in this. I love you all. Congrats to all the finishers out there yesterday. And happy birthday, Kitty. I hope you enjoyed the afternoon outside of a med tent. 🙁

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Time for a break to move to our new home and get married to the love of my life. September can still be saved.

Cheers, 

PB

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Traverse City 70.3

Pre race-

The trip to Traverse City started out a bit frantic, as Keily and I sat in a cafe parking lot in Oconomowoc and realized the ETA to the Manitowoc Ferry was 1:52p for a 2:00p departure. The cutoff time for loading vehicles was 1:30p… and Jackie was already in Manitowoc and relying on my vehicle once we crossed Lake Michigan. This was a huge, but not surprising oversight. These things happen when Andrew and I are together. It’s like a battle of “who can be more chill” and this time we both almost lost. As I sped towards Manitowoc I asked Andrew to call and give them our now optimistic ETA of 1:45p and see if we should even bother with the 90+mph risk or not. The phone call goes as follows: “Hi, um, I have a sick kid this morning and am running late, but yeah so we are on our way and will be there at 1:30p. Will we still be allowed on?” This was 50% funny and 50% what. Sick kid? 1:30? Regardless, we motored on. Jackie was able to smooth talk the operators and we got there at 1:44p and they let us on. Crisis averted. I’m just wondering what type of dad leaves his sick kid behind for a ferry ride…

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Andrew on the lookout

The big boat ride across the big lake was pretty cool. Andrew and I tried to play bingo but the number caller was doing a comedy routine so we bailed. We spent the rest of the ride looking at the water in awe, when Andrew drops the line “one thing I do wish was real is mermaids though.” What. Arriving in Luddington, MI the ferry driver pulled a sweet 180 turn in the harbor and parked the ship. We got into our car and headed out for the last 2hr drive to TC. We dropped Jackie off at her homestay, went to the gas station for guilt free snacks, then met our Airbnb hosts Carol and Rick around 10pm. She showed us the bed we would share and said goodnight. About 20min later she came back down to offer a blow up mattress, testing the waters of our relationship… “nah we good,” we said. I actually slept really well next to that 6’4″ Mermaid Hunter.

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The magic pad

The Saturday before the race was typical. Little workout, pro meeting, check in, etc. This race was logistically simple and that was nice. Sitting in the pro meeting I came to the realization that I hadn’t really thought at all about who was racing and how that might influence the race. My mind has been 100% on IMWI, which is what I’ve been training for and TC 70.3 was just a test day 2 weeks out. I hadn’t tapered, having done a 7 hour day on Wednesday and 22 miles of running on Thursday. But after an easy Friday and Saturday I started to get the racing itch. To be honest I was nervous about how my body would respond. The training load has been higher than previous 70.3 races, and without the taper I had no idea what to expect. But I was honestly ok with whatever outcome and just excited to race for the first time since June.

Race Recap-

The morning alarm came quick, followed by the regular thoughts of “why do these have to be so early?” We walked to the race start, prepped the things, then got in the water to warm up. I didn’t have time to get a jog in, so I did about 8min of swimming and 3min of water jogging (I think that’s what it was) to get the blood flowing. We lined up and the cannon went off. The first 400m to the turn was a bit crowded, but I focused on my own effort and when we got to the turn things started to string out a bit and I found a group. The rest of the swim flew by as I just focused on the feet in front of me. Exiting the water I saw I was with 7 others, so that was nice. We ran through a long t1 and grabbed our bikes fast so nobody missed the train. 27:30 for the swim.

Onto the bike we had a solid climb to start the ride. I knew that everyone was going to over bike that section and that it would be fairly easy to bring any gap back once we got to the top, so I just sat up and let the HR come down while keeping the power in check. As predicted a little gap opened up and I came around the group and closed it over the next fast section. From that point until around mile 34 one of those amazing miracles of non draft triathlon happened, where everyone was magically riding the same speed. Even the faster swimmers who were caught somehow found it within themselves to stay on the back of our 8 man group. Wow. I wasn’t back there to verify, but from my angle the spacing was a bit questionable. And we didn’t have a moto official with us for the first hour. However I knew that if we wanted to get back into the race we would need to ride fairly steady. So Blake and I rode at the front, with the occasional help from 1 other. Once we got to the out and back section at mile ~34 we could see the gaps. From there I decided that we needed to ride a little harder to close some of that down if there was any chance at running into the top 6, which was the pay out for this race. We hit the finial 22 mile stretch home and we finally had a moto with the group AND a headwind. I went to the front and rode my 70.3 watts and magically the miracle of non draft triathlon reversed, and I rode 2+ minutes into the group behind, with Blake holding behind me (fairly, IMO). 2:13 bike split, moving into 12th place.

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Pic: @higgybabyphotography

The run was a big question mark. Not my fitness, because I knew that was going really well, but more of just the lack of rest and how that would feel. Right away I could tell that my legs were ok and the pace came pretty easy. I was clicking off 5:35ish miles and was excited to see where I was at the first out and back. At mile 2 I could see that I was in 10th place and the next 2 guys didn’t look good. Andrew and Justin Metzler were battling it out for 6th and 7th early in the run. As they barreled toward me, breathing so hard, I could tell that one of them was going to crack as they seemed to be stuck in their own little 1-1 battle… or at least I hoped. The next time I saw those 2 on the 2nd out and back Keily had moved in front and Metzler just wasn’t having his day. I knew eventually I would catch Metzler for 7th, but had no idea what the actual gap to Keily was and he looked ok. At the start of the 2nd loop I was really feeling good. I ran a 5:29 7th mile and I really had to convince myself to chill because it was too early. The big run volume I have done was paying off, as that’s usually the point of the race I either slow down or it gets ugly. But that day I was feeling great. A little later I saw Jackie en route to a 1:16 half marathon and WIN… and she calmly tells me “let’s go only 30 more min!” My thoughts are ‘wow she’s right, but how does she even know that?’ It was good to hear because 30min seems slo much easier than 5 miles. I continued running, passed Metzler for 7th, and could see at the next out and back that Andrew was slowing and the pass would happen soon if I held it together. As I ran up behind him I went from focused competitor mode to coach mode, and I started yelling every instruction I had, which I’m pretty sure was something like “Listen, the guy in 5th is fading (made that up). Do not give up right now. Hold it together and get the leg speed up. We can do this.” Probably a few swear words but IDK. The mile after that was the hardest because I was trying to catch my breath from the instructional pamphlet I just read to him on how to run the last 5k of a 70.3. The rest of the run was pretty uneventful. I was gaining on 5th but knew I would run out of real estate. I crossed the line 6th overall with a 1:13:30 run split, 3:57 total time.

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da boyz

It was really cool as a friend and his coach to turn around and see Andrew come across next, in 7th. This was a breakthrough race for him and he earned it. It’s awesome to have a relationship with someone who will go to war on Sunday but then be generally happy for you when the race is over. I took the last payed spot, so this situation came with a little $ dynamic… but Andrew only mumbled once about his mortgage. Haaaaa. Blake came across the line to round out the top 10, and with Jackie winning the women’s race and Robin Pomeroy taking 7th, the Wisconsin Pro’s had a solid day in Michigan.

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Me 6th, Lussi 5th, Gambles 4th, Kilshaw 3rd, Reid 2nd, Hanson 1st

Overall that was probably my best front to back 70.3 race. Not my fastest overall, but my best when all put together. And the run split really reflects what I have felt I was capable of all season. That’s the closest I’ve been to the winner! This gave me a lot of confidence going into the final 2 weeks before IMWI. I didn’t have a lot of ‘top end’ during the race, but I was smooth and controlled the entire time. Afterwards, I had zero soreness. My coach Bevan says it’s because “I’m really fit.” I think it’s because of the sleeve of cookies I ate before the race. 😉

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That’s a big boat

The boat trip home was fun. Jackie and Andrew are fun to travel with. A lot of laughs and Jackie bought us Wendys Frosty’s with her prize money. I got a small. Shoulda got a large. After dropping all the kids off, I got home at 3am. Long day but a good day.

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SS Badger

We are about a week out from IMWI and things are still going really well. The fitness is there, the plan is solid, and it’s now down to execution. I’m looking forward to a big day in my backyard, and look forward to seeing everyone else out there doing their thing.

Cheers,

PB

 

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Steelhead 70.3

7th Overall. 3:55. PR at 70.3 distance. DE7700B0-F6F3-462B-9495-832839525801

As I sit here, with sore legs, devouring all food within 10 steps of the couch, I am thinking about my next moves. What can I do better in the next training block? How can I take that elusive next step (the one that keeps moving further away as I prog
ress)? How can I execute better at the next race? Wait, what is the next race? Wait. Woah. Slow down. Soak it in. I just went 3:55 in a 70.3. I just finished 8min behind a legend in the sport… the same legend I was 15min behind at the same race last year. When I started this sport this was unimaginable to me. Hell, in 2010 if you told this 5:55 70.3 finisher that he would go 3:55 and finish 7th I may have asked if the swim was canceled and the course was shortened. And if not, how could I not be top 3 with a 3:55?!?! The sport has definitely gotten faster. And so have I. And I am right now, in this moment, appreciating that and this entire journey. I truly love it. The training, the lifestyle, the whole entire process. Failures, injuries, triumphs, and all. What a ride! And I still feel like it’s only really heating up. I hope everyone has the awareness to occasionally pause and really be satisfied with their accomplishments before moving onto the next ones, or beating yourselves up about the things you can do better. 

Race Recap:

Swim-29:57.  Lake Michigan was calm, unlike last year! And it was wetsuit legal, unlike last year! Despite this, I had my slowest swim of the year. I just had one of those days in the water where I could not go hard. Nothing felt right. In Chattanooga, when I came out with the 2nd group, I was able to put in hard efforts to close any gaps and then settle in whenever on feet. This time all I had was 1 gear. It was solo, other than the guy on my feet, the entire way. When I got out and saw 29 high I was disappointed, but not devastated… entering T1 I was very happy to find out the leaders were only (haha) 3.5min up, which meant the swim was slow for all due to the current. Usually a near 30min swim would mean a 7min deficit to the leader. Praise be.

Bike- 2:06:12. Even though I felt so weak during the swim, I got onto the bike and immediately had one of those moments where you want to loudly yell “ohhhhhhhh babyyyyy, I got dem Golden Legs.” But I just whispered it instead. I felt great. I rode steady at what ended up being 4.3w/kg for the first ~20 miles and it truly felt so good. Controlled and sustainable, although I would never find out if it was. By mile 25 I had moved from 19th to 7th and was now with a group of 5. Being with a group was a first for me. Once there, I went to the front immediately and continued at my watts only to be passed back by Blake Becker who rode hard at the front for the next section. It was him and I back and forth for a bit to the turn around, but honestly more Blake at the front to that point because I decided the smart thing to do would be to stay the legal distance and get a little break from the hard effort to bridge the nearly 2min gap in the first 20 miles. Once we saw the 2nd group at the turn and we knew where we stood things got a bit more organized. Jesse Vondracek, Blake, and I did our best to keep the pace going to minimize the gap to the next group. When at the front I would ride 4.5w/kg only to look back and see everyone still there. Riding away was not going to happen on this course, with no real wind. So working together seemed like our best bet. Meanwhile, 2-3 others just sat on the back, which is fine because it may have been all they could do that day. I also knew that within that group Jesse would be the biggest threat on the run, as he has been running about as fast as me in the previous few races we’d been in together. At the same time, this group was out of the money and 4min back from the 2nd-6th place group. That was going to be a tall order on the run, so we needed to hold the pace and try to claw back a bit. Sparing all the minor details, we rode well on the way back in, legally spaced, with a moto official in the group the entire time.

 

Run- 1:15:46 I lost half of my bike nutrition (because I dropped it at an aid station like an airhead). So in t2 I slammed a gel and a bunch of water. Out of t2 I was shoulder to shoulder with Jesse, which TBH I was not super pumped about right away. The last thing I wanted to do was get into a 13 mile battle with someone. I sort of wanted to just get away and suffer alone… weird I know. I also knew that 6th was about 3:30 up and that I would need a fast run to have a shot. So I went out pretty hard, and after 1 mile was by myself. Things were rolling fairly well for awhile. No leg numbness or hip issues, which I’ve been dealing with all year, and the gap was coming down. At mile 6 I waIMG_5932s 2min back from 4th. By mile 9 it was around 90sec to 5th and 6th. With about 5k to go I was in the hurt box… bad. I sort of wanted Kitty to tell me that they were out of reach, because then I could just focus on getting to the finish. But instead she told me I was 1:07 down to 5th and 6th and I let out a pretty loud “F$@K!” because I knew it was doable and I knew it was going to REALLY REALLY (really) hurt. So off I went, deep into the land of self inflicted physical pain and mental self bargaining. Now with 2 miles to go I could see them for the first time. I dug deep. Thinking “up onto the toes. Leg speed. Go to the arms. Grind it out.” Mile 12 now and the gap is closing more and more. “Ok, stay on it. They have mentally settled and they don’t know you’re coming.” Obviously they are running slower so maybe they will get sloppy. And then the dreadful heavy dead leg feeling set in. The one you have when you are dreaming of running and no matter how hard you try you can’t go fast. The harder you try, the slower you go. Then I knew, it was over. Close, but no cigar. 7th place. 34 seconds out of 6th. 37 seconds out of 5th. 

As always, I couldn’t do this sport without my support team. Kitty was helpful in so many ways this weekend, and everyday as I balance training, work, family and life. She said all the right things when I was out there racing (which is really hard to do) and provided me with the best race mantra I have ever used. Mark and Tina Buttner traveled down to watch and support me as well, which was above and beyond and it was great to see them out there and know they were pulling for me. Thank you guys! Of course, all of my friends, family, Team PBC (same) back home on the tracker. I think of you all often out there! Thanks for caring about my passion. Finally, a special thanks to my training partners who endure the day to day glamorous lifestyle of a pro triathlete with me, even if it is only for a session or 2 per week. You guys inspire me and make me believe.

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Cheers,

PB

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St. George 70.3

Race #2 of the season would land me at one of my all-time favorite courses, Ironman 70.3 St. George, Utah. This course is seriously tough both physically and mentally. Between the pre-race logistics, the course terrain/elevation, the weather, the 3 miles up a bluff to start the run… it’s easier to just say “if you know, you know.” However, I wouldn’t have it any other way as courses like this suit my racing style and also tend to deliver a more fair/honest race up front. Being that it was the North American 70.3 Pro Championship with $75k on the line, the competition was very solid. As with every race my goal for this one was to execute the best I could. I was confident that if I did that it would land me into the top 10. Here’s how it played out:IMG_5993

Swim-

The water was cold but manageable with a wetsuit. Warming up my stroke felt good and connected and I was confident and focused.  I lined up on the left side of the pro field, thinking this would allow me to breathe right and see what was going on during the first few hundred meters without needing to do much sighting. My plan was to then move over into whatever group was forming as we hit the first turn. In hindsight this actually left me solo for quite some time until I merged over and found Sam Long to swim with. Once with him I didn’t sight forward, but rather relied on him to direct us. At the first turn I could see the main chase pack had gapped us a bit and slowly I moved from Sam’s shoulder to his hip, and then his feet… and then off his feet… and then solo. Something that has happened to me repeatedly in open water swimming is that I lose the rhythm, focus, stroke, whatever you want to call it and it’s hard for me to gauge in the moment what it is that will bring it back, or even if the effort I give is actually improving my speed. There is no reference like a clock or a wall every 25yds to see if the input is working, or another swimmer next to me to see if I am matching their speed or swimming away. So I am swimming in this state of unknown AND with this mental sense that if I took a couple easy strokes, rebalanced myself, and went again, that would of course be costing me time and I can’t lose any more time… so the stroke must go on.. poorly… and at a high rate of exertion. Sigh. I am working on this.

Anyways I came out in 28:11, about 1:30 behind the main chase pack and 1:00 behind Long. Overall it’s still a step forward from where my swim has been in previous years. But if you ask anyone I swim with in training, they will understand how much of an underachievement that is.

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Photo: Kitty Torrison

T1- I was gassed. Couldn’t catch my breath and felt dizzy. My HR was so high, and I just kept thinking “what is wrong with me?” In fact, at my bike Kitty was there to let me know what was going on and I just said “something is wrong with me.” She didn’t disagree. LOL.

Bike-

Onto the bike I felt ok once I was able to let my HR settle. The power was decent up the first climb and I was catching the few in front of me pretty easily. Once over the first climb I started to settle into my race watts and focused on what I needed to do to get myself back into this race. I had trouble keeping any nutrition down during the first hour of ride for some reason. That was odd, but I wasn’t overly concerned because I felt ok energy wise. My watts were down about 10 from Oceanside, but I had plenty of times the 55-11 was not enough to hold race watts, so I was ok with it. Nothing much to report here… lots of ups and downs but nothing too major until Snow Canyon Climb at mile 41. I was pretty happy with how I rode up that 5 mile climb considering I have hemorrhaged time to my competitors there in the past due to just being exhausted at that point in the ride. I averaged 4.45w/kg for 16min up the climb and felt totally in control. I bombed the long descent into t2, catching another 4 riders. One of them was Andrew, who I coach and train with often. I was excited to come into t2 with him and hopefully be able to work together on the run, as we have so many times in training. Unfortunately, and almost expectedly at this point, he crashed dismounting his bike. I can’t make this stuff up. Something happens to that guy on the bike every single time he races. It’s funny but it’s not. When I heard the crash behind me I knew. I didn’t need to look back, but I did and when I did we had through helmet visor eye contact and this telepathic conversation where we both just mumbled “of course.” Bike split was 2:12 and I was into t2 in 16th place.

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Photo @itskennywithrow Instagram

T2- as I’m putting on my shoes I see Andrew walk by me pushing his bike with his rear Der dragging on the pavement and blood coming from his arm. He said something like “let’s go, you’ve got a shot” knowing that top 10 was my goal. I responded with “I can’t even believe you right now” in reference to his crash and think back on how many Coach mode conversations I’ve had with him about practicing his dismount.

Run

A quick t2 had me in 15th place starting the run with 3 guys right ahead of me. I was about 3min from the top 10 and knew that a few guys up the road weren’t typically as fast of runners AND that this course would likely eat a couple others alive. The first few miles I felt fine. I gradually caught and passed Trevor Wurtele on the long climb up the bluff and put in a small gap on the mile 4 downhill. However, although it happened a little later this time, my left leg started to go numb/tingly again from my piriformis syndrome. I was pretty frustrated because I had made a bunch of progress on this since Oceanside, and thought I had left it behind me. Also, the tightness in my glute and lower back, mixed with the odd leg sensation really destroys my stride. And that is a bad thing to have happen when you are trying to run fast downhill or grind out a 2 mile uphill. At mile 6 I had closed time to the top 10. By mile 8 I was going backwards, losing time and actually being caught by guys from behind. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t there mentally. When I am suffering on the run I can dial into that pain like it’s a volume knob. Turn it up, tolerate it, settle into it, dial it up again, etc. But when it is something I can’t control like my piriformis, I can’t even think about the volume. I’m just overwhelmed with trying to keep my legs under me. I saw a video of me running thanks to Josh Terwoord and WOOOOOF, it looked bad. Kitty and Andrew also both said it looked nothing like my normal stride.

 

It’s frustrating, but I do feel like I’m making progress here and hopefully won’t be an issue much longer. So, I was passed back by 2, passed a couple others, etc. and ended up running in 14th with 2 miles to go, and magically I could feel my leg again. Ernest Mantell caught me in the last 800m and put about 10 meters into me. My thoughts were: “why dude? I wanted to jog.” and then “whatever this is for 14th place.” and then “ok self, we are either doing this or we aren’t doing this.” followed by “you will be mad if you don’t do this.” So of course I sprinted the last 100m or so and luckily was able to pass him back. Yay. 14th. E8FCCCF2-9CA2-4290-BA6D-A18EA929F268 I ran 1:19:58 which is my slowest run in about 2 years, but I am running better in training than I ever have in the past. So, yeah… doing glute work as I write this :).

Overall I was 4:04, 2min faster than last year and 1 spot higher overall. Yet the feeling after this race was so much different than in years past. I felt that last year I raced to my potential and that was satisfying even though I was not in the race at all relative to the top 10. This year I felt like I lacked across the board, and that’s never satisfying, even if the result is decent.

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Photo: Kitty Torrison

However, the best news about not racing to your potential is that you can learn from it, make changes, and try again knowing that your next one could be the breakthrough you’ve been working for and seen glimpses of. So, keep working on my PS/leg issues and then Chattanooga 70.3 in 2 weeks…?!?! Probably. Definitely. Yes.

Thanks for reading.

PB

 

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Oceanside 70.3 Recap

2019 is off and running after Oceanside 70.3 this last Saturday. I knew going in that my fitness was in a good spot, but I also had realistic expectations for how the race could unfold for me coming from a long Wisconsin winter and 4 months since the last race. It’s exciting when you make progress over a 4 month training period, but without a true test during a race it’s a bad idea to create some sort of high expectation in your head. So, I focused on the process of executing a race I would be proud of and let the rest fall into place. I’d say if I had 1 major goal, it was to have a swim that showed some signs of progress since 2018.

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Swim- the beach start was new to me. As much as I would have liked to practice this while visiting Florida the week prior, it just wasn’t the same… at all.  I successfully made it through/under the waves and toward the first turn buoy without too much issue other than a short bout of anxiety due to a spiked HR after the run and duck dives. The group exploded around me and there wasn’t an obvious pack to get into. I settled into my usual solo rhythm and things seemed to be going ok. The sun was into my eyes as I turned into the harbor and that made sighting difficult. I had to stop and just make sure I wasn’t missing a buoy. Later in the swim the top pro woman came by (started 2min after us) and that made things 10x easier to the finish because I could just sight the paddle boarder. Note to self: make front group for paddle board escort 😂

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Bike- the start was a bit confusing and at one point I went off course on a round about. I managed to jump a curb to get back without any real time lost. Unfortunately I lost a bottle of nutrition in that bunny hop. Nothing I couldn’t survive without. Once settled in I felt good. My power was solid heading out and I quickly caught 9 guys who swam 1’+ faster, half of which magically were able to get on my wheel for the next 30 miles or so. I caught a few more later on and moved into 15th. Nothing eventful from there until mile 40ish when I was able to drop the group I had pulled along most of the ride and put ~2min into them before t2. I was satisfied with the bike effort, coming in with the 10th fastest ride of the day, doing all the work.

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Run- off the bike I could tell I had really good energy, so the nutrition was dialed and I was feeling good about running into the top 10. I heard a split that I was 3min behind 7th and I felt optimistic about that based on how I’ve been running in training and off the bike last season. But within the first mile my entire left leg went completely numb all the way down to the foot and my lower back was killing me. This isn’t something I’ve dealt with in the past during a race, to this degree anyway. It was actually a bit scary! I stopped to loosen my shoes, I stopped to try and shake my leg back to life, I tried stretching at an aid station. Nothing helped. Although the leg was numb, my pace was ok so I decided to just “keep myself in the game” for the first loop and hope the leg fixes itself. Unfortunately at mile 7 it was really bad and I hadn’t made up much time at all and a top 10 wasn’t looking great. In that moment I really wanted to stop. Not because I wasn’t going to be top 10 but because I didn’t want to do more damage. But then I saw a man from CAF running on 2 prosthetics and it reminded me of the night before, running the IronKids 1 mile with a 7 year old boy named David who has 2 prosthetic legs and missing half of his right arm. That kid didn’t complain a single time during that run. In fact, he said things like “this is the most fun I’ve ever had!” And “prosthetics won’t stop me from finishing this race!” He did the whole thing with a smile, for 25min of walk/run. It truly inspired me on another level and being reminded of that during the lowest point of my race kicked my butt right into gear. So I decided I could deal with a bum leg and get to the finish. I managed to run 5:45 pace for the last 6 miles. That put me into 13th overall, and just 1min out of top 10 overall. 1:16:30 run.

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Recap- Oceanside was a great race and experience and I’ll definitely be back. It’s always good to test yourself against the best in the sport, and this field provided that. I’m happy with the start to the season and look forward to another go at St George. This time without the back/hip/leg issues!! In hindsight there were some warning signs about my lower back and left leg that I chose to ignore. I’ve dealt with left hip tightness for 10 years due to an underlying condition, but this is the first time it has really come to effect me in a race. Some preventative measures and it should be a non issue. It was a good reminder to stay on top of the body work, especially since I’m getting really really very extremely old (33). 😉 As always, another major lesson is to never give up and stay focused on the process. That goes for both this race AND my entire triathlon journey/career. I’m continuing to improve and continuing to have fun. The rest will fall into place!

Thanks for following.

PB

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The Perfect Training Partner

Everybody loves a good training partner. Some days we need the accountability, motivation, support, or just some socializing while we knock out our training. Whether it’s an easy session or a wind sucking track session, training partners can help you get through your week more easily. So, what makes a good training partner? Here are my thoughts: The “Be’s and the Don’ts”

Be Reliable

This one is easy! If you say you are going to be there, be there. Everyone has busy lives and packed schedules and we might not realize how someone reorganized their day so that they could make that 8am run work with you. Maybe they moved a meeting, moved other sessions around, planned for someone to watch their kids, or promised their partner they’d be done and home by 9! Sure, life happens and things pop up. But after a few last minute cancelations you can be assured that no one is going to plan their day around you going forward. So be reliable! And sometimes that just means being realistic with your planning.

Be On Time (or at least easily tricked)

We all know that person! And if you don’t, well then it’s probably you… You know; the person who texts 5 minutes after the scheduled meeting time that they “will be there in 5mins” and when they do they aren’t ready to roll. Ugh! Yeah, it happens to all of us on occasion, but some people are chronically late. Don’t be that person! A technique I like to use is to take the time I want to start the session, subtract 15min, and send out the invite. Sometimes that means I’m the person that is “late.” 😉

Be Supportive

Build each other up, don’t tear each other down. Whether it’s training stress or life stress, we can all get through it a little easier if we have someone who can relate. A good training partner will listen and offer support when needed… even if you’ve heard about the sore ankle like 100 million times and you can’t take it anymore! Be there to remind them how to focus their energy toward the positive, because someday the roles will reverse and you will need that support just as bad! When it comes to training milestones, the same rule applies. Be able to say “Oh wow, your FTP is at an all time high? Awesome!”  even if yours is in the dumps. Better yet point out to your training partner when they are doing something well… “hey man, nice work on that last interval. Looking better every week!” We all love to hear that stuff. Positive affirmations!

Be Humble

“Yes, we know you have that KOM, you told me 10 times. Yes, I know you ran faster than me on that mile, it happened right in front of me. Yes, I saw how many hours you trained last week, you won’t shut up about it. No, I don’t want to compare watts with you!” This is a tough one.. because in the RIGHT environment with the RIGHT people these topics can be easily discussed and positive. However, if you are constantly talking about your accomplishments or comparing yourself to others, people are going to get annoyed. Trust me, we can all see when you’re doing well. Your training partners know you dropped them… they were there.

Don’t Race Me, Bro

This comes down to being able to execute your workouts based on your ability and your goals, rather than based on what your training partner is doing. So, if we have a 10 x 800m track set and we are supposed to descend, don’t race on #1 if you can’t be there on #10. EXECUTE. Nailing the session as a whole is better than having a good single interval. More importantly, if you act this way and your training partner isn’t disciplined enough to stay away from the competition, you could ruin their workout too. Yes, we all love a little competition here and there. It motivates us to dig deeper and get more out of ourselves. But if you can’t compete the workout properly, the competition is null. If you want to race, let’s race the last one!

Don’t Complain

Positivity! Don’t drag the group down. If you aren’t ready to work, don’t come. Also, you can be tired/grumpy/whatever and still work hard. It’s ok to say how you feel, but say it once and move on. My best training partners rarely complain. Not much else to really say about this one… because I don’t tolerate it!

Don’t Bring Me Down

If you’re having an off day, or you can’t keep up for whatever reason… let them go. Don’t be mad if you get dropped on a climb. Don’t pout if the pace is too hot on the run for you that day (or every day). Know what you’re getting yourself into and realize that you may not be able to keep up all the time. And that’s ok! Some days the opposite will happen and you need to be ok letting that person go as well. Of course this isn’t always going to happen on an easy ride or run. But if it’s a key session, expect the possibility and make it clear that you can handle being on your own.

Don’t Quit 

Quitting is a habit. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. Then it starts to rub off on the group. Even if it’s not full blown quitting a session, but ALWAYS finding short cuts, it’s bad for the environment. “Oh, I see Tom just put his pull buoy in for this aerobic swim… that sounds nice. I guess I will too.” Yeah, ok, we all have bad sessions and need to know when to pull the plug. But I am talking about that guy/gal that always finds a way out. Just don’t do it! If you consistently do, you probably won’t be around very long.

~

Training partners have made this sport so much more enjoyable for me. Some of my best personal relationships have been formed in those moments between intervals, hands on my knees trying to recover my breath, listening to the suffering of the group, hearing “let’s go, 1 more.” Looking up to a fist bump. Knowing we are in it together. Call it “being in the trenches” or the #grind or whatever it may be to you. Something brings people together when they share a struggle… when they can suffer alongside you.

Happy training,

PB

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2019 Season Kick-Off

Ok! Back on the blogging for 2019. A little coaching info and advice, as well as some personal training and racing blogs. Here we go!

Team PBC 2019

Join us on March 20 from 6p-7:30p at Trek Store Madison East for our season kick off party. This a great opportunity to meet current Team PBC athletes, find out about all our group training, camps, and events, and learn a little bit about how the coaching program works. Also, we will have some snacks and swag to pass around while you socialize and check out all the great merchandise the Trek Store has to offer.

We have such a solid group of athletes this season, and each year I feel like it becomes more and more like a family. We push each other when it’s needed, and we support each other through the highs and the lows. The goals amongst the group vary widely, with some going for Kona, race victories, and milestone results, while others are conquering their fears, building a healthy lifestyle, and doing things they never thought possible. I can’t express how proud it makes me feel to be the leader who helps them find their path toward success. 2019 will be even better than years past, that I know for sure!

My Professional Racing –

Things are clicking along nicely for me in training and I feel I have a very healthy sport, life, work balance as well. Over the last year or so I have become much better at switching “on” when I need to focus on training, then switching “off” and being present with family and friends when not in a session. A lot of that comes down to my decision to start working with a coach again in 2018, which just allows me to structure my day around my training because I know what needs to be done. Prior to that, while self coaching, I was always in my head wondering what session I should do, or if I would do more later in the day. The endless dilemma of “am I doing enough? Is this too much? Is this fatigue what I must overcome to be good?” Constant second guessing led to a state of “always on” and that can really drag you down. The extra “off” time has allowed me to focus better on coaching, relationships, or even some bonus time back into the sport focusing on the mental side of it all.

Overall I am excited for the upcoming season. It’s been a tough winter here in Wisconsin, but trips to Texas and California for training were a nice break from the cold. Fitness levels are at all time highs in the swim (by a lot) and the bike (by 20w) and right where it should be for the run. Of course the true test of all the hard work is racing, which I will do on April 6th at Oceanside 70.3. It will be a stellar field but I’m looking forward to the challenge.

Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for more regular blogs, which I will try to keep short and sweet throughout the season.

PB

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Ironman Wisconsin Pro Tips – Pre Race

 

This is Part 1 of my IMWI Pro Tips series, where I will discuss different aspects of the race, from the days before all the way through to the finish line! Today we discuss what to expect in the 1-2 days before the race, like the athlete village/expo, athlete check in, gear bag check in, as well as a walk through of how the transition area works.

Athlete Village and Expo – EVENT SCHEDULE

Starting Thursday, September 7th, the Athlete Village and Expo will be open. I advise that if you are able to get there on Thursday, do it! The crowds will be smaller, the lines will be shorter, and you will avoid spending too much time walking around too close to the race start. This whole race is an experience, so I suggest you experience the expo and the atmosphere that goes with the excitement of the upcoming race, however I also suggest limiting the amount of time you spend on your feet. There will be different vendors promoting nutrition products, recovery tools, new and improved equipment, etc. This is all cool stuff to check out, but remember – Nothing new on race day!! You can also stop into the Trek Stores Madison Expo area for any last minute tech needs or spare tube/co2 stock, but be sure you have your bike tuned up well before the 2-3 days before the race. In fact, if you haven’t already, I suggest giving your LBS a call to schedule a tune up for 1-2 weeks before race day.

Athlete Check-in

This also opens Thursday, and while you’re there you may as well get checked in! You will need your ID and proof of your USAT Membership, unless you plan to purchase a 1 day license. The process is pretty streamlined and will include a weigh in for medical purposes, all of your gear bags, numbers, swim cap, timing chip, and some SWAG! The earlier you get this done the more time you will have to prepare all of your gear for Sunday.

Race Briefing 

It never hurts to attend the athlete race briefings. You will see on the event schedule there are a few planned throughout the weekend. Try to time your expo experience to include one of the briefings. This will answer any of your questions about the course, last minute changes, logistics, etc. You may learn something new, you may not… however it won’t hurt to go over the course again. I will have a post in this series that covers the course and some of the topics that are covered in the race briefings as well.

Welcome Banquet

I suggest going to this on Friday night, especially if it’s your first IMWI. This whole race is an experience and I think this is another positive and inspiring aspect to the pre-race IM build up. The food is standard pasta usually, nothing special. But there are some guest speakers as well as a motivational video or 2 to get you fired up!

Practice Swim

During the weekend there will be some buoys out and plenty of athletes in wetsuits pre swimming portions of the course. You certainly can get out and do a nice easy swim (or whatever your coach suggests) before the race. However I would avoid any last minute long distance swims to boost your confidence. Trust the training! The most important aspect of the practice swim is to use the buoys to note other landmarks that will help you sight during the swim. Note where the sun is, look at the skyline and see if any buildings line up with the turn buoys, check the swim in and swim exit. Again, keep this short.

Bike + Gear Bag Check-in

Between 10am and 3pm Saturday you will need to check your bike and gear bags in. I think having them completely packed with everything you need is smart, however you will have access to them again on race morning if you were to forget anything or need to add items. Tires should be inflated on race morning, so no need to bring the bike with 100psi to sit in the sun all day and risk a flat. Make sure your race numbers are on the bike and bags before you go down to check in. Again, I suggest getting in and out with this! Don’t hang around the expo socializing too much in the 24hr before race day. Make the drop off and get back inside!

Transition Area

T1 and T2 at IMWI are pretty amazing, being at the Monona Terrace. However it is a LONG transition zone, where your T1 bag and T2 bags are not near your bike. When you drop off your bags, take a look at where things are at. Walk through the process of the transition. Ask volunteers or the information tent any questions you may have about the flow on race morning. Overall, although the transitions are long they are fairly streamlined and simple. We will discuss in another post ways to keep this simple and save MINUTES on your transition times.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for the next post running through the Swim and T1!

-Coach PB

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2017 IMWI – Team PBC Results

What a year! 2017 IMWI did not disappoint, with great weather, amazing crowd support, and some excellent races by Team PBC. We truly became a family over the course of the season, grinding out sessions, training camps, and using each other for motivation ad support when times get tough. After months of preparation, everyone was ready to have THEIR best race.

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Melanie Ott, running herself into 2nd 30-34. Kona bound!

Of the 7 of us that toed the line, 3 were first time finishers, 3 set Ironman PR’s, and 1 is going to Kona in 2018!!

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Julie K with an impressive 1st Ironman finish.

The results speak for themselves. They are the product of smart work and hard work. Commitment day in and day out to get the best out of yourself. And an ability to execute under pressure. I’m so proud of these athletes!

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Kona 2018

Our Team has a great group forming for IMWI 2018. But first we have a few more big races on the calendar for 2017, including IMKY, AZ 70.3, IMAZ, Madison Marathon, and more!

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A few Team PBC athletes during an ice cream social ride, post IMWI.

As a coach, days like IMWI are the reason I do what I do. Seeing so many athletes accomplish their goals and learn more about themselves, it’s very rewarding to be a part of that.

 

Coach PB
Cycling and Triathlon Coach, Madison, WI

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Team PBC Season Recap

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We had a “wheelie” good season!

As a coach, nothing is more inspiring than seeing your athletes achieve their goal. The hours of hard work, steadfast dedication, meticulous planning, communication… it all becomes compressed into a brief moment when they cross the finish line, and realize it was all worth it. I can tell you that in 2016 I had some very proud moments as the coach of Team PBC. I want to share some of them here as part of the 2016 Season Recap:

7 First Time Ironman Finishers

That’s right! We had 7 Ironman distance newbies this season, and ALL finished, and all in under 14 hours. This group of athletes balanced full-time jobs, family, social lives, and training to compete at long course triathlon. Through our weekly group training sessions, PBC Ironman Camp, and incredible dedication, they all toed the line ready to race.

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Dana Kalina – IMWI – 11:43

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Melanie Ott – IMWI – 11:54

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Vant Lammers – IM Canada – 10:17

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Dan Scharneck – IMWI – 13:18

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Andrew Keily – IMWI – 10:40

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Tina Buttner – IMWI – 12:30

Mark Buttner – IMWI – 13:54

2 Wisconsin State Cycling Championships

In his 2nd season with PBC, Revere Greist accomplished his goal of a Wisconsin State Championship. Revere won the Individual Time Trial (on a road bike) and the State Omnium Points Championship this season. In addition to these performances, he scored an overall win at the Blue Mounds Classic Road Race, as well as multiple podiums across the midwest, racing for the Great Dane Velo Club.

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Overall Ironman 70.3 Win

Two years ago Andrew Keily came to me fresh to the sport of triathlon. As a collegiate swimmer he had a great athletic background and wanted to see how far he could take triathlon. After 18 months of focused consistent training, he was ready to establish himself as one of the best amateur triathletes around. In April of this year he took the overall win at Ironman Texas 70.3 with a time of 4:07, earning his Professional License in the process. Andrew will start racing professionally in 2017.

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Amateur ITU World Championships

Vant Lammers qualified for and raced the Age Group World Championships in Cozumel, Mexico in 2016. Coming off of his first Ironman in Whistler, BC, he was able to sharpen his short course speed and finish 7th place at the World Championships M25-29, with a sub 2 hour Olympic distance race.

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Local Triathlon Race Wins & Podiums

The racing here in the Midwest is pretty solid. Between Race Day Events and other local offerings, the calendar is pretty stacked from June – September. Team PBC had some great success locally, with athletes on the podium at nearly every event. Here are just a few highlights:

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Molly Woodford – Elkhart Lake Olympic Overall win, Pigman Sprint 2nd place, Des Moines Triathlon 3rd place

Andrew Keily – 3 Madison Aquathon wins, Lake Mills Tri 2nd place

Vant Lammers – Sugar River Tri overall win, Wisconsin Triterium 3rd place

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Alex Betances – Lake County Tri 2nd place

Dan Bradtke set a PR at each race this season, including some Age Group Podiums.

Jason Spulak completed his first marathon in Chicago. Karuna Sijupati finished 2 century rides.

Road Cycling & Cyclocross

Jason Milesko earned enough points to improve his road category in 2016, including a podium at Hillinois.

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Narayan Mahon has just recorded 2 back to back cyclocross podiums, as he closes in on his Cat2 upgrade.

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Dan Van Der Weide started his season early in Arizona with some great road race results, and then wrapped it up with a solid Milkman 70.3 placing.

What’s New For PBC in 2017?

It’s been such a great year. Beyond all the results listed above, we have created some great friendships and bonds within the triathlon and cycling communities. We have had some amazing support from companies like Roka Sports, PowerTap, Trek Stores of Madison, Great Dane Velo Club, Berkeley Running Company, and more. As we continue to grow, we are always looking for new ways to improve Team PBC and the coaching program. Here are some things we will continue to offer in 2017, as well as some NEW programs for Team PBC athletes to enjoy:

PBC Wednesday Run Groups – 6p-7p 

PBC Saturday Indoor Cycling – Summit Strength & Fitness 

PBC Strength Class – Summit Strength & Fitness 

PBC Sunday Lap Swim, Coached – MCPA Pool 

PBC Open Water Swimming – BB Clarke Beach – Led by Andrew Keily 

PBC Cycling Class @ Trek Bicycle Company – Monday/Wednesday (Trek Employees Only)

Final Notes

As we approach the cold months and our bikes slowly become fixed to our trainers, it’s always motivating to sit down and plan your goals for the upcoming season. We have a solid group of returning athletes and new athletes that I am very excited to be working with. As a coach, my goal is to continue to improve the quality of my athletes training and racing so that they can achieve whatever goals they have, no matter how far away they may seem. If you tell me you want to qualify for Kona, or upgrade to a Cat 1 cyclist, I will never tell you it’s not possible, BUT I will tell you what you will need to do to obtain it. If you put your head down, do the work, and invest in yourself, I will be right there with you working just as hard to make that dream a reality. Nothing is impossible with the right mindset, dedication, and approach. Take it from me – In 2010 I finished my first Ironman in 13:08 at age 24. Four years later I earned my professional license. Two years later I went 8:55 at Ironman Arizona. Anything is possible if you believe.

Thanks for reading,

Coach PB
Cycling and Triathlon Coach, Madison, WI