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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.

AK OWS

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

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Open Water Swim Class – Intro

OWS HEADER

It’s racing season here in Madison! That means it’s time to dust off the wetsuits and start to become comfortable in the open water. Whether you are new to triathlon and open water swimming, or a seasoned veteran, there are always skills to be gained and techniques to be honed. We have a great group of athletes coming out to work with Coach Andrew Keily this season at BB Clarke Beach from 6:00am-6:50am on Tuesday and Thursday, starting June 2nd. We still have some openings available, so feel free to drop in to check us out or sign up HERE.

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We meet each Tuesday and Thursday morning at BB Clarke Beach, at 825 Spaight St. Madison, WI. Drop in fee is $20. First class is free!

Swim Coach, Andrew Keily, has swimming in his blood. A life long swimmer, he is also an Ohio State Alum, Distance Freestyle specialist with a list of swimming accolades that could consume this entire blog. His skills as a swimmer have transferred over to open water swimming and triathlon, and he has quickly become a top finisher across many distances. Now Andrew is combining his skills within the sport with his passion to educate and help YOU become a faster, more confident, and smart swimmer. Below, Andrew describes the approach for the first few sessions, and some other OWS thoughts to consider.

Notes from Coach AK

One of the best things you can do for your open water swimming is to become at ease, or comfortable, in the water. In class, I will teach you many different techniques to let go of “the fear” of open water and group swimming. Once you master comfort in the water, we can begin to work on the technical side of your stroke, sighting, and more. One swim tool that will play a large role in your open water comfort is a wetsuit. Please make sure you have a well fitted wetsuit for class.

Wetsuit Basics:

A wetsuit will do many things to improve your swimming. First, it will keep you warm. This is crucial in the early season when water temps are in the high 50’s or low 60’s, and for this reason we require a wetsuit at class. Second, it helps you float. Wetsuits are extremely buoyant. This should give you some peace of mind, knowing that at any moment during a swim you can roll over to your back to float and relax if needed. The floating also benefits your body position in the water, lifting your hips, and reducing drag which increases speed. And finally, the neoprene of a wetsuit is more hydrodynamic than other fabrics, or even your skin! So all in all, it is always faster to wear a wetsuit when a race allows. During the first few classes we will do a quick tutorial on “How To Put On A Wetsuit,” to make sure you have a good fit, don’t damage the suit, and have unrestricted shoulder motion.  

OWS Basics: What We Will Cover In The Water, Phase 1

Breathing Technique– Just like in biking and running, we need to breathe! Swimming presents the challenge of timing your breathing to coincide with your stroke. Even seasoned swimmers can fall victim to allowing their breathing to dictate their stroke rhythm, rather than working their breath into the proper stroke technique. We will spend a fair amount of time on this, and it will be an ongoing skill to master. 

Full Body Swimming, Driving from the Hips– That’s right, swimming with your hips! The arms create the most propulsion in a freestyle stroke, but you can’t just fight the water. Swimming is a technical skill and shoulder strength will only take you so far. Learning to “drive the hips” will make swimming feel easier and you’ll go faster. Win, win. Say goodbye to shoulder fatigue!

Sighting, Swimming a Straight Line– Why do you swim x:xx per 100yd in the pool but x:xx+30sec per 100yd in open water? Well, one of the first things to assure is that you are swimming straight! A few zig zags between buoys in a 1.2 mile swim can quickly add up to an extra 300 yards or more. Any extra distance is going to cost you time. 300 yards of extra time is significant. Swimming straight will not only ensure you are swimming the minimum distance, but also help to balance your body rotation in order to accomplish this. I will teach you the most effective way to sight, how to reduce your “drift” by balancing your stroke, and other tips and tricks to master this skill. 

This is plenty to focus on for now. I look forward to working with you this season to help you have your fastest, most comfortable, and most confident OWS of your life. 

Coach AK

Andrew and I have worked hard to bring you more than just a group of people who meet to swim around buoys without purpose or direction. Expect each class to have a focus, expect some 1-1 instruction, expect some GoPro video analysis as needed, and expect to have fun and become a better athlete. We both look forward to seeing you June 2 at 6am, BB Clarke Beach. For any questions or comments please contact us at: patrickbradycoaching@gmail.com.

OWS 2

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2016 Texas 70.3 Race Recap

 

2016 is in full swing! 12 days ago I traveled with PBC athlete  and friend, Andrew Keily, to Texas to start the season at Texas 70.3 in Galveston. His parents were kind enough to welcome me into their home and make everything easy for us in the days leading up to the race. They even accommodated my newly discovered lactose intolerance! (Thanks, Mrs K.!) Everything went smoothly as we adjusted to the Texas heat, got in some outdoor swims, and some final little taper workouts to stay sharp.

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Race Day:

I’m going to skip the minor details of the day before and morning of the race and just get straight into it. There was a big Pro field this year with 58 guys originally on the start list. We woke up to the predicted strong cross wind off the coast, but the water was relatively calm considering.

Swim:

Despite our efforts to get in the open water before the race, it never happened. So this would be my first OWS (and race for that matter) in 7 months and my first time in my ROKA Elite wetsuit. Last season I had some struggles with the early part of the swim where I would essentially have a minor panic attack and feel as if I couldn’t breathe. In my 5 years of triathlon this had never been an issue, but for many reasons my anxiety about the swim, and my swim ability, grew. After a hefty off season of swimming I was confident that I not only improved, but that the anxiety about the swim was in my past. But to be honest it was still in the back of my mind as we lined up. For that reason and under advice from my coach, Will, I decided to swim my own swim and not sprint the first 400m. So when the gun went off I was on my own. I could see other caps around me, but we didn’t hold it together as a group. My stroke felt OK but not great. After I settled into a rhythm, and the thought of losing my breath went away, things were ok and I just kept it steady. Expecting to swim a 28, I was a bit disappointed when I came out in 31:xx (once I crossed the time mat) but I could see others around me, so that was a bit encouraging. I felt like I had just done a nice steady effort, unlike last season when I would feel as if I was anaerobic for 30+ minutes. Time- 31:07, 49th Pro out of the water.

Bike:

Being confident I would swim 28-29min the plan Will and I came up with was to work my way up to the next group and legally space to save my legs for the run. We haven’t been doing very much focused cycling since my trip to LA in January, so although I knew I was in decent bike fitness we weren’t going to really press things on a pancake flat course as a 147lb climber type. A hard bike effort would hurt my run, which is at an all-time high fitness point right now. But, although the plan had good intentions, I decided to completely throw it out the window because of where my swim had put me. So I got aero on my Trek Speed Concept 9.9 and immediately was on the gas into the cross/headwind to the out and back turn around point. I passed a few guys pretty early and each time I would look back after about a minute to see that they were not even close, so I figured I was going well. There was a long point where I didn’t see anyone and wondered if I was losing ground, but then a could see a few tiny specs in the distance and that motivated me to work harder. The best part of an out and back course is you know exactly where you are as you approach the turn. Starykowitcz was way out front, followed by Sanders, Weiss, and Drietz. By my estimation those guys were a good 10-11min ahead of me at that point, which I actually took positively because I figured I started the ride about 8min down. So losing only 3min on the bike near the halfway point to 4 of the best cyclists in our sport was not bad. The next few guys were Limkemann and Richie and a couple others, all around 8min ahead. Following them was a large spaced group with Gerlach, Big Sexy, Metzler, to name a few. These guys were about 4-5min up the road. All in all I counted 37 guys in front of me when I made the U turn for home. So between drops and passes I had moved up 11 spots, averaging 25.4mph on the way out. Knowing that there were some guys within range to catch and expecting a few to pop off the larger group, 4min up the road, I continued to ride hard on the way home. I did something I usually don’t do and put it into a bigger gear at a lower cadence and just churned it over as I rocked back and forth. For some reason, that just felt comfortable to me on the day. I made 6 more passes on the way back in, including some guys who looked pretty shelled, and caught on to the back of a small group as we rode into T2. I closed the final 28 miles in 1:01:49, 27.37mph for a total of 2:07:29, 26.36mph, and the 10th fastest bike split of the day, starting the run in 32nd.

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Photo Cred @scottflathousephoto

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^Seems like good company on this list

T2- 

I had some major issues in t2 with the sole of my shoe and my laces being too tight. I lost about a minute here, which was frustrating as I watched the entire group I rode in with exit about a minute ahead of me. This was a result of poor preparation on my part.

Run:

My run fitness is in a great spot right now. A sub 6′ pace is a realistic expectation off the bike, coming from my training feedback and where I’ve been in the past. So I expected at least a 1:17-1:18 on this flat course. And although the first 5 miles were run controlled and steady at 6:00 flat pace, when it came time to pick it up I just didn’t have it. In fact, it became a task to try and maintain 6’s. Through mile 9 my average pace had creeped to 6:06 when suddenly the heat of the day just sort of hit me and I drastically dropped to run the last 4 miles in the 6:30’s. I was able to pass a few more and also hold off a couple charging from behind to work my way up to 26th overall on the day, with a run time of 1:21:59, 6:15/mile.

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Photo cred Mike Alexander

Finish time: 4:03:59

Overall it was a decent race for me coming out of a long winter in Wisconsin. To be honest after I crossed the line my initial feeling was disappointment because I had swam poorly and I thought I’d break 4 hours on the day. In a way that sort of drive to always be better and want more is what motivates me to continue to work hard in the sport. Yet on the other hand sometimes I need to pause and remember to focus on the process and and enjoy the moments of each race and each step along the way. 4:04 is a good time. It’s not great at the pro level, but it’s decent. If I had swam 3min faster and biked 3min slower and finished in the exact same time, I would likely feel much better about it. But that’s sport. You go out there and line up to race and give what you can on the day. And when you cross the line the result is the result. It’s over. Learn from it, enjoy it, take motivation from it, and move on. And if you want to improve upon it, then wake up each day with a fire in your belly and get to work.

About an hour after the race my coach and I decided that I would stay down south for an additional week to continue to OWS and have a more aggressive swim approach in NOLA 70.3 the following Sunday. I met some great people and was connected with an amazing home stay and local tri club. More about that in a future post…

A special thanks to all of my sponsors and supporters, Trek Bikes, Bontrager, PowerTap, Roka, First Endurance, Great Dane Velo Club, and Champion Systems. Without you this sport is not possible for me. I’m on the best equipment in the industry and that allows me to focus on the small things, like whether or not it’s faster to smile when I ride because #dimplesarefaster. (stole that one)

Special thank you to the Keily family for everything they did for me this past weekend. You are truly amazing people and I very much enjoyed getting to know you better. Andrew is a lucky guy. Speaking of Andrew, a shout out to his FIRST AMATEUR OVERALL performance at Texas 70.3 with a 4:07:09. I’m very proud this guy’s hard work and progress in such short time. Bright future ahead! You can read about his race at his new blog – here.

 

 

Thanks for reading,

PB