IRONMAN™ Triathlon Training Tips from a Seasoned Veteran

By Debbie
April 8, 2015 on 12:52 pm | In Athlete Profile, Nutrition Tips, Product Information, Races, Random Musings, Sponsorship, Training | No Comments

This blog brought to you by longtime TriSports athlete Karin Bivens. With many IRONMAN™ races under her belt, she is well-versed on training and racing. Check out her top 10 tips to ensure you are well-prepared for your next attempt at the full distance. Check out Karin’s blog or follow her on Twitter – konakarin.

As a 10-time IRONMAN™ finisher, including 5 IRONMAN™World Championships and a 3rd place podium finish in Kona in 2009, I was recently asked for training tips by someone who  was planning to sign up for his first IRONMAN™ (Arizona) since, as he put it, I was a “seasoned veteran!” I was somewhat surprised and also flattered that he would value my input. I thought about it and here are my Top 10 Tips for IRONMAN™ training:

    1) GET STRONG ON THE BIKE!

      • Although you do need distance, put in the speed work, too.  I did some Time Trials which really helped me push my pace under race conditions.  If you don’t want to sign up for a Time Trial race, you can measure a 20K and/or 40K stretch of road (typical Time Trial distance) and then periodically (i.e., once every 2 or 3 weeks) do your own Time Trial and try to better your time.
      • Bike with stronger people – I tend to do the hard rides (trying to include hills) with fast riders on all kinds of days (windy, hot, etc.).
      • Welcome the wind – let the wind be your training friend!  The wind will make you strong and also confident that you can handle it.

      Karin heading out on the bike

          2) DIAL IN YOUR NUTRITION!

            • I had the good fortune to hear Bob Seebohar speak (www.fuel4mance.com – Dietitian for Olympians, elite athletes and mere mortals).  He indicates that much of the G.I. distress that athletes encounter is not because they eat too little, but because they eat too much!  He emphasizes training your body to utilize its own stored energy.  I use his book, Metabolic Efficiency Training, as a guide. Another great book of his is Nutrition Periodization for Athletes.
            • Personally, I do better with “real food” and try to avoid or at least minimize products with ingredients I cannot pronounce.
            • Most of my solid nutrition is on the bike.  I eat the bars and gels that consist of real food without all the additives.  In my bike Special Needs Bag, I pack a peanut butter and honey sandwich (cut into quarters) and really look forward to ingesting something other than nutrition bars and gels.  One year at IRONMAN™ Canada, I stopped to get my sandwich from my Special Needs Bag and there was Sister Madonna Buder eating her sandwich.  When I asked her what was on it, she replied, “Peanut butter and a pickle!” So eat something that works for you.  I would, however, advise against putting something in your Special Needs Bag that could spoil (I’ve heard of people putting a Big Mac in their Special Needs Bag and wondered how safe it was to eat after sitting there all day and often in hot weather). I also carry my preferred Electrolyte drink on the bike and pack a frozen bottle of it in my Special Needs Bag which helps keep it cooler.
            • On the run I tend to stick mostly with liquids (water, electrolyte drink) and gels. Do find out what electrolyte drink will be served on the course and train with it! It is difficult to pack enough of your preferred drink for the entire race.  Also, there is a possibility that you could lose your nutrition/drink.  At IRONMAN™ France, my Bike Special Needs Bag could not be located!  My system hasn’t always favored the electrolyte drink served on the course, but training with it helps, as well as putting a small amount over a cup of ice or else just diluting it.  You can pack some of your preferred drink in your Special Needs Bag, but you still may need to drink what is on the course.   I found that sipping some Coke over ice can be a real pick-up and can be settling to the stomach!  I remember doing St. Croix 70.3 and Chris “Macca” McCormack was volunteering on the run course handing out Coke (after he finished the race).  He told me, “Take some as it will give you FAST LEGS!”

            3) WORK ON TRANSITIONS!

            • This is “free time!”  I have friends who have missed out on the podium, even though they swam, biked and ran faster than their opponent. They lost it in transitions. There are lots of good videos online about efficient transitions.
            • Take advantage of transition clinics.  You are bound to pick up some small tip that can save time.
            • Train for transitions.  I keep my bike in the garage with my helmet/gloves on the aerobars and my bike shoes next to the bike.  Whenever I head out on the bike, I put on my shoes while standing so that I become efficient at this.  My husband will sit down in a chair to put on his bike shoes and then in a race, he still needs to sit down to put on his shoes.  This takes more time and often space is tight at the bike rack, so learn to put on your shoes while standing.

            Practice standing while putting on your bike shoes

            4) BECOME MORE EFFICIENT AT SWIMMING!

            • I am not a particularly fast swimmer, but I have learned to become efficient and come out of the swim without wasting too much energy and am ready to bike.  If you can, join a Masters swim program.  It will really help.  Swimming is so technique-based that you might want to consider taking some lessons to make your swim more efficient.  You can also read books or watch videos on swim technique (www.swimsmooth.com, www.totalimmersion.net or some of the videos by Dave Scott) or, if possible, take a Total Immersion clinic.
            • Practice sighting as you will need it to make sure you are on course.
            • Practice bi-lateral breathing.  I favor breathing on my right side and am more comfortable on swim courses that are clockwise but that isn’t always the case and sometimes things like wave action can make breathing on the other side more desirable.  It also can help balance out your stroke.  Your head/neck can get pretty tired of turning the same way for 2.4 miles.

            5) VARY YOUR RUN TRAINING.

            • When I trained for my first triathlon (with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s “Team-in-Training”), I was extremely fortunate to have a Pro triathlete (Tim Sheeper) as a coach.  He said to regularly run coming off the bike, even if it is just for 10 minutes, to get your legs adjusted to “running after biking.”  Of course, there are days when you have longer runs following the bike and days when you just focus on the run, but get accustomed to running off the bike.
            • I found that doing some shorter running races (i.e., 5Ks, 10Ks) really helped with my speed as there can be a tendency to run long (but slow) distances.  So train yourself to run fast, as well.
            • Run hills – this will help make you stronger. Even if you are training for a flat run, think how much easier it will be, and if it’s a hilly run, you’ll be better prepared than much of your competition.

            Hills, hills and more hills!

            6) RACE!

            • Doing some shorter triathlons and at least one long course race prior to doing the IRONMAN™ will help with experience, training, nutrition, pacing and transitions.

            7) MIMIC RACE CONDITIONS!

            • Find out what conditions are highly possible on the course.  Train for it.  I cannot tell you how many races I have done where the winds have picked up.  This year at IMAZ, the winds were fierce and there were many DNFs due to missing the bike cut-off. I always think the Pros have it easier as conditions tend to worsen as the day goes on.  By training in wind (refer to the bike tips previously mentioned), you will better be able to deal with them.  The same goes for heat.  If it is likely to be hot on race day, train for heat.  Heck, train for heat even if it isn’t usual at that particular event.  One year when I did IRONMAN™ Canada, it was unseasonably hot, but not as hot as training in Tucson, so I had a good race whereas the heat, and the resulting GI distress on the run, had some calling  it “Vomit-man” (yuck)!  You also need to consider the opposite: cold.  Be prepared.  When I did IRONMAN™ Switzerland (held in July), there was a rainstorm and colder temperatures, especially as we biked into the higher elevations.  I remember being cold on the bike but luckily had a cycling jersey in my bike bag (a jacket would have been even more helpful). Consider the terrain.  Is it a flat course?  Technical course?  Hilly course?  Train for it!  If you are planning to do a hilly course, but live in an area where it is quite flat, you may need to bike on a trainer to mimic hill work, or  find the highest point you can (i.e., ramps, bridges) and do repeats or consider another race that is less hilly.  Humidity or lack thereof also plays a role.  Conditions will determine nutritional needs.  I find that in the hotter races, I eat less/drink more and need lots more salt supplements.  So, again, train under a variety of conditions so that you will be better prepared. These races are hard under perfect conditions, throw some unexpected weather in and it can knock you out of the game. Don’t let all that training go to waste…practice!

            8 ) HAVE A PLAN!

            • You cannot just WING it in an IRONMAN™!  Consider hiring a coach.  If you cannot afford a coach, there are training plans online and books on training.  Joe Friel’s The Triathlete’s Training Bible is a great guide… but there are many others out there.

            9) TRAIN ALONE!

            • Although training with faster people can help make you faster and keep you going,  you also need to train alone and tune into your own workout so you don’t get caught up in someone else’s workout or find that you’ve extended yourself when you should have taken an easy day or a recovery workout.
            • Training alone can improve your mental toughness.  In an IRONMAN™, you are basically out there on your own doing your own race.  You will need to dig deep, especially when your body is not saying anything nice!  You can draw from the experience of having trained alone.

            10) BE THANKFUL THAT YOU GET TO DO THIS!

            • I’ve often said that the best part of these events is the great people you meet who share a similar lifestyle.  Races often become reunions.  I have made great friends along the way, some in my age group, and when we are racing, we duke it out and push each other to greater heights!  The camaraderie is a bonus of these events!  No matter what the outcome, be thankful of the fact that you are out there!  It’s all good and you learn from every race!

            Great friends made over time

            An Interview with a Future Triathlete

            By Debbie
            February 24, 2015 on 2:32 pm | In Athlete Profile, Community, Races, Random Musings, Sponsorship | No Comments

            This blog brought to you by Meredith Yox, TriSports Champion and super-mom. Youth races are popping up all over, but what do you tell your young’un when they ask you about it? Here’s your chance to let them hear about it from the perspective of another kid.  Check out Meredith’s blog and follow her on Twitter – @cabullydogs.

            Sydney Yox is a nine year old fourth grader who, after three years of competitive running and swimming, decided to try her first triathlon last August. The following is an interview conducted with her after completing her first triathlon.

            Sydney Yox pre-race

            Why did you decide to try triathlon?

            When I saw my Mom do all the triathlons and she told me how it was and how she did, it sounded fun. Then my Mom asked me if I wanted to try a triathlon since I had gotten comfortable on a two wheel bike, and I did.

            How were you feeling before your first one?

            I was feeling really nervous. I was trying to focus on one thing at a time and how it would all work out. How I would run and what it would be like to do it all.

            Did you have any plan before the race?

            My Mom told me to focus on one thing at a time. The swimming first, then focus on the biking when I was on the bike, and then focus on the run during the run. So that’s what I did.

            How did you feel when you finished the swim?

            I didn’t have a cramp, and I didn’t feel tired. So I said to myself, “Okay.  Focus on the bike now!”

            How was transition?

            It was really hard because I was all wet, and it was hard to dry off and get my helmet on over my pony tail. It also was really hard when I came back because someone had put their bike in my spot.

            How did you feel on the bike?

            I didn’t feel too bad.  I didn’t feel tired.  But I was scared because there were bumps in the road, and I was scared I would fall. But I was able to do it.

            Once you made it to the run what was going through your head?

            My body was saying, “You’re almost done.  You’re almost there!  You haven’t stopped yet, and you haven’t slowed down.  You’re almost at the finish, and you can do it!”

            Sydney killing it on the run (and sporting a 2XU Girl's Active TriSuit)

            How did it feel to cross the finish line?

            I felt really good because I had just completed my first triathlon! I was really tired, and my throat was sore from breathing too hard. I felt proud of myself when they gave me my medal.

            What’s your favorite part about multi-sport events?

            I really like the biking because it’s easier than the swimming and running.

            Now that you have completed one triathlon and one duathlon what’s next?

            The SuperKid triathlon in Santa Cruz, CA.

            If you met another kid who was thinking about doing a triathlon what would tell them?

            Don’t be nervous, you’re going to be great! It’s actually really fun!

            Sydney post-race with her Mom and 6 year old sister Kylie, who competed in the 6 & under division

            Editor’s note: Is your child interested in trying a tri? TriSports has a whole lot of kid-specific gear. Check it out here!

            After the Finish Line

            By Debbie
            October 28, 2014 on 9:30 am | In Athlete Profile, Community, Random Musings, Sponsorship | No Comments

            This blog brought to you by TriSports Champion Martin Soole. We all know what we do leading up to a race…train, train, train! But what about after? Check out Martin’s blog or follow him on Twitter – martin.soole.

            There are many points in life when one must reevaluate and refocus.  I’ve recently found myself at one of those points. I spent all of last year training and racing toward an Ironman finish. It was a rather simple, lovely existence.  I woke up every morning and knew I had to train.  I put in hours and hours of work.  I bought the best gear available from TriSports.com, I learned from the best; I was the best physical version of myself capable of the world’s most challenging one day endurance race.

            Before Ironman Lake Tahoe 2013

            If you followed my blogs last year, you know that my Ironman debut in Lake Tahoe in 2013 did not go as planned. Read that article here.

            The hundreds of training hours couldn’t prepare me for a bike mechanical failure that ended my day prematurely.  I mourned that defeat for a long time. I had so many questions.  I drove myself crazy trying to make sense of it all and come to terms with an event that was ultimately out of my hands. I had done everything in my power to be prepared for that race.  I even trained with my coach on the course the previous month. But the Universe had other plans.  It turns out that I gained more from that defeat than I would have if I had finished.

            When I was training on a daily basis I didn’t make room in my life for anything else.  I felt like a monk at times.  I stopped socializing with friends, I only ate a strict diet, I let my business dealings lag, and fell out of touch with the artistic reasons for my move to LA in the first place.  Many athletes can find balance during their Ironman journey.  I was obsessed and I could not.

            I moved to LA to work in film and TV. Here I am (far right) on the Showtime show “Shameless”.

            It turns out that I needed a big let down to allow me the breathing room to refocus my energy and begin anew. If I had finished the race, I would have probably gone right into the next and the next and the next and been swept up in the sport and only the sport. There is certainly nothing wrong with this, but I would not have been able to walk down that path in a healthy way. I could have further alienated my friends and family and lost sight of my career goals. I can’t stress enough how obsessed and out of balance I was. But there were lessons to be learned here if I was willing to take note.

            All that time spent training and racing was not lost. Ultimately, I learned what I was capable of, I found my limits, and learned how to push past them. This could not have been learned in any other way. Triathlon has many transferable life skills. Self reliance, resilience in the face of challenges, and mental toughness are just a few that come to mind. These skills have come into play in my professional life, as I am now producing a feature film called “#Speedball.”  It’s an action sports drama, think; “Fast and the Furious” meets the sport of paintball. If you think triathlon is hard, try producing a multi-million dollar movie franchise.

            Despite the Heartbreak at Ironman Lake Tahoe, I knew I needed some redemption and wanted to release the pain of that event from my life.  I fulfilled that at Ironman California 70.3.  It wasn’t the full Ironman finish I had striven for, but this victory was in some ways better. I looked back at the previous year and decided to do things differently as I prepared this time. While training, I started dating a wonderful girl, I kept my relationships strong, and moved forward with all areas of my life. I was able to balance my entertainment career, my personal life, and my training.  I had learned the lesson I was meant to and found closure with the event in Lake Tahoe.

            A victory kiss from my girlfriend

            I still swim, bike, and run. I moved to the beach with that wonderful girl I started dating and I’ve picked up surfing. My life is more full and vibrant than it has ever been.  From my greatest disappointment came the opportunity to live the balanced life I was meant to live.

            Surfing Soole

            So, in the midst of heartbreak and setbacks, take a moment to stop and reevaluate. One area of your life may be out of balance.  That situation is there for a very specific purpose.  Once you’re able to release the hurt, look for the gift in the ashes. There is a lesson to be learned. Don’t mourn the failure; it might be just what you needed. Most of all, don’t forget to keep moving forward.

            The Best Advice I’ve Ever Received…

            By Debbie
            March 17, 2014 on 2:32 pm | In Athlete Profile, Community, Random Musings, Sponsorship | No Comments

            This blog brought to you by TriSports Team athlete Scott Bradley, reminding all of us why we started our endurance sports habits in the first place. Check out Scott’s blog and follow him on Twitter – scottbradley11.

            Trying to be a competitive triathlete is not easy. It requires a pretty large commitment to be putting your name towards the top of the results sheet race after race. There are countless hours spent training, sleeping, eating, reading about the newest training techniques and equipment, studying competitors and everything else we spend time on. If you let it, the whole thing can become one big grind.

            I couldn’t say for sure, but it’s highly unlikely that when anyone started multisport they said, “I want to get involved in a sport that will take time away from my family and friends, cost me thousands of dollars in equipment and race fees (not to mention the larger than normal grocery bills), and beat the crap out of my body day after day so I’m exhausted almost all the time. That sounds fun.”  It’s much more likely that people said something like, “I want to challenge myself to be the healthiest, fittest person I can possibly be” or “that looks like it would be a lot of fun,” which leads me to the best advice I’ve ever received as a triathlete: Make sure it’s still fun.

            When I started triathlon I had no clue what I was doing. My first season was nothing short of a disaster and if I hadn’t just purchased a really expensive bike toward the end of it, I would have thrown in the towel. I kept at it, however, and was fortunate enough to have a colleague who had been doing this stuff for years, and had been tearing up courses since way back when I was still wearing pull-ups, take me under his wing. He gave me training structure and taught me about how to prepare for races properly. We rode and ran together all the time, often with a bunch of his other friends who were also veterans of the sport.

            Sharing the fun with family & friends

            When it was time for a big ride, there were often interesting destinations. Usually it was some sort of annual trip for these guys, but to me these were all new experiences. One day we were riding to the Maple Tree Inn, which was about a 75 mile round trip ride with lots of climbing on an annual ride they called “The Easter Bunny Ride” because it always happened in late March or early April when the restaurant was open, which is only for about eight weeks a year (as a side note, this place has the best buckwheat pancakes and syrup anywhere and I highly recommend anyone in upstate New York going if you’ve never been). I was riding next to Carl and he said “Make sure this is always fun. If it stops being fun, don’t do it anymore.” That’s why they had all these destinations for rides and took so many crazy trips. It made it fun and every year they would go back to places together and enjoy each others’ company and share memories.

            There are days when we have to rise early to train before work or winter months where we have to grind out hours on the trainer in order to maximize our potential (we don’t all live in sunny Tucson!). Every session isn’t going to be about fun, but if none of them are, what’s the point? I’ve found ways to make the 5am pool sessions fun by swimming with a great group of people (and I don’t even really like swimming to begin with). In the winter, a few friends will bring their bikes over and we will set up shop in my basement to watch movies while we grind away on the trainers.

            Group Trainer Session

            A little creativity and a few friends can make almost any session more enjoyable. It is a piece of advice I will never forget and hopefully I can continue to have fun with this sport until I’m old and gray so I can share it with some up and coming triathlete who’s just getting into it. If I do, it’ll probably be the best advice I ever give, too.

            Exercise as Medicine – Fighting Arthritis with Triathlon

            By Debbie
            February 24, 2014 on 4:56 pm | In Athlete Profile, Charity, Community, Giving Back | No Comments

            This blog brought to you by Helgi Spencer Olafson, Amateur Triathlete and Arthritis Warrior with Ankylosing Spondylitis. Check out Helgi’s website, join his Race For a Cure team, donate and follow him on Twitter – @HelgiOlafson.

            I often ask myself… “why do I keep adding more and more to my plate?”…and then I think to myself, “if only there were more hours in a day… yeah, that would be awesome!”

            But this is reality!!

            The earth will always turn at a pace which conducts time.  We have no control over time.  What we DO have is control over how we spend that time.  YOU have the power of CHOICE.

            Is it selfish to take the time to maintain a healthy lifestyle? Or is it something that can be used as an example for others to follow with the hopes of getting this world out of the rut that we are in where everyone is searching for the magic pill?

            The "Magic Pill"

            Here is the bottom line:  EVERYONE suffers from hardship and challenges at one point or another in their lives.  Some people have it easy and some don’t.  It is likely that each of us can’t know exactly how it feels to be in another person’s shoes.  We are genetically different from one another and it’s just not the way genealogy works.

            What is important is that we continue to use the lessons from our personal experiences and education, as well as the history recorded by countless visionaries over the many centuries that humans have roamed this earth.  Believe it or not, “Visionaries” are people just like you and me.  I have Ankylosing Spondylitis, and I AM a visionary for many.  For them I carry a torch, which also stays lit in my heart.  I will lead the way, while learning, teaching, growing, and respecting the knowledge that history and experience has provided.

            Harness the thoughts that you produce in your mind.  They can move mountains!

            Triathlon as Medicine for #Arthritis

            Since competing as a runner for a relay team in my first ever triathlon, which was the 2012 Lavaman Waikoloa Olympic distance triathlon, I was hooked.  I knew that this was the answer.  I was tired of living my days with a back, bones, and joints that hurt because I wasn’t taking the best possible care of myself.  “But I have autoimmune arthritis, and it makes it hard for me!”  No, Helgi!! THAT is even MORE the reason why you should be held accountable for your health.  No more giving the jet plane regular unleaded for fuel. It was time to figure out how to manage my arthritis, and help others by leading the way.

            I found that if I maintain a good combination of swimming, biking and running, as well as functional strength, core work, and a proper stretching routine to maintain flexibility, I am currently almost invulnerable, aside from the common daily creaks and cracks, to the autoimmune disease that may eventually cause my spine, hips and other joints to fuse together.  This fusion, or ankylosis, is caused by severe inflammation and pain.  The autoimmune arthritis I have is called Ankylosing Spondylitis, or AS.  40% of the world’s population will suffer from one or more of the over 200 types of arthritis at least once in their lifetime.

            I Have Ankylosing Spondylitis

            Triathlon is great for arthritis!  I am not a Rhuematologist, or even a doctor, but I am my own maker, and I know that triathlon training works for me.  It can also work for others, but those of us who have arthritis know that our bodies and bones don’t really react very well to sudden changes.  This is why it is important to ease into triathlon and be sure to use each discipline regularly to improve overall fitness and core strength, while maintaining a proper plan with the help of a coach that understands your personal limitations from arthritis.  A strong core helps maintain the integrity of my joints.

            Of course it hurts!  I AM human…but I think I am on to something here.

            I put my music on and run the trails of the lava fields, valley-laden coastline, or the rain forests of Hawai’i.  Give me a day cycling the hills in the Pacific Northwest, or the flats of Florida.  There is nothing like jumping into the water for a training swim at the pier in Kailua Kona, which also happens to be the start-line for the Ironman World Championship event that takes place each year to crown the best Ironman  triathletes in the world.

            Talk about motivation all around me.  Here is the deal.  There is no “Magic Pill.”  There may never be a “Cure.”  What does exist is #Hope.  Raising awareness by word of mouth and through networking is a key element in reaching the extremely large number of arthritis patients, doctors and interested parties all over the world.

            Spreading the word

            If you support arthritis and exercise as medicine, and you would like to help this cause, please support our mission and consider a donation. Perhaps you would like to join our team and race with us in support of arthritis research and programs to help people with arthritis?  All levels welcome! You can learn more about our team here, and learn more about me here.

            TriSports.com supports the Helgi Olafson Foundation…use coupon code HOF14 to donate 15% of your purchase directly to the Helgi Olafson Foundation. Code cannot be combined with any other offers. Sale items and items designated as non-discountable will not be included.

            The Secret to a Winning Season: It’s Already Happened

            By Eric M.
            February 21, 2013 on 9:53 am | In Athlete Profile | No Comments

            Here’s a blog entry from Steve Elliott, a member of the 2013 TriSports.com Champions Team.

            I ran 11 minutes on a treadmill last week.

            Before you snicker, the treadmill was inside the Adult Congenital Cardiology Clinic at Stanford Hospital and it’s designed to be a 10-minute maximal test. After I did this test two years ago, they cut me open and stitched various breakfast meats into my heart.

            That, actually, is what got me started in triathlon.

            Quick back story: I was born with four strange heart defects including a mostly-blocked pulmonary artery and a hole between the ventricles that allowed unoxygenated blood coming back from my body to go right back out again without ever visiting my lungs. I gasped for breath a lot, turned blue even more, and couldn’t walk across a room without having to stop, rest and catch my breath. A little before my fifth birthday, in 1970, they opened me up and fixed my heart with a nice Dacron patch.

            Turns out, you get about 40 years out of that repair and a couple of summers ago, after the treadmill test and a cardiac MRI, they told me I needed my pulmonary valve replaced with a pig valve. While he was at it, the surgeon also used some tissue from a cow heart to repair the original patch, giving me a three-species (plus synthetic) heart. I’d been home from the hospital about five days, still sleeping in a chair because of the pain (rib-splitting hurts!) when I saw a broadcast of Leon’s Triathlon from Indiana and everything changed.

            I knew this was a sport my wife and I could do together. I knew it was a sport I’d enjoy. And the timing was perfect – from that moment, I was no longer recovering from open-heart surgery…I was training.

            I got online and started learning. I ordered books, read TriSports U articles and started looking for an appropriate first race. Even though I’d be on activity restrictions for another seven weeks, I walked and did what I could do to get some fitness back and I competed in a super-sprint just three months after my surgery, then a late-season traditional sprint a month after that. I wasn’t fast in either race, but my goals were just to compete and finish.

            After a full season last year, my goals are higher for 2013. I have swim times I want to hit and a running pace I’m building toward. I want to improve in my home events and hit the podium a few times. I don’t know if it will happen this year, but I want to qualify for the Xterra National Championships and test myself in that race. I look forward to scanning race results, hoping my name is listed toward the top of the page.

            That’s why the treadmill test was such a good reminder. Without the surgery, my name could just as easily show up on a heart transplant waiting list or in a coroner’s report. So no matter how my races go this year, I’ve already won.

            You have, too. If you do this sport, if you have races on the calendar and a training plan on your desk, you are fitter, faster, healthier, and, I suspect, happier than most people out there. So good luck with your 2013 season and your goals, but my friends, we’ve already won.

            Steve Elliott is a member of the 2013 TriSports.com Champions Team. If you like his approach and want to support him – and get 15% off gear for yourself at TriSports.com – enter discount code SELLIOTT during checkout.

            Team Ariana

            By Eric M.
            November 28, 2012 on 9:25 am | In Athlete Profile, Giving Back, Sponsorship | No Comments

            We recently partnered with a new charity, Team Ariana, and I was curious about the amazing girl spearheading the foundation. I was able to send her some questions so we could get a better feel for the organization and the girl behind it. To learn more or to give to a great cause, visit the website or Facebook page.

            How did you get started in triathlon?

            When I was younger (Age 7 in Second Grade), I had tried sports like soccer, basketball and softball.  I just could not find the right fit for me.  Then, two of my friends’ (boys) dads told my dad about these kid triathlons they were participating in.  My dad asked me if I wanted to give it a try.  I did and the rest is history.   I was hooked!  My earlier years were spent learning about all three sports, nutrition, gear and competing in many local and national championship races.  Two years ago, I decided that I wanted to start racing in adult triathlons, but only if my dad would do it with me.  Now we do them all together!  This year I competed in approximately 15 duathlons and triathlons, including two Olympic distance races.

            What made you decide to start racing for charity?

            As I progressed into the adult triathlons, a lot of attention was being placed on me.  I was usually one of the only kids racing and I was beating most of the adults.  I decided that I wanted to shift this attention away from me and onto a cause that was more worthwhile.  I created Team Ariana last year and kicked it off at the beginning of the 2012 racing season.  I united my sponsors and created a web site, a full Team Ariana race wear line with my awesome sponsor Champion System, and provided a way to raise more awareness and badly needed funds for the Vogel Alcove.  The story on the Vogel Alcove also goes way back as my younger sister, Gabrielle, deserves all the credit for introducing it to our family.  The Vogel Alcove is a special place which gives young homeless children and their parents a start at a second chance in life.  They provide schooling and healthcare for children ages 6 weeks to 5 years old and case management for the parents, which helps them prepare and find work, and ultimately a real place to call home.  Twenty one different local homeless shelters, domestic violence facilities, etc. feed into the Vogel Alcove.

            We started helping Vogel by donating all our birthday presents to them, creating donation drives and visiting the children to bake cookies, do art projects and play.  But that just did not seem like enough.  I wanted to do more.  Once my sister and I realized that these sweet children don’t even have a bed to call their own, not even their own pillow, I knew I could make a difference.  Team Ariana was the answer.  When I am racing and pushing as hard as I can, I find a way to push harder knowing I am doing it for these children.  I have so much and they have so little.  I can endure a few hours of pain for them.  This year alone, Team Ariana has raised over $37,000 and we are not slowing down one bit!

            Do you participate in other sports outside of swim/bike/run?

            Yes, I participate in volleyball at my school!

            Have you inspired any friends or family to participate in triathlon?

            Definitely!  My dad was my number one equipment manager before I started doing adult triathlons.  Now, he does all my races with me and even completed his first Ironman this summer!  More importantly, I think I have opened up other kid’s eyes to the reality that they, too, can make a difference.  I have heard and seen other kids finding a way to give back to their communities by finding something they believe in and going after it.  Some do it through triathlons, and others through sports they love.  The main thing I want to get across to other kids is that I am proof that one kid CAN make a difference.

            What does a typical training week look like for you?

            Well, I typically have 3-4 hours of homework every night so a typical training week during the school year is a little different than a training week during the summer.  Also, my training changed when I began focusing in Olympic distance tris versus sprints.  First off, my coach is awesome.  Coach Steen Rose has always made sure that my training is balanced with my other obligations.  More importantly, he makes sure I am always having fun.  After all, I am still a kid!  During the school year, each week I will typically balance 2 runs, 2 swims, 2 bikes, resistance training and yoga.  My coach changes up my schedule, but the weekends usually involve longer bricks and more endurance work.  We also use Training Peaks which really helps me in my weekly and monthly planning.

            If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be? ,

            Strawberries!

            Looking at your results, it’s easy to see that you’re a fierce competitor. Do you have any dreams of racing as a professional some day?

            Absolutely!  I would like to (1) complete my first Ironman before I finish high school and (2) become a professional triathlete sometime in my career.

            Who is your favorite triathlete (both male and female)?

            Hunter Kemper and Sarah Haskins.   I got to race with them both in the Toyota US Open Championships!

            What is the toughest subject in school?

            History

            What is your favorite subject?

            English, Spanish, Math, and Science

            How do you decide what your goal is for how much money you want to raise for Vogel Alcove, and does that goal change from year to year?

            This is my first year of raising money for the Vogel Alcove.  When I started earlier this year, my goal was $10,000.  We hit that so quickly that I raised it to $20,000.  Once we passed that I raised it to $50,000!  It has been so great to see so many people and companies help support me, Team Ariana, and the Vogel Alcove.  This really is an awesome sport with a phenomenal support group.

            How do you spend your down time (what’s your favorite non-athletic thing to do)?

            Playing with my friends (sleepovers, movies, fun sports) and doing fun activities with my family (traveling, cooking, etc.).

            What’s the hardest part about triathlon training?

            The hardest part about triathlon training is usually not the training itself, but finding a way to structure my schedule so I can fit it in.  I have found that taking breaks from my homework to train really allows me to recharge and focus more on my studying.

            Are your friends into triathlon as well, or do they think you’re crazy?

            I met my best friend (who lives an hour away) through triathlon racing.  She is my BFF and I wish I could see her more.  My other friends don’t race, but are supportive.  Some have come to see races, but many don’t like getting up that early and they generally think I am crazy!

            Deserving of the Crown

            By Eric M.
            October 16, 2012 on 1:29 pm | In Athlete Profile, Community, From the shop, Races, Sponsorship, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

            Leanda Cave - World Champion

            No longer an underdog after her 3rd place finish in Hawaii last year, Leanda Cave is one of those athletes you root for because of her work ethic, and because she’s just plain nice. If you live in Tucson you can see her out on the roads and trails, putting in the hard work day after day, like Rocky Balboa. It’s not always the best man or woman who wins; sometimes it’s the ones who are willing to play dirty or sometimes it’s that annoying team with all the money. Leanda, however is not only one of the hardest working professional triathletes, but also one of the nicest professional triathletes I’ve had the honor of meeting.

            I’ll never forget the first time I was introduced to her in the TriSports retail store, shortly after I moved to Tucson and started working here. It was my first time meeting a pro outside of a race setting. When I was introduced to her, the person introducing us mentioned that I was training for a marathon. I noticed that she seemed to be friends with everyone in the building, but figured that it was just because they had been there for so long. However, the very next time she came in, not only did she greet me by name, but she asked how my marathon training was going. Getting to know her on a few training rides and on a few social outings solidified my belief that she is a kind, down-to-earth woman.

            Because of the wonderful person she is, the entire TriSports triathlon community was behind her on race day. I was, quite literally, on the edge of my seat as I watched the final miles of the marathon unfold. To be honest, I was a little worried at one point; I had never seen Mirinda Carfrae catch another athlete and not pass her. When Leanda held strong and then began pulling away, everyone in the room went wild. She made us believe, as she must have all along, that she could catch Caroline Steffen and win the race.

            Sitting in the TriSports Tempe retail store is Leanda’s trophy from Ironman Arizona. At the beginning of the year our staff, along with some of our best customers and sponsored athletes, wrote resolutions for the New Year. Below is a picture of that trophy and Leanda’s resolution; that’s how the mind of a champion works, and I can’t think of anyone more deserving of the title Ironman World Champion. It was such a thrill watching our friend and sponsored athlete win the most important and exciting race of the year, becoming the first woman to win both the Ironman 70.3 and Ironman World Championship races in the same year. Leanda, you continue to amaze and inspire us, and we thank you for another great year. Congratulations, champ! Your win was hard earned and well deserved.

            Team TriSports’ Dominate 70.3 World Championship Start List

            By Jaclyn A.
            August 23, 2012 on 11:00 am | In Announcements, Athlete Profile, Sponsorship | No Comments

            The Ironman 70.3 World Championship is just 2 short weeks away, and we are thrilled to have 8 Team TriSports athletes racing this year. Amongst the professional women you will see Leanda “Super bird” Cave, Angela “no longer the bridesmaid” Naeth, and Missy “check out my quads” Kuck representing Team TriSports.

            Leanda "Super Bird" Cave

            Angela "No Longer the Bridesmaid" Naeth

            Missy "Check Out My Quads" Kuck

            Could the women of TriSports sweep the podium? We’d put money on it!

            Keep your eyes peeled for these speedy age groupers who are all gunning to top the podium this year: Leo Carrillo (M45-49), Sarah Jarvis (F30-34), Ali Rutledge (F45-59), and Mark Tripp (M30-34).

            2011 TriSports.com Athlete of the Year

            By Jaclyn A.
            March 26, 2012 on 9:53 am | In Announcements, Athlete Profile, Sponsorship | 2 Comments

            As the sponsorship coordinator here at TriSports.com I think I have the coolest job in the building because I get to work with some of the best athletes in triathlon. Every year I am blown away by the incredible athletes that come to us wanting to represent TriSports and wear our red, white, and blue uniform. 2011 was without a doubt one of the best years for Team TriSports athletes and I would like to take a minute to brag about some of their accomplishments.

            Amy Regan won her age group at Ironman Coeur D’Alene for the second year in a row, and finished 10th in her age group at the Ironman World Championship.

            Karin Bivens won her age group at Ironman Brazil and proceeded to beat her husband in Kona.

            Thomas Gerlach was the Rev3 amateur series champion and turned pro at the end of the season.

            Angela Naeth won the inaugural Leadman Epic 250 and wrapped her season up with her first 70.3 win in Boulder.

            Mark Tripp was 3rd in the highly competitive M30-34 age group at Vineman 70.3 which was also his first half.

            Craig Pansing was the overall series winner for the Los Angeles Tri Series.

            And Leanda Cave won Wildflower, Miami 70.3, Rev3 Knoxville, Ironman Arizona, and finished 3rd at the Ironman World Championships.

            While these accomplishments are all very impressive there is more to being a TriSports.com athlete than winning races. It about living a healthy lifestyle, pushing ourselves beyond what we ever thought we were capable of, sharing the joy of sport with those around us, and our 2011 TriSports.com athlete of the year truly embodies the spirit of the sport.

            2011 Athlete of the Year: Craig Sheckler

            As a coach, club founder, and accomplished triathlete Craig Sheckler has turned the sport of triathlon into a lifestyle. As founder of the Endurance Multisport club in Pennsylvania he has helped grow the sport of triathlon in his community and inspired others to follow his lead and live an active lifestyle. His club now boast a membership of over 125 members. When Craig isn’t coaching he is busy training. After many years of racing Ironman Craig was ready for a new challenge and this year tackled Ultraman UK: a ridiculous 3 day double Ironman in the horrible weather of England. He then proceeded to do and Ironman 3 weeks after his return from Ultraman. As a 7 year member of Team TriSports I am honored to present the 2011 athlete of the year award to Craig Sheckler.

            Craig and Erica Sheckler

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