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.

My Secret Weapon (shhhh!)

By Debbie
October 22, 2013 on 2:58 pm | In Sponsorship, Training | No Comments

This blog brought to you by TriSports Champion and former TriSports.com employee Kris Armstrong. Hope you are enjoying that MI winter, Kris (you know you regret leaving Tucson when this time of year hits)!

One of the most common reasons for becoming a triathlete is to cross train. Swimming, biking and running provides a variety  in training that is very attractive to those bored with doing one or the other solo. The problem is that after 13 years of tri training, I am a triathlete and no long benefit like I did a few years ago. I have adapted to swimming, biking and running and even transitioning from one to the other. So what can a triathlete do to again experience cross training benefits like injury prevention/rehabilitation, improved performance and greater enjoyment of our sport? The answer for me, my secret weapon, is Triad Health and Fitness in Farmington Hills, Michigan, owned and operated by Kirk Vickers, a former trainer of the Detroit Red Wings professional hockey team. Kirk has a variety of clients, ranging from high school to professional athletes, as well as amateur athletes of all ages and those recovering from injuries. I had the privilege of working with Kirk during one of my internships for my degree in exercise science. Working with Kirk Vickers at Triad has helped me recover from injury, improved my performance and made training and competing a whole lot more fun!

Injury Prevention and Rehab

I have one injury that has been recurring since I was hiking in Arches National Park in Utah in February of 2010. It was a simple rolling of the ankle, pretty common, but whenever I pushed off the wall too hard swimming, biked a lot of hills or ran long distances or trails, my ankle would swell and be in such pain I had to take days off to recover. I found myself doing fewer activities to protect the ankle instead of solving the cause of the problem. Working with Kirk I learned that it might not be the ankle that’s the problem but could be instability in the hip allowing the ankle to roll. He also suggested lateral exercises to help stabilize the ankle, knee and hip – conditioning triathletes don’t get from swimming, biking and running. Kirk started me with some simple side steps that progressed to hula hoop jumps, two feet in two feet out. Currently I am doing 6 inch lateral hurdle jumps that have a cone at each end to touch and then return in the opposite direction. Kirk’s favorite remedy for pain is ice, which I use whenever the ankle acts up on occasion. The best thing about my ankle, knee and hip stability is my return to trail running which is one of the few things we can do outside during the long Michigan winter.

Lateral hurdles...great for ankle, knee & hip stabilization

Improved Performance

One of my favorite bike rides is Mt. Lemmon in Tucson, Arizona. If you climb all the way to the top, it’s at 9000 feet, an elevation gain of over 6000 feet from the base of the mountain. As difficult as this is on a bike, my most memorable performance improvement was realized during the Mt. Lemmon Marathon. My training not only helped me finish this, as advertised “Toughest Marathon in the World,” but actually do a pretty respectable time. The exercises that prepared me for this event were simple but very effective. The two exercises that I thought of while running were walking lunges and hip drives. For hip drives I used a weight lifting bench with one foot on the bench and the other on the floor. The arm on the side of the benched foot starts behind and the arm of the floored foot starts in front like a running stance. As the benched leg drives up the arm swings forward then returns to starting position. After 15 reps change sides. I also used a slide with hand weights. Place the hand weights in an upside down STEP, used for step aerobics, using the weights as handles push the slide ten yards. Immediately change direction and push back to start. Five reps of this drill are usually plenty depending on how much weight you choose.

Greater Enjoyment

Working-out in a gym is usually very boring to me. I like to be outside as much as possible which is why I like triathlon so much. But working out at Triad is fun and I look forward to each visit because I always learn something new and Kirk makes it challenging. If someone else is working out at the same time he will put us together to push each other. A little friendly competition is always fun. I usually do a warm-up then 5 drills and then a cool down. My 5 drills include something to improve stride, lateral stability, explosive power, core rotation strength and stability, and upper body strength. Normally these are done one at a time with breaks in between to recover, but sometimes it’s fun to run these drills as a circuit. Add a friend or two and time each station and switch every 30 seconds or every minute.

Cross training is very important when preventing and recovering from injury and improving our performance, but I must admit that it’s the fun factor that keeps me coming back for more time and again. Have fun!

Running off the Bike…Master it in the Off-Season

By Debbie
October 15, 2013 on 1:35 am | In Sponsorship, Training | No Comments

This blog brought to you by TriSports Champion Ed Ten Eyck, who is a kick-ass duathlete and coach. Check out his blog or follow him on Twitter – ed_teneyck.

Not too long ago I was invited to an event at one of my local bike shops as an information night for Irongirl. I was to present information about running off the bike and how to avoid the feeling of heavy, or dead, legs. Being a standard distance duathlete and exercise physiologist I thought nothing of the matter as I could talk about running on or off the bike for hours. Since I only had 15 minutes I compiled a very well manicured list that can keep most people out of trouble! I will outline the different sections and then get into more detail later about each one.

  • Bricks
  • Bike efficiency
    • Pacing
    • Cadence
  • Better running form

Bricks are the most common and possibly the most feared workout that new multisport athletes encounter. What is a brick? A brick is when you combine 2 workouts into 1. Whether it is a swim/bike, bike/run, whatever the combination you come up with you have a brick. So how can this help your run off the bike?

The dreaded "brick"

Specificity of training states that training should be relative and pertinent to the sport in which you are training. If you are going to bike and then run in competition, you should train that way so your body is used to the stress demands placed on it. By incorporating brick workouts into your training you are stressing the muscles in the same way that you will during a race. This allows your body to adapt to the stress more efficiently. This alone will not prevent you from having the feeling of heavy legs, but it is one of the tools used to help.

Bike efficiency is a very broad category but we will focus on pacing and cadence.

Pacing is the hardest thing for most, if not all, athletes who compete. The reason? We are all competitive and we all want to win. That being said, pacing on the swim or run followed by pacing on the bike can help you set yourself up for a successful run off the bike. Pacing can be done using a variety of tools; HRM, power meter, RPE, speed, and cadence. Personally I feel a power meter can be the best tool when planning your pacing strategy for the bike portion of a race. It is the only true direct measurement of effort you can monitor. So what is proper pacing? Pacing depends on a number of factors but if we just look at the bike portion of a race we would have to look at the distance that the bike portion is, the terrain, and what your goals are coming off the bike into the run. For shorter distance bike courses you will be able to ride at a higher pace than if you were riding a full IM course. The same can be said about flats versus hills. When it comes to the run off the bike, if you are looking for a solid overall performance and want to negative split the run, then pacing on the bike is key.

Cadence is the other side of bike efficiency. The faster you turn over the pedals the less stress per pedal stroke is placed on the muscle; however, more stress is placed on the cardiovascular system. What is the optimal cycling cadence? That is the never-ending question. A lot of research has come out supporting a cadence between 86-96 RPM. Is this perfect for everyone, no, but it is a general range that the majority of people will fall into. The more experience you have the easier it tends to be to maintain a cadence in this range. Some studies have shown that slightly higher cadence can benefit riders; however, there is a good deal of training that would be needed to adapt to the demands. Winter is a great time to practice this on an indoor trainer.

For the focus of multisport I feel the range of 86-96 RPM is ideal because when you get off the bike and you run at about the same RPM, your body is used to moving at that pace. When it comes to running, you are more efficient when running at a higher cadence because at lower cadence, the stored energy in the muscles is not used as effectively. Also, when you spin a higher cadence on the bike you are giving your muscles a break because you aren’t generating as much force per stroke. So the take home from this section is that your bike and run cadences should match, which will decrease the likelihood of feeling the onset of “heavy legs.”

I believe better run form is one of the best off-season training tools you can use to your advantage if you are new to the multisport or endurance world. Having inefficient running form forces you to work harder and can increase the likelihood of injury. It takes time and patience to become a more efficient runner, but usually after 6 months of dedication and focus on form you will begin to see the results. So what is better running form and why is it more efficient? A natural running position is when your kinetic chain is in alignment and you are landing more over the center of your body. This is typically the result of landing more mid-foot versus having a heel to toe gait pattern. When landing heel to toe, the majority of people are landing behind their center of mass enough that they have to overcome the compression and gravity pushing them backwards to continue the running motion. This results in a decrease in efficiency. When you land more mid-foot or with a landing closer to the center of mass, then you are propelling yourself forwards. Correcting your running form is something that takes time and energy to do. It is something that can be done during the off-season and help you prepare for the upcoming season, but I wouldn’t ever recommend attempting to overhaul your running form during the race season.

Proper vs. Improper Running Form

In closing, these are just a few of the ways that you can feel more fresh coming off the bike going into your run. By working diligently on this during the off-season and pre-season, you will go into your races knowing you have new tools to help you PR the run portion of any multisport event.

Slow Down and Try Some Yoga!

By Debbie
October 7, 2013 on 10:57 am | In Community, Random Musings, Sponsorship, Training | No Comments

This blog brought to you by TriSports Champion Monica Pagels, who wrote this much earlier this season and who has, now, completed that first Ironman she mentions. As the off-season begins for many, we thought this a fitting blog to get you strong during the winter months.

Ommmm….. yes, we’ve all heard it, the ever popular meditation sounds that so often accompany a just as stimulating yoga class. Runners and triathletes alike have heard it for years, “try yoga, it will help with your injuries.”  But most of us who thrive on the adrenaline rush of zipping through the trails in our newest and coolest trail shoes, or racing down a hill in our aerobars hoping to hit a new high speed, cringe at the thought of placing our feet (or our head or our hands, or all 3 at once) on the mat and inhaling and exhaling to a count of 8! While the benefits are well documented: stress relief, improved mood and well being, improved flexibility, improved digestion, improved sleep… the list goes on and on… for some reason, it is still tough to convince us cardio-junkies to forgo a one hour brick workout where our legs will feel like lead for an hour of gentle relaxation and meditation.  We are conditioned to believe that in order to set a new PR or achieve that highly sought after age group place, we must push harder, put in more hours, do more hill work or add speed work.  While there is no compromise for hard work (you get what you put in), it is time to re-condition our minds when it comes to how we think of yoga.  What if we had the mindset that the more yoga we practiced, the better we could bike, or the faster we could swim? Well, fellow tri-geeks, it’s true! Yoga really can make you into a “warrior.”  I was the first to stake my claim against it, I thought, “Who has time for one more activity?” And who wants to sit around with their legs twisted like a pretzel becoming one with the universe? That is, until I tried it!

Looks easy, but it's not!

Tired of the long winter full of indoor bike rides and treadmill runs, I headed to the group fitness studio for a Yoga Fusion class. This sounded at least a little more fitness based and not as meditative. To my surprise, I struggled through most of the class! I am an 8 time 70.3 veteran, run more marathons than I care to count, and I am training for my first full Ironman. I had been putting in about 7-8 hours a week of base training and thought the yoga class might be a nice stretching break for my sore, tired muscles. Instead, I found myself in plank, pigeon and half moon, shaking to hold the poses.  Shocked at my lack of apparent strength and balance, I began attending 2 yoga classes a week.  Within 2 weeks I noticed remarkable improvements and had to admit to its benefits. As my IM training progressed, I entered a 70.3. It was very early in the season when you come from Michigan and have only had a month of outdoor riding. To add to that, the bike course was the hilliest and toughest of any I have done.

St George bike elevation...ouch!

As I started on the course and climbed the hills, I felt very strong and quickly passed people. Hill after hill, the same result, I was strong and pushed with ease to the top of them. My bike split was faster than on most courses, despite its difficulty.  What’s more, my legs recovered quickly after the ride and my run (hills, again) split was consistent with my others. Yoga has not only improved my strength and balance, which no doubt helped me climb those hills, it has given me a sense of control over my body.  It has taught me how to breathe deep and remain calm amidst chaos.  Now, triathletes, hear me when I say: this is worth far more than it sounds! In mile 90 out of 112, when your neck and shoulders ache and your legs are burning, if you can put your mind into that place where you feel calm and in control, your focus shifts from the here and now (“I still have to run 26.2 miles..”) to a place where you have a greater awareness of just you moving through space, in a world much bigger than just you pedaling on a bike.  If that is what it takes to get you to T2, and ultimately, the finish line, isn’t it worth considering?

Yoga teaches you to become aware of your surroundings and to feel weightless as if you were part of those surroundings.  This is achieved by challenging yourself to complete the strength and balance poses, breathing through them, and accomplishing a little more with each session. Yoga practice can mean different things to different people. For me, it was at first the humbling experience of inadequacy that convinced me to continue, but eventually the benefits carried over into my first passion, triathlon. Once I began to feel the strength and control of my body, and my race times improved, I knew yoga was for me.  While I may never feel the meditative power many achieve from yoga practice, knowing I am stronger and more aware of my body I will continue to practice. I urge all of you cardio-junkies that can’t get enough of the wind whipping past your face and feel the need to be in your target heart rate zone for hours at a time, give yoga a try and see how it can improve all aspects of your life, not just your athletic performance.

Learn more about the benefits, and different types of yoga.

Beauty and balance

Triathlon Actually Began Where?

By Debbie
September 18, 2013 on 1:01 pm | In Community, Races, Random Musings, Sponsorship | 1 Comment

This fun blog brought to you by Team TriSports athlete Scott Perrine, who is about to compete at the inaugural Ironman Lake Tahoe.

All history ties the roots of Triathlon back to San Diego, CA in the early 1970s, but after spending the last two years in the San Francisco Bay, and on Alcatraz Island completing some concrete restoration work, I believe Triathlon may actually have its roots tied to Alcatraz.  There is even a Triathlon named Escape from Alcatraz which I competed in this year.

Escape from Alcatraz triathlon

Not possible you say?  A simple look at the history of Alcatraz and the attempted escape of John Anglin, Clarence Anglin, Frank Morris and Allen West shows many similarities to Triathlon and multi sport.  While a prison escape is obviously not a sport, there is a lot of preparation and dedication required for both, even some failed attempts along the way.

Start with the preparation.  John, Clarence, Frank and Allen began their planning and preparation in September of 1961, eight months before their attempted escape.  They spent every minute allowable planning and working towards their escape.  Many of us that race long course competition dedicate eight months or more to training.  We focus and plan for the event, training for the worst and hoping for the best.  We spend countless hours focused on that specific event, sacrificing time with friends and family, sleep, etc.

They created tools to chip away at the concrete in their cells; we continually develop new “aero” equipment to make us go faster.  They designed wetsuits utilizing raincoats to survive the swim through the San Francisco Bay; we continually develop wetsuits utilizing the latest technologies in neoprene to get us through the water faster.

The first leg of the escape "triathlon"?

The night of their escape they crawled through the openings they dug in their cells, climbed up through the service corridor to the roof and out to the Northeastern side of the Island and jumped into the water, that is a lot to go through just to go jump in the water.  At the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon, you get up early in the morning and head to the race site, set up your transition, get onto a crowded bus and ride over to the ferry, crowd onto the ferry and head over to the Island, then everyone jumps off the ferry and off you go.  Adrenaline is racing as you jump off the boat, imagine what is was like for the guys that night in 1962.

They jumped into the water in the darkness of night during the incoming tide, fighting the currents and the cold.  Some of their belongings were found washed up on the Shore of Angel Island the next morning.  We jumped into the water during the early hours of the morning sunrise with an outgoing tide, had to cross three different current flows (as well as fight all the other competitors) and a majority of us swam (some washed up) onto the Shore in front of the St Francis Yacht Club.

The image of freedom

A few other similarities:

  1. Allen West was unable to fit through the hole he had dug into the wall of his cell and never made it out to meet up with the other three.  The first DNS (Did Not Start)?
  2. The other three were never found.  The first DNF… we will never know?
  3. The FBI closed their case against the three 17 years after they escaped.  In Ironman competition they close the finish line after 17 hours?

While the original Escape from Alcatraz was not a triathlon in any true sense of the meaning and I have taken some great liberties tying them together, it is fun to compare true history to activities we enjoy in our daily lives.  What triathlons have you done where you can intertwine history with the event in this type of manner?  Give it a try and see how creative you can be…. It will definitely help you get through some of those “dark holes” we sometimes go through during our training and racing!

Head Games

By Debbie
September 11, 2013 on 9:37 am | In Community, Races, Random Musings, Sponsorship, Training | 3 Comments

This blog brought to you by Team TriSports athlete Nicole Ramsbey. Check out her blog at www.nicoleramsbey.com and follow her on Twitter – nicoleramsbey.

I raced a sprint tri the other weekend and was not in peak form to say the least.  I managed to perform, and perform not too badly, which led me to thinking about a few things.  One of the things I started thinking about was how much of triathlon is physical fitness and how much is mental fitness? At this point in the season when you may be approaching your ‘A’ race, now’s the time to figure it out.

Finished, and Done

I guess my first thought was, how many people, when they reach a tough moment, give in to the negative Nancy talk?  I hit many negative points throughout racing, but rarely do I “give in” to those thoughts.  Say you are coming up on a big hill during a sprint tri, you’re maxing out your heart rate and you get halfway up…what’s the first thing that you typically hear in your head?   Is it, “I can’t do this anymore, I have to walk”?  If that’s a typical thought process for you, how do you respond to it?

If you respond by giving up the race in your mind and walking, then I’d have to say your mental toughness might need a swift kick in the @**.  I may get this thought once in a while, but I immediately counter it with a positive thought.  During the sprint tri, I had my own mental battle, but I won.  Every time a negative thought comes to mind, I always attempt to counter it with a positive.  Last weekend when I hit the hill, I had to remind myself that I can do anything for a mile.  My responses are almost automatic now, and if yours aren’t they will get to be that way if you continually work at it.

I’d say mental toughness is at least half of triathlon…if you can’t handle the mental stuff then the fitness won’t matter.  Even though you may not be physically fit, if you are mentally fit going into a race, you can still do well.   Imagine the day that you are physically AND mentally fit…you can OWN that day like no other.  Don’t short change yourself, and remember it’s not always about how many miles you’ve logged.

Race with a Smile

How to Travel to a Race

By Eric M.
May 29, 2013 on 1:13 pm | In Nutrition Tips, Races, Sponsorship, Training, Training | No Comments

This post was written by TriSports Triathlon Team member Zara Guinard.

So you just signed up for a race that is not within 20 miles of your house; hotel, flight, and rental car are all booked. The next question is, “how do you ensure you arrive at your destination (relatively) stress free, prepared, and ready to race?” You must plan. I mean REALLY plan. First you have Plan A, and then you have Plan B, Plan C, and maybe even a Plan D.

It is my experience in the past few years of traveling to races that things will always go wrong, but you can minimize your stress by arriving well prepared. I always do a little research on the area where I’m staying and find out the projected weather conditions for my time there, a layout of the area such as restaurants near the hotel, and distances to the expo and the airport.

Now that you know what the conditions and weather will most likely be on race day, it’s time to pack. I have a list that I print out (packing list at the end of the article) every time I go to a race. I only cross off an item once it is packed away. Sometimes I don’t need all the items for where I’m traveling, but its comprehensiveness ensures that I won’t absent-mindedly forget something.

I travel with a Rüster Sports Hen House, my wheel bag, and a backpack.

In my bike bag I put everything that I need to race: wetsuit, race suit, bike and run shoes, goggles, nutrition, bike tools, etc. Then in the wheel bag I pack all the rest of my clothes and toiletries. My backpack is my carry on and where I usually keep all my expensive electronic items such as my iPod and Garmin 910 XT.

Okay your bags are packed and you’re ready to go! Wait, what about nutrition?! Traveling to a race can be stressful on your body; you may be switching to a different time zone or your flight may be at an odd hour of the day. So how do you ensure that you are fueling properly to have a great race? That’s right! You plan. When traveling to a race in Florida where I knew that I would be going pretty much all day nonstop, this is what I packed for food:

I made sure to have my dinner food (the brown rice and avocado) with me. That way when I arrived at my destination I could focus on building my bike, and getting to bed, since my race was the following morning.

Okay, so you have your clothes, gear and food. After flying and driving for what seemed like centuries, you have finally made it to the hotel and now you can …rebuild your bike!!! For those who travel often, it is more economical to be able to pack and rebuild your bike on your own. If you have the means, there are often companies that will break down, ship and rebuild your bike for you. I happen to be very protective of my bikes and, as taught to me by my coach Trista Francis of iTz Multisport, I won’t let anyone touch my bike in the break down or re-build process. Only I know exactly how it is supposed to be for race day. Even after multiple assembly processes I still find it helpful to take pictures just in case in that frustrated, foggy, post-travel phase, you accidentally put your fork in backwards…not that I’ve ever done that of course.

Congratulations! You arrived at your destination with everything you need, a functioning bike, and either food for dinner or a contingency plan for the closest restaurant. Now it’s time to relax, hydrate, and enjoy a race outside of your own backyard!

Packing List:

Triathlon Collegiate Nationals – NO naked runs, but still lots of fun.

By Seton
April 18, 2013 on 10:54 am | In Races, Sponsorship | No Comments

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend USAT Collegiate Nationals in Tempe, AZ.  I haven’t been to a college national championship in over a decade – back when it was held in conjunction with Wildflower.  Back in the day, the college kids would just be lumped in with the rest of the Wildflower Olympic race.  The race and venue were great, heck, we didn’t know the difference.  Actually, the naked run we would do was a bigger highlight than the race itself.

Fast forward to now: USAT has full control of the race – a move by our national governing body that has many race directors up in arms (they don’t feel USAT should be producing races).  I am here to tell you that USAT has made the right move by taking over the race; they are providing an experience for collegiate triathletes that no one else can consistently deliver.  What an incredible experience for all of the college athletes that make the annual pilgrimage to this great event (the race site moves around the country every two years).  This year they had a total of three races over two days: on Friday there was the first ever ITU Draft Legal Collegiate race, on Saturday morning was the Olympic non-drafting race and on Saturday afternoon was the Super Sprint Relay.

If you have never seen an ITU Draft Legal race, I can tell you as a veteran of 25+ years in the sport that they are really exciting to watch – especially when it comes to college racing. It’s like March Madness all rolled into a one hour race in April, with kids who aren’t getting huge scholarships to compete.  As cool as the ITU race was, the Super Sprint Relay was incredibly fun to watch. The relay teams are comprised of two women and two men; each athlete does a very short triathlon of 250m swim, 5km bike and 1.2km run – about 15 min of anaerobic amusement.

I haven’t seen this much pure fun in the sport for many years; it was the most enjoyable time I have had watching the sport I have grown up with.  Of course, it’s even better when you sponsor the team (my alma mater) with the men’s winner of the ITU and Olympic race (University of Arizona TriCat – Ben Kanute) as well as sponsor the women’s Olympic winner (Colorado – Michelle Mehnert) .

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.

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