Multi-Sport

Bike Lights. Use them on every ride!

October 7th, 2018 by Marie Dershem

By Todd Anthes
(Athletic Mentors Multisport Team)

Bike lights have come a long way. It used to be the case that any decent unit needed a separate large battery unit. However, all but the “Seca” units discussed below have a self-contained small rechargeable energy source.

And given the rise of distracted driving, the proper light set up is no longer just something for rides in the dark.  In my opinion, lights are now a necessity on all rides.

I have three primary light set ups, as follows.  I tend to favor the Light & Motion brand, but given the output/lumens and other features, I am sure there are other acceptable options.

  1. The All the Time, Every Time, Set-Up (“ATET”).
  2. Whether it’s a bright sunny day or cloudy flat-light conditions, I run one of the Urban series lights on the front handle bar of my bike (https://www.lightandmotion.com/choose-your-light/urban), usually with the light under the bar, which is my personal preference. The light is set up in the “pulse” mode.  I have a number of these units, either 800 or 1000 lumens, and these are very bright blinking lights that can be seen from a great distance.
  3. On the rear I run the Vis 180 Pro (https://www.lightandmotion.com/choose-your-light/vis-180/vis-180-pro), strapped to my seat post. Even when I rode a tri-bike, I found a way to strap this to the aero post.  I always run it in the “pulse” mode, and you might think that 150 lumens aren’t that visible.  But try and ride behind this light in “pulse” mode in a pace line and it is blinding.  There are other settlings, but when in a pace line, I usually just turn it off. Note that some of the people I ride with regularly mount a Vis unit on their helmet.
  4. The “It Might Get Dark” Set-Up. I complement the ATET with one of two modified set-ups.
  5. If I am going out and my return might be at dusk, I put another Urban light in my jersey pocket. If it gets dark, I strap it to my handle bar on the other side of the bar from the “pulse” unit. I use the light in one of three of four intensity setting.  At the highest lumens setting, this will get me home safe if I have under an hour and a half or so left on the ride. The other settings preserve the battery life longer.
  6. If I go out and I know that it will get dark, I carry or pre-install one of the Tazi units (https://www.lightandmotion.com/choose-your-light/taz). I have a few iterations of this unit, but the new 2000 lumens Black Pearl unit is incredible.  It is brighter than a car headlight.  I usually strap this to my handlebar and on its highest setting, I can get an hour of really bright light. You can also mount a Tazi on your helmet but read below.
  7. The “It’s Dark” Set-Up. When I am leaving in the dark, and if the ride is going to be on a trail or involve a lot of turning, I mount a Seca unit (https://www.lightandmotion.com/choose-your-light/seca) on my helmet. It can be mounted on your bar, but this 2000 to 2500 lumens unit makes night riding like riding in the day.  The reason I mount in on my helmet is that the Urban units set on a low angle provide light 7-12 feet ahead of the front wheel, but the Seca unit helps me see around the turns. At its highest setting, which I rarely use, you can plan on an hour and a half of really really bright light. The Seca units also have a separate head band you can purchase that fits over a hat.  This a great for hiking or walking the dogs in the dark.  The Seca unit does have an external battery, but it is not that large and easily fits into my jersey pocket. I often run the cord under my coat or jersey and then into the pocket.

I ride a lot in “darkish” or dark conditions.  I am kind of a night owl, and often find myself heading out later than expected for a ride.  In the fall and winter, a proper light set up can make the difference between Zwift and riding outside.  And let’s face it, Zwift is cool, but we would all rather be outside . . . provided we can see (and are not too cold . . . but I have another blog on that).

 


3 triathletes, 1 race. Read about MITI with their race reports!

October 1st, 2018 by Marie Dershem

 

By: Jeff Nordquist

Kathy Braginton, Olympic Distance, 2:40.42, 5th OA, 2nd AG
Going into Miti weekend, I was feeling fatigued and was not overly confident on what I would be able to bring for race day. A wetsuit legal race combined with cooler temps and overcast skies made for a very successful day. The swim was a fairly normal swim for me. I was able to conserve a little energy with the wetsuit and it felt so good after several non-wetsuit legal races. The first half of the bike was slower than what I had anticipated, so I was concerned I was showing some of that fatigue. I had forgotten the Olympic course was constant rolling hills. I was pleased to find the return portion of the course rolled much faster. I averaged over 3 mph faster on the return and was able to complete the bike with the overall average pace I had anticipated. It was the run portion of the race that really surprised me. I exploded out of T2 with a sudden burst of energy. I’m not sure if it was the roar of the crowd or what. I had a good first mile, but spent the next 2 trying to slow my breathing and my heartrate. After the turnaround on the run, I began cheering on other teammates and runners. This helped to push through the last few miles and I was able to post a negative split on the return route. The organizers and the volunteers do a great job with the aid stations on the run course providing hydration, nutrition, and lots of encouragement every mile. I finished 5th overall female and 1stin my Age Group. My race time and place made for a very satisfying closeout of the Triathlon season.

Chelsey Smith, Half Ironman, 5:36.37, 9th OA, 1st AG
MiTi was my first half Ironman distance event and I went into with very little expectations. Not having ever raced any endurance event longer than a marathon I really had no idea how my body would respond to the time and distance. I am happy to say I had a great race. The swim went well. I was strong and steady on the bike while enjoying hills, and the run went as expected. I ended up running down the girl that was first in my age group to finish ahead of her and take first. I followed my race plan to a tee, and ended up at 5:36 finish time, and top ten overall females. It was a great race. I enjoyed that both the bike and the swim had out and backs on the course to it was easy to see many friends that were also racing. The course was also very well supported and the volunteers were great. I am looking forward to doing this race again in the future.

Jeff Nordquist, Olympic Distance, 2:12.56, 7th OA, 2nd AG
With the cooler weather and the overcast morning, the conditions couldn’t have been better. I knew going into this race, I hadn’t spent the time training as much as I’ve had in previous years. My wife and I welcomed our first child into this world in June and as you may know the training schedule looked different in years past.
It all started in the water with wetsuit legal temps (thank goodness). After the first minute passed, found a rhythm and a set of legs to follow, allowing me to conserve energy for the remainder. Transitioned well onto the saddle in 5th place. The ride out was nearly all climbing and made sense considering the 6mph difference in the speed on the way back. But the hills were relentless and having a disc wheel may have caused more harm than good. With the run approaching, I started to transition my legs to be ready to hit the street. Jumping in to the shoes, I was in 8th place. I normally make ground on the run, but today was not that case. I couldn’t get the legs to turn and it costed me a few chances to move up as much as I’d like. I finished the across the line in 7th, and 2nd in my the AG.
I had higher hopes than my finish, but overall satisfied with the effort. I suffered, but ran the race that I had in mind. Looking forward to the rest of the season and the months to come.


The “Professional” Athlete

April 13th, 2018 by Marie Dershem

One definition offered by the Merriam Webster dictionary defines the word professional as “characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession”. Further, it defines a profession as “a principal calling, vocation, or employment”, another way of saying a profession is a job. Seriousness of conduct is at a higher level then what one would approach with a hobby. Though we don’t race for a living, everyone on a team benefits from professionalism. Here are a few ways to be “professional” and how it positively impacts yourself and the team?

 

 

Sharp Dressed (Wo)man

Nothing says “conforming to the technical” like a group that looks the same. More than matching jerseys and bibs, a truly professional look includes socks, helmets, accessory equipment (glasses, gloves, shoe covers, bikes, etc.) and even cool weather wear. It’s imperative riders maintain a clean bike and kit. Team Athletic Mentors’ management puts a lot of attention and effort towards projecting a brand and we all have a role in that.

Take Pride in Your Team

A professionally run team establishes a vision and follows it. TAM has looked to develop riders. Some have gone on to higher ranks, like the ProTour, and even become nationa

l champions. As a member of the team, you are part of that legacy. When other riders see you, they see a team with high standards and a history of success. You have been chosen to continue an image, so take pride. This pride is not just racing or riding in your kit, but wearing the team casual wear during cycling and promotional events.

Team Mates and Sponsors First

Being professional means holding up your end of a bargain. Part of this is supporting the sponsors that provide resources to the team. Take every opportunity to promote sponsors’ products, keeping negative assessments within the team. Following through on your contractual agreements maintains the team’s ability to keep and hold sponsors. Think of your actions as reflecting those on your jersey and in your jersey.

Be an Ambassador

True professionals take responsibility to foster their livelihood. At our level, that means promoting the sport we love. Be approachable by strangers. Look to help more novice racers. Get in front of the camera. Most of us aren’t genetic freaks destine for greatness in cycling, but, rather, people passionate about a sport. Project that passion by supporting it any positive way so people see it means something to someone. People appreciate passion.

Make a Good First Impression

A professional conducts themselves at a high character level consistently. Sharp looking, organized teams get noticed, which makes the need to act your best even more important. Maintain an even keel during the heat of racing. Communicate with others through social media, in person, or other means, as if the spotlight was always on. This includes when giving our opinion with race officials and promoters. Don’t forget having your attire leave no doubt who you race for while on the podium.

Add Value to Your Team

A well run team has a lot of moving pieces. Those pieces working in concert are what make an organization better than the sum of its parts. Try to look for ways to help, even if it’s just to offer your assistance. Most athletes have an expertise in some area(s), even if it’s just time, that can benefit everyone. Few good things happen by chance, but through effort by someone that cared.

Support Your Team Mates

One quality of a good team is people want to be a part of it. This usually isn’t the clothes they get, bikes they ride or deals offered. It comes down to feeling part of something where they are supported. Giving assistance, passing on knowledge, watching a fellow team mate and cheering them on are part of this support. It’s always best to feel we can share our triumphs and tragedies.

It’s a privilege to be on any well run team, but especially ours. Show that appreciation by projecting a professional image and sportsmanship. Represent yourself, your team, and the sport of cycling well.


One of the best days of the year…

March 15th, 2018 by Marie Dershem

As a cyclist in Michigan, there are some monumental days on the calendar:

  1. Yankee Springs Time Trial – the opening of the MTB race season
  2. Barry-Roubaix – the largest and one of the most popular gravel road races in MI
  3. Race for the wishes – the road race that often serves as our state championship
  4. Alma GP of CX – the kick-off for cyclocrossers
  5. Iceman Cometh – the point-to-point MTB race that draws thousands of participants and a stacked pro field to Traverse City

Then there’s the day that every cyclist on a team looks forward to as much (or more) than these monuments of the Michigan cycling calendar . . . new kit arrival day! That’s right – the day that our new lycra arrives is one of the highlights of the year. This is especially true when your new kit is from Giordana.

I am anything but a professional racer, but as someone who logs between 7,000 – 8,000 miles on his bike each year, I most definitely have an appreciation for the equipment that makes my riding more comfortable and enjoyable.

Since joining Athletic Mentors cycling team, I have had the opportunity to wear Giordana gear. I anticipated the change from another brand to be difficult, but was pleasantly surprised by the quality, comfort, durability and aesthetic of our Giordana kit. When we head outside in the chilly morning in the Spring, the lined Roubaix line of bibs, jerseys and arm warmers are just right to keep me focused on my miles and not the air temperature. When the long rides of a hot summer afternoon hit, I have come to appreciate the breathability of the Scatto jerseys that allow enough ventilation to keep me feeling cool. Regardless of the weather, I most appreciate the comfort and quality of the chamois. I know, no one likes to talk about those parts, but if you are going to log serious miles, this becomes a critical contact point between cyclist and bike. I have been amazed not just at the comfort of the chamois, but the durability. With other brands, this critical component of the kit had a definite shelf life. I have yet to experience that with my Giordana chamois.

Finally, the aesthetic of the kit looks great. Whether I find myself logging some solo miles, riding in the peloton or on the those rare occasions I get to stand on a podium, I look forward to wearing my team colors in my Giordana kit. And I always look forward to new kit arrival day each spring . . .


My Kona Journey: The Final Part

March 12th, 2018 by Marie Dershem

This blog is a continuation from my last blog post “My Kona Journey: Part 7”.  I would suggest reading that blog before reading this one.

“The hardest skill to acquire in this sport is the one where you compete all out, give it all you have, and you are still getting beat no matter what you do. When you have the killer instinct to fight through that, it is very special.”

– Eddie Reese, U.S. Olympic Swimming coach

I woke up before my alarm went off at 3:30am.  I was only able to get a few hours of good sleep since my body was so amped up for what was about to happen today.  This was the morning I’ve been imaging and waiting for for years. After putting on my race kit I had my usual breakfast of oats with protein powder because it settled well with my stomach.  After eating, my family and I left our condo around 4am and started the 30 min drive to the race transition area.

At 4:30am we arrived at the transition area where my aunt and I were dropped off.  The athlete swim check-in opened at 4:45am so I got there a little early to beat the big crowds.  In addition, I wanted to see the Pro Men and Women check-in. When we got to check-in there was already a long line so we weren’t able to see the Pros.  While waiting in line I dropped off my special needs bags for the bike and run. When I was about to enter into the swim check-in area I gave my Aunt a hug as she wished me good luck for my race.

The check-in process went very smooth.  There were more volunteers than athletes which is rare to see.  The process went very quick and volunteers were very enthusiastic.  The volunteers applied my race number tattoos. After we got our race number we had to step on a scale to record our pre-race weight.  Finally we walked across the timing mate to verify that our chip was working and check-in was complete.

After check-in I walked over to my bike to get everything setup.  I placed four bottles of Infinit on my bike and filled up my aero bottle.  I pre-clipped my shoes in the pedals and pumped up the tires. After double (and triple) checking my setup, I was done in transition.  I went into the Kualia Bay Hotel to meet up with my dad. I entered the hotel and saw a few pro triathletes, like Mirinda Carfrae (3-time Ironman World Champ), another reminder that the best of the best were here this morning.  I sat in the hotel for about 30 minutes to rest the legs and take in some more fluids and nutrition. I also put on my swim speed suit, and went back into the transition area with less than a hour to go until my race.

When I got back into transition I checked on my bike setup and get some sunscreen on. By this point the transition area was packed like a can of sardines, including big name pros like Sabian Kienle, Jan Fordino, and Timothy O’Donnell.  With 20 mins before my swim start at 7:05am, I was ready. The Pro men and women already started their race, so I made my way over to the starting area by the bay.

 I entered the slow moving line to Kailua bay for the swim.  While entering the water I walked down the famous IRONMAN stairs that is always shown on NBC’s documentary coverage.  I witnessed a mix of emotions from the athletes that ranged from excitement to anxiety, mirroring my own feelings. When my feet touched the Pacific ocean, I paused for a few minutes before swimming out to the start, conserving my energy for the swim by decreasing the time I would have to tread water.  I made my way to the start line 13 minutes before the start time. My strategy was to be at least 50 yards to the left of the pier so I wasn’t starting out with the strong swimmers.  In addition it was less congested left of the pier. I didn’t want to start my race by getting trampled!

 When I got to the start line I was greeted by paddle boarders that were going back and forth to form a start line.  As I was waiting for the cannon to go off, I was thinking back to the times before I started doing triathlons.  During High School I remember watching the Ironman World Championship documentary on NBC, which inspired me to do a Ironman race one day. I’ve always dreamt of what it would be like to compete and experience the start at Kona.  In my opinion, the start of the Ironman World Championships is probably the most epic moments in all of triathlon and I was experiencing that right now!

 Ten seconds before the cannon went off the paddle boarders stopped and turned their boards parallel to us so we could swim by easier.  When that happened I knew it was GAME ON. BANG!!! The cannon blasted and I went out at a strong pace. There was a lot of contact with other swimmers through the first quarter mile, which I expected.  Fortunately I never got kicked or hit hard to disrupt my swim.

 It was challenging to sight far due to the waves and swimmers blocking my view.  I had to just follow the swimmers and trust that they’re going the right way. The swim course was pretty simple since it was just a long straight out and back loop.  The turnaround was around a big sailboard. As I got closer to the turnaround there was more separation between the athletes which made it easier to swim. At this point in the race I was swimming 20 yards away from the buoy markers.  I noticed that the main pack was swimming closer to the buoys which explained why there were less swimmers around me. In hindsight I probably should’ve swam with the main pack so I could’ve taken advantage of the draft behind the other swimmers.  As the swim progressed there were several swimmers passing me because they likely started further back. Usually my pace doesn’t slow down this early in a Ironman swim.

At the turnaround we swam around the sailboard, filled with cheering fans, which was pretty cool.  Staying 20 yards away from the buoys allowed me to swim alone and at my own pace, though I likely missed out on the draft of other swimmers.  A half mile before the swim exit I saw the famous coffee boat and for a split second I thought about stopping in for a cup of joe. Chuckling at myself, I thought I better not since I was in middle of a race…

 When I exited the swim there were about 20 athletes around me which meant it was very congested.  In the changing tent area, there was not enough room to even sit down. I quickly removed my swim speed suit and put on my helmet and socks for the bike.  My swim time was 1:00:53 and my gender placement was 405th.

 The start of the bike was more like a NASCAR race where all of the bikes were just motor pacing behind one other.  We were only able to keep 2 bike lengths between each other because it was so congested. The Ironman drafting rules state that you must keep 5 bike lengths behind the rider in front of you.  It was impossible to not draft especially during the first 5 miles because the roads were too narrow to pass. I had to stay patient and treat it like a warm up ride. I wasn’t able to start riding at my goal Ironman (IM) wattage until I got to the Queen K highway.

 When I got to the Queen K, I was able to pick up the pace… but it was still crowded.  Most of the riders were violating the 5 bike length draft zone rule. This meant that if passed a rider I also had to pass the rider in front of him because he was within the 5 bike length rule.  So I had to pass groups of riders, which required me to ride at a hard effort for a long time duration. Often, it took 2- 3 minutes to make a pass around a group because the groups were so long.  After I passed a group of riders I would slow down and settle into my IM effort.

 I didn’t want to continue doing 2 to 3 minute hard efforts because it would tire me out later on.  I attempted another strategy,  staying behind the group until it started to separate so I could pass one or two riders at a time.  However, as I patiently waited behind the group, I would get passed by riders that I already passed, which caused some frustration.

 In order to move up on the field I had to stay near my goal IM wattage, but this was hard to manage.  I found myself doing 230-250 watt efforts when passing and then doing 180-210 watts when riding behind a large group.  I had to be patient and wait for riders separate so I could pass them one by one. Once again I did not want to work too hard during the first few hours of the ride knowing that it was a 112 mile bike race and then a marathon run.

 Between the town of Kona and the airport we had a tailwind so I was averaging between 25 to 30 mph.  I was feeling good on the bike and I was on a great pace so far. When I got to Waikoloa (30 mile mark) the wind varied between a crosswind and headwind.  My speeds slowed down to 20 to 25 mph. After the 30 mile mark I was able to pass more athletes since the riders were more spread out.

 When I got to route 270 and started the climb to Hawi (42 mile mark) I had a tailwind.  During the climb to Hawi, I took advantage of my power-to-weight ratio, passing a lot of riders and sustaining 240+ watts.  However, on the downhills, I had to pedal just to keep up with the riders who carried more mass.

 When I got to Hawi, it was getting really congested because of the slowdown before the hairpin turnaround.  A lot of riders took advantage of the slowdown by passing a bunch of riders before the turnaround.

 After the turnaround, the riders were slow to getting up to speed, so I gunned it and passed at least 30 riders.  In addition, the riders were grabbing nutrition at the special needs station which is right after the turnaround.  I didn’t need any food at special needs since I had enough nutrition to get me through the bike leg. At this point I was right on my nutrition plan of one bottle of Infinit per hour.  I made sure that I was taking in a little water at every aid station. In addition, I was splashing water in my helmet and on my body to help stay cool.

 Once I got to the long downhill descent I was no longer passing riders.  Instead I was getting passed by riders every few minutes. There were a few steep section where I could get into an aero tuck position and not have to pedal.  But, for the most part, I had to keep pedaling to keep pace with the riders. When I got to the bottom of the Hawi climb I was able to pass a few riders on the climb to Queen K.  This was the last segment of the race where I felt good… from that point on things got ugly for me.

 I had a large power fade when I got onto the Queen K. At this point I knew I had to stay mentally positive and tough it out.  I had about 2 hours left to go on the bike. It was hard to stay positive when I kept getting passed by several riders. In addition, the last 30 miles of the bike had a significant headwind which added fatigue to the legs. I entered into survival mode and mentally check-out.  My mindset changed from “racing to a podium finish” to “just to get to T2 whatever it takes.” I turned my focus from pace or power to spinning the legs and soaking in the environment. I started taking notice of the beautiful landscape of the lava fields and the Pacific coast. In other words today was “pain in paradise”.

 Towards the end of the bike I had some cramping issues in my hamstrings.  I had to stand up on the bike and stretch out to get rid of the cramps. I rarely have cramping issue so I think I was a little dehydrated and more fatigued than usual.  I was happy to finish the ride in 5:14:06 and 108th in my age group.

 When I dismounted in T2 and started running my legs felt like bricks.  I did not rush myself through T2, like I normally do at other triathlons.  Instead I took my time as I put my run gear and sunscreen on. When I started the marathon, I realized that I didn’t have my Garmin watch on because I left it on the bike so I had no way of tracking my pace.  However, this may have been a good thing because I could go by feel and not worry about my time. My mindset for the run was to soak in the atmosphere, finish, and most of all just enjoy the moment because I was in KONA!

 Per the Ironman tracker I was running 7:30 pace for the first few miles. Throughout the marathon I did a run-walk strategy.  I walked through every aid station to hydrate and cool off. In the aid stations I put sponges and ice in my tri suit. After the aid stations I would start running again.  The first 9 miles of the marathon were exciting because of the crazy and cheering spectators.

 By mile 9, I had to walk up a few big hills like Paloniti.  After mile 9 my pace slowed down to the mid 8 to 8:30 pace range.  By this point, I was running on the Queen K highway… which had very few spectators, but plenty of volunteers at each aid station for support.  After a few miles on the Queen K it felt like time was slowing down because it was taking a longer and longer time to get to each mile mark. I knew it was going to be a long day! Instead of focusing on the mile markers, I shifted my focus on just getting to the next aid station and keeping pace with the other competitors around me.

 The temperature on the run was near 90 degrees, which made it uncomfortable. But the ice from the aid stations kept my body temperature under control. The hot temperatures caused my Infinit nutrition on my fuelbelt to heat up which didn’t taste great.   Instead I took some clif shot blocks on the course to get in the additional calories.

 I ran the last 2 miles non-stop since it was mostly downhill.  I was able to pick up the pace and find extra energy to finish strong.  When I got to Ali’i drive I used every last bit of adrenaline I had to finish strong.  The finish line area was pretty epic and I soaked it in. My finish time was 10:02:34 and I was 80th out of 175 athletes in the 30-34 age group.  Given the mental wins and struggles of the day, I was very pleased with how I finished.

 After finishing the volunteers gave me a finisher’s medal and Kukui Nut Lei.  Pushing myself the last 2 miles caused me to be very nauseous so I stopped by the med tent to make sure I was ok. The medical staff took my weight and I lost 10 pounds which was 7% of my body weight.  I started to feel better after resting and drinking some broth in the med tent. I’m always in rough shape after an Ironman… and today was no different. However, I was less sore since I didn’t push the marathon as hard as I’ve done in the past (aka less pounding on the feet). . did have some nasty sunburn on my back!

 The next day my family and I watched the award ceremony for the age-group and professional athletes.  The age-group award ceremony was really motivating to watch. The 5-top finishers in each male and female age group got awards.  The ceremony inspired me to continue to improve and someday be on one of those five podium steps.

This race was a humbling experience, racing against the best athletes in the world on one of the toughest course in the world.  It was a honor to say that I qualified for Ironman World Championships and that I accomplished one of my lifelong dreams. I would like to thank my dad, my aunt, and my 2nd cousin Emma that came out to support me on this trip.  I also want to thank Team Athletic Mentors, the Trikat Club, and my friends for supporting me on this journey. I would like to thank my coach for his guidance and helping me reach my Kona goal.

 Thank you for reading my Kona blogs and I hope this encourages you to go after your dreams.  You can accomplish anything if you surround yourself with the right people, you have a plan, you have a drive to succeed, and you have patiences.  Anything is possible! Go and write your journey!


Steps to Getting Better Sleep

February 1st, 2018 by Marie Dershem

In today’s culture, poor sleep is worn almost like a badge of honor. If you are a high achiever, whether in your job, with your family, or just trying to live a full life, sleep often takes a back seat to our attention. It’s the place often sacrificed to find more time in the day. However, science is showing time and again that better sleep is imperative to good health. Many don’t know that simple changes to the daily task of getting to sleep can help them feel more rested and ready to take on their day, and aid their long term health. Here are some steps to take for more effective rest.

Establish a Sleep Schedule

Many daily biological patterns are based off the body’s circadian rhythm. This system is cued into light and other waking stimuli, and best responds to a pattern of regularity. Set aside 7.5-8.5 hours to sleep each night. Try to retire at the same time, rising around the same time each morning. Weekends should replicate the weekly waking and sleeping times as well, where possible. Avoid long naps (greater than 30 mins) in the day as these impact the ability to fall asleep at a normal time.

Adjust Your Surroundings

The place one sleeps should be inviting. For many, this means some place cool, dark, and calm. Others benefit from a fan or other device to give a consistent, gentle background sound. Minimizing stimulating your senses through blocking out sounds, light, or other things that will prevent relaxation. This includes not using television, phones, computers, or radio when trying to fall asleep.

Prepare the Body

It is common to try to work or be active right up till it’s time to go to bed. However, this keeps the body on alert. Hormones are released to tell us when to rise, prepare us for proper function, and give appropriate arousal to best perform in our day.

These aspects of the “biological clock” are influenced by outside cues, like light, sound and other stimuli. It’s best to allow the body time to adjust away from this alert state. As the evening hours begin, dim or shut off lights within the house. If spending time on the computer shortly before bed, consider installing a program that removes blue light to lower stimulation. Do some relaxing activity before sleeping, like reading a book or taking a bath. Not only should work be avoided as you’re approaching bedtime, but also exercise or other activities that keep the body charged up.

Though going to bed hungry doesn’t promote quality sleep, neither does stuffing oneself. Be careful how much you consume leading up to the hours before bed.Also note that excessive fluids will likely cause the need to hit the bathroom at some point in your slumber. Caffeine, alcohol, some herbs, and nicotine can be stimulants that hinder a quick fall into a useful sleep cycle. These can take hours to get out of the system, so pay attention to when to stop ingesting them. Alcohol especially can make the sleep one gets poorer then it should as well.


A Thousand Invisible Mornings

January 13th, 2018 by Marie Dershem

This time of year, I often need a little inspiration to keep up (or start up) my training.

In the fall, the weather and beauty draws me outside to ride the lovely Michigan countryside.

In the spring, I am so eager to get back on my bike outside, I can hardly wait for clear roads and warmer temps.

In the summer, the sun and warmth, group rides and racing provide daily motivation to ride hard and long.

But, this time of year… especially those windy, gray days when there isn’t enough snow to get out and enjoy, the trainer becomes the best option.

Morning after morning after morning on the trainer can suck the motivation right out of you. With ever-improving technology making trainer rides more enjoyable, even the hardcore Zwifters have to long for a breath of fresh air.

A few days ago, my college roommate and rowing teammate sent me a photo that spoke to that deep motivation… that drive to use these cold months of indoor training to become the best athlete I can be. It is perfect. I hope it helps you get through until Michigan welcomes us back outside!


My Kona Journey: Part 5

November 13th, 2017 by Marie Dershem

by Brian Reynolds

This blog is a continuation from my last blog post “My Kona Journey: Part 4”. I would suggest reading that blog before reading this one.

“The mind is the limit. As long as the mind can envision the fact that you can do something, you can do it, as long as you really believe 100 percent.”
– Arnold Schwarzenegger

The alarm goes off at 4:00am and I’m already wide awake filled with nervous energy. I thought to myself 3 hours from now I will be toeing the line for Ironman Brasil. I woke up to rain droplets hitting our hotel. The forecast showed light rain showers and temps in the high 60s throughout the day so I put on a rain jacket to keep dry. I had my usual breakfast which was oatmeal with protein powder mixed in. After eating I walked down to our hotel lobby to take a shuttle bus to the race transition area. The shuttle ride was slow due to the pedestrian and car traffic. When I got to the transition area I dropped off my special need bags and then I went to set-up my bike. I loaded up my nutrition bottles on the bike, pumped up the tires, setup the bike computer, and pre-clipped my bike shoes.

After getting setup in transition and put on my wetsuit in a dry area and started my half mile walk to the swim start. When I got near the swim start I got into the ocean and did a 5 minute warm up swim. The ocean was really calm which put me at ease considering the tides we had a few days ago. After warming up I had 30 minutes until my 7:05am wave start for the 30-34 age group. During that time I drank some Ucan and took-in other nutrition to get fueled up before the start. The Pro men started at 6:35am and the Pro women started at 6:45am. My wave started after the Pro Women. The race officials lined us up at the start line 15 minutes prior to the start. The race was a beach start so the race officials lined us up 10 meters away from the shoreline. It felt like an eternity waiting at the start line. During the wait, I stared out into the ocean thinking to myself that this was exactly what I envisioned in my head over a 1000 times during training.

Once the volunteers moved out of the way and lowered the start-line tape it was game on. BANG!! The cannon went off and over 300 athletes sprinted into the Atlantic Ocean. I ran about 30 yards before jumping in the water to begin my swim. There was a group of 8-10 guys that took off ahead of us within the first 200 yards. I ended up swimming with a pack of 8 guys during the first half of the swim. The swim course was set up as a “M” shape meaning we swam a 2.2K out and back then another 1.6K out and back. At times it was challenging to sight the first turnaround buoy because it was still dark and my goggles were fogging up. I mainly focused on drafting behind the swimmers in my group to save as much energy as possible. Within the group there was a lot of contact- so got hit and kicked several times. We rounded the first buoy and swam back to shore. Heading back out, the sun was higher in the sky, so it was easier to sight. Hitting the shore a second time, we ran onto the beach and went around a few cones before running back into the Ocean. At this point we another 1.6K of swimming left to go..

When I entered the water again I noticed that the group that I was swimming with were more spread apart. Since I didn’t have a group to swim with, I swam behind one of the stronger swimmers from that group for the next 300 meters. At this point the 35-39 age group leaders were starting to pass us so I made a surge and got behind them. After 200 yards I lost contact with the 35-39 age group leaders and I swam solo until the swim finish. In hindsight I probably shouldn’t have made a surge since I only got a small lead on the group that I swam with earlier. I came out of the 2.4 mile swim in a time of 55:08 which was a personal best for a Ironman swim. It was a fast swim considering the saltwater for the extra buoyancy and ocean currents pushing us along.

We had to run about .3 miles to the transition. I ran by my dad just before entering transition and he yelled out “You’re in 15th place”. To qualify for Kona I needed to be in the top 8 of my age group to guarantee a slot. I had a smooth T1 transition even though the transition area was slippery from the rain. There were athletes sliding and falling but luckily I had no issues. When I got on the bike and started pedaling the legs were feeling good. My mantra for the first few hours of the bike was to hold back and stay at my goal wattage. I waited 10 minutes into the bike before taking in nutrition to make sure my stomach had settled after the swim. My nutrition plan was to take 273 calories every hour which equates to one bottle per hour.

The course was mostly flat during the first 30 minutes until I got to the first major climb. The climbs were long and gradual but I made sure that I kept a steady effort. On the steeper uphill sections I would pedal standing up so I could work different muscles and give other muscles a break. I felt strong up the hills. After the hilly section it was mostly flat and fast. On the flats I stayed in the aero position. The roads were wet and periodically there would be a light rain showers. The roads were slippery so I took extra caution going around turns. I saw a few riders fall on some of the hairpin turns. There were large water puddles on the road which made it dangerous to ride through because you didn’t know what was underneath the puddle. There was one rider 50 yards ahead of me that hit a pothole and his bike catapulted him over the handlebars. He never saw the pothole because it was hidden under a water puddle.

I felt good all the way though the first lap of the bike. My first lap split was 2:27 which put me on pace to be under 5 hours for the bike. When I started the 2nd loop the winds picked up in speed which made the course slower. At the 2:45 hour mark my Quarq power meter started to malfunction due to the wet conditions. My power meter was reading very low power numbers which made it useless since the numbers had no meaning to me. To help monitor my pace/intensity I switch to my heart rate monitor. I tried to stay at around 158 bpm since this was my heart rate when I started to track it. Hard to say if that heart rate was keeping me within my proper power zones. I was just trying to keep the intensity consistent. This was the first time my power meter completely malfunctioned, so it was terrible timing that it happened in a race. Throughout my training I relied on my power to monitor my pace and intensity.

At the 3:30 hour mark my legs were favoring a lower cadence which meant that my legs were getting fatigued. At the 4 hour mark my legs were really hurting which became obvious as I was struggling on my smallest gear going up the major climbs. On the first loop the major climbs felt easy. Also I was a little behind my nutrition plan because I didn’t finish my fourth bottle until the 4:20 hour mark. The last hour of the bike was just survival mode to get to T2. I just focused on giving it everything that I had. When I finished the bike I still had a half bottle of nutrition leftover. I finished the 112 mile bike in a 5:02:50 which was a personal best.

When I got off my bike and started running through transition I was not feeling good. My legs were stiff and I didn’t feel comfortable. My goal for the marathon was to run a sub 3 hour which was a 6:53 pace. I took the first mile conservative at a 7:05 pace. During the run my stomach was a little upset so I wasn’t able to take in nutrition until 20 mins into the run. However, my running legs did start to feel better by mile 2 and I began running 6:40-50 pace. The most challenging part of the course was the first 10 km. At the 4 km mark we had to run up two very steep hills. The 2nd hill was so steep that I had to power-walk it. The descent on these hills were very steep so I had to keep the pace super slow so I didn’t fall over. I ran with another competitor side by side during the first 10km which was nice. I tried to make small talk with him but he didn’t speak very much english. We passed at least 30 people running together. I passed more people the first 10km of the race than I did during the remainder of the marathon.

After the first 10 km it was mostly flat the next 20 miles. From miles 6 to 12 I was holding 6:45 pace and was feeling good. I began opening up a gap on the my fellow competitor who I was running with side by side. I was taking in nutrition but I was still behind my nutrition plan. One hour into the run I was suppose to take 2 flasks of Infinit but I only had one. When I got near mile 13 I was starting to feel light headed and low on energy. I felt low on energy because I was behind on my calorie count. Thankfully the 2nd flask I took before mile 13 was starting to kick in and I got my energy back. I ran a 7:05 for mile 13 and then I picked up the pace to a 6:50 mins per mile.

I felt alright the next 10 km but I could tell I was on the edge of falling off pace. I KNEW if I did not keep taking my nutrition I going to hit the wall. With 12 km to go I stopped at the special needs station to pick up 2 more flasks of Infinit and took a quick walk break. This was the only time I walked besides the power-walk up the very steep hill. After the special needs I was holding onto 7:00 – 7:07 pace. It was in survival mode at this point. There were a LOT of people on the run course during my final lap. I had to maneuver around a lot of runners, which is hard when your legs and body are at their physical limits. I almost fell over when I tried to dodge a orange cone.

I was able to finish all of my nutrition with a mile left to go in the race. During the entire run I had no idea where I stood in my age group placement. With 1 km left until the finish my dad yelled out “You’re in 7th place!”. I was relieved to hear those words because I knew I qualified for Kona. I got an extra surge of energy and I was able to break 7:00 mins for the last mile. My official marathon time was a 3:00:06 which is a Ironman PR. After I finished I didn’t know the official results until a few hours later. The official results showed that I finished 2nd in my Age Group in a total time of 9 hours 4 minutes and 3 seconds. I was ecstatic! I did it! I’m going to KONA baby!

The following day was the award and the Kona slot allocation/roll down ceremonies. I got a big trophy for finishing 2nd in my age group.

After the age group and professional awards they did the Kona slot allocation and rolldown. Ironman Brasil had a total of 75 Kona Slots. For my age group they gave 8 Kona slots just like I predicted. When the announcer called my name I gladly walked on stage and accepted my slot to Kona. They gave me a Hawaiian lei and token which read “Qualified for 2017 Ironman World Championship”. The back of the token had the Ironman slogan “Anything is Possible”.

Overall Ironman Brasil was a huge success! I accomplished my main goal which was to qualify for Kona. Anything more was just icing on the cake. Now I had a place to be on October 14th, 2017 which was at the pier in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

To be continued….

 


My Kona Journey: Part 4

October 11th, 2017 by Kaitlyn Patterson

–By Brian Reynolds

This blog is a continuation from my last blog post “My Kona Journey: Part 3”.  I would suggest reading that blog before reading this one.

“Only he who can see the invisible can do the impossible.” – Frank L. Gaines

It was early May and less than one month to go until Ironman Brasil!  During the month of May I did two races which were the Borgess run and the Muncie May Triathlon. I’ve ran the Borgess run 4 years in row and wanted to continue on with that tradition.  On May 6th I did the Borgess 10k run which was a “C” race for me.  I went into this race in a non-rested state since my Ironman training took priority.  I was able to get the overall win in a time of 33:32 which was the fastest time I’ve ran on that course.  I was really surprised of how well I ran considering my legs felt fatigued from training.  This race result showed that I had good run fitness which was a big confidence booster heading into Ironman Brasil.

The following weekend on May 13th I did the Muncie May Triathlon which was an Olympic distance race in Muncie, Indiana.  The race was one of the first triathlon races in the Midwest.  I was trying to find a race further South to get some warmer temps but there weren’t any others on that weekend.  The race was on a Saturday so I drove down to Muncie on Friday and checked out the course.  The water temp was 58 deg F which will be the coldest water I would ever swim in!  The bike course was a 2 loop that was mostly flat with a few rolling hills.  The run course was a out and back which had rolling terrain.

On race day there were a few delays which pushed my swim wave start to 9:50am.  Before the start I swam in the lake to get my body acclimated to the freezing water temps.  When I stuck my head in the water it took my breath away but after a few minutes my body adjusted.  I wore a skull cap to help keep my head warm.  When the race started I got off to a good start.  I was swimming with the leaders for the first 300-400 yards.  Eventually the leaders started to pull away which was unusual because I usually keep a even pace throughout the swim.  I think the cold water temps were getting to me because my body was using its energy to stay warm.  I ended up fading to 6th place coming out of the water.  I tried to stay positive and thought that once I got to the bike I would be ok and would make up those lost positions.

 

When I got to the bike I notice within the first few minutes of the ride that my power numbers were low.  I was riding 30-40 watts lower than what I expected.  On lap one I got passed by two riders and I started to get disappointed with myself.  I thought to myself “Man I did all this hard work on the bike and this was all I could show for it.”  I didn’t give up and just kept pushing.  When I started the 2nd loop I started to pick up the pace.  Within a 5 minute window my power started to gradually climb from 240 to 250 to 260 to 270 to 280 to 290 watts.  I got a 2nd wind and the engines were running on full power.  The two guys who passed me early on in the bike I could not see but I knew if I kept pushing I could catch them.  I was able to catch both with 2 miles left to go in the bike.  It turned out that I was in the lead coming off the bike so I felt confident that I had the race at hand since my run was my strongest discipline.  I managed to grow my lead and win the race.  This race showed me that ANYTHING can happen and you can go from a low point to a high point as long as you keep pushing.

After Muncie I had 2 weeks until Ironman Brasil.  The final 2 weeks were lighter workouts since I was beginning my taper.  My dad and I left for Brazil on a Tuesday (5 days before the race) and arrived in Florianopolis, Brazil on a Wednesday.  The total flight time was 15 hours through 3 different connections.  After landing in Florianopolis we had to drive 45 minutes to the hotel which was a few miles away from the race venue.  On our drive I was able to checkout the landscape and the bike course.  Florianopolis was a very hilly and pretty area.  Fortunately the bike course is mostly on the highways which is mostly flat with a few big hills along the course.  The scenery was beautiful especially near the coastline.  It definitely felt like I was in a different country because the buildings, roads, and cars were different compared to the US.

On Thursday I did a 45 minute easy run which did not feel smooth or easy.  During this run it felt like I left my running legs in Michigan.  I didn’t worry too much over this run because it could’ve been due to the long flight or the taper effect.  I knew that I was fit and that I would be ready to race.  Later than day I did the athlete check-in and checked out all the cool triathlon toys at the expo!

On Friday I did a open water swim near the Ironman start.  I probably couldn’t have picked a worse day to go for a swim.  There were 5 to 8 foot tides crashing into shore.  This made me worry because I thought this was normal and this would be the race conditions on race day.  I manage to have the courage to go for a swim but it was rough.  I was getting saltwater in my mouth.  I had a hard time sighting since I couldn’t see over the tides.  The waves were tossing me around for 30 minutes.  There was an instance when I was swimming back to shore a big wave flipped me over on my back!   After the swim I talked to a few folks about the ocean tides and they said that those conditions were not typical.  Usually the water is a lot more calm and race officials would’ve cancelled the swim in the conditions I swam in which made me feel more at ease.

The day before the race I did my final workout which was a bike and run.  I did a 25 min bike and a 15 min run.  On the bike I tested out my race equipment by placing two filled water bottles in my rear bottle cages to make sure they did not fall out while riding on the cobblestone roads.  Yes, there is a section of cobblestones for .5 miles near the start of the bike.  The good news is that my bottles did not fall out; however, the bad news was that my rear bottle cage broke!  Literally on the 2nd to last speed bump heading back to the hotel I heard a “thud” sound.  I was really surprised but it’s good that it happened now and not during the race.  If this happened during the race it would’ve had a big impact on my race since two bottles were two hours worth of nutrition.  Fortunately I was able to buy another rear bottle cage at the Ironman expo.

That late afternoon I started packing my equipment and nutrition.  For the bike I prepared five bottles of my Infinit bike blend that I would carry on the bike.  I had one bottle in my aero bars, two bottles on my frame, and two bottles in my rear bottle cages.  To take extra precautions I packed two extra bottles in my bike special needs bag just incase I lose any bottles during the race.  For the run I prepared six 10 oz flasks of my Infinite run blend.  Each flask had 30 mins worth of energy and I plan on running for 3 hours which meant I needed 6 flasks.  I would carry three flasks out of T2 and then pick up the other three flasks in special needs.

The last agenda items to do before the race day was eat and get to bed early.  We had a buffet dinner so I could pick and choose what I wanted.  I limited my fiber intake and ate foods that I was more familiar with.  Not worth experimenting with different foods in a foreign country the day before a race.  After dinner we went to bed shortly after.  It’s usually hard for me to get a good night’s sleep before the biggest race of the season.

All the hard work was done and now it was time to reap the benefits tomorrow.   I was in the best shape of my life and felt confident that I could qualify for Kona as long as I executed my race plan.  The forecast for tomorrow was rainy with the temps in the high 60s.  At least I didn’t have to worry about it being too hot:)

To be continued….


What’s in your triathlon bag?

October 5th, 2017 by Kaitlyn Patterson

–By Kathy Braginton

As another triathlon season came to a close, I began to clean out my triathlon bag and pack it away until next year.  I looked through all the items I have collected over the years and which ones have become standard items in my bag.  So, what is in your triathlon bag?

The first, and most important item, is my race day checklist.  I have used this same checklist for the last 9 years.  No matter how many times I have packed my bag, I use this list to ensure I have everything I’ll need on race day.  If you look closely at the handwritten items, you’ll see the true age of this checklist.  Does anyone still own/use an MP3 player?  I do find it amusing that I have that item listed on a USAT labeled checklist.  Use of any personal audio device at a USAT sanctioned event is a rule violation and subject to a time penalty.  I will admit that I did use an MP3 player during a race when I was first starting out and I did receive a 2:00 minute penalty as a result.  Needless to say, I no longer include that item in my bag!

The rest of the items in my bag are handy and will keep you prepared for whatever might come your way:

 

  1. No matter what the race distance:  the water, wind, and sun can really take its toll on your lips.  I use a squirt of Aquaphore on the stem of my bike.  While I am riding, I can quickly apply it to keep my lips protected without slowing me down.
  2. You never know what the race day bathroom situation may bring and there rarely is a place to wash your hands. So, for the times when you just feel the need to clean your hands, a travel size bottle of hand sanitizer is a must!
  3. Electrical tape can be used to secure gel packs on the stem of your bike for easy access during the bike leg. If you tape the gel pack over the tab at the top, it can serve as a quick release for opening the gel pack.  You also never know when you may need tape to do a last minute handlebar repair.
  4. Sidewalk chalk can be used to mark your transition area. I have only needed to use this a few times when I could not find a good visual landmark for locating my transition, however, this is not allowed at USAT sanctioned events.
  5. At race day packet pick-up, you never know what kind of race numbers you will be given and how they are to be mounted. Most triathlon bikes have odd shaped stems and seat posts and do not allow for easy attachment of race numbers.  I use a mini-stapler to quickly wrap the race number on my stem.  I have had people ask to borrow my stapler many times as they struggle to attach their race number and watch me attach mine within seconds.
  6. In addition to the stapler, I have a pair of travel scissors to assist with the race number application. Race numbers can be trimmed for a better fit.
  7. For faster transitions, I have my bike shoes already clipped in my pedals and I use rubber bands to fasten the back of my bike shoes to the frame of the bike. The bike shoes will then stay horizontal until I mount the bike. Once I start to pedal, the rubber bands will snap.
  8. The most recent item I have added is a Sharpie. Waiting in line to be body marked, can be one of the most time consuming tasks on race day.  Having your own Sharpie for body marking, can eliminate the stress and anxiety that can come from having to wait.

A few of the other items I carry are safety pins, spare tubes, baby powder, deodorant, body glide and sunscreen.  Be prepared for whatever race day may bring.  Keep your bag stocked and utilize your checklist each and every race.

 



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