TeamOAMNow News

One of the best days of the year…

March 15th, 2018 by Elaine Sheikh

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 Elaine Sheikh

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!


Athletic Mentors Multisport Team Suiting Up for Success in 2018

February 9th, 2018 by Team AM OAM

Athletic Mentors — the training and team management company responsible for elevating Michigan endurance athletes to recognition as “podium performers” — is ramping up for another strong showing for the 2018 race season.

The storied team of Michigan amateur triathletes, cyclists, runners and Nordic skiers will be suiting up with support from numerous community partners this year.

Training the next generation of multisport athletes is an activity that will continue to receive increased attention in 2018, building on workshops held last year for youth triathlete training and cycling clinics.

“Our mission is to introduce young athletes to the joy of endurance competition as a lifelong motivation for healthy living,” said Cheryl Sherwood, General Manager and co-owner of Athletic Mentors.

“It’s one of the many ways our sponsors are making Michigan a better place for active living.”

Back for a second year in the presenter role is Greenware, a Kalamazoo packaging company that caters to restaurant, event and entertainment service with an exclusive line of annually renewable drink cups, lids, portion containers and on-the-go boxes made entirely from plants. Parent company FabriKal is privately held and home to more than 800 employees. For Greenware, the AM team is an opportunity to encourage the community to enjoy the outdoors and keep it green.

After a season break, OAM NOW is back in the fold as a major sponsor. OAM NOW offers urgent orthopaedic care from the best orthopaedic surgeons available. With 30 experienced physicians and PAs specializing in motion; spine; joints; hands and feet, OAM is uniquely qualified to give immediate diagnosis and customized care to athletes. With all diagnostic technologies onsite, OAM NOW offers fast, unified care whether you’re on the couch or on the trail.

Rounding out the premium level of support are three community-minded West Michigan companies.

Gauthier Family Home Care provides elder and home care with an emphasis on independence and an improved quality of life. This family-owned business understands the struggles of in-home care and works with clients to create tailored care solutions. Their compassionate, professional caregivers go the extra mile to provide dependable comfort.

 

Total Plastics Inc. distributes thousands of diverse plastics across the US. They provide top-quality products with superior service and swift shipping. Dedicated staff, value-added services, and quick turn-around set them apart.

Agility Sports Medicine serves the Kalamazoo area with comprehensive orthopedic physical therapy. They employ one of the most heavily-certified staffs in the region, featuring two Board-Certified Clinical Specialists in Orthopedics and the only Board Certified Clinical Specialist in Sports Physical Therapy in Southwest Michigan.

Additional team support comes from the following: Infinit Nutrition, Smith Optics, Giordana, First Endurance, KLM Fitness, Custer Cyclery, Speed Merchants Bike Shop, Giant and the Cross Country Ski Shop. Learn more about our sponsors.

Athletic Mentors continues to serve as the title sponsor for the team as well as the management company that operates it.

“We’re committed to keeping endurance athletes of every age moving. And nothing motivates a commitment to training more than a race,” Sherwood said.

The team regularly operates free introductory clinics to help amateur or would-be endurance athletes prepare for local races such as the GR TRI, the Cycling Lawyer Criterium, or the Michigan Titanium, mother of multisports.

Athletic Mentors, founded in 2002, continues to expand at a record pace. In 2016, it purchased a new home for its Richland training facility and fitness drop-in center. Last year, in partnership with the Wings West facility in Kalamazoo, Athletic Mentors opened a second center to keep young hockey and figure skaters in top form with off-ice training programs.

AM also offers adult fitness programs, classes, metabolic testing and sports camps. Previously, Athletic Mentors has managed the award-winning Bissell cycling team, the Priority Health Team and OAM NOW.


A Thousand Invisible Mornings

January 13th, 2018 by Elaine Sheikh

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 Elaine Sheikh

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….

 


Is Anyone Obligated to Be A Role Model?

June 30th, 2017 by Kaitlyn Patterson

-By Kaitlyn Patterson

My first year of medical school has come to a close and it has left me a lot of things to think about. Besides doing a lot of necessary thinking about anatomy, physiology and disease processes, medical school has made me think critically about priorities- my own as well as those of healthcare and the medical education system.

mtb wc

One reason that I’ve continued to race and train over this year is because it has become one of my default priorities. At this point, I’ve been training consistently for so long that it is a routine part of the day. However, I am well aware that this time is a luxury that will become much harder as my clinical responsibilities continue to increase. I see this reflected in many of the students, residents and physicians around me- personal health suffers as time spent in the hospital increases and sleep, exercise and sunlight decline to minimal to none. Honestly, it scares me and I frequently wonder why it has to be like this. Why are the people who are supposedly healing others, so blatantly defying the most basic aspects of health?

This paradox was illustrated in a small group session we had about physical activity and lifestyle counseling. A discussion prompt was, “Should physicians be physically active and practice good lifestyle choices to be a role model for patients?”  The reactions from others to this prompt ranged from an obvious yes to significant reservation. The time crunch argument was a big one- how can taking care of yourself be a priority when there are always more patients to see? The Hippocratic Oath does say that the patient comes before yourself but at what point should the line be drawn? Another interesting point was the liberty to separate personal life from professional life- that our own choices should be separate from what we do as a physician. However, this seems like a very grey area because they are difficult philosophies to separate.

Ultimately, nobody is obligated to be a role model but I think that it should be a considered a privilege and something to strive for.  Role models can be powerful influences on other people and communities, sometimes without even realizing it.  My Athletic Mentors teammates represent a range of occupations but have all earned a great deal of respect as professionals, people, and role models. I think a big contributing factor in this is prioritizing health and devotion to participating in and sharing their sport.

AM train

There are no absolute answers to any of these questions. However, to me it is obvious that the culture needs to change somehow. Because as much as physicians and other healthcare professionals are working and sacrificing, it is not currently reflected in better health outcomes- for patients or health professionals.  I’m not exactly sure where the changes in healthcare and medicine need to originate, but a workforce full of true role models working to shift the paradigm towards prevention would be a great start.


Team Athletic Mentors Ready to Triumph with Greenware Multisport Sponsorship

March 24th, 2017 by Team AM OAM
Watch for Team Athletic Mentors new look at a Multisport race near you this year.

Watch for Team Athletic Mentors new look at a Multisport race near you this year.

Athletic Mentors — the training and team management company responsible for getting Michigan triathletes known across the region as “podium performers” — is delighted to launch its newest team partnership catering to Michigan multisport events and active living.

The team core of Michigan amateur triathletes, cyclists, runners and Nordic skiers will be suiting up with presenter-level support from Greenware for the 2017 season. It’s the beginning of a partnership that promises to ‘keep it green’ in Michigan.

“Greenware is in it for the long haul and so are we. It’s a perfect pairing with a forward-thinking brand designed to preserve earth’s resources while providing on-the-go packaging,” said team Manger Cheryl Sherwood of Athletic Mentors.

Greenware is a registered trademark of FabriKal, a Kalamazoo packaging company that caters to restaurant, event and entertainment service with an exclusive line of annually renewable drink cups, lids, portion containers and on-the-go boxes made entirely from plants. FabriKal is privately held and home to more than 800 employees.

For 2017, Athletic Mentors has elected to be the title sponsor for the team in keeping with the expansion of its Richland training facility, which now serves both elite athletes as well as regular active lifestyle seekers. With the expansion, AM now offers adult fitness programs, classes, metabolic testing and sporting camps. Previously, Athletic Mentors has managed the award-winning Bissell cycling team, the Priority Health Team and OAM-Now.

“Athletic Mentors is in a growth phase, and there’s no better way to show people what we do than titling the team – the proof is on the podium, so to speak,” Sherwood said.  The new Athletic Mentors-Greenware Team will feature the same core of talent as prior iterations such as OAM and Priority Health teams.

“With the support of Greenware, we will take this organization to the next level in multisport performance. Our goal is to motivate Michiganders to get off the couch and hit the road or trail.”

Headed by John Kittredge, Greenware’s company ethos includes active living in Michigan’s environmentally preserved trails and natural resources.

“Anything we can do to promote active, healthy lifestyles in Michigan fits with our company mission to act responsibly as corporate citizens and contribute to both the well-being of our communities and the environment overall,” says Kittredge, himself a competitive cyclist.

“Our family has been innovative in environmental stewardship and alternate transportation, and we’d love to help motivate our employees and neighbors toward healthy lifestyles that indirectly impact both sectors. Learning to value the environment does not come from sitting on the couch,” Kittredge said.

In addition to team registration at numerous multisport events across Michigan this year, from Barry Roubaix to Michigan Titanium, the two companies also look forward to community outreach through appearances at schools, community events and athletic clinics.

For more information on Team events, opportunities or appearances, visit http://www.teamathleticmentors.com.

For a media interview or speaker scheduling, contact
Cheryl Sherwood, Co-Owner
Athletic Mentors
269.664.6912
or email: Cheryl@athleticmentors.com

 

Athletic Mentors LLC, is a west Michigan-based athletic training and sports management company that offers individual training, team training programs, clinics, elite hockey programs and sports management services.  For more information about Athletic Mentors or becoming a supporter, visit www.AthleticMentors.com.

Greenware believes that life is about sharing moments and Greenware® cups help make that time special. Whether you’re planning a party or anytime you gather at home, our stylish disposable cups make every day more convenient and beautiful. We have fresh, fashionable designs to fit your every season and celebration. Unlike traditional plastic cups, Greenware® is 100% made from annually renewable plants, not petroleum. They are the responsible disposable cups you’ll want to show off. Visit http://www.fabri-kal.com/product-solutions/greenware/ to learn more.


The Joy Ride

October 9th, 2016 by Elaine Sheikh

Every fall, coming off a long spring/summer season of racing, I find myself less interested in hard workouts and more interested in just riding. In season, my rides have focus and purpose. As the weather turns colder and the leaves begin to change, I find my mind and body longing to ride – simply for the pure joy or riding. It is a difficult shift for me as I love to train and race. But, I also have learned that pushing through the longing for rest results in burnout. If I want to be fully ready for racing next summer, I need to take time to joy ride.
image1Colorburst Tour, sponsored by the Rapid Wheelmen, offers the perfect opportunity for a pure joy ride. This event, which starts and ends at the beautiful Fallasburg Park, offers distances ranging from 17 to 100 miles, with gravel riding options as well. With a pancake breakfast before the ride, SAG support, refueling stops, and a warm meal after the ride, it creates an incredibly enjoyable day.
This year, with a full blue sky, crisp cool air, and a good dose of fall breezes, I rode 100 miles of beautiful Michigan countryside. Across rolling hills and flat farmland, I let go of all speed and power expectations and focused on the pure joy I feel as I roll along with no agenda except to take in the beauty surrounding me.image2
At the end of the day, I felt full of gratitude for a healthy body, a bike I love, beautiful, quiet roads, fall colors, and friends to chat with along the way. And, pure JOY.


The Biggest Test Yet

August 7th, 2016 by Kaitlyn Patterson

–By Kaitlyn Patterson, Team OAM NOW cyclist

Over the past several years, I’ve tackled many athletic challenges I had previously thought beyond my ability. It has been a rewarding journey and it has been fun to learn the technicalities of new sports and become involved in these communities.  However, no race or training program I’ve completed yet will compare to the challenge that is staring me in the face right now.

DrKPatOn August 1st, I began medical school at University of Michigan.  After the application process and deferring an additional year, this has been an event in the distance for so long now that it is a bit surreal that it is actually happening.

There has been a lot of information to take in and process this week but there are a couple themes I thought were especially relevant to share here.

Balance

My goal is to continue to train and make it to several mountain bike races through the fall. When I told people this leading up to the school year, I received a range of reactions from derision to support. However, after the first week of orientation, I was pleased with how much the faculty and leadership pushed the idea of balance. With startlingly high rates of burnout, job dissatisfaction and even suicide among physicians, leaders in the field are now acknowledging that the environment can be consuming and toxic. Often retaining a life outside of medicine can be the crucial component to a sustainable career.

I was happy and a bit surprised about this attitude, especially at a school like Michigan.  The real test though will come in the next several weeks and months when “drinking from the fire hose” of information begins in earnest.  My plan is to utilize an indoor trainer more and to try to be intentional and efficient with my training time.  The tricky part is there will always be more information to learn and many competing priorities and I have to figure out where to draw the line. But this line doesn’t get easier to draw after school or after residency so it is something that will take deliberate practice starting now.  This balancing act is not unique to me or medical students though. Everyone, especially people trying to balance any level of racing and training with work, family, and other obligations need to practice their own deliberate balancing act.

patterson arcadia16

Imposter syndrome

One phenomenon I have been reminded of this week is imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is a term coined by two American psychologists as a feeling of “phoniness in people who believe that they are not intelligent, capable or creative despite evidence of high achievement.” Attending an elite medical school means I am surrounded by brilliance. It has been great to meet the people I will get to know very well over the next four years as we all take on this challenge together. However, learning about others makes it easy to fall into questioning if I deserve to be here, especially with a relatively non-traditional background.

This phenomenon can be rampant in endurance sports as well. Whether this is racing for the first time or signing up for a new discipline or race distance, it is easy to fall into the trap of feeling like you don’t belong or are not at the same caliber of the people around you.  Confidence is a fickle friend that can be easily shaken. However, confidence is one aspect of racing that can be just as crucial to results as training or fueling.  It takes exceptional mental discipline to build and protect this confidence and use it for good and not let it grow to arrogance.

Life has changed a lot in the last month and will continue to change and evolve until I can find a rhythm and routine. My hope is I can continue to do the things I enjoy while pursuing a great field but I also realize this will likely be my biggest test yet- mentally, emotionally, and physically. I hope to capture some of my thoughts either here or on my personal blog, but no guarantees, there are only 24 hours in a day.

 

 


BTR / Maple Hills Race Weekend Highlights

July 13th, 2016 by Kaitlyn Patterson

It was a busy weekend of racing, coaching, cheering, and volunteering this weekend for Team OAM NOW who came out in force for the BTR Crit and Maple Hills Race for Wishes.  It was a big weekend as Maple Hills was the 2016  state championship road race and  BTR was the state championship criterium for women, masters and juniors.   It was a great showing for the team with a successful Friday night skills clinic to kick off the weekend and nearly every race sporting some OAM NOW blue and orange kits. The racing was highlighted by two overall state champions as well as success stories in nearly every race.

Elite Men

Guelzo podiumIn the 87 mile men’s Cat 1/2/3/ road race on Sunday, Andy Guelzo stole the show taking the win in a sprint finish from a six man breakaway.  Andy was in strong company with Tom Burke and two Bissell ABG riders Aaron Beebe and John Leach.  But Andy was patient and delivered a brilliant sprint at the line to take the win.

Dan Yankus followed closely  in a chase group taking seventh.  With teammates up the road in breaks, the rest of the mens team finished in the main field.

Sunday’s win was a big relief to the team after a disappointing showing in the crit on Saturday.  Although  OAM NOW riders were part of every breakaway throughout the race, the field came back together in the final laps.  With a large Cat 1/2/3 field and a strong wind on the backstretch of the course, positioning was everything and the team ran out of real estate on the final lap. Andy  led the team in 14th place, followed by Dan in 19th.

 

Women

It was a great weekend for women’s racing with strong and deep fields lining up both days.  Road captain Marie Dershem was joined by Kaitlyn Patterson, JoAnn Cranson, Danielle Nye, Laura Melendez, and Elaine Sheikh, the biggest showing for a women’t cycling event this season.

In the 60 minute crit, Kaitlyn Patterson broke away from the field alone 15 minutes in, enduring the windy backstretch and  eventually lapping the field to take the win.  After Kaitlyn was clear from the field, Marie began attacking and also broke away to take second and first in the Cat 1 / 2 race.

In the road race, the OAM NOW women  faced a challenge with City Hub Cyclery and Hagerty fielding strong teams.  The first half of the race rolled at a pedestrian pace, with an unfortunate crash taking down Danielle Nye and several other riders.  The attacks began on the biggest climb on the second of three laps as Kaitlyn got a gap but was pulled back and the field came back together.  On the final lap, the race was neutralized during the deciding climb as the field was passed by the Masters 35+ men.  With most of the riders still together, the nuetralization drastically changed the race dynamics.  With a deciding climb rendered irrelevant and nobody willing to pull or attack, Kaitlyn drilled the last 12 miles in the attempt to thin down the field and give Marie the best chance at the win. Despite the effort, 15 women stayed intact and the title was determined in a field sprint. Marie claimed fourth and second in Cat 1 /2 with Elaine and JoAnn finishing in the top 13.

TeamOAM Women's triathletes in Michigan, managed by Athletic Mentors, elite endurance sport coaches

 

Maple Hills debuted a Masters 40+ womens race this year with several riders taking on the challenge after racing the morning Cat 1/2/3/4 race as well. In an impressive double, JoAnn  took the top step of the Masters race in a sprint finish after 90 miles of total racing.

Elaine was one of the only Cat 4 riders to finish with the main field in the morning and she recovered quickly to also race in the Cat 4 race in the afternoon, taking sixth. This capped off a strong weekend for Elaine, after taking third in a sprint finish in the Cat 4 race at BTR.

 

Masters Menstate championship

The Masters Men had strong showings all weekend.  On Saturday, Richard Landgraff rode to a 2nd place finish in in the BTR crit for the 50-54 State Championship. Leonard Van Drunen just missed the podium, taking fourth in a four man break  in the 55+ race.

 On Sunday, the 7 masters riders monitored all the moves throughout the day and the race came down to a field sprint with Jon Morgan taking second and Rich in third  place in the state championship 50+.  The team was joined by new rider John Meyers who was instrumental in countering breaks with Terry Ritter, Mark Olson and Mike Wyzalek, and perennial strongman Chris Abston.

Juniors

Three OAM NOW juniors took on the tough double race weekend including new team member Joe Meyers as well as Christian Dershem and Hunter Maschke.  Joe took third at BTR and took the top step in the 15-16 age category in Sunday’s road race, Hunter joined Joe on the podium taking third.

joe meyers RR

Full BTR Criterium Results can be found here.

Full Maple Hills results can be found here. 

 

 

 

 

 



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