Ryan's Road to Kona ~ One Month to Go Time!

Kona's almost here! In exactly one month from today, I'll be in Hawai'i at check-in for the IronMan World Championships!

People keep asking me if I'm ready and the truth is that I have absolutely no idea. I know that I've worked my butt off and that I will also have the satisfaction of knowing that I did everything in my power to make myself as ready as I'll ever be, but I honestly don't think that I will know for sure until I finish or get dragged off of the course.

I also get asked a lot if I'm scared. The answer to that question is a definitive yes although maybe not in the way one might expect. I have a healthy, mortal fear of the swim for sure, mainly because I haven't gotten much of an opportunity to swim in the ocean and treading water for five minutes before swimming 2.4 miles while trying not to hyperventilate from nerves is a bit daunting. I think what scares me most though, is not knowing what it is going to feel like to push myself for that long. This will be my first full-distance IronMan and my first full marathon... It freaks me out just to think about it! I know without a doubt that this will truly be the most difficult thing that I have ever done and I think knowing that before I even start and willingly walking into that struggle is the most uncomfortable bit. Last but certainly not least, I worry about not making the cut-off. That was a huge concern for me at Buffalo Springs 70.3 as well. It was my validation race and if I didn't finish in time there I wasn't going to Kona at all, but this time the stakes are high because if I screw this up I may never get another opportunity to make it right because who knows if I'll ever get lucky enough to make it back?!

On the positive side, regardless of what happens, training for this race has literally forced me to do things that I always said I wanted to do but was too lazy to follow through on. It has morphed me into a different person than I was even a year ago. This time last year, I rode 45 miles for the first time at the Emmit Smith Gran Fondo and thought I was going to die. Fast forward to this June and I finished one of the most difficult 70.3 races on the list in what was supposedly the roughest conditions they've seen in years. I still have a long way to go before I can start even thinking about being competitive, which is my ultimate goal, but I'm just grateful to have made it this far and that the right set of circumstances (along with the perfect coach, amazing friends/teammates and a very patient girlfriend) arose to get me here.

One more killer weekend of training left and then it's time to taper! Kona, here I come!

The Sweat Test ~ now at Playtri

The Sweat Test ~ why would I want to do that?!

As an age group athlete training for a 70.3 this fall, I wanted to find out more about this Sweat Test I have been hearing about...this is what I've learned so far...

Precision Hydration Advanced Sweat Test service can now fully personalize your hydration strategy. Here’s why this is crucial to performing at your best...

  • Everyone loses a different amount of sodium in their sweat, from as little as 200mg per 32oz of sweat to as much as 2,000mg per 32oz!

  • This is largely genetically determined. So, a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to hydration just doesn’t work.

  • Most sports drinks (Gatorade etc) contain 200-550mg of sodium per 32oz, whereas the average athlete loses about 950mg per 32oz!

  • Maintaining the sodium levels in your blood is crucial to performing at your best when you’re sweating for long periods.

  • Sodium helps you absorb and retain fluid, which keeps your blood volume up, reducing cardiovascular strain and fatigue.

  • It can also help you avoid cramps.

Just drinking water when you’re sweating over long periods dilutes your sodium levels, which can really impact your performance and could lead to hyponatremia. A recent study found 10% of athletes had hyponatremia at the end of an Ironman!

Watch how a Sweat Test is performed:

I am a big fan of hearing how a product/service has worked for others. Here are a few testimonials from elite athletes that are using Precision Hydration:

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Seeking to beat my last 70.3 performance, I really want to know what a Sweat Test can do for me. My interest peaked when I read this blog on PH's website. The jist of the article is that athletes who adequately replaced the sodium lost in their sweat finished a middle distance triathlon an average of 26 minutes faster than those who didn’t.

Here's why sodium is so important for performing at your best:

  • Everyone loses a different amount of sodium in their sweat. With testing, it has been determined that athletes sweat rate can vary greatly ~  as little as 200mg of sodium per 32oz of sweat to as much as 2000mg per 32oz.
  • Sweat rates also vary from person to person of course; and from situation to situation for any given person (from almost nothing in cooler conditions and at low intensities, to several liters per hour during intense exercise in the heat).
  • Your blood volume is gradually reduced as your sweat losses increase. That’s because sweat is drawn from your blood plasma. This increases the strain on your cardiovascular system, making it harder to pump blood to your skin to cool you down and to your working muscles.
  • Figuring out whether your net losses are likely to be low, moderate, or high can be a great starting point for honing in on the level of sodium and fluid replacement that'll work best for you in different circumstances.

 

The two main inputs that drive your personal net sodium losses are...

  • The total amount you sweat. This is a factor of your sweat rate and the number of hours you spend sweating during a given timeframe.
  • Your sweat sodium concentration.

Playtri now has the ability to do the Sweat Test and help advise me on how much sodium replacement I need on my training and race days.

Sign me up, I can't wait to learn my stats and replacement recommendations!

To see all the performance testing at Playtri, please visit the website at: playtri.com/testing/

When you are ready to book your performance testing, email Morgan@playtri.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fit4Adventure Recap

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In May 2018, Ahmed and I traveled to Majorca, Spain with Fit4Adventure. We chose this group because we have known Diane Golden, the owner, for a long time and trusted that we would have a great experience. To say she didn’t disappoint would be an understatement. The trip was seamless, the riding was amazing, the group was fun and we had so much fun we plan to return in 2019.

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Majorca

If you enjoy cycling through beautiful countryside on the coast of Spain, then this is your trip!

 It was a great opportunity to build our base, get some great hill climbing in as well as hang out and get to know cycling enthusiasts from all over the world. There were 5 different ride groups to accommodate those at different riding skill levels - all with ride leads and SAGS. Everyone had a great attitude, were extremely supportive and we stopped at great coffee shops along the way to get refueled. We have been on a few different cycling tours over the years. If you are looking for the opportunity to have some fun enjoyable, but sometimes challenging rides, there is a group for you. If you are looking for hardcore, fast pace riding, there is a group for you. Then we all meet back at the pool for group dinners.

If you are looking for an athletic vacation, check out Fit4Adventure. They do an excellent job in pre-planning and event execution. If you are specifically looking for a cycling trip, I can’t recommend Majorca enough. 

Reserve your spot today - it’s never too late to plan your next adventure!

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www.fit4adventure.com

 

Tackling Buffalo Springs 70.3

This is my third year in a row doing this race and there's just something about it that keeps me coming back. The heat, the wind, the vibe - it's just an old school, gritty, honest race that to me is what triathlon is all about.

Going into the race I think everyone knew we were in for the full Buffalo Springs experience with forecasted winds of 20-30 mph and a high of 104. I tried to embrace the tough conditions, knowing that how smart you race would be at least as important as fitness level. Races like this are opportunities to find yourself way up the leaderboard and punch above your weight if you play your cards right.

The swim was uneventful which was just what I was hoping for, I came out of the water 6th in my AG which is surprisingly high for me. I knew that how I rode the bike would dictate how the entire race would go so I did my very best to stay on top of nutrition and hydration as well as being patient in the winds and keeping my HR as low as possible. One occasion where I had zero control over my HR was hitting over 54 MPH on one of the descents! That was terrifying! Despite a relatively conservative bike ride I managed to gain one spot and come into T2 5th in my AG.

I came off the bike feeling strong and hoping to negative split the run. It quickly became apparent how unlikely that would be as the heat started to skyrocket. After the first trip up "heartbreak hill" it turned into survival mode. I spent the rest of the race trying to maintain a steady pace and keep it together. It felt pretty slow at the time but I wound up splitting the 3rd fastest run in my AG. I crossed the line in 4:54:02 - 4th in my AG, 15th overall, and just 86 seconds away from accomplishing a long time goal of landing on an IM 70.3 podium.

Yesterday was what this sport is all about. 600+ athletes showed up to put it on the line in absolutely brutal conditions with smiles on their faces. Everyone who crossed the finish line yesterday had to fight like hell to get there. If you haven't yet experienced this race, it's definitely one to put on the list. I for one can't wait to get another crack at it next year!

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Another amazing shot captured by photographer, Scott Flathouse!

 

Howard Glass, a Triathlete, young at heart and spirit!

Our good friend and PLAYTRI Coach, Darrel Neal, introduced me to Howard Glass in May of this year. I was amazed by Howard from the moment I saw him and could instantly visualize him racing in a Playtri Race Jersey representing the PLAYTRI brand. Howard started the sport of triathlon at the age of 68 and his dedication to the sport is only matched by his exceptional personality and charming British accent. 

Howard recently competed at IRONMAN Boulder where he was raced in order to qualify for IRONMAN World Championships in Kona, his goal race. 

“It was an exceptionally hot 96-degree day. I had a poor swim of 2.08 hours expecting to do well under 2 hours. The bike course went very well as I knew knew the course and had conditioned for at the altitude. I also had just come off of completing IRONMAN Texas event on April 29th, just 5 weeks earlier. I used my new TRI bike generously provided by Ahmed Zaher, owner of PLAYTRI in Dallas. I felt confident and ready to go and although I thought I was hydrated enough; it quickly became apparent that I was not. The low humidity is deceptive in Boulder. You do not sweat much but you are sweating, but it dries immediately on your body, so it is critical to hydrate adequately.” 

Unfortunately, Howard made the difficult choice to pull out of the race.

His race in Boulder was disappointing, “It is difficult to pull out of a race when you have trained so hard, but life is not perfect.”

But he plans to get right back up and continue his journey to IRONMAN World Championships in Kona.

“My schedule for the next few months is.

·       Travel to Lubbock, Texas do IRONMAN 70.3 Buffalo Springs and compete against another three men in my 75-79 Age Group and I am confident I will do well.

·       Then travel to Dallas for a few days to see my Sponsors, PLAYTRI and Coach Anca

·       Return to Boulder, Colorado to do 5 more weeks of altitude training before doing IRONMAN 70.3 Boulder. on August 4th.

·       I will then travel to Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada (80 miles North of Montreal) to do IRONMAN 140.6 on August 19th. This race will be the last chance for me to qualify for IRONMAN World Championships in Kona this year.

·        Finally, I return to my daughter’s in Asheville North Carolina. I will be doing IRONMAN 70.3 in Augusta Georgia on September 23rd, just 3 weeks prior to Kona.”

He is putting all his focus on the goal to qualify for IRONMAN World Championships in Kona. “If I fail to qualify for Kona this year, for whatever reason, I will probably do another full IRONMAN in October or November to qualify for IRONMAN World Championships Kona in 2019. Additionally, in 2019, I will be going to Nice, France to compete in the IRONMAN World Championships 70.3”. 

Howard has completed 18 Full IRONMAN distance races and 18 70.3 IRONMAN races since he turned 70 years old with his first full IRONMAN Coeur D’Alene Idaho just two years after starting triathlon training.

His running accolades include qualifying for the Boston Marathon in 2013 with a time of 4:11 well under the 4:25 requirement. He finished the Boston Marathon the following year in 2014, just 2 weeks after finishing IRONMAN Los Cabos in Mexico.

Howard's ambition in life is to become World Champion in Kona even if he has to wait until he is 80 years of age, he said. His motto, similar to that of Nike, Inc., is “Just do it.”

Way to go Howard! We are all cheering you on!!

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It’s time to hire a personal coach

To catch you up, I am training for Kona!

Yep, my first Ironman distance at the IRONMAN World Championships in Kona! (deep breath :) Read how I got here.

Hiring a coach was a huge turning point for me because it was the moment that I stepped away from group-training - which was something I never thought I would do - and into the world of private coaching.

I will tell you that it has has been a total GAME CHANGER for me. The results have been mind-boggling.  I'm hitting PRs and gaining speed at a pace I didn't think was possible.

Every week I get a workout plan that is tailored specifically to me, my goals and my schedule.

Every race I get a plan of attack and instructions for what to eat and when to do it.

After every race, we review what went wrong, what went right and what I need to keep in mind for the next one. It has turned me into a serious, driven and disciplined athlete.

Now, it's time for a little PSA for everyone who is reading this thinking that they need to sign up for private coaching immediately - Private coaching is NOT “personal training”.

Private coaching is a huge commitment because you don't go and work out in person with your coach every day. I get amazing feedback from her, I see her in person about once a week and call/email her if I have any questions, but If I didn't have the ability and drive to push myself without constant surveillance I would be dead in the water (possibly literally). There's nobody to crack the whip while you train and heckle to you for slacking off. If you have bad habits because you didn't build a strong foundation from the beginning - well, you're probably going to just make it worse. In my humble opinion, I would be completely wasting my coach's time if I hadn't been given an excellent foundation during group training first. I wouldn't have the amazing support group and friends that I gained to connect with either and I would be oh-so-lonely because nobody wants to talk triathlon with you 24/7 that isn't a triathlete or looking to become one. I also want to point out that group training produces some absolutely AMAZING athletes. Don't assume that you can't get far without private coaching. Everybody has different needs and preferences.

When deciding what path to take - and there are so many options beyond the amazing experiences I have had - I urge you to keep three things in mind:

1. Are making smart choices regarding safety and personal well-being?

2. Are you developing good training form? 

3. Are you doing what makes you happy?

Happiness means something a little different for everybody, but It doesn't matter how well you perform if your heart's not in it. You'll never appreciate the gains that you make unless the path that takes you there brings you joy and fulfillment. That's something that I continue to keep in mind as I get my butt royally kicked in preparation for Kona.

I love what I'm doing and that's all that matters!

 photo credit: Scott Flathouse Photography

photo credit: Scott Flathouse Photography

Stay tuned to read more of Ryan’s training adventure on the Athlete’s Blog

 

 

 

 

The Journey to IRONMAN Championship Kona

OMG, I am going to Kona!

It took me four years from the time I first expressed an interest in triathlon to actually start training. There was just so much to think about and so many excuses readily available for me to cling to;

·      "I don't know how to swim and all of the swim programs offered are for five-year-olds".

·      "My bike might as well have streamers on the handle-bars and clipping in scares the heck out of me"

·      and my very favorite: "I'm just not built for running."

I did some half-hearted searches and continued my committed relationship with the couch until I moved about ten minutes down the road from Playtri. I had no more excuses. I decided to give the "Get Fit" program a shot, and to my surprise I loved it!

Fast forward a year-and-a-half later and I'm training for the IronMan World Championships in Kona (Let's be clear here: I WON the slot! - recovering couch potatoes like me don't get that good that fast, even with amazing coaching!).

How did I end up so far from the couch you ask?

Well, a big part of it was luck, but a GINORMOUS part of it was having the support of amazing teammates and benefiting from outstanding coaching four days a week. I'll be honest when I first started group training, I was pretty wishy-washy about it. Netflix was singing it's alluring song and class started precariously close to dinner-time. After a few weeks though, I found myself swimming to the end of the pool without having a meltdown, I felt healthier, more confident and most importantly I began to build relationships with my teammates and my coaches. I was so impressed by their level of commitment and athleticism and I desperately wanted to keep up with them which was a huge motivator. Every class I received consistent and immediate feedback so that I started developing positive habits and a strong foundation to build upon. Training with my new friends became the highlight of my day and somewhere in the mix, this triathlon thing that I thought I would just try (no pun intended) became a lifestyle.

A little over a year later Mike Reilly calls out my name along with 39 other lucky ducks as the winners of the Kona 40 for 40 Program.

At this point I'm in the best shape I've ever been in, but NOT EVEN CLOSE to Kona ready! I was euphoric, I was determined and I was a little nauseous. 

I decided it was time to hire a personal coach!!

Stay tuned for next blog post as Ryan progresses toward this amazing IRONMAN goal.

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Congrats Amber! You are an IRONMAN!

Wow, what a race!

I still remember watching the live feeds of friends finishing 2017 Ironman Texas. I knew then, that I wanted to do this race! In a brief conversation with Coach Morgan I asked if she thought it was a possibility. She said it would be close after looking at my Galveston 70.3 splits. I’m a back of the packer but I love this sport! The triathlon community is amazing and the incredible people you meet with Big Dreams and Big hearts to help in any way they can. I started officially training for Ironman Texas on October 30. 2017. It was a big goal one I had thought about a lot but was determined to do whatever it took. I’m not the most athletic person and having been plagued with injuries since I began running and training for triathlons. Coach and I agreed with the new deferral program if I wasn’t ready at 46 days out we would defer to 2019, but I was determined to not let that happen! Training was great and I never felt like I couldn’t finish a workout, there were days my Heart Rate didn’t want to do what the workout was but I just kept going. Don’t get me wrong, there were tough days and days I spent the rest of the day on the couch. My training was anywhere from 6 hours a week in the beginning to my last peek week of 18 hours. Not just the training but making sure my body stayed healthy, I visited Dr. Adam Rodgers my Chiropractor monthly until closer to the race when I went weekly. Also, Karen with Active Living Massage Therapy, she helped tremendously with several tightness issues so I could continue training. I also used Compression boots after long workouts to improve recovery time. I only missed 5 workouts in the 6 months of training which took lots of planning and some sacrifice to get those workouts done being a wife, mom to 3 daughters and having a full-time job.

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Race Day!!

I made it to the start line - an accomplishment in and of itself as many get injured during training. Clearly my Coach’s plan was perfect! I had no time goals other than finish before 17 hours, I knew there were many variables that could impact the day. Arrived at transition, aired up my tires and put nutrition, salt and water on my bike. Dropped a few things in my Bike and Run gear bags and began the walk to swim start. It was a beautiful morning, the sun was rising and the water was calm. The cannon went off and the day was beginning. I grouped myself with the 1:31-1:40 predicted finish time and gradually moved closer to getting in the water. At 6:58, I entered the water and the day had begun! Official temperature was 73.3 so I wore a sleeveless wetsuit. I just wanted to get into a comfortable pace and just swim. There were moments that people got bunched up and I had to search for open space but I adjusted and just kept going. First turn, 1500 meters complete. Swim, swim, swim 1500 more meters. Now we entered the canal, the area became a bit more cramped but I knew we were getting close. The closer we got to the end, the louder the crowd got and it was electric! Last red buoy, swim exit!! I had just swum 2.4 miles! Ran up to the strippers and the through run gear bags on to the changing tent! These volunteers are amazing, their job is definitely not glamorous but such an asset to the athletes. Got changed and headed out to the bike course.

Bike: we had several miles to ride before we would be on the 2 loops of the Hardy Toll Road. The first loop the wind was almost nonexistent but the second loop we had some wind. I just went aid station to aid station drinking, stretching and then headed back out on the course. I ended up spending 30 minutes at the aid stations of my 7:15 ride but it helped break it up so it was worth it. I saw several crashes and many with flat tires. I just kept riding, staying in training pace Heart Rate and eating my waffles, which about 3.5 hours in, began to taste like sand. I can’t say enough about how great the volunteers were. When you stopped someone immediately came over and asked, “What do you need?”. Finally, done on the toll road and headed back to transition. These 10 Miles seemed to take forever, the outsides of my palms were numb and I really wanted to get off the bike. Yay!! Dismount Line! I was honestly unsure if I could and feared I would run over a volunteer but my body did what it was supposed to and I handed my bike to a volunteer who racked it as I went to the changing tent one final time. My family ran alongside the transition gate cheering and asking how it was!! Seeing them out on the course were some of my favorite moments!

Run: My first marathon! There were 3 loops to the course each approx 9 Miles. You start on the waterway and the crowd is electric! Everyone cheering, giving high fives and lots of music. You continue on to the back side and there are even people there camped out for all my 3 loops with music and encouragement. One of our Youth Playtri families was out on the 1st loop cheering for athletes! Loved seeing all the supporters! Next through a neighborhood with residents out playing music, water hoses on! The support is fantastic! Back on to the waterway and loop 1 was done! My family was just past this point. Lap 2 got really hot and I ended up walking about 2 miles and met a great guy racing for Texas Memorial Children’s Hospital. His friend was racing last year and unfortunately passed away during the swim. After picking up my special needs and changing shoes I began to run again as the sun began to go down. Back on the canal with many still out cheering! My family! Loop 3! About a third of the way in I slowed to walk as my calves had been badly sunburnt and I knew I had time if I walked fast to still make it. I began walking with Tammy. She had walked the entire Marathon!! She lost all her nutrition and set out to walk until the finish, it was her first full as well. We talked and walked the rest of the last loop! Towards the end, as my walk got even slower she would say “you still with me?” I just kept moving. As we headed closer to the finish line we could hear Mike Rielly and knew it was so close! Months of hard work training and here I was about to enter the finisher chute. I asked her if she thought she could run and we both joked about falling and having to crawl.

We jogged and finished our first Ironman!

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Then at the finish I saw my family and then my Coach Morgan Hoffman and her husband, Reed! So blessed! Evidentially, I had been running all evening with a very white face as I hadn’t rubbed all the sunscreen in. Thanks to my friend Erica and another volunteer who let me use her shirt to wipe off the excess so my finisher photos would be better. What an amazing race!! I couldn’t have finished this without the amazing support of my husband and kids, my Coach Morgan Hoffman, and all my incredible training buddies! I firmly believe anyone can do an Ironman! You have to have the desire, consistency in your training and I would recommend a coach! Maybe for you it’s not an Ironman but some other big goal in life, I would say the same thing!

ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!! I AM AN IRONMAN!!

See the sweet video that Amber's husband made:

Big congrats to Amber from her entire Playtri Family!!

Shannon and Michael tackled 70.3 St. George

When my teammate Michael floated the idea of racing Ironman 70.3 St. George with him on Cinco de Mayo, I knew there was no way I was going to do it.  I had only been dabbling in sprint and olympic distance triathlons since July, and, as a Texan, the 5th of May has always been reserved for guacamole and margaritas. That night, out of curiosity, I pulled up the official St. George race website, and, to my dismay, the course photos were far more intoxicating than any margarita on the rocks I’ve ever drunk. I registered immediately.

The swim kicked off with a rolling start into the cool waters of Sand Hollow Reserve. I’m sure some triathletes will say that it isn’t really an Ironman if you don’t get kicked in the face during the swim start, but this organized rolling start allowed the water to feel more like a busy race than an MMA brawl.  With about 15 feet of visibility, it was easy to navigate other swimmers, and by taking it one buoy at a time, the swim felt like a quick and refreshing warm-up for the work to come.

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We were greeted out of T1 by our first of (so very many) hills, and while that initial 300 foot gain was a wake-up call for the legs, it was also the first of (so very many) incredible views.  I was so grateful for all the hill repeat brick workouts leading up to the race; they definitely kept my butt in that saddle during the race. I passed several impressively lean male athletes walking their bikes up portions of the four-mile Snow Canyon climb (an ascent that starts at mile 38-ish and would be totally evil if the scenery wasn’t so devastatingly beautiful), and, while I wasn’t progressing much faster than 4-6 mph towards the top, I never had to dismount.

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The out-and-back run was certainly my toughest leg, for a number of reasons.  There were several massive and completely shadeless hills that had me walk-running in intervals.  That being said, the course offered aid stations at every mile, and walking those aid stations kept the course moving quickly. My usually half marathon pace is an 8:30 min/mile; this course had me running around a 10 min/mile.  But, honestly, I cannot stress the views enough. The majority of the run was on a canyon road that towered over downtown St. George. Just looking out and remembering that I somehow ran my way up there gave me such a sense of accomplishment.  

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In the end, I finished my first Half Ironman in 6.5 hours, with enough gas in the tank to sprint to the finish line.  I only started seriously considering my nutrition plan a few weeks before the race, but I have to say, it made all the difference!

Ironman 70.3 St. George was no walk in the state park.  With 3,536 feet of elevation gain on the cycling course, a 1,267 foot gain on the run, and not a single corner of shade to be found, this probably isn’t the course to pick if you’re hunting a PR.  But, if you’re like me, and an absolute sucker for the majesty of Mother Nature, you will be hard-pressed to find a more aesthetically rewarding course in the North American circuit.

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Way to go Shannon! So happy for you!!

Aubrey completed her first full IRONMAN!

It was an incredible first full Ironman, and it most definitely will not be my last.
— Aubrey
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On April 28th, I completed my very first full distance IRONMAN, and it was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done!

The race didn’t go exactly as planned, and I hit a wall HARD on the run, but I finished with a time of 16:52:42 (only 7 minutes to spare!) and that was my only goal for this race, so I’m happy with the results.

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I also had the incredible opportunity to race side by side with my dad. We started and finished the race together which was amazing!

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It was an incredible first full Ironman, and it most definitely will not be my last. I now know what I need to improve on and how I can conquer my second full faster and stronger than ever 💪


Big congrats to you from all the entire Playtri crew!! 🎉🎉🎉

Stephen's Race Recap ~ Xterra ATX

Weekend race recap - Xterra ATX.

After a very tough past few months, my race on Saturday was somewhat of a breakthrough for me and I have a lot to detail.

This was my first Xterra race of the year (off-road triathlon) and I really wasn’t feeling confident. My training has been hit and miss with a super busy work schedule and weekends full of kid’s games. 

Nevertheless, I have been following coach Morgan Hoffman training schedule as best that I can, hoping to just stay in shape. 

Saturday morning down in the Austin area was misty and foggy. No real rain, just sorta gloomy. 
Running a little behind in getting out to the race site on Lake Travis but got set up in transition, ready to go and headed down the 400m walk to the lake. ( the lake is pretty low and the hike to the new swim area was unexpected)

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Water temps were at 64 and the new Rocket Science wetsuit that Ahmed M. Zaher set me up with late last year was just what I needed. 

Having only been in the pool a few times this spring I was not expecting much on the swim. And it went about as I thought it would. Slow and steady. ( do any of you ever question why in the world we do this sport about halfway through the swim?)

Out of the water and onto the bike. 

The bike course at Pace Bend Park is extremely rocky and technical. There are only a few tough climbs, the real challenge are the multiple rock gardens that the trail navigates through. 
Was feeling pretty good about halfway through the first lap when a guy from my age group came up and passed me. 

This happens almost every race I do in Texas. I beat him out of the water and he always passes me on the bike. This time I was going to try and hold his wheel. Somehow I did and we ride together for a while before we come up to the toughest climb on the course. I hammered up the rocks and managed to pass him and another racer in my AG. 

Unfortunately I spent a bit too much energy and by the top of the climb I was having dry heaves. 
Both of them passed me back. UGH. 

I managed to recover and I set my sights on tracking them back down. Just after the first lap I passed them both again, I was feeling pretty good. A couple of miles later (on lap 2) I ran into some traffic and my nemesis caught back up to me, passing at a bottleneck. 

I kept my pace, hoping to reel him back in. After a few more miles on the single track, I saw him ahead. I don’t think he knew I was behind him because as soon as the trail opened up, he relaxed and took a drink off of his bottle. Without a sound, I flew past him and gave it all I had. He wasn’t able to catch back up and I flew into transition running 9th overall. 

I had just had one of the best bikes of my Xterra racing. 

Posting one of the quickest transitions of the day in T2, I headed out of the run. I could see the other guys in my AG approx 45 sec behind just before I turned into the trees for the trail run. I kept telling my self to run as fast as my body would allow and to not let up. If I could just hold the other guys off, I could maybe make it onto the podium. 

Suddenly I heard footsteps coming up behind me and a much younger racer flew past me. Ok, not great, but at least it wasn’t the guys in my AG. 

Another mile and I was hurting, but able to keep the pace and then a second racer passes by me, and again another speedy young guy. Man, they are fast. 

Finally, I was on the last stretch and as I looked behind me I could not see any of my competitors behind me. 

I had kept them off and I finished the race placing 11th OA and Second in my AG. (First in my AG was also the overall winner - he is a beast).

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This was one of my best finishes in Xterra racing. It was also one of the first races where I battled a fellow racer back and forth on the course. It was so exciting. 

Additionally, what made it so good for me was that I really did not feel like I was in any shape to race. I am a little heavier than I would like and I have not been mentally prepared for the season. 
What did work was the training plan that coach Morgan has been preparing for me. 
Hopefully, this will be the catalyst that I needed to carry me through the season with a great outlook!

 

 

Playtri Partners with Professional Triathlete Erin Storie

Playtri Partners with Professional Triathlete Erin Storie

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Dallas, Texas (April 12, 2018) - Playtri, the leader in triathlon in Texas, is proud to announce the sponsorship of professional triathlete and Team USA Athlete, Erin Storie. Erin Storie is a 26-year old professional triathlete from the Northwest currently training at the Olympic Training Center with her sights on the USA Olympic Triathlon Team in Tokyo 2020. 

“I am proud to have Playtri as a sponsor.  They believe in helping people achieve a healthy, sustainable lifestyle through the sport of triathlon.  Their strong online presence gives them the opportunity to help people across the country ensure they have the gear they need with the service they deserve no matter what their goal,” said Erin Storie at her Playtri store visit.

“At Playtri, we try to choose athletes that represent what we feel is most important to us as a company -  positive outlook, healthy lifestyle and hard working.   Getting to know Erin as a fellow USAT Board Member, I was impressed with her positive outlook on life as well as her dedication to her racing and to the sport of triathlon itself,” said Staci Brode, President of Playtri.

As Playtri grows its online presence and opens more franchise stores, it is great to include athletes like Erin that can help Playtri spread the word about the great customer service and support that Playtri offers to triathletes all over the country. 

Playtri offers an extensive inventory of road, triathlon, and lifestyle bicycles, gear, and gadgets plus full shops with friendly and knowledgeable staff to assist customers with in person or online purchases. Additionally, sporting the largest selection at retail, Playtri stores offer a broad collection of cycling and running shoes, activewear, nutritional supplies, recovery tools, and multisport items athletes need.

On top of offering one of the largest bike and gear selections in the country, Playtri also offers franchise opportunities to own your own Playtri store, race production, timing, coaching, 3-D bike fitting and performance testing.  The company is dedicated to the growth of multisport through offering expansive inventory, knowledgeable staff and excellent customer service for anyone looking improve their health and well-being through swim-bike-run.

Contact Staci for all inquiries:

Staci Brode

Playtri, President

214.405.5092

staci@playtri.com

 

Yoga for Triathletes

Yoga for Triathletes

A lot of triathletes shun the thought of yoga or the intentional slowing down of their bodies for a significant amount of time to stretch and be mindful. I used to be one of those people that rarely took the time to warm-up before or cool down after a workout. As my training miles got longer and muscles got sorer, I sought out a yoga class at the local JCC. I remember learning some basic poses Downward Dog (hated) and Shavasana (loved and feel asleep in class!).

I remained an athlete throughout my twenties and thirties. I raced countless 5Ks, 10Ks, half and a handful of full marathons. I became a triathlete in my early forties and now love the variety and challenge of new sports combined with the camaraderie of the triathlon community.

However, now a little older and wiser, my recovery from big training sessions and/or races now requires more than a happy hour and 5-minute stretch. Yoga is a wonderful complement to a recovery day, rest day or swim day.

My recovery RX now includes a roller, a massage, and a yoga class. All three are preferable but often not realistic, but a few essential yoga moves are on my recovery must-do list.

Here are my favorites stretches/poses for hamstrings and IT (Iliotibial) band:

 

Triangle Pose:

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Number Four Stretch (or as the Youth Teams call it, “The Newspaper”) – great standing or on your back:

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Pigeon:

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Half Split Quad Stretch:

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Reclined Cow Faced Pose:

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And of course Shavasana at the end:

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ENJOY!

 

John's First Triathlon ~ Luck of the Irish

My first race at the Luck of the Irish was exactly what I thought it would be.....a total blast! I started to get nervous a couple of days before but I knew I was prepared due to all the training and clinics with Playtri McKinney.

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The swim went well although I had to take a couple of quick breaks to catch my breath and I learned that getting blocked in a lane is a real thing. However, this being my first race, I didn't want to try any aggressive maneuvers to pass and get kicked in the face.

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For my transitions I was fortunate to have an easy to see end spot which helped a great deal since I was pretty oxygen deprived from the swim. The transition went smooth but I did take extra time to make sure I had everything I needed.

The bike is my strongest event and as expected I passed most people on the course at that time. I was a little concerned about the passing rules and the possibility that someone might pull out in front of me, so I utilized the screaming ON YOUR LEFT quite a bit lol. One thing I learned is that it's better to keep a steady pace and not kick it into high gear on the last mile.

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The first half of the run was pretty brutal. The hard push on the bike had my legs totally blown up and I felt like I was wading through a swamp. Fortunately, they began to loosen up and my pace picked up all the way through the finish. Speaking of the finish, I was once again pretty disoriented from a lack of oxygen and went the wrong direction after crossing the line. However, Amber Motsney was kind enough to redirect me and take my timing timing chip off. That's why I call her Mama Bear : )

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Overall it was the best racing experience I have ever had......and I have done a lot of racing in a lot of sports. So you could say the Triathlon addiction is a real thing. I'm already thinking about how I can train better and smarter for the next race. Most of all, I love the people and coaches at Playtri. Training with my friends Amber, Anca, Jodi, Mark, Emily, Ruben, Evan and many more made the suffering a joy. A big thank you to my coaches Eric, Morgan and Anca for always encouraging me and bringing me so far in a short period of time!

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Way to go John! We are so proud of you!!

Jodi's First Triathlon ~ Luck of the Irish ☘️ Sprint Tri

Luck of the Irish ☘️ Sprint Tri ~ What a blast !

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Quick race cap 😜because it was a quick race!

Thank you Playtri Mckinney and all my coaches; Coach Eric Gusa Anca Wetegrove and Morgan Hoffman and especially momma bear Amber Motsney for taking me under her wing. John Howard for being a great training partner and our cheering squad; Patty Bockenfeld Michele Montgomery Kelley Smith Tammy Eiland and Rosa and of course a huge thank you to my fiancé Jason Graman for being so understanding of my time training.

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Super organized event, the perfect trifecta first Tri. great logistics, great weather great race.

My swim was not my best... stopped in the middle of the first lap to get the water out of my goggles, my heart was pounding so hard couldn’t get my breathing right until the last lap but then I paused by the first ladder to get out and realized I had to continue to the next to exit and felt someone coming up next to me so I swam quick and pulled ahead to get up the ladder and exit.

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Easy transition to my bike and had fun “passing on the left” but got passed by all the super fast guys on Tri bikes 😆, came into transition 2 and couldn’t find my spot to put my bike and then once found got my run shoes on, ran to bike exit not realizing the run exit was the opposite end.

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Legs felt weird and I felt really slow until I looked at my watch to see mile one was 8:46 pace~ woohoo.

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Finished my run and the race to cheers from my squad. Felt super energized and had such a blast.

Got my race results and surprisingly finished 2nd in my ripe old age group!!!!! can’t wait to “Tri” again !!!😊⭐️👍🏻🌸

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Congrats Jodi ~ your Playtri family is so proud of you!

The Road to Boston

February 23, 2014 at the Cowtown half marathon was a day of firsts for me. It was my first introduction to the world of endurance sports, my first half marathon, and my first failure to reach a race goal. I finished in 2:00:51, just 52 seconds short of my goal to finish in under 2 hours. It was also where I made a commitment to myself that one day I would qualify for the Boston Marathon, one of the most prestigious and storied marathons in the world.

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Eventually my passion for running would morph into a passion for triathlon. Even as half marathons were replaced by half ironmans, my dream of qualifying for Boston remained. I completed my first full marathon in December of 2016 with a promising time of 3:15. After accomplishing this milestone, I knew I was ready to make my dream of qualifying for Boston become a reality. I discussed my ambitions with my coach and together we planned my race schedule for the upcoming year. I would wrap up my triathlon season in late October and shift my focus to qualifying at the Houston Marathon on January 14, 2018.

As a triathlete, the marathon is a precarious event to train for. With the necessary running mileage increase comes the risk of injury, sickness (especially in this flu season), and overtraining. Additionally, my peak training would come right in the middle of the holidays and a whirlwind tour of family visits across Texas, weddings, and holiday parties. With the guidance of my coach, Amari Holmes, I was fortunate to make it to race week with relatively few issues. After a week of tapering, my wife Mandi and I loaded up the car and headed to Houston.

Although my family lives in Houston, we decided to stay at a hotel next to the start line to keep race morning as stress free as possible. The race would start at 7:00 AM and I had to be in the starting corral no later than 6:45. On race day morning my alarm went off at 5:00 am. I scarfed down a bagel followed by a bowl of oatmeal and spent the remainder of the time leading up to the race stretching and visualizing my race plan.  At 6:30 when I headed downstairs to the starting corral it was a chilly 32 degrees outside – perfect for running but less than ideal for staying loose and warm. Mandi and I continued our warmup with a light half mile jog to the corral and waited for the gun. 15 minutes later I gave Mandi one last kiss, wished her good luck on her half marathon and the race was on.

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The first few miles were all about settling in at a decent pace and keeping my heart rate as low as possible. My plan was to negative split the race. To accomplish this, it would be key not to start too fast. The qualifying time for my age group was 3:05. Finishing with a time of 3:05 would guarantee my ability to register for Boston but would not guarantee my registration would be accepted. Because the amount of people who qualify for Boston surpass the number of slots available[MD1] , in reality I would need to finish closer to 3:02 or 3:03 to guarantee qualification. I settled in at just over a 7:00 minute/mile pace, focused on staying as relaxed as possible and followed my nutrition plan which consisted of taking one Gu energy gel every 4 miles and a splash of water at each aid station.

I crossed the 13.1 mile marker at 1:31:15. To reach my goal, I would have to run a sub 1:30 second half. I was feeling great. I dropped my pace to a 6:45 minute/mile and tried to remain as calm as possible. It was staring to hurt but I got a much-needed boost of energy from seeing my family around mile 17. The plan was to make it to mile 20 and put everything I had left into the final 10k.

It wasn’t until I reached mile 20 that I began to realize that things were going very well. I reached the 20 mile marker 2 minutes ahead of schedule and was on pace for a sub 3 hour run. After 3 years of dreaming, months of training, and 20 miles of racing it was time to make my goal become a reality. I dropped my pace to 6:30 minute/mile and distracted myself from the task at hand by thinking about how amazing the feeling of crossing the finish line would be. The final 6 miles were a combination of euphoria and pain. At mile 23 every muscle and joint in my legs was on fire and screaming for me to stop or slow down, but with just over 3 miles left I pressed on.

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I entered downtown Houston in a state of total disbelief with less than a mile remaining. I passed a sign saying ½ mile to go and simultaneously could not wait for the race to be over but didn’t want the experience to end. A few minutes later the finish line was in sight. I glanced at my watch and saw 2:57 and I knew I had done it. I savored the moment, took it all in, and crossed the line at 2:57:43 - seven minutes and seventeen seconds faster than the 3:05 Boston qualifying time.

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I am truly amazed at how far I have come as an athlete since that first half marathon in 2014. I am proof that with the right support system in place, no goal is out of reach. Playtri owner and coach Ahmed Zaher once told me there is no such thing as a crazy goal, only a crazy commitment. To reach my goal of qualifying for Boston took a crazy commitment from so many people other than myself. The Playtri family including coach Ahmed, coach Beth, friends, and fellow athletes helped me through the entire process. With the help of Dallas Sports Recovery and Massage I was able to stay fresh and avoid injury during training. Coach Amari was the mastermind behind my training and preparation. She saw my potential and pushed me to achieve my goals, providing thoughtful feedback and oversight every step of the way. Finally, my amazing wife Mandi was persistent in holding me accountable to Amari’s plan. I didn’t have to think twice about my diet because she was diligent about cooking healthy meals to fuel my training and recovery needs.  We ran every step of the 2014 Cowtown together and she has been with me every step of my Boston journey.

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Boston, I’ll see you on Patriots Day in 2019.

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Amber's Ironman Journey Update - January

Just wanted to give everyone an update on my Ironman journey...

I’m a little over 2 months in and just finished my second key weekend over the New Year’s weekend. 

Each key weekend increases the load to move me closer to my goal. Just to give you an example of a key weekend here were my workouts: 

  • Friday - 1-hour swim followed by a 2 hour brick trainer ride
  • Saturday - 4-hour trainer ride followed by a 30 min brick run
  • Sunday - Half Marathon 

Now looking at that all together might seem overwhelming but you just take it one workout, one segment or even one interval at a time. If you would have told me at the beginning of this journey I would run a half marathon 2 months in I would have laughed and said you were crazy. Between multiple foot injuries and inconsistencies with my running prior to starting Ironman training, that Half on a very cold and snowing/sleeting New Year’s Eve I had only run 5.5 miles. I stuck to the plan and while miles 6-13 were slower than the first 5, I finished it! 

Through these weeks of training my families support and that of my Coach and training buddies have been part of the driving force pushing me through. That 4-hour trainer ride would have been so difficult if i hadn’t had others riding with me or dropping by to give words of encouragement! Thanks Jodi, John, Reed, Tamar, and Erin!

I have also learned how important recovery is...monthly visits to my Chiropractor, Dr. Rodgers, foam rolling even though I don’t like to and using compression boots after the longer workouts have really helped.

I have learned to always have a backup plan, I had a hill workout one morning but due to rain and fog had to go to the gym and do hill repeats on the treadmill. Maybe it’s not a workout but a meal for the family...have some crockpot meals in the freezer or a quick throw together meal ready if you get off work late and the meal you had planned can’t be ready in time.

This experience has been so different from any other training as I have a Coach who listens and plans workouts not only that she knows I will do but I can see the progression and love knowing that it is specifically for me and not just a turn-key plan that may or may not benefit me or get me to my goal. Coach Morgan Hoffman, YOU ARE AMAZING, Thank you!

 

Train Outside All Winter

I moved to Texas from Illinois in January 2016 and have been involved in triathlon since 2013. As I grew up in the sport in a much colder state, I’ve had somewhat of a forced experience in training in all weathers. in Illinois it’s not uncommon for the temperatures in winter to dip below zero degrees, however, if we want to do well in race season, we need to prepare in the offseason.

First a word of caution - if you feel at all unsafe in the conditions, please delay the training until weather improves. There is no use in beating ourselves up by training in dangerous conditions. Running or biking in unsafe conditions will likely result in injuries, which will hinder training more than taking it inside or skipping a day.

Breaking it down by sport:

 

Swim

The easy one is swim. Open water is not generally available to us in winter, so I highly encourage you to check out an indoor pool or take a session in Playtri’s endless pool as often as you so desire. Once the conditions start to warm up again, a wetsuit is worthwhile from March onwards to get an early start on open water, watch the Playtri website for open water practices starting again.

 

Run

Running outdoors in winter is actually (in my opinion) much more pleasant than running in hot summer. The key here in Texas is layers - I’ve found that I can often start a run in the 40s but it be high 60s by the time we finish. Typically you want to aim for what you would be comfortable in about 10 degrees warmer than the actual temperature, and even warmer conditions if the intention is a higher intensity run. Runner’s World has put together a handy “what to wear” app on their website: https://www.runnersworld.com/what-to-wear which I have bookmarked and use whenever I’m not sure what will be good for the conditions, just fill in your gender, weather conditions and when you are running and it’ll spit out a suggestion to fit the conditions. I suggest filling in the conditions in the expected middle of your run time.

A few things it is good to have in your wardrobe for winter running:

  • Base layer - used for colder temperatures underneath technical fabrics to assist with wicking moisture away and keeping heat in.

  • Long sleeved technical shirt - I find the free ones at beginning of season/end of season races to be very adequate and after a few years in the sport have a selection to pick from.

  • Short sleeved shirts for when it’s not quite so cold or warmup is expected

  • Warmup jacket or fleece - I’m a fan of fleece personally for this and my go to fleece is zip up so i can unzip as I get warmer

  • Wind breaker layer either can be worn directly over the tech shirt over the fleece/jacket depending on the temperature - to keep the wind from biting through the clothing.

  • Trail running shoes - these tend to be higher grip and more waterproof than regular running shoes - I use mine on the road during frosty, snowy or wet conditions.

  • Lightweight running tights -should be the most you need in Texas, although if you intend to travel to colder climates during winter a thermal pair could also be added.

  • During darker evenings or early morning it is a good idea to invest in some visibility equipment - I have a flashing headlamp and a handheld flashlight that I do use during dark runs along with reflective clothing choices.

 

Biking

As a general rule, it is good to dress for conditions 20 degrees cooler than you would for run. This is due to the cooling effect of the wind on the ride. That said I’ve found that providing I can keep my fingers, toes, and torso dry and warm, I will generally be fine in a pair of cycle shorts down to about 40 degrees. You may find me on the group rides with a coat, gloves and a hat but still wearing cycling shorts, I usually use thermal socks in winter and am a fan of breath thermo (Mizuno) which has a fiber that gets warmer as it absorbs sweat from your body.

I recommend utilizing as much daylight as possible with the bike - car drivers have a difficult time seeing us and judging speed and distance in the dark even if we are using lights. If you can schedule your ride during the weekend (we have some excellent group ride opportunities) or have a flexible schedule and can get a ride in during the daylight hours it is a much better option.

If this is not possible consider using an indoor trainer or joining an indoor group trainer session (now available at Playtri).

General rules:

Stay visible at all times -use multiple lights and reflective clothing on both the bike and run workouts. Wear bright colors where possible, especially in the dark or dull conditions.

Watch out for icy conditions - if the temperature is in the low 30s or below you may find ice, which can be a surprise at times. On bike keep a straight line as possible with no sudden movements. On run shorten your stride and focus on landing mid foot to increase traction.

 

Stay safe!

Bigger Goals in 2018!

Meet Amber Motsney, an amazing working mom & wife, now challenging herself to complete an Ironman in 2018. That's a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and full marathon!  Playtri will be following Amber’s journey from start of IM training through IMTX in April 2018 on our Athlete's Blog. 

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Tell us about yourself...

I am Wife to Michael and Mother to Tori (21), Lauren (15) and Grace (11).  I’m the Manager of Provider Relations for North Texas with UnitedHealthcare.  My husband Michael is a High School English teacher/Girls Basketball/Softball coach.  My oldest daughter is in college and recently moved out, Lauren is a Sophomore in High School and on the Drill Team, and Grace is in 6th grade, plays the flute and takes Ballet, Jazz and Hip Hop.

 

How long have you been doing triathlons?

I just completed my 3rd year of triathlon.

 

How did you start?

In December of 2010 I was 200 lbs and knew I needed to change my habits or my health would be impacted and I wanted to be around for my family.  I started with Zumba and then went to Running and needed something to keep me active.  I heard about Playtri’s group program with Bike Rental and the rest is history.  I fell in love with the sport and the people in the Triathlon Community.  

 

What is your big goal for 2018?

Ironman Texas

 

Why did you decide this goal?

I originally wanted to do an Ironman the year I turned 40 but that was delayed a year with a few injures so 2018 is the year.  I have completed several Sprints, Olympics and this year completed Galveston 70.3.

 

What do you think will be some challenges in achieving this goal?

Time…I’m not fast in any of the sports but very persistent

 

What are you doing to address those challenges?

I hired a Coach as I had been using the Group Programs but for Ironman felt the need to have individual coaching.  Stay consistent with my workouts and make sure I am working on recovery so I won’t risk injury.

 

Any general tips for those starting their triathlon journey or thinking about a “bigger” goal in 2018?

Every race or training day is a learning experience.  Learn as much as you can from others and surround yourself with supportive teammates.  As a Playtri Race Team member I love seeing my teammates out on the course and we encourage and cheer each other on.  Our Facebook group is a huge help as well.  For me the decision to take on Ironman was one that I thought about for sometime but in the end I felt I never would feel ready to sign-up.  I just needed to do it and get myself ready.

 

Any recommendations for other athletes out there on deciding on a bigger goal:

-Don’t set an unrealistic goal
-Talk to others who have done the race and get feedback
-Talk to your Coach about what you want to do and get their feedback
-Have a support team to encourage you when things get hard or you are having a bad day
-Keep reminding yourself why you are doing this

 

Any specific tips for women who want to “tri” bigger goals?

-Get your families buy-in.  
-Meal Plan/Prep - My Sunday evenings are typically meal prepping for the week.  I pick up groceries at the store with the new grocery pick up available at several of the local stores.  It really cuts down on time spent grocery shopping and buying things I don’t need to eat.  
-Ask for help, this is really hard for me but I know I can’t do everything and get my training done.
-Have fun!