Is it “normal” to feel an off-season funk? 

It’s that time of year! The time where many athletes, especially those living in colder climates where snow is looming (or already on the ground) and where it’s dark by 4:00 pm, find themselves in the midst of a funk. You had some time off already following your main race (at least I hope you did!) and you’re trying to find a groove. But you miss your routine and feeling fit! 

Take one of our IRACELIKEAGIRL athletes who I was talking to the other day. She shared that since finishing her season and taking some time off, she’s had really a hard time getting back into the swing of things. 

“Getting up at 5:00 am to work out used to be no problem, now getting out of bed at any time is exhausting,” she shared. “My body feels like crap and I have almost no motivation to do anything… starting every work out is a struggle.” 

The off-season funk: Feeling unmotivated to train yet craving the routine and the strength of being fit again. Putting on the stretchy pants you had in your closet. Wanting your bed more than the 5:00 am alarm. 

So… is it “normal” to be feeling an off-season funk?  The short answer: yes, and it’s totally fine. 

Let’s talk about the off-season. Typically taking a standard 1-3 weeks to let your body heal up, rest and enjoy not moving is taken following your last race of a season. If you haven’t done this, consider taking 1-2 weeks of nothing. It’s a recharge time, in all aspects.  It’s difficult for some, but once you hit that reset button it gets easier.

While time off is necessary, there’s one little issue it can cause for athletes. And that’s lost momentum. As they say, an object in motion, stays in motion.  Once at a stop, well… we sit like rocks. It’s very hard to find the momentum to start going again. THAT’S where the off-season funk can start. Of course, this time of year doesn’t help! The cold weather, the shorter days, the busier schedules… motivation is hard to come by even on a good day! 

So just know this: You’re not alone. Many athletes find they feel more tired and sluggish during the winter.  The lack of sun and shorter days can disrupt your sleep and cause you to feel lethargic, low-energy, or just all-in- all drained.  

So how do we break it? The short answer is this: we don’t! Let the energy and motivation come back naturally. Forcing yourself to do workouts and do something you hate in the moment is simply not the way to get that energy and vitality back.  If anything, it could leave you worse off.

The better option is to create an environment that is less structured and find a balance until you start to find your spark again. This “away time” from the standard swim/bike/run provides you a mental recharge and takes the pressure off. Instead of getting angry at yourself or thinking negatively about yourself because you lack motivation, be OK with skipping a planned workout or cutting it short during this time of year. 

I’m not an expert, but I’m pretty damn sure it’s in our DNA to want hibernate, fat up and rest.  The rest of the land mammals on this planet put on that extra layer. 

Be okay with gaining a few pounds. Focus on strength. With the extra weight, less time working out, my focus turns to strength. Triathlon is a strength sport just as much as it is an endurance one.  The off season is the best time to build on this. Hit the weights more frequently!  

Most importantly, let your energy physical, mental and emotional, come back to you naturally. You’ll be fighting a losing battle if you keep trying to force it.  It will come. Afraid it won’t?  Why? The answer to that question might be your golden ticket in determining what’s really creating part of this off-season funk. 

Be kind to yourself this holiday season. Trust the process. You’ll enjoy it way more! 

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Angela Naeth, Professional Triathlete and Founder of I RACE LIKE A GIRL

Finished IRONMAN FLORIDA with a little help from Playtri Bike Support

Kevin wrote:

I was having a great race until mile 41 on the bike course.  At that point I heard a loud pop and after pulling over I discovered I had a broken spoke.  I waited for bike support to come around and when someone finally stopped he originally said it could not be fixed and offered to call the sag wagon.  That hit me hard. I had done all the training and traveled all the way from Wisconsin to compete.  I have never DNF’d a race of any type and it really was deflating to think I was not going to finish because of a mechanical issue.  He then counted my cassette and called in to discover there was a spare wheel somewhere that even though the gearing was not the same as mine, he could go get it for me and let me borrow it so I could finish.  

I was so grateful that he was out there and that he did that for me.  It means so much to me to be able to compete in Ironman and his support and the fact that your company was there for me in my time of need so that I could finish what I started means the world to me.  Please pass on my deepest thank you to all your staff for being there for me when I needed them the most.  This was my 7th Ironman but luckily it was the first time I have needed support out on the course.  Thank you so much for being there and having what I needed just when I needed it.

I would love to say that I got the new wheel and my race turned out great, but it was not to be.  By losing the time with getting the new wheel, I pushed too hard on the second half of the bike and didn’t have enough left for the run, but I was so very happy to be able to finish.  It was my slowest finish in an Ironman to date, but I made it to the finish line.  That would not have been possible without the bike support people.  Thank you.

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Congrats to Kevin on his 7th finish at IRONMAN from everyone at Playtri!

Chip, You are an IRONMAN!

At a very young age, training and competing became wired into my DNA. The moments where I'm going full speed and max effort are the moments when I feel most alive. As a result, I've been able to accomplish some pretty exciting things in my athletic endeavors, but a fair share of injuries have come with the territory. 

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My story with Amari began at the tail end of my Crossfit "career" when I reached my last straw. After dedicating a year of my life to strict physical therapy and incremental strength progressions to recover from a shoulder operation, I discovered that my "good" shoulder was also injured. It was that moment that I felt one door closing, but I was determined to break a new one down, no matter what it took. 

Becoming an IRONMAN had always been a vague goal in the back of my mind, and I felt like there was no better time to give it a shot. Anything sounded better than another surgery and spending two back to back years doing shoulder physical therapy. There was nothing to lose. Worse case scenario, I figured I could just get the surgery if swimming wasn't going to be bearable. So, I bought a cookie cutter program online, and it went well for a month or two, but after a while I began to experience concerning amounts of shoulder and foot pain, and I felt the goal slipping away from me. I needed help. I went down the street to Playtri and explained to Amari that I needed someone to effectively prevent me from self destructing via over-training. Well, that's what she did, and much more. 

Amari took me on board, and after a few months of training with her we began to compete! I did 5-6 races last season, and felt 100% confident in my preparedness each time. From sprints to olympics to the actual IRONMAN, nothing ever really phased me mentally or physically. She developed a play-by-play game plan for each particular race. I did exactly what she said each time, and it allowed me to finish toward the maximum of my ability each time.

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As fun as the races were, the real magic was built by properly executing the daily workouts, and those were the biggest challenges. Her program design and my adherence to the plan consistently built "layer after layer" of fitness, and I felt entirely equipped for success at IRONMAN Louisville. I truly enjoyed every 4-6 hour bike ride and every 4k Meter swim, because I trusted that the plan would pay off on race day. Some of my most special memories from this year were during the grueling workouts on peak weekends, where I leaned on my family, coach and friends for encourage and support. It was an incredible journey, and I'm excited to do it again next year :)

Read more amazing Athlete Stories on the Athlete Blog

Learn more about Coach Amari


Ryan, You are an IRONMAN!

Even if it's only as a spectator, you should absolutely go to Kona solely to experience the energy and excitement of the IRONMAN World Championship at least once (and eat some tasty food)! The Big Island is marvelous and arriving a few days early was the best decision we could have made because we got the opportunity to experience Kailua Village while it was still laid-back and quiet. There are always runners/cyclists up and down Ali'i Drive (even a week after the race), but by Thursday the crowds start coming in droves. Barricades are getting constructed, the finish line starts taking shape and if you go for a practice swim on Friday there is actually a floating coffee shop you can swim up to! Triathlon Taren was everywhere at once, vendors popped up on every available horizontal surface and by the time bike check-in started, the finish line was complete in its full tribal-drumming, technicolor glory.

If you haven't heard by now, I actually got the opportunity to participate in this race and I'll tell you - It was an experience I will never forget, but race morning started a little rocky.

For starters, Ali'i drive was blocked to the public and the shuttles that were supposed to take athletes into town never made an appearance. I forgot my pre-race breakfast in my girlfriend's bag along with my phone so there was no way to contact her. Thankfully I had a cornucopia of snacks in my own bag, thanks to the brilliant foresight of my coach, but it wasn't my normal PBJ + Banana and that made me a little nervous. Worst of all, I learned right before I got into the water that my heart rate monitor wasn't working which could easily ruin my entire bike ride! On the flip side, I passed within a foot of Patrick Lange on the way to the swim start and if that's not good luck I don't know what is! You're welcome, Patrick ;)

The swim at Kona is a mass start out in the water, which means you swim out of the shallows and tread water for several minutes before the cannon goes off. I had practiced for this in the pool and the treading itself wasn't really an issue, but I what I didn't plan for was being jostled and whacked by everyone around me several minutes before the swim even started. I was most worried about getting beaten to death when the cannon finally fired, but somehow I was actually spared a good amount of thrashing. I got kicked in the face a couple of minutes in, but it was honestly more disorienting than painful, and the water wasn't too choppy. The tide was fairly strong though, and at one point found that I had drifted further to the left than I was entirely comfortable with so I adjusted my course. Time flew from there and before I knew it the boats that mark the turnaround were in sight and I was on my way back! While the swim back felt longer, I could actually see the shore, so the view, while I was breathing anyway, was infinitely more engaging than the endless ocean views of the first half and I soon found myself stumbling up the stairs!

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Fascinating fact: my bike was directly under the giant, inflatable Gatorade bottle so it was very easy to find. There were people cheering everywhere when I left T1 and it with so many people watching it was very hard not to bust up Palani hill like it was a sprint. Luckily I had been well coached on exactly how to perform and what the consequences might be if I didn't. The roads were the smoothest I have ever encountered and the first thirty miles were smooth sailing. After you get onto the highway the ride is fairly flat, but pretty soon course turns into either a slow, shallow climb or rolling hills. Once you hit Kawaihae though, it's almost entirely up-hill - not super steep but enough to slow things down, and it seems like it's never going to end. Since I didn't have the benefit of my HR monitor and I'm not quite as comfortable racing on power alone, I  tried to constantly monitor how I was feeling and stay relaxed so I wouldn't use too much energy. In hindsight, I probably could have given it more gas, but I was afraid to risk it. After the u-turn in Hawi, it's downhill for miles and it feels fantastic! It was the best possible reward for all of that hard work because I was flying at 30 mph for miles! It flattened back out after a while and there were a few of the same rolling hills from before, but overall the ride was infinitely nicer and I made up some of the time I lost climbing for so long.

Back at T2, I learned to fully appreciate just how gigantic the transition area at Kona is! I had to walk around the entire perimeter before I even got to the changing tent! I tried to jog, but my legs still felt a little wobbly and I had to take my cleats off. I was taking a little too long in transition, so I decided to eat my snacks while I hiked up Palani to make up for lost time.

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As I started the marathon, the sun was starting to set but it was still pretty hot. There were a few moments where I started to feel a little gross, but walking helped and thankfully the temperature kept dropping. I was feeling much better by the time I made it back into town the first time, and shortly after - I kid you not - Daniela Ryf rode by on a pink beach cruiser and cheered for me. It sounds like a hallucination and I admit that I was a little skeptical myself, but I found out the next day that it really was her! It started to rain around mile 10, which wasn't entirely a bad thing because it kept me cool but it came down pretty hard at times. When I finally got to The Natural Energy Lab, it wasn't at all what I expected because I was slogging through water! I could still feel some of the residual heat coming off of the pavement though, even with the rain. I made a quick pit-stop at special needs and by the time I made it back to the Queen K I only had about 9 miles left and was happily re-fuelled.

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Somehow, I was ahead of schedule and miraculously still feeling happy to be there! I was honestly a little concerned that my watch might be malfunctioning so I asked someone nearby what time it was just to be safe (the watch was fine) and realized that I was talking to Kathleen McCartney. Since I had verified that I was indeed running ahead of schedule, I decided to play it cool, act like I didn't know she was a Kona winner and walk with her for a few minutes because how many opportunities would I get to do that?! We were only about 3 miles away from the finish by this time and could hear Mike Reilly and the crowd in the distance. She told me "once you make the final turn onto Palani you feel like you're floating the last two miles. It is the most amazing sensation you will ever experience". It was so true. Once I made that turn it was downhill almost the entire way to Ali'i and I had no trouble running the last two miles (I will admit I walked for a minute to collect myself before turned the corner to the finisher shoot. I didn't want to pass out on the carpet!). What a rush! Everybody wants to give you a high-five and I tried to slap as many hands as I could! It was complete sensory overload! The lights were so bright and it was so loud and absolutely exhilarating at the same time. I was honestly just hoping to cross by midnight, but by some miracle was 11:10 pm when I finally crossed the finish line after 15 hours and 50 minutes and Mike Reilly announced me as an IRONMAN! 

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I'm still a little bit in disbelief that it actually happened. I am even more shocked at how fun the actual race was! I went into it fully prepared to be physically crushed and mentally brutalized. Don't get me wrong, it was definitely the most challenging thing I've ever done, and it did hurt sometimes, but in my mind, I had prepared for a torturous experience that I would hate until I made it to the finish and relish in the fact that I survived. The fact is though, I was prepared and are so many inspiring and positive people around the entire time that the positivity seeps into you no matter how bad you feel and you can't help but be joyful at what you're experiencing. I made a point to remind myself regularly to have a good time - I might never have the opportunity to have this experience again, so I took the time to "stop and smell the roses" which I wouldn't have done if it were any other race. After I crossed, got my medal and had a minute to sit down, I went to the finish line to watch the rest of the finishers come through. I got to be there when the oldest man to ever compete crossed the finish line and I was able to snag a spot at the front of the barricade to watch the closing ceremony for the perfect end to the best 17 hours of my entire life. 

My eternal gratitude to my amazing Coach Amari Holmes - I could have NEVER accomplished this without you! My Playtri family (and the biological one) for your incredible support and constant humor, Mel Nwaokai for keeping my body injury free, my friends Bo and Bobby for coming all the way to Hawaii to catch me at the finish line and my beautiful Jessica for putting up with me for almost a year of insanity and for being a super sherpa!

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Congrats Ryan from everyone at Playtri! We loved following your journey and are so proud of you!!

Seize The Opportunity – Waco 70.3

Victoria Coffee

I have been a member of the Playtri race team for 2 years and have been coached by Playtri coach, Beth Jones, for a little over a year now.

This year, my goal was to finish my first full Ironman which I accomplished this past April at Ironman Texas.

Following IM TX I met with my Playtri coach and set a new goal, which was to qualify for the 2019 70.3 Ironman World Championship. We set our eyes on attempting to qualify at Waco 70.3.

Knowing the goal was going to be difficult to accomplish due to the high level of competition at every IM 70.3 event, we set a game plan together and I begin training harder than I had ever trained before. My motivation and focus was to be the best version of myself and not focus on the speed of others; focusing on others can easily discourage you from even trying to achieve your goals. I knew that if I could just get close enough to the top 10 in my age group it would be possible to catch a rolling slot.

Saturday afternoon, the day before Waco 70.3, it was announced that due to the quality of the water the swim was cancelled. As the swim portion of the triathlon is my weakest leg I told myself, “this is your chance Victoria, rise to the occasion and seize the opportunity”.

The race began on Sunday with a rolling start on the bike. At the beginning of race, the excitement made it difficult to stick to the race game plan of building heart rate effort throughout the bike course. I pulled back effort and tried to stick to the game plan as much as possible. The bike course conditions were great, smooth roads with a couple short rolling hills. As I approached mile 45 of the bike course, I looked down for a moment and hit one of the large orange cones going about 20 MPH. Somehow I was able to keep the bike under control and did not take a pavement hit. A rider a couple lengths back speed up alongside me and said, “out of the 15 years I been doing triathlons I never seen someone recover from a hit like that” we both then laughed.

So grateful to be off the bike and starting the run, my gratitude quickly changed when I got to one of the first of about 8 hills on the run course. On a positive note, hill sprints were part of my training program and I was prepared to take on that run course. I pushed through the hills the best I could and met up with a Playtri teammate the last 2 miles of the course who helped me finish strong.

I finished the race 7th in my division and obtained the rolling slot to the 2019 70.3 IM World Championship in Nice, France. There is much training ahead for me this coming up year but I am so excited for the opportunity to go and represent the Playtri team.

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Victoria at Waco 70.3 


Congrats to you Victoria from everyone at Playtri!!



Eli's Triathlon Journey ~ Fighting all the way to the Finish!

Eli Tamez

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 I started training for triathlons right at a year ago. I had just recently moved into a house and my neighbor Brett Moore had just purchased a new bike and always talked about how he had done triathlons before and he had just signed up to do Stonebridge 2017.

 I have always been an athlete. Played soccer my whole life and I am actually a undefeated professional MMA fighter (10-0).

So I thought “Hey, why not?!”. So I purchased a bike, signed up for Stonebridge, and started practicing right away. I trained about 8 weeks for that race and finished at 1:37 or somewhere around that. During that race it was something I’ve never experienced before. Other athletes cheering you on and rooting for you even if you were the one passing them.

After that I knew this would be a sport I would stick with forever!

Straight after that, I contacted Ahmed at Playtri, got a new bike, and joined the Playtri Race Team and got started on my triathlon journey!

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This October, one year later, I signed up for Stonebridge again and beat my time by about 15 minutes and received 3rd place in my age group! I was amazed, and can’t wait for next year to compare my times once again.

Ironman Waco: So initially I wasn't signed up to do Ironman Waco nor was I planning on doing it, buuuttt I love to compete!

So about 10/11 weeks out I saw Ahmed’s post if anyone was wanting to do it a last min slot opened up so I jumped all over it. I was mainly working on my swim because that has been my biggest weakness so I was definitely bummed about not being able to swim due to the swim being canceled at the event.

But my main goal, with not having as much time to train, was to get through it.  Race day was great and I felt great. The bike I did great! It was the run straight after the bike that got to me. My run fell a part but I dug deep to finish strong and I’m so happy I did! I would definitely do it again (being more prepared, that is).

It was truly the hardest thing I’ve ever accomplished in my life. The feeling and reward after is amazing! Can’t wait to do another in 2019! 

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Ben's first year in Triathlon

How long have you been doing triathlons?

I just got into triathlons earlier this year. I started training in March and now I’ve completed three different races. The first was the Historic McKinney Kiwanis sprint tri in April, the second was the Disco olympic distance tri in September, and the most recent was the Oil Man Texas 70.3 in November.

What/who inspires you to compete?

Back in college I was a competitive rower, we were Division 1 so we’d train about 20 hours a week from September through May with some light offseason work over the summer. I loved that level of training and I’ve always been drawn to the fitness/endurance sports like rowing, running, swimming, etc. Rowing obviously isn’t as big in Dallas as it was in the northeast so when I moved down here for work, I was looking for a new sport to stay in shape and keep competing. I’d seen that Dallas had a big triathlon presence so I figured I would give it a try (no pun intended).

Between starting work and adjusting to Texas I didn’t do any regular training for about 3 years and lost most of my fitness. I was looking for something to motivate me to start training regularly when an old teammate from college started training for an IRONMAN 140.6 and jokingly offered that I should join him for the race. It got me thinking about triathlons again since I’d been talking about doing them since I moved so I set my sights on completing a 70.3 IRONMAN this year.

I work best when I have something I’m training for. If I’m going to the gym on my own it’s all too easy to come up with excuses like “that was a long day at work and I’m tried” or “I’ll make it up tomorrow.” If I know I have to show up on race day then those excuses all go away because every day I skip makes the race that much harder. The 70.3 was the right distance for me to shoot for. I knew I could complete a sprint distance without training and with some regular training I’d be able to do an Olympic (I wouldn’t be fast but I could definitely complete it). The 70.3 was far enough that I wouldn’t be able to finish it without some serious regular training, but not so ambitious as to start with a full 140.6, which is still pretty intimidating.

A good friend of mine from college’s dad, John Hupf, lives in the area and talked to me about his IRONMAN experience. He was nice enough to have me over and walk me through how triathlons work (training, transitions, etc.) along with the gear and nutrition stuff he used. He sent me a great summary of how to efficiently set up my transition area and I still read through it before every race to remind myself of some simple tricks to shave off a few sections.

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Another big motivation is my fiancée, Vinati. She’s super supportive of me and all my crazy training plans. When I told her what I was trying to do I fully expected her to try and talk me out of it considering what a time commitment it was; instead her first response was “I’m going to make a poster to cheer you on.” She drew it herself with diagrams of the events, a place for my number, and has been at every one of my races waiting at the finish line with a poster and a Clif Bar. It also helps because while I’m busy racing I can’t pay much attention to what the other competitors are doing. So she’ll scout out what the fastest people are doing and after the race she’ll tell me about their flying dismounts and wetsuit stripping that I need to try.

Preparing for Race Day

Before starting my training plan, I would have ranked my events from strongest to weakest as swim then run then bike. I used to be on the swim team in high school and did a lot of running to cross train for rowing but I just didn’t do a lot of cycling. So, I specifically focused on cycling in the training plan. When it came time for the race, I felt the benefits of the training and I’d actually say my events flipped where my strongest was the bike then run then swim.

I attended an open water swim clinic through PlayTri so I learned a few of the basic techniques for sighting. However, I’d only ever done two open water swims before the race total, once for the clinic and once for the disco tri. I quickly learned that I swim in a straight line but I need a lot more practice sighting because I’d easily get point in the wrong direction. It was overcast and hard to see the buoys so I ended up swimming an extra 200 yards (10%) mostly at the beginning before I got into my rhythm. Then towards the end as we started to group into people swimming at a similar pace I was able to find a couple others to sight with and start using the techniques we’d practiced. Because of the extra distance I didn’t quite get the time I wanted but that was by far the longest open water swim I’d ever completed so I was just happy to get through it.

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The bike was really where I started to pick up speed. Now that I had my bike computer to look at it became a lot simpler. I had my targets for power, cadence, and heart rate so it just became a matter of sticking to the plan and riding my race. It was a great, flat, fast course. There were thunderstorms the night before/morning of so the course was wet, which meant I started out slow to get comfortable with the conditions and built over time. I got a new set of aero wheels after the Olympic disco tri so I maintained a faster pace at a lower wattage over more than double the distance, which always feels good. They cut right through the wind and I ended up passing a number of people on the bike.

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I did a good job keeping up with nutrition and hydration on the bike so I felt strong going into the run. I maintained a solid pace up until around mile 9 or 10. That’s when I started hitting a mental wall as it was my first 70.3 distance. During training I admittedly did cut some of the longer bike/run combos short on the run and I definitely paid for it here. However, I held with it and no joke, at mile 13 of the run I saw one of the other competitors in my age group ahead of me and slowing down. I missed 1st in my age group at the disco Olympic tri by 24 seconds so I wasn’t going to have that happen again. I sprinted past him and ended up taking 2nd in my age group beating out 3rd place by 14 seconds over a 5-hour and 8-minute race. It just goes to show you it’s not over until you cross the finish line and every second really does count.

I was super excited with my final time. It was surreal to look back over the 7-month journey from never having done a triathlon to completing a 70.3 IRONMAN and the sense of accomplishment that came with it.

How did the performance testing help you train & race?

I did most if not all of the performance testing Playtri offers and it all came together to pay off. The biggest benefit I got from those tests was taking the guess work out of pacing and nutrition for my first 70.3 IRONMAN distance. This was going to be a 5-6 hour race, which was more than double the furthest distance I had ever completed for racing or training before starting and I had no idea where to even begin.

They say that there are 4 events to distance triathlons: swim, bike, run and nutrition. Most of my rowing races lasted anywhere from 6-20 minutes so hydration and nutrition were all new to me. The same could be said for sodium loss while sweating. The bike/run calorie testing and the precision hydration test took all of the guess work out of it and simplified things greatly. Based on the heart rate zones I wanted to target for long course competition I needed to replace 400 calories of carbs per hour for the bike and run. This meant eating a pack of GU every 15 minutes, so I just set up an alert on my bike computer and watch as a reminder.

From the precision hydration test I found out I’m a salty sweater (higher than average concentration), which I wouldn’t have expected. I never took electrolyte supplements before, normally I’d just drink water and occasionally Gatorade to help cover my sweat loss. I couldn’t explain it but the day after my longer training runs (80+ minutes) I’d have a headache and feel terrible. After I took the hydration test, I started trying the salt tablets in my drink and I immediately felt the benefits on my next run. It was like night and day, I was able to maintain my pace more consistently but also the next day I felt so much better that I was able to continue training at a higher intensity. Now I take those salt tablets any time I’m working out for more than 90 minutes. I’ve heard people jokingly refer to them as the elixir of life and after taking them myself I fully understand where it comes from. Now I just drop one of those tablets in my sports bottle and drink one of them every hour. Between the calorie and hydration tests I’m now able to simplify my nutrition down to a Gu pack every 15 minutes and a bottle with one of the salt tablets every hour so it’s easy to follow and I don’t have to worry about this critical part of the race.

The next step was figuring out how to pace myself to run a good race and put up a time I could be proud of while not going too hard and bonking towards the end. Through the blood lactate testing I got a very accurate measurement of my heart rate and power zones with guidance on ranges to use for different race lengths. These were what I use as targets for pacing my 70.3. On the bike, my target power for long course competition was 150-204W with a heart rate of 130-159 bpm. I was aiming for over 200 watts at 155 bpm and I ended up doing 202W at 154 bpm so I kept a good constant output the entire time. On the run my heart rate zone was 150-169 for long course competition. I was aiming to stay around 165 bpm and landed exactly there. As I mentioned before I was holding a solid pace but I needed to do more distance runs to get comfortable keeping that level of exertion up after a full 56 mi bike. Needless to say, these heart rate & power zones helped me pick aggressive paces that I was able to maintain for the race.

I also did the RunLabs gait analysis because I was having knee pain on my runs up around 10+ miles. They had some simple recommendations on fixing my crossover step to get rid of the knee pain and it’s all but gone away. They also recommended a new set of shoes and increasing my cadence to get a more efficient foot strike. Those simple changes helped me shave tens of seconds off my mile split while maintaining the same heart rate. I did the swim analysis where coach Stackle where helped me identify 5 different things to work on to get me free speed without having to work that much harder. I did that session close to the race so I’ll keep practicing to make those changes muscle memory, still working on it.

The Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) test helped me dial in my calorie requirements so I could smartly lose weight without compromising my training. I planned to drop a few pounds to make the bike and the run easier. From when I started competing in April through this last race, I lost ~10 pounds and I could really feel the difference on the run where my knees didn’t hurt as much.

Needless to say, I ran the full battery of performance tests and put all of the information to use in my first ironman 70.3 race.

What are your next goals?

At this point I’m hooked. I love the volume of training, the strategy of transitions, researching the equipment, and analyzing all the data from my workouts. I plan on working my way up to complete a full IRONMAN 140.6. To do this I’ll have to complete my first marathon as a part of the training to convince myself I can. I plan on continuing to compete in the Olympic & 70.3 distances, along with some sprints for fun. I’m hoping to break the 5-hour mark on my next 70.3 assuming all goes well.


RunLab Movement Analysis

Karen Langley Runner, Massage Therapist, Mother

How did you hear about RunLab?

I initially heard about RunLab™ on a Rogue Running podcast. Ironically it was just a couple of months later that I learned Playtri had opened up RunLab Gait Imaging Centers™ inside their facilities, allowing me to get a full movement analysis by the RunLab team from right here in the Dallas area.

What did you know about gait and running biomechanics before learning about RunLab?

I’ve been a runner for many years and have always observed during races that everyone moves differently, even when running at the same speed, which is fascinating. As someone who is always interested in improving my own run and keeping injuries at bay, I have read a ton of literature on the subject and have seen every approach, ranging from “one size fits all” to “everyone’s gait is different, work with what ya got” . It’s all very overwhelming and confusing because each “expert” has their own philosophy.

What prompted you to go through a RunLab Movement Analysis?

I was interested in going through the process because I had previously experienced a hamstring injury which took quite a while to recover from. I was slowly working on building up my mileage and did not want to get injured again. I was interested in understanding more about my own body and the way that I move and whether there may be issues with my gait that put me at a higher risk for re-injury....I love to run and injury is certainly something I did not want to revisit!

What was your biggest take away from going through the RunLab Movement Analysis?

My biggest take away from the movement analysis is that even the smallest tweak in stride can cause big changes throughout the entire body. If we think about the number of times our feet hit the ground during just one single run (even a short run) it’s pretty mind blowing!  Multiply that times all of the runs that we do per week, per month, per year, and it all adds up...especially considering the fact that running isn’t even the only time we are on our feet in a day. Running is a full body movement, so even changing one small thing, whether that be stride length, the way we land, hip rotation, something in our upper body, or one of a million other little things can make a huge difference because of the repetitive nature of running.

What did you enjoy most from your experience with RunLab?

What I enjoyed most about the entire experience was the consultation call with a RunLab Gait Specialist and the expert dissection of my stride. We went through my videos so I could see what was happening in detail, and I was also given a lengthy full-color report breaking down all of the issues they found, along with recommendations for solving them, including shoe recommendations. Their specialist was SO thorough and knowledgeable about everything it was almost mind blowing! He would make comments about tiny nuances in my movement that would all of a sudden explain so much. I was blown away and kept asking “yes how do you know that about me?”  Almost creepy since I had never met the guy before LOL!!!! It was great!  

Who do you think a RunLab Movement Analysis will benefit? 

I think all athletes at any level can benefit from this service if they have any interest in running as part of their health and fitness routine, including triathletes.  I learned that there really is no one stride fits all for runners because everyBODY is different. We may all have the same bones and muscles, but the way they connect, the way gravity has worn on our body over time, the way we hold ourselves upright, the way we compensate for old injuries, our flexibility in each area, and our unique structural makeup all affect our movement patterns. So instead of trying to force one standard type of movement for everyone, even though we are all put together differently, why not learn how to run correctly in YOUR body?

How have you applied the information from your RunLab Movement Analysis throughout workouts and training?

I was provided with homework during my consultation call, which included some small drills and exercises to correct muscle imbalances and help improve efficiency. I’m a checklist kind of person so I was all over this type of assignment. One of the drills was to re-train my body to run with a slightly wider stance. I have a slight crossover in my gait which was creating some problems, so the drill was to find a crack or line in the road and run down it without letting my feet crossover. I’m pretty sure I looked like I was doing the Irish jig!!!!  Such a small change felt so strange at first, but after a few weeks of doing it I certainly have noticed the difference in my stride and am excited to start implementing the other pieces of homework that I was assigned.

The entire movement analysis process through RunLab.US was super easy. I was able to fill out my initial forms and pay through http://www.runlab.us/. Then I was able to get in and get the imaging portion done very quickly at Playtri, they handled all of the videotaping and upload for me so all I had to do was show up for my appointment, warm-up, get filmed and move on with my day.  The turnaround time for processing my videos and setting up my phone consultation was fast and simple.  I was very impressed with the knowledge and passion that everyone at RunLab has shown, they clearly love what they do and are the very best at it, I highly encourage this service to anyone that runs...or that wants to!

Here are some images from Karen’s RunLab Movement Analysis and follow-up.

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Triathlon by Jackson

With permission from the Athlete, Jackson, and his parents. An essay he wrote for his English Class…

Tri

Triathlon is an event which consists of three sports, typically swimming, biking, and long distance running.

My Mom and I woke up at 7:30 in the morning to see my dad do a triathlon. It was at Craig Ranch. This was my first triathlon to ever even watch, I was so exhilarated. We got to the the triathlon at about 8:00 am, just in time to see my dad leap into the pool. If I remember correctly it was a 300 meter swim and a 25 meter pool so, my dad swam the length of the pool 12 times. That's quite a bit of swimming. My dad got passed a couple of times, but I thought he was doing incredible. When my dad got out of the pool I noticed something on his arm. At first I thought it was a tattoo, but I saw the same number on his bike. Then I realized it was his racing number. Next was the bike. I have no idea how long it was, but I do know my dad’s fast. Right then he zoomed down the monster hill toward the transition area. My Mom and I dashed over to the run out. Then I saw him sprinting our way. The run was a 10k, also known as 6 miles. As he came out of the transition I ran with him, but eventually I couldn’t keep up. We were waiting for what felt like forever. I saw my dad approach between the rustling leaves of the trees. He smiled when he saw me. I darted toward him, and dashed to the finish line with him. Some people at the finish gave my dad a medal, I was so proud of him.

My dad signed me up for triathlon training at Playtri and I was on my way to try outs. We had to run a mile, so I was super nervous. It turns out I can run a 7:45 minute mile. I swam 100 meters in 2:38 and that put me in the Silver team. My schedule was Monday swim, Tuesday bike, Wednesday run. I spent the next couple of months training with them. I asked my dad to sign me up for a triathlon so he did.

The night before my triathlon my dad and I went over the checklist. My mom woke me and I was up at 5:00 am. I was wide awake. I put my tri stuff on and headed to the race. After we setup the transition area, I headed to the start. When the race started, every person went into the pool 3 seconds apart. It was my turn and I heard my mom yelling “Go Jax!”. The swim was a 50 meter swim so I darted across the pool, passing people left and right. Next was a 3 mile bike. It was no sweat. I zipped down the road passing a lot of riders. Finally was the run. It was a 0.5 mile run. I came out super strong but then I got tired and people started passing me. Halfway, there was a water station that gave me energy. On the run back I kept a constant pace. The final stretch as I crossed the finish I felt like Superman. Then I noticed that my cousins Charles and Frankie brought donuts. I rushed over to them and asked “How many can I have?” After my triathlon my family went to eat at the Original Pancake House and celebrated.

It was an amazing day! Now I train with Playtri 2-3 times a week and I have four amazing coaches, Coach Morgan, Coach Darrel, Coach Erin, and Coach Eric.

There are three things that I have learned from triathlons.

First, never give up.

Second, hard work pays off.

Third, live a healthy life.

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!