The 20 Best Things I’ve Heard in an IRONMAN

Colorado writer and triathlete Holly Bennett has collected what she describes as, “20 of the silliest, and most salient phrases some of our athletes have heard on course.”

From IRONMAN

During an IRONMAN, the things spectators along the course yell at you, the signs you see, and the the mantras you repeat to yourself can significantly impact your race. We chatted with 20 athletes to learn some of the weirdest, funniest, or most inspirational messages that friends, family members, and fellow athletes have shared with them while racing an IRONMAN event.

1) Ryan Hamm, M 18-24 , USA – part of the Coast Guard in North Carolina and races as a member of the US Military Endurance Sports program.

“The funniest, most inspirational thing I’ve heard while racing is, ‘The race has just begun.’ The timing of this saying was perfect—about 14 miles into the marathon portion of an IRONMAN. At first I laughed and thought, ‘What the heck do you think I’ve been doing for the past seven plus hours?’ Then I realized, ‘Hey, they’re right. Just forget about everything you’ve done, and all the pain. It’s just a half marathon. No biggie.'”

2) Matthew Greg Reese, M 45-49, USA – 13-time IRONMAN finisher who raced at the IRONMAN World Championship this year.

“The story that sticks with me was during the 2016 IRONMAN North American Championship. I was about 10 miles into the run (right before the monsoon that stopped us in our tracks for 30 minutes), and I was struggling, so I grabbed a drink at an aid station and was walking slowly. This volunteer came up to me and was super positive, encouraging, and doing everything he could to get me going. ‘Hey man, you’re almost there!’ ‘You are doing great!’ ‘What do you need?’ ‘Are you OK?’ ‘You are awesome,’ etc. I was thanking him and he was walking alongside me the whole time, just never giving up and wanting me to start running. He was saying things like, ‘You’ll make it, trust me.’ I think he believed I was a first-timer, so eventually he said, ‘I’ve done an IRONMAN and I know you can. Is this your first race?’ I responded, ‘Nope, this is number ten.’

Maybe it was the combination of his being tired, standing in the pouring rain, and the amount of effort he put into encouraging me, but I think he felt a little duped after I said that. He (gently) shoved me forward and yelled, ‘OMG, screw you! Get outta here!’ and stormed back to the aid station (laughing the whole time). It was so spontaneous and from the heart that I started howling in laughter—and it got me running again.”

3) Michael Pierson, M 50-54, USA – 12-time IRONMAN finisher who races often with his wife, Susan…

Read the full article

Forget Triathlons. It’s Time for Aquabike.

From the Wall Street Journal

For triathletes who hate the running part, there’s a new sport that offers a path to glory

Kathleen A. Hughes competed in the ITU Aquabike World Championships earlier this year in Penticton, British Columbia. Photo: FinisherPix.com

When I proudly told friends that I had qualified for the world championships in aquabike this past August, at age 60, I faced blank stares and concerned questions.

“How does the bike move in the water?”

“Do you practice on a stationary bike in the pool?” my brother-in-law asked.

The answer is that aquabike is a relatively new sport in triathlon, a race that normally includes a swim, bike and run. In aquabike, you get to skip the run.

While races vary, the most common distance is a 1.2-mile swim and a 56-mile bike ride. “Swim, bike, done,” enthusiasts say.

While the number of participants in triathlons has declined in the past few years, aquabike is growing rapidly, partly by appealing to older athletes with running injuries.

“It’s growing like a weed,” says Chuck Graziano, a director of USA Triathlon who has a titanium knee and competes in aquabike. “It doesn’t include the pounding of running. It can be age-related, injury-related, or people who just prefer not to run.”

Indeed, the number of aquabike races sanctioned by USA Triathlon, the sport’s governing body, has more than doubled in five years to 562 races with 5,160 aquabikers last year.

Read the full article

Flashback Friday – On Assignment: Dave Christen at IRONMAN Arizona 2016

With over 130 athletes from Colorado racing IRONMAN Arizona this weekend, we went digging in the 303 archives to resurrect this awesome mini-documentary of a day in the life of Dave Christen at IRONMAN Arizona 2016, courtesy of Kenny Withrow. Enjoy!

Norway full IRONMAN to use floating “tubes” to guide swimmers in S-curve icy waters

IRONMAN HAUGESUND

Easier navigating makes a faster swim

HAUGESUND: After several years of Ironman 70,3 the pristine and coastal town of Haugesund now steps up its game and prepares for its first full distance. Far from sunny Hawaii the Norwegians aims for Cold KONA. Situated on the stunning western coast of Norway both scenic landscape and pure nature should give that hardcore Viking-vibe and classic ironman-feeling.

Now Ivar Jacobsen and his team prepares for an even better competition, focusing on improving every detail of the course. Ironman 70,3 in Haugesund was awarded Global Athlete Satisfaction Award 2015.

But Ivar and the volunteers always strive to improve. One athletes feedback sums up the core of an Ironman-competition in Haugesund: I felt like being part of a local race, but with the impeccable organization of a full Ironman.

“I have been thinking a lot about how the swimming-experience can be even better. One of the annoying things with open water swims is that you have to adjust your course constantly. If you have to stop and raise your head looking for the next bouy in the water you will loose quite few seconds every time”, Ivar Jacobsens said.

Just forget swimming in the icy North Sea. The Ironman Haugesund-swim is performed in Skeisvatnet, a freshwater lake right outside the city center. In Norwegian smalltown-scale that means just a few blocks from basically anything.

Check the whole course here.

-We have now developed a new system that solves two obstacles for a good and fast swim. First of all, with a high number of swimmers in the water you can risk that the old bouy-system will move a little bit and may confuse the swimmers.

Mr. Jacobsens solution is simple, clever and obvious.

“We will simply use a tube that is semi-submersible. We inflate it with air and water that will make light enough to float and heavy enough to stay in its position during the whole swim. It is almost like an oil-lense system used by the oil industry”, Ivar explained.

Instead of gaps with no markers or course-helping objects for the swimmers they can now follow a consecutive line all the way through. The tube will give guidance for direction all the time.

Read Mary Beth Ellis emotional experiences in Ironman 70,3 in Haugesund, 2012.

Like doing lapses in a pool
“Since this is a lake we do not have any waves or currents. Just follow the tube-lines in the water and you will get through, Ivar said.

The swimmers will go in the water by a rolling start and swim in an enormous s-shaped turn. The Skeisvatnet Lake is deep but not big enough for straight lengths.

-We really look forward testing the tubes out. Most likely the lake will stay ice-free this winter and we will have plenty of time for testing and adjustments, Ivar Jacobsen said.

Women’s Wednesday: How to take on Ultra Running: Tales from a Turtle

By Cassie Cilli

If you’re like me, you’ve watched the movie Legally Blonde close to a million times (and counting!) and can quote most of it by heart. There’s a scene in which Elle Woods hands over her resume to Emmett, her professor’s junior partner at Harvard law. As she walks away he sniffs the pink colored perfumed paper he says “Do you think she just woke up one day and said… “I’m going to go to law school?!”” This is how I feel about my intro to trail running and I’m assuming what most of you might be thinking, “Did she just wake up one day and decide to trail run?!” Well yes, yes I did!

It’s crazy what can happen in a year. I started this journey with the intent to get myself healthy. Have you ever looked in the mirror and completely hated the person staring back at you, someone you no longer knew? Well, that’s where I was. I had a disappointing running season last year, but had made new friends, joined a club and community that gave me new meaning to life. But, you never know when life is going to throw you a curve ball. Late last summer my dog was viciously murdered, my fiancé and I decided to part ways after 9 years, AND my work was closing its doors after I had been there for a little over 6 years! When it rains it truly pours!!!

Starting over is never an easy thing to go through. Devastated, I picked up what pieces remained, tucked my little turtle tail between my legs and retreated home for a bit. I knew this year was going to be about trying to focus on me, which was something I’d never done before (aka hard!) and proving to myself that I could do this trail running thing. It was the only thing that provided therapy and relief for me and still connected me to Boulder and my friends. But I also found myself even more lost, so much change had left me confused on who I really was! (So I apologize if I have appeared like a basket case to any of you! It’s been a whirlwind and I know I haven’t been the best of a friend. Thank you for still being there!)

I decided to go back this time and get my revenge on my racing season. There was method to my madness! I signed up for my 100 miler first, then went back and signed up for the distances I didn’t finish at last year… so a 32 miler (out of 50) and a 50 miler (out of a 100). Coincidentally or not, each race corresponded to something meaningful in my life. Therefore each race had some sort of message or mantra that I boldly wrote on my arm to remind me what I was doing. Last year I was obsessed with cutoffs times, this year I decided to put away that part of my brain that was always worried about time, and use my determination to propel me. Which, mind you, is way easier said than done when you’re mid race!!

At Dirty Thirty, I wanted that finish because I had never actually done a 50K. Apparently I skipped that last season in favor for a 50 miler! Go figure! On a friend’s fridge was a quote to “remember who you wanted to be” I found this very fitting for me at the time, as I had lost sight of what I was trying to become, why I had even started this journey in the first place. This became my mantra. I also ran for my dog, whose death anniversary was the same weekend of the race. I know that sounds weird but I ran a disappointing Leadville Marathon last season because I had lost her that week, and I wanted some sort of vindication this go around. Also, if a six pound dog who was literally ripped apart by two big dogs can still be alive even for the briefest of ten minutes, I sure as hell can survive some pain. I ate an Oreo in her honor at the top of the last peak, screamed some profanities, shed my first tear of the race and finished my first official ultra!

Next was Leadville Silver Rush 50M. Good gracious my oh my, don’t even get me started on Leadville!!! I love it, I hate it, it’s easy, it’s “runnable”… but it’s hard!!! I had it out for this place. Vendetta. We were at war and I was going to finish as redemption for the 100 last year. It was solely that motivation that got me to the finish. I went out feeling great and I made the turn around in what was a great time for my turtleness! But around mile 40 I lost my marbles… and my shot of whiskey I had been saving (which really works p.s.!) I walked it to the finish, but I learned some valuable lessons. Tape your feet and lube ‘em up, no one likes blisters! Saltine crackers at 10,000 feet are gross! Shoe insoles, duh! Tip from a pro, fill one of your bottles up with Coke-A-Cola… why didn’t I think of that?! Oh, and everybody hurts (another pro tip)!

So, I hit a bit of a lull after the fifty miler. I found myself depressed, after race blues are a real thing I’m finding out! This was my first time driving to work in 8 years, usually I bike, which is extra fitness if you’re training for things! I had lost that and was honestly putting more miles on my car than my body. I was also stressed trying to balance work, dog sitting, running, relationships that I completely sucked at having, and trying to maintain some sort of a social life… that I broke said car. (Another life lesson learned: OIL, you need to put oil in your car. Oops!) I would have quit the 100 miler, it was counting down quickly to race time. But someone so graciously made a post about my adventures and I knew I couldn’t quit ( p.s. thank you for that!) I knew I had to keep running, but it was so darn hard to find the motivation or drive. I was thankful for everyone’s support, but I also wasn’t taking their advice for running strategies. “You need to run 30 miles back to back!” “You need to do speedwork!” “You need to run A LOT more than you are now!” Woof, I liked my bed and wallowing in self-pity more. Truthfully my work schedule didn’t allow me to run back to back without going to work like a complete zombie, and I’m sure I had already stressed them out enough with my race schedule and crying over my life bouts! It took a couple weeks but I got moving again, thanks to friends getting me up and out. I made the turn around in my brain and the last four weeks I got the job done. And I’m so glad I got out on those last few big runs, some of my best memories of summer!

I went in to Run Rabbit Run 100 comparing myself to last year. I felt like last time I had run more and was lighter and leaner! However, this year I had run much longer quality distance runs, and I’d like to think weighing more meant I had more muscle, I wasn’t sure which version was better! I’m also not good with the whole planning out your race or pace chart thing… aka spreadsheets. Like I said, I get so consumed with the cutoff times that it can royally mind screw me. So, I never really looked at them or had them memorized. I said: Screw it!!!! You’ve done everything you could have done, you’re as fit as can be, and you’ve done the work, just know the basics and keep moving! Obviously my crew had the info and could figure out where we needed to be and when. But I didn’t want to know and I told them to lie to me about it, and everything else! Tell me I look great, even though I’m 99% sure I didn’t for 99% of that race!

There’s a lot that happens in a 100 miles. It’s hard to describe in words even. I feel like I blacked out for most of it. I can tell you that it’s really, really, REALLY far and there comes a point where even another darn mile seems like eternity… “another three miles to the next aid station?! but that’s so far!!!” I don’t think our brains can fully fathom that distance, even though I’ve done it, I can’t explain how far it is. You also go into this awful self-loathing period of time, no one tells you about it, or when it will strike or how long it will take for you to work yourself out of it. It can happen repeatedly too! (Joy!) It is literally the epitome of darkness. I won’t even say what I told myself for hours upon end in those moments, because no one should say those things to another. And that’s why my motto or mantra for the race was to “Have courage, and be kind and all will be well” It’s a Cinderella quote, judge all you want!!! But it’s in these dark spaces of spaces to find the courage and strength and to be kind to yourself and to others around you that keeps you going. Also, whiskey at mile 65 and 82, messages from friends and pancakes help.

I left my crew a note that they read after I had already started the race. I thanked them all for taking the time to come and help me and how much it mean to me to have them there. I said how I knew I wasn’t the fastest, fittest, strongest person out there but I KNEW I could do it, and needed them to believe in me too. I said how I wasn’t doing this to “prove” I could run a 100 miles, which is awesome and all. But more so I wanted to prove that it all had been worth it. All the loss, the pain, the staying up at night not knowing what the hell I was doing with my life at 30 years old! I wanted to show myself I could do it. That all the hard work mentally, emotionally, physically had paid off. That I was strong and was determined to show what I could do!

Although it helped I was physically capable to do such a thing, I probably could have trained harder upon closer look, and it’s most likely recommend to do so. But at the end of the day, I am a firm believer that you can do anything you put your mind to. Yeah, that cheesy life quote we’ve all heard before! It’s the truth! Yeah it takes works, sometimes lots of work. With determination anything is possible. And that’s why I finished my races this year. I am incredibly proud, most days it still hasn’t sunk in even! I’m so glad I’ve overcome what I have. I am constantly learning and as always am never perfect!! Now that the dust has settled, I’m feeling more like the person I’ve longed to become!

Some call us crazy for doing what we do. And it truthfully is! I think that’s what we like about it. To see what your body can do and overcome is truly one of the most amazing experiences I’ll never forget, even if it hurt. It’s empowering what your mind can do, from the depths of the dark to the moments of joy and peace. It’s this great community of runners and friends, who build each other up, even when you fail or falter, and is always there for you! I’m not sure if you’ve looked around you but Colorado is a pretty rad place and being able to explore miles of untapped beauty on your own two feet is another thing you can’t describe till you’re in it! SO call me crazy, I don’t “love” to run but I do love what it’s brought me. Determination, discipline, adventure, patience, slowly but surely confidence and the strength to ask for help when I need it. There’s also the friends, new places, and new lease on life that I have… that maybe even one day I’ll make my very own turtle spreadsheet.

 

Ryf tops current prize money standings for 2017

From Triathlon World

The season isn’t over, but according to Challenge-Family’s prize money rankings Daniela Ryf is ahead of her male counterparts on the prize money front in 2017.

When it comes to earning prize money in 2017, Daniela Ryf has moved to the top of the castle, overtaking Mario Mola thanks to her $120,000 payday at the Ironman World Championship earlier this month. Patrick Lange, who earned the same amount as Ryf in winning the Kona race, moved himself to fifth on the prize money standings on the men’s side.

It’s interesting to note that ITU World Champion Flora Duffy, second in the women’s rankings, is also ahead of the second-placed man in the standings, Javier Gomez, who won $45,000 as the Ironman 70.3 world champion. Ryf took the same amount thanks to her win in Chattanooga, too.

Read the full article for the standings

Boulder-born Shalane Flanagan upsets Mary Keitany, ends U.S. drought at NYC Marathon

Shalane Flanagan of the United States celebrates winning the Professional Women’s Divisions during the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon in Central Park on Nov. 5, 2017 in New York City.

From the Daily Camera

NEW YORK – Shalane Flanagan thought about the seven years building to this race, possibly her last. She thought about the running star striding next to her. She thought about her family. She thought about Meb.

With one hellacious holler at the finish, it all poured out.

Flanagan dethroned Mary Keitany on Sunday and became the first American woman to win the New York City Marathon since 1977, potentially ending her decorated career with her first major marathon victory.

Flanagan’s breakthrough came in the last career race for American great Meb Keflezighi. The 2009 New York winner collapsed at the finish line, his 42-year-old body pushed to its limit in his 26th marathon. Keflezighi finished 11th, about five minutes behind 24-year-old winner Geoffrey Kamworor of Kenya.

This may have been Flanagan’s final race, too, although the four-time Olympian wasn’t ready to commit. But she likes the idea of her and Keflezighi going out together.

For the Data-Hungry: 2017 IRONMAN® World Championship Interactive Quarq Qollector Pacing Analysis

From Training Peaks

The tape has long been broken, the champagne sprayed and champions crowned at the 2017 IRONMAN® World Championship, but for the first time we have in-depth access to data that paints a new and dynamic picture of the day.

What we saw on the live broadcast on October 14 didn’t fully capture the strategies and pacing that played out on course on a day that resulted in a new course record and several new names making the podium for the first time in both the women’s and men’s professional races.

With the help of the Quarq and their Quarq Qollector, IRONMAN’s® Live Pro Race Tracking Partner, we were able to analyze real-time data, which we shared for various athletes live during the race through the IRONMAN® Live Blog. Additionally, we were able to study comparative data after the race, giving us valuable new insight into the pacing throughout the bike and the run for the top athletes in both the women’s and men’s races.

We recently wrote about the power and pacing of Lionel Sanders during this year’s race. The Canadian pro cracked a major piece of the Kona puzzle on his third attempt by finishing second after being passed by eventual champion Patrick Lange at mile 23. Using the Qollector, we can put his effort into the larger comparative context and see how the fast pace of the bike played out favorably for strong runner Lange, but cost other top pros like Sebastian Kienle the top spot.

On the women’s side, the data shows that despite being the heavy pre-race favorite, it was no cake walk for Daniela Ryf on her way to her third straight victory. We can see that she was fighting hard to stave off the hard-charging dark horse Lucy Charles for much of the bike and the run.

Before we dive into the data for the men’s and women’s pro races, take a look at the interactive tool Quarq has graciously set up for everyone to use to compare pro athletes’ paces throughout the race….

Read the full article and complete analysis

Let’s do Wildflower! … What’s Wildflower?

By Alison Freeman

As soon as I heard that Wildflower was back for 2018 after a hiatus in 2017 due to drought conditions, I knew I wanted to race it. Except that I truly, honestly, knew nothing about the race. OK, maybe that’s an overstatement: I knew that it includes a challenging bike course, and I knew that it involves camping. But for real that’s all I knew.

Which kinda means that I have a lot in common with Terry Davis, the founder and race director of the Wildflower Festival (now called the Wildflower Experience). Yes, that sounds crazy – so let me explain. Back in ‘80s, Terry was working as the Marketing and Events Director of the Monterrey County Parks Department and they were looking for events that would utilize the Lake San Antonio venue outside of the summer months. Terry and his team were busy developing the Wildflower Bluegrass Festival, that would feature – you guessed it – wildflower exhibits and bluegrass music, when a friend suggested including a triathlon during the festival weekend. “OK, let’s do a triathlon,” said Terry. “What is it?”

So that’s how one of the most iconic races in the triathlon world was born – spearheaded by a wonderful fellow who didn’t know what a triathlon was, and who to this day has never participated in one. The race has grown from 82 participants in 1983 to 7,500 participants at its peak. But the Wildflower Experience is more than just a single race – the weekend includes triathlons on both Saturday and Sunday of various distances, live music, food trucks, wine tasting, retail vendors, and family events including a Friday night kids’ fun run.

While a two-day, multi-faceted weekend of activities already sets the Wildflower Experience apart from other race experiences, what makes Wildflower truly unique is the venue itself. Lake San Antonio is thirty-five miles from the nearest city. Thirty. Five. Miles. Thirty-five miles from the nearest Motel 6. Thirty-five miles from the nearest Target or Walmart or major grocery chain or anywhere that sells gel blocks. Which raises the question of how on earth does Wildflower host tens of thousands of participants and spectators for this incredible weekend?

Turns out, Terry and his crew spend months creating a temporary city at Lake San Antonio solely for the Wildflower Experience weekend. They build out infrastructure including restrooms, parking, medical facilities, and transportation to move bikes and people from camping and RV sites to the expo and race venue. They bring in water and massive tents for the pasta party and temporary housing for the 1000 students from nearby California Polytechnic State University who comprise the majority of their volunteer staff.

What Terry’s crew doesn’t build, however, are temporary four-star hotels. Instead, 80-85% of the participants, along with their friends and families, are camping or RV-ing it up in the area surrounding Lake San Antonio, creating a sprawling make-shift city comprised mostly of triathletes. This is why the Wildflower Experience is often referred to as the “Woodstock of Triathlon” or the “Burning Man of Triathlon” and this is why I am SO EXCITED to head to the Wildflower Experience this May.

Just picture it: thousands upon thousands of triathletes and their sherpa crews, hanging out and listening to music and discussing how much time they spend in zone 2 and whether they train by heart rate or pace or power or feel and the weekly workout that increased their FTP by 10% and the swim drill that instantly shaved five seconds off their 100m pace and the merits of living solely off of gel blocks versus a strict keto diet. I mean if this doesn’t sound like heaven to you (and sheer hell to my husband) then you have a much more balanced approach to triathlon than I do.

So, maybe this Triathlete City is heaven and maybe it’s more like an asylum for uber-fit individuals. Either way, it’s also temporary home to the pros who take part in the Wildflower Experience – pros like defending champs Jesse Thomas and Liz Lyles, who could conceivably be in the camping spot right next to yours. You could give Jesse some suggestions for new Picky Bars flavors, and ask Liz some advice on the best way to handle “Beach Hill” while you cook your pre-race breakfast over a shared campfire. I mean, if that’s not a unique racing experience, I don’t know what is.

Great Things To Know About the Wildflower Experience

DATES
Saturday, May 5th, 2018
• Long-course (70.3) triathlon
• Off-road sprint distance triathlon

Sunday, May 6th, 2018
• Olympic distance triathlon
• Sprint distance triathlon

THE LONG-COURSE RACE
• 1.2 mile swim; 56 mile bike; 13.1 mile run.
• The bike course has 3600 feet of elevation gain, including the climb up “Beach Hill” right out of the gate and “Nasty Grade” at mile 42.
• The run is partially on roads and partially on trails, including some nice, challenging hills.

THE OLYMPIC DISTANCE RACE
• 1.5k swim (0.9 miles); 40k bike (24.8 miles); 6.2 mile run.
• The bike course is challenging, including “Lynch Hill” and “Heartrate Hill.”
• Like the long-course route, the run is partially on roads and partially on trails. And, you know, hills.

THE OFF-ROAD RACE
• 0.25 mile swim; 8.5 mile bike; 2 mile run. And, you guessed it, hills.

THE SPRINT DISTANCE RACE
• 0.25 mile swim; 20k bike (12.4 miles); 3 mile run.
• The Sprint is new for 2018 and course details are not yet available. I’m assuming there are hills.

SPECIAL BRAGGING RIGHTS
• Wildflower Squared: Long-course on Saturday + Olympic distance on Sunday!

LOGISTICS
Keep your eyes out for a future 303 Triathlon article with a “How To Wildflower” primer. For now:
• If you want to book flights, the closest major airport is San Jose; San Francisco and Oakland are also decent options.
• Pro Bike Express is offering bike transport plus will bring your tent and sleeping bag for you. Sign up here to reserve your spot!

REGISTER FOR THE WILDFLOWER EXPERIENCE HERE!

Chicago Marathon institutes qualifying time standards

From Runners World

Last week the Chicago Marathon rolled out a new way to enter the 2018 race without the hassle of participating in the registration lottery. Runners who meet qualifying times specific to their age and gender will gain an automatic ticket to the starting line.

The new time standards are a strategy for race organizers to give participants of all ages an equal chance to qualify for guaranteed entry. In the past, the time qualifier guaranteed-entry option only applied to men who ran 3:15 or faster and women who had a sub-3:45 race to their names, no matter what their age.