editors note: Barry Siff, for those newer to triathlon or Colorado, has had a major impact on the sport of triathlon. For years he headed 5430 which produced iconic races such as the Boulder Peak (now owned and run by Without Limits, Info here)
We at 303Endurance Network wish him the best in his future endeavors and thank him for his contribution to our sport and his kindness throughout the years.
USA Triathlon today announced that Barry Siff has resigned as President of the USA Triathlon Board of Directors, effective immediately, in order to accept the role of Chief Executive Officer for USA Team Handball. It is a full-time, paid staff position for the National Governing Body in the U.S. Olympic Movement.
Jacqueline McCook, Vice President of the Board of Directors, has accepted the role of interim President.
Siff joined the USA Triathlon Board of Directors in 2012, and was elected President in 2014. A former race director, he was integral in identifying and advancing USA Triathlon’s key organizational priorities, including development of the current 2020 Quad Strategic Plan. Siff also led the hiring process for Rocky Harris, who was named USA Triathlon’s CEO in August of 2017.
“I have been a triathlete since 1986, and it has been an incredible honor and privilege to help lead USA Triathlon as its Board of Directors President for the past five years,” said Siff. “The current team at USA Triathlon is truly world-class, and I leave knowing that we have laid an incredibly strong foundation to achieve its mission of growing, inspiring and supporting the triathlon community.”
A champion for gender diversity within USA Triathlon governance, he helped to exponentially increase female representation on the Board of Directors. Siff also added an integral perspective to the Board as a former event organizer, and was a strong voice for all race directors while pushing the organization to better serve this key constituency group.
As a member of the Executive Boards of the International Triathlon Union (ITU) and the American Triathlon Confederation (CAMTRI), Siff has served on several committees guiding the global direction of the sport over the last two years. His roles with the ITU and CAMTRI remain unchanged moving forward. Similarly, Siff was USA Triathlon’s top international ambassador, and directly supported triathlon development programs in Africa and Panama.
Siff was also a driving force for USA Triathlon’s ambitious efforts to grow participation and expand awareness for the sport — highlighted by the launch of the unprecedented Time to Tri initiative in partnership with IRONMAN, as well as the Legacy Triathlon, a new event leading up to the LA 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games and set to debut this July in Long Beach, California.
Siff, who currently serves as Chair of a newly formed group comprised of Board Chairs from U.S. Olympic National Governing Bodies, has been an integral part of the multisport scene since 1986 as an athlete, coach, race director, writer and executive leader. He first became involved with USA Triathlon in a volunteer leadership role in 2009 as Chair of the Race Director Committee.
“Barry Siff has made an indelible impact, both in the U.S. and internationally, during a span of nearly 30 years in multisport,” said Harris. “USA Triathlon has been incredibly fortunate to have such a passionate and dedicated leader at the helm of its Board of Directors, as well as his innumerable roles over the years. We are grateful for his service and passion, and we know that he will remain an integral part of the triathlon landscape for the foreseeable future.”
“Under Barry’s leadership, USA Triathlon has focused on better serving each of its constituent groups, as well as creating meaningful programs and initiatives to grow the sport, and investing resources strategically to ensure long-term, sustainable success,” said McCook. “Barry has always brought his unbridled enthusiasm, dedication and passion for the sport to his role as Board President, and for that we are extremely grateful. I look forward to working with the Board, Rocky and his team, to continue our work to grow, inspire and support our amazing triathlon community as I step into the role of interim President.”
McCook has served on the USA Triathlon Board as an Independent Director since 2013. She was elected the first-ever President of the Board of Directors for the USA Triathlon Foundation in 2014, and served in that role until 2018. McCook brings significant consumer-facing strategic, marketing and operational experience to the Board. She has served in senior executive positions in the consumer foods, retail and restaurant industries, including with PepsiCo, YUM! Brands, Diageo and ConAgra Foods.
Her professional career also includes the consulting firm, McKinsey & Company; the national retailer, Target; and the investment-banking firm, Morgan Stanley. McCook received her Bachelor of Arts in international relations from Stanford University, and her Master of Business Administration with honors from the Harvard Business School. She completed her first triathlon in the early 1990s, and was a founding member of the Stanford Women’s Water Polo Team.
“1:33, keep it there,” Derick yelled on deck as I hit the wall on my 12th or 13th 100 meter repeat. I had just a couple more measured efforts before it was time to dig deep for the 16th 100 which we were to perform at the “edge of our ability.” I executed that 16th 100 meter sprint right around 1 min 30 sec, maybe just a touch faster. In short it was one of the greatest swim sets I’d had since moving to the training center at the beginning of January. But there was something not quite right either. While I was pleased I was also frustrated. I’d had my best performance at a sprint triathlon only a few days before setting personal bests in my 750 meter open water swim, 20 km bike time and a new overall 5 km run personal best. Despite these metrics I’d only taken second and had finished 37 seconds short of finishing within 2 percent of the winners time. This 2 percent metric is key because that is one of the metrics USA Triathlon uses to determine which athletes receive actual monetary support. I’d finished within 2 percent of the winner’s time at my previous race back in October and would need to do so in two more races to receive the lowest level of funding that USA Triathlon allocates to Paratriathletes. I’d missed out on that margin by a mere 37 seconds and it soured my outlook. I also tend to put a high demand of pressure on myself to perform and I felt I’d lost an opportunity to win while the guy who won, Aaron Scheidies, was nursing a long time hip injury and was preparing to go under the knife to repair it. If I couldn’t beat Aaron while he was at best 75 percent then how on earth was I going to be competitive against the dominant Europeans? The following two weeks post CAMTRI didn’t inspire much hope in me either.
After my race in Sarasota, Fla I went back to the training center ready to slay every workout Derick could conceivably think to throw my way. I was going to push so hard that my numbers in Sarasota would seem like a beginners. And in the first couple of swim practices it looked like that was going to be the case. Then Derick assigned us a 2 mile all out time trial on the treadmill which I demolished in 11 min 50 sec including my second mile being at 5 min 17 sec. Much of the second half of that last mile I somehow ran at a sub 5 min per mile pace. So I was feeling good about my fitness. But for some reason I was feeling more drained than usual.
I took several naps a day lasting at least an hour or two in addition to sleeping a solid six to eight hours at night. My appetite was also slowing vanishing. It was a struggle to eat breakfast, lunch and by dinner I couldn’t stand the thought of food. It culminated on the evening of March 18.
That morning our entire paratriathlon team had struggled to hit our slowest times in the pool during a 4400 meter day. I was able to choke down some breakfast and then head to the bike trainer to spin my legs easy. I struggled through my strength and conditioning session and then took a very hot bath to try and loosen up. My stomach felt funny and when I walked into the cafeteria determined to at least eat something I felt extremely nauseous. I took a few sips of orange juice hoping that would give me some hydration, a couple calories and maybe calm my stomach down. I then walked back to my room and promptly started praying to the porcelain goddess. I did that off and on through the night praying that it would all be out of my system in time to swim. It wasn’t.
I had to miss an entire day of training, most of which I slept. I was able to drag myself to the pool Wednesday morning and get through a modified swim set. That only served to piss me off more because I was already one of the weakest swimmers on the team and I felt I was sliding even further backwards.
I struggled physically and mentally trying to hit my sets in the pool, on the bike trainer and treadmill. The Friday after my being sick I cracked for the first time on a bike workout. I managed to push through until the fifth set, but half way through my legs gave out and no amount of coaxing or cursing brought them back to life. I was stressed and frustrated. If I couldn’t get through a bike workout how could I get through the following week’s workouts when my guide, Zack would be flying in to do some intense training with me? I could only hope that whatever sickness was in my system made it’s way out.
The Zack Attack
As it’s been told before, by myself and other blind/visually impaired athletes, one of the most difficult aspects of trying to be an elite blind endurance athlete is that you have to find guides to both train and race with. The guide needs to be borderline elite athlete themself, or at least a much better athlete than you yourself. My general rule of thumb is that my guide must be 10-15 percent faster than me when I am having my best day and they are having their worst. So if I run a 5k at a 6:30/mi pace on my best day, my guide must be able to easily run a 5k at a 5:51/mi pace on their worst day. If I run 2 miles in 11:50 (5:55/mi) my guide must be able to run that same distance in 10:39 (5:20ish/mi). Through in the complications of work, school, different training schedules and it makes it very difficult to find consistent training and racing guides. That doesn’t even include the fact that we have to jell as people and be on the same page in terms of communication. Most of the time, those people fast enough to meet these rule of thumb requirements are professional or elite athletes themselves, have their own training and racing to do and don’t have the time or desire to guide. Fortunately for me I was able to at least find a guide to race with who meets just about all of the requirements of speed, time availability (mostly) and temperament.
I met Zack in January of 2018 when I attended Camp No Sight No Limits hosted by Elite Visually Impaired Triathlete Amy Dixon. Zack was guiding another blind athlete but we hit it off as friends. Later that year I was in a bit of a pickle as I was in need of a guide for my second ITU race of 2018. My first ITU race guide didn’t have the running speed to guide me at the pace I wanted to hold, plus he was tied up with work obligations. My buddy Alan who would be guiding me for Ironman Arizona didn’t have the top end speed for a sprint triathlon, although he could seemingly run forever at a slower pace. And all of the other guides I could think of were busy with work or racing. So I shot Amy a text asking if she knew of anyone and she immediately recommended Zack. I jumped on the phone with Zack. I admit I’d thought of asking him before but I’d known that he was attempting to qualify for Kona at Ironman Maryland which was only a week or two before my race in Sarasota and I wondered if he’d be ready. Amy assured me he would be so I gave him a shot. Zack scored major points with me when he said “I’m happy to do it if I’m feeling good, but if you can find someone faster kick me to the side.”
Zack went on to take sixth overall at Ironman Maryland including having one of the top swim and bike splits of the day and earning his slot to Kona for 2019. Two weeks later he guided me to a 2nd place finish at the Sarasota World Cup which had been modified to a duathlon. We threw down the fastest bike split of the day and one of the faster runs and Zack didn’t appear to be tired at all whereas I was wiped out.
When I moved to the Olympic Training Center in January, Derick immediately mentioned the possibility of having Zack come out to do some training with me from time to time. Since Zack lives in San Diego we don’t get many opportunities to train together. So we arranged it so that Zack would come out during his spring break. I didn’t like it that I was coming off of a week of sickness and struggling but maybe Zack being here would give me a motivational boost. Fortunately it did.
Our week kicked off with a nearly 4000 meter swim followed by a two hour spin on the tandem during which we did a bit of climbing. Then we cranked out a lifting session. After Tuesday’s 4400 meter swim set we headed to Memorial Park to do 1.5 mi repeats at 5k race effort. It was during runs like this where having Zack was invaluable. Instead of cranking out the session on the treadmill I was able to join the rest of the team outside. The running path we followed was winding and being a beautiful spring day in Colorado it was crowded with people. So Zack and I got some good practice weaving in and around people while moving at a sub 6:40/mi pace.
Wednesday was another tough swim followed by a gnarly strength session. Then that evening the entire paratriathlon team headed up to Denver to take part in the Karen Hornbostel Memorial Time Trial Series. This 9 mile bike time trial was a good time for Zack and I to really go all out on the tandem. We, along with the rest of the Paratriathlon team, crushed the race riding strong despite some windy conditions. Zack and I rode the 9 miles in 20 min 34 sec averaging just over 26 mph and taking top 20 in the overall standings. I slowly felt like my legs were starting to come back, but my lungs were still hurting and I felt like I was still operating at an overall calorie deficit. I just couldn’t seem to get ahead.
The following day was great as Zack and I joined the rest of the team for an easy coffee ride and then Zack and I enjoyed an easy hour run. So many of my workouts have been so carefully constructed that it was nice to just get out and run on some dirt roads.
Friday, Zack, Allysa and I headed to Gold Camp road for some grueling race effort hill repeats. The day was cold and windy and by the time we got back to the training center our extremities were rather chilled.
Saturday was Zack’s last day in the Springs so Derick assigned us a 3 mile run at 5k effort. So being who we are, Zack and I just tacked on an extra 0.1 mi onto the effort to make it a 5k. The day was chilly but thankfully there were fewer people out so Zack and I only had the winding sidewalk to contend with. Zack pushed me hard as we attempted to hold the pace we’d held at sea level a couple of weeks before. Ultimately we fell just short of that pace, but it was still a very solid and consistent 5k effort. And even though my lungs were burning and I was spitting up flem, I was relatively pleased.
I still didn’t feel full strength, but I was beginning to calm down and trust that my body wanted to heal and it would come around back to full strength. I’d had a maddening couple of weeks, but despite the frustrations of failing to meet my lofty expectations I still saw some marginal improvements in my swimming, biking and running. And the first couple days of April have been showing even more promise.
The Three Month Look Back
I’ve essentially been living and training full time at the Olympic Training Center for three months now. Early on I was fueled by adrenaline and excitement. Then I struggled through physical fatigue and broke through to make some massive fitness gains. The third month has been a mental battle for sure. Learning to manage my expectations and trust the process of training rather than obsessing on outcome goals has been a learning process.
Early on in my professional career—immediately upon graduating from college—I wanted a job so desperately and I wanted to be making and earning money. When I eventually did find a job I worked my tail off attempting to get promoted or catch the eye of another company that would pay me more. That eventually did happen but it turned out not to be the right fit for me.
My triathlon career has eerily mirrored my professional career. Early on I thought busting out sub 12 hour Ironmans would be a walk in the park. World records would fall before the outstanding athlete that was Kyle Coon. Fortunately for me though that didn’t happen. It turned out I wasn’t so good at triathlon early on and had to learn to struggle and scrap and fight my way to near the top. I somehow managed to learn to be patient with my Ironman racing and I’m learning the same lesson in my transition to sprint triathlon.
My last two coaches Lesley Paterson and now Derick Williamson, aren’t all that dissimilar. They both have stressed the importance of trusting the process to me. And while I generally have considered myself to be a patient person, I have not been patient when it comes to my athletic career. Little by little though, if there’s anything that this past month of madness has emphasized to me it’s the value of patience and trusting my fitness and my mental game. Sometimes it’s ok to let go of the big picture and to let go of the tiny details and find the middle where we just enjoy being triathletes.
So my personal goal for the month of April is focus less on the result that I’m going to post in my next race—April 27 at the Milan World Paratriathlon Series—and more on steady improvement day by day and workout by workout. Yes, I must keep an “eye on my vision” but I can’t obsess on outcomes.
Happy Spring fellow athletes! Last time you heard from us, we introduced ourselves and talked a bit about what helps to set our race events apart from others (more on that here: https://303triathlon.com/meet-a-new-triathlon-race-company/). Now we’re back to share a bit about some exciting new developments and more details about our upcoming races and events! We have been making strides in our goal to involve local businesses and organizations, as mentioned in our last article, with our most recent partnership with MP Multisport for our inaugural race season. MP Multisport will provide individualized coaching and nutrition options to help meet the needs of our athletes. This may be especially beneficial for those who are trying their hand at a triathlon for the very first time, such as at our beginner-friendly Epic Mini Tri (more info below). To find out more about MP Multisport’s impact in the endurance training community, as well as services they provide, check out mpmultisport.com. Now onto the fun we’re going to have in 2019 with our race events! Here’s some info on our upcoming events over the next few months:
-The Epic Mini Triathlon – Fort Collins 5-26-19The name says it all! The EPIC MINI Triathlon. Taking place at a central venue located in Fort Collins Colorado, this race packs a punch of fun into a short course. It’s a great beginner-friendly triathlon, or a great tune-up for seasoned triathletes. A 450 meter pool swim, 10 mile bike and 2 mile run coupled with a family friendly and supportive atmosphere will make this race a blast.
-The Dirty Duo Off Road Ride & Run – Lory State Park – 7-27-19Time to get dirty! The Dirty Duo Off Road Ride & Run is a challenging event on the trails of Lory State Park. No age groups and no gender groups! Similar in course layout to the popular Lory Xterra Triathlon, this bike then run race ditches the swim for a “LeMans style” start. When the gun goes off (or in this case an air horn), athletes will run 100 meters to their bikes in transition. Fast flat sections, tight technical turns, challenging climbs and soaring views of Horsetooth Reservoir. This race will challenge your legs with the climbs but keep you motivated the whole way with some truly breathtaking views & sights.
-Boyd Lake Bash Multisport Festival – Loveland – 9-7-19Escape to the lake! The Boyd Lake Bash Multisport Festival will be an event you’ll look forward to all season long. Why? Beautiful mountain views, ideal September weather and 10 races to choose from all in the same morning…yes TEN, including a Youth Splash & Dash! It’s outdoor physical fun for the whole family! The entire race takes place within the state park. Did we mention on-site camping options and a beer garden at the finish line? Yup!
-Colorado Ocean Walker Swim Challenge – Fort Collins/Loveland, 9-11 and 9-12 (training camps in Fort Collins) & 9-14 (swim race in Loveland) 2019Fear no swim! The Colorado Ocean Walker Swim Challenge is a highly focused training camp series & open water race event. You will swim more efficiently, be more confident in open water and see quicker swim splits. Join us for a full two-day training camp to learn the Ocean Walker swim technique. At the end of the week there will be an open water swim event to put your new skills and confidence to the test!The 2-day training camp and the subsequent open water swim race can be registered for separately. You are NOT required to attend the training camp in order to participate in the open water swim race and you do NOT have to do the swim race if you’re only interested in the training camp – pick and choose what works for you, sign up for one or both! These races are filling up, so don’t hesitate to register! Click the link below to read more race details, register, get more info about each of our events or sign up to volunteer and get discounted registration at a future event. Thanks for reading more about Breakaway Athletic Events. We look forward to seeing you on the pavement! https://breakawayathleticevents.com/races And stay tuned for our upcoming Spotlight Series over the next few weeks, where we will be sharing more exciting news and talk more in depth on each of these events.——————
The 303 team kept busy all last week in Kona bringing you news and stories, here are few highlights.
People wonder why we send such a group to this race and the answer is not simple, but yet it is. Kona showcases the greatest triumphs. It celebrates athletes from around the world with 2,400 stories from over 50 countries. Colorado is everywhere. From third most represented state of athletes to having many companies and industry and media professionals present. At the USAT partner party, half of the people there were from Colorado. Colorado has a big impact on Kona.
1. Colorado rocks with 38 amateur athletes competing and five of them ending up on the podium:
– Nicholas Noon 2nd
– Kelly Phuah 3rd
– Diana Hassel 3rd
– Matthew Malone 4th, this was also a 45th place finish Overall
– Simon Butterworth 4th
2. Four Colorado based pro’s ended up in the top 10:
– Tim O’Donnell 4th
– Mirinda Carfrae 5th
– Kaisa Sali 7th
– Andy Potts 8th
3. Records were broken
– Fastest Male race: 7:52, Patrick Lange, first time finish was under 8 hours.
– Fastest Female race: 8:26, Daniela Ryf, broke her own record by 20 minutes!
– Fastest Male swim ever: 46:30 (amateur set the record)
– Fastest Female swim ever: 48:14 (Pro Lucy Charles, 4 min faster than the next pro)
– Fastest Female Bike Split, (Pro Daniela Ryf, 4:26, 18 min faster than previous)
– Oldest finisher, 86 year old Inada Hiromu of Japan
4. Presumably, the most weight loss finisher with Marcus Cook losing about 250 pounds and carrying a life size cut-out of himself at his most weight through the finish line that brought a massive roar from the crowd.
5. More people seem interested in what Khem was eating than almost anything else based on our Facebook post of her “guess what I am eating contest”.
6. Colorado has great industry representation: BASE Performance, Newton, BOCO Gear, Triathlete Magazine, Rudy Project, Ceramic Speed, Stryd, Scratch, Stages, and TrainingPeaks.
7. Simon Butterworth and Bob Babbitt do look like Elvis
8. The Pros have fun too: Patrick Lange proposed to his girlfriend right after he crossed the finish line saying it “was the best part of day”, after winning and breaking a record. Sarah True said, “I felt like I was just riding bikes with friends,” after finishing her first Kona.
9. Bill Plock Sleepwalks and tries to get out of a condo in the middle of the night.
10. The 303 team went through six bags of gummy bears, 2 tanks of gas, shot over 500 pics, conducted 8 live podcast interviews, swam to the coffee boat a few times, was up at 4am and back home at 1am covering the race from beginning to end.
Culturally, we seem to pick and choose what parts of science are okay in our lives and what parts aren’t. A botox shot here, an implant there, a laser beam on this and a tanning bed on that seems perfectly fine, but where the line of science in our athletic lives is drawn seems to vary greatly and comes with way more than 50 shades of grey. It’s downright blurry and seems to have as many opinions as those on how to tackle the upcoming Boulder Ironman.
As I sat with a perfectly legal IV delivering vitamins and electrolytes into my blood prior to a big training weekend, I felt like I was on the cutting edge of endurance sports and maybe even feeling a little too much like Lance and the boys back in the day—especially sitting in a van down by a river in a parking lot with more weeds than cars surrounded by a chain link fence keeping exactly what in or out remains a mystery to me. But there I was, wondering if Chris Farley was about to pop out and try to motivate me, or worse, some USADA enforcement agent might blast through the door and confiscate my USAT membership. But why? All I was doing was injecting an expensive trip to Whole Foods into my arm letting my body organically absorb critical nutrients so I can have a better training day. What’s wrong with that right? It simply felt a little weird.
But, I had a great training weekend. There isn’t any way to know for certain if the IV drip from Onus , a local Denver company who offers mobile concierge services, worked, but I must say I felt pretty darn good. Here’s the thing, I didn’t go faster or further I just felt better while doing it which I suppose means I could’ve gone faster or further, or maybe I just had a good day, it’s hard to know—and that’s the crux of the dilemma—did it work? I think it did.
I believe the extra B vitamins, magnesium and calcium in my blood simply kept me better hydrated and “the fuel” had been directly absorbed and readily available to supply my muscles. In other words, I sort of shortcut a natural process and bought some extra fuel. We talk about buying speed with helmets and wheels, what’s the difference?
I guess we as triathletes are supposed to grit it out and despite using pro level coaches and training devices there remains a stigma about using pro level medical technology, especially if it involves a needle and blood. Yet for years people will belly up to an IV drip in Vegas to shake off hangovers, such a funny world we live in.
Kristy Anderson of Onus understands the double standard perception and she is determined to change it by taking only the highest of roads in safely and conscientiously administering nutrients intravenously.
Kristy offered, Responses vary, but providing your body with boosted energy levels through B vitamins and preventing muscle fatigue are especially beneficial. Particularly at high altitude or in severe heat, you are just providing yourself with a good offense against the elements.
I feel the medical testing world is exploding on the age group triathlon scene. For years, VO2 max and Lactate threshold tests seemed to benchmark training plans but now we are seeing more and more tests that tell us about the fuel we have in our bodies and how we burn it and what fuel we need to add and of course ways to add it.
Colorado Multisport in Boulder is now offering a sweat composition test that will help athletes determine the exact amount of sodium and other electrolytes they need to replenish. Owner Michael Stone says, we are very excited to offer this simple test that can make such a huge impact. Training has always been about balancing art and science, this test just gives us more science.
Here, Colorado Multisport’s Ryan Ignatz tests Boulder triathlon coach Karen Weatherby and outlines a hydration plan to make sure she replenishes adequate sodium in the right amount of liquids to keep her body in balance as much as possible. This test keeps athletes from guessing, as our sodium loss rates vary greatly from athlete to athlete.
Add to this, is Matt Smith who works for MuscleSound . MuscleSound utilizes ultra sound technology and scans your muscles to determine how much glycogen (fuel) resides ready to burn. This is a real time test and he recently came to my indoor cycling class at the Denver Athletic Club and measured my stores of energy before and after my class. It was fascinating to know how much I burned and even more interesting to note some slight imbalances of how much my right leg burned compared to my left. I would love to have this test on a training day and measure glycogen throughout a long day and see how certain foods and liquids effect my energy stores and burn rate. This test taken over a period of time in various training stages can provide the athlete or their nutritionist’s with information vital to helping create a more effective day to day nutrition plan.
So our quiver of tests, technology and coaching are overflowing with choices and determining what is most valuable and worth the expense can be overwhelming. But with each test we should be able to minimize variables and if nothing else build more and more confidence.
A friend of mine asked me “what do I think Ironman Boulder will teach me?” My first reaction was what won’t it teach me. We have every resource imaginable to help us learn, I say take advantage of everything.