Thursday, August 30, 2012

Chicago 2012 Race Recap- Tyllie's Take!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Five Questions with Pro Triathlete Liz Blatchford

I met Liz in 2008 when she was randomly paired with me as a home-stay for the Chicago Tri.    Since then she's gotten married, I have had a child, and we've gotten four years older!  When she decided to come back to Chicago to race this year I was thrilled to have her, and her husband Glen, stay with us once again.  Liz is one of the nicest, friendliest, most fun people I have met.   She was coming into this race off of a win at Boulder 70.3 and finished 4th on Sunday.
Read on to get to know Liz a little more.  

A: Do you prefer an urban race like Chicago or something more rugged, like the Boulder 70.3 you just completed (and won!)? 
L: Hmm I have never actually considered which I prefer to be honest. I like each for their own separate reasons. It can feel pretty special when they close down major roads in big cities for us to compete on. Plus the crowds are usually great in urban locations. They were a little sparse this year though due to the crazy rain! Plus it is exciting visiting big citites. For training we are always seeking rural/rugged locations so to compete in the city is fun and different.
A: How do you think the weather (torrential downpour on the bike) effected you and the other pros? 
L: Well it slowed us down around the corners on the bike (all 4 of them!). Slowed some down more than others - Cam Dye, Sarah Haskins and Jillian Peterson all crashed unfortunately. None of them were badly hurt and were all able to get straight back up and finish. The rain just meant we had to take a little extra care on the bike. There was a point when it was raining so hard that Lake Shore Drive was flash flooded and it was difficult to see and avoid any potholes. That combined with pelting rain and sideways wind made it interesting! It also significantly thinned the spectators but those who did remain were great and cheering loudly:)

A: Three word to sum up your feelings when you crossed the finish line in 4th place on Sunday: 
L: elation exhaustion and excitement 

A: Sarah Haskins has won this race 4 years in a row.  Is it common for one triathlete to hold a title like that for a particular race? 
L: It is definitely not unheard of but a very impressive feat. Sarah is obviously an incredible athlete and really has no weakness just 3 strengths! She has had no major injuries or illness over the past 4 years and continues to dominate the Olympic distance non drafting scene. 

A: What were some of the highlights of Chicago (triathlon related or not)?  
L: Gorgeous bike ride in the sun along the bike path on Friday morning followed by a dip in the lake. Not training as such, just taking in the sights.
Delish dinner at Hubbard Inn with great company - Angela and Gene, my cousins, my husband and close friend and competitor Annabel Luxford.
Giordano’s pizza post race;)

Liz will be racing next weekend in Des Moines at the Hy-Vee Triathlon. 
 Be sure to check out and like her Facebook page!
-Coach A

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Chicago 2012 Race Recap Part II

You know the drill with the Chicago Tri, get up at 4 am, ride over in the pitch black, walk the mile to the swim start.  That is how my morning began on Sunday.  It was fairly warm out for the early in the day but the wind was quiet and the lake was calm.  After days of anticipation I was excited for the race to finally be here. 

I rounded up a few of my athletes and we settled on a meeting point for families, friends and us for the day.  Got my hair french braided, used the port-a-potties and by then it was time to squeeze into the wetsuit and head to the swim start.

My stomach was crazy with nerves as my wave jumped into the water, which to me is a sign that I am ready to go.  We treaded for a bit before the horn blew and then we were off!  I kicked hard to separate away from the group and pushed the beginning of the swim.  After a bit I settled in to a rhythm with two other men from my wave.  I managed to follow and draft off one for a bit and he helped me navigate as we caught up with the group ahead.  The swim felt good and relief hit me as I turned the final buoy.

Because my spot was on the far side of transition I opted to slip on running shoes for the quarter mile plus run to my bike.  I tried to run quickly and pass as many people as possible during that time.  It was a tough few minutes but I hit the pad into transition almost exactly at my goal of 14 minutes.  Before I knew it I was heading up the ramp onto Lakeshore Drive.

The wind had not picked up too much (and it was still sunny and warm) by the time I was racing which meant a speedy bike course. I have been commuting and training hard on my bike this year and it paid off.  I managed to be passed by only one single guy during the entire course, which made me feel great.  I stayed to the right and kept my head down, especially when we turned around to ride into the wind.  I coasted down the final hill right around my goal of 39:00.

I was confident and happy with my times and needed to run a 23:00 5K to get my goal of breaking 1:20.  I passed my cheering section about a half mile in (thanks everyone!) and used that first mile to get my legs used to running.  I clocked in about 7:40 when I passed the first marker, which was slower than I wanted.   As time went on I searched and waited for the second mile marker- it never came!  I don't quite understand how a race of this size could not have mile markers on the run course and it was a bit frustrating.  Not being sure of my pace (although I knew I as going as quick as I could!) I finished over 24 minutes for the 3.1 miles.  It was a disappointing time as I have not run that slow at the end of the race in at least a couple of years.  Looking at other people's times I have a suspicion it may have been a bit long on the run, so I will just keep telling myself that.

Despite the slow run I dropped about 45 seconds off last year's time, and it was a PR for this course.   The time ended up getting me 1st in my age group and 8th overall for women, but I did not win my bet with Antonio :(  Sadly he managed to beat me by a few minutes.  However, I do believe that he was humbled by the effort the race took.

All in all, good race for me, great race for my clients and another Tri Season is in the books!
-Coach A  

Stay tuned all week for an interview with Pro Triathlete, Liz Blatchford and race recaps from my client's points of view!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Chicago 2012 Race Recap Part I

I am a selfish person.  Ask my husband, my mom, my best friend and they will agree.  I am not afraid to say or do whatever it takes to get what I want.  Having a child has broken me of this a bit, but when it comes to certain things, like triathlons, Angela always comes first.  This weekend I felt something different than I ever have before.

I worked closely with several women this summer helping them prepare for yesterday's race.  Some were completely new to triathlon, some were doing their first Olympic distance and some were seasoned veterans.  I have coached them on all different aspects- swimming, transitions, speedwork, what to wear, etc- you name it, I did it!  Yesterday, despite the fact I raced, was completely about them.  Here is what I experienced....

Claudia finished her race psyched about her swim improvement.  She had worked so hard on the open water aspect and her excitement over her time drop was clear.

Ellie was scared as shi* (her exact words, I believe) about the race, which I had convinced her to do.  I finished about the same time as her and all she kept saying was "I can't believe I did it.  I am so happy."

Mendy just could not stop smiling.  She might always be that way but pretty sure the smile was a little bigger when she was done with the race.  Despite a moment of panic during the swim she powered through and had a fantastic time.  And we already know how she is going to drop 7 minutes next year ;)

Piper got her personal best.   She had a positive attitude all day, despite the rainy run and was as excited as Piper gets about anything when the race was done.

Tyllie rocked it!  She was nervous about the Olympic Distance but had a great showing.  I will never forget the look on her face when I cheered for her while she was WALKING out of the swim.  Priceless ;)

Elisabeth had very specific time goals that she blew away.  She wanted top 25% and got in the top 19%.  She worked so hard this summer and had a GENUINELY huge smile when she was done.

Jodi dropped 18 minutes on her sprint race.  With a new bike and the right swim and run training, she was a rockstar.

I have coached many people before but something about these individuals and the time we all spent together really hit me hard.  I felt truly invested and cared markedly more about their experience than mine.  That is a big change for me that even my husband noticed and commented on.  He said he was proud of me :)

So ladies, I want to say congrats and thank you.  I will never forget yesterday- the sun, the rain, the energy, the smiles and the laughter.  I have the best job in the world thanks to you.

-Coach A

PS- Part 2 to come tomorrow- official race review

Thursday, August 23, 2012


1.  Look at your time from last year (if you raced) and decide where you want to be this year.  Break it down into disciplines. Write it down and mull over it.  Memorize it.

2.  Visualize that race from start to finish.   Figure out what you are going to do when the going gets tough.  Think about how you will feel when you kill it!

3.  Get a good nights sleep tonight and Friday.  Saturday night is a lost cause.  Especially with a 4 am wake up call.

4.  Sit.  As much as possible.  Save those legs so you can kick it in the last mile of the run.

5.  Get excited!  You are (or are about to become) a triathlete!  This is why we train and it is going to be a fabulous weekend!!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Pre-Race Jitters: The Phantom Injury

Just as certain as I am that I will have butterflies and nausea the morning of a race, I can count on having a phantom injury the week before.   These weird, nagging pains that come and go out of nowhere when I am focused on racing fast in a few days.   Let me tell you my latest.

Friday afternoon I was training my final client of the day.  Towards the end of the session I thought to myself, "There must be something in the top of my shoe, my foot hurts."  As soon as I got home I kicked off my shoe and there was nothing there except a dull, painful ache on the top of my foot.  As the night went on the pain progressed and I began limping around the house.

Fast forward to Saturday morning.  I had planned to get up and run a few easy miles but I could hardly walk!  I finally put on some sneakers and managed to train my one client of the day by keeping most of my weight on my left foot.  Tried to rest for the remainder of the day, iced it and took some Advil.

Sunday things were a little better and I was able to ride and swim.  And !poof! by Monday the pain had magically disappeared.  Can someone please explain to me what that was?  No?  Well, here is my explanation.

The mind is a very powerful thing.  Not only do I pay more attention to every little ache and pain the week leading up the race but it might in fact be a higher power telling me to SLOW DOWN.   I took it easy this weekend, which is not my usual MO, but exactly what I should be doing before a big race.  So, over the years I have learned to accept my phantom injuries, give into them and back off from my usual crazy workouts.   It seems to be working so far!

Ever had a phantom injury?  What do you think is the cause?
-Coach A

Monday, August 20, 2012

My Must Have Race Gear....

After all these years of racing, there are a few items that I cannot get through a race day without.  Read on for my race day essentials.  

Sugoi Tri Top- I have been through a few different tops, but all Sugoi brand.  They tend to run a little longer than other brands and help to keep your belly button hidden.  Phew.

Body Glide- Bloody armpits, thighs, neck hickeys, etc.  
Just use Body Glide and avoid this.

TYR Socket Rocket Goggles-  I switched to these several years ago after being a die hard Swedish Goggle wearer for most of my life.  These have soft rubber around the gasket which is a Godsend when you get kicked in the face during a race. 

SIDI T2's-Easy on, easy off and very light.  Can't ask for much more.

Mizuno Wave Riders- Been a Mizuno girl for years and these shoes always do me well.  Finally just came out in super cute bright pink color.  Yes, I stocked up.

Headsweats Visor- Been through a lot of these as well, but keep coming back to Headsweats.  They keep my face dry and my crazy curly "Lion" hair off my face,
even during an Ironman!  

Oakley Sunglasses- I think this is my fourth pair of Oakley sport glasses, each a slight improvement from the model before.    Lightweight, snug and don't fog.  

Timex Ironman Watch- During races I like to stick to the basics as far as gadgets.  This $30 watch has seen at least 5 years and 30 races and keeps on ticking.  Start at beginning of swim, lap it at T1, bike and T2 and grab those mile run splits. 
 No need to worry about GPS, HR monitors, speedometers. 
 Besides, doing math in my head helps distract me from pain.  

PS- Didn't get paid to promote any of these items but if you know how I can, 
let me know! ;)
-Coach A

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Spark Strength Workout in 99 Shots....

What a way to start your morning!
Thanks Tyllie Barbosa Photography!