Dubai IRONMAN 70.3 2017

February 11th, 2017 by Kaitlyn Patterson

–By Raquel Torres, Triathlete

Making the decisión to race

Since I did not participate in many events in 2016, I  was hungry to keep finding race to challenge me. After my last event in Africa in December, I spent some time thinking about my 2017 goals. There is the commitment to make decisions about what races to sign up for, to work for me and for my sponsors.  But this is difficult living in Michigan, where the winter is very cold and long and there are not many events. I did a few half marathons with very good results achieving my goals. This and the other reasons motivated me to look for a new objective early in 2017.

PRO or Age Group category?

I decided to try this whole year as a Pro in the Ironman races, to challenge and to try the Professional category. My coach Mark Olson always says to me “In the Age Group category you would be first.” Although I was scared, the opportunity to register as age group had passed so I signed up as a Pro for the 70.3 in Dubai as it was economically feasible. Even considering the obstacles of the distance, the long trip and going alone, but I felt that it would be worth it as I felt the need to compete.


Training Now for 70.3

raquel poolIn terms of the training, comparing the sprint distance (750 meters swim, 20k draft legal bike and 5k run to a 70.3 Half Ironman (1900 meters swim, 90k bike and 21k run) it’s a big step. I did not have a lot of time, but the desire was larger than that. The first step was to connect with my coach Mark, about the goal and to start to work. We started to work, designed the plan, with the objective to race on 27 January so we had 4 weeks. I was very motivated and focused to work harder than ever with lots of emphasis in the details. My attitude was more positive than ever every day. The hard winter in Michigan was spent with days like Christmas and New Year’s Day training like any other day…

I was running outside most of the time with very low temperatures and during a strong snowstorm I made the mistake to run a very long session on the treadmill. The change of surface brought on a minor injury. I was careful and stopped running until I was able to get an appointment with the doctor about 10 days later, after 10 therapy sessions and about 22 days without running, the doctors ordered x-rays and other tests and told me that with rehab and all things normal I could complete the event. I already had the plane ticket and the hotel was reserved, the event registration was done and the hard work and emotion for the long training was done.

One of the advantages of triathlon is that you have options; there are no excuses not to work. I decided to be more positive than ever even with many obstacles. I was psyched up, focused and at the same time a bit scared for the long flights and to try this new distance with these obstacles, I have to admit that some days I thought I was nuts.

The event was getting closer and I was training harder on the bike, swimming and rehab, weight training and nutrition, the things I could control. Aside from the more than 1001 things as a mother and coach. The day was approaching, my foot still hurt, but with my faith first I concentrated on the details and put aside what was not in my control.

Pack, prepare the trip logistics, leave everything in order at home for my daughter, everything methodically and with great attitude enjoying the process and the adventure. Giving 100% with a good attitude.

Race Lead-Up

I have learned that its good during trips to take with me as much food as possible for at least two days. For this trip, I brought my protein, spinach, basic supplements for my shakes, my bread. Some snacks, dehydrated fruits etc. I found a very good deal on a apartment style hotel where I could cook, as it was more affordable, comfortable and I could maintain my nutrition as close to the same as at home.

Arrival day: Set up the bike; go to the supermarket, attention to nutrition. Some mechanical problems, I was able to find a bike shop, where could I ride, where to swim, where to run? Details…raquel dubai

I had to figure out where to ride legally (its not permitted to ride in certain roads), sometimes I felt bad as I was not resting enough and I started to have invasive thoughts but I kept positive and able to focus on what was under my control.

3 Days before race:  I was to run 15 at race pace and my foot was really hurting so I thought My God would I be able to complete the race? I felt horrible, tired, lethargic and with lots of pain. But I focused in God and to keep a positive attitude and my nutrition.

 Race day!

Swim: I started slow, a small group formed, I had an easy pace and it was a really easy swim, some waves. I was able to keep the same pace throughout the swim race.

Bike: On the bike was my plan to keep up with hydration and nutrition, which I was able to do well. I had worked on the watts with coach mark to keep them at ab average of 210 watts and I was able to hold that pace without problems. I was breaking the race in micro-moments, thinking about the now and here.

Run: The initial plan was to keep a pace of 4:20 min/km keeping up with hydration I was concerned to have pain in my foot and it bothered me for the first 5 km only, someone ran in front of me and I fell down but quickly got up and kept running. I cut myself a bit and the first aid people came right away to assist me and I told them I was ok. I had my pace and at 10 km I remembered that I had forgotten to wear my socks! Right then, I had some blisters but I just said “Raquel, excuses are thousands do the best you can!”

raquel dubai bike


I admit that I cried with happiness when I crossed that finish line. Just because I was able to complete it, as only God and I know how many obstacles we had to endure. The satisfaction to know that I did my best is priceless. I was able to complete in 4:32 finishing 16th overall in the Pro category. It is an honor for me to represent my flag at the highest level of international triathlons in the long distance. I believe that we all should challenge ourselves in any area we want to grow, and if we have the passion it’s a lot more fun to challenge ourselves, always having fun and with a positive mind.


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Making It Work

January 19th, 2017 by Kaitlyn Patterson

–By Alex Vanias, Nordic Skier and Cyclist

I moved to Ann Arbor around the beginning of August. It isn’t the most optimal place to be a cross country skier, but I’m making it work. It took me about a month to find some convenient roads and trails to roller ski, but unfortunately after the time change in the fall I would get kicked out of said parks at sunset. Apparently downstaters are scared of the dark… Ok, I’ll go play with the cars. So much safer! It took me a few more weeks in November to find new roads with minimal traffic. I ended up finding some great suburbs with minimal traffic and nice pavement. The only annoying part about suburbs is that between 5-8pm after work, everywhere I go smells like dinner and it absolutely kills me when I’m starving a couple hours into a workout.

A quick side story; When I was searching for roller ski training spots, I came across the short track speed skating club in Ann Arbor and absolutely needed to try it out! I actually competed in a short speed skatingtrack race in Midland before ski season. In the image below, I’m the guy in fluorescent green. I’m actually very bad at short track. It is very much a technique sport, and my VO2 helped me very minimally. It may or may not have made my skate skiing more efficient, though!

I knew ski training would be a struggle, so in October I was lucky to find a used Ski Erg. This device has transformed my training and is currently saving my season. It allows me to work my weakness even when the trails are bare, and the roads are icy. It also allows me to train with power. I have done a couple 20min power tests so far with lots of improvement. The picture below is worth a thousand words.

ski erg

In December we got dumped on with snow and all the local trails were groomed and amazing. The Michigan Cup racing kicked off and I won a couple of the season openers. It was great to get that early season lung burn over with! That great snow only lasted 2-3 weeks before a series of unfortunate warmups.

Where did all the snow go?

Where did all the snow go?

speed max

Classic boot with full carbon sole offers superb control of the skis while remaining lightweight!

I was on the fence about going up to SISU Ski Fest the first weekend in January, but not having been on great snow in a couple weeks lead me to sign up for the race a few days before it started. The forecast for the race was a frigid -5F to 0F. It’s tough to go from 50F training all the way down to that, but I have awesome cold skis so I couldn’t turn it down. The drive to Ironwood is about 10hrs in one directions, and of course there were blizzards to drive through. On the way up I stopped my Northbound Outfitters for some wax and Fischer’s new Speedmax Classic boots (These boots are really worth the upgrade!).

The weather for SISU was looking straight forward all week- frigid cold. I planned on using my coldest, softest ski with TB1x grind no matter what. My TG1-1 grind on a stiff ski just happened to be testing the same as my TB1x at the start area. I knew using the TG1-1 was a liability, especially since it was starting to snow, but 10min before the race start I grabbed the risky ski hoping that the snow was packed and the snow would stop. The forecast didn’t call for snow until the afternoon so it was worth a shot.

ski testing

ski testing at -5F

All was going fantastic and I was calm and relaxed following in the draft while I watched Matt Liebsch start opening a gap. I thought “no problem, I’ll let him do some work and then bridge up to him.” I finally got around and opened up a gap on the hills. I felt great- possibly better than last year. Then the snow started getting deep, up to 2-3” in spots. My skis suddenly felt terrible. I know everybody’s skis slowed waaay down, and I’m sure others made a mistake picking skis as well, it’s just that some skis are less slow than others in this situation.  Turns out the skis I planned on using all week would have been the way to go. Lesson learned.

Matt got out of sight, and Joel bridged up and eventually dropped me. I couldn’t drink because my face was frozen. I was on the struggle bus, big time! I was actually doing V1 technique on the flats. V1 is a  technique usually reserved for going uphill but that’s how slow the conditions became. In the last few kilometers I saw Cory coming up behind me. At this point the wind and snow was so bad I couldn’t see the trail in front of me. My eyeballs were so cold and I would try to ski short distances with my eyes closed to warm them up. My left eyelid wasn’t even closing all the way! In the end, I held off Cory for 3rd place. It was a good, tough race. That’s what I drove 20hrs for. There is so much to learn with ski racing which is why you don’t see many young guys at the top of races. Experience and equipment tends to trump everything in difficult snow conditions.


sisu ski

Limiting my losses at SISU

Unfortunately the weather is still not cooperating in Ann Arbor to do much on-snow skiing so I’ll have to continue my mix of using the Ski Erg, riding the trainer and running. Training for ski season this year has made me feel more like a fitness enthusiast than a skier!   I’m looking forward to getting some more racing in and my next big test is the Noquemanon Ski Marathon in Marquette the last weekend in January!




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Free Athletic Mentors Triathlon Clinics!

January 17th, 2017 by Kaitlyn Patterson
Whether you’re brand new to triathlons, just have a few under your belt, or are are a seasoned racer looking for a breakthrough season, one of these clinics will be perfect for you.
Please mark your calendars and plan to join us for the clinics below!  These clinics are free to everyone, presented by the coaches from Athletic Mentors, and held at the David D. Hunting Downtown YMCA (475 Lake MI Drive, Grand Rapids).
Braginton GR Tri run
TRIATHLON 101 PART A - Great for beginner triathletes!
January 21, 2017  at 9 am
For athletes new to the sport or considering getting into triathlon. We will discuss equipment, training and racing tips, nutrition, transitions and USA Triathlon rules.
January 21, 2017 at 10:30 am
Open to all levels, but geared toward athletes looking to step beyond beginner. We will cover swim stroke technique discussions and training recommendations.
February 11, 2017 at 9 am
Open to all levels, but geared toward athletes who would like to learn how to train more efficiently and productively.  Topics include how to train with heart rate zones, proper taper for your event, improving your metabolic efficiency, strength training and much more.  This is a must attend for any triathlete with a goal to improve their performance this year.
February 11, 2017 at 10:30 am
Learn a nutrition strategy that will reduce your risk of bonking or GI distress during your event.  Appropriate for all levels but key to success for longer distance triathletes. This strategy will not only improve performance but also general health.

The post Free Athletic Mentors Triathlon Clinics! appeared first on Team Athletic Mentors.

Finding Balance

December 27th, 2016 by Kaitlyn Patterson

–By Elaine Sheikh, Team Athletic Mentors Triathlete


I’ve talked to a lot of people lately about their triathlon training.  And let’s face it, it isn’t super easy for people who have “real jobs,” families, and other commitments in their lives to get in the necessary training for three disciplines while balancing rest and recovery, as well as healthy fueling.  The word I hear thrown around constantly is “balance.”  How do we find a healthy balance of career, family, and sport?

Balance is a concept that tends to mystify me.  Sure, in day-to-day life, it is important. However, I firmly believe that greatness is achieved by being temporarily thrown out of balance.  Look at the Iron Cowboy, James Lawrence.  Last year, he completed 50 iron distance triathlons in 50 states in 50 days.  Was he living a life of balance?  Absolutely not.  However, there is no way he could have achieved something so extraordinary while living a balanced life.  Collin O’Brady, a former professional triathlete, just shattered the Explorer’s Grand Slam and also set a new world record for the seven summits.  Was his life balanced during this feat?  Absolutely not.  What am I trying to get at here?  Well, not all of us are in a position where we can take 50-100 days to go do something amazing.  However, what can we do?  Stop shaming ourselves for living a life that is not perfectly balanced.  That might training for an Ironman while working a full time job, being a dedicated parent, etc.  It might be not training enough while throwing 90 hours a week into a professional career to chase another dream.  No matter what your version of greatness is, it may be necessary to eschew balance for a period of time in order to achieve your goals.

So, my encouragement to you is to stop seeking greatness in “balance.””  Instead, try to explore your boundaries.  Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.  Learn how to live temporarily imbalanced lives to seek the greatness you dreamed of, and then rebound from that imbalance.  Greatness is earned, not deserved.

Elaine 2

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Making the Leap from Olympic to Half-Ironman

December 20th, 2016 by Kaitlyn Patterson

–By Raquel Torres, Team Athletic Mentors Triathlete

In September I made my second attempt at the 70.3 distance in Georgia at the Augusta 70.3.  In my first half at Racine, the swim was canceled due to weather and they made it into a duathlon. Despite the different race format, I learned from this and spent a few days after the event to focus on several aspects to improve.

Months of many changes in my personal life, I started paying attention to my thoughts, making self-assessments that focused me on cultivating new mental habits in order to achieve a more positive attitude. I focused on what I have control over- working on the details, focusing on the present and most of all enjoying life in general since being happy should be a basic ingredient for any goal.

Triathlon, triathlon training, triathlon racing is a sport with both physical and mental requirements, so it is vital to have a balanced life to see satisfactory results regardless of your competition level.

For this second attempt at the IM 70.3 I didn’t think my head was in the right place, but some angels advised me to do it! I eventually figured let’s try it, I can go with my daughter as we can drive Augusta Trip 16 Chantalthere, I would be with company and it could be an adventure and not be so expensive.

We drove from Michigan to Georgia about 10 hours, we arrived at about 3:45 am to the hotel.  After some rest the next day was the briefing and I swam a little. I remember thinking “Raquel do not place high expectations,” but I honestly I made a mental plan for the race, knowing I had some details to adjust such as using my powermeter, which my Coach Mark Olson had been wanting me to use for months and months. Power is widely used to better manage energy during the bike is a great important part of this distance and it makes the difference in race pacing.

I got my period the night before, I have such good aim!, but I thought “Rachel you have done well and others do succeed” Excuses can be in the thousands, FOCUS! It did not have good nutrition the day before which has been happening to me and I’m working with new ways, as I have heard and read that the fourth discipline of long distance triathlon is the nutrition.

Dinner and lunch the day before the race did not taste good, but I thought it would be ok since I have enough glycogen. But this turned out to be another one of my mistakes.

A bed at about 10:00 PM I slept really well and at 4:00 am the alarm sounded. I took my protein as usual, and a slice of bread. Its my eternal struggle to be able to eat something so early in the morning.

Augusta 16, WaterAt the transition, I remember to take me some gummies minutes before departure and my stomach began to hurt. I thought it was nerves, but really I was not nervous.
I said to myself,  “Raquel warm up, and forget about the whining.”
I did not get in the water to warm up as I was afraid to get cold and the start was a water start.
Soon enough it was, “on your mark…” “beeeeeee”

• Swim
My strategy was not to go too fast, because I tend to sprint in the water, so I checked myself and stayed at a very comfortable pace. I found two other fast swimmers and I just stayed on their feet even though I could tell that I was going slower than my capacity, but I chose to stay there. It was a very comfortable pace for me and we quickly reached the last buoy and I removed my goggles to see the end. I asked the guard where was the exit was because ​​I did not want to be disqualified even if I lost a few seconds there, I came out 6th out of the water, very fresh.  So far so good ….

• BikeAugusta 16-bike
As soon as I got on the bike  my strategy was to stay focused on nutrition, hydration and have a good mental state.  Therefore, I had no plan for watts or speed. I had stomach problems right away since taking the first gel. I said, “Raquel these are the things you have to overcome.” I kept going, but did not want to eat or drink. At first we were 8 riders together one passing the other, again and again, it was for me uncomfortable because they even gave me a yellow card without justification,  as she passed me and then slowed down.
Although I definitely could not feed well the last 20 kms I did recover and my body warmed up a bit.

• Run
When I started I felt super good, light legs, fresh mind and a lot of motivation, the course was beautiful through the city of Augusta. A lot of encouragement, lots of spectators and it was warm, but not stifling. I drank plenty of water at the beginning, of course I did not hydrate well on the bike. So I started getting upset and I felt very weak, I started to slow the rate at 5 kilometers, and by 8 km my legs were heavy, I had no energy and my stomach hurt. I sat one minute, people told me to go, I ran, and stood and said “Raquel finish it, even you have to jog” … and continued … 3 km more, then again walked and then I stopped. “Sniff sniff.” I thought that this was nonsense. I did not come to end an event- I came to do the best I can! Then I saw a water station that was what I wanted and poured myself a Coke and fell to the floor.

In retrospect, I think I can draw many positives of this learning experience, I’m doing a very challenging sport in the physical, spiritual, mental, family, economic aspects and more. Training and racing. I know what are the challenging areas in my life to this sport, and what are the areas where I can make adjustments and changes for better results.
Th distance change to 70.3 shows much room for improvement. Sometimes mistakes can be called excuses, but these “excuses” or negative part of the experiences are potentials for improvement. I think there’s always a new day to start, improve, become a better person, human being and in my case also an athlete.

Always whatever the result: turn the pages to the left, reflect, seek learning, correct and move forward!

“The best way out is always through.”
Robert Frost

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Athletic Mentors’ Alumnus Stefan Noesen Scores First NHL Goal for Ducks

December 8th, 2016 by Athletic Mentors
Athletic Mentor Hockey Camp Alumnus Stefan Noeson scores his first NHL goal for the Annaheim Ducks

Athletic Mentor Alumnus Scores First NHL Goal 3 Games Into Career with Anaheim Ducks. Image and screen shot of headline from

Congratulations  to Athletic Mentors’ mentoree and alumnus Stephan Noesen who did us proud last night scoring his first NHL goal for the Anaheim Ducks.

“Stefan has been an outstanding member of Athletic Mentors’ Hockey Camp and has worked hard to build his strength, speed, and agility after injuries. His unstoppable nature made this moment a triumph over past tribulations,” AM Coach Mark Olson said. “We’re ecstatic for him!”

According to a press release published by the Anaheim Ducks, Noesen buried a one-timer from the slot in the second period of Anaheim’s eventual 6-5 shootout victory over the visiting Hurricanes, raising both fists to the rafters and breaking out in a beaming ear-to-ear grin. Wednesday night was just his third NHL game with the Ducks.

“I saw the red light and threw my hands up,” said the 23-year-old winger. “It was all the emotion from two long years coming at me all at once.”

Watch Stefan’s First NHL Goal

According to a story by Adam Brady for the, those two years were more than any athlete should be asked to endure. Noesen  battled through not one, but two devastating injuries that each kept him off the ice for extended periods of time. First was the torn ACL, MCL and meniscus suffered soon after being acquired by the Ducks in 2013, and a year later there was the partially torn Achilles that put him on the shelf for most of the 2014-15 campaign.

Brady wrote that in an odd way, Noesen had an impact on the Ducks franchise even before he was acquired by Anaheim. Ducks GM Bob Murray has acknowledged that Anaheim wanted to take Noesen with the 22nd selection of the 2011 NHL Draft, but the Senators snatched him up one pick prior. The Ducks quickly swung a deal with Toronto to send that 22nd pick to the Leafs for the 30th and 39th, which became franchise cornerstones Rickard Rakell and John Gibson.

Two years later the Ducks got Noesen anyway, dealing Bobby Ryan to Ottawa for Jakob Silfverberg, Noesen and a 2014 first round draft pick they used to select Nick Ritchie.

Read the full story of Noesen’s triumph here:

3 Big Lessons I Learned this Season

December 6th, 2016 by Kaitlyn Patterson

–By Jeff Nordquist, Team Athletic Mentors Multi-Sport Athlete


Seems like every year we learn lessons from our season of racing, this year was no exception. I had few highlights and plenty of mistakes. Yet, there is always a lesson to be told from every experience, here are some of mine.

1. Under-training for long races. This year’s event was real long, The 2016 Bayshore Marathon, which happened to be my first 26.2 race.  I had a slow start to spring training and decided to train my way through the race, no biggie, I’ve raced like this before. The only issue is covering such a large distance with a body that hasn’t been tested. I finished 10 minutes off my goal and crossed the line in 2:40. The real disappointment was the months to follow, developing a stress reaction in my foot, which brought my triathlon season to a halt.

My advice: Don’t train your way through a marathon.

2. Racing with one brake on a mountain bike.  I had a less than eventful crash this past summer. I lost momentum on a steep hill and fell over, pathetic, I know. The majority of my back brake lever snapped off. After finishing my ride, I quickly believed a rear brake was expendable. Bad choice.  Racing cyclecross a few weeks later, I found myself a bit too fast on a sweeping downhill with no back brake, you can paint the picture from here.

My advice: Don’t undermine your back brake’s significance.

3. Road tires are not meant for grass. I had a great experience with my first crit race. Plenty of prep, I had game plan, and most importantly I felt confident.  The only issue was being on the wrong side of the last turn. Sitting a few lengths behind the leader, the odds were in my favor, until that back tire ahead of me decided to force me closer to the outside edge of the road, before I realize, my 23mm wide tires hit soft grass, and that was quite the maneuver to watch at 28mph. More than likely I had room to stay on pavement, but my reaction was too much costing me a chance at the win.

My advice: Go for the gold, not the grass.

I always reflect on the season and make adjustments based of past experiences, I’m excited to see what 2017 has for me, and hopefully next time around I have fewer mistakes to talk about.


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The School of Longevity – Recreating Yourself

November 20th, 2016 by Kaitlyn Patterson

–By Paul Raynes, Team Athletic Mentors Multi-Sport Athlete

I’ve been involved in endurance sports for nearly forty years and have not missed a season of training and competition since 1977. Not to say I haven’t had set backs and challenges. Along the way it’s been a necessity to recreate myself as an athlete due to life changes, injuries and the natural process of aging.

Raynes Pace for Poverty 2015

At age 20, I began running to lose weight and to keep up with my older brother who had already joined the approximately twenty-five million Americans who embraced the running boom back in the 1970’s and 80’s. Back then there were mostly 5K and 10K road races and a growing sense of awareness around fitness.

After a few years, I’d shed 70 pounds. Running quickly turned competitive and the overweight teenager who suffered at the back of the pack running a mile during football practice was now able to speed to a sub-18 minute 5k. That one decision – the decision to jump on the running bandwagon – was transformative and led to a healthier life. Yup, I became a transformer.

I’m definitely addicted and love my daily dose of natural body chemicals. In the early days, I loved running fast (and still like to try). I could train hard without much rest/days off. However, back then I didn’t have the correct tools in my tool belt to totally support that type of running. I didn’t have adequate whole-body strength and I’m sure my mechanics suffered a bit. I can’t scientifically compare my 30-year old body at the peak of running fitness to my currently 59 year old self. I do know I can’t run as fast, but I can out cycle and swim that 30-year old from the past. I feel much stronger at 59 and I’m betting my general strength to weight ratio is much better.

Around the age of 40, running seemed to be more challenging, ending with a couple knee surgeries eventually causing me to quit running and take up cycling. I contribute the knee issues to carrying too much weight, playing collision sports and less than perfect running mechanics. Even though I encountered speed bumps like knee surgery, I recovered and still worked hard to get the most out of my body.

As I’ve aged (let’s call it gaining wisdom), I think more about the school of longevity. That means I continue to add tools to the athletic tool belt to keep my body strong and healthy, including smart and appropriate training plans. This gets more challenging as I age because my head wants to maintain the current or higher standard of performance. My body is not always in favor of what I demand from it – crossing that fine line from health to injury does sometimes happen.

I’ve made it this far by reinventing myself several times – from runner to duathlete to bike racer to a return to duathlete and finally to triathlete. In addition to adding swimming as a tool in the past few years, I’ve added more strength training and functional movement as well. I enjoy foot hiking as a great way to take a day off and still burn a few calories (it’s nice to slow things down and take in the scenery). No matter what your age, make sure you have 4-6 tools in your athletic tool belt – as well as rest and recovery.

I’ve educated myself and learned a lot from experience, some coming the hard way – and that brings me to the point of this blog. I hurt myself this season because I didn’t carry out a planned periodization for the running element of my training.

This past February, I compromised my calf muscletissue. At the time it was probably a class 1-2 strain.

My running was mostly short and fast during the 2015 triathlon season and since the roads stayed clear last winter I kept running hard and short. I wanted to keep and/or add speed. That was mistake #1!

Normally, I would have taken a few months off from hard running and focused on longer, time-based, easy-to-moderately paced runs, and gradually brought speed back as spring rolled in.

The second and third mistake involved my head getting in the way. I was in a pinch to recover, wanting to make the first team event (Strider Classic 5K), so I pushed the tissue rehab. I happily scored a first in my age group and all was well until the next week when my injury popped up again. I was concerned as I was looking at six weeks to the Double Time Tri in May or eight weeks to GR Tri in June.

I decided one way or another, I had to recover and get back to training. I pushed the recovery again with my focus on the GR Olympic. In my gut I knew I was vulnerable, but my head strong need to be in the action and compete overruled good judgment – I was ready for Double Time. I told myself I needed it as a warm up to GR and would just run it relaxed. I convinced myself this was totally rational and landed a podium finish. The injury reappeared the following week. This time it was different and I knew it was worse, possibly a stress fracture.

MRI results showed no stress fracture – just the soleus muscle tissue pulling from the bone. The doctor said, “You need to take 8 weeks off.” I replied that I would be dedicated to 8 weeks off running and would only continue to do what didn’t hurt – like cycling and swimming. I’d also do all the therapies for appropriate healing. He responded, “There’s no stopping you people.” I think he was referring to Team OAM NOW. Raynes aquabike

Instead of taking the summer off, I decided to recreate myself by signing up for aqua bike events. And after four aqua bike events, and completion of the eight weeks off running, I was ready to build running back up again. I ended the season with a final sprint podium finish at the Deer Creek Challenge Triathlon. That felt good and I’ve been running regularly since. Back to the drawing board, I plan to build a run base (slow and easy) this winter and complete my first half iron next season – slowing things down and recreating myself once again. As a side note, I surprised myself with a second overall finish at the TridelSol Olympic Aqua Bike, proving that even rocks can learn to swim with good trainingJ Thanks Athletic Mentors (Cheryl).

No matter your age, make sure you have plenty of tools in your tool belt so you can recreate yourself once and a while. If you are not engaging in strength training and/or some type of functional fitness – start! If you have a solo sport, add something – mix it up, keep it interesting and be healthier for it. If you have an injury, fall off your bike, or boredom sets in, you’ll have backup options. Mostly, love what you’re doing.

We have an amazing support system and athletic community in Southwest Michigan. I feel fortunate to say I’m looking forward to the 2017 season – my fortieth year of endurance sports. I’m transitioning to the 60-64 age group – my ninth age group since joining the running boom of the 70’s. A lot has changed, but my love for endurance sports has not!


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November 13th, 2016 by Kaitlyn Patterson

–By Brian Reynolds, Team Athletic Mentors Triathlete

On September 11, 2016 I raced Ironman Wisconsin.  My goal was to place high enough in my age-group in order to qualify for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.   The weather in Madison, Wisconsin could not have been more perfect for racing.  It was sunny and dry with the high temps only in the mid 70’s.  The only concern was getting sunburned, which I did unfortunately.  The race had over 2,400 participants and thousands of spectaculars swarming the transition and swim start areas.

Reynolds ironman

The race officials started letting the athletes in the water 15-20 minutes before the start of the race.  The swim was a one 2.4 mile loop in Lake Monona.  The race was a mass start meaning all swimmers started in the water at the same time.  These mass swim starts are not as common anymore since Ironman has been going to a rolling start for safety reasons.  However, the mass start was not as crowded as I originally thought because the start line was very long.  As we waited in the water for the cannon to go off the atmosphere was electric!  The athletes were getting either very excited or anxious.  The athletes around me were aiming for under a one hour swim which was my goal as well.  

The cannon goes off!  I started at a strong pace to keep up with the swimmers that went out fast.  There was a lot of pushing and hitting the first half mile.  However, I’m use to some pushing and hitting in the water since I’ve been doing triathlons for 5 years.  When I passed the mile marker I started to pass a lot of fatigued swimmers because most of them started out too fast.  I felt strong the second half of the swim as I kept picking off swimmers one by one.  When I exited the water my swim split was a 58:20!   There were fans lined up around the helix yelling and cheering which really got me pumped up and excited.  I felt great through transition and I passed at least 3 athletes through the bike transition area.

 My goal was to complete the bike course in 5 hours and 15 minutes.  The bike leg was challenging since the course was very hilly and is considered one of the hardest courses in the Ironman circuit.  The best way to describe the course was like a roller coaster ride.  There were over a 100 short steep hills that would slowly fatigue you.  There was one extremely challenging hill at mile 40 that was so steep that a lot of riders had to walk their bikes up the hill.  I was able to ride up the hill but I had to burn a lot of energy doing it.  

The best strategy for riding this course was to start conservative to ensure that you didn’t over fatigue the first half.  However, I went out a little too hard the first half and paid for it the second half.  The last 2.5 hours of the ride was really challenging as my power slowly declined.  I tried to remain positive during this tough section and reminded myself that once I got to the run that I would be fine.  The spectators on the bike course were fantastic!  There were several uphill sections with people lined up cheering for you.  Some sections felt like a mountain stage in the Tour de France.  The crowd support motivated me to keep pushing through the pain. I ended up finishing the bike leg in 5 hours and 26 minutes which was 20.6 mph average.

Reynolds IM finishAs I entered the run transition with tired legs I handed my bike to the volunteers and I ran into a building to pick up my run gear.  I had to take a quick bathroom break before I started the marathon.  I was moving very well the first 6 miles of the run because I was averaging 6:20s pace.  My goal for the marathon was 3 hours so I was well under pace so far.  Even though I was moving well I wasn’t feeling good.  My stomach was very bloated from taking in a lot of nutrition on the bike.  I was not able to take in hardly any nutrition on the run because my stomach was so upset.

After the 6 mile mark it was a struggle both mentally and physically to keep running.  My pace the next several miles gradually slowed down to a 7:10-7:30 pace towards the end of the race.  During this tough stretch I started to respect the Ironman marathon distance.  It was very different from a regular marathon where you would start out fresh.  The pain I normally experience at mile 18 in a regular marathon was what I experienced at mile 6 of the Ironman marathon.  I had to walk through some aid stations to take a mental break but I managed to grind out a 3 hour and 8 minute marathon split.

my awesome friends supporting me

As I made my way down the finishing stretch I was greeted by all my friends and family at the finish line.  I put in a final surge and ran across the finish line in 9 hours, 41 minutes, and 21 seconds.  After finishing I was absolutely exhausted.  I had to sit and lay down most of the day to help recover.  I was very fortunate to have my friends there to support me on my special day.  However, I wish I was able to celebrate more with my friends.  Instead they had to keep an eye on me and help me around to ensure I was ok.  I couldn’t thank them enough!

The next day was the Kona slot allocation and rolldown ceremonies.  My results got me a 4th place finish in my age group and 9th place overall.  It was going to be a long slot to qualify for Kona considering they announced only the top 2 athletes in my age group will be taken.  The only hope I had was the first 2 athletes not accepting an invite so it would roll down to the 3rd and 4th places.  I was not luckily because the first 2 athletes took the Kona invites.  I was disappointed that I did not go to Kona but I was still happy with my effort.  I could not have done anything more to change the results that day.  This was my first Ironman so I’m feeling very optimistic of qualifying for Kona someday.  There is no doubt that finishing an Ironman is an accomplishment in itself.   So I am proud to say that I’M AN IRONMAN!

Holding up my 4th place AG trophy

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How it All Went Down- An Iceman Cometh Race Recap

November 6th, 2016 by Kaitlyn Patterson

–By Kaitlyn Patterson, Team OAM NOW Cyclist

There were 5,000 race stories that unfolded on Saturday, November 5th at Iceman Cometh Challenge. I wanted to share my story as it was an awesome opportunity to race with some of the best in the world and the outpouring of enthusiasm and support has been amazing. Last year I took fifth at Iceman, making it all the way to Timber Ridge with the leaders but had nothing left after pulling way too much throughout the race. This year I knew what to expect and I had every intention of racing for the win.

iceman16 patterson

Michigan native and pro road racer Allie Dragoo started right next to me!

It was a strong field as always including Catharine Pendrel- bronze medalist at Rio Olympics this year and former World Champion, Chloe Woodruff- 2016 Olympian and multiple-time National Champ, Erin Huck- 2016 National Champ, Amy Beisel- 2016 Fat Bike World Champ, and many talented roadies. I was also joined by some local superstars- Mackenzie Woodring and Susan Vigland.

Our race was the very last of the day to take off and it was fast from the gun with a super short roll out before the single track this year. I actually had a great start (this never happens) and was perfectly positioned around sixth wheel heading into the trail. It was a bit sketchy with riders changing lines unpredictably and sliding in the sand but my mission for the first half was to be patient and stay out of trouble. But less than ten minutes in, another rider merged right into me trying to jump into another line without looking behind her. I thought my race was over at that moment, but I somehow managed to stay upright. However, her and a couple riders behind us were not so lucky and this ended up to be one of the first decisive splits. Several riders including Catharine and Susan circumnavigated the crash and chased back on to create a group of nine.

I calmed down near the end of the line and closed the gaps that would open between riders after each single track section due to both accordion effect and talent differential (the mountain bike pros are basically ninjas). However, one of the more jarring descents I let a bit too wide of a gap open and I saw a group of four- Catharine, Amy, Erin, and Chloe start to ride away with Susan and Mackenzie falling off. I gunned it up “Make it Stick,” a steep multi- tiered climb, tagging onto the top group just as Erin stopped for a dropped chain.  And just like that, it was down to four.

Flow states during races are pretty incredible, when you are totally in the moment and aware of everything going on and so focused that emotions don’t impede judgement. I knew I just needed to beat one of them to get on the podium but I still felt fresh and I felt I might just be able to pull off an upset.

I wasn’t perceived as a threat so wasn’t really included in the pace line which was odd but totally fine by me. Just before Williamsburg Road Erin caught us but she dropped her chain again up the next steep climb. I felt bad for her because she was riding really well but her chain dropped nearly every climb forcing her off her bike.

The four of us hit Williamsburg Road (about 10 miles to go) and I made a huge mistake by bobbling and dropping my bottle hand-off and with temperatures in the mid-60s, I really needed it.  I refused to let my race be ruined and was resolved to get a bottle from someone.  We flew by the Rock too fast for this to be an option but a guy was watching alone on the VASA during a slower climbing section and graciously gave me his bottle (thank you, mystery man!)


The games had begun as our pace slowed as everyone tried to recover for the final showdown. We quickly approached “The Boonenberg,” one of the longer climbs on the VASA about six miles from the finish that I had picked out as a potential spot to attack. The whole thing felt a bit surreal but I knew I had to at least give it my best shot.

I carried a bit more momentum over the previous descent to slingshot around and rode as hard as I could and didn’t look back. (According to Strava, I clocked the 5th fastest time of the day up that climb including all the men). I kept drilling it and eventually checked to see only Chloe behind me. She was there but appeared to be dangling so I kept hammering. We crested Anita’s Hill together and I attacked again, knowing just how fast I could rail the corners on the VASA sections from countless Thursday night “Speed of Light” races on the VASA 25k when we lived in Traverse City (thanks Cody Sovis!)

I knew I might be setting her up for another win but I also thought I was very close to riding away and if nothing else, second was pretty awesome. Turns out, she had one more match left and she dropped it on me leading up to Woodchip Hill about a mile to the finish. The crowd was absolutely insane and I felt like I was racing in Europe but the effort from my extended attack had caught up with me and Chloe’s gap was established.

Photo credit: Jody Hofstra

I switched to damage control mode to try and not make mistakes on the single track in Timber Ridge with everyone watching.  I caught a glimpse of her up the final climb before the spectators nearly engulfed me but I realized she wasn’t coming back.  As I wove through the final curves while trying not to tie up, I crashed on one of the loose gravel corners (falling in the stadium in front of everyone is everyone’s fear) but thankfully it was only flesh wounds and I had enough of a gap that I didn’t lose a spot. I willed my body back on my bike and claimed my first podium in my third Iceman race.

Soon after Amy and Catherine finished and Catherine gave me kudos for a “perfectly timed attack.” Hearing that compliment from a previous World Champion totally made my day.  Chloe was also extremely complimentary. The next hour was a bit of a blur of interviews and hugs and I basically felt like a rock star.

chloe iceman

Alex finished 11th in a ridiculously fast men’s race, cementing our dominance in the “fastest couple” competition (this should be a real thing).

Overall it was one of the coolest experiences and I’m still totally floored by all the support. Traverse City truly has an incredible cycling community, puts on a world class race, and has a lot of fun doing it.  Thanks to Team OAM NOW/ Athletic Mentors, Alex Vanias my moral and mechanical support, my family, and Steve Brown- Mr. Iceman himself!


Photo credit: Corky Abston

Photo credit: Corky Abston

The post How it All Went Down- An Iceman Cometh Race Recap appeared first on Team Athletic Mentors.