Pensacola Cycling Classic

October 16th, 2018 by tcoffey

Team Athletic Mentors Tim Coffey goes on a road trip from Brevard, NC to Pensacola, FL

 

With Hurricane Florence ripping through North Carolina I decided I wanted to skip town and go race my bike somewhere sunny and warm.  A week before the race I watched this massive storm gain strength in the ocean off the coast and decided it wasn’t a good idea to spend the weekend in Brevard while the storm rolled in.  I was looking on USA Cycling and I found a stage race in Pensacola Florida. There was a solid payout and with forty people pre-registered for the race I decided to sign up.

 

I was able to get one of my collegiate team mates to come and race with me.  Shortly after we both signed up we realized me needed to find a place to stay. We looked at staying at a campground on the ocean but after looking at the weather and the heat advisories I knew it wouldn’t be a good idea.  I emailed the race director and he was able to find a place for us to stay. Now with a place to stay and money on the table the race was a go.

 

We loaded up the car on thursday after class and headed south.  The drive ended up being about eight and a half hours counting time for stopping.  After a long drive we rolled into Pensacola. Our host family greeted us and we went to sleep right away.

 

Saturday morning came very early.  Our alarms went off at 5:30 am and it was time to get ready for stage one of the race.  Stage one was a three mile time trial. After a thirty minute warm-up I was ready to go.  I felt super strong during the time trial with my Giant TCR kicking a lot of TTl bikes butt and ended up in 4th place,  12.38 seconds back from first. I knew going into stage two that I would need to win to make up lost time.

 

Stage two was a 50 mile road race through the rolling hills of northern Florida.  There were a lot of attempts of a break away trying to go but nothing stuck. I burnt a lot of matches trying to break away from the field but nothing stuck.  After about two hours of racing the whole field was still together and we were flying down the 1k long finishing straight with a group of about 30 guys. In the massive group sprint finish I ended up finishing fourth, topping my sprint off at forty miles an hour with my TCR pulling off another top 5!  My result in the road race was enough to stay in fourth overall and I did not lose time. After the road race I was down 16 seconds from first place but I still was in the running for the overall.  

 

The final stage was a forty minute crit.  I did a little warm up before the race but it didn’t take too much riding to get warmed up because the heat index was over 100 degrees.  During the race before mine a guy crashed in the last corner and was hurt pretty bad so my race was delayed because of it. When my race finally started it was full gas from the gun.  

 

The race leader attacked about four laps in and another guy went with him.  Everyone in the peloton looked around at each other and no one chased. I moved to the front and pulled for two laps trying to bring back the breakaway.  After pulling for two laps I pulled off the front and everyone sat up and looked around at each other again. This kind of racing is called negative racing.  It’s not fun when this happens.

 

After being frustrated with the negative racing, halfway through the race I got a flat tire and almost fell in a corner.  I rolled to the start and grabbed my backup wheel and I was back into the race. After doing one lap with the new wheel the peloton came upon one of the guys that were in the break and he was on the ground all bloody.  Turns out while he was sitting on the other guy’s wheel he had his head down and went straight into a barrier. After seeing the guy on the ground the field lit up and the speed got ramped up since the second place was open.  

 

We ripped around the course for another ten minutes there was one lap to go.  The field slowed down in the first two turns and then the next three were super fast.  We went into the last corner and everyone was fighting for position. I ended up finishing around twenty-fifth in the field sprint which was good enough to keep in fourth overall and I went home with some cash.  Talk about an awesome weekend, I had a blast.

 


Tips for Warming up for a Triathlon

August 8th, 2019 by JoAnn Cranson

By Brian Reynolds

Have you ever wondered how to warm up for a triathlon race?  I don’t know about you but when I first got into triathlons this is something I wondered about.  I come from a running background and warming up for a race was pretty straight forward. My warm up was usually a 10 to 15 minute run followed by some form drills (i.e., high knees or butt kicks) and pick ups (i.e., strides or fartleks).  However for a triathlon there are 3 sports. Do you run, bike, and swim for 10-15 min for each discipline? What order should you do the warm up? Should I bike first or should I run first?  I’ll share with you what warm up routines have worked for me.

One item to note is that no matter the triathlon distance you should do some type of warm up.  How you warm up will greatly depend on the event’s distance and weather conditions. In general the shorter the race distance the longer the warm up.  Thus the longer the race distance the shorter the warm up. Short distance races such as a sprint triathlon are very high intensity (aka your heart rate is going to be really high!).  Your body needs to be warmed up so you can go full throttle at the start. A proper warm up will elevate your heart rate and will dilate your veins to allow more blood flow (oxygen) to the working muscles.  Long distance races such as the Ironman distance is a low-moderate intensity which doesn’t require a long warm up to get your body ready to race comfortably at this intensity. Your working muscles will not require as much oxygen at a low-moderate intensity so you can get by with very little warm up.

Weather conditions will play a big role during your warm up.  If it’s cold outside it’s important to wear warm clothes to keep the muscles warm and it may be necessary to do a longer warm up.  If it’s hot outside it’s ok to warm up in just your racing outfit to help stay cool. It may be necessary to shorten the warm up if it’s really hot to help prevent your body from overheating.

Below are general guidelines on warming up for the different triathlon distances.

Sprint:

  1. 10 – 15 min run.  Include some race efforts last 5 mins.  After your run do some dynamic stretching.

  2. Running form drills and pick-ups which are faster than race pace.

  3. 10 – 15 min swim.  Second half of swim should include several strong efforts at race pace or faster.  Note: If you’re not able to get in the water before the race then warm up with stretch cords.

Olympic:

  1. 10 – 15 min run.  Include some race efforts last 5 mins.  After run do some dynamic stretching.

  2. Optional: Do some run form drills and pick-ups which are faster than race pace.

  3. 10 – 15 min swim.  Second half of swim should include several strong efforts at race pace or faster.  Note: If you’re not able to get in the water before the race then warm up with stretch cords.

Half Iron Distance:

  1. Optional: 5 min easy run

  2. 5 – 15 min swim.  Second half of swim should include several strong efforts at race pace or faster.  Note: If you’re not able to get in the water before the race then warm up with stretch cords.

Full Iron Distance:

  1. 5 – 10 min easy swim with a few strong efforts towards the end.  Note: If you’re not able to get in the water before the race then warm up with stretch cords.

You’ll notice that there is no bike warm up because it’s hard to get a ride in before the race.  In addition it’s dark early morning which is not safe to ride the bike around unless you have a stationary trainer.  Besides the run will help warm up your biking legs so don’t stress out by needing to get a ride in.

Another important thing to note is to make sure you do the swim warm up last.  The race starts with the swim so you want your arms warmed up shortly before the race.  Ideally you want to finish the swim warm up 5 – 10 mins before the race. Sometimes this is not possible so it’s ok if you need to finish your warm up early.

If you do not have to time to get in a complete warm up then skip or shorten the run.  At least do some dynamic stretches and form drills to wake up the legs. In my opinion the highest priority is the swim during the warm up because you want to be comfortable and loose in the water before the race.  This is beneficial if you are on the fence of wearing a thermal cap or not. You can at least try it out in the water during your warm up.

I hope these warm up tips help!

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Breakout Season

July 18th, 2019 by Marie Dershem

By Kellen Caldwell

I have a great passion for riding bikes no matter what discipline. I began mountain biking three years ago, and only started road biking a year ago. My first experience racing mountain bikes was in 2017, and my first road race was last year. The first member of Athletic Mentors I met after joining the team was Terry Ritter. Terry has been a huge help with team related questions and he has also provided me with a lot of opportunities to improve my skills.  I met my teammate Dan Yankus last summer. I still remember the first ride we did through Kensington Metropark. During that ride, I learned a lot other cyclists as well as about Team Athletic Mentors’ long history. These rides last summer with Dan made me a better rider both physically and mentally.

Toward the end of last summer, Dan offered to train me. I can’t even explain how much of a difference this has made in my fitness and riding ability. On one of our last training rides together before the cross country season started, Dan and I talked about my goals for the coming season. In the early season, I raced the Barry Roubaix gravel road race. I finished third in my age group. I wanted to make it my goal to win that race in my age group and maybe even over all.

As fall turned to winter, I realized I would have to make the Zwift program my best friend for the next four months if I wanted to achieve my goals at Barry Roubaix. Luckily, I was also blessed with the opportunity to go to North Carolina for the annual team camp. Down in NC, I met Ross DiFalco, Jared Dunham, Bobby Munro, Elaine Sheikh, and a former team member, Scott Hoffner. It was great to go to NC not only because it’s beautiful, but it offered team bonding, quality training, and was much better than sitting on a bike in my basement.

The countdown to Barry Roubaix flew by… and before I knew it, I was at the peak of my training load… at around one hundred and twenty hours of for the off season. After hours of Dan’s workouts and online races, it was finally here: Race week! This week was very stressful for me. I was losing sleep over questions about my competition. When I asked Dan about the race and especially about my contenders, he simply reassured me saying, “You will be fine.” This kind of brought me back down to Earth, and I started thinking about really how much work I had done to get to this point. I thought, if anything bad happens to me at this point, then it is out of my hands.

Then came race day. Me and my family arrived in the beautiful Hastings countryside in the early morning. There was a slight chill and a breeze. I got my number plate, warmed up, and met up with a couple of my teammates. Before I knew it, start time was here. I hurried to the start to get the best spot possible, tried to eye up my competition, but then remembered that it was irrelevant. From here to the end of my race it was just me and my bike, a bond that couldn’t be broken. After standing and waiting for about five minutes I knew who was there and who wasn’t. Thirty seconds till start I said my goodbyes. Then, we were off!

My main focus within the race was to keep track of my competitors and make sure that I didn’t make the same mistake as last year and let one slip away into the cluster of people as they passed by. This time I kept track of them. I tried to stay up front to make sure I would be the first into Sager Road (the gnarly two track section of the course), and luckily I was. A kid my age by the name of Max, a renowned cyclocross rider, got onto Sager right behind me. We came out of there together with our battle scars. Eventually we formed a group of six riders breaking away from the main group. We stayed away for the rest of the race.

Max was still in the break and he was my only competition left for the top podium spot. We entered the last pavement strip before making our way into town. I sat up front and kept looking back to see if anyone was going to make a move early on, we came up the last hill and we could see the stop light from there. Still up front, and knowing I’m not much of a sprinter, I decided to make the move once we hit the stoplight. We made our way into the final turn “guns a’ blazin’”.  I was mashing my pedals into the ground. In this brief moment before the finish, I thought about how disappointed I’d be to come this far to lose. I poured all my might into that sprint, and at the end of the day, I accomplished my goal. I finished first in the juniors and tenth overall. This was so rewarding.   

An important lesson we can all learn from this is that it’s important to believe in yourself, but it’s also important to have faith in others. For example, not once did I doubt that the work Dan was having me do was absolutely necessary. Who knows what shape or disadvantage I could have been in if I had not listened to his instruction.

I would like to thank everyone on or off of this team for their contributions to this success: My mom and dad for driving me to these special places beyond southeast Michigan, my teammates for showing me the ropes, Terry for his support, and a special thanks to Dan Yankus for being an awesome coach, mentor, and teammate. I’m excited to see how he can possibly shape me into a better athlete in the future! Also, a big thanks to Cheryl Sherwood for organizing all of the team’s wonderful events! I look forward to the rest of the 2019 season with Athletic Mentors!

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The Physical and Mental Struggles of Injuries

July 13th, 2019 by JoAnn Cranson

By Tammy Shuler

This spring has been a rough one! My training for the Boston Marathon was going great, my speed was up, heart rate down. Then in mid February I woke up with a terrible pain in my upper back. I couldn’t roll over or push myself up with my arms. I thought it was just from sleeping wrong, except it didn’t go away. Weird thing was it stopped hurting when I would run or work out, but then it would come back with worse pain about 45 minutes later.  An MRI showed a bulging disc at C7 and after a medrol dose pack (steroids) it was GONE! I was assured it wouldn’t come back. So far so good. 

Then the night before the Melting Mann bike ride I was very anxious, more than the usual race nerves. I had nightmares, felt like I couldn’t breath. I decided something wasn’t right and didn’t go to the race. An hour before my wave start, I got the chills, had this little nagging cough and then a high fever that lasted 5 days.  I didn’t do anything for 6 days, because I didn’t have any energy. This for an older athlete is devastating. I had pneumonia.

I missed two long runs in my training. Even after I could run my heart rate would shoot to the 180’s when I would get fatigued. My longest run for the month before The Boston Marathon was 8 miles. I did still run Boston, but it was my slowest marathon ever. A new PR right!

Later this Spring I was still having pain and the doctors discovered I now have two torn hamstring tendons as well as two torn glut tendons.  It’s so hard to not get discouraged. It’s the frustration that this body that has always performed for me is not cooperating. It’s one thing to allow my physical body to repair, but the other challenge is mentally being able to deal with not competing or exercising like normal.

How do I deal with my injuries, my pain, and the sadness of not being able to do what I want to do?  I think I need to give myself permission to feel sad and acknowledge that mentally I need to care for myself.  Just because I can’t run doesn’t mean I need to stop everything and isolate myself. I’m not giving up!

What else can I do to be a part of my running community? Well I didn’t run in the local Borgess run, but I volunteered. It was wonderful celebrating others victories of crossing the finish line and handing out those medals.

Am I just going to sit on the couch because I can’t run? NO, I can still do other activities. I competed in the Grand Rapids Tri doing the Aquabike Category. I could swim and I could bike! I finished first in my age group.

I’m finding other ways to stay active and fit. Maintaining a daily practice of some type of exercising is essential to my mental and physical health.  I am slowly digging myself out of this dark hole I’ve found myself in.  It’s very humbling and yet amazing what your body can overcome. I’m focusing on the big picture of enjoying this life and knowing that in time my body will heal. It will take patience and perseverance. I plan to listen to my body and adapt my goals for whatever the future will hold.

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Balancing Life as an Athletic Teen

June 26th, 2019 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Jacob Florey

Balancing life, school, and training is not an easy task as a teenage. You need to have a healthy mindset and also a good group of people that you are friends with. It helps to have something healthy that you really enjoy doing too.

Sports is a good outlet to help deal with the stress of school. School can stress you out by the pressure of keeping your grades up, peer pressure or just trying to measure up to others expectations.

If you get involved in sports, the exercise really helps. I am on a swim team and when we practice we all enjoy each others company. I also compete in triathlons in the summer so I’m doing a bunch of different activities.

There are good and bad “stresses”. The good stress is the pre-competition jitters you get before you start your event. But once you start the competition you are focused and having fun.

The bad stress is when it doesn’t go away. You know it’s bad stress by not being able to focus, you have stomachaches, you are tired and irritable and you don’t have Fun! You are always trying to measure up to something or someone but never feel satisfied. You need to ask for help if you feel this kind of stress.

You need a past-time other than training. Whether it’s a group of people that you hang out with, or even going for a nice relaxing walk, gaming, or something as simple as sitting on the couch and watching a funny movie or television show. For me it is just skating around town with some friends. I enjoy being outside rather than being inside and the fresh air is just good for the body.

Another important part is to eat healthy and get enough sleep. These both fuel my body to keep me going and helps me to focus in school and sports.

Trying to find the happy balance of life, school and training is a challenge for anyone, but I think since I’m young it’s really hard to know when I’m trying to do too much. You need to make sure you have set priorities, create a system that works for you to manage your time, and be able to recognize your limits.

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Flat Fix Basics

June 26th, 2019 by Marie Dershem

Flat Tire Basics

Written by Ros Difalco

Nobody wants to think about the possibility of a flat tire while out enjoying time on their bicycle. In reality, if you are going to ride regularly, it’s really more a matter of “when” not “if” when it comes to flatting. So, when you do get a flat, you have a few options. First, you can annoy your friends and family and get a ride back to your house. Second, you can walk (from experience, probably not a great option!). Third is your best shot: FIX THE FLAT WHILE ON THE ROAD!

Let’s go over the things you should carry while riding to fix most flats. There are different ways people carry the necessities, but here are my recommendations.

First, carry a saddlebag. Many people like to stash their change kits in their jersey pockets, but I prefer the saddlebag. If I have to stock my back pockets each ride I am likely to forget something or leave something out due to laziness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In your saddlebag you should carry a

  1. spare tube (the correct specifications to match your tire width, wheel diameter, and rim depth). I like to keep the spare tube wrapped up in a plastic bag to prevent it from getting holes while rubbing against tools.
  2. 1-2 tire levers. Not being able to get a tire on or off is extremely frustrating.
  3. C02 inflator (2 of these, just in case the first doesn’t go to plan).
  4. Multi-tool (though you don’t need it for the tire fix)
  5. Optional: There’s a new thing I have been adding to my saddlebags the last few years. A few brands make stickers to patch holes in tubes. DISCLAIMER: these should be used as a last resort if your spare tube is punctured or if you get a double flat (two flat tires in one ride).

Now let’s get on to your flat tire! In our hypothetical situation, you are riding down the road when you feel the tell tale squirmy/squishy ride characteristics of a flat tire. Now you might be tempted to keep riding but please don’t! Pull over somewhere off the road and check the tire for air pressure. You don’t want to damage your rim by riding with a flat tire.

Fixing a flat tire requires that you remove your wheel from the bike. Most bikes have a quick release axle, but if your bike doesn’t, make sure to carry the tools to remove your wheel. You also need to know how to open up brake pads on many bikes to get the tire to fit but we won’t cover that topic here due to the various types of brakes.

Now that your wheel is removed, you need to make sure the tube is fully deflated. This is good time to explain that most bikes have both a tire and a tube. The tube is what holds the air in the tire. The tube is what we want to replace/patch. To get to the tube we must remove the tire. Tires may be stuck to the rim via the bead.

Using your hands, push the tire to the center of the rim bed. Do this all the way around the rim. Getting the tire to the center will give you the space to get the tire over the lip of the rim. Once the tire is moved to the center of the rim, get your tire levers. Pry the tire over the rim. Only pry one side of the tire off of the rim. Now you should be able to remove the tube from the rim.

Next, look at the tube and see if you can determine what punctured it. You also want to GENTLY run your fingers in the inside of the tire to make sure there aren’t any thorns or objects stuck in it. If you install your new tube with a thorn in your tire you will instantly get another flat. Now, unwrap your tube and put the valve through the valve hole on the rim and lay the tube around the diameter of the tire. We now have to get the tire back on without puncturing the tube. With your hands, work the tire back on the rim until can no longer go further. At this point, get your tire levers back out. You need to pry the tire the rest of the way on the rim. BE SUPER CARFUL NOT TO PINCH THE TUBE WHILE DOING THIS!

Now that the tire is back on the rim, it’s time to inflate it and get riding again. Tighten the C02 on the inflator to break the seal. Make sure the valve on the tube is open and press the inflator firmly against the valve and release the compressed air. It will feel very cold but do not let off until the C02 is empty. Your tire should now be full of air! Make sure to tighten the valve on the tube. At this point you can put your wheel back on your bike and tighten up your axle.

Before closing, here are a few pieces of advice I would give to avoid getting flats in the first place. Use a quality tire that is up to the riding you are planning. I have made this mistake and the right tire makes all the difference. It’s also worth noting that when a tire gets worn out its puncture resistance is greatly reduced. Cheap tubes can be the cause of flat tires when the valve stem becomes unbounded from the rubber so decent tubes are important. If your bike setup allows it, going tubeless with sealant can offer a more trouble free ride as well. Whatever you decide to use, get familiar with your bike and be prepared for any flats you may encounter.

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Sugar by Any Other Name: How To Tell Whether Your Drink Is Sweetened

June 14th, 2019 by Athletic Mentors Staff

Sweeteners that add calories to a beverage go by many different names and are not always obvious to anyone looking at the ingredients list. Cutting out sugary beverages is a big step in making healthy diet choices. Some common caloric sweeteners are listed below. If these appear in the ingredients list of your favorite beverage, you are drinking a sugar-sweetened beverage.

 

  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice concentrates
  • Honey
  • Sugar
  • Syrup
  • Corn syrup
  • Sucrose
  • Dextrose

    High-Calorie Culprits in Unexpected Places

    Coffee drinks and blended fruit smoothies sound innocent enough, but the calories in some of your favorite coffee-shop or smoothie-stand items may surprise you. Check the Web site or in-store nutrition information of your favorite coffee or smoothie shop to find out how many calories are in different menu items. And when a smoothie or coffee craving kicks in, here are some tips to help minimize the caloric damage:

    At the coffee shop:

    Order the smallest size available unless you are ordering plain black coffee.
    Forgo the extra flavoring – the flavor syrups used in coffee shops, like vanilla or hazelnut, are sugar-sweetened and will add calories to your drink.
    Skip the Whip. The whipped cream on top of coffee drinks adds sugar.
    Get back to basics. Order a plain cup of coffee with milk and or drink it black.
    At the smoothie stand:
    Order a child’s size if available.
    Ask to see the nutrition information for each type of smoothie and pick the smoothie with natural ingredients and no added sugars and syrups.
    Hold the sugar. Many smoothies contain added sugar in addition to the sugar naturally in fruit, juice, or yogurt. Ask that your smoothie be prepared without added sugar: the fruit is naturally sweet.

    Better Beverage Choices Made Easy

    Now that you know how much difference a drink can make, here are some ways to make smart beverage choices:
    Choose water or plain iced tea instead of sugar-sweetened beverages.
    For a quick, easy, and inexpensive thirst-quencher, carry a water bottle and refill it throughout the day.
    Don’t “stock the fridge” with sugar-sweetened beverages. Instead, keep a jug or bottles of cold water in the fridge.
    Serve water with meals.

    Make water more exciting by adding slices of lemon, lime, cucumber, or watermelon, or drink sparkling water.
    Add a splash of 100% juice to plain sparkling water for a refreshing, low-calorie drink.
    Be a role model for your friends and family by making water your preferred beverage choice.


Toeing The Line

June 13th, 2019 by JoAnn Cranson

By Chelsey Jones

“When you recognize that failing doesn’t make you a failure, you give yourself permission to try all sorts of things.” – Lauren Fleshmen

It was 4 days before my event. Months of training, discipline, adequate rest and recovery, and all that went through my head was “No, thank you, I’d rather not
run hard. Easy sounds good. Do I really have to do this?”.  Despite all the proper training leading up to my race a voice in my head was there filled with what ifs and doubts. It was almost as though someone was going to have to pull me to the start line while I was kicking and screaming.

I have a coach who is fantastic, awesome, and challenges me to grow in many different ways.  When I contacted her about concerns with racing the event she
pretty much said because you don’t want to race it, I think you should.  You see, I struggle with this thing called pressure. Pressure to perform at my very best,
pressure to beat everyone around me, and pressure to have better results than I have in years past.  Pressure so intense I pretty much want to crawl in a hole and hide, or at least not race.  Give me friends and easy runs any day, but to put it all out there and see what I got, hmmmm, I dunno that’s a little different.

It took me a few days of thought and deliberation to decide that if I did not race it I would walk away wondering what I could of done. We are always going to
have voices in our head. Some of all the great things we can do, reminders of all our strengths, of everything we’ve worked for.  But we’re also going to have voices of doubt, wondering if we really can do it, and what if we fail. 

Each race I have competed in has taught me a lesson. Lessons about pacing and the importance of not going out to hard. Lessons about nutrition, what to do, and what definitely NOT to do. Lessons about mental toughness and how to push even when it feels like you can’t go on, but none of these lessons share the same importance as the lessons I learn leading up to a race. I have learned that when I line up at a race, or even a hard workout, it is not my performance that defines me. Failing, or not doing as well as I hoped for does not make me a failure. Far from it. Putting myself out there and giving it my best is what helps me to become a better athlete. Setting aside the competition and focusing on the joys of challenging myself and pushing myself right to that edge, just to see what I’m made of, that’s where I find growth.

I have been told many times that running is 10% physical and 90% mental. I have always thought about this during a race, but what if it’s not just while we are running that we are in that mental battlefield. Perhaps it’s the lessons we learn while in preparation that help us to grow into better athletes. I made it to the start line that day, focused on having fun and doing the best I can. Reminding myself that it’s not about winning or losing, it’s about going out there and giving it my all, whatever that may be.

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Flashback to my 2018 Ironman Louisville Race

June 10th, 2019 by JoAnn Cranson

By Brian Reynolds

This past weekend I went out for my 2nd outdoor ride in prep for the Tri race of the season.  When I grabbed my aero helmet for the ride I still had my race sticker from Ironman Louisville. While removing the sticker it brought back so many memories.  Here is a flashback to that race.

The Swim – 13:38 – The weather on race day was far from ideal.  The temps were in the high 40s to low 50s and it was raining all day.  The 67 deg water temp was going to be the warmest part of the race (with wet suits of course).  At the start I even had a coat over my wet suit to stay as warm as possible. A few minutes before the swim start the race announcer said that the currents in the Ohio river were too strong which meant the swim course would have to change.  The modified course just had us swimming down current .9 miles. I was disappointed that they had to shorten the swim since this is one of my strengths, but it was the right call.

The swim was a rolling start so I seeded myself in the top 20.  One by one we jumped off the boating dock to begin our Ironman journey.  We were given little information on the new course which made it a little challenging finding the swim buoys.  I could tell the currents were strong since the buoys were almost floating away. The swim went by quick since it only took me a little over 13 mins to finish.  The leaders were probably no more than 30 seconds ahead of me. When I got out the water I felt very fresh and warm.

T1 – 6:53 – This was probably the longest T1 transition of my career.  It was still raining when I got out of the water. I had to take a lot of time to dry off and put on 4 layers of clothes.  In addition, I also placed hand warmers in my gloves and toe warmers in my shoes. There were other athletes putting on layers of clothing so I didn’t feel the need to rush to make up time.  After changing, I ran to my bike with my bike shoes to help keep my feet dry.

The Bike – 5:09:38 – My goal for the bike was to keep warm and ride steady.  My legs felt great starting out and I passed a few riders within the first 20 mins.  The light rain and 50 deg temps continued during the ride. The 4 layers of clothes I had on kept me warm for the first 30 mins before I became soaking wet.  After that I was getting cold especially on the downhills because of the windchill at the faster speeds. In fact, I actually looked forward to the uphills because I was able to stay a little warmer.

The bike course was a lollipop route.  The first and last 10 miles of the course were flat. The lollipop loops were the toughest part of the course due to the hilly terrain.  When I began the first loop I was already having thoughts of wanting to drop out. There was a little voice in the back of my head that kept whispering “drop out and call it a day”.  I’ve never had these thoughts this early in the race. I’ve never been this cold and uncomfortable in a race which was the reason why I wanted to call it quits and get to a warm place.  However, it made me feel better when the male pro who won the race said afterwards that he thought about dropping out during the bike leg!

I just tried to tough it out and keep moving forward.  When I finished the first loop my split was 2:32 which was on pace for a 5:04 bike time.  When I started the 2nd loop there were a lot more athletes on the course. At one point along the course it got so congested that I had to slow down going up a hill. I lost all my momentum up the hill and I had to walk my bike because the hill was so steep.

It did stop raining halfway through the ride and I did feel slightly warmer.  The hand warmers inside my gloves stopped generating heat after 2 hours so my hands got cold which made it hard to grab bottles.  During the last two hours of the ride I could hardly squeeze any liquids out of my bottles  That said, I was looking forward to getting off the bike.

T2 – 6:45 – When entering transition my hands were too cold to even unlace my shoes when I dismounted off my bike.  It felt good to get off the bike and not have to deal with the cold windchill anymore. My legs felt stiff and heavy as I ran through transition which is typical for me during an Ironman.  In the changing tent I changed to a dry pair of socks but kept the same clothes I had on during the bike. I wanted to err on the side of being too warm for the run because I could always remove layers.

The Run – 3:13:34 – Starting off on the run my biggest concern was my left hamstring cramping up.  I took it easy for the first mile and gradually worked into the pace. I started off at a 7:30 ish pace and by mile two I was just under 7 min pace.  I got stronger as the run progressed. I felt great from miles 3 to 10 as I was running between 6:40 to 6:50 miles. As I approached the halfway point my energy levels were starting to drop off a bit.

At mile 12 I found out that I was in 3rd place in my age group and only 2 mins down from 2nd place.  This news gave me motivation because if I could finish in the top 2 I would get a Kona slot. When I got to mile 14 I was given the news that I was in 2nd place!  I was laser focused at this point to hold my position and not give up any time. However sometimes good things must come to an end. At mile 18 my left hamstring began cramping up every few minutes and my energy levels continued to drop.

For the last 8 miles I was forced to slow down and I was taking in as much nutrition as I could stomach.  My only goal at this point was to keep running and not walk. I knew the longer I kept running the better my chases were of holding my Kona slot.  When I got to the finish line I didn’t have a clue on my placement. Fortunately, I only got passed by one athlete and I managed to finish 3rd. I would have to wait until the next day to find out if I qualified for Kona.

The next day were the award ceremonies and the Kona roll down allocation.  I would find out that the top 3 in my age group got Kona slots which meant that I needed to plan a trip to Hawaii in October next year:)  This made it extra rewarding to have kept running during the final miles of the marathon because 4th place was only 2:20 minutes behind me.  I was thankful to cap off my 2018 triathlon season by not giving up on myself.  Perserverance was taking me to Kona!

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Top 5 Things Learned at This Year’s Training Camp

June 6th, 2019 by Marie Dershem

Written by Terry Ritter

This season’s North Carolina Training Camp had great weather and terrific riding. There was a newer rider flare to this edition, with ’19 team additions Ross DiFalco and Jared Dunham joining myself and fellow seasoned Team Athletic Mentor riders Elaine Sheikh, Bobby Munro, and Kellen Caldwell. Dan Caldwell, Kellen’s father, also spent part of the week with us, and Scott Hoffner made his usually trip up from Winston Salem to ride for a few days.  Second year team rider Tim Coffey attends Brevard College and got a chance to log about an hour with a few of us before some bad luck changed his preseason.

Though this marked the 19th time in the last 21 years I’ve put together a cycling excursion to jump start the season, I am always entertained by the new things I learn (or relearned) each year. Here’s my top five list from this year.

Tubeless tires require different attention in the off-season…

 Last season I mounted up some tubeless tires and sealant and enjoy the benefits of that set up for training. However, I didn’t give much thought to how I’d store these hoops over the winter, just hanging them like my tubed arrangements of the past. The first road ride of the trip happened to be the Mt. Mitchell ascent, an 87 mile day with over 9000 feet of climbing. The first time the bike rolled over 25 mph I noted an imbalance in the front wheel. After checking the bead and seeing it was seated appropriately, my brain started working on what the issue could be. That’s when I remembered I had to pump the tire up as I noticed it had deflated to the degree the bead had lost the airtight seal over the winter. I quickly speculated the air had dried out the sealant, which had collected in the bottom of the tire as it hung, and was now a solid, non-movable mass throwing things off. This was confirmed once I got the tire off and had an 8 cm strip of solid sealant affixed to one side of the tire. Removing this and remounting the tire with new sealant solved the hop. From here on out I’ll be removing sealant from my tires before I mount them for off season storage (though you could just keep them aired up to stay sealed as well).

Simple Math…

 After hitting the Parkway and descending down 215, we came to a stop and discovered Jared’s crank was coming loose. It had been creaking for 2 hours. Unfortunately, his crank bolt was a 10mm, and none of our multi-tools had anything bigger than an 8mm. That’s when I remember a trick Dan Yankus taught me at the ’16 camp. We took one of the multi-tools apart to get the 6 and 4mm allen wrenches free, then placed them side-by-side in the bolt head (6 + 4 = 10mm). We then used one of the other tools 8mm to fit into the loop of the paired allens and twisted it till the bolt was sufficiently tight to get us home.

Technology is great if you know how to use it…

 At our ’17 camp, Kaitlyn Patterson was able to construct a route within DuPont State Forest from a friend’s map, and then download that to her Garmin. She shared that route with me last year when she wasn’t able to attend and we followed the 3 hour tour without issue. This year was not as successful, as I led us around for about 90 mins before we ended up back near the finish. Seems I didn’t realize the Garmin has a turn-by-turn arrow that will let me know where I’m supposed to be heading when my screen shows route crossing over themselves. Later in the week I figured this out and we tried the route again, with it working flawlessly.

 Would you like that spoke straight or curved…

 As we rode up Mt. Mitchell, my rear Giant wheel broke its first spoke (4 years of riding on it). The DT Swiss rim stayed pretty true and I didn’t have any issues finish the ride. However, I didn’t have any of the straight pull replacements (nor did any of the local shops). A little brainstorming had Ross, Jared and I using the gas stove to warm the spoke (actually, it had to glow) and then used a couple of pairs of needle-nose pliers to straighten a J bend from a conventional spoke I did have. Unfortunately, the spoke was still too short to use, but it gave me a potential emergency option if I have this challenge in the future.

Being prepared means less stress…

 I’ve preached this to all my camp attendees each year. However, this season things got away from me as I was getting ready for camp (Jared, Ross and I took my vehicle) and so decided I’d need to do a little work when I got down to NC. This could well have been fine until some unexpected things happened (spoke, tire sealant), and also unexpected time to help others. I ended up being a bit too busy to really relax as much and recover as much as I should have. My teammates were gracious with their patience, but this was my own fault and something I would have helped entirely if I’d gotten everything done on my equipment at home before I pointed my van south.

These trips are always a lot of fun. We get some great training in, enjoy some relaxation, learn about our new teammates, and pick up some additional wisdom. It makes me wonder what I’ll learn next year.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Science of High Visibility Colors while Cycling

May 31st, 2019 by JoAnn Cranson

By Andrew Fathman

How do you get someone to notice you? You know, that person. The person driving the car that, unless they see you, is at risk of making you a cycling statistic. You might not be surprised to hear that the color of your kit is one of the easiest and most effective ways to make yourself more visible and decrease the risk of an accident (put that all-black kit away, no–it doesn’t make you look like Batman.)

However, while having a closet so bright it rivals the sun is great, knowing what to wear at what times of day can actually further increase your safety. Our eyes have three different photoreceptors called “cones”. These cones are specialized to see the three primary colors that make up the spectrum of visible light. Depending on the ambient light, these cones can actually be better at seeing different wavelengths of light. During the day, our eyes are most adept at recognizing green light, followed by yellow and blue (or cyan for you art nerds out there.) Before you consign all of your green jerseys to daytime riding, you have to consider where you’ll be riding. Humans are sensitive to shapes resembling biological patterns which means that we are very good at seeing the shape of a person against a background. If you’re planning on riding through seas of green foliage, it’s better to give drivers a hand and wear a color that will help them see your outline against the trees.

The last scenario to consider is when the sun starts setting and shadows start forming. We might not think about this much as the days are getting longer and we are able to finish our rides with plenty of light, but before you know it, your local TNR will start finishing with less and less light. As it gets darker, our eyes transition from seeing green the best to being able to pick out yellow the easiest and at the furthest distances.

Reflective gear is becoming standard on most athletic gear and the science behind that is akin to why road signs are so obvious at night, but following these easy rules will you give yourself the best chance at being able to chase those K/QOMs (King or Queen of the Mountain winner in races) without incident.

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