February 2015 Update

I am currently in Wollongong, Australia, training with Coach Jamie Turner and our training group, the Wollongong Wizards. The Wollongong Wizards grew this year, and it’s great to have more people to push me daily. Canadian Amelie Kretz, a few Hungarians, and special guest Anne Haug have been challenging me up hills, on the roads, and through the water. At least once a week, we train in the Pacific Ocean. Last week, a friend of the Wizards, Trevor Kemper, filmed one of our open water sessions. You can watch a video of it here: http://youtu.be/MIsIP0hq4_U In my mind, with every stroke we take we move forward, but Trevor’s video proves otherwise as I watch us helplessly get sucked backwards.

One of my favorite rides we have been doing is a weekly 100km bike ride, which includes many Queen of the Mountains (QOMs), some hard pace lines, and a little recovery. The ride is enjoyable, but leaves my legs feeling heavy for days. We have also started to do some bike workouts on fixed gear bikes at the Velodrome. I love it! It gives training a new dynamic. (A fixed gear bike has one gear and no brakes. You cannot coast. In order to stop, you must use your leg/butt muscles to slow the bike). Our run training has been ramping up as well with a new run workout this year: track workouts. I’ve been coached by Jamie for over three years, and this is the first year we have tested ourselves on the Beaton Park track. It’s enjoyable to be back on the track running in a controlled environment that is the same every week.

I did a local Aquathon at the end of January, and a local non draft triathlon in Kurnell, Australia a week ago. It’s fun to start racing again, but it’s also a harsh reminder as to how painful it is and how much I still have to improve.

With my volume of training high there isn’t too much to report. I don’t do much besides train, sleep, eat, read, and watch TV. To check out some things I’ve been eating, you can follow my #FoodFriday tweets. I just finished reading Alberto Salazar’s book, 14 Minutes, and am currently hooked on Australia’s TV show My Kitchen Rules.

On an unrelated note, last September, I traveled to New Zealand to be a part of ASICS global campaign. It was a great experience, and one I will never forget. The directors were very patient with my lack of acting skills, and I was able to briefly experience the life of an actor/actress. The days were long, but enjoyable. We had hair and makeup followed by numerous takes. When the director was happy, we’d move to a new location and start another shot. We were immersed by scenic, iconic views, but we also had to start filming before sunrise and end after sunset to get the shots. It was incredible to see how hard these individuals worked to transform a perfect image they had on paper to a real life commercial. I’m thrilled with the result! It’s a great campaign that hopefully gets you excited and motivated to Go Run It. See if you can spot me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_B5X22YY0Q The commercial began airing on most major TV stations on February 23rd.

Up next, I will travel to Abu Dhabi to test myself against the best in the world at the first WTS race of 2015.

This is us on our 100km Saturday morning ride

This is us on our 100km Saturday morning ride

Madeline Heiner running loops on the track with me. She's a local Australian runner who can drop me no problem on the track!

Madeline Heiner running loops on the track with me. She's a local Australian runner who can drop me no problem on the track!

The lady Wizards after an early morning race in Kurnell (From L to R: Sarah Ann Brault, Barbara Riveros, Grace Musgrove, Anne Haug, me, Charlotte McShane)

The lady Wizards after an early morning race in Kurnell (From L to R: Sarah Ann Brault, Barbara Riveros, Grace Musgrove, Anne Haug, me, Charlotte McShane)

Finishing a tempo run with the lady Wizards (Photo by Pat Lemieux)

Finishing a tempo run with the lady Wizards (Photo by Pat Lemieux)

The top of Mount Keira, overlooking Wollongong

The top of Mount Keira, overlooking Wollongong

Ellen Pennock and me riding our Langster track bikes

Ellen Pennock and me riding our Langster track bikes

Jamie explaining the days training

Jamie explaining the days training

January 2015

On New Year’s Eve, Patrick and I flew from Minnesota to Australia to join the Wollongong Wizards in Falls Creek, Australia. I am so happy to be back with the Wizards. I missed not only the people, but also the structure of training.

While at home over break, I got married and felt like I was constantly traveling for work/sponsors. Time flew by in Minnesota. Patrick and I were at our St Paul, MN home for 66 days in 2014. Travel can get tiring and it makes me miss the repetitiveness of training.

In Falls Creek, we build slowly into training and take the altitude into consideration (1600m). It’s enjoyable to have time to watch TV and catch up with the Wizards. Currently I’m watching Suits and some of ESPN’s 30 for 30 shows. It’s a slow paced life, and something I need after a busy year and busier off season.

In 2015 I will be focusing on the WTS series, but my main focus will be to qualify for the Olympic Games. I will target the test event in Rio. In order to achieve my goals, I have a lot of hard work ahead of me. It won’t be easy, but I’m motivated. In training, there are a few things I want to accomplish this year.

In my swim, I want to build strength and focus on technique and the process instead of outcomes and the time clock.

On the bike, I want to push the limits both physically and mentally. In the off season, I was determined to master cylcocross and mountain biking. I am no off road expert, but I’m learning. In 2014, I rode more than I ever have, and I loved it because I felt myself get stronger, faster, and gain new skills. However, there was one strength workout I never mastered. It was an uphill 15-22 minute effort where cadence was structured (i.e. first five minutes at cadence 50-60, five minutes at cadence 60-70, etc.). I had target power numbers to hit, but week after week, I never came close to the power outage Jamie wanted. The last time I attempted the workout I was riding up Urbassa in Vitoria. It was a beautiful day, but I got to the top of the hill, and started to break down. I was upset. I’ve failed workouts before, but I rarely fail the same workout over and over and over again. Hopefully this year I’ll get the opportunity to beat this workout.

In the run, I want to be consistent.

It will be a tough year. New players will be in the game, along with experienced ones. Everyone will have their eye on qualifying for the Olympics. Let the fun begin!

This was my first day in Australia: January 2nd. I was excited to see two Wizards: Grace Musgrove and Aaron Royle.

This was my first day in Australia: January 2nd. I was excited to see two Wizards: Grace Musgrove and Aaron Royle.

First run of 2015 with the Wollongong Wizards

First run of 2015 with the Wollongong Wizards

This is a new addition to our Australian home in Wollongong thanks to the Allen Family. I love it!

This is a new addition to our Australian home in Wollongong thanks to the Allen Family. I love it!

A rainy walk back from the trails in Falls Creek with Ellen Pennock.

A rainy walk back from the trails in Falls Creek with Ellen Pennock.

Sponsor Highlight: Mark Holowesko and the Bahamas

Generous, humble, competitive and fair describes one of my sponsors, Mark Holowesko. An article, “The Ironman of Hedge Funds” from The Bahamas Investor, describes Mark really well. At the end of the article, John Smith wrote that Mark was not given any breaks, only opportunities: “Mark always took opportunities and developed them.” Mark is now giving other people (including me) opportunities. And I do not take his opportunity for granted.

Patrick and I flew from snowy Minnesota to sunny Nassau (in the Bahamas) for a long weekend. I told Mark (who lives in Nassau) it’s my favorite trip of the year. I’m not sure if he believes me. However, after reading this, I think it will be hard for anyone to disagree.

The trip started with a sea plane ride to Highbourne Cay. If you are wondering where to go on your next holiday, I’d highly recommend Highbourne Cay. The Bahamas are a beautiful, relaxing, surreal place; but to truly experience everything the Bahamas has to offer, you have to travel to the smaller islands. Although we could have ridden our bikes on Highbourne Cay, we didn’t travel with them. Instead, we spent time driving golf carts to our cottage, which overlooked the ocean from the east and west. We had bonfires at night, ocean swims during the day, and boat rides.  We drove the golf carts to Xuma (the restaurant) where we ate unlimited lobster, fish, and guava duff. Guava duff is a dessert native to the Bahamas. After my first piece, I started to go through withdrawal thinking I wouldn’t be able to eat this dessert again for at least another year. By my third serving, Jarrod Shoemaker gave me a look of disgust and said, “You’re eating more?!”

After a day of spear fishing and deep sea fishing, we did a point-to-point open water swim in the ocean. A boat dropped us at the start, and we swam right up to the door of our cottage. There were about 20 of us that did the swim race, with a few others joining for fun (Patrick even grabbed some fins and swam).

Swimming and running on the island were easy. I hadn’t been swimming much back home because it’s cold, and I don’t have my Wollongong Wizards to train with, but when given the option of swimming in the ocean, I couldn’t resist.  

I could have spent the entire day on the island, but we were fortunate to take a boat to a sand bar. It was like our own personal beach in the middle of the ocean. We saw nurse sharks, real sharks, blue fish, yellow fish, jelly fish, and many other sea creatures. After two days of pure bliss, we headed back to Nassau. The pro athletes spent the afternoon helping out at a kids’ triathlon camp. I was amazed with the turnout! For such a small island, there are a lot of athletes and people passionate about sport – and this was touching to see. The following day, we did the UWC Bahamas non draft Olympic distance triathlon. Although we had some pretty famous triathlon pros racing, we weren’t the most famous athletes, as Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki did the triathlon as well.

Following the race, we took a boat ride to another beautiful beach where I was happy to get pushed overboard. Mark Holowesko truly gave us all an opportunity of a lifetime and we took full advantage. He sponsored (funded) the UWC Bahamas triathlon and also graciously housed us. Mark is one of my personal sponsors, helping to fund my dream of competing in triathlon. I take his opportunity and invest in what makes us (my team: Patrick, Jamie, our sponsors, and family) successful. We take control of what we are doing and pursue excellence through hard work and strong ethics, just like Mark does.

Seaplane

Seaplane

Swim race start, Photo thanks to Paul Phillips

Swim race start, Photo thanks to Paul Phillips

Patrick swimming. Photo thanks to Paul Phillips

Patrick swimming. Photo thanks to Paul Phillips

Bonfire. Photo thanks to Paul Phillips

Bonfire. Photo thanks to Paul Phillips

Patrick and I stole Wynne McKenzie - she's such a cutie, and a good baby!

Patrick and I stole Wynne McKenzie - she's such a cutie, and a good baby!

Picture from the sandbar. Photo thanks to Paul Phillips

Picture from the sandbar. Photo thanks to Paul Phillips

The Bahamas are beautiful!

The Bahamas are beautiful!