One Is Better Than Two

Greetings, friends! Its finally happened: The long anticipated merging of our two mediocre blogs into a Gestalt-like one. Figuring Jesse’s mom needed a break from switching from page to page (hi, Melinda!), and not wanting to lose Amy's three readers in South Korea, we have decided to keep our friends and family updated from the same internet home. This blog is a collection of pictures, recaps, and ramblings from a professional triathlete and passionate runner. Jesse has been racing triathlon since 2007, turned pro shortly after, and has posted several top-10 Ironman finishes. His eyes are on Ironman Wales in 2017. Amy is a former division one swimmer turned triathlete turned runner. In 2011, she decided to stop cycling and swimming in pursuit of marathon glory. She has since won several races, including the 2014 PF Changs Rock n’ Roll Arizona Marathon. After just missing this goal in 2016, her sights are now set on qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Trials Marathon.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Three weekends, Three races

by Jesse
finishing race #1, an extremely hot 5k

Racing on back to back weekends is always a challenge, both from a recovery standpoint and when considering how to structure your training between efforts. Yet, it goes without saying that Jesse loves a challenge. After all, he did once complete his two fastest Ironmans two weeks apart (Ironman FL and AZ back in 2011).

Since we last talked, Jesse not only completed back-to-back weekend races, but he threw in a third half-marathon the following week. Here are his race reports:

Meet Me Downtown 5k
This night time 5k is one of my favorite SAR races. It takes place in downtown Tucson, and the race ends at a beer garden with an always fun after party. This probably draws people in who would otherwise skip a race that, without exception, seems to be on the hottest day in May. This year, we lucked out with a very cool 93 degrees! In typical triathlete fashion, I rode the 80 mile version of the shootout before resting and attempting to recover for the race that evening. Our informal but awesome LTTC (Lucas Tyler Track Club) has won the team competition the last couple of years, and I was excited to once again be on it! With our two star runners out of the race, there was more pressure on me than I would have liked. The gun went off and I found myself just off the back of the front pack. I looked up the pack and Robert Scribner wasn't that far ahead of me. I could have bridged up and stayed with them, or tried to run a smart race. I decided that they were just bit fast and backed off and ran my own race. This left me solo the entire time, which was not ideal, but I ran a 16:46. I was happy given the heat, and left feeling ready for the next two weekends of races!


Deuces Wild Triathlon Festival - DeuceMan
On June 3, I raced the half ironman at a long standing AZ event, Deuces Wild. We rented a Top Step Training house for the race which was possibly a tad too awesome. In hindsight, I could have been more mentally prepared for the task at hand instead of distracting myself with socialization. Either way, it was great to have Laura, Josh, Sarah and Sarah racing the Olympic, as well as Dan Zamora in the half!  I love the vibe at Deuceman, as it feels more like an Xterra or Wildflower than your typical Ironman event. It was also great to know I was in the hands of, who always put on a stellar event. We took off on the swim and immediately James Haycraft and I opened up a gap on the field. Halfway through I convinced him to let me take a pull and we traded pulls all the way home. It is always fun to race with a friend, and I was hoping we could ride in similar fashion. I even tried stalling as I tripped over a giant mat exiting the swim, but my fastest leg in triathlon (T1) proved a bit much and I had a small lead out of transition. The first three quarters of the ride is FAST, and even with lower power I felt like I was flying. Then you turn a corner and realize why: You've basically had a downhill tailwind for the first 38 miles. Turning into an uphill headwind made the last bit of the race feel like a death march. When I began running, I remembered that Sean Anderson warned me that the run course was challenging. I appreciated that, as it somewhat mentally prepared me for the hills, heat and elevation, which in combination made for one of the hardest run courses I've ever set foot on.  I was happy to cross the line for the win, in 4:20, just three minutes off of Lewis Elliot's Course Record. Of course this means I'll need to give it another shot next year! All in all it was a fun race experience, and good practice for racing solo.

Podium with Zamora and James!
Steamworks Half Marathon
Right after Deuces Wild, we headed up to Durango for our summer traincation. Unlike the past few summers, where we've had a blast moving around between different states and countries, we really wanted to stay put and train hard in one spot this year. At over 6,000 feet elevation, and home to my previous training grounds, Durango was the perfect choice.  At Amy's urging, we decided to meet the running scene by jumping into a local half marathon! The last time I ran this one was in 2008. I ran a 1:26 then, and this year I was happy to run a 1:20. I was even more excited for Amy who won the women's race! We took the bus out for this iconic, small town, point to point race. We arrived just in time for a short warm up and panic pee before the gun went off. Amy was running the race more as a progression run, which was smart. I, however, was planning on running with the lead group as long as I could. The first mile was a controlled six minute pace, which proved to be too slow for the leader (who didn't seem to know the mile markers were not accurate). The eventual winner and I decided to stay with him as he blasted the second mile in 5:21. NOT IDEAL. Three miles in, I was in survival mode, and our group was down to two. By mile six, Kyle the winner had a few yards on me, and I couldn't bridge the gap. I was happy to get second, and see some familiar faces at the post race beer and pool party!
mid panic 5:21 mile

Now that the races are over, Amy and I are getting settled into training in Durango. It is great to be back on my old stomping grounds with some good old friends around and new friends to be made! I am finally getting used to the altitude, and the dogs seem to appreciate the cooler temperatures as well!

Run with a view
Happy 3rd anniversary!

group riding!
And an Addy

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The High Life

by Amy

I'm currently situated on the couch, over 6,000 feet above sea level, typing this blog in the company of my rescue mutts. I'm living a dream I've had since starting to train seriously for marathons - my very own altitude traincation. Literally and figuratively, it's the high life for me for the next month, and I couldn't be happier about it.

Durango offers us the perfect combination of cool temps, thin air, and familiarity, as Jesse lived here for several years before moving to Tucson. Having him show me the ropes has been awesome, and basically saved us a week of figuring out the best running and biking routes, open water swim spots, and restaurants. Here are some noteworthy things in my running life since beginning my summer traincation:

Half Marathon Win
The weekend after we arrived, I won a half marathon that I'd jumped into as a training run, which is always a good feeling. While a 1:27 half is nothing to write home about, I figured it was equivalent to a 1:22ish given the altitude, which I was pretty pleased about for a tempo effort. After my horrible downtown mile and some missed training due to illness and random aches and pains, I hadn't really done anything long in a few weeks. After the first three miles at an easy effort, I was pleasantly surprised that I could click off 6:30 miles without too much strain. The feelings of ease continued until I crested a hill at mile 9, and promptly felt like I was going to die. WTF was this? Altitude? Lack of fitness? I'm guessing both, as I had to will my dead legs to continue running to the finish line.  The post race beer and a feature in next day's sport section made the effort worthwhile!

Jesse won beer, I won a gift card, then the #2 girl told me she doesn't drink and gave me her beer

yep, it's on the fridge

Trail Running
If you know me at all, you're probably befuddled by the headline. I'm about as far from a trail runner as you can get. With the exception of a couple spots that are each 30 minute drives from my house, Tucson does not have non-technical trails. While beautiful, they are covered by rocks, making them more suitable for hiking than trail running for my cautious self (many people do enjoy running them, I'm just not one of them). I was skeptical when everyone told me how much I would love the trails in Durango, but it's absolutely true. Not only are they non-technical, I can literally be on single track within 10 minutes of running from our rental. Prior to this trip, the longest trail run I'd ever done was somewhere around 5 miles. Last weekend, I completed a 14 miler on single track, and loved every second of it. It's interesting to compare how different my body feels after trail running versus road running. I am much less achy and beat up after my time in the mountains, despite completing runs with serious elevation gain. For the rest of the summer, I'll be primarily running on the trails, with a few road workouts thrown in the mix to keep some semblance of speed for my Fall marathon training!

Running one of the more technical Durango trails at Animas Mountain

View of Durango from the trails - 4.5 miles from my door to this spot
This might be the most surprising headline of all. It's been nearly 6 years since my last triathlon, and despite many people encouraging me to get back into them, I've been really focused on getting that marathon OTQ. While I am not yet signed up for any multisport races, I've been considering it given my volume of cross training this summer. While I'm no longer an injured runner, I am still turning to cross training as a way to build endurance while keeping my body healthy. I still firmly believe that in order to run fast, you need to put in the miles, but I'm opening up to swimming and biking as part of the equation. I'm now doing mostly single days of running with another swim or bike nearly every day. It's been awesome getting to explore the roads and lakes in Durango beyond what I'd be limited to in running mileage. Jesse has been nice enough to start many rides with me, and I'm getting more comfortable on two wheels. I'm excited to see how this experiment plays out as I transition back to more running focused training when I return to Tucson!

Taking a break halfway through a ride

That's it for now. I don't have any serious racing plans for a while, and plan to enjoy every second of uninterrupted training here. There are a few "fun" races that may happen during 4th of July weekend (anyone want to visit for the hot dog mile??), but other than that it's serious business here in ColoRADo! Stay tuned for an update from Jesse - he's been doing a lot more racing than I have lately!