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. He is a sub 8:30 Ironman finisher and is still working towards his perfect race. 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.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Looking Back on 2017: Third Time's a Charm

by Jesse

In reflecting on the year, I realize I put a great deal of pressure on myself to perform. I structured my season based on a Kona qualifying attempt starting in September. In pursuit of that goal, the entire spring and summer became a massive build for my Fall race season. My volume and intensity was higher than it had even been. Everything seemed to be falling into place; I raced well at the four half ironman races with which I'd supplemented my training. By all accounts I was the fittest I'd ever been.
pre race swim at Wales!

In the final build for Ironman Wales, I pulled an Icarus. I got a bit greedy and dug a little too deep. I didn't allow myself time to get out from under all the training I'd piled on. The result was racing sick and feeling 100% off at my biggest goal race of the year. While I've certainly had worse performances, I can say that it was the worst Ironman of my career on an expectation verses outcome scale. I thought I could easily go top 5, yet I had trouble even finishing.  This was the hardest race I ever done. Temperatures were in the 50s and it was raining the entire day. We had a steady 20 mph wind with gusts up to 40 mph, in addition to an INSANE amount of climbing on the bike. These factors made my poor racing feel even worse. I did finish in 12th place, but the struggle was real.
Okay scenery on the bike course

I tried to enjoy the trip with my family, despite feeling sad to know that I left my wife across the globe just to fail in Wales. We did take in some sights, and hopefully my family had fun! The people racing and supporting were amazing. I would recommend this race to anyone who is searching for the hardest thing they have ever done!

trying to skate it off with some family shenanigans
After a serious stretch of recovery, I headed off to Ironman Louisville. The start list was huge, and I don't consider this a course that suits me. I was excited to get another go, but went into the race with zero expectations. I just wanted to have a day closer to my capabilities. Louisville does have a special place in my heart. It was my first Ironman, my first Pro race, and this year it was where Amy and I told my parents we were expecting!

I rode SO fast at Louisville this is the best I have
The swim started unexpectedly in the dark. This caused an extreme amount of chaos. It may have also been the ticket to get me into the lead pack (not counting the 3 or 4 uber fish off the front). I stayed sandwiched between four guys in the water.

On the bike we started riding as a group, sitting legal with a ref going up and down the line. About forty miles in the athlete in front of me slammed on his brakes as the ref approached our portion of the group. I assume this is because he was riding very close to the rider in front of him and he knew it. When he hit the brakes I rode too close to him. My only legal option was then to then pass the entire group. As I began to do this, I noticed a gap open next to me as we were cresting then rolling down the other side of the hill. I had no desire to ride up to the front as this was a bit harder than I wanted to go anyway. So I pulled in the opening. The ref called this "slotting in" from the other side of the roller behind me. I disagree. But ten miles later I had to drop out of the group and sit still for 5 minutes. A lifetime. The first drafting penalty of my career.
The final stretch!

After my time in the penalty box, I rode way too hard to try and get time back, consequently exploded, then began the slow ride back into town. Luckily a few riders caught me and put some wind in my sails. I rode in with a couple of guys and was able to start the run with athlete and friend Adam Feigh. I finished the race with another 12th place, and an okay time considering all that had happened. Again, I was pretty unsatisfied.

Rocking the new Top Step Training Kit!
My last race of 2017 was Ironman AZ. This is a race I am a little too familiar with. It's nearly a hometown race for me, which does have its perks. I am always happy to have such a great support crew out there, and this year was no exception. The course was filled with Tucsonans cheering their hearts out. I was also excited to see my athlete, Caleb, racing his first IM and friend Leo going after his ticket to Kona.

Arizona is a perpetually stacked filled. This year was a bit different. The top end was still there but by the end of the race the depth in the middle was less than years past. It started with a huge field though! I landed in the second chase pack going into the bike, and was determined to ride smart after blowing up at Louisville. I rode only slightly above my power goals the first lap, spot on the second, and slightly under on the third. It was definitely best pacing effort at that race, but it was hard to tell where I was given the amount of people on course.

So many things for the run!
Once I got to the run I heard someone say that I was in approximately 7th place. This is not what I was expecting! My best finish here was 12th last year. I decided that since I had done a good job pacing the bike I could go for it on the run. This worked for about six miles, until I realized the temperature and my ride were taking its toll. I went from trying to catch friend and training partner, Jon Shearon, to just staying alive for 20 more miles! OUCH! I had a slow fade until mile 24 when it turned into a major fade. I held off 8th place by about 40 seconds! A bit closer than I would like, but happy to be in the top 10 and get a paycheck.

I finished in 8:40, considerably slower than last year, but the conditions were back to normal. We had some strong winds an a pretty warm day. Given that, I feel like it was an improvement over the year before. This was my best finish at a larger Ironman race, and my biggest paycheck from Ironman! Finally a good race, and great way to end the season!
straight into the offy

A huge thanks to all of my sponsors. First off, my wife Amy Cole who lets me play Pro athlete. Zoot Sports has been supporting me for years, and I love racing in their shoes, and the new wetsuit is the best wetty I have ever worn! Dimond Bikes led me to my fastest bike split at EVERY race I did save Arizona which was due to the conditions. Infinit is my race fuel of choice, so I am excited to be working with them. DSD wheels have performed flawlessly all season. Zealious skincare has been a great add. Their sunscreen lasts all day for the long training sessions! Rbar Energy has just come out with a new line of flavors, and I can't stop eating them!! Smith Performance Center has kept me strong and healthy all season. My coach Elliot who took me from an okay amateur to going 7th at Ironman AZ. Finally my parents who have come to SO many of my races, even across the globe!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Running For Two

by Amy

If blog page views are any indication, people are finding my pregnancy far more interesting than any training or race report from years past. I was hesitant to share my last post, but am pretty damn grateful for all the kind comments that came my way. My internet and real-life friends are the best!

I'm currently 18 weeks along and feeling far more stable than during the first trimester. I would classify my pregnancy as very "easy," but still had some nausea and exhaustion during the first 12 weeks. I'd imagine the rapid hormonal changes weren't contributing positively to my mental health, either, but who knows for sure.

These days, I often forget that I'm pregnant. Then I start running, and promptly remember. Not because running feels bad, but because my heirloom tomato sized fetus is wreaking havoc on my bladder. Gone are the days of setting out for a 10 miler without any thought of bathroom stops along the way, and everyone assures me it's only getting worse from here.

Besides the multiple bathroom breaks, running actually feels better than I expected for this point in my pregnancy. Due to the aforementioned nausea and exhaustion, I began feeling crummy on runs pretty quickly into the first trimester.  I've been pleasantly surprised that it hasn't been a steady decline, but I've actually gained energy and been able to run pretty fast for being over 4 months pregnant. While I prefer an easy pace in the 8-9 minute mile range, and have absolutely no 5k speed, I can complete decent tempo efforts. I've been running about 50 miles a week throughout pregnancy, but am not afraid to take days off and reduce my mileage if necessary. In fact, I'm currently typing this on an unplanned rest day after sleeping 12 hours last night. I feel like I could run more, but believe my training allows me the balance of maintaining fitness and giving my body a break after years of high mileage running. For anyone who is curious, here was my last week of workouts:

Monday: 1 hour yoga
Tuesday: 8 trail miles plus strides, 20 minutes pilates
Wednesday: 10 miles with 2x2 miles in 12:46, 12:51 with 3 minutes jog in between sets, 20 minute strength workout
Thursday: 6 miles easy
Friday: 10 miles plus strides, 30 minutes kettlebell workout, 10 minutes yoga
Saturday: 6 trail miles, 20 minutes yoga
Sunday: 12 miles with 3x12 minutes in 6:30ish pace with 4 minutes jog in between sets, Easy swim

hiking has been another favorite method of cross training

One of my biggest concerns about running through pregnancy was not hurting the baby (because research shows that it's actually good for my baby), but getting hurt myself. Less stable joints, weight gain (up 10 lbs so far, for anyone who is curious), and a growing belly could be a fast track to injury if I'm not careful. I knew that proper strength training was important, but had no idea how to modify strength workouts for my changing body. Luckily, I found Erica Ziel at Knocked Up Fitness, and promptly bought a monthly membership. Erica is a pilates instructor who specializes in pre and postpartum fitness, and her site has short workouts that you can do through all three trimesters. All of the strength training I listed last week was done via Knocked Up Fitness, and it has been incredibly helpful in allowing me to maintain core strength (and hopefully will help with labor and postpartum recovery as well!). I am not sponsored by the site, but am sharing in case other pregnant ladies are looking for an easy way to maintain some fitness.

That's it for now, but I'll try to share training and life updates as Baby V grows. Thank you again to all who have supported Jesse and me as we get ready for his or her arrival!