January 23, 2018

Why Do You Race Triathlons?

Have you ever thought about WHY you race triathlons? That question
really perplexes people until they’ve actually done one, then the
answers start to fly. And those that have “braved” the Iron-distance
triathlons have an additional set of reasons.

Here are some we’ve heard:

  • The training helps keep me in shape.
  • I feel better about myself.
  • I like working out for a purpose rather than just stay in shape.
  • It’s fun!
  • I like trying to better my time from the last race.
  • I look forward to the race.
  • To feed my competitive spirit.
  • I don’t necessarily like to race but it feels good when I stop!
  • The races help push me to new limits.
  • The race itself is a test of my fitness.
  • I race to be at my best.
  • It’s something most people don’t do.
  • Because I like people to think I’m crazy!
  • I race because I can’t stop!
  • I enjoy the fellowship.

Post Your reason below . . .

The Triathica Academy is giving away a FREE set of running AND cycling
audio workouts
for the most creative reason from YOU!

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Interview with Jim Herkimer – Episode 27

In this installment of TriChatter Ron and Jim Herkimer, executive director of SCAR – sports medicine and general fitness facility, discuss improving performance, preventive exercises and treatment programs.

Along with physical therapy, Jim and his team develop sports conditioning programs for athletes of all levels and abilities to help them perform better while minimizing the risk for injury using our functional training exercises.

Please visit SCAR for more information.

iTunes Podcast

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Ironman Hawaii 2011 – Sherry Rennard

KONA 2011 RACE REPORT by Sherry Rennard

I have had one week now to reflect on my experience at Kona, and since everyone else is filing their race reports, being the competitor that I am, I realized it was time to get busy.

The Ironman World Championships is definitely all it is cracked up to be, and then some! I learned things I will take with me for the rest of my racing days; met people who inspired me and made me realize what being BOLD and COURAGEOUS really means.

Throughout race week, every day hundreds of athletes would arrive and you could hear every language being spoken. I went to the race start every morning except once and did a swim (that obviously really paid off, hahaha!!!) in the AMAZING clear blue water, perfect temperature, many varieties of fish swimming about. My longest swim was on Saturday (one week prior to race day), for 1:20, we swam out to the next-to-last buoy for what seemed like forever. Based on how long it took me to get out there and back, without much stopping, I knew my swim goal of 1:30 was realistic. I was hoping the draft would help me out, but I knew that coming out of the water mid-pack in my age group would be a realistic goal at best.

With that being said, one thing I always kept in mind was the sage advice of friends who have raced at Kona. They all reminded me that it would be smart to not “race” my first year here, but to “experience” the event, always keep my head about me as my best resource, and finish no matter what. I wanted to set race goals that were realistic for me if I raced smart, while maintaining the balance of savoring this fantastic experience, feeling well trained and tapered (which I was!!), pushing myself at the right times, and especially not getting caught up in everything else that was going on around me. I had a plan to accept whatever my time was on the swim and leave that behind me, then play my strengths on the bike and run to reach my finish goal. I know there were people who had their own goals set for me, and I often reminded them that this is the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP, and most of these competitors are very fast and have a lot of Ironman race experience that I don’t have…although, can I just say that I think I was one of the better-looking and better-dressed competitors!! Kona 2011 is my third Ironman (Lake Placid in 2006 @ 12:33, Ironman Canada 2009 @ 11:54). This experience is humbling, to say the least. The woman who won the 50-54 y/o AG, Teresa Rider, has done 24 Ironmans. She has been World Champion twice. She finished in 10:44 and there were several women who were not that far behind her. That is the caliber of athlete who shows up here. There is a lot to be said for Ironman racing experience. Here in Kona, having experience racing this course in the past is a huge asset. With all of these factors in mind, my goal was to finish the race in under 12 hours, and anything under 11:54 would be even better. I figured I had a chance to get in the top 25%, and a top 10 finish would be icing on the cake. When I broke it down to swim/bike/run, I knew my goal time would be attainable if I raced strong & smart.

I was one of the first to arrive on race morning. Every moment was special, from getting the numbers stamped on both arms, to stepping on the scale for the pre-race weigh in. My only complaint was that they were playing “Inya” music during the set up, and it was downright depressing!!!! I called my niece in PA., then sat under a palm tree, taking in all the scenes, and cried for a bit… a sense of awe, relief, anticipation, joy, thankfulness and humility; it was a very intense time for me. I said a prayer that I would be safe that day, for courage and strength, and gave thanks that I was able to be in that place, at that moment.

I had a flat in my rear tire before the race start. I saw some latex leaking out after I had pumped up the tires in the morning. I found a staple, probably picked up on the walk over to the bike check-in (it rained a lot two nights previous). After my two flats in Canada, I decided to have the tire changed. By 6:45 it was done and I was one of the last to get in the water at 6:50. I now had no spare, but did have Pit Stop and lots of C02, and a husband who was a volunteer bike tech on the course, so I felt OK about that. Before I knew it, I was trying to find a spot to start the swim, and off the gun went!!

The swim was crowded and chaotic in the beginning, but really not that bad. Everyone did seem to be swimming “right”, no breast stroking, stopping, etc. I stayed in the draft as much as I could and hoped everyone in front of me knew where they were going. The buoys are not very big, and when I did look up, we were all headed to the same place. At the turn around, I glanced at my watch, 42 minutes, so I knew I was on goal pace. OK, so I probably was not going as fast as I could have been, but I tried to keep a good turnover cadence and constantly thought about my form. I had the voices of all the best swimmers I know: Julie Ertel, Camille, Julia and Angie, in my head, telling me to keep the elbows high, get the chest down and butt up, cup the hand properly, wave “bye bye”, swim over the barrel, push the water back, etc.

I knew there was a bit of a current on the way back so I anticipated a bit slower of a split there… After the turn around, the pack thinned out considerably, with all the fast swimmers way out in front of me by that point. Not being in a draft against the current is not good, so I tried to stay behind at least one person as much as I could, but my navigational skills would often tell me this person was NOT swimming straight, and I would go on my own to try to get into a faster stream. Shortly after the turn around, I suppose because the water was not churning so much, I became aware of the plethora of sea life around us; schools of beautiful fish, coral, and suddenly spinner dolphins everywhere. Anyone who has been with me in the ocean knows I am crazy about dolphins!!! I get ecstatic when I see them anywhere nearby, and to have them frolicking underneath me, swimming along with me for at least ten minutes, was bliss!! I slowly but surely made my way back to the beach, came out of the water at 1:33, a bit slower than goal pace, but I felt fresh and ready to go.

T1 was quick, got out of there in 1 minute less than I had anticipated, and I quickly settled in on the bike for the first ten miles through town. The first 35 miles of the ride were comfortable and I felt strong/fast, worked on hydration, and before long I was making the turn for the 18 mile climb to Hawi. I had practiced this earlier in the week and knew it was a long, gradual climb, with some rollers, but the winds for the seven miles at the top could be brutal, and very scary. My friend Jerry had advised me to try to stay in the aerobars, no matter what, and I knew it would help to be spinning at a high cadence. I had a strong ride here, and when the winds would gust at me from the side, I would lean into them, allow myself to be moved a bit, but would not turn into them or give up. I kept repeating the same scripture over and over in my head (…be bold and courageous, for the Lord your God is with you at all times…), gritted my teeth, and DUG IN!!! After the turn around, on the long descent it is important to maintain control against the wind, while trying to make up for some of the time lost on the climb. I made it back to the Queen K, having passed many in my age group at that point, and settled in for the ride back to town.

At mile 80 I started to hit the legendary head-winds which continued for the next 30 miles. I remained as aero as possible, continued to drink copious amounts of water and electrolytes, and taking in nutrition, which was hard to do in this heat. Dr. Sam Sunshine told me the temp. was 115 or something like that with the heat. My bike shorts were covered in salt. I still question whether I should have used my aero helmet. It may have made me a bit faster, but I was able to douse my head & body with water at every aid station, so this did help me stay cooler. What I did not realize, however, was how soaking wet my shorts and socks would get. By the time I got to mile 70, my crotch was screaming, and when I would occasionally get out of the saddle, I had horrible searing pain in my right foot (I think I’m getting a neuroma…). Since we all know that pain is to be expected in the Ironman, I just pushed through it… suffice it to say, I was so happy to get off that bike, it made me look forward to running a marathon!! My goal was to finish the bike in under 6:05 and I finished at 6:03. I did not want to push too hard to get under 6 hours, only to lose a lot more time than that on the run. I had learned in Ironman Canada that it always does come down to the run.

Another lesson I learned that day was to put on fresh, dry socks for the run, and some Vaseline would help also. I had worn compression socks on the bike, which I planned to wear for the run as well. As soon as I started running, I realized that my feet were already raw in spots on the bottom from being in the bike shoes for six hours. Ouch. I had already knocked on the door of the House of Pain, and I was running through the threshold!! I was focused on running on target pace to finish in under 4:10 and reminded myself that the sooner I got to the finish, the sooner I could take off those wet shoes & socks!! The feet continued to get wet as I used ice and sponges throughout the run to try to cool off. I held ice cubes in my hand, put ice in the hat & bra, and even in my shorts a couple of times. It was HOT!!!

I made my way down to the turn around on Ali’I Drive, then back through town and up the long, steep hill on Pilani. In my opinion, this area, and the run north on the Queen K toward the Energy Lab, was the toughest part of the course. This hill takes a lot out of you, and the rollers on the Queen K really start to take a toll on your body. I started drinking Coke at mile 11 and with every mile I started to feel just a little faster/stronger. I saw Pete at mile 10 and he tried to run with me a bit/talk to me. I put my hand up and said nothing….”Don’t talk to me now. I’m in the House of Pain and really don’t want to hear or say a word… it’s time to focus… dig deep….remind myself of what this is all about… how hard I’ve worked to get to this very point… a PR right around the corner if I keep this up”.… At the turn around, I felt solid and knew I would be able to pick up the pace a bit for the next nine miles. I saw lots of people walking/puking/and generally in a bad way by this point in the race.

By mile 22, I was starting to push myself a bit faster with each mile, wanting to feel when I crossed the line that I had gone as hard as I possibly could without bonking, cramping, or having some catastrophic occurrence out there. My legs were feeling strong, I had absolutely no stomach problems or cramping, and with each person I passed, I felt a renewed sense of strength. The last two miles were incredible, unbelievable and unforgettable!! The downhill on Pilani killed my quads, but the roar of applause and encouragement from the crowd kept me running strong! I turned the corner on Ali’i drive and there I was, running toward the finish line!!!

This is a memory that will be etched in my mind forever, pumping my arms in the air, the biggest smile on my face, and crossing the finish of the biggest race in the sport of triathlon… I did a little dance at the end, got the crowd all pumped up, then Rhonda and I realized that Mike Reilly had not called out my name!!! WHAT??? Well, I was not going to leave that finish area until I heard him SAY MY NAME!!! Camille claims she could hear Rhonda and me on the live broadcast, and a few minutes later Mike did announce to me, “Sherry Rennard, You are an Ironman”…!! I finished at 11 hours, 48 minutes, which was not only below my goal time, it was a new P.R.

One week later, the blisters on my feet have almost healed, some of my toenails are dying a slow death, but I am feeling strong and rested and very blessed. I am taking it very easy for the next couple of weeks, allowing my muscles to repair, my soul & body to rest, and savoring this wonderful experience called KONA…. and, of course, making some plans for 2012.


Sherry provides training plans and coaching for all levels of triathletes. Click here to visit CoachSBR.com

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Ironman Hawaii 2011- Larry Davidson

I have now completed:

9 Ironman races

2 of them in Kona at the World Championships.

All 9 have been done between 10h42′ and 11h36′

In those races I have swam a total of 21.6 miles, biked 1008 miles, and run 235.8 miles.

I have logged in countless hours in the pool, on my bike, and on the road running to train for these events. What I do might be considered extreme by some. After being in the sport for a while now, I have to admit that it is a little extreme, but that is one of the reasons why I am attracted to it. I consider myself unconditionally blessed to be able to participate and compete in this sport. Beyond the competition, it is really a lifestyle choice where I place a high value on physical fitness, and mental tenacity.

Most of you know my story, but here is the Readers Digest version:

Kim and I visited the Big Island in 2004 for a vacation, and we took in the Hawaii Ironman by volunteering for the event. We were “catchers” at the finish line. I admit I was swept up in the moment, and felt an awakening of sorts. I made a decision that I would attempt to do a triathlon, but knew I would never EVER do an Ironman, and of course that meant the Hawaii Ironman was not even something within the realm of possibilities.

The story has played out in an amazing way, and you all know too well that I have made it to the Super Bowl of triathlons, the World Championships in Kailua-Kona twice now, and I have to say, I am not ready to retire from what I love to do just yet!

Here is my Kona Race Report for 2011:

Pre-race, Kim always asks me to tell her what I am hoping to swim, bike, run. That way she can follow me, and see how I am doing throughout the long day. I told her that best case scenario for me was:


If I did the above, I could break 11 hours. That is the “best case” if everything goes perfectly; which they seldom do.

The 3:45am wake up call did not startle me because I had not slept since about 12:30am. I spent the night tossing and turning and thinking about the fact that I was going to be doing the Hawaii Ironman. I had slept well the night before, so I knew this would not be a problem for me.

The minor details of eating, drinking, getting to the race start, body marking, final bathroom stop, etc…all went without incident.

Best case: 1h20′
Actual: 1h19′

The swim in Kona is the best swim ever. It is hard. The water is warm. It has swells. It has currents. It has loads of fish, and on race day, 2,000 triathletes swimming for Ironman glory. I entered the water with my friend Gary, and quickly lost him as he swam out to the start line. The start line is manned by a platoon of paddle boarders holding the mass of swimmers back.

I positioned myself far left at the start. This strategy worked great. I avoided the crush of swimmers. The swim in Hawaii can beat you up and spit you out. The athletes aren’t trying to do it, but it is simply too many people going to the same place at the same time; thus the carnage.

I swam comfortably hard throughout, and was excited to exit the water right on my goal time.

Best case: 5h45′
Actual: 5h43′

Was stoked to get on the bike and start the epic 112 journey. This was my second Hawaii race, so I know the course pretty well now. I purposely went out easy at the start. People were passing me like crazy. I had a plan, and I was sticking to it. I kept telling myself that if I was patient, I would “reel in” a lot of the people who were hammering early on the bike. More on that later. I broke the bike up mentally into sections. Seems to make it easier to bike that far a distance, by chopping it up in smaller bites.

It was typical Kona weather; warm, humid, and some wind, but not horrible. The course has you do a quick out and back in town, then out to the Queen K for a 35 mile stretch from Kona to the town of Kawaihae. The terrain is rolling hills, where you have to work the hills pretty good, then take the the free speed on the downhills. I continued to be patient. At Kawaaihae, you make the turn for the 18 mile journey up to the town of Hawi (pronounced HAAVEE). I have ridden this section numerous times before, and the wind is generally brutal and unforgiving. The winds for the first 10 miles of the climb were fine, but the last 8 miles up to Hawi, I rode into headwinds un like any I have ever ridden before. People were being crushed by the hill climb and the gale force Hawi winds. I kept a good pace and I was steadily passing loads of people. Not a single rider passed me on the climb.

The turnaround for the bike course occurs in Hawi, and then you have 18 miles of VERY fast downhill riding, as the tailwind pushes you faster and faster. The only wild card are the sometimes horrific side winds that have blown more than a few cyclists totally off their bikes in years past. Fortunately, the side winds were not bad, and it was pretty easy to descend this cool hill.

After arriving back to Kawaihae, you have another 35-40 miles back to town. This is where I kept a solid steady and strong pace, and began passing countless triathletes that had evidently gone out too hard. I was a passing machine; where I passed hundreds of people and felt damn good doing it.

Best Case: 3h45′
Actual: 4h21′

Historically, running is my strongest discipline. In Hawaii it is polar opposite.

I took my time getting through transition and I eased into a comfortable running pace. The first 10 miles are an out/back on Ali’i Drive where there are lots of spectators and you run right next to the ocean. I hooked up with a fellow triathlete and we ran side by side for 10 miles. We kept our pace per mile around 8’45″ the best we could, and this was working great until I hit the hill on Palani Road. I could feel the energy drain in my body, and I slowed my pace down. I had to walk up half of Palani Road and told my running mate to carry on.

Ever get a hamstring cramp? My first one was at mile 11, and the only way to get it to dissipate is to stop and stretch, then try to resume running. This was going to play havoc with trying to run under 4 hours in the marathon segment!

I came upon my pal Gary around mile 12 or 13 and he was suffering badly. He had a side stitch he couldn’t clear and his calf was cramping. I offered him some encouragement and told him to not give up; no matter what!

By the half marathon mark, I was toast. I was ready to stop running as I really did not want to be out there. I was hurting, and I had limited energy to keep moving forward. After my pity party, I kept telling myself that I WILL finish this thing no matter how much it hurts. The down, then back up from the Energy Lab sucked. The only redeeming thought was that it is 6.5 miles to the finish after you have climbed out and made the turn from the lab.

I then dedicated my final miles to my family. Mile 20-21 was for Erik, 21-22 for Tony, and 22-23 for Kim. Repeat for miles 24-26, and then it’s .2 miles to the finish. This helped get me through one of the most difficult runs I have ever had.

The Finish:

Some say Disneyland is the Happiest Place on Earth. The finish line on Ali’i Drive is my Happiest Place on Earth.

I cannot explain adequately the euphoric feeling I had on Saturday night when I turned from Hualailai to Ali’i. The last few hundred yards of this race is fantastic to behold. I was so glad to have been able to participate in this race. I crossed the finish line, and it was seconds later, Kim threw a beautiful lei around my neck and planted a huge kiss on my sweaty face.

I will take away many positive things from the Hawaiian Islands this trip.

  • The time socializing, training and racing with my friends is one of them.
  • Meeting new folks like Raj the “double” amputee Ironman.
  • Getting to know Dr. Mark and his family was terrific (he raced to a personal best this year at age 60!).
  • Seeing Bob and Sally Crawford (Sally has qualified 8 times for Hawaii!)
  • Spending time at the beach, and hangin with Gary and Judy (Gary did his first Hawaii Ironman!) Gary and I will be planning our next adventure soon.
  • My First American colleagues Pat and Jeff who came to Hawaii to golf, AND cheer me on at the Ironman. Both will do a triathlon someday soon I predict!
  • Meeting with Ben and Miwa who have watched this race 20 times and took some awesome pictures.

If you would have asked me in 2004 if I would ever do an Ironman, the answer would have been no way, no how. I would never have dreamed I would ever have the ability to qualify for Hawaii twice.

Take a page from my book if you have read this far. If you are already pursuing “your” Ironman, great. What I mean about pursuing your Ironman is this: Define or decide on something that is fun, hard, tough, and that will stretch you way beyond what you currently think you are capable of.

If you are not doing so, now is the time to figure out an adventure that will challenge you, and take you out of your comfort zone. Something you can be proud of for the rest of your life!
Do it now, because the clock is ticking for each of us. Take a chance, and go make some memories.


Lar Dog

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