Ironman Arizona 2017

"We rise by lifting others." - Robert Ingersol

If there was a theme to come from Ironman Arizona this past weekend, it would be that with the support of friends, family, and teammates the most challenging task become more manageable. I couldn't be more proud of the collaborative effort of the members of Team Foundation in supporting their Teammates through this epic day.

Congratulations to the members of Team Foundation and to all those that toed the line and experienced a life changing day at IMAZ on Sunday!

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CARYN: The incredible thing about Caryn is that she is consistent and she has an insatiable appetite for triathlon. Simply give Caryn a plan with purpose and she not only executes the plan, but she makes sure to execute the plan to the best of her ability. Caryn has maintained this attitude towards athletics for more than 30 years.

Almost two years ago now, Caryn graciously allowed me the opportunity to help her reach her goal of completing her first Ironman. It immediately impressed me that she understood the importance of taking the necessary time to build to her goal. She went on to accomplish a 70.3 after the first year of training and then finally built to her goal of completing IMAZ during the second year of her training.

Caryn's journey towards IMAZ this past year brought with it significant improvements in her swim and bike fitness/strength and with a new found powerful improvement in her run fitness with the use of a walk/jog plan. To say that making these changes was easy is far from the truth. Caryn consistently pushed herself to reach these changes all while juggling a full time teaching job and part time jobs as a cross country and swim coach.

Come race day, Caryn proved that she was ready for IMAZ. She met all her fitness goals to be ready, however the one thing that was out of her control was race day weather conditions. Caryn had a flawless Ironman swim with some of the best swim lines we've seen from her and then when she made it out on the bike she was delivered a challenging bike race day with the incredible head winds. She kept pushing and pushing through the bike course and she made it to T2 53 seconds past the bike cut off time. With a heavy heart she was not allowed to continue the race.

The hearts of all those that know Caryn have been aching for her. We've all had races or moments that do not go as expected, but when it happens to someone that more than deserves this experience, it's very difficult to stomach.

Caryn is a fighter and has made the decision to come back for another opportunity at IMAZ in 2018. She will continue to persevere and she will continue to build strength to battle her way to the finish line. We believe in you, Caryn!
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SHANNON: Shannon and I met a few years ago through the East Valley Runners. Watching her progress through the half marathon and eventually, then marathon distance was exciting. Then she took the plunge into the triathlon world and she graciously offered me the opportunity to coach her through to her first 70.3 in 2015. She took one year off from training to finishing her engineering degree and then as a present to herself, for finishing school, she decided to take on another challenge of completing IMAZ 2017.

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Shannon's work and life schedule is challenging. Due to the demands of her job she is often working late into the day and is often putting in overtime to complete her work. She is often stretched very thin. The goal for her training was to find the most effective dosage of training to get her to her goal that still allowed her plenty of time for rest, recovery, and personal time. She is very in tune to her body and did a fantastic job of communicating how she is feeling and recovering which allowed us to keep her healthy through her training.

The one that thing makes Shannon stand out while racing her is her signature smile. With the anxiety of IMAZ race day, I was nervous that her smile would be hidden, but thankfully I was VERY wrong. Her smile was brighter than ever. Her bright smile carried her through an incredible day at IMAZ. She had a fabulous swim, strong bike, and ran like she hadn't completed 104.4 miles just prior. Her run from was flawless!

Watching her cross the finish line was heartwarming. To see her journey come full circle in the last 3 years is a testament to the fact that goal achievement is about persistence and consistency. You did it Shannon! Congratulations!
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JULIANNE: Sunday was Ironman #3 for Julianne. Over the last year, Julianne demonstrated a significant improvement in her FTP and strength on the bike and her form and strength on the run steadily improved as well. She also experienced a renewed passion for swimming with the help of ASU Masters Swim.

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Last year at IMAZ Julianne executed an incredible race, but the run was riddled with episodes of illness. She was depleted of energy and due to this more than likely left a little bit on the course. She was diligent about focusing on her race day nutrition plan this year and was tuned into decreasing the changes of illness on the run.

On Sunday she executed a great swim, good bike with some loss in energy during the last lap and had a little bit of struggle on the run, not because of illness, but because of the wind stirring up chest discomfort which lead to difficulty with breathing. With the force of her own positive thinking, she was able to turn the difficult run portion of the race and finished the last 9 miles of the run with a VERY strong pace and with the attitude of determination!

The best think I can ever hear from an athlete is their positive feelings about their mental fortitude in a race and that's exactly what I heard from Julianne. She found an inner strength that she had never met before and used this to bring herself to the finish line. She will always remember this race as a testament to her will power.

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Congratulations, Julianne!!
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JAMES: James works M-F in Tucson in a very, very busy field of construction. He travels back to Phoenix for the weekends, to spend time with his wife Allyson, and to get his long training in. The conditions James faced during his training were not ideal, but he managed to make it work. James is a humble human being that has a gift for the grind without excuses or complaints. In fact, to probably his annoyance, it's I that worked to pull bits of information from him about how he's doing otherwise he may never tell me.

Despite his gift for the grind, he is also very smart about his training and health. He knows when enough is enough and when to put rest, recovery and family first. His good judgment allowed him to maintain a level of training that kept him on track towards his goal. James's goal was to complete two Ironmans in one year, first Boulder 140.6 last June and now IMAZ.

Boulder was a challenge due to nutrition difficulties on the run. After discussions about this training and race nutrition, James dialed in his new nutrition plan and I'm happy to say he finished IMAZ with an incredible time, especially with all that's been through this year, without performance nutrition issues!

Congratulations, James! Enjoy your well deserved and much needed down time.
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ANDREA: Driven is not a just a simple word to use to describe Andrea. She is extremely driven! Put any goal in front of Andrea and it will happen and it will happen with meticulous effort!

Photo credit: Syria Watson

Photo credit: Syria Watson

Andrea is a strong, confident swimmer. She came from a swimming background and has managed to adapt to long endurance swims without difficulty. Her biking fitness has dramatically improved over this past year and it appears as though she has really grown to love biking as well. Because of her current bike fitness, she was able to maintain the same pace at IMAZ as she did for her first 70.3 just one year ago! And, If you ask Andrea about her run fitness, she may not give you as big of smile about running as she would in regards to swimming and biking, but she has so much to be proud of in this department. She consistently breaks down walls in regards to running and she achieved a major milestone while running the marathon portion of IMAZ - she ran the furthest that she has in years and she did it without injury! I was jumping up and down for joy every time she completed a mile past her previous run fitness on Sunday. It was so exciting to see her prove to herself that she is capable of anything!

The one thing I know about Andrea is that she has a constant hunger for improvement. I foresee a long future in the sport of triathlon for her.

I'm extremely proud of you for your consistent effort in your training and for your performance at IMAZ, Andrea!. Enjoy the glory of your achievement!
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GABE: The quiet assassin is a good phrase to use to describe, Gabe. Give Gabe a plan and he executes without fanfare. He's a worker bee that constantly strives to prove to himself that he is capable of more.

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Less than two years ago Gabe had not swam for exercise. He took swim lessons, learned as much as he could, followed his training and before you knew it he turned himself into a swimmer. Gabe also does not have a biking background and he owns a very heavy road bike. Our biggest concern with his bike fitness was his ability to gain strength on the bike and work to overcome the weight of his bike through his own power. He did just that, he put in the time and made huge strides in his bike strength and managed to push through the very challenging wind at IMAZ this past Sunday for an incredible finish on the bike. The most incredible aspect of Gabe's training has been his run. Gabe managed to run the same pace per mile this past Sunday at IMAZ as he did for his first 70.3 just one year ago! Wow, he doubled the run distance and maintained the same pace - absolutely incredible!

If you could have seen Gabe "glide" into the last 200 meters of the race on Sunday you would have thought that he was at mile one of a training run - his form was flawless and he looked so strong! This was astounding to witness!

Gabe's first athletic passion is golf! I'm not sure if he will continue with the Ironman distance, but I do know that based on his current progress, his work ethic, his humble nature, and his pride, that he has limitless potential. Congratulations, Gabe, for you very inspiring performance at IMAZ on Sunday. I'm VERY proud of you!
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ROB: Rob and I met several years ago when he was dealing with running related injuries. Rob put a focused effort into learning and healing from his injuries and went on to finally run his first marathon without pain/difficulty! After seeing his athletic talent, I casually mentioned the idea of triathlons to Rob - he bit the hook and went for it! Rob's first triathlon was in Sept 2016.

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Rob had never swam for exercise prior to 1.5 years ago. I can't help thinking how much of an incredible swimming career Rob may have had as a youth swimmer based on his current amazing ability to swim. He's a fish! For his first Ironman, Rob managed to swim a 1:12! WOW! Rob has a history of mountain biking for cross training and came into tri training with a strong bike fitness that has consistently improved. With Rob's running background he adapted to the training for the Ironman run without a problem due to the slower paces and lower mileage.

For his first Ironman, Rob put on an incredible performance. He maintained a positive spirit through the entire race and even when he felt less than stellar on the run he was still smiling and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

You never cease to amaze me, Rob! Thank you so much for the opportunity to be your coach and watch you take on and complete life changing goals over the last few years. I'm really looking forward to your future tri adventures.
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MATT: Matt stumbled into triathlons after learning that he loved to bike while establishing a cross training routine when healing from an injury. It was one year ago that Matt decided to venture into the triathlon world when he signed up for Ironman Arizona.

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Matt's purpose is triathlons! He has a passion for triathlons that brings a smile to my face, but also challenges me at times. Matt loves to push the boundaries of his training, but it's not always necessarily because he's being deviant, with education and guidance about the science of accommodation and adaption to training, he makes better decisions about his training and keeps on track.

When he stays on track, his progress is mesmerizing. He possesses incredible aerobic efficiency - he was an engine for the long stuff. Because of his incredible aerobic engine, he managed a spectacular performance at his very first Ironman this past Sunday. He managed a better than expected swim, a steady bike, and held on to the run to achieve a sub 11 hour finish!

Watching Matt's dream unfold on Sunday was unbelievable knowing how much this day meant to him. He's a gracious individual that does not accept full responsibility for his incredible abilities although he should. Because he believes in the power of a team effort towards his excellence he will always and consistently be successful.

Congratulations on completing your first Ironman in spectacular fashion, Matt! There's so much waiting for you in 2018 - I can't wait!
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Coach DANELLE: Coach Danelle is super human. She has proved time and time again that she is capable of achieving incredible levels of fitness that most of us can dream of.

This past Sunday was her second attempt at IMAZ. During her first attempt 3 years ago, she fought through an injury she suffered during the swim portion of the race to finish IMAZ with a respectable time despite a debilitating injury. She came back from her injury much stronger and approached the starting line of IMAZ 2017 in incredible shape.

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Unfortunately, without warning during the swim portion of last Sunday she experienced severe difficulty in breathing (which she describes as a feeling of an asthma attack) which delayed her predicted swim finish. Then, when on the bike, she lost her spare bike tube and then unfortunately suffered a flat. Due to having 650 wheels, she was delayed ~1.5 hours while waiting for help to repair her tire. She eventually got back on the bike and pushed the pace to make 3pm bike course cut off time. She biked into Rio Solado/Mill Rd turn around at 3:01 pm and was pulled from the course. Heart breaking!

Rightfully very disappointed, Danelle processed through difficulty emotions from the day and then graciously turned around and came back to support her Teammates through the remainder of the evening. Your pride in being a giving and gracious athlete is commendable, Danelle. Thank you for being so generous with your emotions in supporting others on Sunday when you most certainly deserved to process your own emotions independently.

You demonstrate the highest level of class as an athlete and coach! We know and believe you and know your return in 2018 will be fruitful on good karma!

Thank you to all those that came out to the Foundation Tent to join in on the cheering and fun!

Austin 70.3 Race Recap

The excitement from the last two weeks still has my head spinning. The number of Foundation athletes that achieved their dreams between Arizona 70.3 & Austin 70.3 brings tears to my eyes.

This past weekend I had the pleasure of spending the entire weekend with three of my athletes in Austin, TX as they prepared for and competed in Austin 70.3. I'm very grateful for the opportunity to see them through all the moments leading up to their big day. Watching their excitement, nerves, and joy throughout the weekend was an incredible experience. Thank you Sunny, Ronald, and Ashley for the opportunity to spend the weekend with you. I'm so proud of you and your accomplishments!

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Sunny: Immediately after completing his first marathon, Sunny requested to train for his first triathlon. Not only did he want to do a triathlon, but his end goal in 7.5 months was to do a 70.3! As trepidatious as I was about guiding an athlete through a plan that may be slightly aggressive, I knew he could do it. If Sunny's passion for running was any indication of how his triathlon training would go I knew his efforts would be fruitful.

Initially Sunny did not enjoy biking, and swimming was not at the top of his list of things to do as well. Sunny LOVES to run and will drop anything to do so (as a side note, Sunny LOVES people and his Teammates too and would drop anything to help a teammate or make someone laugh). Eventually, with the help of Mike Morross blinging out his road bike, his spark for biking improved and he started to notice an improvement in his bike fitness, which fueled his efforts. He eventually began to love biking, and swimming turned out to not be bad too.

With every aspect of this training cycle being new for Sunny, it was fun to witness the excitement for this race through his eyes. He was consistently awed and grateful for where his training was taking him.

Throughout his training for Austin, Sunny experienced 3 life-changing moments that could have easily derailed his training (marriage, taking on a new job and finding out he was going to be a father for the first time), but he never let anything get in the way of this race and Sunny arrived in Austin in top shape!

Despite extremely cold temperatures at the start and a flat tire on the bike course, Sunny put together a spectacular race in Austin. He was smiling and enjoy the course the entire way. Congratulations Sunny for finishing your first 70.3! You have a long future in this sport. Onward to Phoenix Marathon training!

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Ronald Haantjes: Sunny is the reason Ronald and I met - for which I'm very grateful. Sunny and Ronald work together and decided to take on the challenge of Austin 70.3 together. Ronald lives in Toronto and is an experienced triathlete. He's done several 70.3's and an Ironman in the past, but his goal of completing Austin 70.3 comes after taking a few years off from training. My biggest concerns in working with Ronald was the distance between us (I learn so much from seeing my athletes on a regular basis) and his history of running injuries.

I hit the jackpot when I quickly learned that not only is Ronald an incredible athlete, he is very receptive to advice and quickly adapts to changes. His/our communication is what has made our far distance coach-athlete relationship work.

Thankfully Ronald completed his training cycle injury-free and he went on to execute his race at Austin 70.3 flawlessly. I couldn't be more proud of you, Ronald. Congratulations!

Thank you for the opportunity to coach you from afar. It has been an absolute pleasure coaching you and watching your transformation. I'm very excited to see what you will do in 2018!

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Ashley: Ashley is a Phoenix native who moved to Lincoln, Nebraska in July to take a teaching and research position at the University of Nebraska. She's a very successful person, that loves to consistently push herself and take on new challenges. When talking about goal races after she got settled in Nebraska, the idea of Austin 70.3 came up. She raced Austin 70.3 in 2015 and loved the experience so adding this race to her schedule kept her engaged and busy for several months as she got settled into Lincoln.

I've had the fortunate opportunity to work with Ashley for the last several years and based on her history it's my opinion that she made it to Austin 70.3 in the best shape and at the highest fitness level that I've ever seen from her. She was ready for a PR baring weather and unforeseen circumstances. She worked hard on Sunday and her level of effort in the race brought her what she deserved. She achieved a PR!

Congratulations, Ashley! You never cease to surprise me with your passion towards improving - I'm looking forward to watching your fitness continue to evolve in 2018.

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Weekend Race Recap

"Obstacles are the raw materials of great accomplishments." - Tommy Newberry

Congratulations to the Foundation athletes that overcame obstacles in training that eventually lead to incredible accomplishments this past weekend!

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Grace: Grace is a very patient. For the last year, she has focused on strength/form building and aerobic efficiency in her run. Over the past few months, she proved that she was ready for speed work and boy has that paid off! Grace knocked it out the park with a 12+ min PR on the South Mountain Half Marathon course. Congratulations, Grace!

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Olivia: More than six months ago Olivia and I sat down to talk about her personal goal of celebrating her 40th birthday by completing her first Olympic triathlon and Arizona 70.3! Like most things rarely was her training smooth sailing, but throughout it all, she stayed healthy and always found the ability to focus when it was absolutely necessary. Watching her emotions of joy as she ran down the finishers chute yesterday was profound. She discovered that she is capable of anything she puts her mind to and she will forever have the memory of the struggle and reward of her efforts. Congratulations, Olivia!

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Annie: The journey to AZ 70.3 for Annie has been years in the making. Annie overcame debilitating health issues that left her with the feeling that she may never be athletic again. Thankfully she has a drive within her that seeks answers and she utilizes those answers to the best of her ability to get her to her goal. Along the road to AZ 70.3, she suffered many bumps in the road, but once again she never gave up. She put every once of what she had into her training and she crossed the finish line yesterday at AZ 70.3 with extreme elation and with a lifetime of memories of her lifelong pursuit of what sets her soul on fire! Congratulations, Annie!

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Gaëlle:(Special note from Coach Danelle) Coming from a background in running, Gaelle decided this year she would venture out of her comfort zone and do more than just crossing train; she was ready to tri! She has spent the last 8 months not only working hard but working smart. She put 100% into her workouts every week and even took advantage of some swim clinics and coaching sessions to get more insight into ways to improve her swim. The road to her first 70.3 included a build-up progression (sprint, Olympic) in the midst of caring for her family and going to school as well! Her focus, dedicatio, and perseverance paid off! She completed her goal of becoming a half-Ironman Sunday, and a strong swim performance to boot! She refused to give up or quit when the temps crept up hotter and hotter, remembering her mantra of “you are stronger than you think”. Not only has she gained physical strength, but mental fortitude as well. What an awesome role model her little girls have in their IronMom!! I am so happy for Gaelle and proud of her hard work and commitment to her goals.

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Stacie: Last spring Stacie participated in her first 70.3 in Oceanside. Utilimately she had a great race at Oceanside, but her first 70.3 experience, brought challenges and feelings of frustration that left her wanting more. Stacie was diligent about working on the aspects of her race in Oceanside that she was wanted to improve throughout her training for AZ 70.3 Her diligence, patience and grit paid off with 43 min 70.3 PR! Congratulations, Stacie - I can't wait to see what you do at Oceanside in 2018!

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Shannon: Another step in Shannon's arduous Ironman journey has produced a 7+ min 70.3 PR and a 37 min course PR! Onward to her A game in 4 short weeks. Congratulations, Shannon!

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Danelle: Congratulations to Coach Danelle for her incredible 70.3 PR and acceptance of slot to 70.3 World Championships in South Africa in 2018!!

Post A race thoughts:

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Anticipation is high and the excitement is thick! There are more A races looming than hot days ahead of us (hopefully). 

Months (sometimes years) of hard work have gone into preparing for your A race. Your family life, work life, and social life have been affected by your A race. The A race is sacred; it's a big deal! 

But what happens the day after your A race? How about one week after? Have you thought about how you will feel after your A race is accomplished? 

There is no shame is comparing your A race to a wedding, college graduation, or milestone birthday. It's that big of a deal. If you participated in any of the aforementioned major life events, how did you feel after those events were over? Did you have a period of let down or was it easy to move on with your life when the day ended?

A high level of emotional stock placed on one particular day will more than likely lead to a severe let down afterward. I'm not implying that A races shouldn't be a big deal and shouldn't be celebrated, but if they are kept on a pedestal and the only thing that matters in one's life, then there's a possibility that the come-down after the race will have a major impact on your mental and physical health.

If you subscribe to Eastern medicine principles, then you'll have an appreciation for the idea of yin and yang. Even if you don't practice Eastern medicine, I'm sure you can appreciate the idea of balance.

To protect yourself from a major let down along with mental and physical stress following an A race, finding balance in the levity of the A race may be helpful. Here are a few strategies that may be helpful for beating the post-race blues to the punch:

1. When the day of your A race comes, live in the moment! Capture the most meaningful moments to your memory. Don't think about how you want to portray your day on social media - think about how you want to remember your day as each moment happens.  

2. Consider the true meaning of the race to your life. What makes the race so important to you? Is the A race part of a continuum of growth for you or is the A race the holy grail?

3. Think about and visualize what life will be like when your A race is over (particularly 3-4 weeks after your A race). What will you be doing, how will you feel, what will matter and be important to you then?

4. Don't suppress the excitement of race day. Schedule one-on-one lunch/dinner dates with friends who you know really care about your big day. Celebrate and re-live your day with your friends. Having the ability to talk about the day in detail will be very helpful for managing your emotions and the events meaning to your life. 

5. Recognize that there will be people in your life that may NOT share in the same excitement of your A race as you. Don't force details of your day on them. Find peace in the fact that you've accomplished your A race for you. 

6. Write about your special day in detail, but write about it as if you are looking back on your emotions 10-20 years from now. What details will matter to you in 10-20 years? What will you want to remember most about the day?

7. Put something on the schedule. This doesn't have to be another race - anything that you look forward to will help. A hike with friends, vacation, new sporting activity, educational opportunity, etc. 

Enjoy and relish in your special day, but keep in mind the impact that this one day has on your mental well being. It may be helpful to accept the A race as a day in the continuum of your evolution as an athlete and person.