An Afternoon with Sebastian Kienle

Once upon a time… This story borders on the such-ancient-history-who-cares-anymore…but after witnessing a spectacular race in Kona, I wanted to revive it, jog my own memory, and share a few pictures I promised so long ago. April 1, seven months ago, I received a forwarded e-mail from Jordan Rapp soliciting “Extras Needed for *APRIL 2* Photo […]

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Paying Dues

Recently, an esteemed acquaintance said that I haven’t yet paid my dues to the sport of triathlon. He didn’t mean it in a jerktastic way –in fact he was saying it to comfort me— but it made me think. I trained for my first triathlon when I was staring down the barrel of my 30th […]

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Watt I Did This Summer

Hi again.

I haven’t blogged about anything that has happened since May. There are multiple reasons for that, namely it hasn’t been an easy summer for me, and I hate talking “aloud” about stuff. Stuff like training, racing, and FEEEEELINGS. The pressure I put on myself in training for Kona and my other races, traveling twice as much as normal for work, major strains in close relationships, and bouncing from couch to couch just didn’t make for happy or healthy times.

I have one of those little journals where you only have room to write five tiny lines about your day. I even gave that up early in June. Too hard. Too much/little to say. Too much changed from day to day, and I wanted to ignore the frequency and find my node. Get me, physics nerds? (Sorry, I barely passed that subject in high school.)

Anyway, to summarize the sportif part of my summer, which was oddly successful despite everything:

I’ve known Paige since 7th grade. It’s always like no time has passed.

Late May: The week after Galena, I traveled to Austin, TX for work. I had a great time pretending to be a resident, hanging out with my besty from high school, Paige, and her wonderful husband, Zev. Training was limited to Yoga Rave with Tyler at Black Swan, some sickly, sticky hot runs in the evening, and a great 2+ hour ride out of Mellow Johnny’s. I was the only girl there, and pretty quickly realized the only role a chick plays in a group ride is managing the egos of the dudes around her. Push the pace and get caught, drop behind and get asked how you’re feeling. Annoying. I’m on a 50 pound rental bike, guys, it’ll be OK.

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Well-Fit Women’s Team at Leon’s hoisting the trophy.

June: The first week of June, Well-Fit represented in a big way at Leon’s World’s Fastest Triathlon. Our women’s team won the team competition (they take the fastest 5 times of a team of 10 people) and a gigantic trophy and some sweet schwag from title sponsor Zoot. I didn’t enter the elite/”all-star” division (it sounded really ostentatious when I registered…), so won the W35-39 division with the third fastest lady-time on the course. The overall winner was the amazing Adrienne Shields, who also won our race at Galena.

Heading to Kansas 70.3 with Jessica.

The very next weekend, a group of us headed to Kansas 70.3. I traveled with my teammate Jessica, and we formed a quick bond over bad coffee, worse pop songs, and stories about boys. We met up with other Chicago teammates and a contingent from Boulder, including former teammate and Timex neo-pro Christine Anderson, her brother Gavin, and thoroughly charming boyfriend, Owen. It was a great trip. I entered the weekend with a bit of anxiety about my preparedness and fitness level, but decided to relax and see what happened. WELL, what happened was a wire-to-wire Age Group win with the 3rd fastest amateur time. Sooooo I earned my pro card (should I choose to accept it, which I don’t think I will). That’s pretty cool.

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Wow. Kansas.
Veronica, Lore, and Erik.

The rest of June was really tough, with tons of travel for work, a fair bit of upheaval in my living situation, and plenty of emotional duress. At least I got to steal away to Madison for a weekend or two to start ramping up my bike miles, but the month was horribly inconsistent otherwise. I also got celebrate with my IMOO teammates at the end of the month (Veronica’s blog) AND travel to San Diego to see some of my family, which was long overdue.

David taking care of my bike.

July: With only one more ‘B’ race left (actually, two), I entered the phase of my summer where I really needed to buckle down and start adding volume to prep for Kona. Luckily, I had a number of friends training big too, including Jeffanie: Steph and Jeff, the amazing power couple. They made room for me on their near-weekendly trips up to Madison. My very good friends up there, Claire Pettersen and David Kholi, had room and endless patience for me dropping in on them ALL THE TIME to train.

I interviewed Crowie on the 16th thanks to Core Power. Yes, I owe finally wrote a blog post on this subject. It was pretty fantastic, watching him talk about dairy products. Mmmmhmmm.

It’s really hard to look pretty next to this guy.

The weekend of July 18-19th, my teammate Laura and I traveled to Door County, Wisconsin for one of my favorite races, the Door County Triathlon. It is a fantastic event: organized, fun, spectator-friendly, community-oriented, non-branded, and makes for a really fun weekend. New friend Fons comes up with his family every year, too. Laura and I stayed well outside of town at our teammate Jeremy’s house, with his lovely wife Michelle. They’re pretty much the coolest people I know, and Laura is a tremendous Sherpa and person.

Podium shot with additions from Fons.

This was my third year participating in the Half Iron on Sunday, but there’s also a Sprint on Saturday. I wanted to do both races: just for fun, and to jump-start my big-volume training. The Sprint was a BLAST –I hadn’t done that distance in a while and really enjoyed flipping the switch from a mentality of conserving energy for the run to SHUT UP BRAIN, GO GO GO! I won overall by a minute or two.

The Half didn’t exactly go my way: there was some stiff competition, including Kimberly Goodell and Adrienne Amman and others. I came out of the water second, then got a flat in my rear tire immediately out of T1. I spent something like 5-6 minutes fixing it. Special thanks to super-studette Jenny Parker Harrison for reminding me to stay calm as she blew by me on the side of the road. The bike was a little lonely and I got pretty discouraged at times. I basically decided to QMB and HTFU if for no other reason than that I REALLY needed to do a long run, so might as well finish the race.

So I moved forward in the field during the run (this is new to me), and thought I was in 3rd of the Elite wave. Door County plays it a little differently, though: counting age group participants among the overall results, while not letting Elite participants into the age group results. A dark horse ended up stealing first from Adrienne and a few more pushed me out of the overall standings. Well, I wanted to take home something shiny, but had a great time that weekend.

Check out this article on my weekend by Kate Bongiovanni!

August: I finally FINALLY FINALLY was able to buckle down a little and get in some good training. I was still traveling for work, but trundled up to Madison most weekends. My swim was feeling good, bike was great, but I had no confidence in my run. Track workouts had been going well, but I didn’t do much in the way of long runs all summer. I had a great opportunity to run in Waterfall Glen with the R^3 team and went for it: my longest TWO runs all summer had been at my half irons (13.1 miles) so of course I went for 19 miles with a big “fast finish” push during the last three miles. I did plenty of big bike mileage weekends, too, and had lots of fun with Steph, Jeff, Claire, David, Lindsey Heim, and other good friends. I tried to close my eyes, compartmentalize my life, and just do the work.

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Chasing Gerlach chasing Marc.

Work sent me to Louisville the weekend of the Ironman there, so I got to Sherpa and spectate and get inspired by many friends racing that weekend, including pros Jackie Arendt (2nd) and Thomas Gerlach (3rd). I was texting with a fellow spectator at Ironman Canada and learned two additional teammates, Erin and Kimber, would be heading to Kona. Big, big year for us!

September: Traditionally the end of the end of the tri season for Chicago triathletes is Ironman Wisconsin. Prettymuch everyone was tapering or recovering at the beginning of the month, just as I was trying to do my biggest volume. Luckily Russ was in the same position so we banded together for a few big workouts, including a 2:40 run and 135 mile ride one weekend. Really, I had done HUGE bikes like that in July, when the IM Lou/Canada crew was building, and again in August with IMOO friends.

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Finishing up a big ride on a big weekend with Russ.

I had a lot of mixed feelings building into Kona: a lot was in my head, not the least of which was major doubts as to whether I had been able to prepare well. My summer was inconsistent at best. Until August, I hadn’t hit a stride in training, and was basically only doing what workouts I could when I could, and making up the rest. I didn’t see a steady progression in my training log and knew I had been battling some major handicaps. Just as I had leading into Kansas, though, I kinda resigned myself to relaxing and taking it for what it is, knowing I wasn’t at my best.

They say you can’t ask anything of your first time at Kona: that expectations will be shattered by the conditions and competition. On the advice of many people, including some deep, beer-fueled conversations with Rich Strauss, I decided to basically follow this advice from Endurance Nation and do my best to take control of my own experience there. The race would unfold as it may, but I would not forget that it is an honor just to be there.

Thanks for reading. A hopefully more succinct Kona race report is next.

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