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Chris Keysor’s Road to Kona (It’s all about Relationships) How He Qualified for the Ironman World Championship at Ironman Florida

Ironman Florida was more than a race. It was the culmination of many of my athletic goals all because of one thing…relationships. My trip to Ironman Florida really started in 2012 when I first joined Tri Coach Georgia with Harvey Gayer as my coach. What a journey it has been! In late 2012 I didn’t even know what I wanted to accomplish as an athlete, but I liked the approach to training and the goals Harvey envisioned. Today I would say I have been surprised at the goals I have committed to and reached. All due to the relationships built over the last nine years.

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Harvey and me together after he coached me through Ironman UK, my first Ironman (note my daughter Zoe photo bombing)

As I look back at my training peaks from 2012 I see our first big change together. I started running six days a week! In 2012 I was random in my training, injury prone, overweight and at best a middle of the pack finisher. By the time my first race came in 2013, Ironman 70.3 New Orleans, I had my first top 10 finish at an Ironman event and collected a roll-down slot for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas. Over the last nine years I have steadily improved on the 70.3 stage now being able to reach the podium and qualify for the worlds routinely. On the Ironman stage, after my first completion in 2015, I have been able to accumulate several top 10 finishes and even a sub 10 hour Ironman. But the goals of one day reaching the Ironman podium and qualifying for the Ironman World Championships (a coveted Kona qualification) increasingly seemed out of reach.

The progression was anything but steady with bumps and bruises along the way. So it would make sense that this year had both highs and lows. After starting the year out with a 3rd place at Gulf Coast 70.3 the year seemed to be on track and I was eyeing returning back to Ironman racing at Ironman Florida in November. But then Ironman allocated additional Kona slots at several races and I decided to jump into Ironman Lake Placid with only eight weeks of training available (including taper).

Ironman Lake Placid was a tough call personally since my partner Dana had just finished Chattanooga 70.3 and she was preparing to make the significant empty nester move as her oldest son graduated college and youngest son went to college. She jumped in and committed to being my Sherpa but still needed to make sure she had her entire move organized before we left for New York. What a commitment she made.

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Dana caught this picture of my hands closing towards the sky – whether I was praying or calming myself it didn’t work.

Although so much was lining up for a great Lake Placid half-way through the bike I hit a wall. The second 56 miles was horrible, and it felt like my entire body and mind had shut down. Dana talked me into trying to reset on the run and so I committed to do the first lap. At the end of 12 miles, I made the hard decision to stop. I DNF’d for the first time in five Ironman races.

As I processed my next race, I had to start asking the question, what happens the next time things get really bad? I quickly resolved to train again. That was easy and just part of everyday life for me. The harder part was that other people had invested in me as well. There was Dana, Harvey, work, and of course time away from my kids. The fact is not only do I invest in my goals, but others do as well. If I was going to race again, I needed to acknowledge and appreciate the investments being made from my relationships.

On my way to Ironman Florida I had decision points and tests along the way. The first was my “test” race at Ironman 70.3 Memphis. Harvey had agreed to drive up to Memphis and Sherpa for me at Memphis allowing us time to create a strategy and get my head on straight. Harvey would say it took the whole drive for me to commit to a pretty simple strategy: get the right nutrition (@here4slayrx) on the bike, pace my power on the bike, be ready to run on the hilly course and have the right attitude. Although most of this was simple getting my head right was the issue. I still had lingering issues with my DNF from Lake Placid, but that is what spending the weekend with your coach and your team will do for you.

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Amanie, Andrew, Kara, Billy, Sam, Missy, Tommy, Christy and Slayer. My tribe!

It turns out that Memphis was a big TriCoachGeorgia team weekend. Whether it was crashing Missy and Tommy Hatchett’s date night dinner, eating the pre-race dinner with Andrew and Doug, that were tackling their first Ironman (they crushed Ironman Arizona and left me with some wisdom), talking to Missy about anxious feelings before the swim (it’s good to have trained therapists on the team ☺), cheering for the team to finish including the Iron Family that were finishing there 51st 70.3 of the year and of course wishing Amanie a happy birthday as her entourage came to Memphis to celebrate with her! When you think about relationships in triathlon you must think about the tribe you choose to be with. I have a winning tribe!

I had a great Memphis, enjoying the entire race, smiling the whole way around. And for the first time I was able to reverse my results to have a faster age group placing in the run (2nd) than my bike. Even with a horrible swim I was able to move up to a 3rd place age group finish and qualified for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in 2022. What worked? My nutrition was topped off completely on the bike and I paced the bike at a notch below my usual 70.3 power. And as crazy as this sounds, I put some fun into the race. For me that is “hunting” on the bike (serious but not burning matches) and interacting with my fellow teammates, athletes and spectators on the run. However good the result of the race was, it exposed my biggest weakness…the swim. Despite good swim training I was struggling in races.

During the final training block before Florida, I was able to recover from Memphis and extend my long run and rides out to a comfortable distance. I ramped up my swim training a lot and without realizing it, all the windy training days on the bike would pay off. My friend Michael Stainback and I were kidding that “at least if it’s windy at Florida we will be ready!” Riding in the wind is not just harder, it adds an element of risk and creates stiffness in the body. I arrived at taper avoiding injuries and pulled out a strong Functional Power Test in the last week increasing my power from Lake Placid. Everything seemed like it was in a good place to race with a good span of training over the summer (even if I lacked a lot of volume in the last month), good tests and injury free.

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Beautiful pre-race sunset and a home cooked meal.

We arrived in Panama City on Thursday. I checked in, went for a run and then got some good seafood with my girlfriend/Sherpa Dana. Dana and I went for a swim Friday (realized there were jelly fish!) and welcomed our close friends Tom and Denise who flew “Baron” their plane through 20+ mph winds and rain to join us! We had an incredible dinner of Chicken Piccata from Dana’s family recipe. What do you notice about these two days? Quiet and no risk. No practice bike and a home cooked meal instead of risking restaurants more suitable for spring break than a pre-race meal.

Sherpa support at the swim start with Tom and Denise Pecht and Dana.

Race day arrived with a wake-up alarm at 4:00. It was dark, cold, and windy as we walked to the pier. As I settled into the start, all the familiar rituals provided a calmness in me. The national anthem, the cannon as the pros started, the cheers as the challenged athletes start their heroic journeys. My hands came together many times as we slowly moved through the coral and the mood changed from tranquil to one of anticipation, but never anxiety.

Well, that lasted for about 10 minutes as we swam out to the first turn buoy in near perfect conditions. As I turned the first turn buoy everything changed. The waves rose-up in confusion and the swimmers started to struggle as we headed to the second buoy and then back to shore. It was chaos. And somehow it got worse for the 2nd lap. My swim took 1 hour and 45 minutes a full 35 minutes slower than Lake Placid! And getting on the bike I was in 52nd place!!!

If there was one thing I learned at Memphis, no matter how you leave the water, you have to get your head in the right place and enjoy the ride. As I got on my bike my Sherpa, Dana, commented that I looked happy. And I was! Which is surprising because I was cold and knew that the winds would create a hard race for at least the first 70 miles.

I had committed to keep my power down to about 72-74% of my Functional Power. I maintained that power, burning few matches and felt as strong at the end of the bike as I did at the beginning. I felt better getting off the bike than any Ironman before and I knew it.

Ironically, after all the windy training days I rode into transition with Michael which made me feel good about my ride. Then Dana said I was in 5th place overall and my first podium was within reach!

When I started running, I felt good, but a little choppy and I had to pee real bad. I felt less fatigued and more hydrated than in any other Ironman run I had done. I also knew I had Dana, Tom, and Denise on the beginning of each lap and Harvey and Julie on the back side. They would not only inspire me but also let me know how I was doing.

As I ran past Dana out of transition, I was in 5th place. By the time I reached Harvey I had already been passed virtually maybe even physically on the course. I couldn’t let that bother me and knew I just needed to keep doing the pace I could do. As the first lap ended I got my special needs and started getting my bladder under control.

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Mile 16 getting a little talk from Harvey and cheering from Julie

At mile 16 two things happened, I took an Advil and I passed my coach and his wife Julie on the course. It was inspiring to see Julie as she cheered for me, but Harvey had his own kind of inspiration. He told me, quite frankly, what I needed to do. I didn’t know if I could do it.

My pace was my pace and the 5th place guy just kept gaining time on me. So I resolved that I was just going to keep my current pace, not stop in aid stations anymore, and hope my wheels didn’t fall off at mile 20. At mile 18 I said, all I have to do is get to mile 20. At mile 20, I said every mile I run is better than I expected. At mile 20.5, I saw Harvey again and he told me I was back in 5th, but of course I should run faster ☺ So then I started clicking off the miles until I reached 23. I engaged more than ever with the supporters, my teammates…anyone. Mile 21, 22, 23! At mile 23 you are about 5K away. Anyone can run a 5k, right? And run I did, I let everything I had go , I talked to everyone I could find and I dropped about a minute a mile off my average pace.

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Dana and I agree the best part of a race is re-connecting after a long emotional day.

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Post-race finish pic with Michael Stainback and his Ironman father-in-law Chris Ellington

As I ran into the finishing chute the adrenaline was still pumping (is that possible after 140.6 miles) and I actually missed seeing Dana, Tom and Denise at the finish line! But that was short lived as Tom took this picture when after 11 hours we re-connected.

Before the race, during the race and certainly after the race I realized everyone one of my goals of finishing an Ironman, being on the podium of an Ironman and qualifying for KONA were all because of relationships.

So what did I learn from this day?

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Long Anticipated Hardware from an Ironman distance race

  • Never quit. Don’t quit after a DNF, don’t quit after a horrible swim and don’t quit before mile 20. This just means getting your head in the right place and then keeping it focused. Do Your Job!
  • Harvey and I had a solid race plan including holding correct power on the bike, keeping hydrated and properly fueled. Everything that happens in the swim or the bike is simply setting you up for the run.
  • Relationships! As you read through this race report although Ironman is an individual sport the athlete does not accomplish it alone.

To me Ironman Florida will always be the race where I accomplished all my goals, smiled the whole day (after the swim ☺) and built on relationships to do something I couldn’t have done alone.

So where now? Other than getting trained up for the original and hardest Ironman, Kona, I am also thinking I might tackle a stand-alone marathon. Even after completing five Ironman marathons, I have actually never raced a marathon. Maybe there is another goal after Kona.

The (Virtual) 2021 Endurance Exchange – Coach Wicked Shares Her Highlights

The (Virtual) 2021 Endurance Exchange – Coach Wicked Shares Her Highlights

Like Coach Longman and Coach Slayer in 2019 in Tempe, Az, Coaches Wicked and Angel K attended the three day Endurance Exchange virtual conference hosted by USAT last week. Our coaches at TriCoachGeorgia are always learning and growing as coaches and athletes. Coach Wicked wanted to give us a quick summary to satisfy our curiosity about the program. Here it is:

The conference was made virtual this year due to the dreaded Covid 19. Many think of virtual learning opportunities as boring or dry, and some are. However, this one was neither. I was grateful for the virtual opportunity and to be able to have strong and live video presentations by some of the industry’s top professionals, doctors and athletes. Many thanks to @USAT for this opportunity to connect with peers and learn from each other. 
Topics at the conference varied from business, nutrition and gender differences in sports nutrition, medical struggles, strength and conditioning, impact of sleep on performance. Special guests Tommy and Katie Zaferes discussed Olympic prep Katie’s comeback from her crash and how she deals with mental struggles. The list of speakers and topics goes on and on. It was comprehensive and very impressive to say the least. We were even blessed with the voice of Ironman @Mike Reilly,  himself introducing some of the presentations! 
My favorite take away of the conference besides ALL OF IT was the presentation provided by Dr. John Ratey, Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Ratey discussed exercise and brain function. This topic certainly comes to us at a good time given our past year as athletes and as we are looking at a new race year with possibly more cancellations.  It spoke to the fact that triathlon and endurance sports are not all about racing, and how exercise in general is the best thing you can do for yourself, especially right now. 
The effects from Ratey’s study showed how three neurotransmitters in our brains are boosted by exercise, how exercise can reduce ADHD symptoms and enhance learning, how it fights off depression and stabilizes your mood, curbs anxiety, and boosts levels of a protein in your brain called BDNF(brain derived neurotrophic factor), which builds and maintains neuronal pathways. We all figured that but studies confirm that exercise boosts brain function and, thus, the physical and mental benefits of physical activity and fitness are limitless. 
The Ratey talk was, yes, very “sciencey” but it all made perfect sense and was beyond fascinating.  So much so I have ordered Dr. Ratey’s book, Spark, so I can continue to read the benefits and more of the study.  A one hour talk was not enough on this fascinating subject.  Again, this was a very pertinent ode to the times we are in now and reinforces how no one should toss in the towel on fitness because the race is cancelled. Those benefits of that exercise and that training may help curb the effects of Alzheimers down the road and will also keep you ready to #DoYourJob at the races, which will be back with us in no time.
You can still access the lectures via the Endurance Exchance website so browse and choose. They are worthy of the time spent on the topics that interest you. They are good for athletes and for coaches. Our athletes and coaching staff at TCGA takes these learning opportunities with conferences, webinars, zoom meetings, certifications etc. very serious The more we all learn about the things we have in common, the more we can advance in the sport and as a community. -Coach Wicked 

Virtual Racing for the Slot?: Qualifying the New Fashioned Way – TriCoachGeorgia

Qualify for the 2020 Ironman 70.3 World Championship in New Zealand virtually ! WHAT? !

Yes, you read that correctly. Ironman is doing their best to keep the spark for all us competitive types out there. The new IM VR series is a love hate for most given some of the very skewed results and time postings from a few. Ironman heard the complaints and has done their best to remedy this situation.
Here is a brief of what we are looking at.

The Championship Series Division debuts this weekend beginning Friday, June 5 at 6pm GMT. The series will go for the next four weekends with a different race each weekend. Your best three out of four virtual races will count. You will accumulate points for each race. One race will be a 70. 3 distance and the other three will be Olympic-distance events. It appears that about 100 slots will be up for grabs across the age groups for the new date in 2021 for the postponed 2020 Championship in New Zealand. Spots will roll down like normal until accepted.

In the Championship Series Division you must complete your bike leg on the Rouvy Platform in race mode. No exception. Your run leg’s must be completed outdoors only. No exception. Ironman is doing their best to curtail the false results. You must have completed an Ironman/70.3 even either virtually or out in the real world for them to compare your splits. If anything does look out of place they will be requesting your data files for proof. Age group winners will be looked at closely – this a guarantee. It has been said that if a competitor is caught falsifying results you could be banned from events virtual and real world Ironman events in the future so let’s not go there.

Also, these virtual events are FREE! Championship series or the normal Classic division where you are allowed to ride/run inside. The Classic division does not put you in the running for the Championship spots. It’s your just for fun division. As always when you register read the fine print and make sure your devices sync properly and you are registering for the correct division. Check the ever changing and updated rules so you know you are performing properly. Ironman has given a generous time window over a whole weekend to get the races complete. No need to rush out of T1 or T2 unless you’ve been slacking all weekend!

Yes, some will say this should not be a Championship qualifying method. Agree or disagree but at this current time this is what Ironman is doing for us. It keeps people engaged and training because we will race again. Do Your Job! The TriCoachGeorgia Reaper’s sure are.

– Courtney Connolly aka Wicked


Geek Alert: Tubed vs Tubed Tires For Your Ride – TriCoachGeorgia

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Coaches Longman and Slayer attended the Endurance Exchange (E2) in Tempe, Az. There were many cutting edge concepts presented and the coaches took good notes. We hope to highlight some of our coaches’ takeaways in the next several weeks.

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Tubeless Tires are the Way to Go!

Coach Longman attended a session that reviewed the concept of tubeless vs tubed tires for your ride. The takeaway from E2 conference was to ride tubeless now. The presenters showed how Schwalbe Pro One TT TLE Addi or Continental Grand Prix 5000 TL are your best options if you have wheels able to sport tubeless tires. The presenters also recommended Stan’s sealant; however there are some that prefer the Continental sealant. Per Allen Heaton, a local bike guru, the ammonia can wear down some rims and there is less ammonia in the Continental sealant and less clumping as well. #YMMV

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Good Resource

If you go to via www.bicyclerollingresistance.com, you can compare rolling resistance levels. There, you can see that at 80-100psi, the tubeless tires mentioned are faster than than those with latex or butyl tubes, costing you only about 10watts (where a general tubed race tire costs you 12-13w) over about 25mi. In other words, you exert less effort (about 3w) to get done the same distance in the same time. This could help you achieve faster bike splits and/or have an improved chance at a faster run.

What Do TCGA Athletes Say?

Our athletes that have used Tubeless conclude that tubeless are pretty much bullet proof with the sealant, easier to repair now (But you should practice nonetheless), and are more comfortable too, as you ride them at lower pressure than ones with tubes so you bounce around less. 80psi is advisable for tubeless vs 90psi for tubes. Again, you will need race wheels that are made for tubeless tires to deploy them.

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If you have the money to spend, and want to potentially get done faster and fresher for the run, look into tubeless tires. We think you won’t regret it.

Stock images courtesy of Specialized.com

Failing is an Important Part of Growing Up and Becoming a Better Athlete: 5 Reasons Why – TriCoachGeorgia

My Challenge

Being a parent is one of the toughest things I have done. Coaching is similar. You want the best for your kids but sometimes what’s best is what hurts a bit.

My Boy’s Challenge

I have a just turned gangly tall and upstanding just turned 13 year old and he’s looking at a tough time to make the middle school basketball team. We have been doing some prep work for him to give his best shot at tryouts, but, unbeknownst to him, I am trying to help prepare him to potentially cope with the frustration that will occur if he doesn’t make the team.

His school is pretty stacked so height and endurance alone won’t get him a spot on the squad. For this team, you have to be able to play in constant motion, play inside or out, handle the ball, etc. You need a diverse skill set which comes from a combination of specialization, ability, and hard work. That’s a tough mix for a kid who has spent more time playing minecraft, running and swimming then balling. The point I am trying to make here is that we hate to see folks we love suffer, especially our kids and also, in my case, my athletes. However, it is necessary in life to become the best versions of ourselves that we strive to be.

Failure Has Positive Impact

Failure can be good in many ways for us but it has to be welcomed as part of the learning process. It can’t be seen as a destination but as a stop along the way. Seeing some of our athletes going through a rough race or a DNF can be difficult so I wanted to remind you all as a psychologist, an athlete and a coach, that messing up is a good thing in many ways. Here are some of the ways I wanted to mention:

5 Reasons Why Failing is an Important Part of Growing Up and Becoming a Better Athlete

  1. You learn way more from failure or a bad race than a good race. My worst experiences in endurance sports were going into Ironman (IM) Coeur D’Alene in 2011 and IM MD 2014 wanting to Kona Qualify and Podium the race. Both events crushed my dreams. By T2 at IM CDA, David Eckles, my Sherpa for the race, will tell you that my goose was cooked. I was walking by the mile 1 marker on the run. 25.2 to go and I am already toast. IM MD 2014 was the same by mile 2 and I was even more fit and ready for the day. But, alas, it wasn’t all for nought. IM MD 2015 was where I slowed the bike down, ran well, and got my much coveted Kona slot. I took way more lessons from those tough two races than I did the prior races to them where I did well and raised my expectations to unfortunate levels leading me to become complacent and softer mentally.
  2. You can’t avoid failing if you’re trying for something worth something. Accept it. It’s just “part of the process”. If it’s worth something, it’s going to be hard. And if its hard, its worth more than those easy deals. I am so impressed by my mature women set. Then there is Taylor Lewis aka HFT who is going for a 100 mile run knowing full well she may fail. She is ok with this as you should be facing whatever challenge you want to overcome. Be proud that you are out there taking risks, and not being a baby. It just might pay off in spades. If it doesn’t happen, that’s to be expected even when you cover all bases in your preparations.
  3. PG Wodehouse in his Jeeves and Wooster books wrote that suffering or failure builds character. I think as “character” builds, you get closer to goal attainment. Your mental fortitude growing is key as you need that for the “bigger” days. Me getting beat down in Idaho and Maryland, made me stronger for Maryland a second time. I knew I could fail, and I knew I could handle adversity, but I didn’t want to. Again, each experience helps you along the way, which leads me to #4.
  4. Failure leads to improvements. This reminds me of Lorand Batten aka 5 at IM Cozumel and Courtney Connolly aka Wicked at IM MD 2018. They didn’t fail. They struggled for sure. This made them double down their commitment and forced them to review every place they could find time. There are central areas of improvement and peripheral areas. I call these the margins and we have focused on the main areas and the margins for this year and the future!
  5. You will appreciate the good days so much more if you have bad days. Thus, failure leads to a much more satisfying experience than someone coming in and having those results without the agony. When I thought I was out of the KQ game and gave up my hopes, it made it so much sweeter when it happened.


So there you have it. You may feel down and out. You aren’t down and out. You may be on the cusp of bigger things like achieving your goals. You may be worried, but that worry is ill placed. Anything that doesn’t go quite like you hope may just be part of the process. Thanks to each and everyone of you for considering taking and taking risks and making lemons out of lemonade. It will taste that much better if you do!

Kim Stemple’s Legacy – We are NEVER Finished – by Coach TaxSlayer – TriCoachGeorgia

TriCoachGeorgia is known for many things. These include the grim reaper, the horns up hand sign, nicknames of team members and many more. One thing people may not be aware of is the closeness of the team. When a member is in need, the team rallies around that member.

Recently, Kim Garrard Stemple passed away after a long battle with several diseases. While Kim was an honorary member, her mother, Judith, and son, Connor both are valued members of the team. A celebration of life was held on July 13th at Nellie’s Sports Bar in Washington DC and several members of the team went to support the family. The celebration consisted of stories about Kim, a New Orleans themed Second Line parade lead by a 5 piece brass band and a streaming video with pictures of Kim and her many friends. The outpouring of support showed by how many people attended the celebration.

One of Kim’s lasting legacies will be the charitable organization, We Finish Together. We Finish Together is an organization dedicated to collecting race medals, decorating them with messages of hope and donating them to people in need. Kim’s legacy will live on because of #WFT and TCGa’s support for Judith and Connor that continues today.

For more information on Kim, please click on this story from Runner’s World Magazine.


A Wicked Perspective on USAT National Challenge Competition by “Wicked” Courtney Connolly – TriCoachGeorgia

(As seen by TCGA’s “Wicked” Courtney Connolly)

Long distance triathlon racing season normally ends late in the year.  Endurance athletes often take a long break, gain a few extra, and then start back as it begins to thaw. What if you don’t want a long break? What if you realize that the key to improvement is consistent training? What would you do then? I used to take a break come back to normal human living for a bit. Maybe walk the dog more, more time to clean the house, spend time with loved ones. Now this doesn’t appeal to me as much. I have found a better thing to do with my time.

I am not an “off” season athlete.  As I have progressed, I have learned that I prefer to maintain a certain level of fitness throughout the year. In 2018 I completed my Ironman and fell in love with 140.6.  This is my place right now, as I love long course. The long hours, the alone time, the mental grind, I love all of it. So that brings into question at the end of my season, what do I do?

Bring on the USAT NCC or the National Challenge Competition. This was designed to keep triathlete’s training during the “off” season. Typically, the NCC starts in December and ends at the conclusion of February. Each month teams across the nation compete in a discipline either swim, bike or run. Then an overall is awarded each month and at the end of the three month period. TriCoachGeorgia has performed spectacularly in the competition the past few years as a team and on the individual level. This competition is a blessing for the long course athlete and for camaraderie amongst your team, which is rewarded by throwing down miles and yards. It’s quite simple and fun, especially with a team that is hungry!

There is a certain strategy required.  It’s basically a game of Triathlete Survivor. In order to play you really do need to Outwit, Outlast and Outplay the competition. Lucky for me my coach, Coach Slayer, is a genius at all of it as he used it to KQ.  We use NCC as part of my aerobic base building. These three months give my body the aerobic conditioning I need to get a jump on IM training for my race season.  Go slow to go fast so to speak.

I am not a naturally gifted athlete like some, so it takes work for me. This competition really sets me up nicely for my race season. I also may never be an Ironman podium finisher like many of my teammates but NCC levels the playing field. It’s not about speed – it’s about endurance.  You can go head to head with the pro’s and actually do quite well if your endurance allows. In fact, in the 2018 competition, I was honored to place 2nd female overall in the nation, a huge feather in my cap as I am proud to be known as a grunt.

It also takes certain level of discipline and dedication to make NCC work for you. You can do your regular training and use it to keep yourself accountable with your team members. Some go for gusto with above and beyond work. I have been known to be on my bike at 3am and I have put in 25 plus hour weeks of training on a regular basis during these three months. The key, I have learned, is live to train consistently, even if that means easy but long days rule the time period of the challenge.

Some have asked me for advice.  It is quite simple.

  1. ALWAYS listen to your coach – (if you have one… and keep them informed on how you feel).
  2. Monitor yourself closely for niggles.
  3. Remember safety, health, and your mental well being comes first.
  4. Don’t be afraid to be different.

On our team we go by the saying, Reap what you Sow. NCC is a prime example of this. The TCGA team fully intends to Reap in 2019. Thanks for reading and see you out there this year.


Tri Your Hardest – by DeadPool aka Kyle Roberts – TriCoachGeorgia

My story has two major changes in my life that defined who I am today. The first big thing that forever changed my life happened on January 8, 2011 and that was the day my mom was killed. My wife at the time and I were expecting our first child, a boy, named Jackson, and that morning we had maternity photos to take and then get home because my mom and aunt were throwing us a baby shower. I’m an only child so you can imagine how excited my mom was when she found out she was having a grandchild. We had a great day with the photos and the shower and being able to spend time with our close friends and family. After the shower was over my mom and aunt were going to go to dinner and I told my mom that I would see her tomorrow, not knowing that those would be the last words I would ever say to her. Around 1 o’clock A.M. I heard a loud banging on my door and it was my dad who could barely stand and when he came inside he proceeded to tell me that my mom and aunt were hit by a drunk driver on the way back home and that my aunt died on the scene and my mom died at the hospital. A sense a shock came over my body but I knew at that time that I would have to keep calm because my dad needed me and I was his rock at the time. We then drove to the hospital to collect my mom’s belongings and to see her one last time before the funeral. After we left the hospital we went back home and I told my dad to get some rest because now my cousin and I had to go drive over to my grandparents and tell them that they had just lost their two daughters who that had just seen less than 12 hours ago. I have to say that was honestly the hardest thing I have ever had to do and I do not wish that upon anybody. Trying to find the right words to say to a parent that they not only lost one child but two and at the same time you are talking about losing your mom and aunt. My grandparents came back to our house to stay and the next few days were a blur with people coming in and out all day long. After the funeral it seemed like time was flying by because 6 weeks later Jackson was born and happiness was restored to certain extent but the only thing missing was my mom who would never see the day when she could hold my son and kiss his tiny head for the first time. After Jackson was born I was so busy with him that my mind was focused on him and not the accident and for awhile that helped but all good things end.

The second part of my story involves my struggle with alcohol and how I used it to cover up my loss. I had always been someone who drank but after my mom died I started to use it as a crutch to mask my pain and I felt that sometimes the only way for me to release my feelings was to drink. The thing about alcohol is that for awhile it really does help to a degree but your problems are still there the next day. In order to hide everything I would just drink every day until I passed out in the chair because I felt that was the only way to get to sleep without my mind constantly thinking about the what if’s or if there was something I could have done differently. After awhile drinking 3 cases of beer a week began to take a real toll on my marriage and I decided that if I was going to get better I had to quit drinking and seek out some real help. January 2013 was when I quit drinking and started going to celebrate recovery meetings to first fight my alcohol problem and then once that hurdle was crossed I could focus on making my mind better. I have been sober now for 5 years and to be honest I don’t miss it because I know that if I would have continued my life would have taken a far darker path.

After I quit drinking I knew I had to find something else to help me work through my grief and I saw a local 10k was being held February of 2014. I had played soccer all my life so running wasn’t anything that was new to me but it had been awhile since I had done it so I was a little out of shape. My first goal was to run for an hour without stopping and it did not take me very long to get that down. I realized that instead of signing up for the 10k I was going to sign up for the half marathon instead. I think I only ran that distance one time before the race but I was able to post one of my best times at that race even compared to my races I did after that. After that I got bit by the running bug and thought this is such a great way to help my stress levels and all the thoughts I had racing through my head. After that race I decided to step it up again and entered my first marathon that December and even surprised myself with how well I did. I did countless more half marathons and 10’k’s after that and even did the Marine Corps Marathon in 2016.

I’m all about pushing myself and seeing what’s the next thing I can do to push my body to its limit and decided triathlons would be the next thing. About a year and a half before my mom was killed we were at dinner talking about the 70.3 in Augusta and how awesome that would be to do because we lived on the bike course and would watch them come by every year. I remember telling my mom that I would love to do that someday and of course she told me to do it. It took a little while and year after watching the bikes come by I decided to sign up for it in 2017. I bought a bike and joined my local tri club here which is Tri Augusta and met some really great people that gave me all the info I wanted and were a great group of people to train with. I remember doing my first sprint July 2017 and thinking to myself after the swim that I was crazy to think I could do this but my mom’s voice was always in my head telling me I could do anything. I did the Augusta camp that was hosted by Tri Augusta and Tri Coach Georgia and when I saw everyone from TCG I thought I want to be a part of that because my first thought was their kits are freaking awesome. After I got to know some of them I realized that I wanted to race for them and do my best to represent them. One of the first people I talked to was Harvey a.k.a. Slayer and I said to myself this guy is crazy as hell but then after awhile I came to call him my friend along with so many other people in that group. After Augusta I decided I was going to do an Ironman in 2018 and signed up for Ironman Florida and ended up signing on to be coached by Estevan Price a.k.a. Emanboom and from the start I was getting good workouts every week from him that I knew would take me to the next level. I know since I started with him my bike has improved greatly and my swim and runs have also improved as well along with me losing around 20 pounds and turning my body into something I could have only dreamed of. When we first talked about goals for Augusta we decided that 5:30 would be the number to reach and I ended up doing it in 5:30:42 which I was happy with but I plan on going a lot lower in 2019. My goal for Florida in my head was 12 hours and I ended up doing it in 13:18:16 and for that race I wanted to show my kids that if you have dreams and goals in life you can do anything you want to as long as you work hard and have the mindset that it can be done.

Basically in the last 7 and a half years my life has been a whirlwind of ups and down but in the end I know that my mom is looking at me and saying that she is proud of me and there’s always that little voice that says “you can do this” no matter what the situation is. In the beginning my mom’s memory was my only inspiration for doing things but now there are so many friends and family members out there who now give me the motivation to push through and they will always be there to support me.

Rest, Assess, and Act: Ironman goes on the Shelf – by S’later aka Missy Hatchett – TriCoachGeorgia

I thought this year would be the year for me to work up the age group placements at the half ironman distance. I set my schedule up for four maybe 5 of them. It all started in California in December of 2018. However, things changed for me there on the first one of those races.

The Ironman 70.3 at Indian Wells was a blessing, a realization, and a turning point for me. It’s always important to me to stay wide open to my life experiences and to listen to my heart and soul. I consistently try to work on being flexible with all things that come my way in life.  And Indian Wells and life had some curveballs for me that day last month.

Although I had a PR and had a lovely time out in Palm Springs, I realized the weeks surrounding the race and coming through that coveted finish line taught me many lessons. Most importantly, the race forced me to take a look at where I am, where I want to be and what my goals will be for 2019. I decided my original plan wasn’t right anymore. I figured it would be good to get that out there to show others they aren’t alone if they wanted to forego long course racing for a year or forever!

I’m putting Ironman on the shelf for now. Life for me now is all about striving for balance. I “do triathlon” for FUN and sometimes I lose sight of that.  However, that doesn’t mean I had to give up triathlon. It just meant a change was in order, and that change was not going to be things I valued. I love training, my team, my coach. So they are staying.  I love having challenges/goals. I found ones that are more in line with my current needs.

I am grateful for support systems and being healthy. But, life was getting out of whack.  I needed to rest, assess and act. After my recent experiences, long thought and great talks with my husband Tommy and my coach, I realized Ironman doesn’t define me and it absolutely OK to take a step back and still have a fun, successful and great year of triathlon (short course) and running races. My calendar includes olympic distance triathlons as the feature races, with a sprint distance triathlon here and there. And, for good measure, I am including my favorite and fun trail and road races. If something else pops up, I am open to it too!

Now, anxiety will dissipate, goals are set, working with Coach Slayer and training will continue and Family, Work, Grad School, etc will balance out. Most importantly, I will have fun and still be a part of this great team to support everyone and hopefully race together in some of these events.

I am psyched up about 2019! I am at ease with my decisions.  I will continue to listen to my soul and try to avoid Crossfit. That shit kills my body LOL. Anyhow, if you have a similar dilemma I hope you too will have courage to put Ironman on the shelf for as long as is needed. Thanks for reading and best wishes to y’all!

Augusta 70.3 Race Report by Coach Brother John – TriCoachGeorgia

2018 Augusta 70.3 Race Report Blog by Coach Brother John

Coach Brother John is a busy man. He has several irons in the fire including owning and operating Hill on Wheels in Richmond Hill, Ga. at any one time so training time is limited. And he has dealt with injuries in his build to Augusta 70.3. He felt very empowered by his race day experiences and wanted to share his race report because he believes there is good that can be taken from it by others. Have a read and see how he did his job.


I usually don’t take time to write public race reports. I typically journal notes about the day, what went right, what to change, etc. This was a different race and worth putting some thoughts out there which may help others.

I have patellar tendonitis in my right knee. For those who have experienced this, you know the challenges. If you have never had this issue, PT is a sharp pain just below the knee cap. The feeling is that of a nail going through your knee when you apply force such as walking up a stair or hard pedaling a bike. Sitting down or getting out of a car after being in it for extended periods made it difficult to walk until blood flow returns to the knee.

I noticed this issue right after camp and like a stubborn guy, I ignored it and kept up with the race build thinking it was just a nagging sore spot. I iced it plenty after each workout but I should have backed off at that point and rehabbed it. Lesson learned is to listen to your body, be humble enough to reduce the volume, and take what you can do each day and be satisfied of the progress – rather than push through pain and prolong the injury.

Pre Race:

After visits with my physical therapist, I was instructed to take it easy. I chose to back off and get as healthy as possible realizing that fitness may be off somewhat by race day (3 weeks out). I did have some good base mileage in me during the build and thought that I would be fit enough to show up and give it a go. I got in some soft pedal training to see what race day may look like with longer soft pedal workouts. I felt after a few weeks of this I could make a go of it but had to restructure my race plan accordingly to put me in the best position to at least finish the day, represent my team as good as possible, and glean what I can for future races.

Race Day:

After a few weeks off I showed up to Augusta fully tapered, quite hungry, but very realistic about what this race would be about. Being around friends on the team helped me manage the nerves and I was excited about the turnout we had at the race. My mind was in a good place and I though I was not sure how it was going to go, I thought it would be better than what I thought it would be a few weeks prior.

The Swim

The Swim was 32:56. I enjoy rolling starts and did not have any issues. I knew I needed to keep max energy for the rest of the day, so I took a nice pace and just enjoyed the swim. No need to get in a hurry and it really didn’t matter if I made any time on anybody because I expected to give it all back later. I took longer time in transition to lube up my knee with bio freeze and apply the knee strap.

The Bike

The bike was so much different than past race days. I had a goal of 18mph with no efforts over 70% ftp for the entire course. This was drastically different than camp but I practiced this leading up to the race and was able to get a long effort of 42 miles in without any real pain. I was not certain the knee would hold up with the elevation but was prepared to walk the hills if need be. The first few miles were what I thought they would be, lots of bottle ejected and other gear on the roads. This course is rather rough up front but gets better as you go. I used the small chain ring for all hills, spun them out, and just sat back and watched people pass me. I then jumped to the big ring and took advantage of the descents. Oh, how I love to go fast down those hills!

To make the hills go by I starting whistling the Andy Griffith show tune and other melodies. I decided to have fun with it all and not let my condition get the best of me. Some probably thought I was an idiot but it made the miles go by. I did have one guy come up beside me and say “is this where it sucks to be a good swimmer?” I said “no, see you on the run”…which I did, and as I passed him asked if he over biked the course…no response! I treated the rest of the bike as an easy recovery ride with my buddies. I was surprised with how little I was sweating but kept pounding the fluids and I even stopped 3 times at the stations to pee pee! 3:07:54 @ 18mph and was exactly as I planned. Much slower than during our Augusta 70.3 team camp but no pain! Heck, I felt really good in T2.

The Run

I knew the run would be where the rubber met the road. I caught myself early churning out a faster pace than the plan, so I slowed myself down as I knew the day could be a long one. Sean Summers, aka BetterMan, passed by and I gave him some kudos – he was moving and was sweating profusely. I planned the Half n Half method of half mile run – a short walk – then run to the aid stations. This kept the knee in good shape, heart rate under control, and allowed me to fuel with ease. I usually know by the time I get on broad if I fueled improperly, over biked, or both. Nope – I felt really good! I heard the TCGa spot before I even saw it. I could hear the yells and I could feel the vibe as I approached. I had my shop kit on so they didn’t recognize me but that allowed me to cop a few feels as I passed by the tall devil. I thought about my team and hoped they were having great days out there. I was having a great day too. I had no pain so far and I felt really strong.

By mile 6 I realized I had not ran that far in several weeks. I was wanting to break loose and push the pace but held steady in the plan of letting that happen after mile 10 once I felt I was in the clear that I was going to make it. I was reeling those fast bikers in one by one and having a good time with those cheering us on. After my last pass of the tent, I let it out and pushed it into 7:30’s and felt really great. I had so much bio freeze on the knee I didn’t feel anything anyways. Time to rock to the finish! 2:17:28 and I felt I could go longer! I was very happy about my slow run.

I really focused on my nutrition for this race and I feel like I really nailed it. I took a few hits of coke and red bull around the turn – shouldn’t have as it made me burp and upset the gut with the added sugar. I won’t do that again. Outside of that I felt great, no gastrointestinal issue, and no cramping.
Final time 6:09:08


In conclusion, I want to say that this day was dramatically different than any race I have ever participated in. Though this was my slowest 70.3, I felt like this was my best one. I executed a plan based on taking what was there with my body and making the day mine. A few weeks prior, I didn’t even think I would make it. Even felt like pulling out and spectating…or perhaps being a no show. I noticed more at this race than any other. I was energized by watching others suffer, the spectators cheering, my team having a good day, and the thought of what would become when I crossed the line. I was able to see some of my local team complete their first 70.3 and was there to hug them at the end. I thought about those who may never get to do this and how lucky I am to be able to do so. I’ll need to take some time to rebuild and heal.

Mentally, I am very pumped! I grew as an athlete in being humble in the moment, accepting the issue, but making the best of it. No quit, no surrender. Show up and do my job! I learned that when the body gives a warning, to heed it rather than push it. I learned that a proper plan that is trusted and executed on race day feels like I found some gold. I also had fun. To me, this race was extra special and one that I will cherish for the rest of my racing career. I’ll be able to take what I learned and help others and that is what makes this gig the best.

Run Across Georgia – A Race Report Diary by Coach Angel K – TriCoachGeorgia

I ( Coach Angel K of TriCoachGeorgia )joined an 8 person relay team to run 260 miles of backroads from Savannah to Columbus over 37 hours without stopping – Run Across Georgia. I ran about 29 miles in 6 legs of varying length (between 3.1 and 7.5 miles each for me). I think a combination of sleep deprivation and physical exhaustion puts you in this strange frame of mind where emotion and your senses are heightened. I ran through Claxton where mom and dad came to see me and it meant so much. I ran down dark highways into small towns. One town was having a big party at their municipal building with music and fireworks. A young guy ran along side me for a minute to ask where I was running and offer me a can of beer. I ran at 2am past farms where the only sounds were the frogs, whip-poor-wills and my feet hitting the ground. The smell of night jasmine came in waves. At one point either car lights hit them just right, or electricity acts in ways I hadn’t considered, but the powerlines overhead glittered in a row like shooting stars.

I rode in the back of a truck sometimes and watched the pecan groves and cornfields roll by. Sometimes I sat back there with new friends and laughed, sometimes I just soaked in the scenery. One morning I sat there as the sun was rising over a pristine farm field while a flock of white birds flew into the air. I became almost overwhelmed with the beauty of it.

The running got hard sometimes but each person on our team was really dedicated to racing as best we could. I think everyone nailed almost all of their paces. We had an equally dedicated support crew who made sure everyone was where they were supposed to be at all times and had everything that they needed. We cheered for other teams and had fun with all of them while we waited for our runners together.

As I ran my last leg into Columbus (the only one that wound up being scary due to traffic) I saw Eddie and the kids drive by cheering with big signs they made for me in the windows. I ran across the bridge with the huge statues and flags that mark the entrance to Fort Benning. It seemed very fitting since this was Memorial Day weekend and this race is in part a tribute to the soldiers who gave everything for their country by being an important fundraiser for House of Heroes. My family was waiting for me at the checkpoint. I hugged my sweet kids who were smiling and hugging me back so tightly and Eddie who had worked really hard to find me in the right spot.

Our team met up and ran all together to the finish line on Broadway. My friends and family were waiting for me. I have felt loved and supported by my running/triathlon community for some time and this felt like an incredible celebration of that. We hugged each other and couldn’t stop smiling.

I fell a little more in love with the country and all the people around me. We raised a ton of money for 2 great charities in town. And when I came home to Columbus, I’ve really never felt more at home.

Coach’s Training Considerations

My overall average pace for this event was a little over 8 min/mile, which is roughly my half marathon pace. Had I not been still somewhat recovering from Ironman 70.3 Gulf Coast 2 weeks prior, I would have targeted a pace in between half marathon and 10k since you do get significant periods of rest in between legs. Walking a little and stretching/foam rolling after completing each leg kept my muscles from getting stiff and helped prevent injury. Fueling can be tricky for those with sensitive stomachs, since in a race this long you need at least a few actual meals. As a big believer in “training your stomach” I brought along the fuel that I use for ALL of my long runs (currently Clif bloks) and drank Gatorade each mile on the course. I did consume caffeine, but no more than I would on a typical race day. I ate a few sandwiches, popcorn (and pretty much anything else I could get my hands on) in between runs and had no GI issues.

I did not do any real race-specific training for this event. I stuck to my triathlon training for Gulf Coast. A key product of any good triathlon training program is the ability to run on tired legs. For non-triathletes, building some 2-a-day runs into your plan is a common way to achieve this. Some people try to train for the fatigue aspect of this event by getting up in the middle of the night to run. While not a bad idea, I also don’t think it’s necessary. You can’t fully predict how your body will respond, taking into consideration factors such as adrenaline, effective fueling, heat, etc.

I would recommend this type of relay race to any serious runner who would like a little variety on their race schedule. I really enjoyed the team aspect of it and found it to be a most interesting challenge- part endurance race, part adventure quest.

Ironman Texas: A spectators recap by Coach BlackHeart – TriCoachGeorgia

Saturday April 28th I had the pleasure of attending and spectating The North American Championship at Ironman Texas. Up at 4 and at swim start by 6am. The energy was electric. My best cheer mate, Susie Lane and I both had the race day jitters even though neither of us were racing. While we had 6 teammates racing, we were only able to locate our coach Chuck Sims and fellow teammate Bradley Odom. The cannon firing off the pros sent butterflies in everyone’s stomachs and we knew it was the final countdown. After a few photos, some well-wishes and hugs, we sent the boys on their way. Once we got them in the water we walked over to swim out in effort to watch the pros come in. It’s ALWAYS exciting to watch the pros. They spend the whole year honing their craft (their bodies) in preparation for the event in effort to earn their slot to Kona, the Ironman World Championship. This being a famously fast course, they are here to make potential records.

Pros were out of the water and on the bike in a flurry. Naturally we hung out to see all our teammates out as well. Once we got them on the bike it was chill time till the run course. This made things interesting. Hauling a 100lbs tent to a place that doesn’t allow tents on the run course was challenging. Fortunately, Texas is part of the south and everyone was so kind. The Woodlands Rangers were nice enough to hint where one might put a tent up if need be. Need be’d! It was HOT by noon and that Texas sun is relentless. By the time we got breakfast, bought our camp out groceries for the day and set up shop, the pros were on the run course. This is where is gets exciting!

The IMTX run course is not only 3 loops, but mostly through blaring sun and completely on concrete (the most unforgiving surface to run on for your joints…as if running wasn’t hard enough on your body). Starky (Andrew Starykowicz) , the leading pro male off the bike, had just thrown down a lightning fast 3:54:59 /112 miles. However, he is known to overbike and suffer on the run, today was no different. Matt Hansen caught him pretty quickly and his marathon was only good enough for 8th place. The women were out shortly thereafter. Adopted team mate Mel Hauschildt (not really, but her pro coach husband is available for hire on our team) was lagging on the run for the lead, but not by much. By the 3rd mile she had passed her competitors and was never caught. I was able to watch her come through past our tent several times and she looked strong and relaxed the whole way through. Having just come off the Aussie summer, she was already heat acclimated and the Texas sun only fueled her fire. It was a pretty exciting thing to watch. As the women worked their 2nd loop the age groupers started out on the course. Now the pros and the amateurs are on the same field. Susie and I were ready to take our positions to cheer.

This is where my story takes a nostalgic turn.

As we are tracking our friends and pros, screaming and jumping and yelling and making crazy noises, we were swallowed up in the cacophony of cheers from all over the field. For hours and hours, complete strangers were cheering for complete strangers. In this arena, everyone is united under a pure desire for the success of others. Where can you go that a group of THOUSANDS scream and cheer and smile and hang out in the heat for HOURS in effort to see those they love for only a few seconds and rally behind other folks they’ve never met and will likely never see again and support them wanting nothing but their success? No one wants to hear someone has crashed or is injured or panicked in the water or overheated or injured on the run. We all want the same thing. To get every participant across the finish line. In any fitness competition, but especially in Ironman, months and sometimes years go into preparation. The training is long and demanding as you prepare your body for a 10-17 hour day of nonstop motion. Some have sacrificed jobs, family time, relationships, vacations, money and countless other things that would normally be a priority in effort to achieve this dream of crossing the finish line after 140.6 miles.

After several hours of cheering with her megaphone, Susie’s wrist had finally given out and I was happy to take a shift. I was asked by strangers around me to yell the name of their loved one coming up the sidewalk and chant for them. Yelling across the canal at runners suffering on their second or third loop. Of course we all erupted in screams every time we saw one of our own, but I was inspired by the coming together of so many strangers. People I know I will never see ever again. I even made some new friends (thank goodness for social media)! Looking forward to seeing them at Augusta 70.3 this year!!

The moment it hit me I couldn’t keep it to myself. I was yelling through my smile “This is why! Whenever anyone asks me why I do this, why I do these crazy distances and train for Ironman, THIS IS WHY! All of us coming together to cheer for strangers. This is exactly why! Triathlon, you complete me! It only took 3 sports to do it, but what can I say? I’m a complicated woman.”

Shortly thereafter when I knew my voice was on its last leg, we saw our last athlete for the last time and ran to the finish line. There is NOTHING like an Ironman finish line. It is ELECTRIC! So much energy and positivity! People coming into the finish shoot, the culmination of so much work, so much determination and such a long, hard day. Tears are hard to fight back. Athletes who may have walked for a majority of their marathon are now finding the strength and courage to push past their pain and fatigue to run the chute. Still yelling into the megaphone, we continue to scream for the strangers and give high fives when they’re close. We get our last athlete in through the finish line and a collective sigh of relief is exhaled.

The day is over. A lot of athletes won’t get to see the finish line in all its glory. The rumors and pictures to follow were filled with images of large peletons and packs of drafters which led to some nasty accidents and injuries. Our hearts go out to the injured and their families and hope they are able to make a speedy recovery. It’s terribly unfortunate when these things happen but we do know that the risk is part of the sport. Even when we race clean and play perfect to the rules, others do not and we may fall victim to poor sportsmanship. All we can do is race our own race and be as prepared as possible.

This weekend solidified in me why I do this crazy thing called endurance sports. Why I love being on my bike for hours on end, why I run crazy distances and why I swim in open (often gross bodies of) water. This in turn also made me hungry for more knowledge about how I can keep this body going in sport as long as possible, leading to research on nutrition, recovery methods and lifestyle habits to support it. The embers that have been sleeping warm under the cloak of winter and the “off season” have been restoked into a flame of excitement and positivity for the 2018 season officially underway.

Cheers to all of you out there going for bigger, badder and more kick ass goals than ever before this year! I hope to have a voice in the crowd loud enough for you to hear me scream for your success!!

Coach BlackHeart