Stack’s Inspiration – A Reason to Tri – TriCoachGeorgia


We at (TCGa) are very proud to have the Stack aka Craig Stachewicz on the team. Stack has Ironman Eagleman 70.3 and Ironman Maryland (IMMD) on his race calendar this year. Not only does he face the specter of being deployed back to the Middle East for the Army, he is a close friend of Crisp McDonald, Race Director for Go Race Productions, a heck of a family man, and a great athlete. But more than anything else, he is a great guy. We wanted to write a feature blog on him and the wonderful gesture he makes during his races for his dear friend Stacey. But first let’s give you some background on Stack.

Interest Grows

Stack started off during the 80’s and early 90’s watching events on TV like the Ironman coverage with the likes of Scott and Allen, the Le Tour De France with Greg LeMond. He was amazed that people could do these things. As a kid, Stack rode his bike for his paper route and imagined being in the Le Tour De France, attacking, chasing, and really just trying to get home sooner. He also really loved the idea of triathlons but he hated running and couldn’t swim worth a damn (quit swimming lessons every year because the pools in Buffalo, NY are cold, imagine that?!?).

He entered high school and college, played sports and was in Army ROTC but still hated running, did not swim, and stopped riding. It wasn’t until 2003 after he returned from the war in Iraq that he bought a new bike and started to ride. Stack fell back in love with riding again, found some other guys to ride and did some century rides. In 2004 he left the military and went back to college. He was determined to complete a triathlon and chose to attend University North Carolina at Wilmington because it was on the beach, tuition was great, and they had a triathlon club. This is when he met Crisp.

Mission Accomplished

Crisp was the president of the Tri Club at UNCW and he taught Stack how to swim, bike better, and enjoy running more. The Tri Club was a close group; they trained, had fun, and even completed Ironman Florida in 2006 together. After Stack completed IMFL, he stopped training and drank beer, entered the military again, and had to travel a bunch.

Stacey Joins the Battle and Becomes Inspiration

In the military, Stack met his buddy’s wife, Stacey. She was impressed that he completed IMFL and was curious what other events or challenges he had planned. So Stack told her about the Marine Corps Marathon and she got hooked. Stacey blames him for getting her obsessed / addicted to things (running, tris, MyFitnessPal, etc). Whenever Stack would bring up and event or show her something she would adopt it and give it 100% determined to finish. She didn’t play to compete, but to win. She is a bit competitive…just a bit.

So they signed up and completed the Marine Corps Marathon. She did not meet her goal of under 4 hours (Bucket List item “BLI”). She was determined to meet her goals and also win. She was determined to win her age groups (and beat the boys) at various distances. She set her goal to Boston Marathon Qualify (BLI). It took several attempts but she BQ’d and finished the Boston Marathon in 2014, but she did not have her personal record (PR) at Boston, so she was determined to go back. In 2015, she BQ’d again and will run in 2017 for a PR (BLI).

Ironman Becomes the Next Goal

Another BLI for Stacey is completing an Ironman. Stacey wants to be an Ironperson. Anyway, this BLI is very important to her. Maybe more than some of the others that she checks off annually (and still adds some too). They have completed multiple events together (Stacey, Stack and their spouses). Stack says that “Stacey is more determined, disciplined, and successful than me at these events. I mean she is a beast at 5’3 or something, she crushes me”. So 2016 is the time for Ironman to come off the bucket list. Stack agreed to do IMMD with her so she can complete it (likely crush it) and she can call herself an Ironperson.

Story Behind the Story

So why is Stacey Stack’s inspiration? She has had very severe Osteoarthritis since the age of 11. She was a competitive gymnast through college. Her arthritis started to negatively impact her and she had a stroke due to medication in the early 2000s, causing weakness and progressing memory issues. Some people have told her to not train or race and just accept that she is disabled. Stacey refuses, she will not quit (#NoQuit). She has to receive bone marrow injections for the arthritis. She is a Colon cancer survivor from 2013. Moreover, she lives life everyday determined to complete her Bucket List with her friends and family.

Stacey makes other people better. She is Stack’s big sister and family. Part of her story and picture is here:


Stack has several reasons why he raced in the past and committed to endurance sports. Now he has an even bigger purpose. Joining forces with a spiritually strong team and close knit team like TCGa, which has supported #WeFinishTogether and #TeamTagg full force, despite his potential deployment and his location in the Northeast seemed a natural and he has had no regrets.

The biggest reason for training for Eagleman 70.3 and IMMD is a woman and exceptional person named Stacey Grady. Please stand behind him in this noble effort and her in her fight against debilitating health issues.

2015 Year in Review – TriCoachGeorgia

TriCoachGeorgia enjoyed another successful year in 2015 with multiple first time race finishers, personal records abundant at all triathlon and running distances, as well as some outstanding elite types of performances. The team continues to grow with many new athletes joining in 2015 and the addition of 4 new coaches. Plans for even more coaching additions have been hashed out for 2016 and the roster grows daily.

The team has expanded since the origination in February of 2012 of a two man operation to a team of 7 coaches and 50 plus triathletes. Augusta 70.3 camp has grown from 30 attendees the first year to 220+. The growth seems to be unstoppable. They also support several key philanthropic causes like #WeFinishTogether, the fight against Cancer, and #TeamTagg.

The team age range is huge from 5 years old to nearly 70 and there are several 60 year old athletes spoken for. The youth arm of the team, TriKidsGeorgia, has continued to grow as well. Staying true to their mission, they have developed happier, healthier, and faster age group triathletes. The kids have grown close and look up the adults and vice versa.

The coaching systems employed by the coaches of TCGA have proven results. Rarely will you hear an athlete complain about being unprepared. If anything some of their critics are worried about the team’s athletes being over trained.

The TCGA culture has grown to be a tight knit one that supports all levels of triathletes and single sport athletes. They fight demons together and stand side by side through thick and thin. Their motto is #NoQuit. Once on the team, athletes are Reapers for life. The team is also well thought of throughout the United States and abroad for their dedication, commitment, hard work, and humor.

Not just a team for elite triathletes, but in 2015 there were two 2016 Kona Ironman World Championship qualifiers, and several 2016 Ironman 70.3 World Championship qualifiers. The team saw several compete in 2015 world championships from Maui for Xterra, to Kona for the World Ironman Championship, and to Austria for Ironman 70.3.  In the USA Triathlon NCC Challenge (#USATNCC), the team is also a top 10 overall team and the defending 2015 USAT Division IV national champions and possess a big lead already for the 2016 title.

All told, this team is on fire. They do their jobs and reap what they sow. Inquire about how to be a coached athlete or team member and you, too, may be able to find out where your potential is.

Find Your Zone and 3 Ways to Do It by Coach Spartacus – Brian Patterson – TriCoachGeorgia

In my last blog I listed four thoughts to off season training. Today, I explain how you determine your heart rate training zones using a lab, a field test or just a little basic arithmetic.


You may be finding this article at the end of your triathlon season having trained all year without knowing your zones, you may know your zones or you may be brand new to zone based training. This article and the articles to follow apply to each of you as we are in the time of year that a large portion of your training should be focused on training in zone 2. I will explain why in my next article. For now, let’s find your zone!

Before I get into ways to find your training zones, some terminology needs to be reviewed so we are all in agreement.

VO2 max – VO2 is an abbreviation for volume of oxygen. What it means to a physiologist, to you and to me (a coach) is it’s the volume or amount of oxygen a person/athlete can use during a minute of activity/work. Endurance athletes produce energy using oxygen, and as intensity increases, the need for oxygen increases. There is an end point, a maximum, and this where energy production stops despite higher intensities because oxygen use is limited by the heart’s blood pumping ability. When your max heart rate is reached you also are at your highest level of oxygen consumption. To keep it simple for training zone determination let’s agree that VO2 max means maximum heart rate. The VO2 max is largely a fixed number based on genetics and cannot be increased very much through training.

Lactate Threshold – You may see this abbreviated as LT, AT, AnT or VT. This is also called anaerobic threshold or ventilatory threshold. When the body is making energy aerobically (using oxygen)during endurance training/racing the lactic acid produced inside the cell is converted to carbon dioxide and is removed through exhalation. This “threshold” is the point where the heart can’t pump enough blood to the lungs so the athlete can’t blow off the accumulating acid, carbon dioxide. This is the red line of endurance training and racing because aerobic energy production is switched to anaerobic energy production. Anaerobic energy production is less efficient and produces a lot of waste that is hard to metabolize so we want to be just below this threshold because going over it increases fatigue very rapidly. Unlike VO2 max, Anaerobic/ventilatory threshold can be increased with proper training.

Aerobic Threshold – If VO2 max is the pedal to the metal all out efforts and LT is slightly harder than a moderate effort, then the aerobic threshold, AeT, is a relatively low intensity level of training. This is zone 2 and the garage where BIG aerobic engines are built! Technically, this is the point where lactic acid is beginning to accumulate and you notice your breathing becomes a little deeper and maybe just two or three breaths more per minute. You will also notice an increase in body temperature and maybe a light sweat on your skin. When you notice this, hold that effort and stay there for the prescribed time. This is also the zone where metabolic efficiency training begins and that discussion is for another time.


Lab based testing for determining heart rate zones


Lab testing to determine your VO2 max, aerobic and anaerobic thresholds is done with a metabolic cart and can be done for running and cycling. This involves wearing a very tight fitting mask connected to a device that measures the volume of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your breaths and your heart rate through either a chest strap or electrodes. A computer program displays graphs of heart rate and ratios of oxygen (O2) and carbon dioxide (CO2) which represents metabolic activity. Heart rate is matched to changes in the ratios of O2 and CO2 and this is how your aerobic and anaerobic threshold zones are determined. Your VO2 max is determined at the point one reaches exhaustion. Once the heart rate thresholds and VO2 max are determined, these can be further distributed into zones 1 ‐ 5 or more depending on the different method of calculations such as the Friel method, the Coggan method or the Karvonen method etc.

Some labs measure blood lactate by analyzing drops of blood taken at intervals during the testing session. The blood lactate values are charted and compared to heart rates to establish the thresholds. Blood lactate measurement can be done conjunction with the metabolic cart or using a handheld device that analyzes the blood without the metabolic cart. Both provide nearly the same result.


Field based testing for determining heart rate zones


As mentioned above, there are handheld blood lactate analyzers that can be used outside of a lab to measure blood lactate to determine the anaerobic threshold. The aerobic threshold can also be closely approximated using the results and comparing the perceived exertion and ventilatory rate of the athlete. Once again the VO2 max , this time max heart rate, is determined at the point one reaches exhaustion.

An even simpler way to get an approximate anaerobic threshold is to do a 30 minute time trial.

This can be done for either cycling or running and can be done indoors or outdoors. If done outdoors, it is important to pick a route that is easily repeated and free from obstacles that could inhibit a nonstop 30 minute effort. All that is needed to perform this test is a heart rate monitor and stopwatch. To obtain threshold paces, one will need to use a gps enabled device for timing. Perform the test as follows:

Warm up 10‐15 minutes to get the heart above resting and the feeling of a light sweat then recover until the breathing returns to normal. Press start on the timing device and begin the test by running or cycling at as hard an effort as one can sustain for 30 minutes. Do not start out so fast that the effort cannot be maintained for 30 minutes. At the 10 minute mark, press the lap button and continue to run or ride until 30 minutes is reached. At 30 minutes, press the stop button. Review the data file and analyze the “lap” you created at the 10 minute mark. Take your average heart rate for that 20 min effort and that is roughly your anaerobic threshold. If this was a running test, look at the whole 30 minute data file and determine your average pace for the 30 min. This average pace is the threshold pace and one can set training zones using pace just like heart rate. These thresholds will become more accurate as one performs subsequent tests and learns pacing.

This same field test can also be used to determined one’s cycling functional threshold power if a power meter is used during the test.

A swim test to determine your anaerobic threshold is also possible. Because most heart rate monitors do not work in the water, the swim test is a fixed distance time trial to determine your average 100 yard/meter pace. I will use yards and meters interchangeably in the article. There are several tests one can use determine threshold swim pace or Tpace. Here are two that are frequently used:

Warm up with 10 minutes of swimming to include drills, kicking and a few short, hard 25’s or 50’s. Cool down so your breathing returns to normal.

Option 1 ‐ 1000 time trial ‐ Have someone time you and keep up with your distance so you can focus on swimming as hard as possible and not try to remember your lap counts or waste time looking at your lap counter on your wrist or finger. When the person timing you tells you to begin, swim as hard as you can for the entire 1000. Don’t start out too fast so that you have to slow or stop to recover mid test. The person timing you will stop you at the 1000 mark when they stop the timer. To determine your Tpace, take the total time for the 1000 and divide by 100. This will give you your average pace per 100.

Option 2 ‐ 3 x 300 on :30 rest interval time trial or 3 x 100 on :20 rest interval time trial ‐ These can be used if a 1000 straight swim is not yet possible due to a lack of swim fitness. Warm up as above then swim the intervals as fast as possible keeping in mind not go out so fast that the distance cannot be completed. It is best if all three intervals are within five seconds of one another and this may require adding a fourth interval. Sometimes the first interval is considerable faster than the subsequent intervals. Adding a fourth will allow dropping the first faster interval with leaving three intervals to average. Tpace is determined by averaging three intervals times. if using the 100 distance, average the three times to determine Tpace. If using the 300 distance, average the three intervals times and divide that time by three to get your 100 Tpace.


Arithmetic calculation for determining zones


There are many methods to mathematically calculate heart rate training zones. The focus of this series of articles is off season training and base or zone 2 training so I will explain one simple way to calculate your zone 2 that may be very close to your lab determined zone 2. This mathematical calculation was developed by Phil Maffetone and it is simply subtracting your age from 180 and further subtracting or adding five or ten points based on illnesses or fitness.

Since this article is most likely reaching folks with a bit of athleticism and fitness, let’s simplify the calculation by subtracting one’s age from 180 then further subtracting 5 to give a low end and adding five to give a high end. This will give a range of heart rates for the calculated zone 2.

Using a 35 year old as an example , the zone would be 180‐35=145. Subtract another 5, 145‐5= 140 and add another 5, 145+5=150 so the calculated zone 2 range is 140‐150. To learn more about the Maffetone method, visit here. To help guide your zone calculations, here is a chart for plotting your zones. Keep in mind cycling heart rate can be ten beats less than running due to the decreased physical effort cycling demands.

Heart Rate Zones for running and cycling

Running Zones

Zone 1 Less than 85% of LTHR
Zone 2 85% to 89% of LTHR
Zone 3 90% to 94% of LTHR
Zone 4 95% to 99% of LTHR
Zone 5a 100% to 102% of LTHR
Zone 5b 103% to 106% of LTHR
Zone 5c More than 106% of LTHR

Your Zones

less than_____
_____ ‐ _____
_____ ‐ _____
_____ ‐ _____
_____ ‐ _____
_____ ‐ _____
greater than_____

Cycling Zones

Zone 1 Less than 81% of LTHR
Zone 2 81% to 89% of LTHR
Zone 3 90% to 93% of LTHR
Zone 4 94% to 99% of LTHR
Zone 5a 100% to 102% of LTHR
Zone 5b 103% to 106% of LTHR
Zone 5c More than 106% of LTHR

Your Zones

less than_____
_____ ‐ _____
_____ ‐ _____
_____ ‐ _____
_____ ‐ _____
_____ ‐ _____
greater than_____

Power Zones for Cycling

Zone 1 Less than 55% of FTPw
Zone 2 55% to 74% of FTPw
Zone 3 75% to 89% of FTPw
Zone 4 90% to 104% of FTPw
Zone 5 105% to 120% of FTPw
Zone 6 More than 120% of FTPw


Swim zones use Tpace plus or minus seconds of time. Tpace can also be thought of as race pace so your training sessions may be built around Tpace plus 5, 10 or even 15 seconds which is a slower effort or Tpace minus 5 or 10 seconds which would be fast sprint sets.

To summarize, there are many ways to determine heart rate training zones from the gold standard, elaborate lab tests to simple mathematical calculations. If you know your zones, great! Get to training in zone 2. If you don’t know your zones, you now have the means to get started identifying them. First and foremost, determine zone 2 and get training in it. My next article will discuss the advantages of zone 2 training.