Xterra Welcomed as Proud New Sponsor of TriCoachGeorgia

TCGa partners with Xterra Wetsuits for Value Option

 

Introduction

As the worst team in triathlon and endurance sports’ focus turns to 2018, the team continues to quickly grow against all odds and to cultivate relationships throughout the endurance sport industry. This rapidly developing team born in Georgia and with athletes throughout North America and Europe is pleased to announce another new sponsor with a great reputation in the industry. Reaper nation wants to welcome Xterra Wetsuits as the team of misfits’ newest sponsor.

Xterra Wetsuits and TriCoachGeorgia (TCGa) strive to have athletes be the best they can be and both work with athletes of all abilities. Both firms can be found throughout many social media platforms and rely on delivering value and results to help athletes be the best they can be. By doing so, both seem to attract a ton of new athletes while creating loyalty from their existing ones.

More on Xterra Wetsuits

Xterra Wetsuits was born in San Diego, the birthplace of triathlon. According to their website, with unparalleled design, they strive to offer the highest performing wetsuit at the best value in the industry. As a global leader in triathlon wetsuits, Xterra Wetsuits provide speed, comfort, durability and buoyancy for dedicated triathletes. When someone purchases a wetsuit from Xterra, he or she is getting it directly from them which means lower prices for their high performing triathlon wetsuits with quick, personalized, friendly and excellent customer service. Many of TCGa’s athletes are already using Xterra products.

Reap What You Sow

When you purchase your Xterra Wetsuit and when you join the Reapers of TriCoachGeorgia, you will get high quality items at a very good price. As part of the TCGa family athletes and team members receive 60% off wetsuits and 55% off inflatable paddleboards as well as discounts on other types of gear, fuel, supplements and more. As noted before, TCGa’s affiliations and sponsorship cover their athletes from head to toe in all three endurance disciplines.

Conclusion

The entire team at TCGa is excited to continue to show support for their high quality affiliates and sponsors, now including Xterra Wetsuits, as they enter the water for their multisport races. #DoYourJob and check out Xterra Wetsuits online to see the products they offer and look into TCGa for great coaching, support, camaraderie and results. The team would love to see you join them at their training camp, or become a team member or coached athlete. You, too, can suck like them while having fun, finishing strong, getting distance and time PR’s, and qualifying for big races!

Defunkify Welcomed as Proud New Sponsor of TriCoachGeorgia

The team with some of the best momentum in triathlon continues to grow and shine. TriCoachGeorgia.com has cultivated a number of affiliates and sponsors. It has been said that the team of misfits are covered from head to toe, but what should you do to get the funky smell out of exercise clothes. TriCoachGeorgia is pleased to announce our newest sponsor to help with the question, how can I get my clothes smelling better?

The team found the answer in the newest sponsor defunkify. Defunkify created revolutionary fabric-cleaning and deodorizing products to help solve this issue. Defunkify brought together a small group of scientists, inventors and chemists who were able to look closely at the fibers in clothes to understand what was happening with the clothes when we sweat. Through their relationship with the University of Oregon, the company had access to the most state of the art technology and tools and created this product. They tested their products on athlete’s clothes in Track Town USA. They were able to refine their products until they had the desired results.

Once again, the Reapers are fortunate. They have signed on with an outstanding company that will help them do their jobs at a reasonable price. If you want to know more about the team or defunkify, please reach out and you will be connected. Now #GetAfterIt so you can #ReapWhatYouSow.

Reapers can earn 20% off all products at defunkify.com (free shipping if order is over $25).

Parallels – 4 Things Free Solo Rock Climbing has in common with Triathlon – TriCoachGeorgia

On June 3rd, 2017 Alex Honnold ascended El Capitan, Yosemite National Park California in 3:56 with no ropes, becoming the first person ever to achieve this dangerous climb. For those of you who do not know Alex Honnold, he’s a 31 year old America rock climber best known for what is called “Free Soloing” where no ropes are used during ascents. After hearing about Honnold’s climb on a podcast it got me thinking a lot about the parallels that exist between what he does, and triathlon. The following are (4) excerpts from article and an interview from National Geographic magazine.

4 Things Free Solo Rock Climbing has in common with Triathlon

 

  1. “There were so many little sections where I thought ‘Ughh—cringe.’ But in the years since, I’ve pushed my comfort zone and made it bigger and bigger until these objectives that seemed totally crazy eventually fell within the realm of the possible.”
     
    Ironman distance triathlon can be a very daunting task to grasp mentally. Carrying your body 140.6 miles over water and asphalt, by swimming, cycling, and running. To ride 112 miles, after swimming 2.4 miles, but then having to run a full 26.2 marathon once you finish. What a mind fuck! Pushing yourself well outside of your comfort zone during training is so important. If you’ve never swam in very choppy water, go swim in it. If you’ve never rode a century, go ride several. Sure it’s scary and it hurts. It’s not supposed to be easy. Your return on investment is $0 if you always stay comfortable. You should also avoid training “up to” the distance you’re going to race. Rather, train well beyond that distance so it no longer seems crazy. Make your race day fall into what Honnold called “the realm of possible.”
     
  2. “With free-soloing, obviously I know that I’m in danger, but feeling fearful while I’m up there is not helping me in any way,” he said. “It’s only hindering my performance, so I just set it aside and leave it be.”
     
    The mind is the central governor and controls the body. Fear is the death knell. If you are afraid to suffer and go into the dark places during training your mind will shut your body down. It will hinder your ability to perform. It will talk you into quitting. Vince Lombardi said, “Confidence is contagious. So is lack of confidence.” As a coach I do my best to project confidence in not only myself and methods, but in my athletes regardless of their fitness. I know they all aren’t at the same level, but if I can get them to believe in their mind they can do, the body will follow. A confident athlete will have a greater chance of success over one lacking. Combine pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone with setting aside your fear and leaving it be.
     
  3. “It’s been a strategy the whole time I’ve worked on El Cap is to look past it, so that it’s not just all this one moment. To think about what’s beyond, what other stuff I’m excited about. So this just feels like a semi-normal day.”
     
    So many times I see athletes hanging everything they have on one single moment in time, and fail to see the journey they have been on and the successes they’ve achieved. Including looking forward and seeing possible success to come. Because of this it places an enormous amount of pressure to not only succeed personally, but to not let others around them down. If this is you, then you really need to take a step back and evaluate why you’re doing it. Why did you sign up to do an Ironman? If it’s just so you can hear your name called as you cross the line and get a medal, then you’re missing the big picture of it all. I love Honnold’s approach to his historic El Capitan ascent because it removes the pressure and stress of the goal. He climbs because he loves to climb. Not because he wanted a medal for it. June 3rd was just another day for him. He’s thinking about what’s coming up next while he’s training for his day.
     
  4. “There was no uncertainty on this. I knew exactly what to do the whole way. A lot of the handholds feel like old friends. If I had a reason I could probably go climb El Cap again, no problem. It seems slightly less daunting. That mental hurdle has been cleared.”
     
    How many times have you toed the line on race day worried about whether or not you’ve done enough? Looked back over the last 12-24 weeks knowing you shouldn’t have skipped all of those key sessions, and missed those 100+ rides and long runs? The well-trained athlete is the secure, mentally strong athlete. If you’ve done these distances many times during training then there’s nothing you haven’t faced other than the intangibles you have no control over. You’ve put in the work. You’ve tested your nutrition. You’ve put yourself in many uncomfortable positions and situations to simulate what may happen on race day. The mental hurdles are clear and the task is less daunting. Now you go out and execute.
     

 
When Alex Honnold finished his historic climb he was asked how he felt and would he climb more. His response demonstrates exactly the kind of focus and passion he has for his sport.

“Honestly, even now I feel like I could go another lap. I’m so amped. Probably not today though. Today is hangboard day. I’ll have to hangboard in a bit.”

*Hangboarding, also known as Fingerboarding is a time-efficient way for climbers to build hand and finger contact strength through hanging for time intervals from small contact points.

The Problem with High Frequency Racing – How Often Should I Race? – TriCoachGeorgia

How Often Should I Race?

by Coach Slayer

The Dilemma

I just want to put this out there as y’all are seeing folks racing 5k’s, sprint and olympic triathlons, and multiple 70.3s with little time in between. As a coach, I am frustrated because race results reflect coaching, and we both want the best we can get. Racing frequently may not be ideal and goes against most widely accepted coaching methods of training organization or periodization. Are there outliers? Of course, but most of us are not super heroes. Regardless typical age groupers love to race, and why deprive them of fun?

Optimal performance then collides with fun and social aspects as regards racing frequency. As a coach, and in contrast with my actions to some degree as an athlete (do as I say not as I do), I see the need and desire for fun/socialization but not at the expense of performance or the increased risk of injury. From the athlete perspective, the inverse can be said. There is a loss of some of the immediate payoffs by spreading races out.

I realize there is a difference in level of experience that should be taken into account. Some athletes that are goal oriented and possibly more mature in their athleticism understand that over-racing equates to not focusing on the goal at hand and not trusting their coach or plan. In contrast. “noobs” and some people who have less care or focus on having their big days often do it because it’s “fun” and for the social aspect. No doubt there is experience to be gained from racing. But once you pass that point from novice to veteran racer, you realize it can be more harmful than helpful: hence the dreaded winter marathon for triathletes as an example.

The Background

From the coaching standpoint, we look to the literature and our mentors. I came from a running background as I started my endurance journey and my initial thoughts came from my first running coach (Dr. Chris Ruth who was pre-Shanks) who was a proponent of the venerable running coach Jack Daniels whose team at SUNY Cortland that he had the privilege of seeing train and race.

To sum up what he taught me, he said that Daniels claimed that you are better off with more of a varied approach to building the systems. In other words, more easy mileage and more ‘less than all out’ run workouts (i.e., tempos and intervals) than with racing more because racing requires more down time on the front (aka Taper) and back (aka Recovery) end than workouts. Overall training stress declines and quality suffers.

He also made the point that racing also clearly increases the risk of injury. Nobody would argue that you are more likely to get hurt during race intensity work.

Haphazard Training Organization Hampers Performance

Ruth also worked as an assistant to collegiate level cross country coaches. He would discuss how some coaches would have runners work their way into prime shape during the early races in the season; they would have the athletes start conservatively and increase race pace as the races progressed through the season so that the races didn’t kill them and they could ‘race their way into shape’. He subsequently tried to use that with his athletes and on himself as guinea pig and learned that it never works on race day; athletes always go too fast. In that model, the early season races were seen as ‘tune ups’ while region and conference (and nationals if you could get there) were when it was for all the marbles.

However, this method was flawed because races demand all out efforts where they lost training time to taper and recovery. Training through a race is simply not the way an athlete’s body or mind likes to work. Something about the gun going off makes you go all out or very hard. Thus, the method of training more allowed workouts to be completed with less taxation. You could exert more experimental control with pacing and specificity of training effect when it wasn’t a race.

How does this get resolved?

If you want to race alot because you enjoy it, that is up to you as long as you understand the risks and possible outcomes. From a psychological standpoint (e.g., anxiety, insecurity, social needs, etc), there are good reasons to do that. From a results standpoint, consider the balance and how more overall fitness tends to be positively correlated with better outcomes.

If you want to make gains over the long haul you possibly use a Canova type funnel periodization (i.e., training organization) across disciplines and multi system training like Daniels and work through longer (say 8-12 week) training cycles towards race specific demands (generally Spring and Fall) and aerobic and higher end base building periods (generally Winter and Summer) over seasons and build in some shorter or even longer layoffs between the segments.

Conclusions

While we wish we could say that certain methods of periodization or training/racing organization are best for all athletes, we simply can’t because the huge variability in genetics, environmental stress, and psychological needs. No method has a guarantee.

So race a ton and have fun and expect you might not reach maximum race performance. Race a moderate amount and tolerate something less than your best but with still solid results and the higher injury risk. Or, race less frequently and go along with coaches that have had way more successes than those that are taking bigger chances with their athletes. There are not many (if any) that can truly empirically support methods suggesting it is wise to race year round and very often but it still has its benefits.

In the words of Dr. Ruth regarding racing infrequently, “it isn’t as much fun, it isn’t as sexy and it doesn’t get your name (and picture on social media) as often but it’s what they do” at major collegiate programs and across disciplines like Stanford and Oregon, and many more top schools. The top pro triathletes and their coaches mostly operate this way and many complain of having to over-race to get to Kona via the points system currently employed.

In the end, my advice is to decide if you want to race often for your needs, and are willing to sacrifice optimum results and increase vulnerability to injury for fun. Of course there is a balance, but realize racing for fun comes with costs. Make wise decisions so you can #ReapWhatYouSow

BetterMan’s 2017 Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga Race Report – Sean Summers – TriCoachGeorgia

Sean Summers aka BetterMan’s 2017 Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga Race Report

May 21, 2017 Race Morning

Race morning came with a 4:05 wake up, expecting to see and hear rain and then mentally prepare for the day. Fortunately there wasn’t any rain and the streets were dry, unfortunately I went to bed the night before to thunderstorms and mentally didn’t know how I was feeling about the race. Funny enough, as I was staring out the window of the hotel, my amazing wife Kelly woke up and asked if it was raining, “no, and the streets are dry” was my exact response.

Honestly, by the time I got up, ate something and got some caffeine in me I still wasn’t sure how I felt about the race. I think the weather threw me for a loop and although I was prepared with my gear and knew that I could only control what I can control I still was in a very mediocre mental state. Ready to go but not feeling as amped up as I expected.

We walked to transition to pump tires, load nutrition and set up and all went as normal as normal is on race morning. The only thing that threw me off was the lending my pump out and then helping with getting someone’s tires pumped. It didn’t upset me but did throw me off my normal zoned out in my own world race morning routine. I left transition and proceeded to meet Kelly and a friend racing and we loaded onto the shuttle to go to the swim start. (side note: I wanted to meet the team but knew it would put too much pressure on me in the morning to rush to get done in transition).

SWIM START

Again, pretty normal wait for the swim start, hanging around and making small talk. I ate a little more food and drank some more water as we waited. With no in water warm up I tried to stretch some and get loose and or course had to pee, nowhere to go so I stepped to the side and christened the wetsuit, after that I was ready to get in the water!

Swim – 00:19:11 (shortened to 0.8 mile due to current)

I watched the pro women start and seeing how they appeared to struggle against the current it was no surprise when they delayed our start. Honestly, I understood why but I felt it take some of the wind out of my sail when I knew we wouldn’t be racing a full 70.3. With a strong current it would have been a disaster but I just get annoyed with shortened races. I reminded myself that I can only race the race in front of me and it could have been worse if the weather didn’t cooperate.

Once they got the buoys in place and started the age groupers it was the normal race line waddle to the start. I was actually pretty calm and ready to go. I jumped off the dock and began day. I probably swam a little hard at first and backed off some, wanting to stay in control and not get too amped up. I guess it worked but swimming is swimming and the heart rate always jumps up there. My full sleeve wet suit was o.k. at best, I definitely could feel it in my shoulders and just tried to block it out and keep moving (I have to figure out what to do about it, if it’s the suit or if it needs to get broken in or what). Overall the swim went well, I made it to the swim exit, got some help getting up and then made my way up the stairs. As I heard the volunteers say be careful of the last step I managed to trip over it and almost…almost eat it! I worked my wetsuit off of my shoulders and started jogging to transition. I hadn’t made up my mind about using the wetsuit strippers but as I approached them I decided yes, make my life easier. Down, stripped up and on to the bike.

T1 – 00:04:06

Nothing too eventful here, threw on my glasses, helmet and shoes grabbed my bike and started jogging to the mount line. I passed the mount line and got on the bike. As I clipped my left foot in I pushed the pedal down and got rolling so I could clip in my right foot and get to work.

Bike – 02:30:41 (Average Power: 187 watts (78% FTP), Normalized Power: 196 watts (82% FTP)

I tried to settle in the first few miles, get my wits about me and take in some fluid. The first part of the ride is rough in spots with a lot of turns.

I felt good and was ready to start cranking out the miles. As the ride started to take shape I had the privilege of being passed by multiple 70.3 worlds qualifier Estevan Price aka EManBoom, who gave me a “C’mon let’s go!” Very cool to have a teammate encouraging but I knew there was no way I was keeping up with him on the bike. I had my watch set to 8 mile laps with my lap normalized power and overall normalized power displayed. I was pushing higher watts to start (averaging the first few laps in the 204-206 normalized power) and knew I needed to stay in control and stick to the plan. Oh, and I also heard my Coach Slayer’s voice in my head “do not over bike and blow the run..it’s all about the run!” I didn’t want to blow the run and always looks forward to getting off the bike and having a fast run split.

I stayed in control and made sure to drink and eat enough but not too much. It was easy to keep myself occupied as I yelled at people in a pace line and people trying to draft off me. I have no shame. Losers. Anyways, a couple things on the bike that did happen:

On the straight and clear sections I tried to keep my head down longer while taking peaks up to make sure I wasn’t coming up on anyone or anything. Not sure if this is better or not but it made me feel faster.

With some of the dip wads out there I did get passed on the right as I was coming back over to the right from my pass. This caught me off guard, I cussed the guy and ended up hitting a rumble strip..bye bye base salt. Luckily I was immediately aware and made sure to get more Gatorade in me to make up some of the salt.

I knew I was having a fast bike and started to worry that I was going to blow the run so I paid attention on the way in and eased off a little to give my legs a chance to recover. In the final half mile I got my feet out of my shoes and prepared to dismount the bike. As I came up on the dismount line, I swung my right leg over, slowed down and did a pretty good flying dismount without issue (not my first time though).

Looking at my normalized power post race I learned I may have been able to reach even higher for the upper limit we discussed pre-race but really didn’t want to hurt my run. Coach and I may try this next 70.3.

T2 – 00:02:20

Running with the bike is always fun, shoes bouncing (and I’m anal about my stuff so I always have that thought of I’m beating up my shoes). I knew from racking my bike I was in the 3rd row at the playground and trailer. Well, being a little out of it I started towards the second row, which would have been fine since I could have crossed over at an aisle but noooo, I tried to correct to get to the third row (pushing the bike perpendicular to the wheels) and kicked banged my shin into the pedal. Awesome. I didn’t eat it, although the volunteer thought I was going to, and didn’t notice my beat up shin. Oh well.

Make it to my spot, rack my bike. Helmet off, socks on, shoes on, sip of water. I grabbed my visor and race belt and started running out of transition as I put on the visor and belt. Here we go..

Run – 01:32:18 (7:02/mi average) (Half Marathon PR!!!)

Coming out of transition the run course takes you along the spectators for maybe a quarter mile where you turn around and run back by them, closer this time. I can always hear Kelly when I am at a race and spot her within seconds. I heard her as I left T2, when I made the turnaround and started running back, closer to the spectators this time and I heard her again “yeah baby, looking good!” As I looked at the people on the side I saw her instantly, it always makes me smile and gives me a boost.

I made the turn down towards the river and was ready to see what I had in me, knowing I was coming up on the TriCoachGeorgia.com #EnergyWall tent full of lunatics. As I approached the tent at the first little hill I could see my Coach Slayer and hear him say with a big smile “You are having a great day!”. It felt good and gave me a little boost, but I knew I had to control it.

Up the little hill and on to the big hill, I knew what I felt I could do and knew what I wanted to do on the run but wanted to let it come to me (As is standard at most of my races, the first mile off the bike is pretty fast, but I think I did do a good job of keeping it in check.)

As I climbed the second hill out of transition I was keeping it under control and ready to settle in. I approached the first aid station and I’m not sure if I took a cup of water or not but it was for a quick sip if so. I continued on and was really feeling like I could have a great run, I was approaching the hurt locker and knew what was coming. One of the male pros passed me and I could tell he was suffering and I remember thinking, that’s right that’s what the last lap is supposed to be, leave it all out here.

I stayed comfortably uncomfortable and kept ticking the miles off, each mile that went by I checked my pace and knew I could keep it up, being mindful to keep it in check going up the hills. It just started to feel like one of those days you couldn’t wait to be over but you didn’t want to end. Pushing to the limit and then pushing some more. I could tell all the training was paying off. I stuck to my plan of a gu every 3-4 miles with water or Gatorade at the aid stations, sips and not slowing down too much. I also took ice twice and dumped it down my kit, wow that will wake you up but it cools you off.

This was the first longer race I did where I didn’t carry a water bottle and it went great, with aid stations every mile I didn’t feel I needed to carry it.

I remember some random things:

  1. At the big aid station “Kona-Nooga” I think, there were chocolate chip cookies. I told the woman on my first lap “those look good” and she smiled because I am so cute in my Reaper Wattie Kit (or at least I think that’s why-maybe it was because I am a dork).
  2. I always high 5 the kids! Power boost!
  3. As I crossed over the bridge to the other side of the river and the short uphill turnaround I was feeling good (relative) and as a spectator made eye contact and said keep it up I said with a smile “it’s starting to hurt now.” LOL
  4. I was in the hurt locker as I made my way up the hill at the start of the second lap and I remember thinking “there it is” and the Chris McCormack (I think) quote: “When your legs scream stop and your lungs are bursting, that’s when it starts, that’s the hurt locker. Winners love it in there.” And I embraced it and welcomed it, knowing I was going to suffer some on the last half and that is what I wanted.
  5. I kept seeing teammates and yelled at them “let’s go Reaper! Do your job!”
  6. When I passed someone else (a teammate I think) he put his fist out and fist bumped me and said keep going you are moving. It just felt amazing and gives you that boost you need to finish strong.
  7. Randomly some guy said as I was making a pass “speed coming through” I guess to let others know. I’m not trying to sound cocky it was just a first.

As I kept pushing through the last few miles of the race it was time to shine in the last couple miles. I made the turn for home and saw the TriCoachGeorgia #EnergyWall again, and Coach Slayer yells at me to GO! GO! Get Him (I think meaning pass the guy in front of me, which I did with a burst of speed) and I hear and see Kelly again. Goose bumps and an amazing feeling went through me as I surged down the chute.

Game Over

As with every race I do I always think of my Dad and how I wonder what he would think or say but I know he is watching. I race through the finish line full gas. Done! A new Half Ironman PR (with a shortened and fast current swim) and a Half Marathon PR. Crazy.

The volunteers thought I needed medical but I told them I was o.k. just tired. They support me for a second, take my chip, give me water I get a couple pictures and I’m on my way to see Kelly.

For reference:
Mile splits (Garmin 920XT): 6:55, 7:06, 7:08, 7:06, 7:20, 7:06, 7:06, 7:03, 7:07, 7:14, 7:25, 7:00 and 6:44
That’s why I love racing, I don’t think I would have seen those numbers (on the bike and run) in training.

Overall Time – 04:28:36 (Overall 143, Gender 131, Age Group 19)

All told, this was an epic day that makes me ready to keep pushing and digging to see what else I have in me. The weather cooperated and my bike and run splits were incredible, and all the dedicated consistent training is showing. The only disappointment is the shortened swim so the overall time is skewed but there will be another day and I raced the race set before me. There was a slight hope for a Ironman 70.3 Worlds spot with a roll down slot but it didn’t happen, but now, suddenly and surprisingly to most everyone but my Coach, I think I have it in me and just have to work harder for it.

Now I have to keep on the plan and continue to Do My Job! Hope to see you out training or on the race course everyone!

Triathletes are Obsessive Compulsive: Don’t Be That Guy or Girl – TriCoachGeorgia

Fluidity
flu·id·i·ty
flo͞oˈidədē
noun
1. the quality or state of being fluid.

Introduction

The sport of triathlon attracts it’s share of Type A, obsessive compulsive personalities to it’s rank. Although it can help them stay on track, it can also be a huge problem when taken to the extreme, which many of them do. Triathletes take that problem and make it even worse and, in doing so, harm performance. Some may wonder why this happens. And we are not talking nature vs. nurture.

Roots of The OC Problem

You didn’t come here for a lesson in psychopathology so let’s focus on the triathlete obsessive compulsiveness. I think it comes from the combination of competitive or transformational (e.g., tightening up body composition, overcoming challenges or disability, whatever the motivator may be, etc.) drive, discipline and the perception of accomplishing a big goal that brings us in droves to the sport. To be the best athletic version of ourselves, we seek out structure like coaching. Then, to compound the general challenge of obsessive compulsiveness, we now have a training schedule that is often that is very prescriptive in what, when, and how to do it.

The majority of the athletes I know are a slave to their schedule probably to the detriment of their mental and physical well-being. Compounding this impending sense of obligation we get our daily delivery of planned workouts from TrainingPeaks.com further enforcing the need to execute it with precision and without the slightest deviation. Add in the colors or red, yellow and green for unsatisfactory or satisfactory completion and you have a huge bundle of additional stress to your life instead of a nice outlet.

The OC Solution

What most of us don’t realize is that being successful as athletes requires the understanding of the big picture and that is that this is a long-game. One must take a longer view, kind of like the figure ground concept (i.e. perspective) where we focus on what is in front of us too much as opposed to the larger background/context, to be most successful. In fact, it is believed that it takes upwards of 5 years for an athlete to peak and this is with consistent training, focus and staying healthy.

Now I am not saying you must stay with this sport for 5 years but rather you need to be consistent over a longer timeframe to optimize your chances of being the most successful and fit you can be at a given point in time. The real secret sauce is consistency not of executing your daily or weekly workouts but doing so over a longer timeframe of months or even years, if you so choose. So, when an athlete wants to mix up training methods or has the sense that they may be overtraining or vulnerable to an injury, it is more than OK to keep things fluid or dynamic and vary organically (i.e., by feel).

I have found that over the course of training for a race that it is possible, if not likely, to get burned out or mentally or off your game and I need to keep it fresh and the best way to do that is to mix things up and keep it fluid but not to lose sight of the big picture. If you are going to mix it up the key is to communicate with your coach because they do have a game plan for you and your training. Thus, with good communication, they can adjust the organization of training to ensure you are having fun, not stressed out, and not missing key sessions. If you aren’t sure which one is the key workout, then just ask them.

Being Fluid Should Not Be an Excuse

Please don’t confuse keeping it fluid with being lazy or avoiding what you don’t want or like to do training wise. If you are doing that then you need to reflect on why, have a conversation with your coach and decide if you need to adjust your training volume, approach, or both.

Conclusion

The moral of the story is to not get so obsessive compulsive that you let the regiment of your training plan steal your passion for the sport or hamper your ultimate goals by creating injury or burnout. Let your coach help you build fun into the training program, adjust your training to your physical and mental status, and, most importantly, don’t get locked in. In the end if you occasionally modify a workout, the day you do it or other aspects of a workout it will not have a huge impact.

I have found that being fluid will often do the opposite and put a bit more of a spring in your step and passion back in your training. Happy training makes a happy triathlete, which in turn, ensures better results more often than not. Trust the process, #DoYourJob, and work with your coach to be the best version of yourself you can be within the context of the bigger demand of enjoying a long healthy happy multisport lifestyle!

Coach TaxSlayer’s Basic Tips For Triathletes – TriCoachGeorgia

Introduction

Welcome to the start of race season! As one who is a bit OCD about being a good athlete and coach, I wanted to provide some insight on several things that will make your life and, if you have one, your coach’s life easier. These suggestions should also help you get done faster…

Please read the entire list of suggestions. Ask questions of your friends, coaches, and Facebook groups but don’t listen to all of them as some simply should not be offering input. Try to figure out who reliably offers the most valid input and listen to them, or get a good coach. The more you know, the better you will feel heading into that tough training session or your A race.

Coach TaxSlayer of TriCoachGeorgia

  1. Nutrition:

    Practice, practice, practice. What works for one, may not work for others. Ask questions about what others have done to be successful and try a plan for yourself. Write down what worked and what did not work. List it in the notes section of your phone or anything to tell you how much fluids or scoops or whatever you used when you came up short or nailed it.

    I choose to use Generation Ucan for my nutrition on the bike. Others choose infinit, tailwind, or some other nutrition. No one cares what you use as long as you know it will work for you on race day. That comes from writing down when it worked and replicating it systematically on longer days and race simulations. Do not introduce something new on race day because you did not practice.

  2. Bike Fit:

    Seek out a professional like Micah Morlock at Georgia Cycle Sport or Matt Cole at Podium Multisport and All3sports that will spend the time getting you as comfortable as possible. The better your fit, the better your bike split will be on race day and the easier your body will adjust to the run. Bike fits are not inexpensive, but can be some of the best money you can spend on yourself as you prepare to race.

  3. Training Peaks/Garmin Connect/Other Programs used to Communicate:

    First off, make sure your training zones match up on your different devices or the data will be screwy. That is done by going into the app and looking for zones and adjusting.

    If you have a coach, put in as much information about your training as possible in the comments section. Every coach is different, but I think I speak for most when I say the more information we have the better we understand your workout. For example, put information in about your nutrition, if you felt fatigue or if you felt great. Tell us the tempo was hard or you could have gone harder. Whatever you think we should know is information we want to know. Don’t just say “that was hard”. Say “I struggled to hit the intervals on the last rep of every set” or list the data point that you tried to hit and what you actually hit.

    If you are not a coached athlete, but use TP as a means to hold your workouts, I would do the same thing as coached athletes do. You can go back and review on how you felt about a particular workout. Memories fade, but words and data sets typed out never do.

  4. Devices:

    Many of us use a Garmin 910XT, 920XT, Fenix, or 735XT. Some of you may have the newest version of the watch, the 935. It does not matter which one you have because they all provide similar data to you. Spend a few minutes learning the basics about your watch or computer and ask questions if you can’t find the answer. Visit websites if you want in depth reviews like the DC Rainmaker. Your life will be much easier and you will be more efficient understanding your watch, computer or both.

    Here are some things that I want you to think about when looking at your watch:

    • Activity:

      Every device has several settings to accurately reflect the sport or activity you are doing. Make sure you select the correct sport for the session you are about to begin. I have started a run, in the past, in the bike mode, and it took me awhile to figure out why the data screens for my run did not look like how I set them up. Don’t be like me.

    • Laps Alert:

      If you have a Garmin device you have a function called Laps. Laps provides notification when you hit certain thresholds you set the watch to provide you. I recommend and use 1 mile for the run and some multiple of 7 or 8 miles for the bike. I choose 7 or 8 miles on the bike because both numbers divide evenly into 56 or 112. I use the laps to help me know when to take nutrition on the bike. You can also set it for time intervals as well. Figure out what you like best and talk with your coach or others to see if what you are doing makes sense. Sometimes receiving unbiased feedback can help you make better decisions.

    • Lap:

      This is different from your laps alert. The lap function allows the data to be separated and reviewed more quickly by you and/or your coach. If you have a 4 x 400 run with 400 rest, it’s easier if you hit the lap button at the start and end of each 400 to gather the data you want to review. You can use the lap feature for your interval rides to capture the power data or during your swim so you can track your rest between sets. Lap is a feature that is easy to use. Don’t forget to use it to get the best data possible.

    • Battery Life:

      Every device has a limited battery life. Depending on the device, you may have anywhere from 13-18 hours of useable battery life. If you have a long day coming up, charge it so that you do not run out of battery during or before your workout. If your watch doesn’t get the information, did the training really happen?

    • Heart Rate Monitor Straps:

      Many still use HR straps to gather HR data. Make sure to check the strap for cleanliness so you don’t have any issues with it getting your heart rate. Also, make sure you put the strap on tight enough. If you are seeing your HR drops during a workout, it’s probably because your strap is not on very well. Likewise for the watches with built in HR monitors. Keep them fastened securely.

    • Stop your watch at the completion of a workout:

      When you are done with a workout, please stop the watch. Maybe you set a new record that now is not as impressive as it would have been if you just hit the button. You can always adjust later but it’s a pain so recall to hit stop!

    • Review your numbers after you upload:

      If you know that you just biked for 2 hrs and you upload the data and it says something different, review your watch or computer and make the necessary adjustments in TP. Most of us review the data anyways, so take a quick minute to verify its accuracy. If it doesn’t make sense to you, then it probably won’t make sense to your coach.

  5. Two workouts in a day/Weird Bricks:

    Some of you may see two workouts or weird bricks (combination sessions) on your schedule on the same day. Why do some coaches do this? It’s an opportunity to change the way your body trains. This doesn’t mean that the workouts should be a completed as a brick workout unless that is what your plan says. Ask your coach if he/she wants them as separate workouts. If your plan says complete the workouts separately, leave as many hours in between them as you can. I understand that life can get in the way sometimes, but try your best to complete your day as listed.

  6. Weekend Workouts:

    We all have friends that we like to train with whenever possible. Sometimes the weather causes us to change our workouts too. If this happens to you, communicate with your coach so he/she knows you are going to move your days around. Remember to move your workouts, in TP, so you don’t upload Sundays’ ride on Saturday’s run. When you’re done with your day, put comments in the comments section and let us know what you have done.

  7. Family Commitments:

    Without support of your family, training and competing in triathlons is very difficult and often times not fun at all. Talk to your family about what they would like to do while you race and select races that will allow them to have fun while you race. I chose Ironman Chattanooga and Ironman Louisville because these races have many activities that my kids wanted to do. It made the day a little more enjoyable for my wife to not have to listen, as often, to whiny children. Don’t miss your kid’s activities while you train. Your kids are young for only so long and you will regret missing an important event in their lives. For most people, the swim workout should be the first one to go.

  8. Injuries:

    How many times have you felt a little twinge in your leg when you are running? Have your shoulders hurt while you are swimming? If you have an issue that is bothering a part of your body and it is not a normal feeling. Stop the activity. Find out what you can do to feel better and talk to your coach. If you need to, seek medical help to get this taken care of as quickly as possible. Missing a couple of training days is better than being out for months because you didn’t listen to your body.

  9. Group Rides:

    Now is the time of year that getting outside becomes easier. Make the most of these rides and participate where you can. Many of us don’t train outside often. Group rides can help you feel safer on the open road. Find one and join in the fun. Try to ride with others that put safety first. There are listings at AthensGaBicycling.Com and on the interwebs for more formal or just local rides. Make sure you go with the group that is near your fitness and pace.

  10. The Full Year Racing Schedule:

    If you haven’t sent your coach a written schedule for the current year by now, then do it as soon as possible. Training plans are designed around you and your race schedule. Update your schedule for the current year in TP too. The more we know, as coaches, the better prepared we can have you on race day.

    I am looking forward to a great racing season. Triathlon as a sport (and the team of Reapers) has grown by leaps and bounds since I joined at the end of 2012. Work hard and set your training habits now for a successful year. Always remember to have FUN, get after it and #DoYourJob!

Why Us? What Makes Each Reaper Triathlon Coach Special? – TriCoachGeorgia

Introduction

Nowadays, regardless of their athletic backgrounds and degrees and certifications, there are a lot of coaches in Triathlon. As such, there are many different coaches and coaching styles. This has been well discussed in depth here. You may be apt to perform better for one coach than another. Assuming a good home and team support system and a healthy body, the alignment between you and your coach may be the single most important variable in how much you realize your athletic potential in the sport of triathlon.

Not Just Nuts and Bolts

Each coach has infinite variations of workouts. These are referred to as the nuts and bolts. Regardless of the variations, famed running coach Bobby McGee has said that the nuts and bolts of training are not that much different generally. However, different training stresses can be applied in different ways, in different times, and with different duration to achieve the desired goals.

At TriCoachGeorgia.com, although we have a coherent culture and similar themes for coaching in terms of promoting race readiness, we have several unique coaches with different approaches to helping their athletes achieve their goals. We wanted to distill what makes each coach unique and why you would want to interview them as part of your selection process.

What Makes Each TCGA Coach Unique

BAMF aka Coach Chuck Sims – According to BAMF, covering Atlanta for the Reapers, even after several seasons coaching out of Atlanta, he is committed to continuing education in the sport of triathlon, but does not follow conventional wisdom when it comes to coaching. Rather, he thinks outside the mainstream box to find the best approach and believes what works for the athlete is what’s best for the athlete.

BAMF is not a coach who believes in “bucket lists” or just finishing. He helps his athletes find the balance between family, work, and sport to ensure the athlete gets the right training plan to get the job done and is healthy, and ready to perform their best on race day.

Finally, BAMF focuses on the long term versus the short by teaching athletes to understand the big picture, and visualize both the macro and micro levels of training and the importance of the annual cycles.

Godfather aka Coach Chad Kimbrell – Being relatively new to the coaching game is not a hindrance for Godfather. Based in Augusta, he has been mentoring triathletes and coaching for years in similar fields. He has a very easy going way about him that makes easy to communicate with and is on top of the latest technology.

Godfather is one who makes the complicated simple. His goal is singular. He wants to help you achieve your goals. He is not afraid to work with first timers and to go the extra miles for his athletes. He is extra skilled with all the aspects of taking others’ cycling skills to the next level. Traveling triathletes may also see some benefit from having Godfather there for them.

He is also one who has learned the art of pacing and is a proud middle of the pack racer so he is realistic and wise. In addition, he gets assistance from the famed Mrs. Candace Kimbrell aka Sparkles, who clearly has better looks.

KimPossible (KP) aka Coach Kim Hargrove – Rooted in Columbus Georgia with her husband Coach Taz, KP comes from a physical therapist and competitive swimmer background. She has a ton of top end racing and coaching experience and can really help your swim form. She can also help your bike and runs with knowledge of many different coaching styles.

Not only does KP understand the body, mind, and coaching and training techniques, she understands how difficult it is to be a mother and a long course triathlete and/or in a family with a husband who is a long course triathlete. She has managed some excellent results for herself and for mothers that she has coached. Finally, she is very attuned listener.

LongMan aka Coach Karl Langenbach – LongMan has competed in endurance sports (cross country & road running, road cycling, cyclocross, obstacle racing, duathlon, triathlon) for forty years. This experience has led to a great deal of wisdom as well a sense of calm in the storms that his real job takes him into daily.

For LongMan, who has traveled the world and resides in Athens, training and racing are critical components to a life-long commitment to a balanced, healthy and happy life style. He attends to the athlete’s entire life. He also knows the ins and outs of nearly every metric in TrainingPeaks.com and WKO.

As noted, LongMan has a diverse background in engineering, business, holistic health and endurance sports. His formal and informal education has provided tremendous breadth of knowledge that he can apply to triathlon training and racing. Because of his knowledge and experience, he is able to support the athletic and health goals of almost any amateur athlete, from beginner to experienced.

LW aka Coach Lauren White – Repping the Reaper out of Greenville, SC, LW is a the perfect blend of gentle and strong. She knows when to push you and when to pat you on the back. She is a straight shooter and one with a huge heart.

LW has personal strengths as a triathlon coach that come from her extensive background of competitive collegiate sports as well as experience in self motivation techniques that she uses to motivate her physical therapy clients on a daily basis. With her PT background, she focuses on injury prevention, tailor training regimens and exercises to protect previous injuries and she has a well rounded knowledge of the human anatomy and working systems.

LW understand the demands of life and what it takes to find a healthy balance between work, school, family and fun. She takes pride in developing a strong working relationship with her clients with open communication at all times and easy accessibility.

Slayer aka Coach Harvey Gayer – Always in high demand, not afraid to say what needs to be said, and leading the brigade, is our Athens-based resident Jekyll and Hyde, Dr. Gayer / Coach Slayer, licensed psychologist and certified USAT Level 2E triathlon coach. If you don’t know about his well-traveled story, you can read more about him here. Simply put, there aren’t many like him at all in the field of triathlon coaching.

Spartacus aka Coach Brian Patterson – Spartacus has had an unrelenting interest in sports, conditioning, human performance and mental toughness since the eighth grade when he first began to experiment with strength work and nutritional biohacking. The years of research, practice and applying these principles has allowed Spartacus to detach from the mainstream fitness and nutritional dogma to guide athletes to find what works for them personally. His techniques are unorthodox and causes quizzical looks when he suggests a new approach.

Aside from all that’s in his logical and analytical brain, Spartacus also understands the emotional brain of the athlete. From overcoming his own body image issues of being a tall skinny teen to balancing the busy lifestyle of corporate America business with athletic training, Spartacus still struggles daily with making the right food choices, going to bed at a reasonable time and waking at 430am to get after the day. It’s these struggles and working to maintain a balance that makes Spartacus a special coach that get’s the 21st century demands of life and training for health and fitness.

TaxSlayer aka Coach Seth Waltman – TaxSlayer has lived in several parts of the country and understands the impact of weather acutely. Some may say he is obsessed with it! Indeed, he is a details man. Rather than call him OCD, we prefer to say he is attentive and conscientious. He makes careful adjustments to training schedules and is very good at helping his athletes plan ahead.

TaxSlayer says that his communication skills and how he interacts with his athletes is one of the ways he stand outs from other coaches. He is constantly checking in and makes plenty of time to listen to them. His math mind also helps him with assessing improvements and progressing training.

In addition, TaxSlayer has a history of being morbidly obese. He has past experiences as an overweight adult and he attempts to help others understand what it takes to lose weight, the importance of weight loss and how to keep the weight off. Finally, TaxSlayer, who is based on Athens, is helping coach the TriKidsGeorgia.

Taz aka Coach Wes Hargrove – Everyone knows Taz as a loyal, fierce, and gutty performer who has raced many Ironmans and Half Ironmans, including Kona. He has won many a road race as well. Taz has worked with some of the best coaches in the business, learning much from them.

Columbus, Ga-based Taz doesn’t just outwork the competition, he outsmarts them. Clearly, to get where he got, he had to be a student of the game and a smart man as he keeps a happy wife (KP), who also does long course triathlons, and family. He understands the little tweaks that can get you those minutes and seconds you need.

In addition to the aforementioned, he brings an enthusiasm to coaching that is a key distinguishing factor. He is on top of the latest gear and training trends and nutritional and electrolyte replacement approaches. He is available day and night for his athletes and Taz never met a challenge he is afraid of. If you want confidence, you will gain it ten-fold with Taz coaching you.

True Grit aka Coach Stephanie Middlebrooks – True Grit is fearless and loyal. In fact, she raced Ironman in non-English speaking France recently. She is smart as a whip too. Her background in education comes into play often with her coaching. She is constantly learning and testing different techniques in the field.

With two active children and based in Atlanta, True Grit knows the importance of balancing family life. She believes frequent communication from athlete to coach and vice versa is key to creating a plan that works for the athlete’s life. She works with everyone from off the couch to prior ironmen and women. In fact, although she coaches men too, she takes a special interest in coaching women new to the sport as she knows their position.

Finally, a cookie cutter approach won’t work for True Grit. She finds it abhorrent to use a one size fits all plan. Instead, she varies her methods depending on the athlete and his/her goals.

Conclusion

Selecting the right coach and team is important. They can help you in many ways. Hopefully, these brief biographies give you some direction as you begin to interview and select your new coach. Not only can you use each of them as a consultant, TriCoachGeorgia also has a team member option where you get access to all the coaches via the forum without having to pay for full coaching. Regardless, we hope you #DoYourJob and #ReapWhatYouSow moving forward!

Reapers Covered from Head to Toe: Welcome Swiftwick as Sponsor! – TriCoachGeorgia

Introduction

The team with some of the best momentum in triathlon continues to grow and shine. TriCoachGeorgia.com has cultivated quite a cadre of affiliates and sponsors. Along with their own coffee beans from JitteryJoes.com and beer from Southern Brewing Company, which perhaps no other triathlon teams have, it has been said that the misfits are now covered head to toe. In addition to things like fuels, electrolyte replacements, car magnets and decals, sunglasses and the like, they have triathlon suits from multiple providers, swim caps, athletic and casual team wear, a variety of headgear options, race belts, towels, temporary tattoos, cups, etc. Now they have a socks covered!

The nice aspect of the affiliates and sponsors is the great deals offered to team members, coached athletes, and the #TriKidsGeorgia. But even better yet, these are not your everyday schlubs; these are sponsors and affiliates that have integrity, are well respected, and stand behind their products.

Triathlete Socks are Very Important

Given the advent of specially designed sockless shoes, one can make the case that socks are not that important on short course triathlon; however, they are viewed as essential in long course triathlon. They are needed to wick moisture and to help prevent blistering, which can ruin a race if missed like it did for Coach Slayer’s Ironman Kona 2016 run. Moreover, the demands of the Southeast and other hot humid areas the Reapers train in, requires good socks to avoid feet skin problems.

Bring on Swiftwick

The team is proud to have gained team affiliate status with Brentwood, Tennessee’s Swiftwick.com socks. Swiftwick, like the Reapers, is a team of athletes who share common core values. One of the foremost values, is to craft the best socks possible. They make durable products that they are proud to represent and will defend. Swiftwick even designs socks for everyone including those that have physical special needs of some sort.

USA USA USA!

The Reapers are also thankful when an affiliate supports the good old USA. Swiftwick crafts all their socks in the USA using domestically sourced materials. In doing so, they have made a commitment to protecting the natural environment as much as possible. Their guarantee is unrivaled. If you are unsatisfied with any of their products, they will gladly work to sort you out.

Wide Range

Have a look at their website and you will see, like the Reapers again, a wide variety of offerings. From the length of the sock to the colors offered, to the level of compression, Swiftwick has options to cover everyone. They are easy to order and the socks are categorized by sport, product lines, cushioning, the firmness of the compression. They have well written blogs that help you understand their mission and their offerings. All told, it’s a can’t miss affiliation.

Conclusion

Once again, the Reapers are fortunate. They have signed on with an outstanding company that will help them do their jobs at a reasonable price, high quality workmanship, and a solid guarantee that will benefit their countrymen. If you want to know more about the team or Swiftwick, please reach out and you will be connected. Now #GetAfterIt so you can #ReapWhatYouSow.

Reaper Roasts Emerge, Dark and Light! – TriCoachGeorgia

TriCoachGeorgia Continues Their Progress

www.TriCoachGeorgia.com is a triathlon team based in Athens, Georgia, and other areas of Georgia and South Carolina, with athletes as far as England, Oklahoma, and California. The Reapers, as they are referred to, are also called a bunch of misfits because of their wide range of athletes. However they all share core principles of not quitting when the going is rough, consistent efforts, lots of socializing and laughs, and service to their communities and sport.

Jittery Joe’s Joins Forces with the Reapers For The Kids #FTK

This latter aspect is shared with the good folks at Jittery Joe’s Coffee, who love to give back. By developing and purchasing special roasted beans from the Jittery Joe’s Roaster, you have helped to support the free youth-based triathlon team, TriKidsGeorgia. TriCoachGeorgia focuses on coaching this youth team to develop healthy multisport lifestyles all year long at no cost to their families.

Dark and Light Options

According to the Jittery Joe’s Coffee website, there is a reason for their success. This lies in the fact that, although their “hands on approach to roasting coffee may take more time, (they) think your taste buds will appreciate the effort.” They also “believe that their extensive roasting know-how, combined with the freshness and superior quality of our beans, will ultimately provide you with the best cup of coffee out there.

To come up with a palatable yet distinct flavor for the Reaper Roasts, the team leaned heavily on Jittery Joe’s master roaster, Charlie Mustard. He decided on a popular blend for the Light version similar to the medium house blend. This one has more caffeine content than the Dark. For the Dark version, which has more robust flavor, Charlie tweaked the brand’s popular French Roast with some subtle flavors.

Art Work

As you can see by the cans, the art work on the front and back is unique too. Designer of the popular TriCoachGeorgia.com website, Flynn Kaplan of DoggHouse Productions, put together some knockout designs that are sure to be collectibles and great for display.

Conclusion

Like a good cup of coffee, this exquisite and affordable product, which is purely made for the kids’ (and your) benefit, is warmly received. The TriKidsGeorgia will benefit in a variety of ways and the team hopes that you will place many orders over time.

#DoYourJob and send paypal for 15$ per can or 2 for 28$ to trikidsgeorgia@gmail.com specifying if you want Light or Dark and your mailing address if shipping is needed. Larger orders can be accommodated as well. Shipping is 5$ per can additional if you can not pick up in Athens or have it dropped off.

Tri Bike Transport Welcomed as New Affiliate – TriCoachGeorgia

Triathlons are Worldwide

Tri Coach Georgia athletes travel far to race. The team has had some athletes go to race in France, Hawaii, California, Cozumel, etc. this year. They don’t always want to fly with their bike or ship it and not be sure that it’s safe.

The Solution is Here

Have you ever wondered how you would get your triathlon bike safely to an out of town race? The founder of Tri Bike Transport (TBT) wondered that too. In the summer of 2004, Marc Lauzon, the founder of TBT travelled from California to Idaho for Ironman Coeur D’Alene. He rented a truck and drove his bike and others to the race. With this first trip, TBT was born. TBT now delivers bikes safely and conveniently to more than 80 triathlons throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico.

The Reapers Welcome TBT

In December, Tri Bike Transport became the newest sponsor of Tri Coach Georgia. The team is part of TBT’s Social Media Sponsorship which entitles team members to receive a discount on shipping your fully assembled bike to your destination race. TBT provides the Reapers and others with dependable and safe transportation of one your most prized possessions.

Conclusion

The entire crew at TriCoachGeorgia is very excited to be associated with Tri Bike Transport. The team hopes the connection with TBT will encourage others to use the services of TBT. TBT offers all TCGa athletes and team members $25 off a fully assembled bike transport. The team will provide coaches, team members, and coached athletes with a promo code upon team membership. Happy trails and #DoYourJob!

A Sherpa’s View of IMWC by Coach TaxSlayer – TriCoachGeorgia

Introduction

In October 2015, I sat in front of my computer watching Harvey Gayer, aka Coach Slayer, race Ironman Maryland. After healing from a terrible bike accident in April 2015, his expectations and thoughts were for a good race, but not a KQ race. The race set up perfectly for him to have a good day. The swim was shortened and the weather was cool. He came out of the water several minutes behind the leaders, rode hard and moved into striking position and ran his way to a second place finish. He had the race of his life and qualified for a trip to the big island in October 2016.

November 2015 brought Ironman Florida and Wes Hargrove’s, aka Coach Taz, chance to show his improved fitness and race towards his dream of Kona. Taz swam well, rode smart and ran his way to an overall 11th place finish and 4th place age group. Similar to Slayer, Taz punched his ticket to Kona in October 2016.

I am talking about Slayer and Taz because they are the reason my wife and I headed to watch, cheer and Sherpa the 2016 Ironman World Championship race. I wanted to give a non racing review of the race knowing that most people who read this will never qualify for Kona. In my opinion, I don’t think that means you should not go to the race to watch.

Travel

When making arrangements on when to travel, review the previous years’ race guide and decide what race activities you want to be a part of. For example, the coffee swims in Kailua Bay. The swims happen every morning and give anyone who wants to swim a chance to swim the actual swim course. If you want to be a part of one of these swims, arrive in Kona no later than Thursday. No matter what day you plan to arrive, you need to think about the time change you will experience from home. We chose to leave on the first flight out of Atlanta, had a short layover in LA and arrived in Kona at 1:30 Hawaii time. Hawaii is 6 hours behind Athens and we knew we needed to stay awake as long as possible to adjust to the time change. With the help of our friends, we stayed out until almost 9pm the first day we were there – or 3am eastern. This helped our adjustment because we went to bed at a more normal time for us and slept through the night. I would expect many early mornings when you are traveling to Hawaii because of the time change. The first day on the island may be the most important to help adjust to the time difference.

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Accommodations

Kona has several hotels and condos close to the swim start. Most of places you can stay have a night minimum race week and increase their costs too because of the race. The host hotel typically costs about $175 a night, but increases to over $400 during race week. We chose to stay in a condo about 2 miles from the swim start. We chose this spot because it costed us less, was farther away from the commotion of the race and had received positive reviews from others that stayed during the race. I recommend looking at different options for your accommodations if you plan to go for the race. AirBnb, VRBO and the hotels give you many options around Kona to stay. Choose what is best for you.

Places to Eat and Drink

Kona has many unique restaurants to choose from for breakfast, lunch or dinner. One of my favorite places was Jackie Rey’s Ohana Grill. Jackie Rey’s has many local dishes to choose from and great service. The seafood is fresh and the atmosphere is great. You may want to call ahead as the restaurant fills up quickly at lunch and dinner.

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For beer lovers, take a trip to Kona Brewing Company. Kona Brewing has a wide selection of ale’s, wheat’s, IPA’s and porters for your enjoyment. Get one of their specialty pizzas to go with your beer. You will not be disappointed.

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Another one of my favorite places to eat and drink was Huggo’s On The Rocks. Happy Hour runs from 3pm – 5pm daily. We went there multiple times for happy hour during our stay in Kona. Order a mai tai or two, sit back and enjoy the ocean view.

Race Day

Everyone will have their own plans for race day, but here are a few suggestions. If you want to watch the swim start on the concrete sea wall, get to the race very early to stake your claim to a spot. I went to the swim start around 5am and the entire wall was already full with spectators. Once the race starts, head over to the hot corner to view the start of the bike portion. You will be able to see the racers multiple times before they head out on the Queen K for the majority of the bike portion of the race. The hot corner is also a great spot for the run portion as the athletes run through here several times. Go to the finish line. There is no finish line in any Ironman race like the finish line in Kona.

Activities Not Related to the Race

Take a helicopter tour of the volcanoes. If you’re lucky the lava will be flowing the day of your tour. Hike to Papakōlea Beach or the Green Sand Beach. Drive to Punalu’u beach or the Black Sand Beach and swim with the sea turtles. On your drive to the Green Sand and Black Sand beaches, stop by Hana Hou Restaurant in Na’Alehu and eat in the southern most restaurant in the United States. For a dish that is unique to Hawaii, try the loco moco. Finally, drive to Hawi and take Kohala Mountain Road back to Kona. The views on this road are breathtaking.

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Wrap up

We enjoyed our time in Kona and we would definitely go back to watch the race. Hawaii is a great vacation and being at the World Championships with friends and to cheer friends made it even better. I suggest spending time researching Kona on various websites, talking to others or in tourist books. I don’t know when I will go back, but I will definitely go back there someday.

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