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USAT Collegiate Nationals – U of I

This past weekend I was in Tempe, Arizona with the University of Illinois Team for Collegiate Nationals.

It was one of the best weekends I have had in a long time. This season I have been lucky enough to coach this great group of kids. To my knowledge, it was the first time they have ever had a coach writing workouts for them, analyzing their data & answering all their training/racing questions.

The whole school year has been focused on one race: Collegiate Nationals.

Jennifer, the President of the U of I team and I talked constantly about the workouts, kids, schedules, school and getting ready for Nationals. One of the issues was our brutal winter. I had to really think about how to best prepare these kids to peak for an early April race when they were not able to ride their bikes outside all winter. A rarity even in Champaign, IL. Apart from Spring Break, which was the week prior to race week, most of them were never outside on their bikes.

I was excited when Jennifer asked if I would go to Tempe and coach/support them for Nationals. I even moved my JHC camp around so I could attend Nationals – I wanted to be there!

We flew out on Thursday – U of I is a massive team. There are hundreds of kids that are part of the team, but U of I only took their top 25 athletes. And, the way Nationals works is that there are waves and the kids are placed in waves based on seed times from past Nationals or races.

It was funny, I did not know what to expect. Sure, I talk to these kids and see them, but travel with them for 4 days? I was stuck in between trying to be coach and not a mother. Little did I know, but I really did not give these kids credit for being so smart and frankly, mature.

I don’t spend a lot of time with college kids. My kids are 12. I don’t have friends that are in college..so I am stuck in the child world OR adult world above 30+ years old. So, I think back to my college days and assume that is how kids are now. THAT is the farthest from the truth. Kids are smarter now, incredibly tech savvy and relevant. I was mesmerized by their explanations of their Masters and PhD programs and how they go to school AND AFFORD Triathlon. (I graduated with $11.00 to my name, no way in hell I could do this $ sport).

There are so many good stories from this weekend – but here are the highlights:

  • Walked into hotel and the front desk manager looked at me – figuring out if I was someone’s mom. Put me in a room right next to the kids…pool side. I got to my room and realized quickly this was going to be a hot mess. The entire hotel was 4 colleges – and unbeknownst to me, planned by the kids year after year who they will lodge with. Universty of Arizona was there and Jimmy Riccetello – which was nice for me to catch up with him (He coaches U of A). I go back to the front desk and ask the kid at the front desk if they can move me to the other side of the hotel. I had to move. I was either going to get arrested OR not sleep. Both, of which, would not be good. He took pity on me, upgraded me to a Suite and in the “old” people’s section. Perfect! I slept awesome.
  • There are a ton of takeaways from this past weekend, but the main one was: 1.) I did not realize it at the time but these kids never once complained. NOT once. Looking back, this was the most refreshing part of the weekend. Working with adults, this is always something I help manage on a daily basis. When I had time to reflect on the weekend, this is the biggest takeaway. Frankly, they were just so grateful to be there, to race with the best in the country, be away from the daily grind of school and be with one another. They are a true team. I was so impressed by this!
  • I rented a car while out there – the kids, for the most part took a Shuttle every where. At first, the kids would all take the Shuttle, as the days went by they would start to ride with me and we had some hilarious discussions in the car. I had to remind myself I was not 20-25 and don’t pretend to be. I had the music in my car on the 70s (Classic Rock). I knew the kids would needle me for this but one guy said, “Oh, I love the Oldies.” Um, no…these are Classic Rock songs. We were laughing so hard. Then one asked who my favorite band/singer was. DAMN I knew I had to say Kid Rock…and I did….some of them just laughed others were in shock.
  • These boys can eat. Of the 25 kids there, 16 were guys. And, you know what is “in” for college kids now? Mustaches. So, imagine hundreds of guys between the ages of 19-25 in speedos or too small shorts and mustaches. It was like bad 1980 porn show. Thankfully no one from the U of I had a stache…but there were many there. I had to really watch myself when we ate out – the boys EAT…and plates and plates of food. This is not news, but a friendly reminder of youth.
  • They asked smart questions. How to warm up, when to warm up…there were 8 waves of men/women and we had someone in almost every wave. So, the timing of food, warming up and all of that good stuff was critical. The women raced first and ALL the boys watched the girls race – then vice versa later in the day. The college teams were fun. They were all dressed up in their college kits and mascots. They all chanted their school fight songs all day. They walked around in school pride and colors all day – it was FUN! By the end of the weekend I knew the Illini fight song as well (I went to Illinois State).
  • These kids are fast. I knew many of them were speedy. But, EVERY single kid (except 1) Prd. 24 out of 25 kids. The weather is Tempe was ideal. But, most of these kids raced last year too and they all Prd. In fact, one of the guys ran a 33:23 off the bike for the 10k! Watching these athletes race was refreshing and inspiring! Many rode sub 1. One female rode the just short of 40k in 1.01. It was fun to watch and I could not help be so proud of these kids all day & weekend.
  • One of the girls had a bike accident the morning of the race. The kids had to ride their bikes to transition in the morning and she got her bag stuck in her spokes and flipped over her handlebars. She fell on her arms and her elbow was swollen. Thankfully, I was driving by – hoping the accident was not the U of I kids, but it was. I stopped and tried to console her – put her bike and her into my car and drove her to the race site. I assured her that it was not broken, just a strain of the tendons and while she was incredibly strong (I know she just wanted to break down and cry), she showed amazing composure. AP is a 5th year senior and swam competitively for U of I and was a butterflyer. So, she can handle pain. She raced, did awesome, Prd and was overjoyed with her race. When she got home she got X-rayed and I will be damned if she did not break her radial bone. See! TOUGH as nails these kids. WOW. SHE NEVER complained once.
  • You know what else was refreshing? These kids NEVER once compared themselves to the other kids (at least not in front of me). They were surrounded by thousands of their peers. NO mention of being fat, not eating this or that…they were so confident and comfortable in their own skin. Like I said, wise above their years. Many adult triathletes can learn from them.
  • The kids were pretty focused and reserved until post race. After the races we went back to the hotel to shower and get ready for the Awards Party. I was corrected when I said it was an Awards “Ceremony.” No, no….it was most definitely a party. The kids were not SUPER interested in it but we were there and it was all you can imagine it was – it was outside too, which was just awesome. My eyes hurt from just watching some of these kids dressed up in god knows what and drinking.
  • I found that the kids are genuinely interested in triathlon life post college. Once the race was over the kids were able to relax and since they were all on CLOUD 9, they were asking me a ton of questions….How did you meet your husband? How do you have kids and race/train and work? You started in Corporate America but now work solo? They said they don’t know much about me because the focus is always on them and racing/training. So, after the pressure of their races were over, they were inquisitive. Honestly, I think they were just trying their hardest to figure out HOW in the hell someone my age has done this as long as some of them have been alive and have raced in Kona. They were interested in Kona and what it takes to qualify and go faster while not being 21 years old. I talked about balance, sacrifices and priorities as you get older, etc.
  • On the way home after the Awards “Party” on Saturday night Dan asked me if I wanted to come back to the hotel with all of them and join their “RAGE.” I looked at him and said, “Not sure how that will end up for me OR you guys.” I was afraid of what this entailed so I voted to go back to my room. They partied on. I was so exhausted I would definitely have brought down their party in many, many ways.
  • These kids can recover! They woke up on Sunday morning fresh as daisys. I, on the other hand, felt like I was hit by a truck and I did not even race. Goes to show I cannot train and party like a rock star at 43 years old, but you surely can do it at 21 years old (as we know!).

I was so proud of these kids. I got to meet some very, very smart young adults. Many are getting their MBAs, PhDs, etc. (USAT does NOT have an age limit for Collegiate Nationals – you just have to be taking classes!)….so the oldest was 25. Youngest was a Freshman. I laughed hard all weekend. I felt like my Triathlon life had come full circle. Tim Yount, who has worked at USAT for 20+ years announced the race – we had a few minutes to catch up and he said, “I remember when you were this age, Jennifer and racing….Funny how it all comes full circle.”

Yes, it is. And, I would not have it any other way. I look forward to my continued partnership with the U of I and some of these kids individually as they get ready for race Ironmans and the such this summer!!

I drove straight from Tempe to Tucson after the weekend. I am here now preparing for my Annual JHC Camp that starts tomorrow! Cannot wait – THIS is the way to live.

U of I Nats 2014


Comments

  1. wait, you have a blog?? Since when?? ;)


  2. Awesome race experience! All of those are the same reasons I love coaching college kids, for the most part they are very dedicated, passionate, and still a lot of silly fun! Congrats to all!


  3. You went back to your room?!?! Not buying it!!


  4. Ah-mazing!!! Soooo glad to read this post, for many reasons. And GLAD you had such a great time. Encouraging to read this perspective of a group of college kids.


  5. LOVE this post! Totally enjoyed reading about that weekend and can envision all of it. Especially the part about no complaining… Very nice. made me want to go to the Athletics Director at UH and see if we can’t start up a program there! :)


  6. Dont get too used to it we (I) need you here!


  7. Wow what an amazing experience! Congratulations! and how cool to see kids so motivated and appreciative, I’ve seen too many pros and elites complain about too many things or when workouts don’t go right etc. And, I have to also remind myself I’m not 25 !!


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Clarity

I recently had a few moments of clarity and it has changed the way I have worked.  Moments of clarity are really hard to come by in our busy lives.  Like you, I get bogged down in the day to day activities of work, family, running kids to their activities and surviving this winter.   So, when we went to Florida last month, I was able to get away from my computer for a bit – and let the kids and Jerome spend some quality time with their grandparents…I was able to step away and reflect.

My moments of clarity were nothing earth-shattering, but more of a re-set of what is important to me in my work.  Being a coach is not easy work.  Not many talk about it because, well, frankly, it is a profession that is not all that respected in the real world.  People ask me all the time to “do this or that” and I say, “I cannot; I have to work.”  And, honestly, they think I ride my bike all day for my work.  Clearly, that is farthest from the truth.  I train like anyone else holding down a full time job.  Sure, there are perks.  I can ride at 10am, if I want, but I am still working all day and nights and various times over the weekends.

Speaking of coaching, communication is key to the athlete-coach relationship.  As I take on new athletes, I really think this is the biggest change from their past working relationship.  OF COURSE there are exceptions to everything, and there are some fantastic coaching out there – but I am talking about the others.  The coaches who are not responsive, not writing specific workouts, not asking for race plans, race re-caps, checking in on you when you are sick…all the details that go along with making you the best you can be.  Frankly, they are lazy.  It is important to not get complacent.  Challenge yourself.  Challenge your coach.  If you are not getting what you want, ASK questions.  Email your coach.  Set up phone calls.  No one is perfect, but make sure your coach has that fire for your success.  This is what keeps me up at night – worrying about X athlete or Y athlete….trust me, if I didn’t worry, I would not care and WHO wants a coach that does not care?

Speaking of clarity – I also had a nice moment of clarity from an athletic standpoint.  There are a few reasons I do not do the Ironman too often.  One is time -  I would rather coach my athletes and Graham’s basketball team, etc. than be on my bike for 6 hours.  That is just where I am at in my life now.  I did just race Kona in October, but that will be it for a few years, for sure.  So, coming off an Ironman, we are SO fit.  However, we are incredibly slow.  Our aerobic engine is so top-notch, you almost forget how poor our anaerobic engine is.  Even though I know this, it was not until I raced this winter, that I shocked back into reality.

This winter I have done 2 Swim Meets.  I am a swim meet freak.  I love them.  I cannot do the big State Championships this year due to coaching U of I at Collegiate Nationals that same weekend, so I am doing as many “smaller” meets as I can to get my fix.  The first meet I did was 2 weeks ago and it was a brutal day we got hammered by snow and I am still in shock I got to the pool alive.  (nothing really stops in Chicago thankfully) I did the 400IM, 100IM, 50F, 100F, 200F, 2 x 50 Free in Relays. That doesn’t sound like much, but damn if I was absolutely a hot mess after that.  I was slow.  I was sluggish and sucked.  My body was completely freaked out.  On Monday I woke up and felt like I was hit by a truck.

Fast forward to just this past Sunday…another Swim Meet and I swam very much the same except they had a 500F, so I added that.  AND, I felt awesome.  Great pool, great swimming friends and I had shocked my body into that effort again, so I was ready for that anaerobic effort at this meet.  I improved my times by seconds and that is rare for me – I don’t really get faster in the pool anymore. J  It was like my body remembered how to SUFFER again!  And, I woke up Monday morning, feeling FINE!

Then, earlier this week, my old running coach, Dave organized a hill run.  He invited all the fast runners and then me.  He failed to mention that to me in the invite (sneaky bastard).  The run was 1 hour south of me starting at 6:15am.  I used to do this all the time and when I got the invite, I jumped at the opportunity.  I had to mentally prepare for this run and try to figure out how to manage the shoes.  We were under snow and it was 7F degrees at run start.  (See, these fast runners are all in racing flats – I cannot train in these conditions in racing flats, so I wore trail shoes – eeks).

The runners included a runner who just moved back from the NIKE Oregon project run team….a 2:20 marathoner…and then a gal who is a 2:4x marathoner…and the list goes on.  THEN me.  Gulp.  The good news is that I may not be that fast, but I am a great faker and I am tough.  And, I like to be scared; it is healthy and refreshing.  I woke up feeling like I was heading to a race.  I even ate my pre-race meal on the drive down.

The run was 11 miles and included 12 hill repeats…it was dark, snowy, cold and fast.  I did not wear my watch.  I never do when I cannot control the workout – no point.  So, I gradually looked at one of the guy’s watch as we were warming up:  6:40 pace.  Yep.  That is NOT a warm up pace for me.  EVER.  He was talking to me and I was doing the best job I could do to talk and not die of effort OR have him think this was hard.  I have not run that fast in a VERY long time….especially when it was 7F degrees out.

As the workout progresses – I am last.

We run all the hills:  LAST again.

We cool down:  DFL.

I say, “Don’t wait for me!”

We do 11 miles and 12 hill repeats in 1:19 in snow and bitter cold.  AND ALL I wanted was a gel.

We get back to the car and Dave says, “Ok, in the field house for drills.”  Secretly, I was so glad we could do them – not many indoor tracks up near me.  But, I could barely lift up my legs.  AND I was hungry.  I quickly went to my car, got my drink and bar and brought it into the track.  We all know the runners don’t eat, but it has now been 90 minutes and I need SOMETHING.  They all made fun of me.

So, not only was I last, I am now the Triathlete who has to eat.

The good part is that they all know me and really don’t give me shit. One of the guys and I used to train together all the time (I would chase him around the track) before he went to NIKE in Oregon and he said he remembers me wearing socks that said, “BITCH” on them.  Yes, that is true.  I did own a pair of socks that said that on there.  Crack me up.   Funny what people remember.

One of the girls running with us just graduated college and is going after the OTQ marathon time.  She is fast and 23 years old.  I took a phone call from Graham on the track and she asked how old Graham was.  She looked puzzled.  I told her I have 12 year old twins.  You could see her try to do the math – so I said, “I am 43 years old.”  Her reaction to that was worth the 1 hour drive in itself.  She said, “I hope I look like you and run as fast as you at 43.”

Too bad I don’t have her email.  Because today I would write this to her:   “Thank you for your nice comment about my age and all…but today I cannot walk normally.  I am SO sore.  Even my feet are sore.  I had to have a time-out today because I was eating Kit Kats and M&Ms while trying to maneuver around my house like I was 83.  I could not really go and swim at Masters because I would drown.  So, while you hope you look like me at 43, enjoy your youth and ability to recover like a 23 year old now.”  Love, Jenny

(She was probably out running a tempo run this morning as I was pulling my sorry ass out of bed.)

But, the run was worth it – for many reasons.  It reminded me how to really suffer again.  Again, I think we get too complacent – afraid to take risks and afraid to say “why not?”  We feel sorry for ourselves in this horrific weather. (Trust me, I have had a few pity parties myself).   OF COURSE it sucks – but that is what I like about our aggressive winters – it makes us even that much tougher.  And, come spring time, the athletes that had to work hard to even RUN outside….really shine.


Comments

  1. Really making me feel like a sissy since I haven’t run outside once in this weather & really have no plans on it…..I want spring! :-)
    oh, & 6:40 pace….yeah right!


  2. I always love me a good JH blog. Tells it like it is and never ceases to inspire! Keep on being your awesome self (coach, athlete, mom, etc…)!!!


  3. What a great post and a good reminder that sometimes it’s worth getting out of our comfort zones to see how hard we can push! And FWIW, I hope I look like you & run as fast as you do at 43 too :)


  4. Oh! I love this post! I cannot imagine you EVER being last at ANYTHING!!!! Those hill repeats are soo hard …and at that pace….I can certainly relate at a different, much lower level…enjoy your youth…even at 43! It only gets harder…ha!


  5. Ha that made me laugh:) as I lie on a bed with a heating pad on. Yup. I can’t even remember 23 yo bc I was too busy doing it over and over and over day in and day out. Quality not quantity as we mature:)


  6. Great post. I totally understand/agree about people not getting coaching being an actual job, sometimes with even more stress since a coach often is much more involved in the athlete’s life than just writing their workouts. And you go on those tough workouts – hopefully your super aerobic engine helps get the speed back quicker like “they” say it will!


  7. Awesome, inspiring post! If I weren’t pregnant it would have totally fired me up for an awesome workout. I’ll have to bookmark it for when my regimen is more than 1000 yd swims and an episode of Breaking Bad on the elliptical:)


  8. I was sick with a cold this past week and I always struggle with when to resume training: am I still sick or am I being lazy? What do you look for when checking in with your sick athletes to help get them back on track? Thanks!


  9. Jen- you are just the best. I love what you said about Coaching and how it really needs to be for athletes. The communication is key. You are the BEST out there for that. I talk about it all the time. You are the most in -tuned caring coach who is THERE For your athletes. I am very lucky to have worked with you. And, I just love hearing about that badass hill run ( 11 mi in 1:19 in 7F and snow!!). wow. You are so inspiring. Yes, get out and do things that are hard and scary. THat is how to stay on top of the game. thanks for all this…


  10. “Like” :)
    Great post, Jenny! Made me laugh. I hear you with being 43… a few more weeks and I’ll be joining you. And yes, you (we, ha!) certainly look younger than your (our) age!!! ;) Way to go kickin’ it with the youngsters. I saw coach Dave at the Naperville Marathon… looking good! Congrats to him on his winning athlete too!
    Take care & *just keep swimming* :)


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Pay It Forward Winner 2014!

Every year I am really humbled by reading all the Pay it Forward entries.  I receive hundreds and to read them as they come in to my email – I swear, I have been in and out of tears for weeks.  I finally had to just file them away and then read them all at once because I was a hot mess at various times every day.

I get entries from some very amazing people.  It is good to be reminded that everyone has a story.  Everyone is so similar too and that people just want to have an opportunity to pursue their dreams and goals.   And, if I can be involved in a very small way, then, I am all in.

Determining a “winner” is really not fun.  Every year I do this I tell Jerome, “Can you work more so I can just coach pro bono??”  Someday, I promise I will do more.  But, right now, I am happy to announce the 2014 Pay it Forward Winner!

Alisa Dunlap!

Alisa had to overcome a very unfortunate 2013 season.  She was in an accident that broke part of her foot.  Then, she developed blood clots – and DVT (deep vein thrombosis).  She was so determined to not let this get in her way of competing at Ironman Arizona this past  year.  SHE did.  And, went 14:xx.

In her words:

Looking back at my other races—I don’t think I was grateful enough; not grateful for the ability to be out there, not grateful for the support I have from my husband and family and friends; not grateful enough in life. While breaking a foot and developing blood clots isn’t beating cancer or dealing with a significant loss, it was my own little wake up to start being more grateful in my life and to truly believe in my own abilities. I’m ready for 2014. My body is ready, my mind is ready but I think most importantly, my attitude is ready!

Alisa is inspiring and something about her pulled at me. (I am a huge fan of gratefulness).  In fact, my top 5 were absolutely riveting stories.  Some came from domestic abuse, some had twins or triplets and then their wife or them go ill after delivering (!!!) (soft spot for that) and some lost jobs….some recovering from horrific ailments such as cancer or MS.  I was paralyzed in my decision up until the last minute.

At the end of the day, I asked my sister and a good friend who are not triathletes to read some entries and help me narrow the top 3-5 down.  I asked non-triathletes because there would be no bias and I wanted to keep some of the entries private in our community.

I am excited to start working with Alisa!  You can follow her progress on her blog and her other social media sites:

www.ambitiousaspirations.blogspot.com

Instagram @dunlapam0723; Twitter @dunlapa; FB @ Alisa Houghton Dunlap.

And, thanks to all who entered.  Thanks for sharing some of your very private entries with me.  They will inspire me all year as a coach & athlete to always remember — WE ALL HAVE A STORY.

Please feel free to enter for 2015 again!


Comments

  1. Congrats Alisa, you are in great hands. Cant wait to read you journey with my favorite coach!


  2. I have no doubt this was an incredibly tough decision for you. I’m still shocked that I’m in the position I now find myself. It all comes back to gratitude. I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity and I know that 2014 is going to be an incredible year! I look forward to working with you and all the potential that 2014 holds!


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Pay It Forward – 2014!

Merry Christmas!

I am excited to announce I will be doing Pay It Forward for 2014 again!   I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the past winners:  Dan M, Cathy and Courtney.

If you are interested, I encourage you to apply.  Here are the details:

1.)   Applicants can apply via email to:  jhtriathlon@sbcglobal.net from December 16th – December 31st 11:59pm CST.  Feel free to be as creative as you want in the email application. (I do accept bribes. I love Chocolate & anything pink.).

2.)    For the Pay it Forward Athlete,  I am looking for athletes that have overcome any type of hardship:  This can include , but not limited to:  illnesses, financial or personal issues.   This is also open to athletes who may not have any hardships but just have not been able to put together a solid year (s) of training due to inconsistency, lack of motivation, lack of focus/structure and need something new and challenging.

3.)    You CAN re-apply if you applied before!

4.)    You need to have at least one “A” race in 2014.  Can be any significant race, but we need to have goals for 2014.  All levels of athletes are fine.

5.)    The coaching will start January 15th, 2014 and last until the end of your “A” race or 12/31/14, whichever one is first.

6.)    You will have to blog about your experience and be an active member of social media (FB or Twitter).

This year, the 2013 Pay It Forward winner, Courtney had a great year finishing with a super Ironman Kentucky race!  Courtney kept a blog – you can find it on my blogroll if you want to read about her experience.

I encourage you all to apply, if interested.  If you have any questions, please feel free to reply to this blog or send me an email.  I will announce the winner before January 5th, 2014.  Looking forward to another great year of paying it forward to our great sport!


Comments

  1. An amazing thing to do from an amazing athlete, coach and especially friend and just a damn good woman.


  2. I honestly could not have gotten to the start line without this AMAZING woman, coach, & now friend. Jen will help you achieve a dream if you dare. Wish I could apply again….haha!!


  3. Yay! I will be emailing you soon. Thank you so much for doing this.


  4. As others have said, this is such an awesome idea. Karma speaks for itself.


  5. This is amazing! I will be applying next year. This year is to recover from surgery (need to be able to run again!) and be ready for coaching and more serious work in 2015!


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Back to Regular Scheduled Programming

Even though I have not been blogging lately, I surely have not gone too far.  I had to really step away from writing because on my last blog that recapped my Ironman in Hawaii, I got a very nasty comment.  First one I have ever gotten in 15+ years.  At first, of course, I was mad.  But, once we traced the IP address, I realized how silly the person that wrote it is.  I mean, we all read blogs for different reasons and we all can relate or think “that person is crazy” with many of these blogs.  However, where that crosses the line is when someone takes their precious time to actually make a rude and immature comment anonymously.  Most of us are mature, self-confident and secure individuals who do not need to spew any negative energy or thoughts towards someone and then not have the balls to fess up to the comment.  Never in my life have I ever left an anonymous comment.  Nor, will I.  If I have something to say – I either attach my name to it OR say nothing at all.  And, trust me, I am no shrinking violet.

The mean comment was just from someone who was giving me a hard time because “we had a fast day in Kona.”  Ok, really?  WHO cares?  So, for ONCE I had a nice Ironman day.  It was about damn time.  I put in my dues in Kona with years of 50+ mph cross winds one year  – no joke.  After 250+ Triathlons, I think I earned the right to a nice frigging day.  And, you know what?  Good for us that finally got a “nice” day in Kona.  And, a “nice” day in Kona is no frigging picnic, I might add.  Also, I will NEVER apologize for my success or hard work.  Clearly, my hard work, consistency and passion for this sport has allowed me to continue to live the way I want to live – with integrity.

So, anonymous commenter:  F*CK you.  If you have something to say, email me directly at:  jhtriathlon@sbcglobal.net.  Otherwise, get a life because you are not important in mine.

Back to regularly scheduled programming:

After Hawaii I took some time completely off training.  It was glorious for about 2 weeks and then I just needed to move.  If I had any niggles, I would have taken more downtime, but I was still motivated and feeling great post Hawaii.  I decided to jump into a few CycloCross races in November.  I used to Cross race a lot in 2006-2008, but I have been out of the circuit for the last few years because usually by October-ish I am over racing and I am fearful I will get hurt.   This year, for some reason, I was still fired up and wanted to race Cross before it ends and I wanted to not let that “fear” rule me.   However, this fall I have missed a ton of races due to travel.  The last race is the State Championships this coming Saturday that I will compete in.  I have really enjoyed the few races I did this season and as long as I am healthy next fall plan on competing in all the races.

I am writing this blog on the way home from Tucson.  We went to Tucson again this Thanksgiving week as a family and it is the highlight of my year.  It is the one time of the year that both Jerome and I are not racing, working or really training.  And, there are no kid commitments either!  It is the only week all year I really try to un-plug.  While I cannot completely un-plug, I can keep off my laptop all week and that allows me to rejuvenate and rest a bit.  The kids love Tucson & we are so active the week we are there.  Hiking, riding, running, climbing and just enjoying the 70F degree temps before heading back to Chicago for the winter.

This is my absolute favorite time of the year.  I love the holidays and all the shopping and hustle and bustle that it brings.  I also like to reflect on the previous year and look forward to a new year – both personally and professionally.  I love the extra time I get to spend with loved ones and friends.

As a Triathlon coach this is also the time of the year when I spend planning for 2014:  Camps, Triathlon clinics, swim clinics, continuing education, new podcasts and new and exciting ways to get faster and stronger.  Planning different workouts to challenge athletes and keep everyone motivated and excited for the season is not easy.  I am a believer in repeatability but also really believe that the coach needs to be creative and inspiring to each athlete they work with.  Getting to know each athlete takes time, patience and a degree in Psychology (kidding, wanted to make sure you were still reading).

As a Triathlete, I also get to look at 2014 fresh – and start my 20th year of racing with wide eyes. For me, getting up every morning at 5am is the easy part.  I wake up and cannot wait to train.  The real issue for me is deciding how much time I want to commit every year to training while keeping some sort of balance in my work and personal/family life.  I love my kids.  I really do.  I love my job.  I really do.  While the kids are gone all day now in school, the times I am home with them, I want to be engaged and active in their lives.  I am coaching Graham’s basketball team again this fall/winter.  I want to continue to do things like this because I realize, with them turning 12 in January that these little moments are going to become less and less each year.

So, 2014 will be the year of short course for me.  Ironically, I still have a pull to do another Ironman.  Goodness.  But, I will pass in 2014.  I decided to stay local, race a lot of short course races like USAT Nationals, Chicago, etc.  And then mix up a few 70.3s because that is my favorite distance…Eagleman always and possibly 70.3 Worlds.  We shall see.  All I know is I am going to race more frequently including swim meets (my fav!), indoor TTs and maybe even some 5ks to keep it real.   I also will spend time doing fun events with Lululemon and socialize locally a bit more – because, well, I really like that.  And, somehow I convinced Elizabeth to still be my friend & help me again in 2014. :)

Hope you are having fun reviewing your 2013 season and planning a big 2014!  We only get one shot – make it count.photo(62)The family & I on our annual Thanksgiving hike in Sabino Canyon…living it up!


Comments

  1. 250+ triathlons! You’re a beast!


  2. I will never understand some people. How can someone have read your last blog and posted a negative comment? It was about feeling grateful, blessed and given a gift of being able to race in an amazing place with the best in the world. I came away feeling inspired, humbled and happy for you. They really missed the message, and are so pathetic, I feel sorry for them. Don’t even waste any energy being mad at them. The rest of us “get it” and love your blog!


  3. This is totally of topic…..I saw you at the airport today:) I just arrived from Europe and was rechecking for my connecting flight at terminal 3 and you and your fam zoomed by. What a small world!


  4. sweet post. congrats on everything you have accomplished this year! :)


  5. Way to go Jen! You had an awesome year and are a super inspiration to me as a person and athlete. You prove day in and day out that it is possible to get it all in and be successful! So, go you! :)
    Glad Tucson was a good time! You certainly deserve the break and unplug and the family time too.


  6. Never give energy to a hater. Haters gonna hate. You keep on living big! XOXOXOX!


  7. I’m so sorry that someone could be so juvenile and crass… AND if you must be a jerk, sign your name to being a jerk. Keep on keeping on and enjoy your holiday. Celebrate your success!


  8. Good for you for calling out the negative people. Someone always wants to bring you down but you are amazing & I know you already know that! An amazing woman, mother, coach & friend.


  9. Blerg what a crappy comment. And so what, you had a “nice” day in Kona. That doesn’t mean the race was easy and every other competitor there that day had the same conditions!

    I’ve never done cyclocross and I’ve only ever ridden trails twice (and one of those times was during a race, oops!). I fell off my bike several times and it all scared the bejesus out of me!


  10. Former Coach Jenny – I am happy to go visit anonymous’ home and give him/her a good ass kicking. xoxo


  11. Have you seen some of the studies about how many more threatening and shitty anonymous comments women get than men? It’s insane. So, yeah, sorry, that sucks.


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