07:14
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Free Bird!!!

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Free Bird! No matter what live musical concert you’ve attended from the 70s until today there will be several in the crowd that scream "Free Bird!".  It used to be signified with lighters overhead and is now replaced with cell phones while screaming to the band on stage. It's a nod to the popular 70 band Lynyrd Skynyrd. It was and is and epic rock classic. The screaming of "Free Bird" today has the same meaning it did 40 years ago.....play your best song and let's rock the house. (Check out You Tube if you don't know music from the 70's!)  After a year like last year, 8 races and 8 wins, I have to look inside myself when the cell phones are on and I hear "Free Bird" in my head. I just played it!!!  2013 was the season of all seasons. I overcame multiply challenges, saw doors close and God open even more.  I stood on the precipice of calling it a career and the edge of staring obstacles in the face and saying, "so what, now what?" As endurance athletes we are preprogrammed to suffer and ignore pain and challenges whether they be emotional or physical.  However, as we get older we are forced to listen to the ongoing signs that we are aging. Sore muscles, longer recoveries and a slightly slower pace on our tempo runs remind us that father time's clock is ticking. We need to find something extraordinary special every year to keep us coming back. This year my something special is balance. I've found the perfect balance in my life between God, family, friends, training and work. Great triathletes however were never made on balance. They come from a place of myopic focus. I’ll train with my selfless partners Mandy and Stacy who will provide me much more than a pace on a run. They are there to support me, cheer for me and laugh with me while solving life's problems along hundreds of miles. I’ll show up in Kona fit, confident and ready to dig as deep as ever.  It's been a great run, but I'm not done. I'm going to throw it down one more time (at least).  You don't get to the starting line of the Ironman World Championships without bringing your whole life with it. I'll tap into my strength from my life's tragedies, my incredible village of supporters and training partners. I’ll have the confidence in knowing that no matter what the race brings me it is nothing like life has brought me in the last year. Last year I broke my own American Record for the Fastest American Amateur over 40 in the 35 year history of the Ironman finishing in 9:41.  Will I break it again?  I have no idea.  I will guarantee however, at the end of the day I will have left it all on the lava fields. "Free Bird!!!!!". It's our Kona, our best and our favorite. Turn down the house lights and raise your cell phones. We're going to play it one more time. [caption id="attachment_435" align="alignnone" width="300"]IMG_1700 Stacy, Me & Mandy[/caption] [caption id="attachment_299" align="alignnone" width="300"]tf_DSC_9279 My family supporting me every step of the way. Brooke 6, Me, Matthew 10 and my husband Scott[/caption] [caption id="attachment_319" align="alignleft" width="200"] Master's Ironman World Champion 2013[/caption]
07:10
:14

Racing for a Cause

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This year I have been fortunate to be able to participate in various local triathlons with Athletes in Tandem. Athletes in Tandem, Inc. is a non profit organization that actively participates in relationships with athletes who have a disability to enhance the quality of their lives by competing together in triathlons, running, biking and swimming events. Athletes in Tandem defines it’s primary purpose as the provision of a stimulating recreational resource in the community, while recognizing a unique opportunity to improve the quality of life, health and well-being of others. My first AiT triathlon was the Boulder Sunset Triathlon held September 2011. This year I started my season completing the Pelican Fest Triathlon Sprint, on May 24th with Logan, he is autistic.  I swim while pulling AiT on a raft, then ride with the stroller hooked up to my bike. The bike stroller is also used to push during the run. AiT Pelican Fest  

Finish line with Logan's dad who finished his first triathlon

A couple weeks later I was planning on pulling Jennifer at the Boulder Sunrise Olympic Distance Triathlon, a Tri For Your Cause Event, of course my cause and donations went to Athletes in Tandom. Unfortunately she got sick the night before so I raced alone.  I ended up winning my age group, 3rd overall.

bouldersunrise

AiT boulder sunrise

Two weeks later I completed the Loveland Sprint with logan again. That day I drove to SteamBoat and raced the Tri the Boat Half IronDistance solo AiT run ait swimAiT Loveland   ait bike outait l2l finish Thank you to Team Timex, PowerBar, Hoka for your continued support and special thanks to Logan's family who trusted me with him!
07:07
:14

Tough Day in CDA…

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Disappointment. What do you do with it? Well, in my mind there are 2 options: it can destroy you or it can discipline you. As I recount my race last weekend in Coeur d'Alene, there is no doubt that I am disappointed. I had a vision that this day would be my ticket to Kona. My training was there, my confidence at an all time high and my body was ready to go. Despite my hopes I came up short. The purpose of this report is not to dwell on  the negative emotions caused by my race, but to highlight the necessity of disappointment as a step on the way to discipline. I could very easily blame my performance on the weather, on the conditions or any other number of things. I had a plan and I did not excite, plain and simple...I have nobody to blame but myself. I accept full responsibility for the outcome BUT I WILL ALSO BECOME A BETTER ATHLETE AS A DIRECT RESULT OF MY EXPERIENCE AT IMCDA. I have made a decision to use my disappointment as fuel for developing a new discipline and here it goes... IMG_2459   I woke up early (big surprise, huh!) but to my amazement the sun was actually up. No kidding, it was 3:45 and the sun was already in the sky?? Marietta and I made the short drive to "Hot Corner" and I began to set up my transition. Matt Russell and his fiancé Gillian were in the transition area not far from me so it was nice to catch up with them for a moment. I also got to see Trista Francis as she was in attendance with 3 of her athletes! I put my bottles on my bike and turned on my Timex Cycle Trainer 2.0, very eager to find my way bike to my Trek Speed Concept 9.9 for what would be the majority of my race. IMG_2510   I made my way to the freezing cold waters on Lake Cour d'Alene decked out in my Blueseventy Helix, Thermal cap and booties! The wind was blowing like crazy and the water looked more like a washing machine than a lake! The pros went off at 6 am and we were scheduled to start at 6:40. The swim start was a self-seeded rolling start and I positioned myself in the first corral for a sub 1:00 swim. I had been swimming very well lately and was fully confident in my position. The cannon fired and I was running into the water. The horror of Lake CDA has always been the freezing cold temperatures but today it was 61 degrees and I never felt a hint of cold! I fought for position against the other athletes and the tumultuous currents. The first lap was at 32 minutes so I knew I needed to speed up. No such luck as the second loop was nothing but a cluster. I fought harder that second loop than ever before and came out of the water in 1:07. I was not pleased. I darted out of the water and let the strippers do their magic. Within seconds, my wetsuit was in my arms and I was running into T1. After a stupidly-long (don't even know if that's a word) transition I was out on my Trek ready to do battle with the mountains of CDA. For the first 20 miles, I was in such a foul mood over my swim that I forgot to take in anything from my bottles. Talk about stink in' thinkin'! By mile 40 my Trek was purring nicely and I was recovering my mental faculties. The bike was over 5,000 feet of climbing and I loved it. As I climbed I easily shifted gears with my Shimano Di2 shifters. I passed guys one after the other and was all smiles. The killer was the wind as it was dead into my face for the entire first loop. I finished the first loop in 2:45 and knew that I would have to pick it up (once again) to get back to where I wanted to be. Once again, the wind was fighting me but I held on and rode through it. The turnaround provided a welcome relief as the last 25 miles presented a very nice tailwind. I rode back into T2 with a bike split of 5:35. Once again, I was NOT pleased. IMG_2488 If it's one thing I have always been able to count on in the sport is a strong finish. I love the run and it is most often my strength. I was already behind my goal pace and was not all that excited about the task ahead. I stripped off my bike equipment and laced up my Newton Distance Elite and headed out for the marathon. Surprisingly my legs felt awesome and I ran the first loop in 1:30. It was awesome to see Sam Mazer out on the run course at mile 2 or 3. She asked me if I needed salt and I declined but she would continue to support the 3 other times I saw her. The beginning of the second loop was tough but I pushed through the next 5 miles maintaining my pace. At mile 17, I had to stop in the port-potty and that pretty much killed my momentum. Miles 18 to 23 were a tremendous challenge and my mind was in the gutter. How could I have come so far and yet be in such a bad situation. I managed to get through those last 3 miles and crossed the finish line with a 3:28 marathon. A decent run finish, but with an overall time of 10:31 I was not a happy camper... Which brings me back full circle to my opening insight. For me, it was a tough day in CDA. I did have the race I expected and I was extremely disappointed. I could sulk, complain or blame but that would do me NO good. I am very fortunate to be a member of the most outstanding triathlon organization in the world. I have the best sponsors an athlete could hope for and the support of family and teammates that most would die for. Yeah, I came up short BUT I will learn and grow. I failed, but my failure will serve me well in the immediate future. I will make it to Kona, there is no question in my mind. The only question is WHEN and if I have my preference it will be much sooner than later. IMG_2489
07:02
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Third time’s a charm at Kansas 70.3

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After Florida 70.3 and St. George 70.3, I was feeling good about how things were progressing but not satisfied with my results.  It had been since October of 2012 at Rev3 Florida that I had been in the money and to justify still being able to call myself "professional", I really wanted to return to being in the black.  So for the season's third race, I picked a familiar setting at Kansas 70.3 and made the goal of doing better than my 8th and 6th placings from years past.  I also followed my race-proven habits of driving seven hours by myself to Topeka and staying there away from the majority of the athletes.  It was fun doing my ride and run the day before around the Topeka Zoo and even got to drop in on an outdoor swim meet where I realized that the smells and sounds are the same no matter where you are in the US. Race morning, I was worried about the car starting since it had been hesitant ever since I got there (turned out the starter was going bad so $428 later it was replaced back in Colorado) but it turned over and I was off to the races.  Set-up went smoothly and a 75.9 F water temp meant we had a wetsuit swim.  It would be a warm one for sure and as I settled in behind three guys, I looked around and realized we had dropped everyone else in the warm water.  Although I welcomed the buoyancy of my BlueSeventy Helix, I was also in danger of overheating so I made sure I did the least effort in the water that I could so I wouldn't be in trouble before I hit the bike.  We exited with a minute lead and away I went onto the bike. 0730_015929 Leaving the park, we passed through roads that had butterflies covering them like leaves.  My Trek Speed Concept 9 was working great but within the first mile, my Timex Bike Trainer decided to jump ship and leave me with no data to work off of (the butterflies will put it to good use!)  It was three of us at the front for 20 miles with only TJ Tollackson in sight.  Once he caught us, the other guys surged to stay with him and I lost contact.  I stayed within myself and rode the rest of the bike in control and keeping up with my nutrition plan of Powerbar gels and salt tablets.  Two guys caught me right near T2 which actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise. 0730_007188 Starting the run in 6th place, my goal was to run down third place.  I quickly moved into fourth and had Robbie Wade sticking to my heels like glue.  Through mile one we ran and I was keeping up a good tempo leading.  Robbie gave me kudos for my pace and told me he'd come around and lead in a bit.  Twenty seconds later, I leaned forward a bit and he dropped off.  I really didn't do it on purpose but maybe I was feeling the urgency of trying to hunt down those in front of me.  But he stayed within 10-20 seconds of me the whole run which gave me the incentive to stay in front of him since I knew he had been an NCAA runner but with the side effect of keeping the pace high.  This picture actually shows the point when I started to pull away from him. Robbie run   I finally saw third place ahead of me after nine miles right around the time I got a side stitch.  This slowed me up a bit and let Robbie catch up a bit.  Once into the last couple miles, I could see third place sliding back to me but who should be right in front of TJ holding his own: Tim Hola.  Poor TJ was in the middle of a Timex sandwich and I when I finally passed him with less than a mile to go, Tim and I flew the Timex colors proudly.  Unfortunately, Tim still had a second lap to finish so we couldn't do the double Timex finish line action.   Instead, I high-fived as many people as I could coming down the finishing chute in 3rd place after a 1:13 half-marathon run, four minutes faster than what I had done on that course before.  Finally got the monkey off my back! 0730_000265 It was so nice to get that result and repay the trust and confidence that Timex put in me.  Delivering an excellent performance while showcasing the sponsors who support us so well is truly part of the honor of being a part of this team.  Thank you Timex, Trek, Shimano, Powerbar, Nathan, Castelli, Blueseventy, Skins, TriSwim, Feetures, Challenge, Headsweats, Greenlayer and Training Peaks for keeping us on the go!  Next race, Buffalo Springs 70.3 where I finished second two years ago.   Let's try to improve upon that.......
07:01
:14

Jim Bridger 10 Miler

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Montana isn't exactly the triathlon hotspot, but one thing that is very popular - trail running.  We're lucky to have unique and challenging races like the Bridger Ridge Run, and this past weekend, the Jim Bridger 10 miler.  In case you were wondering, everything around here is named after Jim Bridger, the original mountain dude back in the 1800s.  Towns, mountains, businesses, dogs, cats, children; everything is named Bridger. What is the Jim Bridger Trail run? Ten miles, over 2000 ft of climbing, and a couple of stream crossings along the western slopes of the Bridger mountain range, just north of Bozeman.  If that isn't hard enough, this years race had the added challenge of mud, rain, hail and lightning. It's a race that goes back 20 years and Bozeman seems to harbor just enough crazy people to keep it going. [caption id="attachment_13208" align="aligncenter" width="300"]JBrun map The route[/caption]   Anyone who has trail run with me knows that I'm probably going trip and eat it at some point during the run. I scalped half my forearm running with Andrew Hodges on a flat easy trail just a week prior. I wore gloves to protect my hands, and went with an old orange running shirt, so my nice Castelli Timex wear wouldn't  get damaged during my autopsy. I didn't have a full face helmet, so I just went with a Timex Ironman hat. The race starts with 2 miles of dirt road before hitting single track for the remainder of the race. The traditional "meathead surge" lasted its usual 1/4 mile, before some guys that looked like serious athletes made their way to the front, although the pace was still rather easy.  After about 1 mile, we turned right onto Middle Cottonwood road, which began the days climbing. I got impatient and moved the to front and set the tempo up the long gradual climb to the  trail head. Not an attack by any means, but it was enough to cut some fat and break away with two other guys. Just two other normal guys....   [caption id="attachment_13209" align="aligncenter" width="300"]race start Me, left of center, in bear hunting attire[/caption]   Once the three of us entered the woods, the trail was wet, slippery and muddy. Myself and "some dude" in a US Ski Team shirt (as I later found out,  3 x Olympian Andy Newell) were able to distance ourselves a bit after a stream crossing, but I was in the rearview soon there after.  The trail became extremely steep, with ankle deep mud at times, and I found myself slipping and sliding, while Andy powered off ahead of me like a mountain goat.  It felt like we were a few obstacles and some biceps away from a Tough Mudder. Within a few minutes, he was out of sight, and I was on my own in second place.   [caption id="attachment_13210" align="aligncenter" width="300"]JBrun Climbing up middle cottonwood [/caption]   The toughest part of this race, besides the steep trail, mud, and elevation, is that almost all 2000 ft of climbing comes at once. There's no downhills to recover on, its run up the mountain, run down the mountain, and hope your Achilles and quads don't explode.   I fought the mud, and tried to stay out of sight from my chasers (note to self : blaze orange shirt was the wrong color. wear camo next year), but at one point I could see 3 guys not far behind. The climb was steep and neverending. Maybe I should have pre-run this section of the course, but in this situation, I think ignorance was bliss. At 50' into the race, I crested the top of a ridgeline  onto the only mid race downhill besides the long descent to the finish. It also started to rain. I'm not a great downhill running , so adding water to the mix didn't help.  I managed to stay upright and began the final climb to the top of Sypes Canyon trail for the final ~3 mile slip n' slide to the line.  The bad news was that I could hear heavy footsteps closing 20-30" behind me. It was either a hungry bear, or another runner. I pushed hard on the final hill, but my lead only lasted  about 3/4 of a mile down the descent before being overtaken by the other member of my early trio, Dan Campbell.   [caption id="attachment_13212" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Top of Sypes Canyon Top of Sypes Canyon, all downhill from here[/caption]   Coming into this race, I had absolutely zero ambitions of a top finish, but now I was in third and willing to take some risks to stay in the top 3.  The rain was coming down heavy, and Dan soon dropped me as the trail became a muddy creek bed.  I was cold, and could barely see anything, but was bombing downhill on the adrenaline rush from what was turning into an epic adventure. In the last mile, one final short uphill up and around some cliffs gave me a clear glance over my shoulder to see an empty trail and 3rd place securely in my hands.   [caption id="attachment_13213" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Last little lump before the finish Last little lump before the finish[/caption]   I crossed the finish line at the Sypes Canyon trail head in 1:22:59, just under 3 minutes back from the win, with no blood making an exodus from my body. A little google searching after the fact, and it turns out that not only was the winner an Olympian, but 2nd place Dan Campbell went to the Salt Lake Olympics for Biathlon as well. Getting crushed by two dudes that went to the Olympics - I can't feel too bad about that.  I really enjoy these grass roots events where you can have fun  racing, versus being lost in the crowd at a big city event. With all the elite skiers that come out of this area,  you never know who is going to show up.  This race was quite an adventure and I can't wait to partake again next year. I better start working on my abs for the finish photo.   [caption id="attachment_13214" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Shirts on if you didnt go to the Olympics Shirts on if you didn't go to the Olympics[/caption]   More pictures and the story in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle HERE -Mike

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