Team / Racing

Wind and sand training – check!

Last year after the Desert Tri race I stated, “never again”. You would have thought I learned how volatile the desert can be after crazy wind before the race, rain during the race and even snow on the drive home last year!

But no, I was swooned by our new RV that we wouldn’t have any problems race camping this year. This held true as it was amazing sleeping in the RV as you only felt the rig move during the 50 mph wind gusts! What I wasn’t thinking about is racing in those conditions!

Before I get into race details, we started the weekend off by heading to Palm Desert Friday morning to meet up with my in-laws and my mom and her husband Bill. What an extra bonus of a race camping weekend having our family with us and catching up on the months we have been apart. My husband’s parents drove from Boise on their way to an AZ trip and my parents drove from Minnesota during part of their AZ road trip. So thankful for their love and support and enduring the race day elements to cheers us on. We were also able to cheer on our friends and team mates during the Sprint triathlon on Saturday, great weather conditions!

Desert Tri race

The weather forecast for race weekend looks promising. Warmer temps during week but cooling down to the 70s on Sunday and winds not picking up until 1 p.m. Unfortunatly mother nature had other plans and the high winds and gusts started at 8 p.m. on Saturday night and lasted through about 8 a.m. race morning. Over night expo tents ended up in the lake and the porta potties tipped over.

Athletes waited around transition Sunday morning as the organizers provided updates and finally official confirmation that the race would start, just a little behind schedule.

I was in the fifth swim wave and was happy the winds had calmed down. When our wave started I dove right in at the front of the line and tried to think about all the sprint/hard masters sets I’ve done recently. It took me a bit to get in my rhythm as I think my head got a little out of race mode with the potential of the race being cancelled. Once I got past that it was an uneventful swim.

Efficient transition onto the bike. Since the race started late I put focus on a steady effort on the bike and getting calories down my neck so I’d be ready for the run. Fortunately I didn’t experience any wind gusts on the ride, just some head winds for some leg strength work.

Quick transition from bike to run. I was looking forward to start the run as I knew during the first mile I would see my family and friends cheering us on at the equestrian campground! Their cheers and encouragement was just what I needed to put in the effort to push myself on the run. I tried to enjoy a couple miles of tail winds and then laugh to myself when I’d turn into a headwind that would push you back.

I noticed during the race that I didn’t see any 40-44 female racers while I was on the bike or run. When I got out of the swim I heard a friend yell that I was the 2nd pink cap out of the water so it made sense on the bike and no females passed me on the 1st loop and only one passed me on second loop but I didn’t know her age or if she was on her first or second lap. Same thing on the run I didn’t see any age body marking, why did I have 41 on my calf?! I was pushing through the last headwind run stretch and merged left to cross the finish line when out of no where a girl sprinted past me (I was sprinting too) and sure enough she was a 40-44 age grouper! I swam and biked faster than her but she was a stronger runner and grabbed 3rd place by 2 sec. over me.

My family and friends were there at the finish to cheer me through. My husband and I checked out the results and saw that I had missed 3rd place by 2 sec. We watched my Groove Tri  teammate Jenny receive her Elite podium award and then we went back to the camper to pack up and head home happy with both having solid races.

Desert Tri race

Fast forward to Monday, the original 1st place 40-44 times were removed (there was a question on the posted swim time) which moved me up to 3rd* place! Nice surprise to kick off the 2016 race season! Now two more weeks of building volume then taper for Oceanside 70.3 on April 2!

Results: 3rd* place 40-44 female AG out of 23 that finished

Swim 27:04 (fasted 40-44 female time, thanks Coach Hux!)

T1: 2:21

Bike: 1:10:52 (3rd bike AG)

T2: 1:25

Run: 53:54

Total time: 2:35:38

*Looks like results keep changing so subject to final decision by race organizers and timing chip provider

-Heidi Swanson

Team / Racing

JP Theberge Two-time World Champion and 2016 Rio Paralympics Hopeful

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People ask me why I do this, this crazy sport of triathlon. Why do it? Why get up at 4:45am every morning, week in and week out to train? Why put wear on tear on my already damaged body ? What am I trying to prove? Why devote so much time on this when I could be devoting it to my family, my business, my community? I ask myself the same question and the answer is simple.

Because it is important. Moving your body is important. Disabled sports are important. Disabled triathlon is important. Paratriathlon is important.

I started in disabled triathlon 14 years ago, before it was called “Paratriathlon.” It was a community of like-minded people who, suffering some sort of bodily insult, refused to let society define them and refused to be put into a box of “less than.” Many of us were driven by the need to prove that we were just as capable, viable as anyone else, despite whatever abnormality we suffered.

When I started in triathlon, the pinnacle of our sport was the ITU World Championships. The Athletes with a Disability category (AWAD) was a few years old. Winning the race was the highest honor you could obtain in the sport. It meant you were the best disabled triathlete of your class (leg amputees, arm amputees,wheelchair athletes, etc.).

I made it to my first world championships in Lausanne in 2006. There I encountered something I had never seen before: an international crowd of spectators and people like me from every corner of the globe. It was a community that I fell in love with. There were people there I admired and looked up to. They inspired me to train harder, become better as a person and as a triathlete. They lit a fire in me.

Every year, the field got tougher and tougher, broader and more diverse. We all had to train harder and harder. 40 or so athletes in 2006 morphed into over a hundred in 2014 and 2015. The field now encompassed 40+ countries across all five continents including South Africa, Morocco, Finland, Australia, Russia, China, Japan, Korea and almost every country in Europe. The Americas were well represented with the USA, Canada, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico in full force. National delegations were swelling in ranks. National teams began supporting their disabled athletes with training and team support. Sponsors were taking notice.

In 2010, the biggest thing to happen to our sport was the hard-won inclusion into the program of the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games. I say hard won, because it took over a decade of lobbying, politicking, recruiting athletes and development of the sport across 5 continents to prove that we had the enough elite athletes to represent the sport in the Paralympics. And, we were only one of at least 11 major sports seeking inclusion. In addition to being an athlete, I played a small role in the political and organizational process as a board member of one of the earlier Paralympic inclusion committees, particularly in recruiting athletes from Latin America, where I have family roots.

Now, when I race, there is another cadre of young athletes who have been inspired by the earlier generation including myself and those that came before us. I see them with the same sense of awe and inspiration that I had when I first began racing internationally–this sense that “hey, there are others like me out there, and I know I can achieve what they have achieved, if not more.” With the prospect of competing in the Paralympics, the fire grew bigger for all of us.

Since 2006, I’ve competed in 8 World Championships, winning twice and three times taking second place–a record I’m proud of. Of course I want to compete in the 2016 Rio Paralympics, first and foremost, because it is would be an achievement of a lifetime and a long-held goal of mine. But also, it is because I want to be part of something that I played a small role in helping create. I do it as a tribute to those who fought, in the early years, to insist that race directors include a disabled division in their races. For those, like Jim McLaren (for whom the Challenged Athlete Foundation was originally conceived) who refused to sit back and let life pass them by, despite the societal expectations to do just that. I do it so that those little kids who might be alone in their disability see that we can do great things if we don’t let others define us. I do it for those who, like me, saw their normalcy abruptly interrupted on account of an accident, illness or war and perhaps might not see the light at the end of the tunnel. I also do it to set a good example to my kids, my community, my country and to make my family proud.

That is why I do it. And that is why it is important.

What’s next? Qualifying for the Paralympics this year is going to be the hardest test of my athletic career. The process is an arduous schedule of races taking place around the world, where my competitors and I will be accumulating ranking points that will ultimately qualify us for a slot. There will only be 10 or so Paralympic slots worldwide in my class which numbers in the hundreds of competitors. My first big race of the season will be in March, in Sarasota. It is a continental Panamerican championship and so it is weighted much higher than other races. A good performance there will not guarantee me a slot, but a bad performance will likely take me out of the running. No pressure.

By August, the Paralympic slots will be allotted and the start list will be published. At that point, I will know if I qualified to represent the USA at the 2016 Paralympic games in Rio (in September). If I do qualify, it will be a great honor to represent the US on the worldwide stage and to bring notoriety to the sport of triathlon in its first-ever Paralympics. To accomplish this, I will have to juggle 20+ hours of training a week, 60+ hours a week running my business (Cultural Edge which is turning 13 this year), taking my kids to soccer, horseback riding and my duties on the Elfin Forest Harmony Grove Town Council where I serve as Vice-Chair and Communications Chair.

None of this, of course, would be possible without the extensive support of my family, friends and of course sponsors. I am so thankful to: my wife, especially, for putting up with my insane training, massive food consumption, crazy travel and work schedules; my kids for being the reason I try to be the best person I can be; CAF Paratriathlon Elite Team, for the support both financial and emotional that allows me and my teammates to showcase the best in disabled athletics around the world; and the great sponsors and supporters: the great guys at Nytro Multisport, Quintana Roo for hooking me up with the best tri bikes money can buy and the great Team CAF sponsors: J&L Pie Company, Nike, Nuun, Procellera Elite, ISM Saddles, XTERRA Wetsuits and Rudy Project sunglasses and helmets.

Never a dull moment. The adventure continues.

-JP

Team / Racing

2016 Junior Development Elite Team

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Introducing the 2016 Junior Development Elite Cycling Team : Nytro and Swamis are proud to support the team.

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2016 marks the 4th anniversary of the Swami’s Junior Development Elite Team. We officially launched the season with our traditional training camp. As a coach and former rider I always look forward to training camp; it’s a great time to get to know your teammates – both on and off of the bike — and plan for the coming season.

This year our pre-season camp was based in Encinitas, where we benefited from the support of Nytro Multisport and our local club members.

Friday, January 15 was our first day of camp. A few guys were still in school, but most of our new riders were there so we practiced leadouts on the coast. The highlight of the day was getting our new recruit, Julian Levy, to go so hard he lost his lunch! We all had a good laugh at his expense and valuable leadout skills were learned.

On Saturday we began the day with team pictures at Swami’s. For most athetes this was the first time they had done a photoshoot, so they were excited and but also antsy to ride. After plenty of mugging for the camera it was finally time to ride.

We rode Swami’s Saturday loop, but in reverse. The award for Ride of the Day went to Megan Jastrab, our first junior female team member. Megan is 14 and already a national champion; she hung with our top guys up the climbs and definitely established her cred for the season. You go girl! That night dinner was at Bucca Di Beppo in Carlsbad – THESE JUNIORS EAT A LOT OF FOOD!

Sunday was road race and TT/TTT training. We conducted two 10-mile race simulations on Fiesta Island. After practicing riding in the pack at race pace, we did more leadout drills. After two reps the athletes were tired! No time to rest, however; it was time for TT training. Everyone completed a 6-mile time trial on road or TT bikes to establish their baseline efforts and learn valuable pacing skills.

We wrapped up the day with a Team Time Trial experience. The TTT provided more lessons on pacing, teamwork… and how to suffer!

After logging over 50 miles on Fiesta Island at race pace we were done for the day, and the athletes headed home with big appetites and sore legs.

Monday was our final day of training camp and we opted for an easier recovery ride of about 37 miles. The team spun up the coast, talking about their weekend experience. We snapped a few pics in Oceanside and then returned to Encinitas.

Everyone agreed that the 2016 Swami’s Junior Development Elite Team Training Camp was a great success, and the riders are fired up about their upcoming seasoning. Thanks to all Swami’s members who supported our younger teammates!

– Chris Daggs
Swami’s Junior Development Elite Team Coach

Team / Racing

Nytro Breakaway Training Team photo shoot

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2012 men’s Nytro triathlon team photo shoot in Encinitas California…

Team roster includes: Felipe Loureiro, Chris Berg, Adam Schepps, Luke Walton, Charles Karstrom, Gary Grassi, Dave Platfoot, Matt Harder, Nate White and Juan LeChuga.

Sponsors: Nytro Multisport, Breakaway Training, Look, Easton, Giro, Cep Compression, Cytomax, Newton, Matuse, Smith Optics, and Champion System.

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