Celebrating 5 years of Ironman participation

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Ironman Lake Placid – One more time

After 4 years off of long-distance triathlons and much debate about whether the 2014 Ironman Maryland was my last race, I am excited to announce that I will be returning to Lake Placid, NY on July 18, 2018 for the 20th Anniversary of Ironman Lake Placid (and my 10th anniversary of being an Ironman).

My training plan will not officially begin until January 2018.  In the mean time, I’m keeping focused on running (with the Heartbreakers in Boston) and strength training.

While on a hiatus from Ironman triathlon for the past three years, I have not been a complete couch potato.  In between a few half marathons, I’ve been spending a fair amount of time applying the lessons I’ve learned from Ironman to my life at work.

2014 not only marked my 5th Ironman race, but also my shift from West Coast startup life back to East Coast corporate life.  I love thinking through how my triathlon life can positively influence my success within IBM.  For my “pre-training” mode through the end of 2017, I’ll be publishing a 10-part series on lessons from triathlon applied to business life.

Check out the first article now, available on OpenView Partner’s Lab:

Lessons from a triathlete: Begin with the end in mind

You can also catch up on some of the fun I’ve had mixing triathlon, running, and work together over the past 3 years with these highlights from IBM projects with USA Cycling, Runkeeper, and Simon Wheatcroft.







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10 Tips for Ironman Longevity

As I prepare for my 4th Ironman, I find myself answering the questions of “why do you keep racing these distances?” and “how many Ironman races are you going to do?” over and over.  I usually respond by describing the coast-to-coast community I’ve built around Ironman, the sense of pride and fulfillment in finishing a race, and the comfort in the structure of training.  Then, I read an article about Ken Glah in the November/December issue of Inside Triathlon.  Ken Glah has finished 29 Kona Ironman World Championships.  How has he done this?  What keeps him motivated, healthy and engaged in training and competing for nearly 30 years as both an age-grouper and a pro?  Here are Ken’s 10 tips for returning to Ironman again and again.

Ken Glah’s Tips for Ironman Longevity

  1. Change your expectations to fit your training
  2. Be consistent in your training
  3. Make training fun and enjoy it
  4. Get bodywork (massages) to prevent injuries
  5. Take care of injuries when they happen
  6. Watch your diet and maintain a healthy weight
  7. Take a break each year for 4 to 6 weeks to recharge mentally and physically
  8. Find ways to include family by doing some training with them or basing races around places they would like to visit
  9. Be a triathlete for life, not a one-time “bucket list” Ironman
  10. Mix it up with some sprints and olympics

I really like tips 1, 3,5, and 7-10.  I definitely need to consider getting more bodywork done this coming year.  Which tips do you live by?  Which ones do you struggle to follow?  What would you add?  I may now be inspired to qualify for Kona through the Legacy Program (12 consecutive Ironman finishes).

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Back to the Beginning: IMLP 2013

5 years ago, I signed up for my first Ironman race in Lake Placid, NY.  It was an incredible experience – the location, my training buddies, the support of my family and friends.  I’ve completed IM Wisconsin and IM Canada since then.  I’ve trained in DC, Boston, and San Francisco.  But nothing compares to Lake Placid.  That’s why on July 28, 2013 I’m returning to where it all began to race Ironman Lake Placid 2013.

Turns out, I’m not the only one who has a strong affinity for IMLP.  I’m psyched to be joined by my friends across the country for IMLP 2013.  The athlete line up (as I know right now) includes:

  • Colin Reese – 2008 & 2010 veteran
  • Eric Johannessen – 2009 & 2010 veteran
  • Tom Carroll – 2008 veteran
  • AJ Morrison – 2009 veteran
  • Angela Dilks Alvey – 2009 veteran
  • Joe Coyne – 2008 veteran
  • Kathryn Walsh Siehndel
  • Karen Willard – 2011 veteran
  • Daphne Feng – 2008 veteran
  • Sara Hoenshelt – 2008 veteran
  • Julie Kennedy – 2009 veteran
  • Matt Ferguson

Any other DC, Boston, SF peeps sign up?  Let me know so I can add your name to the list.  The Strope family is seriously thinking it might be time to invest in a training camp on the lake!

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IMLP 2009

Congrats to all my friends who completed the Lake Placid Ironman this past Sunday: Angela, Julie, AJ, Kimberly, Joe, Kevin, Kip, Matt F, Matt C, and Chris!  It was a great day for a race – a little rain during the swim, then sunshine and a good breeze through the night.  Frankly, I was a little jealous given last year’s nonstop rain. 

Here’s a quick recap of my Training/Cheering  Weekend at Lake Placid:

  • Friday: Biked 85 miles with my IM Moo training buddies, then cooked a pre-race feast for the house and their families!
  • Saturday: 10 mile run (no right quad issues – yay!), 2.4 mile swim, dinner with Julie’s family, and enough beer and ice cream with the guys – along with some poster making
  • Sunday: RACE DAY!  While I didn’t race, I definitely wore myself out!  Here’s how:
    • 4:45 am Wake Up Call – Headed down to body marking and swim start with the girls. 
    • 7:00 am: Swim Start!  Cheered from everyone as they exited the water and ran to get their bikes
    • 8:35 am: Bike Course – Everyone out on their first 56 mile loop and my chance for a little b-fast and rest
    • 11:30 am-4:30 pm: VOLUNTEER – I helped set up the last water stop on the run course.  It was a lot of work, but a great spot to be!  I saw most of my friends finish their last loop on the bike course AND I got to hand out water to all the pros!
    • 4:30 pm – Midnight: CHEER! CHEER!  CHEER!  I kept meaning to go back to the house, but I always saw another friend runing.  I made it home to grab some warmer clothes, but then I was back on the course with signs for DC, Boston, and anyone in the Hurt Locker.   
    • Midnight: Totally amazing to watch Matt Long, the Everyday Hero of the race, come across the finish line with less than a minute to spare before the race cutoff.  The entire olympic oval was screaming, jumping, and applauding as the race announcer said, “Matt Long of NYC, you are an IRONMAN!” 
AJ, Angela, Kevin, Julie, Kip, and Joe post race

AJ, Angela, Kevin, Julie, Kip, and Joe post race

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Ironman: A Devoted Spectator’s View

From Mona – Number 1 Fan:

A year ago today (July 20th), I stood with Sara’s family, friends, and thousands of other spectators anxiously awaiting a glimpse of their own personal Ironmen and women at the 2008 Ironman Lake Placid.

I followed Sara’s training schedule since she first flirted with the idea of signing up for the Ironman. I admit, like many people she first told, my first reaction was “Wow. That’s crazy.” However, my very next words were “but I know you can do it. You can, and you will.”

I decided I’d make the trip up to Placid from NYC, but I really didn’t know what to expect from such an event. My past experience as a spectator at any event like this was limited. In fact, the closest thing was the few years I was fortunate enough to cheer the marathoners in Boston. That was exciting, but this was different. There would be a marathon, but not until the end. There was still a swim and bike course to contend with… AND Sara was competing in this. This was, in fact, my first triathlon I’d be watching. I knew I’d be excited, I knew I’d be proud, but I really had no idea how intoxicating the whole experience would be.

Months later, as I stood near the swim start while thousands of athletes filed into the water, it happened. Suddenly, a swimstartwave of emotion engulfed me. The best explanation for how I felt was my heart swelled with pride each time I spotted Sara along the course. Truly, there was this big, happy thing bursting with joy in my chest. Everyone’s hard work over the past 6-12 months all came down to this, and I felt the enormity of the moment for each and every one of them. As the first group took off, hundreds of arms splashing, I teared up. U2’s “Beautiful Day” was blaring in the background as the swimmers set off, definitely adding to the emotions of the day. The weather that day was anything but beautiful – it was cloudy, cool, and started pouring rain shortly into the swim. It didn’t matter though, my spirit couldn’t be dampened.

The excitement was contagious. Thanks to Sara, we had the most exclusive spot to watch the triathletes. The house where we stayed was in an area that was restricted to everyone but those living on the street. We had no problems tracking her online, and calculating when she’d loop back through town. Every time she passed us, it was our job to re-fuel her reserves with our cheering. So I cheered loudly. I jumped, I pumped my fists in the air, I screamed myself hoarse. So did the rest of the her family and friends, all the while with Sara smiling as she biked or ran by us.

My first experience as a triathlon spectator, at an Ironman no less, was amazing. It was so inspiring to watch everyone powering their way through hours and hours of swimming, biking, and running. All you triathletes should know that you bring as much to us, as your supporters, as we hope to bring to you. The triathletes in our lives remind us that we are capable of doing anything!

Team Stropedogg at the Finish Line

Team Stropedogg at the Finish Line

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Recovery Road

I traveled to Lake Placid, NY this weekend for a training weekend with a few of my good friends from the DC Tri Club.  Angela, AJ, Julie and Kimberly all signed up for Ironman Lake Placid this year.  I was psyched to join them in Placid to train.  One of the great things about staying on the East Coast – I get to train with my friends from DC to Boston every month this summer!  I’m really looking forward to cheering the ladies on in the race too – especially as I volunteer at the last water stop on the run course. 

Given my cycling accident last weekend, I took a bit of time to recover this week.  I focused on sleeping and putting bacitracin on my face – and not much else.  I barely felt up to anything until Friday.  But, let me tell you, the minute I pulled off exit 30 on I-87 towards Lake Placid, I was ready to ride and run again.  Woo-hoo!

Recovery Ride Attempt #1

Saturday morning started out great.  We rolled out of the house around 8 am.  The plan was for me to do one loop of the IMLP bike course.  About 56 miles.  We hit the road around 8:45 am.  But by 9:15 am, I was in tears.   

On the first descent on Rt. 73 out of Lake Placid (just before River Road), my bike started to shake uncontrollably.  I felt like I was riding a nervous horse that was ready to throw me at any second.  Angela said the rear wheel was wobbly.  I tried to ride a little further, but my confidence was shaken.  Thankfully, Mom and Dad Strope were in LP for the weekend.  They got the “rescue me” call. 

I took my bike into High Peaks Cyclery for a quick check up.  The guys tightened everything up, changed the tires, and even took the bike for a spin down the block.  Everything checked out ok. 

Recovery Ride – Attempt #2

I decided to try the hilly cycling route again around 11 am – with my parents acting as my sag vehicle.   The first few descents felt alright – not nearly as wobbly.  But, I hit above 30 and a little wind, and felt the wobble again.  My parents waited for me after each descent, then followed me along.  I made it to the top of the big descent into Keene, then lost it again.  With tears flowing and my whole body shaking, I flagged my parents down and said, “I CAN’T DO IT!  I can’t do it!  Take me back to town!”

On the Road Again

I spent the remainder of Saturday afternoon cycling around the IMLP run course and Mirror Lake.  It was flat and easy, and I felt much more confident.  I test rode some tri bikes at Placid Planet on Sunday.  The tri bike geometry allows for more weight on the front part of the bike and makes me feel a lot more steady.  My friend Matt said I looked much stronger riding on the Felt B 16!  And, I  joined Kimberly and AJ for a quick ride along the run course on Monday morning. 

In retrospect, heading out on a 56 mile HILLY ride was probably a bit ambitious for my first ride post-crash.  And, it seems like my bike (a Giant TCR) might have picked up a case of Speed wobble post-crash.  The causes of speed wobble are too numerous to count…but it also seems that the more tense, cold, or shaky a rider is, the more pronounced the wobble will be.  Perfect for me coming off of a crash, right? 

So, here’s my new plan to regain strength and confidence on the bike:

  • Do a few short and easy rides over the next 2 weeks
  • Talk to some coaches and experts
  • Buy a new bike.  I’m looking at the Felt B 16, Felt S32, and Quintaroo Dulce now.  Other suggestions are welcome.  Just looking for something other than a Cervelo – great bikes, but I want something different.