Hey green team,
Well, it’s official: another year come and gone. If your holidays were anything like mine, they included at least one person who posed the innocent question, “Why do you do triathlons?” This is typically accompanied by expressions ranging from awe to sheer terror. But the inquiry is one I’ve been thinking a lot about during the first days of 2018. So I sought to answer it.
In the quest to identify my personal reasons for participating in triathlon, I decided to list all possible reasons someone might love the sport. Here’s what I brainstormed.
While this is not an exhaustive list, it felt like a good start. From there, I wondered: which ones actually speak to me? I wasn’t sure how to go about this, so I engaged in a little exercise that I highly recommend before you answer the question. Ready? Take out your cell phone, open your Photos app, and look at your training and/or race photos. Really. Do it! I’ll wait. *pause*
Ok, now that you reviewed your photos and reminisced about warmer weather, reflect on the items above. Here’s where I landed.
What did I learn? For me, triathlon is primarily about the people, the de-stressing element of training, and possibly eating. I may not be in “it to win it,” but I’m glad we are all in it together.
No matter your motivation - the podium, the joy, the strength, the race - remember that as long as you love something about triathlon, triathlon will love you back. And that you’ll always have something on the list to fuel -8 degree runs, likely with a pack of neon-green-wearing weirdos right beside you.
Here’s to another amazing year, and #gogreen!
Hey green team,
First off: if you don’t get the title reference, look to your triathlon elders...and to the first-ever MTV video. :)
Second, for those who may be a little down with the darker nights, cooler mornings, and the impending doom of holiday cookies: remember that triathlon, like delicious hot cocoa on a snowy afternoon, is good for the soul. Not only do we have goals to set and accomplish, but we get to do both of those with some of the coolest people around. The sweat makes us warriors, the elements make us stronger, the selfies make us funnier, and the hours spent volunteering - both at races, and with folks like the Caitlin Clavette Memorial Foundation - makes our hearts grow right alongside our muscles.
So as we prepare to roll into the holiday season, remember that triathlon is inspiring, and the new year means a new chance to hit those new targets. Need a little inspiration? Check out this amazing Harvest Tri video courtesy of Tim Richmond and his team at Max Performance...and be prepared to watch some green magic.
Happy training, and #gogreen,
Hey green team,
As age-group athletes, we reward ourselves - rightfully - for conquering new distances, setting personal records, coming in 28th out of 30 (YEAH I WASN’T LAST!), and tackling a three-sport event with grace, integrity, a limited amount of Gu showing in the professional race photos.
For some of our WWMS teammates, however, age-group holds a bit of a different meaning: once you become truly outstanding in the sport, you have the honor of participating in the USAT National Championships. In order to qualify for Nationals, as one guest informed me, “[for the Olympic Nationals] you have to finish in the top 10% of your age group. If there are fewer than 10 people in your age group, you need to finish first. There are no qualifying requirements for the Age Group National Sprint. It’s open. All you do is sign up.”
To understand how Nationals differs from our local tri series, I caught up with David Crelling, Sherman Roberts, and Sharman Lappin - three of our esteemed Nationals competitors in recent years*. Here’s what they had to share.
JV: How did you find out you qualified? (Please say someone delivers the news to your door in a wetsuit, please say someone delivers the news to your door in a wetsuit…)
DC: I think Bonnie, my wife told me.
SL: Sorry. No wetsuit. USAT sends an email late fall.
SR: Just and email from USAT. No wetsuit sadly.
JV: What did it feel like knowing you were traveling to this race as a national-level competitor?
DC: I was doing ironman distances at the time so my focus was there. My training for that year was ironman distance training so the nationals field wiped the floor with me. I didn't have that short distance speed and power since I was training for more slow and long ironman distance.
SL: I was very excited and nervous. When I racked my bike the night before the race and looked at all the fancy bikes around me, I started to cry. I was quickly comforted by some really wonderful women. That was empowering.
SR: The first time a bit keyed up. It is a somewhat higher level of competition in the AG world.
JV: How did the race atmosphere differ from our local events?
DC: It was the same vibe as local races but the competition level was much higher. Better bikes and fitter people.
SL: A lot more energy.
SR: A lot more flirting and drinking... No, seriously, a bit more celebratory.
JV: What was the most exciting thing about participating in Nationals?
DC: We had other team members up there so being around the team was good. Racing against other strong dudes is always nice since you then get a check on where you stand against other people with similar experience levels. Going to Hot Topic and Wet Seal in Burlington mall was the highlight.
SR: They are fit and serious as hell at race time.
JV: What advice would you have for teammates seeking to race at the national level?
DC: Getting a training plan or a coach is really helpful. Find the local races that are national qualifiers and make those your "A" race. For the bike use a power meter and periodically do a ftp test to figure out your threshold and use that number to guide your workouts. On the run use a heart rate monitor to do a LT test and use that number as a guide for your workouts. Join a local swim group and do more of your workouts in the pool instead of open water. Ride with pure cyclists, run with pure runners and swim with pure swimmers. They will be stronger in their respective sport than you (most likely). Have fun, eat and drink well.
SL: Train – hard. A hint is to find a race with not much participation.
SR: Train seriously and be in the top 5 or so in you AG, although check with USAT on that. They are very attentive. This is REALLY a different level of AG competition.
As we wind down the 2017 season, the athleticism and determination personified by these former Nationals competitors provides fuel for the 2018 race fire. To all our Nationals participants: huge congratulations! To those with eyes on the Nationals prize: keep at it. Remember, we’re all blessed with an opportunity to compete in multi-sport events; a very small percentage of U.S. citizens are able to do this (in 2015, USAT had ~161,000 members - even if we add 40k for 2017, it’s still <1% of the US population).
So be inspired, and know that you are already inspiring.
*Note: we have many more Nationals athletes on the WWMS team! My decision to include these particular three was predicated by...them being the three who responded to my email.
Hey green team,
Amidst two of the most exciting triathlon months, I’ve been reminded by teammates to consider the “why” behind what we do - especially the morning of a race, when it’s 3:30AM and you’re trying to jam peanut butter banana toast down your throat while repeatedly questioning your sanity. In those moments, I invite everyone to call on the “spirit” of our sport. There’s no better way to do so than remembering the ones who fell in love with triathlon - and the ones we, as a Wheelworks family, loved right back.
So if you need a little motivation as we round out the season, I give you a story about Caitlin Clavette, a beloved teammate who was taken from us too soon in a tragic accident in the winter of 2016. Her family established the Caitlin Clavette Memorial Foundation (CCMF) with a vision to support a community where all people live healthy lives, preserve and appreciate the arts, respect and protect all living things, and live with passion. In 2017, the CCMF awarded 5 race entries to WWMS teammates who live the foundation's values. I couldn’t have written this story as eloquently as the authors: Louanne and Andrew Clavette.
You asked what inspired the CCMF to support Wheelworks Multisport athletes in their races this season. The answer is simple - yet the story is long. It involves a Tri- bike, a bird, a team and the unrelenting spirit of our beautiful girl.
Wherever you swim, bike, and run this season, remember this is not just about podiums and incentive points (though those are terrific). It’s about growth, determination, overcoming fear, gaining strength, and most importantly: it’s about the people triathlon allows us to be.
To read more about Caitlin’s passion for triathlon, the arts, education, and life in general, please visit the Caitlin Clavette Memorial Foundation website - and if you’re inspired, consider donating. Our generosity allows Caitlin’s “spirit” to live on, through athletes just like us. (See below for evidence of their WWMS racer support this year.)
Hey green team,
The weather is warmer. The days are longer. All around us, friends, colleagues, and loved ones moan “it’s so hot, all I want to do is sit here.” So what does this group of highly-educated people do?
Put on spandex to swim, bike, and run in the dead of summer.
Call it madness, but nothing beats the cycling-shorts dirt lines, the tri-kit back tan, or the room-illuminating whiteness of our feet because they are the only parts unexposed to the summer elements. In a brief recap of what folks have been doing since May:
And there’s more coming down the pipeline! Upcoming focus races include:
With all this in mind, we also wanted to share a few hot-weather training tips.
Finally, perhaps the hardest part: manage your expectations. The heat makes us a little slower; we give up more water and our bodies need to work a little harder. Be kind to yourself. That 9-minute mile may be closer to 10:30, both in training and on race day. Go into each practice session and toe each start line with one thing in mind: you are a Wheelworker, and you are a rock star.
See you on the road, and #gogreen!
Hey green team,
It’s May, and you know what that means: weather is warmer, race season is starting, ice cream is justified, and most importantly: TRAINING WEEKEND (TW)!
On May 19-21, Wheelworkers from all over MA journeyed to Franconia, NH for our annual tradition: cycling 40-90 miles, “recovering” in the hot tub, and a delicious three-course meal courtesy of the Franconia Inn - our trusty TW HQ for the past several years (shout out to owner Richard, who always joins us for a ride and led a group around Mt. Moosilauke). Some teammates throw in a run, some cycle twice, but most importantly: 25+ members of the Wheelworks family spend the weekend hanging out together. With thanks to those who shared their stories, here are a few TW highlights:
While WWMS members were living it up in Franconia, a parallel tradition began: Local Training Weekend (LTW). On Saturday morning, May 20, a small group of Wheelworkers convened at 7AM to try a new route, graciously led by Katelyn D. From there...well, keep reading.
Wherever your weekend brought you, we hope you enjoyed the fun, the stories, and the joys of knowing you will never be alone while training - there will likely be a Wheelworks teammate (or a chipmunk, or a horse) right there beside you.
Happy race season! #gogreen!
Hey green team,
Did you ever wake up one morning and think, “gosh, it would be so bad$$ to swim in breathtakingly frigid water and then ride my bike and then run a 5k?” If so, welcome to the New England Season Opener.
Living up to its name, Season Opener is the inaugural triathlon of the race season. Taking your place at the swim start brings a flash of masochism mixed with pride in your first open water foray since the previous fall. We won’t lie, friends: the water is cold. Getting into your wetsuit is, uh, unpleasant after consuming the necessary “essential fats” to keep yourself warm through the Boston winter. And the only brick you’ve seen recently is the brick of brie eaten for dinner while bingeing on Netflix last Sunday.
But here’s the good news: Season Opener is AWESOME. Sure, it might be chilly - but dust off that wetsuit, don your green kit and join us for one of the best sprints around (.25 swim/10 bike/3.1 run). We promise your later races will thank you.
In case you need tips and/or motivation, here are some words of wisdom - and inspiration - from our Wheelworks teammates...along with a surprise guest. Keep reading!
What advice would you share with someone participating for the first time?
And now: a word from Tim Richmond, esteemed Season Opener race director:
Season Opener is certainly a badge of honor when it comes to the local multisport scene. It's truly the kickoff to the season! Being hosted in mid-May, we can see air temps range from 75 down to 55. And then you can count on around 60' water temps! Many athletes join us because it's a great gauge to early season fitness, see where you stand against the competition....while most athletes are just itching to get outside!
We love this race, while it's a challenge logistically with Duathlon and Triathlon, we always try to give hearty athletes a great reward with a hot BBQ and post race celebration! And we couldn't do it without all the great volunteer support from WWMS through the years. :-)
See you in Hopkinton on May 14!
Hey green team,
Every now and again, we like to share stories of our awesome WWMS members. This month, we’re hearing from Alyson Fletcher, one of our longest standing members and coolest chicks around. (I love you all equally, Wheelworkers.) Want to know more about the March 25 Swim Clinic? Our annual Training Weekend? The World Masters Swimming Championships in Budapest?! Keep reading!
How long have you been on the Wheelworks team?
I've been on the team since 2009 save the four years I was in graduate school.
What's your favorite of the three sports?
Growing up as a swimmer all my life, the swim leg was a natural favorite. During a period of success with running marathons, I really looked forward to the running finale and when I was training to bike cross country, I fell in love with the biking. But my love of swimming stays strong through all the years..but I have never loved swimming in salt water. I have also been a big fan of the other legs of triathlon - strength training, yoga, and massage recovery.
What types of races are you training for?
After a little over ten years of racing tris, I am a bit crippled by injuries. So, I am focusing this year on training for swim competitions, charity rides, and aquabikes while rebuilding from chronic knee injuries. I'll be doing the aquabike at Musselman in the Finger Lakes and the aquabike at Lobsterman. If I can get my ducks in a row, I am also planning to compete at the FINA World Masters Swimming Championships in Budapest this summer.
What do you do for work?
I work in transportation planning - so, planning people moving there, too.
What motivates you to keep training?
I am motivated by having something out of my comfort zone on the horizon. In the past, that has been half-ironmans, marathons, and biking cross country. This year it might be swimming in an international competition.
What is your favorite thing(s) about our WWMS group?
The people! I love that we lead balanced lives where we can talk about more than your average gear and gu junkie.
You're involved in planning multiple awesome events: in particular, the Swim Clinic and Training Weekend. Can you tell us more about those?
Swim clinic - We will walk through drills you can practice on your own that segment the stroke to enhance efficiency and balance in the water. If equipment allows, we will also video your stroke along with some individualized feedback! Training weekend - It's the most wonderful time of the year! We will take the White Mountains for our annual training trip. For those that haven't been before, we takeover the Franconia Inn as our basecamp for a weekend full of tri training (with cycling having a large feature). Our friends at the Inn offer us a super affordable all-inclusive rate and the trip's a great team bonding experience for all against a backdrop of gorgeous high elevation scenery. You can even take on alternative training like riding horses or flying planes if you so choose.
Random question #8: what's your favorite brand of running sock?
Random question #9: what's your favorite race nutrition?
Clif Shot Blocks - new salted watermelon flavor is the bomb.
Random question #10: what's your favorite recovery snack?
Vega protein shake with hemp seeds
Three cheers for Alyson, especially for her leadership of the Swim Clinic and Training Weekend. See you all in Franconia - bring your helmets, and your party hats.
Here on the Wheelworks team, we are motivated by numerous factors. Our inherent competitive spirits. How amazing we all look in tight neon green tank tops. Toned physiques. Shiny medals. A wall of bibs. The ability to eat burgers and drink beer because we are “in training.” Our enduring friendships. The pride of accomplishing something we never thought we could accomplish.
In addition to those, we have an actual incentive program to motivate us even more! What’s the incentive program, you ask? Let’s hear it from Katrina Ladd, our Incentive Program Director.
In 2016, Wheelworks Multisport decided they wanted to give back to their athletes and developed an incentive program. This followed a similar decision to eliminate the ERG (Elite Race Group) program, which strongly supported one male and one female athlete each year with extra perks and funds.
So now that the incentives are flowing back to the group, the question is: how do we earn points? Let us count the ways:
*Julie note: PR for athletic events only. Not applicable to hot dog consumption, Netflix marathons, or online dating.
In the first year of the incentive program, we were able to further award 38 teammates (40%) for their hard work! Wheelworks Multisport athletes participated in 52 swim, bike, run, and triathlon races with 44 podium finishes. We couldn’t be more proud - go green!
Need an extra incentive to join? Remember our team does fun runs that end in margaritas. What else does anyone need? :)
Do you like working out with awesome people? Do you like a enjoy a great mental and physical challenge? Do you want to wear a shiny medal with pride, telling people you completed a triathlon last weekend?
If you answered yes: JOIN US!
Whether you’re looking to do your first tri or you are an experienced triathlete looking to train and race with like-minded individuals, consider learning about WHEELWORKS MULTISPORT! Our mission is to build camaraderie, sportsmanship, and personal excellence by offering training and support in a team environment for athletes of all abilities. Besides having an amazing team - of normal people - to train with, there are other benefits to being a member including merchandise and coaching discounts, clinics, training weekends and monthly social events!
Even if you’re on the fence, join the WHEELWORKS team for a FREE Fun Run and Social on Thursday February 23. The run will be an easy, no-drop 3-5 mile route along the Charles River followed by social time at Felipe's Taqueria (21 Brattle St., Cambridge). The group will leave from Felipe’s at 6PM. Meet at Longfellow Hall, the Harvard Graduate School of Ed (13 Appian Way, Cambridge MA) at 5:45PM for bag drop-off in a secure location. For more information, check out the Facebook event!