The second annual 174th Attack Wing Runway 5K took place on Saturday, September 9, 2023 in Syracuse, New York, and Christina Barker and Lisa Crockford were both there to run it!
The Syracuse-Hancock International Airport shut down its main 9,000-foot runway for the race, which makes for a unique and fast running experience; Christina and Lisa ran this race last year and loved it. They decided to run together this year, and implemented a solid run/walk strategy that enabled them to finish the 5K strong and well within the strict 45-minute time cutoff. (The runway does have to reopen, after all.) Last year, the secondary runway was closed due to construction, but this year it was open. A jet took off on it right in the middle of the race, and it accelerated right next to Lisa and Christina at Mile 2.5!
Overall, this race was a fun and amazing experience for them both. Way to go, Christina and Lisa!
The Littlefoot Triathlon returned to Bear Creek Lake Park in Lakewood, Colorado this year on Saturday, September 9, 2023. Jennifer Pearce absolutely loves Bear Creek Lake Park; she trains there all the time and it is a place where she feels grounded and connected to nature. As such, she loves this race, and it was her ninth time doing it!
Jennifer has been really working on her swim form and strength, and those skills were put to good use, as the swim was choppy. (There was a much higher-than-normal DNF rate, but Jennifer was not among those who didn’t finish!) Ultimately, the swim ended up being the leg of the she felt best in, which is not normally the case for her. All that hard work in swim training paid off! She had a strong bike where she focused on riding with strength and good form. Her run was really strong and surpassed her expectations. She finished the race smiling and feeling great! This was a wonderful way to round out her triathlon season.
Once again, they both had a lot of fun. They swam a steady swim that set them up to have a strong ride and then both of them negative split the 5K run (meaning that they were able to run faster with each passing kilometer). How they each felt on the run indicates that they were wise in how they handled their executions of the swim and bike.
Congratulations, Melissa and Dan!
IRONMAN Wisconsin took place on Sunday, September 10, 2023 in Madison, Wisconsin. This was Mary Houck’s A-Race of the season and she was really, really excited for it. Her friend Diana was racing in IRONMAN 70.3 Wisconsin, which took place on Saturday. Mary was there to cheer her on, which started off the weekend on a really high note.
Mary’s race day came, and she had a fabulous swim. She was smiling and feeling great as she started the bike. She stuck to our race plan, which included Normalized Power (NP) targets, average heart rate limits, and power limits when she was climbing. Just over halfway through the course, she started experiencing leg cramps. They got progressively worse, forcing her to get off her bike and walk some of the hills in the later part of the ride. She made it back to Transition and was still smiling as she started the run.
Unfortunately, things really took a turn for the worse around Mile 2. Mary started having severe back pain, which was very limiting. Just as she did on the bike ride, Mary adapted her race plan and strategy, managing the adversity that she was dealing with. By the time she finished the first loop of the run course (13.1 miles) her pain was significantly worse and Mary knew what she had to do: Withdraw from the race.
Withdrawing from a race is never easy. Withdrawing from an A-Race is particularly difficult. Honestly, continuing the race and finishing would have been the easier path. But Mary didn’t choose the easier path; she exhibited true toughness by doing the hard thing and choosing the wiser path of taking a DNF (Did Not Finish) in the race. This choice, while extremely hard, was the right one because it kept Mary safest and will help her be able to return to activity and what she loves in a healthy way sooner.
We’ve been able to identify some of the things that snowballed into this situation for Mary, and they are all opportunities for growth in her future goals and optimization in her future training. But today, I am more proud of Mary for withdrawing from IRONMAN Wisconsin than I would have been if she pushed through to try and finish. If she had done that, it is highly probable that she would have caused an acute injury or caused enough damage that she puts her future goals and activities at risk. Even though finish line experiences are glorious, they are not worth that.
So please join me in celebrating the hard work that Mary put in to get to IRONMAN Wisconsin, and please congratulate her on a solid day when she became an example for us all by doing the actual toughest and hardest thing.
Coach Laura Henry
Laura Henry is a Syracuse, NY-based coach who is a USA Triathlon Level II Long Course and Level II Paratriathlon Certified Coach, USA Cycling Level 2 Certified Coach, VFS Certified Bike Fitter, and has successfully completed NASM's Certified Personal Trainer course. Coach Laura is passionate about helping athletes of all ability levels reach their goals and has coached many athletes to success.