Reminder: HOMH Spin-athon

Teammates - 

Just a quick reminder that Help Our Military Heroes is having their annual fund-raiser/spin-athon this weekend. As a Team RWB member, we hope that even if you can't get to the actual fund-raiser, you throw your Eagle on and train today with HOMH in mind.  Please drop them a line on their website and let them know how you did today: http://www.helpourmilitaryheroes.org/.  Drop a note in our comments section too - we'd love to hear from you. 

For something a little bit off-beat, I am currently in England and on my way to Tough Guy tomorrow.  It may not fall into traditional triathlon training, but it's an unconventionally good time: http://www.toughguy.co.uk/.  This one is for you Laurie and the rest of your HOMH team.  

For more information on HOMH, check out their website and make sure you read our two-part article on HOMH President, Team RWB member, and all-around impressive woman Laurie Hollander.  


Tri'ing it Out

Tri’ing it Out
Many of you are new to Team RWB. Some of you are new to triathlon all together. Welcome to the sport! The following will be more of a pep talk and not so much of a how-to. You already know you need to do some swimming, cycling, and running, and put it all together on race day. Your first race will be very exciting, but it also may be kinda scary.

You have an idea in your head about how you will set up your transition, maybe you even set it up at home to see how it looks. Once you get to the race site, stand in line to get body marked, and enter  transition, you will find yourself looking at everyone else’s transition. You ask yourself if you should change your plan, if you should set up your transition more like the other athletes' transitions. That is a decision you can only make for yourself. You are the one doing the race. Set it up once and go with it, your first instinct is usually the best.

You look around at all the other athletes. Wow, they look fit. You may ask yourself “what am I doing  here?” No matter what, always know that you belong there just as much as any other athlete who is present.

More often than not, swimming is the sport new triathletes typically struggle with when they are starting out. At this point you have trained enough to get through the swim portion, have confidence in that. The swim will be over before you know it and you will be rolling out of T1.
In transition 1, you will go through the routine you have been through in your head 100 times, only now it is for real. During this short period of time you will probably triple check to make sure you have everything. You will still be dripping wet from the swim. This is the point too you might be regretting the way you set up transition, its okay, you will fix it in the next race.

On the bike you will be tempted to start out fast. If you want to start out fast go ahead. Have fun with it. If you are concerned you might not have enough left in the tank for the run go ahead and slow down. Don’t forget to take a few sips from your bike bottle, the race is very exciting, and for this reason it is very easy to forget to drink. Always pass on the left. 

Transition 2 can be exciting. It’s the last time you will be in transition, and only one more segment separates you and the title of triathlete. You may have had a plan to put on socks, but now you are abandoning that plan, it’s okay, your feet won’t fall off. Most people get caught up in the excitement of the race. Maybe you are too; this is one of the really fun aspects of triathlon. Leave transition with a smile on your face, only a few miles and you will be a triathlete.

Maybe you started out as a runner, many triathletes do. Maybe running comes natural to you, maybe it doesn’t. No matter at this point, all the other athletes, just like you, want to get through this run and get to the finish line, some faster than others. If you need you pace yourself, go ahead and pace yourself. If you can run the first few miles easy and gut it out in the last mile that’s good too. Whatever method gets you to the finish line, use it. You see the finish line, pick up the pace for your final hard effort, you are almost finished! Cross the finish line with a smile and sense of achievement, you did it!

After the race, don’t immediately pack up and go home. You probably can’t anyway since transition will most likely not be open. Grab some post race food, and start chatting it up with your fellow triathletes. You can make some new friends, and pick up some tips. Stay for the awards so you can hear the times of the people in your age group who finished top 3, so you have a time goal to work toward.

Whether you go home with an award or not, remember, you are now officially a triathlete, and nobody can take that away from you. You have earned this title. Talk up triathlon to your friends, see if you can get them to try one out, they might just like it. If not, it’s okay, this sport isn’t for everyone.  As for you, after you get home and celebrate your achievement, you will be looking for your next race!

Happy Tri’ing!

Team RWB article on Financial Times

See how Team RWB is helping vets in this Financial Times article!
Financial times Article


Laurie Hollander and HOMH -- Part 2

Teammates - 

Here is the second half of the interview with Laurie Hollander: 

Team RWB: You have a lot on your plate already, how did you decide to get involved with Team RWB?  How has your time with the Team complimented your work with HOMH?  

LH: Tiffany and Mark Holbert are my introduction to Team RWB and Maj. Mike Erwin!  Apparently the Holberts felt Mike and I share a "HIGH ENERGY" vibe.  Seriously, I met the Holberts while Mark was still on the ward at Walter Reed and Tiffany instructed me to #1 Get HOMH on Facebook and #2 Run a 200 mile Relay from Gettysburg to DC with Team Red, White and Blue So, Mark's lying in a hospital bed all beat up and I'm going to say no?  

A few months later I get to meet THE MAN in person!  Mike, Genevive and a great big group of awesome TRWB athletes, family and support crew met at the starting line and my team, including Mark's awesome sister, Teresa spent 24+ hours riding in vans and running through the night to the finish line with the Awesome ODA 3132 that had just reunited with Mark for the first time since he was injured.  AWESOME doesn't come close to describing the feeling.
I then did Reach the Beach, SuperFrog with 3 awesome West Point Cadets from this graduating class of 2012,  Marine Corps Marathon and the 2011 Olympic triathlon National Championships all in Team RWB colors and the awesome Eagle flying!  2011 was incredible... and kind of a blur.

Team RWB: Last year you competed in Vermont at Age Group National Championships, just one of many accomplishments for you last year alone.  What does this year look like for you, and how do you balance your training with everything else you have going on?  

LH:  I spent about 13 years surviving a back surgery gone bad experience from a drunk driver rear-ending me at the ripe old age of 19... So, once I got my life back on track in my late 30s I swore I wasn't ever going to stop moving again (I know, be careful what you ask for!).  I was released from a pain management program in 1999.  I found this class of indoor spin bikes.  I rode like Miss Gulch from the Wiz of Oz, sitting upright for the first year because of the old back.  The crazy (in a good way) folks at this Spinning Gym took me under their wing and I ended up completing a Sprint Triathlon.  Picture this - never a swimmer, rode my kids Hard-Rock bike with nubby tires (who knew???) and dear lord don't even call what I was doing, running.  But my sons were there at the FINISH LINE and their mom wasn't on 30 meds a day and crabby anymore!

Fast forward to 2003 when I completed Ironman Lake Placid.  Why?  Because I wanted to be an example to my sons;  do things that scare the crap out of you and FINISH what you START...

I made a promise to myself to race Lake Placid again for my 50th, 60th, etc birthdays.  July 2012 - Lake Placid here momma comes!  Happy Birthday to me!  TRWB and HOMH on my back, front, sides and most importantly across the FINISH LINE!

As a closing question, I asked Laurie what her goals for HOMH are for 2012, and in what had already been a rather emotional interview, her answer to that question may have been the most poignant of all.  She said that every year she prays it is the year that HOMH goes out of business, that there is no further need for modified vehicles, and that our wounded warriors and their families have had all their needs met.  Here’s to hoping that she is right this year.  Of course, being the person she is, she quickly clarified that she would just re-write HOMH’s mission statement and focus on a different aspect of assisting our wounded warriors and their families. 

The blog team cannot thank Laurie enough for her time, her candor, but most especially, her efforts with HOMH.  We wish her all the best in her personal endeavors for 2012 – get after it at Lake Placid – and to HOMH.  

Laurie was also kind enough to send these pictures and captions from the van presentation on 18 January: 
HOMH van recipient, US Army Cpl. Adam Keys with his mom Julie and mobility consultant, Maureen Pepe in background. Injured 14 July 2010, Adam spent 520 days in seated, supine or prone position until he could be supported to go vertical.  Here Adam ensures that the gift bow doesn't get too far away - we are so humbled by his Warrior Spirit!  Can we even imagine?

Adam and Laurie in Adam's awesome new conversion 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan RT

Previous HOMH van recipients SSgt Tim Brown, USMC, and SSG Chaz Allen, US Army also attended the presentation and welcomed the new van recipients into the family.  Here they pose with Team RWB member and HOMH President Laurie Hollander.


Laurie Hollander and HOMH -- Part 1

Teammates - 

Over the next two posts, I have the distinct pleasure of introducing Laurie Hollander to the broader Team RWB community.  For those of you who have not had the pleasure of meeting Laurie, when and if you do, it will not an experience you will soon forget and you will come away with a new sense of what is possible, given the right amount of dedication and desire.  Laurie is not only a proud Team RWB member, but a mother of two servicemen, and the President of Help Our Military Heroes (HOMH), a non-profit whose mission is to provide modified vehicles for injured military personnel.  Talking to Laurie, it does not take long to understand how much she cares about her work and making a difference in the lives of our wounded warriors.  She calls herself the cheerleader of HOMH, and her passion is evident, and a large part of why HOMH has been so successful to date.  Her philosophy is borne out of the belief that each of us, regardless of our lot in life, needs a hand from time to time.  Today, January 18, HOMH presented the keys to two new vans to two of our military heroes – a young Army Corporal and an Army Sergeant First Class.  Laurie was kind enough to conduct the following interview over email and Skype and we cannot express how much we appreciate her time.  Here in her own words is the story behind HOMH, its goals, and one incredible lady that we are lucky to call a teammate and a friend to Team RWB. 

Team RWB: Laurie, you and Marybeth came up with the idea for what would become Help Our Military Heroes at a West Point football game in 2006 - what did you envision for it at the time? When and how did you decide that adaptive vehicles were the avenue that you wanted to pursue?  

LH: I had been fundraising for Western CT Hospice for 2 years where I teach spinning classes.  When my younger son, Matthew was accepted to West Point and in the same year my older son stepped away from his junior year in college to enlist in the Marine Corps I was drawn to the West Point campus and football games for the best chance to see my Plebe (empty nest hit me hard!) as his opportunities to take Pass are little to none the first year.  At one of the home games we were all witness to a modified van being donated to a severely injured soldier... pretty much instantly I turned to Marybeth and said "Game changer!"

Monday morning in my spin class, I announced and took a hand-count of who would support the opportunity to spin and take other fitness classes to raise money to contribute to the van charity I had seen at the West Point football game.  That was in 2007 and we raised $67,000 with 6 hours of exercise, in 2008 it became $100,000, in 2009 we were up to $120,000. This is when I met my now-husband Ted.  He is the financial and legal side of our HOMH Triangle.  Marybeth is the marketing and I am a cheerleader!  Ted took a look at what our spin-athon was raising and asked Marybeth and I to incorporate and apply for a Non-Profit status to take responsibility for our communities contributions.

We applied for our 501c3 in 2009 and received our IRS approval in June 2010.  We are very fortunate to have a '68 West Point grad take interest in what HOMH was hoping to accomplish.  Mainly, we want to RAISE money and have 100% of the donations go to serving our most severely wounded as well as making a yearly contribution to a CT area Veterans Cause.  We have met our Mission!  Since our founding we have raised more than $450,000 and have helped 20 severely wounded veterans experience their independence again by helping them regain their mobility.

The vans are the most amazing thing!  A wheelchair can roll in, Lock Down-Tie In, Passenger or Driver-Can transfer to a car seat and off you go!  We take this for granted.  Everyone I know grabs their keys and drives away but I can share stories of our van recipients re-telling their daily experience using the old family SUV or car.  It will make you cry!

Team RWB: In the first 16 months, you have been able to donate 13 vans with another 3 on the way - tell me more about that process.  How do you find the recipients, where do your vans come from?  How long does it take from the identification of a recipient to the presentation of the van?  

LH: Our process is another one of the "MIRACLES" that has fallen our way.  With the assistance in navigating the military world we connected with another Grad of West Point that had recently been called back to active Duty from Retirement to work on the transition of Walter Reed to Bethesda.  HOMH packed up the car and met our new friend and several Officers in the MATC or Military Advanced Training Center.  Once our interviews were over this particular day a very sly Captain in the Occupational Therapy unit literally rolled in a triple amputee and told us she thought we might enjoy meeting this warrior.

Dear Lord!  This beautiful marine with his teenie tiny wife and their 9 month old daughter began to tell the story of his injuries.  He cried, we cried and the team of Medical and Administrative officers that quite possibly heard this story once or twice before, cried.

Our new friend told how he used his "GOOD" arm to swing himself up into their Ford Explorer while his wife (5 ft tall and 90 lbs) loaded their baby and 4 yr old daughter.  One Day he slipped and fell to the ground.  No legs, one Arm and he slipped.  His wife picked up his body and he swore that he would talk to the Captain to find out what type of car he should have his family driving to avoid this scenario ever again.  So, HOMH was trial by fire!  We had this family fill out our application, our process for interviewing was already complete (sneaky Captain) and we made our decision to Award this marine our very first van!

I'd like to say our process has changed and none of our meetings are any less emotional.  They're not!  I wouldn't change a thing.  It's important to get emotional and know who you are helping.  I just do.  It keeps me motivated to do more!

So - the main "what we do" is we bridge the gap.  A one-time vehicle grant (4502) is awarded an injured service person – this currently is $18,900.  Most appropriate vans are minimally $30,000 up to $60,000.  The Medical staff works with our applicant on all the necessary prescribed equipment for safety, driving, etc.  When all is said and done, a driver (versus passenger only) van modified and fully Rx can value over $90,000.  HOMH makes sure that the injured service man or woman pays NO OUT OF POCKET COSTS.  The vehicle is their color, their style, their choice... they are handed their keys and off they go... free and mobile... independent in their new life!

Team RWB: You have your annual fund-raiser coming up, what kind of event is it going to be?  

LH: Ah!  Spinathon It’s a 4 ring circus of FITNESS! 

Beginning at 0600 wrapping up at 1430 we spin, kick, box, yoga, dance and Cross-Fit in Danbury, CT at the gym I have worked at for over 10 years now.  We ask for a suggested donation of $15.00/hour and average $50.00 per participant in spite of the minimal donation.  Participants began collected sponsors year back and we just kept that great idea rolling...

We have participants that work for some large companies like Coke, GE, Goodrich, CARTUS, American Express, Praxair, etc. which have employee matching programs and foundations.  But the great news is over $75% of our donations are purely individuals making a huge difference a few dollars at a time.  That's part of what fires me up!   Every day people doing this AWESOME thing... Saying thank you to those who voluntarily give of themselves to defend and protect us.
We have local businesses donated coffee, bagels, sandwiches, desserts, sports drinks, water and more.  Other businesses donate goods and services for a very popular raffle.

All in all, the event comes together on the Saturday in January (28 January) between the end of the playoffs and Super Bowl!  BOOM!  No football, so SPINATHON!  God has blessed our event with a snow-date that has never had to be used.  I continue to pray that this is the 2012 plan, as well!  Snow date is Sunday, Jan 29, just in case God's sense of humor is rockin' and rollin'

This year Team RWB and HOMH HERO is SFC Mark Holbert, along with his wife Tiffany (and Isabelle, too of course!)

Team RWB:  Is there any way that those of us not in the area can get involved in the spin-athon?  

LH: Hit our website at http://www.helpourmilitaryheroes.org/ and donate on line.  Leave us a message when you do and let us know how we are doing! 

Team RWB note:  The blog team at Team RWB would like to encourage all team members, if you can’t make it to CT, to do your workout for the day with Laurie and HOMH in mind.  Throw on your Eagle while you are training and bike, run, go to the gym with a little extra pride for what this great organization is doing – no matter where you are, we can all participate in this great cause.  Then as Laurie says, drop a line on their website about what you did – leave a note in our comments section as well.  Saturday, 28 January, Team RWB shadow training day in honor to HOMH.   


Makin' it look easy

If you have ever trained with, been around, or watched a world class athlete there is undoubtedly one thing that stands out – how easy they make it look.  By and large their mechanics, even late in the game, are so honed over years of practice that they look effortless, even as we know that they are red-lining it.  If you watched the Olympic Marathon trials this weekend, Ryan Hall is a great example of this.  He was crushing the early miles, as he often does – running sub 5s and aggressively pushing the pace.  Even at the end, after over two hours of running at and below 5 minute per mile pace, Hall had the same strong, efficient stride – and was still pushing a pace that many of us can only dream of.  Similarly, in Kona this year, you may have noticed the same thing as Craig Alexander ran a 2:42 marathon in his typical stoic fashion, form perfect until the last miles.  Watching him collapse just after the finish line was one of the few indications of how hard he had pushed all day, but on the run his shoulders were relaxed, turnover was high, and his form generally indicated that he was out for an easy 5 mile training run.   Ryan Hall and Craig Alexander are two absolutely top-tier athletes, and while most of us will never reach that level of performance, we can still benefit from just having seen it – and taking a few minutes to learn.    
In the book, The Talent Code, author Daniel Coyle discusses just how those of us who don’t fall in the world class athlete category can benefit.  Coyle proposes a type of visualization, but not the kind you have likely read about or been taught where you visualize yourself.  In the latter type of visualization, we are told to picture ourselves as we race, thinking of every component part, imagining our perfect selves as we visualize the race that we wish to have.   Coyle instead suggests the concept of deep practice, part of which can entail watching elite performers – in our particular case, triathletes – and examining the way they move, the way they carry themselves, and the way they flow through their chosen art.  We are lucky to live in this digital age where world class performances are merely a click away.  Before your next practice session, spend a few minutes (you need no more than 5-10) watching some clips of your favorite athlete as they train or race.  Study their form, watch their seemingly effortless fluidity, and when you go out for your training session, keep those images in your mind and emulate them as best you can.  And as inspiring as they are, this means staying far away from the clips of Sian Welch and Wendy Ingraham (it is worth watching once though – just not before training: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTn1v5TGK_w)!  As an aside, if you want to see and emulate that fourth discipline of triathlon, the transition, check out this lightning fast performance by Team RWB’s own Tim O’Donnell (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkYCsFpaWW0).   

Coyle goes so far as to say that watching someone that looks like you can actually be better, and from my own experience, it’s true.  I can’t imagine what it’s like to be a 120 lbs. elite Kenyan marathoner like Geoffrey Muttai, crushing the courses in Boston and New York, but I can picture myself as Normann Stadler on his bike or with Faris al-Sultan’s loping running style (save the Speedo and headband – I am only looking to emulate his racing ability, not his wardrobe).   As triathletes, we are fortunate to have three sports, and the elites from each, to watch and learn from – I personally love watching clips of Ryan Hall before my runs.  He runs with an amazingly smooth style that I try to focus on when my own is going out the window.  For swimming, Michael Phelps is the obvious choice, though I really can’t imagine what it’s like to be him either – I need at least zoomer fins to get to size 14 feet.

If you have the time and ability, take it a step further and have someone video tape you.  Juxtapose watching yourself against watching an elite.  Watch for differences in form and how you can make corrections.  If you are so inclined, find a coach who can help you with a video analysis.  For Christmas two years ago, my wife got me a one hour session with an Austin-based tri coach who did a video analysis of my swim stroke.  As a life-long swimmer, I was slightly skeptical, but it was the best hour I have ever spent training.  I learned more from being able to see my form and understand my weaknesses than I have in any other training session before or since. 

As a final note, in The Talent Code Coyle also postulates that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill – so while I may never be Ryan Hall or Normann Stadler, I know that every hour I am out there, I am that much closer to reaching my level of mastery, whatever that may be.

For more information on The Talent Code, visit http://thetalentcode.com/.    

Happy trails    


The Running Man

Teammates –

As you know, I am very new to the blog team and having the chance to write for you.  With that in mind, I understand that I am asking for wide latitude in writing the following post about a friend of mine who is neither a member of Team RWB (yet) nor a triathlete (again, yet, but I for one am okay with that for now).  I am writing today to recognize my friend John and wish him the very best as he transitions from Active Duty (today) to his career in the Foreign Service (Monday). 

I met John in the summer of 2010 through my wife after he was her replacement at her last office.   At the time, John was training for his second 100 mile ultramarathon while I was training for Ironman Louisville, and my wife thought we could train together.  The second time we talked, John was preparing to do a 30 mile run the next day – I was not invited, nor did I ask to join in. To be frank, it sounded more than a little crazy.  Looking back on it, that seems like one of the few times we didn’t run together.  Over the next few months, miles, and hours training on the road, I heard about his exploits, though he would never call them that.  We talked about how his athletic background was in cycling, first on the junior then on the National Team, his time as a Marine fighter pilot, and his passion for ultra-running.  My wife and I also got to know John’s family, his very lovely wife and their wonderful young son.  I think our wives were both glad that John and I could talk to each other instead of them about the benefits of wearing compression pants to sleep in, lactate thresholds, and the latest products we were trying. 

Last spring John paced me to a marathon PR on what was a training day for him, prepping for a 50 miler he had two weeks later.  A few months later, I paced him through 20 miles of his third 100 mile race, where he both dropped me (excellent pacing on my part, I would have to say), and ran an amazing 19:30 PR.  In the lead-up to that race, he ran a 15:24 3 mile run for his PFT, while “not pushing it at all.”  Is it any wonder that between being a national level cyclist and that kind of runner that I am okay with him staying away from triathlon for now?  He’ll get to our sport eventually, and when he does, I am sure he will excel at it as he has done with his life’s other pursuits. 

John and me at the start of Western States

For many of us, our time running is our time to think.  It’s when we get to machinate over all the things that are going on in our heads.  Some days are better than others – we solve not only all of the world’s problems, but if we are truly lucky, some of our own as well.  To run with a friend is to be invited into that semi-sacred space, to share in those thoughts, and to be a sounding board for ideas that somehow seem much more plausible at mile 15.  Running, especially over distance, has a way of allowing us to lay bare our soul.  The early runs, where we talk to fill what might otherwise be uncomfortable silence are replaced over miles covered together by insight into one another and ourselves.  Some days that insight comes from simply enjoying the complete silence of the perfect, lulling rhythm of a long run.     

Living in Italy now, I don’t get the chance to run with John very often, though he just recently came to visit us and we got some runs in – him bouncing ahead, exclaiming about the amazing terrain I am so lucky to train in, me laboring progressively farther behind, cursing said terrain.  With him moving on to the Foreign Service, I would imagine that will likely be the extent of our training for a while, and I will miss running with my friend.  I do know though, that no matter where he and his family end up, eventually we will get out there to see them and John and I will run, and fall into step seamlessly.  So here’s to you John.  Thank you for your service – as anyone who has been on the ground in any capacity can attest, the sound of an F-18 overhead is both distinctive and reassuring – and for your continued willingness to work for the betterment of our country.  May this next year be exciting, and if you are lucky, filled with good coffee, gelato, and many, many miles. 

Happy trails. 

Do you have a military member you would like to recognize through Team RWB?  If so, please email me at mdpiet@aol.com.  

For another inspirational profile, make sure to check out the main Team RWB blog page (http://teamrwb.com/blog/2012/01/) for the story of our blog team's own Jillian O'Malley.  Great article by Greg about one of our own!  


The Off? Season

Teammates - 

With the 2011 race season in the books and the winter months (if you live in the northern hemisphere) upon us, there has been a lot of talk about off-season training.  Many recent magazines, be they tri focused or otherwise, have advocated making time for other activities - from weight training to yoga to cross-training.  With race seasons now stretching from March through the end of November, taking a training break is an excellent idea to recharge your body, recover from the season, and go into the next year fresh and ready to race.  But with all the options out there, what should you be doing?  

There are probably as many answers as there are people reading this blog.  Ultra-running legend and 7-time Western States winner Scott Jurek recently wrote a magazine piece where he exhorts the benefits of a true break - in his case 4-6 weeks at the end of his season where he doesn't run at all - not a single step.  That article was published in the November issue of Competitor Magazine - in this month's issue, the same Mr. Jurek is talking about how the New Year is the time to start building a base.  It seems the off-season can be very short indeed!  

But let's be realistic, very few of us are Scott Jurek, and if you're reading this blog, you're likely a triathlete first, maybe a trail runner second.  And unless you have grown up in the sport, you probably prefer one discipline over the others.  The off-season offers a perfect chance to work on your weaknesses.  If it's running, try signing up for an early season half or full marathon to keep you honest and help build the base you can use all season long.  The winter, with it's shorter days and colder temperatures is also a great time to stay inside perfecting your swim technique.  The off-season is also a perfect time to integrate strength training - an aspect of training that often falls out when we are already juggling swimming, biking, running, and things like jobs, families, deployments, etc.  I have been trying this program to build strength without unwanted mass - it's a simple plan and is relatively short, and Dan John is a font of knowledge (http://danjohn.net/2011/06/even-easier-strength-perform-better-notes/).  Alternatively, the off-season is a perfect time to get into that yoga class that you see at the gym, try pilates, or take a core strengthening class. As a final suggestion, this is a great time to review how last year went with the addition of the perspective of time - be honest with the way your races went, and more importantly, your preparation.  As you review the last year, start to think about your goals for 2012 and commit them to paper - while I don't believe in New Year's Resolutions, I am a firm believer in goals - share yours in the comment section!  

However you decide to spend this off-season, make sure to enjoy it and, as Scott Jurek says, take a true break. The 2012 season will be here before we know it and with it, plenty of chances to race (stay tuned for some exciting race announcements) and time to train.  If you are looking for an early season tune-up race, check out the Emerald Coast Tri Club's Bluewater Bay Duathlon (3K run, 15K bike, 5K run) February 25, 2012.  The EC Tri Club, part of the large Eglin AFB community, has partnered with Team RWB for 2012! http://www.ectriclub.org/Duathlon.php.  We at Team RWB are so excited about this partnership and look forward to many good things to come.     

As a parting thought, regardless of when you get back to it or where you train, train smart - always carry some form of ID and an emergency contact number. If you train outside of the States, even if it's on a base, make sure your emergency info is also in the local language.  

Happy trails.  


Happy New Year from Team RWB

Dear Team RWB Teammates - 

As we start a new year, we wanted to wish all our athletes, sponsor partners, friends, families, and most importantly, our military members, a very safe and happy holiday season.  This is also a perfect time to reflect on the season, and look forward to what may come in 2012.  Was 2011 the year of your first triathlon, your first half, or first full iron distance race?  Did your races go the way you wanted?  What did you learn that you will carry over into next season?   

It is also a great time to reflect on the year, one where we celebrated the military's successes and as a nation, grieved their losses.  For many families, this holiday marked another one separated from a loved one who is deployed, or perhaps spending their first holiday apart as the war in Afghanistan continues.  We have also seen the end of the war in Iraq and complete withdrawal of our troops there just in time for the holidays.  This has been one of the largest single re-deployments of combat troops, and now more than ever, It's Our Turn to give back to help these troops reintegrate back into society.  At Team RWB, we are so proud of what our military does every day, and encourage everyone this holiday season to remember what the war in Iraq has meant and has cost so many service members and their families.  We are also so grateful for our athletes and what each of you does to raise awareness for our returning veterans - whether it is through fundraising, wearing the team kit, or spreading the word through social media and word of mouth, thank you.  On that note, it's not too late to pre-order a 2012 kit - you have until 5 JAN, just hit this link: http://www.freewebstore.org/team-rwb-triathlon/index.aspx?pageid=1096663

At Team RWB, we are excited about the year that 2011 was - we grew exponentially and formed new partnerships.  Our pros and age groupers had some amazing successes, including Ironman wins and podium finishes, multiple PRs, and other "firsts."  Team RWB was profiled in the media and it grew in true grassroots fashion.  In 2012, we are looking forward to an even more amazing year, and we are so excited that you are part of this experience.  

We are also going to be growing our on-line presence, including re-vamping our blog.  Brittany did an amazing job of keeping up with the blog in 2011, but her responsibilities have grown, mirroring the growth of the team.  She has very graciously passed the blog on, and we look forward to following her lead and being good stewards of it.  In 2012, we will have a dedicated blog team, and our goal is to update the blog more frequently, with an immediate focus on the "off-season" months.  This will include chapter and athlete profiles, off-season training tips, winter recipes, pro and sponsor interviews, and spring races.  We also welcome your suggestions - if you have a team chapter or individual you think we should profile, please let us know.  If there is a race you want to highlight, gear (particularly that of our partners) you have tried and tested, or a recipe you want to share, please send it in.  To our pros, if you are willing to be interviewed, please email us (I can be reached at mdpiet@aol.com) - we would love to get your views and perspectives.  

Thank you for all you have done for Team RWB and for our veterans.  This was truly a special year and we look forward to even more growth and exposure for the team and the mission in the year to come.   We have some very exciting news coming out soon, so stay tuned to the blog, follow the team on Twitter, or Like Us on Facebook - you won't want to miss this.  Happy holidays and happy New Year - Team RWB, It's Our Turn.