How do you define success?
Is success a feeling or an action?
Is success a time or placement or from something more internal?
In looking back at our 2016 racing season (starting from December 2015), we would define 2016 as a successful racing season.
While the wins, podiums and PR's can define success, our 2016 success wasn't defined simply by our end results.
A few things come to mind when it comes to defining "success" in 2016.
-Consistency - despite a major setback with Karel in late May with a MRI diagnosis of a hip labral tear, followed by SI joint/back issues, which followed 11 months of overcoming a plantar tear, Karel was still able to train somewhat consistently to absorb a lot of training stress throughout the season. These injuries required a lot of help from PT's, massage therapy and doctor visits but also a smart mindset with the ability to focus on the can's and not the cant's. I have not been injured in over 3.5 years (after 6 years of chronic hip/back issues) which has not only helped me become more resilient but I have improved my confidence in racing as I can take more risks when I train and race with trust that my body that it is not fragile, but instead, it's very strong right now.
-Team approach - we have a strong support system. We believe in a team approach when it comes to coaching our athletes and when it comes to our own individual athletic journey. We like to surround ourselves with professionals and resources to give us the help, guidance and assistance that we can not give ourselves. We have a great coaching mentor, we have amazing sponsors, we have supportive friends and family and we have highly educated and experienced professionals to help us when we have problems...and you better believe that we use them a lot!
-Hard work ethic, not obsessed - it goes without saying but to achieve great things, you can't have a mediocre mindset. You also can't fear failure. Karel and I are passionate about our sport and training has a defined place in our lifestyle - but triathlon is not our life. We set boundaries for ourselves in terms of finding that right balance between being extremely dedicated to our sport and putting in the work but also staying extremely focused on our business, on our athletes and our close friendships and family. I don't think balance is necessarily the right word as there is a constant shift in daily priorities. Sometimes training is not a high priority.
-Moving on - it's great to be critical of yourself in terms of seeking improvements. We are never too hard on ourselves as constantly focusing on the bad and bashing the body can be limiting when it comes to development. We find it somewhat easy to move on from a bad workout and we never over-analyze a race. While we do express thoughts about what didn't go well in a workout or race, we make sure to each keep us both in check so that we don't dwell too much on the past but instead, stay focused on forward progress.
-Having fun - whether it's part of our lifestyle or we just love to swim/bike/run, training is always fun. Some workouts are miserable and sometimes the motivation to train is low but in the end, our triathlon hobby makes us happy. A big part of keeping our training fun is staying processed driven and not outcome obsessed. Being too focused on end results can be mentally exhausting.
-Staying healthy - while some things are out of our control, great performances come from a healthy body and mind. Our healthy habits drive our actions....not our performances. Eating enough, fueling smart and sleeping well keep us healthy. When we are healthy, we can perform consistently well. Far too many athletes take extreme measures with training and the diet, only to achieve marginal gains. Many short term fixes prove to be performance enhancing but in the end, they have long term consequences. Our healthy lifestyle choices will never take a backseat to training harder or longer.
I have not been sick since 2007 and Karel has not been sick since 2009 or 2010. Neither of us have ever had a stress fracture or broken bone.
-A smart approach - we are all about improving performance with the least amount of work possible. This doesn't mean we seek "easy" when it comes to boosting our fitness but instead, we take a smart approach to training and racing in order to set us up for the best performance outcome. This season has been filled with many lows, surrounded by many successful race day performances. Ironically, a big component to our racing success has been the concept of learning how to train and race smarter.
We hope that we can inspire you to dream big and to be willing to work hard for your goals.
A fun race to break up the monotony of our foundation training. Funny enough, despite no speed work, we both ran really well due to a heavy focus on strength training in our foundation phase.
Toughman Half IronmanChattahoochee, GA
First ever overall half ironman win for Karel as a triathlete. What an exciting day for him to cross the line in first place, for the very first time in a half ironman. He also ran speedy fast!
1.2 mile swim: 29.38
56 mile bike: 2:25.51
13.1 mile run: 1:31.00
Lake James, NC
Our first ever double win! We selected this race because of the location but also because it was a week prior to our key early season half IM races. It was nice for me to get out some racing nerves but also to place on the top of the overall podium with Karel.
25.19 swim (fastest female swim, 2nd overall fastest swim)
1:58.20 bike (fastest female bike, 7th overall fastest bike)
1:04.03 (2nd fastest female run, 9th overall fastest run)
1:47.19 (fastest bike)
54.53 (2nd fastest run)
Karel's third overall win of the season! Karel targeted this inaugural local race as his first key race of the season and the race that he wanted to win. Escorted by a motorcycle for almost the entire race, Karel left it all out on the course with an incredible performance from start to finish. And what a run! This course was extremely tough.
58 mile bike: 2:34.48
13.1 mile run: 1:24.04
Rev3 Knoxville half ironman
Despite the detour, I placed 2nd but missed first place by less than a minute. I lead the swim and the bike before the detour and nearly missed first place overall. I was incredibly sad about the detour but it fired me up for IM Austria.
1.2 mile swim: 31.11
56 mile (+6 mile "pink arrow" detour) - 3:07.57
13.1 mile run: 1:39.07
My favorite race venue ever!!
Karel was in tremendous back/hip pain going into this race after the long travel but somehow managed to pull it together on race day and run his fastest ever marathon in an Ironman.
I achieved my big goal of placing on the podium (top 3) at an international Ironman. I also had a few personal bests throughout the race.
2.4 mile swim: 1:03.05
112 mile bike: 4:56.51
9th AG (40-44), 68th overall
2.4 mile swim: 57.04* (fastest overall female swim split, *pros did not wear wetsuits)
112 mile bike: 5:18.00
26.2 mile run: 3:42.57
2nd AG (30-34), 4th female amateur, fastest American amateur female
Although not a race, this was a big production for us and we felt it was a great success for our athletes. We worked them really hard over 4 days!
Overall female win!
I achieved my second season goal of winning the Lake Logan half IM. I had a PR for my overall time and left it all out on the course - this was one of the hardest bike courses I have ever raced on (St. Croix is up there with it) and I biked extremely hard without fearing failure - I was willing to take some risks for my last key race of the season.
(My other season goal was to win Rev3 Knoxville but the detour on the bike course detoured that goal from happening...but I still gave it my all.)
1.2 mile swim: 26.06
56 mile bike: 2:40.05
13.1 mile run: 1:43.15
Although not a race, I participated in the 4-day Greenville camp just 5 days after winning Lake Logan half IM. I suppose I was on a high and filled with endorphins after Lake Logan because I pushed really hard at the camp (encouraged by Coach Matt and Paul and inspired by the other campers). The Monday after the camp, I was completely exhausted. We traveled to Mont Tremblant a few days later and my body was completely empty. I called it a season as I needed a full 2 weeks to recover from my season. I decided to sign up for the Hincapie Gran Fondo on October 22nd as a fun "race" event instead of training for another half ironman in September.
As a coach, I learned so much from taking part in this camp and as an athlete, I was pushed to my physical limits.
Ironman Mont Tremblant
2nd Age group - 2016 IM Kona qualified!
Just 8 weeks after a super performance at IM Austria, Karel ran his way into 2nd place for his age group on a very tough (chilly, pouring rain) day of racing. He also had the fastest male amateur run split. This was also a key Trimarni race, which made it even more exciting to see so many of our Trimarnis in action on the race course.
2.4 mile swim: 1:06.08
112 mile bike: 5:08.52
26.2 mile run: 3:08.21
19th overall male, 20th overall
5-day CO trip
Not a race or a performance-enhancing trip but instead, a fun trip with a few guy friends to ride road bikes in CO and check out of life for a few days (Karel also did some running and a little swimming in the hypoxic conditions out West).
It's almost as if he was racing himself into shape over the summer! We don't recommend this strategy....there's probably 99 reasons why it won't work!.
112 mile bike: 5:07.27
26.2 mile run: 3:10.08 (7th fastest AG run)
25th AG (40-44)