by: Matt Dixon

This past weekend of racing included some fantastic performances, including a couple of redemption races, for the purplepatch pro squad.

IRONMAN 70.3 Monterrey
Kevin Collington was having a rough day at IRONMAN 70.3 St. George the week prior when he pulled out of the race in T2, with the leaders a long way up the road. Feeling subpar and knowing that there was another race on his calendar 7 days later, Kevin made the judgment call in St. George to end his race day after the bike and conserve his energy for his next event. For both Kevin and I, this was a highly frustrating experience, as all measures showed he had significantly improved from last season to now. We both knew he was greatly improved, but his last result hadn't revealed those improvements at all.  

Instead of letting self-belief dip, or allowing a single day to erode the objectively great progress that training demonstrated, Kevin arrived this week to race in Monterrey, Mexico, with the quest to race like the athlete he wants to be. This mindset and belief were validated with a wonderful performance, pushing Kevin to victory at the Pan American Regional Championships for IRONMAN 70.3.

“Everything seemed to go well yesterday for me,” recalls Kevin. “The swim was fast at first but manageable by the end and then we had a strong group of cyclists at the front of the race that didn’t allow Andrew Starykowicz get too big a gap.”

While Kevin entered T2 with other athletes, several minutes behind race leader Starykowicz, he credits a quick transition and some early run speed as the key to his success. Kevin passed the leader within the first two miles of the run and remained in 1st place all the way to the tape with the fastest run of the day. The victory marked Kevin’s first regional championship title and was a wonderful vindication of his current fitness and training progression.

“It was great to win a championship race! I think the overall lesson learned was that I missed the taper a bit for St. George but really nailed it for the following weekend. We will learn from this going forward for sure!”

From a coaching perspective, there are plenty of lessons to take away, including the run into an event such as St George. Ironically, I think that we allowed too much rest in race week, leaving Kevin a little flat and lethargic on race day. The good news is that this over-resting allowed a deeper recuperation by the time the following weekend occurred, so it helps us validate the global training process and program, and we will refine the ramp into key events for Kevin.


IRONMAN 70.3 Santa Rosa
We had 3 professionals as well as more than 80 amateurs toe the line this past weekend for the inaugural IRONMAN 70.3 Santa Rosa race. As a relatively local race in the Bay Area, it was a wonderful opportunity for me to see many of our athletes in action, and what a weekend it was!  

In the men’s professional race, Sam Appleton turned around the disappointment of a 9th place finish in St. George 70.3 to take victory on Saturday in Santa Rosa. After leading out the swim, Sam pushed the bike to establish a lead of over 3 minutes by the time he reached T2. While it was no cruise on the run, Sam was never challenged and crossed the line in first to be crowned the inaugural IRONMAN 70.3 Santa Rosa Champion. Similar to Kevin’s experience, Sam took the struggle of the week prior and allowed the experience to fuel his mindset for this race, instead of knocking global confidence. Sam has now won three of his four 2017 races, not a bad start, and we still know there is plenty more to come for the season. Sam is developing toward the athlete we believe he can be, but still, has plenty of work to do. Success is wonderful, and we always celebrate wins, but these two races showed me areas of vulnerability and focus that is needed from Sam if he is to truly develop into a World Champion contender.

As both Sam and Kevin evolve, they enter the thin air of world-class performance, and the effort and work needed to make further progress become increasingly challenging, for thinner and thinner gains. It is the reality at this level, and both are committed to the details and additional pieces of the puzzle, beyond the fundamental hard work and sacrifice that is a prerequisite at this level.

In the women’s race, Sarah Cameto and Sarah Piampiano both competed in what was a relatively local race for these two Bay Area-based athletes. After another frustrating swim for her, Sarah Piampiano motored on the bike to move into 5th place by the time she reached T2.

“Although I'm swimming well in training,” shared Sarah, “I need to keep tweaking my swim training and pre-race routine to be better prepared for race starts.”

Once on the run, even though she was 10 minutes down on the lead, Sarah was highly motivated and focused on having a great performance. She finished in second overall, behind IRONMAN 70.3 World Champion, Holly Lawrence, recording the fastest run of the day of 1:19:45. Welcome to the sub-1:20 club, Sarah!

“I’m super stoked with my run as going under 1:20 has been a goal of mine this season and it was nice to see I had the fastest run by almost 6 minutes.”

From a coaching lens, I was highly encouraged by Sarah’s running performance, and can easily look at the swim and bike and see the effect of the slight sickness she was carrying, as well as the chilly conditions that affected her a little. With this said, as a team, we are not executing the swim performances that training promise displays. It is up to coach and athlete to fix this, and evolve, as while the swim will not become a weapon, we must continue to evolve and improve if we are to have a serious impact at the championship levelThis is the burden of both coach and athlete, and something for us both to continue to drive toward.

Sarah Cameto also had a solid performance finishing in 7th overall in a strong field of athletes. It was important for Sarah to get back on the wagon and hit a building race toward the rest of her season. This race, as with many others, provided Sarah with a great series of learnings. The biggest was an overreaction. Sarah is an athlete that is highly susceptible to colder conditions. The mistake was to focus on trying to prevent from getting cold, instead of a more positive and actionable mindset of how to get around the inevitability of being cold. I only share this as it is so important for all athletes to channel the correct mindset. It would be impossible for Sarah to avoid feeling the symptoms of cold - it was very cold! The key is to manage out of the cold with actions that could raise core temperature while onto the bike. Naughty coach for not driving the message home in advance, but a good lesson for next time.

Overall a fantastic weekend of racing, and another progression in performance excellence from the squad. Plenty more coming this weekend in Lanzarote, Chattanooga and elsewhere.  


Stay tuned.