When Dreams Become Reality

by: Matt Dixon

Want to join the purplepatch athlete community?

Turning The Dream Of Qualifying To Worlds Into Reality 

Just over a year ago, Napa, California based chiropractor and mom of two, Kristen Giles, reached out to purplepatch for coaching. Having raced a few triathlons over the previous four years, including several IRONMAN 70.3 races, Kristen had her sights set on qualifying for the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship race in Chattanooga this September. With a PR of just over six hours from Boulder 70.3 and competing in the competitive women’s 40-44 age category, qualifying was going to be a stretch. I reached out to Kristen when I knew I was writing this story, as I wanted to hear her recollection of the start of her journey:

“Matt amazed me by telling me that it was a definite possibility, but he also gave me a reality check since with a US-based location for 70.3 Worlds in 2017, many of my competitors would take their spot.”

In consulting with Kristen, who utilizes our custom programming training solution (Performance Program), I felt her biggest challenge was successfully integrating the demands of training inside her very full life - after all, two children and a full-time chiropractic practice is not a lazy lifestyle in itself. I also knew that her other challenge was that I didn’t feel success was going to simply be born out of working hard. It was obvious when seeing her swim, interactions on the bike, and her run that she needed to become an artist in each discipline - not simply relying on ambition and work ethic. She was laser-focused on her goal of qualifying, recognizing that she needed to improve across all disciplines to become competitive in her age group. I truly believe that Kristin was able to achieve outsized performance gains due to her experiences at our purplepatch camp - where she really embraced the education behind the training - just as much as the specific training itself. Beyond the prescribed program came a journey of immersing herself in education and in-person coaching, leading to a global athlete evolution. Let’s investigate.

New Bike Day 

The first step for Kristen was an equipment upgrade as she was interested in swapping out her road bike for a triathlon specific bike. While her trusty steed had served her well in her progression and truly helped her with the basic interactions of handling and terrain management, the speed penalty was too great relative to her goals. As basic as it seems, this purchase was important, but it can be daunting for the majority of athletes. High sticker prices in conjunction with a laundry list of options and expert opinions always make this a very difficult process. I am not an expert in the latest equipment, however, I do happen to know a man who is. I am thankful for the objective and athlete-first expertise of Paul Buick, purplepatch cycling expert. Kristin saved a lot of headache by consulting with Paul, reviewing options, and finally ordering a bike that suited her budget, but also her goals and level of riding. Too often, athletes fall into the trap of simply going to a local shop and relying on advice that is often less than objective, but Paul has no affiliation. Again, something Kristin appreciated.

“There are so many options in the market that it was overwhelming,” says Kristen, “I did some research myself but Paul was a lifesaver in helping select the right bike and components, while also saving me time and money!"

Purple Patch San Francisco Camp 

Kristen attended the San Francisco ‘mini camp’ last Spring in order to connect directly with the Purple Patch coaching team and gain a strong understanding of her areas of weakness. This was a massive step, as no matter how good your training might be, it can never truly be a replacement for true in-person coaching. Aside from technique and skills, Kristen also gained a mental advantage from her camp experience: “the coaches push you hard, almost to a breaking point,” she recalls, “but they also give you permission to fail so I learned that I have more to give when I think my tank is empty”. In all honesty, while Kristin felt like we were driving her and the other campers to break point, I never seek physical failure from any athlete at camp. Rather, I seek each athlete to be challenged but also successful. While there is learning in failure, there is little value in simply crushing someone with an unreasonable training load over a camp experience. In fact, highly valuable camps should be a strong combination of education, skills development, and specific training.

Investing In Knowledge Pays The Highest Interest 

The final element contributing to Kristen’s journey was her immersion in the Purple Patch education curriculum. Since the start of Purple Patch, I have always encouraged athletes to view a coaching experience as a smart plan supported by education. While I cannot get every single athlete to embrace this concept, Kristin is one who has. From the curriculum based education, group video meetings with Matt, and in depth course previews, I was happy to see her become a smarter athlete. Kristen isn’t individually coached and doesn’t work directly with me, but she has maximized her yield with the right focus immersing herself in the details and taking a little responsibility for her own journey. This is important, as too many wait to be led, or spoon fed. A little accountability and ownership can be a powerful thing, and I saw it emerge in Kristin via smart decisions and improved confidence.

Seeing Results 

Since being coached by Purple Patch, Kristen has achieved PRs across swim, bike and run, lowering her PR at IRONMAN 70.3 by over 30 minutes to 5:27 from 6:05. At her most recent race, IRONMAN 70.3 Victoria, she also achieved her season goal, earning a slot to the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships in Chattanooga this September. This is the first step - and she has a broad range of growth to come in the coming months and seasons. In the future, I can envision Kristin emerging toward breaking 5 hours and hitting the top of the podium, but only if she keeps her passion, retains a simple yet effective mindset, and continues enjoying the journey. The thing I am most proud of? That she continues to be highly engaged with work and family, looks more vibrant and healthy than ever before, and has retained context of how the sport can integrate into life and be a catalyst for even bigger and more adventurous things. Kristin is in a real Purple Patch, and it is fun to see.