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Penny Comins Completes Norseman Xtreme Triathlon

Penny Comins Completes Norseman Xtreme Triathlon

The Norseman XTreme Triathlon is just that – extreme. So, naturally, Headsweats Athlete Penny Comins had the 5,000 meter ascent race on her list. Daunting and a challenge, Penny describes each section of the race. Here’s a brief description of Isklar Norseman XTreme Triathlon:

Norseman XTreme Triathlon

“The course runs point-to-point – or fjord to peak: Starting at sea level, with a 4 meter drop off a ferry into the Hardangerfjord, crossing the starkly haunting Hardangervidda mountain plateau, finishing at the rocky peak of Gaustatoppen, at 1,850m above sea level and 220km away, Norseman is a long day’s journey through some of Norway’s most spectacular scenery. The total ascent is 5,000 meters. The water is cold, clean, and comes lightly salted. The weather can be anything from brilliantly beautiful to blasting blizzard. If you’re really lucky, you may see porpoises, orcas or reindeer – or, more likely, baffled locals who think you are nuts, but will cheer you on anyway.”

But did Penny rock it? Yes, yes she did. Here’s her full race account:

“Dubbed the toughest triathlon in the world Norseman Xtreme Triathlon is on everyone’s tick list who are serious about long distance. The coveted black t-shirt, awarded to the top 160 finishers, is what all are racing for. The finish line is the mast on top of Gaustatoppen at 1,850m, the tallest mountain in Sweden.

Arriving in Eidfjord I felt strong in body but not in mind. The sheer size of the landscape gripped me. Race morning started at 3am. I refused to think of it as early and just stuffed in breakfast and then chatted insistently with Kris (Texan and winner of the BlueSeventy competition) and Melanie (Black Line London athlete) as we walked on to the ferry. We all gasped in realization that this was going to happen when the lights of the hotel became twinkles in the distance.

Norseman XTreme Triathlon

The Swim
I had many fears coming in to this race and top of the list was the water temperature. I worked closely with BlueSeventy and used their thermal range to abate the cold. Wax ear-plugs were a key to keeping the cold water from getting in to my head too. Freezing patches of water were in front of the waterfalls feeding in to Hardangerfjord. These didn’t last long and I was thankful that it wasn’t this cold for the entire 3.8km

The Bike
Taking in the huge lakes, moss green land dotted with bright red houses brought it home to me just how special this race was. Having a head wind the whole way was acceptable as the sun shone through the clouds. Life was good.  I was ahead of my predicted times and finding a lot of the course fast and flowing despite what the profile had indicated.

Norseman XTreme Triathlon

The Run
My jubilation was quickly quashed as a lady with a flipchart informed me I was in 191th position leaving T2. Knowing I needed to be in 160th or less to be allowed to the top of Gaustatoppen I put the foot to the floor and ran as hard as I could. Playing Pac Man in my mind I chomped each athlete in front of me, counting down from 191.

Norseman XTreme Triathlon

Crossing the timing mat I was in 157th place. I had done it. I had actually ran myself in to contention for a finish on the top. I couldn’t see the mountain as it was still covered in cloud. I wondered if it was even open at the top and more importantly if I really wanted to get to the top!

Norseman XTreme Triathlon

I made it to the top, all a little wobbly from my poor nutrition strategy, exhaustion and altitude. It was a white out and not the usual rock star feeling you get on the red carpet of an Ironman event. I didn’t even know my time until I got my phone and the messages came through from everyone following me. It all didn’t matter. I had completed the journey. The feeling of achievement is still with me today. I have had that finish line proud feeling for five days now and it isn’t wagering like most do after you get your medal.

The family feeling is what makes Norseman so special. You travel over such raw landscape in every element the environment can offer. Athlete and support crew feel this journey and want everyone to finish. No-one asks your times or splits.  It is all about survival and completion.”

Boulder IRONMAN Headsweats

Boulder IRONMAN Headsweats

It’s been 11 days since Headsweats Sr. Account Manager, Lisa Maloney, and her husband, TR, completed the first full IRONMAN in Boulder. It was an amazing feat and we are so proud of what they accomplished. Here’s a recount from TR of the rigorous trainging and day of event, enjoy.

Lisa_TR_IM_Pics

My first Ironman event was back in 2009, and once I could walk up and down stairs again I swore I would never do another one. You know, “one and done.” Late in 2013 there were rumblings about an Ironman in Boulder. My wife works at Headsweats, so sporting news is common at the dinner table. She and I began talking about the event that night, and before I knew it we were both signing up for the big day.

Other couples thought we were nuts. It’s bad enough having one tired and cranky IM athlete in the house…why would you want two? We brushed aside those thoughts knowing that we make as great a team as we do a couple.

Long before the last snow we were prodding each other out of bed at 5am to make our way to the pool for morning swims. We rode together and ran together whenever we could. Most of all we recovered together and made sure the other was eating right and stretching.

Before we knew it the race had arrived and we were ready to go. We woke up, had breakfast together, grabbed our race bags and headed out the door. There we were, ready to go and sitting in the car looking at each other as the engine would not start—more drama for race morning!

After remedying our car issues, we were there at the start of Boulder’s first Ironman, marked and ready to enter the water. We held hands and strolled down the ramp and wished each other well. As soon as Lisa’s foot crossed the timing mat she was gone! She entered the water so fast I thought she was being pulled by a jet-ski.

The swim seemed to take forever! I know Lisa wanted to get on her bike (her strength) and I wanted to get on the run (my strength). Before we were even out of the water we both had our issues to deal with, she had to deal with broken goggles and I took a nice kick to the face and sternum. Seeing the exit arch was pure heaven.

After a quick trip through the transition tent, I was on the bike wondering if Lisa was ahead or behind me. Little did I know, she was a full 6 minutes ahead of me! Even with broken goggles full of water, she dominated on the swim.

Once we were on the St. Vrain out and back, I caught a glimpse of her and we both smiled from beneath our dorky shaped helmets and went back to work. It wasn’t until mile 80 that I finally caught her. She was having a great bike leg and it was impressive watching her pass guy after guy. Finally I pulled up next to her, cheered her amazing effort and made my way forward.
Right around mile 85 the heat began pressing on us and I was pushing the pace to finish the bike. It was then that I realized the insanity of hurrying a 112-mile bike to run a marathon. Luckily the crowds on the course were picking up and the screaming and fun signs lifted my spirits to keep at it. During the hardest climb of the day, I was greeted by the Headsweats crew and I can honestly say it is the only time I have ever smiled on that climb.

Off the bike and into the running shoes is when the real shock came. There were SO MANY PEOPLE CHEERING ON THE PATH! It was insane! I knew Boulder would come out pretty strong but this was like nothing I have ever seen. All racers have their names printed clearly on their number and soon I had what seemed like 5,000 fans.

With the 3-part out and back two-lap course I knew I would see Lisa soon. This was the whole goal of the training and picking Boulder Ironman as our event. We would see each other multiple times throughout the day. Speedy Lisa was 8 minutes behind me when I saw her running down the path. We slapped hands and kept going. Soon I would see her again and we would yell words of encouragement.

During the run my stomach started giving me trouble and I knew I would miss my goal but at that point I didn’t really care. I saw so many friends that I decided to make the last 6 miles a party and started jumping in photos with friends and stopping to give my step-daughter a sweaty hug. At one point, I even ran up to a cooler and grabbed a beer. Boulder knows how to party and Ironman is no different.

Running down the finishing chute I heard the words all Ironman competitors want to hear from Mile Reilly – “You are an Ironman!” Not only did I hear them I was there to hear them for Lisa. Our journey was complete. We dreamed together, trained together, were tired together and finally raced together. Congrats Boulder for putting on a great race. The scenery, the tough course and the amazing Boulder community made it a special day that we will never forget.

Headshots for Headsweats

Headshots for Headsweats

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Headsweats, leader in perspiration technology headwear, is excited to be a partner of the Santa Barbara Triathlon! Established in 1981, the Santa Barbara Triathlon is one of the longest running triathlons in the world and will take place this year on August 23rd.

While at this year’s race, be on the lookout for “Headshots for Headsweats” – photo stations where you can get your photo taken by one of our professional photographers and receive a 25% off discount card at Headsweats.com. Your pics will be available on their website after the race! And if you enter the #SBTriHeadsweats Instagram Photo Contest, you’ll be entered to win 2 free entries to the 2015 SB Tri and a Headsweats collections of 6 pieces of headwear for you and a friend.

Instagram#SBTriHeadsweats Instagram Contest

Here’s how to enter:

1) Take a photo of you in your Headsweats hat or visor
2) Post it to Instagram
3) Tag @Headsweats & @SantaBarbaraTriathlon
4) Use the hashtag #SBTriHeadsweats or #TriHeadsweats
5) That’s it! You’re entered to win. We’ll announce the winner on Instagram Tuesday, September 2nd.

For more information about the Santa Barbara TRI, visit their website at www.santabarbaratriathlon.com.

Pruhealth ITU London Grand Final Sprint Distance Championships

Pruhealth ITU London Grand Final Sprint Distance Championships

Our Headsweats-sponsored Athlete and Ambassador Erin Lockwood got back from London this Fall after competing in the ITU London Grand Final Sprint Distance Championships. It was an amazing experience for such a young athlete…here’s her recap of the race:

Erin Lockwood, HS Athlete

What an incredible and amazing experience. I could have done without the cold water temperatures, but hearing people from all over the world yelling my name and Team USA as I biked and ran past them, it went above and beyond my expectations.

My trip to London started on Wednesday September the 11th when my mother and I arrived with bike in hand at Heathrow airport. We took a shuttle to our hotel which was located right at Hyde park where the race took place, so that was very convenient. After we checked in I went to pick up my race packet at the expo which was full of booths, people practicing in the pond and of course biking and running.

Some people had been there since Friday. I however couldn’t take off because of graduate school classes. once everything was taken care of, mom and I began to wander around, and by wander I mean go to Harrods and Burberry. By 9 pm I was in bed exhausted since i didn’t sleep on the plane over.

Erin Lockwood, HS Athlete

The next day, we got up wandered some more, it had rained overnight so the roads were slick. I practiced biking and running before I had to drop off my bike at 6 pm and went to bed early prepped for the next morning. I heard from some folks at bike check in that in the morning when the U23’s raced that many crashed because of the roads so I of course was more nervous than before.

Friday morning, it was raining, 61 degrees but kind of humid and oh the water temperature was 61 degrees. THAT WAS FUN. I have never swam in water that cold, prior to that it was 68 in wisconsin. The transition area was huge (ie more to run) and they did not allow towels inside…. so no drying off after the swim. It was very cool being with my fellow USA’ers and how our bikes were all racked together. We also had a lot of room at our transition spots which was lovely. The race started at 8:00 and my wave went off at 8:45. Everyone was so friendly and nice and cheering each other on. It wasn’t mean or rude.

For more on her race update, go check out her blog: http://adventuresoftribarbie.blogspot.com/

Erin Lockwood

Life of a New Pro: The Chris Wiatr Story

Life of a New Pro: The Chris Wiatr Story

This is the first installation in a several-part series that will attempt to answer the question: “What does it mean to be a young professional triathlete?” Over the course of the 2013 season, we will follow Chris Wiatr, a 21-year-old, second-year pro, as he deals with the ups and downs of training, competing, working, managing relationships with sponsors, and more. Chris is a Headsweats-sponsored athlete, and this article was originally published on TriTrackers.com.

Part I: First-Year Struggles

Ask the average American to name a professional athlete and you’ll hear “LeBron,” “A-Rod,” “Peyton,” maybe even “Danica.” Recognizable by first name alone, these icons of sport are synonymous with American culture. They, along with their teams, provide thousands of jobs nationwide, create countless secondary markets, and drive fashion trends (sometimes questionably).

The names Craig Alexander (“Doesn’t he work down on the second floor?”) and Julie Dibens (“Is she that pro golfer?”) aren’t likely to inspire recognition, even among well-rounded sports fans.

How about Chris Wiatr? Nothing?

He is a 21-year old senior at Lake Forest College, a small private institution located outside Chicago from which he will graduate in May. He was born in California but speaks with a slight accent that hints at his Polish ancestry.

Wiatr is also a professional athlete, one of the growing number of young pro triathletes across the country.

In a sport that has, until recently, been dominated by converted runners and “swimmers who can run,” Wiatr found triathlon at the relatively young age of 14. By the time most triathletes his age signed up for their first local sprint, Wiatr had been training and competing for five years. He enjoyed a successful junior elite career, finishing sixth in the USAT standings in 2009, but soon aged out of the division and began looking for a level of competition that local events couldn’t provide.

Wiatr's 2013 Tri Suit

Three years, pro card in hand, Wiatr found himself sitting in the pre-race meeting at the 2012 Lifetime Tri Minneapolis with a who’s-who of U.S. triathlon: Hunter Kemper, Andy Potts, Bevan Docherty, Cam Dye, Sarah Haskins, Gwen Jorgensen, among others. An underdog story if there ever was one, the narrative of Wiatr’s pro debut did not feature a storybook ending. In a 20-man pro field, he exited the water 15th but overreached in the early miles of the bike and was spent before the run ever started. Wiatr finished in 2:05:51, last among the pro men and over 18 minutes behind the winner, Kemper.

For Wiatr, the result was less important than the experience. With the rest of his professional career ahead of him, Wiatr was already counting down the days until Lifetime Tri Chicago, full of optimism.

The field in Chicago was again stacked, but Wiatr was markedly less star-struck. Wedged in between Cam Dye and Greg Bennett at the start of the swim, Wiatr wasn’t fazed and managed to stay in contact with the second pack. Despite heavy rain and cross winds, Wiatr rode well and finished the bike in 1:00:30, improving on his Minneapolis split by five minutes. Wiatr struggled uncharacteristically over the final 5K of the run, but his performance was good enough for 14th among the pro men – a positive note on which to end his first season as a professional triathlete.

What makes Chris Wiatr’s story interesting, however, is what we’ve yet to see. In 2013, for the first time, Wiatr will have a coach. He also began his training in earnest several months earlier than he did last year. And no longer competing for Lake Forest College’s cross-country team, Wiatr can devote his entire year to triathlon.

Last year, “uncharted territory” was a phrase that signified Wiatr’s inexperience at the professional level. This year, that same phrase describes his untapped potential.

To read more about Chris, visit his website, www.chriswiatr.com.

iDaph Elite Triathlon Racing Team, 2012 Results

iDaph Elite Triathlon Racing Team, 2012 Results

Want to find out how Ryan, Daphne, and Brad did in their iDaph 2012 season? Read on…

Ryan Madamba

Ryan Madamba

Race & Location, Division Finish, Overall Finish

Valdese Tri; Valdese, NC: 2nd Overall, 2nd Overall

Knoxville Rev 3; Knoxville, TN: 3rd Age Group

Enka Lake; Biltmore Lake, NC: 1st place Masters, 4th Overall

Asheville Tri; Asheville, NC: 1st place Masters, 4th Overall

Lake Logan; Canton, NC: 2rd Masters, 7th Overall

Lake Lure Sprint; Lake Lure, NC: 1st Masters, 5th Overall

Blue Ridge Relay (210-mile Road Race): 2nd place Masters Team, 6th place Overall Team

To get to know more about Ryan and his coaching, click here.

Daphne Kirkwood

Daphne Kirkwood

Tri Y – Carolina Duathlon: 1st place division, 3rd Overall Female

Lake Lure Spring: 1st place division, 2nd Overall Female

Rev3 Knoxville Olympic: 3rd place division

Tri the Swamp Rabbit Tri: 1st place division, 3rd Overall Female

Beach2Battleship 1/2 Ironman: 1st AG, 12th Overall Female

For more info on Daphne, click here.


Brad Miller

Enka Lake; Biltmore Lake, NC: 2nd place Overall

2012 San Diego Triathlon Challenge a Success

2012 San Diego Triathlon Challenge a Success

Haven Shepherd leading the pack in the kids run at SDTC
October 21, 2012 marked the “best day in triathlon” as over 750 participants (200 of which were physically challenged athletes) gathered at La Jolla Cove for the 19th annual Aspen Medical Products San Diego Triathlon Challenge (SDTC). Athletes completed a 1 mile swim, 44 mile bike, and 10 mile run as individuals or as part of a relay team.

Among those participating were pro athletes like Jordan Rapp, Chris “MACCA” McCormack, Sarah Piampiano and Jamie Whitmore, legends like Bill Walton and Scott Tinley, celebrities like stars of ABC’s The Bachelor, and dozens of Paralympians home from London. This year’s event raised over $1.2 million for Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) to help physically challenged athletes be able to participate in the sports they love.

The weekend got started on October 18, with plenty of opportunities for challenged athlete kids to participate in forums, clinics, a family picnic, and more fun activities. Thanks to the tireless efforts of volunteers, kids were able to play, explore their abilities, and learn from experienced athletes.

The San Diego Triathlon Challenge rounded out the weekend on Sunday, October 21. The best day in triathlon kicked off with the parade of athletes and without hesitation the 19th annual SDTC was underway! The 24 Hour Fitness Tour de Cove and Kaiser Permanent Thrive 5k all later commenced creating a trifecta of inspiration, fun, and fitness down at La Jolla Cove.

“You never know true inspiration until you’re inspired by people who rise above their abilities, and CAF and its competitors started the spark.” – Stephen Groce of Sport Chalet

Check out all the photos from the day’s race here. And for more details and footage of the day’s event, click here. Headsweats is so happy to have been a sponsor of CAF and part of the Triathlon Challenge – it was a day of inspiration and motivation for all.

We’d like to also share the story behind Haven Shepherd – who’s featured in the photo above: Haven Shepherd is a bubbly energetic 9-year old who loves to run and play with her friends and six brothers and sisters. Her parents have even appropriately nick-named her “Tigger” after the playful tiger that won’t stop bouncing around. Born in Vietnam out of wedlock, her parents were so ashamed that they committed a family suicide resulting in the parents’ death and the loss of both of Haven’s legs as a baby. She was adopted by the Shepherd family from Missouri and immediately fit into a family of athletes. Last year, CAF granted Haven her first pair of running legs and she has already competed in a school track meet. She is shown here running for the second year in a row at the San Diego Triathlon Challenge Kids Run. Haven was awarded our Catch a Rising Star honor this year and we believe there is no stopping her now.

Berlin or Bust

Berlin or Bust

Eight time Ironman athlete, Penny just competed in the Berlin Marathon – reaching a Personal Best! Penny heads to Amsterdam to race this weekend. Read on for her crazy training schedule before the marathon:

Leaving the Ironman world for 2012 I wanted to give it everything for the Berlin Marathon. I chose a very audacious training plan and took it day by day. I was scared of the plan but determined to get it done. Some days were harder than others. I saw some amazing sunrises, got some inspirational messages from friends, ran all over the UK in search of perfect trails, wore a different Headsweats visor each day and ate a lot of Maxifuel Viper gels.

I ran 1,168 km in 11 weeks.

Had 5 rest days.

I had 61 days where I ran every day.

The 39th Berlin Marathon was the day to test this crazy plan.

I was ecstatic to be hitting the start line healthy, strong, and in the sun for once. I don’t remember much of the race, just pushing hard at each moment and thinking of all the messages of luck I had.

Each 5 km I had a time written on my arm and I was two minutes below it right the way through. When times got tough I just thought of all the mornings I had gotten up at 5 am to fit in my run before work; I had to make that count. I kept pushing and pushing. Crossing the finish line I knew I had done a Personal Best but tears filled my eyes (there is need for a Tearsweat for racing visors!) and I missed stopping my watch straight away. I had done it. I had really finished the journey I set out on.

I ended up doing 3.05.35 and being the 71st lady back. It was great in the athletes village as I got an ovation from the helpers and loads of help at the ladies tents…even a special photo with them!

Champagne please!

Ironman Frankfurt – A Test of Getting the Job Done

Ironman Frankfurt – A Test of Getting the Job Done

Headsweats athlete Penny Comins talks about her most recent Ironman — in Frankfurt, Germany! Here’s what she has to say about her experience:

Never had I felt so good in the lead up to an Ironman. I was lean and rested. Maxifuel recovery products and vitamins had meant I was strong and at a very lean race weight. It was to be my race.

When I got in to the water I felt light and strong. The Maxifuel gel topped up my reserves just before I hit the water. I was on for a good time until I took a full fist blow to the eye socket. Pulling out of the slim stream I re-adjusted my goggles and checked the fist hadn’t busted the skin on my face.

Feeling the rain drops on my back while swimming I made the decision to take the time in T1 and put on my arm warmers and rain cape. Three hours later on the side of the road changing a slow flat I was pleased with my decision. It hadn’t stopped pelting down and now I was struggling to get my sodden tire off covered in grit. It wasn’t to be the only slow flat I would get of the day, resulting in riding the last 15 kilometres on my rim hoping that my flat tire wouldn’t roll off taking me with it.

Race goal time was out the window. I needed to route deep to find mini goals within the goals. Headsweats visor on, I attacked the run. Having half a Maxifuel gel every 20 minutes not only broke the marathon into 20 minute treats but kept my nutrition even throughout. I spent the first lap of four running between the third and fourth professional woman. This is the reason why we do this sport, to be in the mix with our heros. This spurred me on to keep racing hard despite the disaster on the bike. I was super pleased with how smooth and loose I felt on the run. Crossing the finish line was a huge accomplishment. It wasn’t just about the distance but the mental games I had to play to trick myself to the finish.

I jumped straight in to the ice bucket baths with a Recovermax in hand. The following day I could walk with ease. I put the lessons of the day down in my diary and started to plan out my pursuit to the Berlin Marathon in September.