Making Pizza by Ben Hoffman

September 18th, 2015 - Posted by zoot

My life has been focused around two main goals over the last decade: winning Ironman Hawaii and building amazing pizzas.


Generally speaking, winning a world title is probably a fair bit harder, but that doesn’t mean that it creating thin crust masterpieces has come without some trial and error. Burned crust? Many times. Over-saucing and over-topping leading to sogginess? Definitely. The perfect pizza? Still in pursuit, but getting closer…


The pizza is one of my favorite foods, and often my pre-race meal. Almost every city and country has this staple on tap if you are traveling, and most of the ingredients are readily available if you want to build your own. It certainly ranks as a bit of a “comfort food,” but it can be fairly healthy, and sometimes that comfort and familiarity is helpful in calming pre-race nerves. Finally, this is pizza I’m talking about, people. Do I really need to say much more…?


So what have I learned in my many years of pursuing the perfect pizza? Just call Domino’s! Just kidding. Here’s a few rules to follow, and some instructuons for the way I make most of my pizzas now:


  1. Get a pizzaIMG_8685 stone. Although this isn’t the way I have been cooking my pizzas lately, it’s a great kitchen utensil to own, and will bake a pizza more evenly and quickly. Emile Henry out of France would be my suggestion.
  2. Make your own crust. This adds a little time, but it’s seriously easy to do and worth it. If you don’t have time or the inclination, stop at a local pizza place to buy some of theirs (most places will do this), or purchase pre-made dough at the grocery.
  3. Get creative, or keep it simple, but make sure things are fresh. We grow our own basil and tomatoes for margherita pizzas, and have even made our own sauces (still perfecting this one…).
  4. Generally speaking, hotter than you might think is better. For the oven, I aim for 450, and for the grill, closer to 500-550. Depending on your altitude, pizza construction, etc., this will vary a bit, but that’s part of the fun and challenge.
  5. From learning to toss and stretch your pizza dough to the optimal thickness, to spreading the right amount of sauce and ingredients, pay attention to what works and what doesn’t. I would generally say less is more. As in, aim for thinner crust, less sauce, and fewer ingredients.



My current “pursuit of pizza perfection” has led me to the following recipe, found online at:


As always, feel free to adjust as you see necessary… Experimentation can lead to great things!


When you grill pizza, you need to have everything ready to go — all the toppings, the sauce, the cheese. This is because the key to pizza on the grill is to top the pizza after you’ve put it on the grill. It also helps if you cook the dough for a minute or two, flip it, and then top it.


What You Need

1 ball pizza dough (about 1 pound), store-bought or homemade
1/2 to 1 cup tomato sauce, store-bought or homemade
Cheese such as torn mozzarella, grated Asiago or Swiss, and grated Parmesan
Toppings such as herbs, thinly sliced vegetables, pepperoni and salami, prosciutto, chopped greens such as kale, or diced tomatoes
Olive oil

Grill, gas or charcoal
Metal tongs
Metal spatula


  1. Heat the grill: You should heat it quite hot;my grill was about 600°F with the lid on while baking this particular pizza. Aim for at least 550°F. If you have a choice on your grill between direct and indirect heat, set it up so the pizza is over direct heat.
  2. Gather your ingredients and toppings:Set up a table or bench near the grill so you have easy access to everything. Good grilled pizza is as much about the organization and logistics as it is about actual cooking!
  3. Also have your tools close to hand:You will want a pair of long metal tongs. A spatula may be helpful, although not absolutely necessary. You may want a hot pad or oven mitt if your grill lid gets hot.
  4. Prep your dough:It should be stretched or rolled out into a thin circle. (Circle-ish — as you can see, my pizzas usually resemble continents more than they do the moon!)
  5. Brush the dough with olive oil: Brush one side of the dough with oil; this is the side you’ll lay down on the grill.
  6. Grill one side of the pizza: Take the lid off the grill. Lay the dough round on the grill with theolive-oil side down. Brush the top of the dough with a thin layer of olive oil, too. Let the dough cook for about 3 minutes, with the lid off, or 1 to 2 minutes with the lid on. Use the tongs to lift up the dough from time to time, checking on how it is doing. You want grill marks on it, but you don’t want the dough to get crispy; it should be just set.
  7. Top the pizza: Flip the dough over with the tongs or spatula. The dough should come up easily and flip without tearing. Now is where your organization comes in! You need to top the pizza quickly. Spread on a thin layer of sauce, some cheese, and toppings. It shouldn’t be too heavily loaded, or the pizza won’t cook well.
  8. Cook the pizza: Put the lid on and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Use your sense of smell; if the pizza smells like it’s scorching, take the lid off and move the pizza to a cooler part of the grill or turn the heat down.
  9. Remove the finished pizza: Remove the lid and check the pizza. The edges should be crisp and well-done, and the cheese should all be melted. Drag the pizza off with the spatula or tongs. Let cool for 3 minutes, then cut into pieces and eat!

Recipe NotesIMG_8687

  • Every grill is different! You know your grill and it cooks differently than mine. Your pizza may take longer or shorter depending on how hot the grill gets and where your areas of direct and indirect heat are. Consider your first pizza a sacrifice to learning just how to control your grill temperature.
  • Cooking times will vary! On that same note, of course, you need to keep an eye on the heat. This method works perfectly every time on my own grill, but the timing depends on how thin you stretch your dough, and how hot your grill gets. Flipping the dough gives you an extra measure of control and certainty, though, that the crust will be cooked through by the time your toppings have melted and warmed.

-Ben Hoffman


What’s for Dinner? By Kelly Williamson

August 18th, 2015 - Posted by zoot
What's for Dinner? By Kelly Williamson
One of the most common questions I get when talking to fellow athletes is that of my diet. People always want to know what I eat when racing (fairly simple, a lot of gels), but also what our diet looks like regularly. Do we eat gluten free or vegan? Do I eat 6,000 calories a day? What do I eliminate, especially going into races? How strictly do we eat?


I always enjoy this topic because, while my husband Derick and I eat very healthy, we also eat balanced and we make it a goal to enjoy what we consume. To answer the above: No, we do not eat gluten-free. I’ve never tried eating vegan, but never had much of an interest. I did ‘think’ I was gluten-intolerant about 9 years ago when I was having some stomach issues. I eliminated my evening beer for a few days, then I came home one night with a 6-pk of beer in hand. Derick asked me what I was doing with it. My response was, “Yeah, I don’t think it’s the gluten.” (Some self-control, right? Turned out, I had gallstones and later had my gall bladder removed! Poof..stomach issues resolved!) I have no idea how many calories a day I eat; I don’t count them. I don’t eliminate anything, regularly or as I head into big races. I figure there are enough other stressors; no need to deprive myself of the things I enjoy (such as coffee, chocolate, ice cream and good beer); especially if I know they directly are not going to negatively impact performance. I would not say we are strict with our diet; but we eat ‘consciously’. I try to focus on assuring that I get enough calories, protein and good quality foods, especially after workouts; but at the same time I listen to my body and eat more when hungry and a bit less when I feel full. I’m a huge fan of fresh lemon in water, which I can sip on most of the day. One weakness I have is that I am a meal eater. I grew up in a family that ate 3 meals a day. I like to be hungry for meals, and enjoy them. I often don’t need a lot of snacks because often times, I’m wrapping up a workout right before a meal; so in lieu of a ‘recovery smoothie’, I often just go straight for a full meal. Derick and I often realize we probably eat healthier than we think, because any time we travel, we find we come home craving our usual staples; good coffee in the morning, a solid breakfast, avocado/veggie/turkey sandwiches for lunch, dark greens, salmon…and of course our favorite indulgences to stay balanced.
What's for Dinner? By Kelly Williamson
On this note, I wanted to share with y’all one of our favorite go-to dinners. Almost every night we have a massive salad, which includes some mixture of the following:
Dark greens (spinach, kale, and/or swiss chard) – Berries (often blueberries and raspberries) and/or Apple – Red onion – Nuts (pecans, almonds, walnuts or sunflower seeds) – Quality cheese (fresh soft mozzarella or goat cheese) – topped with a vinegar based dressing and a creamier dressing (my favorites are Briannas Blush Wine Vinaigrette and Delmonico’s Ranch). I’ll always add beets if we have them cooked up. I love lots of color and variety among veggies, fruits, nuts and cheese. 


Derick has affectionately termed these “Kelly Salads” and he would like to see me start selling them. I just see them as dinner! This is always ‘part’ of our meal, rarely the entire meal. We often make ‘quinoa bowls’, which include:
Quinoa (cooked in chicken broth to add flavor) – Chopped bell peppers – Garlic and onion – Chicken sausage (often a flavored kind, Aidells makes some great ones especially spinach and feta or habanero and green chili; Open Nature is very good as well) – topped with a bit of shredded cheese. And you can easily get creative with these; toss in tomatoes, black beans, avocado, or whatever else you prefer. 


Of course, no lunch or dinner is complete to me without something sweet. After lunch it may be some sea salt dark chocolate (Lindt makes a great one and pretty inexpensive) or a chocolate chip cookie, and after dinner most nights I have a small bowl of ice cream. Actually, who am I kidding; every night I eat ice cream. My favorite is cookies and cream with some peanut butter mixed in.


When I begin to prepare dinner, I love to open a good beer, relax, and slowly start the preparation process; often after taking our pup for his evening play, it means the day is done, and whether it was good or bad; it’s time to put it behind you and settle in to the evening. While we often prepare simple meals, I find that after all the workouts and the ‘going’ all day long, the process of dinner prep is one of the most relaxing times of the day when Derick and I can turn on some good music, catch up and often talk about things non-triathlon related. When your husband is also your coach, this is something we both often crave! 

-Kelly Williamson

Building By: Ben Hoffman

July 10th, 2015 - Posted by zoot


Having grown up with a father that was a master carpenter and custom home builder, I was always spending time on the job site and gleaning construction skills. I remember being only 5 or 6 years old, and I would sweep up at the end of the day for my contribution and a chance to hang out with my dad. Later, I would help out after a school day or on a weekend, and in college I spent a couple summer breaks building homes with my dad over the summer break. Although I will never reach a level of expertise that compares to his, I learned enough to get by and tackle the occasional project.

In fact, I often find myself filling offseason time with construction projects, or even taking on the occasional one in season. When I bought my first home in Boulder a couple years ago, the first thing we all did was convert a garden level area of the house to its own separate living quarters. Fast forward to my offseason after Kona last year, and Kelsey, my parents, and myself all took on a massive effort to rehab an older home that she bought in foreclosure. It was a 6 week push to completely rebuild the kitchen and bathroom, redo flooring, repaint the interior, and all the other fun bits that go into a remodel. There is a deep satisfaction for me in having something so tangible and visible come to life, be reborn from mediocre to great through hard work. Although most of my “builds” are based around an Ironman, I get equal satisfaction from these.

The most recent weekend project was a patio that Kelsey and I built outside for a small seating area. We had no real experience with laying a flagstone patio, but we managed to turn out a nice and level place to enjoy an occasional dinner in 3 days between my training. It’s not exactly the standard strength training, but I’m pretty sure my “caveman crossfit” helped work my abs, back, and arms!Buildingwithben

At the end of the day, it’s nice to be able to have enough confidence to work on some basic construction projects around my place, and it gives me a mental break and refresher from the grind of training, while reinforcing my strong belief in hard work. What’s your next DYI project?

-Ben Hoffman



Our Escape By: Kelly Williamson

June 24th, 2015 - Posted by zoot
Derick and I met in Colorado back in 2003, at the Mt. Evans Hill Climb; which is a bike race that starts in Idaho Springs, CO (7,555 ft) and goes 28 miles to finish at the top of Mt. Evans (14,130 ft). We were both living in Colorado Springs at the time which is where we stayed until our move to Austin, Texas the summer of 2006. While we’ve loved more than we ever imagined possible about Austin, we are both mountain people at heart.

The first time I qualified for Kona in 2010 we decided it would make sense to escape the Texas heat for some of the long training (summers here are intense, often 70F but 80-90% humidity early mornings but by afternoon 90-100F with 40-60% humidity) so we immediately decided upon Salida, Colorado. (Little did we know that for the next 4 years, we would head right back there every summer for about a month of training and fun to escape the dreaded Austin summers). Many have not heard of Salida. We knew of it from having lived in Colorado Springs, we would occasionally go there to camp, mountain bike and just explore one Colorado’s many small mountain towns. It is nestled at the foot of the Colorado Rockies and the western bank of the Arkansas River, at about 7000 ft. It’s often said to be in the ‘Banana Belt’ because of the cool comfortable summers and mild winters. It even has a 25-meter indoor pool at the Salida Hot Springs center; which for a town of ~5,500 people is pretty impressive. You can do your workout then slip into the ‘other’ pool which is a natural hot springs. Roads to ride are endless; and even though there are only about 2 ways out of town, one road takes you up Poncha Pass (9,000 ft) and once descending you can ride for miles on a fairly flat terrain. The other route takes you to the neighboring town of Buena Vista (20 miles away) but then you can begin the 20 mile climb to the top of Cottonwood Pass (~12,000 ft). The amazing thing about riding in Salida is the lack of stopping; coming from a town such as Austin with a massive population, it’s incredibly refreshing to get on your bike and just keep pedaling, uninterrupted. As for the running, there are a ton of trails though many of them go UP…so you have to be prepared that if you’re not intending on pushing yourself, you either stay off of them or you really learn how to run easy. One of my favorites is a dirt road (Ute Trail) that we’ll take to for long tempo runs. I’ll jog to the start of the dirt (about 3 miles from town), and Derick will mark every mile with flour. The most I’ve done is about 9 miles uphill; the road on goes forever, and the grade undulates but is always going up in some capacity. Last summer, Derick and I took to this road for some cyclo-cross bike rides which was a ton of fun. We would spend 3-4 hours exploring these dirt roads and occasionally pop off onto trails, which is of course interesting on a cross bike, especially when you have the lack of technical skills as I do.


But the best thing about Salida is that even though I am there to train, it almost doesn’t feel like it. We wake up early, have coffee on the porch; often visited by a few deer in the yard. Mornings are almost always cool and quiet. There are absolutely no distractions. Life is simple. The commute to the pool is all of 5 minutes. Never traffic. The commute to the gym is 5 minutes on a cruiser bike. The commute to the beer store is 5 minutes, and I’ll toss it into the bike basket and pedal home. Derick often does all of his work in the mornings, and will head to the trails for afternoon mountain bike rides (or vice-versa if storms roll in during the afternoons) and will fish most evenings after dinner. I savor the easier training days or days off when we can pick up a float trip together, or an excursion to Mt. Princeton Hot Springs for the day. Every evening, we pedal down to the river with our dog Amico (named after the local pizza and brewery, Amicas) and let him play in the rapids; easily my favorite part of the day.  We pedal back home with a worn out pup, crack open a good beer and make dinner; often from fresh veggies and meats we pick up at Ploughboy, the local market and kitchen. We enjoy our dinner on the back porch and rarely turn the TV on. It’s definitely a Work Hard, Play Hard philosophy when in Salida. It’s Our Escape. What’s yours?


-Kelly Williamson

Training (or Chilling) with Music: What Moves You? By: Kelly Williamson

May 21st, 2015 - Posted by zoot
Music has the power to inspire. While people and events clearly serve as inspiration, something as simple as songs inspire me daily. Music works as a conversation starter; it gives you deeper insight into who people are; it can even spark a bond between two people. I’ll never forget when I met my husband Derick. I was 24 at the time, likely ruminating about some triathlon related event in my life which I am sure was “massive” at the time but in the big scheme, a small bump in the road. (He was working for a coaching company at the time). I said to him over one of our earlier conversations, “You have to laugh at yourself, because you’d cry your eyes out if you didn’t.” This dude was good. Without missing a beat, he replies, “You’re an Indigo Girls fan, huh.” Well, he sure knew how to win a girl over… a GUY who knew this line from a song? Spark. Bam. Done. Here we are, some 13 years later!


Every evening when Derick and I make dinner, we turn on a Pandora station and catch up on our day with some good tunes in the background. Some of the frequent Pandora stations you’ll find in the Williamson household include the likes of Robert Earl Keen, John Fullbright, Jason Isbell, Ray Wylie Hubbard; Brandi Carlile, the Highwaymen radio. Clearly, pretty mellow stuff for the evenings. The wonderful thing about music that you can always find something to suit your mood; and on that same note, music also has the ability to change your mood. I can find myself enjoying a beer, making dinner, my mind running through events from the day, stressing out; then I find myself singing along with a song and it seems worries can melt away. It can allow us to shift our focus often to a more relaxed state without even consciously realizing it.  


Seeing that I love music and a good many hours of my days are spent training solo, it gives me massive time to spend with my good friend, Kelly’s Ipod. While I love good company for a long bike ride, I also get excited as I prep for a 5-6 hour solo ride, getting the bike ready, the nutrition set up, rolling out the door, and putting my music in my ear (right ear only of course). While I can appreciate solitude and silence, it makes some of that alone time a bit more pleasant when I can cruise through the Texas hill country being serenaded by some of my favorites. Likewise, when I have to crank out a tough set on the bike or on the trails, I turn it over to those who can get me in the mood to shut off the pain and dig as deep as possible. It seems there’s always a song for the occasion, be it a mellow 5 hours or a hard as hell 6 minutes. There is something about focusing on song lyrics and averting your attention directly from your effort that can allow you dig a bit deeper and enjoy the experience a little more.


On that note, I wanted to share some of my top song choices; broken down into two categories. Long endurance workout favorites, and hard session choices. Of course these lists are frequently changing, but some are tried and true staples. Maybe you can find a new song or two in here. But ultimately, find what moves your mood and go with it!


Long Mellow Sessions
I Like Birds (Eels)
Follow Your Arrow (Kacey Musgraves)
Whim of Iron (Slaid Cleaves)
Happy (John Fullbright)
People are Crazy (Billy Currington)
Old Before Your Time (Ray LaMontagne)
Gone Again (Indigo Girls)
My Hometown (Charlie Robison)
Enjoy Yourself (Todd Snider)


Hard Sessions
Back in Black (AC/DC)
GDFR (Flo Rida)
No Church in the Wild (JAY Z & Kanye West)
Glory & Consequence (Ben Harper)
In the End (Linkin Park)
We Can’t Stop (Miley Cyrus)
Dani California (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
Ni**as in Paris (JAY Z & Kanye West)
Lonely Boy (The Black Keys)
Mainstream Kid (Brandi Carlile)
Dark Horse (Katy Perry)


-Kelly Williamson

ColoRADo – By: Ben Hoffman

May 1st, 2015 - Posted by zoot


When I went to university in 2002, triathlon was not even on my radar. Growing up in Western Colorado, my life was always based around exercise and being outdoors, but I can’t remember a time when I went swimming in anything other than a high alpine lake or the golden, flowing Colorado river to cool off in summer heat.  I did spend some time riding weeklong bike tours in the Colorado mountains with my parents while I was in high school, but the majority of my first 18 years were spent backpacking, camping, rock climbing, and generally exploring the landscapes of Colorado, Utah, and other surrounding states…essentially, “triathlon-free.” 

Some of my favorite memories are the trips we would take to the mountains, fly-fishing, sitting around the campfire, and just soaking in the beautiful landscape that surrounded us. Being outdoors wasn’t necessarily related to any kind of structured exercise, it was simply being out there and moving amongst it.  It was these trips throughout my formative years that laid the groundwork for my choice to live in Montana, then back to Colorado, and Arizona in winters.  In fact, I remember deciding that Missoula would be a good fit for college because it was like a Colorado with fewer people!

The surrounding environment has always had a big impact on my happiness and the structure of my days, especially now that my job is to spend countless hours outdoors on my bike, running, and swimming, I look to the landscape for inspiration and energy, for peace of mind and tranquility. Often it can be as simple as appreciating seasonal changes with wildflowers or snowstorms, spotting some wildlife, or just being thankful for consistent sunny weather. Other times, I use specific features to shape an adventure or training goal: Run up that mountain? Ride a big loop around the same mountain? Sure!

The landscape becomes a useful motivating tool for my workouts, and is constantly providing me with stimulation and inspiration.  Each person has their own vision of beauty, and level of connectedness with nature, but I will always gravitate towards the mountains, deserts, and open spaces that feed my soul. And when I’m not training in these places? Enjoying them in other ways, whether it’s camping, fishing, hiking, climbing, skiing, or just relaxing and watching the day unfold. Get out there and enjoy some fresh air!

-Ben Hoffman

A Well Earned Beer Just Tastes Better- By: Kelly Williamson

March 23rd, 2015 - Posted by zoot


‘Everything in moderation, even moderation itself.’- (Oscar Wilde)

One of my favorite sayings. Enjoy all things in life, a little of everything; exclude nothing that makes you happy; and at times, it’s ok to go a little overboard; it just may remind you of why you enjoy moderation.

Good beer is something that my husband Derick and I truly enjoy. It may have started in college, when I first really tried beer at all; and I somehow took to the dark ones. At that time, I thought Newcastle was amazing (well, only after I had gone through my Icehouse and Labatt’s Blue phases). My mom warned me that ‘keg beer will make you sick’, so I prided myself on always having my own stash of ‘good beer’ on hand in my latter college years. I went through my fruity stage; the raspberry flavored ones, even the ciders; until I got sick one night (it was college) on cider beer, which quickly ended the cider phase (it has since never returned). Soon after college I moved to Colorado Springs…craft brew mecca! We had Bristol Brewing, Phantom Canyon, Il Vicino; then of course we could always purchase the good beers that came from Boulder and other nearby towns. When I met Derick in 2003, it was he who got me into India Pale Ales, or IPAs; known for being very hoppy, a little bitter, and usually on the stronger side.

(Little known fact: The reason they are called IPAs is because they date back to 18th century England, when British troops in India demanded beer on their long sea journey (smart men). To prevent the beer from spoiling, more alcohol and more hops were added, acting as a natural preservative.)

Living in Colorado Springs for a few years, he and I bonded over cycling, running, and beer drinking. Of course at this time, I was there to train at the Olympic Training Center for triathlon, having  just started racing  as a pro. I call it ‘racing as a pro’ because I was hardly a true ‘professional athlete’; making very little income from the sport and holding down a few part time  jobs to make ends meet. We enjoyed all things Colorado; from of the high altitude trails running, group bike rides as I cut my teeth on ‘group riding’ (and  broke a few bones), and of course skiing. Much like enjoying good beer, I could not stay away from enjoying the incredible ski resorts just 2 hours from our doorstep. We created some incredible memories from trips in the mountains with good friends; and still to this day, one of my perfect days entails spending it on the slopes for 4-6 hours, only to pop into a nice brewery and savor a well-earned  burger and beer. Seems the beer tastes that much better with skiing-induced fatigue.

Derick moved us to Austin in 2006 for him to pursue graduate school, and we were shocked to find only a handful of local breweries here at the time. Little did we  know we would still be in Austin in  2015; and over the past 9 years, the craft beer  scene has grown exponentially. Of course I am still racing professionally, Derick is still coaching; but one thing has not changed. We still enjoy a good beer at the end of the day; yes, each and every day. I am still an IPA person, recently he has drifted towards darker stouts (though we can both enjoy a good Saison as well). Perhaps one of my proudest moments in my career thus far was recently, when I managed to secure a relationship with Hops & Grain, one of Austin’s newest (and in my opinion) best new breweries. I’ve known Josh Hare (founder) since when we first moved to Austin, as we connected through the running scene, when he was experimenting with home brewing at the time. Josh and myself have aligned beliefs in that one can enjoy a very active, healthy lifestyle yet at the end of the day still enjoy a good brew.

I often see triathletes ‘cut things out’ of a diet with the goal of being ‘healthier’, and aiming to achieve a peak performance. I’ll always say to each his own, but from my point of view, we do a heck of a lot ‘right’ by committing to an active lifestyle, setting goals, and working tirelessly to achieve them; whether it be triathlon, running or even your activity of choice. I think it’s quite healthy to allow yourself those small things that make you happy. To me, that is my end of the day IPA; when I start to prepare dinner, the workouts (good or bad) are behind me, and my husband and I can catch up with one another; shut off work and shift into an evening together. I have to give up quite a few things by choosing this lifestyle; but suffice to say, my regular enjoyment of good beer isn’t going anywhere; and I would have it no other way.

-Kelly Williamson

Ben Hoffman Shares His Engagement

March 9th, 2015 - Posted by zoot

2014 was a big year for me, and despite that others might see the biggest highlight being my 2nd place finish in Kona, my engagement to Kelsey Deery easily took the cake.

I had been planning out my vision for the best way to pop the question for over a year, so there was plenty of time to get things organized for the big day.  So naturally I waited until the last second to put it all together while I was still traveling for a couple of races at the end of the year. For the men out there looking to propose, remember that custom rings take a little while to make!

The big day came quickly, as we stepped off a seaplane on the private island of Highbourne Cay in the Bahamas. One of our favorite activities is to snorkel together, exploring the open ocean, so we dropped our bags and donned our swimsuits. The crystal clear water of the Caribbean beckoned on a perfect November afternoon.

A few minutes later we were in the water, exploring the reef, sunlight filtering down. I felt strangely calm, and swam out ahead of Kelsey to place the abalone shell and ring on the coral below. It wasn’t long before she came upon the glinting shell and dove for a closer look…

Returning to the surface with the ring, I asked her to be my wife, and she said yes. It was a special moment, a memory I will always cherish. We made our way back to the beach to enjoy some champagne and start the next chapter of our lives together. Engaged!

Ben proposed to Kelsey while snorkeling in the Carribean

Looking back on 2014, I can say without a doubt this was my highlight. Although, Kona wasn’t bad either…Here’s to an even better 2015. Keep doing what you love.

-Ben Hoffman

Finding Balance: Filling in the Gaps – Kelly Williamson

February 12th, 2015 - Posted by zoot

To kick things off here, I figured I would start out by filling you all in on what I do ‘outside’ of training. I feel fortunate that about five years ago, triathlon actually ‘became’ my career; meaning, while I raced from 2002-2009 professionally, I worked one if not two part-time jobs to make ends meet. Prize money trickled in here or there but I considered myself part-time at coaching, triathlon, and usually something else random. Once the scales tipped in my favor a bit, I was able to dial back the odd jobs and focus more so on training, recovery, and doing the small things that help us be our absolute best. That said, I’ve always found a need and a desire to keep a balance in my life, outside of sport. I’ve often thought being a professional runner would be so much ‘easier’ in that you have only one discipline to train for; triathlon (especially Ironman training) leaves little spare time, but even in the thralls of heavy training, I crave to have a balance outside of sport.

So, what goes on in my regular day to day besides training? I feel that I carry a pretty sane training volume compared to some. I would say I’m in the 25’ish hour per week range; some weeks closer to 30, some a bit less. My ideal day consists of coffee, an early morning workout, breakfast and coffee, followed by a solid late morning session (usually on the bike). I prefer to knock out the major work by early afternoon, when possible. A third workout occurs probably 3-4 days a week. Sometimes it is the ‘third discipline’, but others it may be strength, or a very easy recovery session to flush the body. So, what do I do to fill in the time between sessions?

~Napping: This does not occur, in any facet; just to clear the air on this one. Yes, I know it’s good for you; but I don’t do it. I’ve never been a napper. I used to say in college, “You can sleep when you’re dead,” but then again I could make it on 5-6 hours a night. I like my sleep, but I prefer to do it at night. What I will do is sit in my recovery boots for 30-60 min here or there, often while catching up on emails, athlete schedules, and correspondences (I still retain a handful of athletes that I coach).

~Writing: This is something I love to do but I can only really do it when I feel like I have something to say. I try to keep my personal website (blog) updated regularly, but at times I’ll find myself writing something, then later coming back, scratching it and starting over. The bigger picture to this is, of course I do think about what I’ll do when I am doing racing; and writing is something I’ve always enjoyed, so the way I see it, when I have downtime if I can spend it writing (or reading) it is time well spent.

~Psychology: Not analyzing things psychologically…but this is something I’m potentially interested in pursuing in some facet post-racing. So in the past few years, I have taken classes here and there; at one point I took some pre-requisites at Austin Community College (for a Masters in Health Psychology), and most recently I took a correspondence course via Texas State; currently I’m taking a free Stanford Online writing course, which is great because I can do 15-20 minutes of it here or there. I plan to sign up for a Social Psychology course at Texas State here soon. I often say I feel at times like having been a pro triathlete for many years, my brain has gotten dull; it has become stagnant. J Even if it is small things I like to keep it stimulated and I’m a bit more motivated by being made to stay on task, thus classes are a great motivator, when time allows.

~Random tasks: How people with children do it, I have no idea! It seems that small things can keep me pretty occupied, cleaning up here or there, laundry, paying bills, planning race trips, grocery, etc. I guess this goes along with being a busy-body much like my father. Give me a few long days of training and I’m pining for a rest day; give me a rest day and I rarely sit down. Goes with the territory, I guess you could say. We eat pretty well, so I find myself running to Central Market at least every other day to get fresh food for dinner.

~Amico!: We have an Australian Cattle dog who requires a good bit of energy expenditure. If Derick is gone, I try to mingle with him a few times a day; and every evening, we finish our day by taking him to the field to play Chuck-It. Of course there are days I may still be wrapping things up at 6pm when it gets dark, but I try to make time for this as often as possible. On nice days we’ll pedal over to the field, about a mile. This along with enjoying our evening IPA while we make dinner is our favorite way to round out a good day.

So there you go…and on this note, it’s a recovery day, the sun is shining and there is a ton of water on the Green Belt. Our pup needs a swim! In my next blog I’ll inform y’all of how we go about enjoying our daily (yes, every single day) beers (usually IPA or something just as hoppy) in moderation and how they keep me happy and ‘balanced’.

-Kelly Williamson

Solana Shoe Review

June 16th, 2014 - Posted by zoot

Ben Hoffman Racing in the Solana, St. George 70.3

Ben Hoffman, 4-time Ironman winner and Pro Zoot triathlete, shares his experience with testing the new Zoot Solana running shoes.

As a Zoot Sports sponsored professional triathlete for the last 3 years, I have been fortunate to bear witness to some awesome changes in the company’s product line. Some of the most exciting progress has come in footwear, and it has been part of my job to wear new prototypes and help in the development of new technologies, offering input from my constant training and racing. The latest and greatest in the lineup is the Solana, and it scores big on many levels.

I’ve been running in the Solana now for almost two months, and as with virtually every new shoe on offer from Zoot, the first thing I noticed in the Solana is the glove-like fit. The shoe wraps around the foot with incredible comfort, offering ample support while simultaneously allowing it to be where it wants to be naturally. Secure while comfortable. There is no unwarranted restrictive aspect, or excessively overbuilt components.  The seamless bonds and stitching add to the sleeve feeling which is now distinctive in the Zoot lineup. Despite adequate support and comfort, it’s not at a weight penalty: these are lightweight shoes with a very responsive and stable ride providing immediate feedback to the athlete.

Finally, the new Solana ranks high on my shoe choices because of its versatility. Just over a month ago I opted to race in the Solana at Ironman St. George 70.3 for the US Championships, after testing it in a shorter sprint distance event in April.  With such a hilly and demanding run course, I needed the perfect blend of cushioned comfort, lightweight performance, and responsive ride to carry me through the ups and downs of one of the hardest courses around. The new blown outsole and seamless upper delivered, carrying me to a strong 1:13 half-marathon split and 7th place finish against the best athletes in the world.  For my training runs before the race and after?  The Solana, naturally.

To learn more about the Zoot’s newest running shoe, the Solana, click here.

Next up, Ben will defend his title and course record at Ironman Coeur d’Alene on June 29th.



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