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

May 21st, 2015 - Posted by zoot
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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
@khwilliamson

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–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
kellyhwilliamson.com
@khwilliamson

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.

 

 

Ben Hoffman Shares His Training Essentials

February 20th, 2014 - Posted by zoot

Today we have a guest blog from Zoot Pro triathlete, Ben Hoffman. In 2013, Ben won Ironman Coeur d’Alene and set the course record with a time of 8:17:31 – now that’s fast! He followed that race up with a win at Branson Rev3 and a 15th place finish at the Ironman World Championships. Today, Ben shares what gets him through those other 360 days a year – his training days.

Zoot Training Essentials

Although Zoot may be known best for their race day equipment, I am outfitted in their training gear head to toe virtually every day in preparation for my events (Like we say, “Train as you race!” – Ed.). The hundreds of hours that go into preparing for an Ironman require equipment that is durable, comfortable and provides an extremely high level of performance for each of the three disciplines. An average training week, while building into a full-distance race, includes roughly 35 hours of training. Broken down that is approximately 18 hours on the bike, 8 to 9 hours running, 6 hours in the pool and 2 hours of strength training. Here is a rundown of some of the gear I use for my preparation.

On My Feet

Running is one of man’s most primal forms of exercise, but it’s not all about going barefoot and naked. My go-to training shorts, when the weather is nice, are the Ultra Run Icefil 8”. Not only does the spandex Icefil liner ventilate well, but it also provides a little extra support on long runs and completely eliminates chaffing. I seriously can’t believe how long I put up with the irritation that other liners create – these are a true epiphany. Finally, the Ultra short has side pockets, and for days when I need a little company in the form of music, I can slide the iPhone or iPod in the pocket for bounce-free carrying. They serve well for car keys or gels. too.

The most comfortable and versatile shoes I have worn for training purposes are the Ultra TT Trainer WR. They have additional cushioning, are still relatively lightweight, and are the perfect compliment to my Ironman race shoe, the Ultra TT 7.0,

For up top, I’m a fan of the Ultra Run Icefil Mesh Tee in warmer weather, and the Performance Run Microlite ½ zip when temps get colder. And when it’s really cold I wear the Ultra Run Biowrap Thermo Tights to keep my legs warm.

Finally, for race day, it’s all about the Zoot custom one-piece kit, visor and Ultra TT 7.0 shoe. I switch out the Ultra TT 7.0 for the Ultra Kiawe 2.0 for half-ironman races.

In the Saddle

My longest hours come in the saddle, and here it’s all about the custom Ultra Cycle bibs and jersey. When it gets cold, I throw on the thermo top, thermo leg warmers and Megaheat jacket.  Fortunately, there is ample pocket space for food, phone, etc., and the fabric wicks moisture like a sponge.

For racing, I rely on my custom Zoot kit for superior comfort and aerodynamic fit.

In the Water

It’s been a long haul learning how to swim with the front pack, but I couldn’t have done it without countless hours in the Ultra swim brief, chasing the black line and playing wall tag. When it comes time to hit the open water, I can be found in my Prophet 2.0 Wetzoot, or the Speedzoot for warmer days. The Prophet provides unmatched range of motion, incredible buoyancy, and is easy to peel off for quick transitions. Finally, it’s Zoot’s Swimfit cap that covers my dome.

The Rest of the Time

Not every hour of every day is spent training, but triathlon is definitely a lifestyle, and I have some other pieces of gear that fill in the gaps between workouts. Recovery is priority number one when I’ve finished my harder sessions, so I love to toss on the Recovery 2.0 CRx sock after long runs and rides, or during long travel days. As the Californians have taught us, a hoodie is one of the most versatile pieces of clothing made, and fortunately Zoot’s looks great, too. One last staple in my Zoot arsenal are the Recovery Slides, which are on my feet before and after every swim.

So there you have it! Zoot has me covered head to toe for my longest training days and the time between. No matter whether you live in a cold or warm climate, Zoot has your back with their comprehensive lineup of comfortable and high performance products.

Zoot 2014 Teams

January 31st, 2014 - Posted by zoot

At Zoot we believe that you should train as you race and race as you train. Our commitment to this idea has led us to making some of the best (and most comfortable) tri and running gear that the world has seen.
Of course, we would be nowhere without our committed team of testers, or as they are known to the world, the Zoot Teams. They are constantly pushing our gear to the limits, be it a hard training session or sprinting for the finish at Kona.
With that in mind, we are proud to announce our 2014 teams. We are especially excited to note that all of our members of our 2013 Marque and Elite Pro Teams are returning this year! Without further ado here are the Zoot 2014 Teams:


Marquee Pro:
Ben Hoffman
Kelly Williamson


Elite Pro:
Jozsef Major
Ian Mikelson
Sergio Marques (Portugal)
Anja Beranek (Germany)
Charisa Wernick
Uli Bromme
Bree Wee
Mandy Mclane
Heather Leiggi
Lesley Smith
Janelle Morrison (Canada)
Balazs Csoke
Sara Gross (Canada)
Rachel Jastrebsky
Beth Walsh
Sierra Snyder
Gregory Farrell (Australia)


Team Zoot (formerly called Zoot Ultra Team)
SoCal: Team Captain – Diana Noble
NorCal: Team Captain – Jim Atkinson
North West: Team Captain – Sam Piccici
Arizona: Team Captain – Bryan Dunn
Texas: Team Captain – Christian Wendenburg
Mountain: Team Captain – Shane Neimeyer
Central Plains: Team Captains – Chuck and Jen Sloan
Great Lakes: Team Captains – Rick Lapinski, Matt Ancona
Mid-Atlantic: Team Captain – Brian Jastrebsky
North East: Team Captains – Shane Arters, Hana Sykorova
South East: Team Captain – Kerry Mowlam


Wishing everyone a great racing season!

4 Tips for Sticking With Your Fitness Resolutions in 2014

January 3rd, 2014 - Posted by zoot

Happy 2014! With a new year also comes a fresh start, an opportunity to evaluate 2013 and establish new fitness, professional and personal goals. These goals (resolutions) are often set with the best intentions, but still nearly 75% of them last only one week. Here at Zoot, we want to change that. We want 2014 to be your best year of health and happiness, so we are here to share our tips for sticking with your fitness resolution.

1. Be realistic: Of course we encourage you to dream big – just not unattainably big. Make sure whatever resolution you strive to achieve is something you are actually capable of. If you feel overwhelmed, you are much more likely to ditch it and move on.

2. Write down your goals: People who write down goals are actually more likely to achieve them. Write yours somewhere accessible where you can easily check in on your progress. It may also help to share them with someone you trust: a workout buddy, spouse, best friend – anyone you feel can be supportive, encouraging and help keep you accountable.

3. Be specific: When you write down your resolution, define who, what, when, where, how and why. Making your goal as specific as possible helps with planning and sets you up for success.

4. Make it measurable: When you decide on your resolution, ensure that you are able to measure the results. For instance, “run better” is not measurable. Define better – does that mean faster? Farther? Maybe it’s “I will cut one minute off of my mile time” or “I will PR in my half marathon this year.” Set benchmarks so you know whether you’re successful.

Jackpot!

September 10th, 2013 - Posted by zoot

Heather Jackson hits the Jackpot in Vegas!

What a day for Zoot athletes at Ironman 70.3 World Championships! Huge congratulations to Heather Jackson – 2nd place and Tim Reed – 4th place! Also coming in top 10, a strong performance from Kelly Williamson. While the typical heat and sunshine didn’t show up, our athletes did!

Pro’s:
Heather Jackson, 2nd place
Kelly Williamson, 9th place
Mandy Mclane, 18th place
Bree Wee, 19th place
Uli Bromme, 20th place
Amber Ferriera, 22nd place

Tim Reed, 5th place

Age Groupers:
Mark Harms – 4:12 – 3rd M35-39
Chuck Sloan – 4:23 – 7th M35-39
Hana Sykorova – 4:57 – 9th AG
Kerry Mowlam – 4:48
Shane Niemeyer – 4:40
Caroline Smith – 5:18
Megumi Masuda – 5:51
Christine Mackrides – 5:54
Kendra Goffredo – Swim: 34 & Bike: 2:42…stress fracture didn’t allow her to run
Brian Dunn – Swim: 33 and unfortunately a bike crash knocked him out for the day…luckily he’s alright

 

Other key performances this weekend include Beth Walsh’s 4th place finish and Romain Guillaume’s 5th place finish at Ironman Wisconsin.