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!
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?
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!
‘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.
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!
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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
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.