You can train all you want--or have time for. You can ask friends how they did it--and beg for their tips. You can scour the internet and poke your head in triathlon forums, read coach's articles and watch course videos. But a lot of times, if you want expert advice, answers to all your questions--to avoid that deer-in-headlights look that I had the morning of my first Ironman--or need some pre-race poking and prodding to make that lingering injury go away for good, you have to pay for it. A trip to the bike fitter. A visit to the physical therapist or massage therapist. A nutrition assessment to dial in your food needs. Another pair of running shoes. Buying a teardrop helmet. Renting, or considering renting, race wheels. So many questions...but not always easy to find the right answer.
As long as you don't have a triathlon to race this weekend (sorry, Udder Half-ers ), you can get your questions answered and go into your next triathlon even more prepared to tackle the competition, your old PR or your pre-race I've-never-done-this-before jitters. Vision Quest Coaching put together what they're calling The Best of the Best Ironman Wisconsin Panel , covering every aspect of triathlon with a special focus on Ironman Wisconsin and Ironman races. This triathlon-centered event will be held at Vision Quest Chicago on Thursday, August 9, and it's designed to make you feel more comfortable come race day. Trust me, all the riding up in Madison over the summer only takes out a small chunk of the race calculations.
Robbie Ventura will be moderating this panel , which has everyone from the bike fitter to the first-time Ironman finisher, and he'll help answer those pesky questions we've all been wondering. Do I really need race wheels? How can I have a faster swim (answer: draft like your life depends on it)? Where can I make up time in my sports that still need a little work? What's event day like? If you aren't equipped for your next triathlon after listening to this group, learning the answers to questions that other athletes have asked, and asking a few q's of your own (VQ encourages you to ask away when you RSVP for the event), then.... Well, that might involve being stranded along the Wisconsin farm roads--or Lake Shore Drive if the Chicago Tri is your thing--and no one wants that. Here's a taste of who'll be doling out advice on August 9.
Robbie Ventura. Ask this guy anything about the bike. He's a bike speedster--crushes it--and makes keeping up with triathlon leaders, while talking to a camera, look easy (just watch him during Leon's Triathlon).
Andrea Rudser-Rusin. She's a registered dietician and board-certified sports dietician. Plus, Rudser-Rusin is a Kona-qualifying Ironman triathlete. Nutrition is half the battle when you're active for 10-plus hours and she can help with that plan.
Marcia Cleveland. She's an open-water swimming expert who's crossed the English Channel and knows how to make people more comfortable in the water. Perfect for that tidal wave that happens when 2,700 or so athletes start swimming at the same time in Lake Monona.
Adam Zucco. Zucco, Liz's coach back when she qualified for the Boston Marathon and then PR'd Boston and then trained for her first half Ironman, is an accomplished coach and athlete. He's won his age-group numerous times and finished the Ironman World Championship five times. Aloha!
Dr. Paul Marando and Dr. Tim Marando. These brothers are the sports docs (it's printed on their business cards, I swear) who've helped numerous Chicagoans, including me, rehab from injury. They're trained in ART and will be part of the ART team on-site after Ironman Wisconsin, but they may as well have magic fingers because a couple of their pokes and adjustments make that nagging sore spot feel better.
April Oury. Along with her colleague Ray Degli (who has trained with some of the best in the business), she's a bike fitter. The duo behind 360 Bike Gears uses the Revolution Bike Fit method to address that pain or discomfort, ward off potential injuries, or just feel like you're flying on the bike.
Jenn Robbins. She's the running guru who has analyzed the gaits of a countless number of runners--you lose track after a while, right?
First-time Ironman Finisher. You'll have to attend the event to find out who this guest is--even I'm completely clueless--but he/she will help put any first-timer at ease.
What might be the best part about this event is the price: It's free. OK, that's partially not true because VQ is asking for donations, but they're doing that to help sponsor 17 bikes, one for each hour of Ironman, for World Bicycle Relief . And they'll be raffling off some fun prizes and giveaways. But those are secondary, in my book, to getting the race questions answered. No more deer-in-headlights for me!