Spring Training

Darn Winter!  Spring may have “officially” begun this past Friday, but the Northeast sure didn’t feel it.

After spending the previous weekend swimming, biking and running in sunny and hot Napa, CA for HITS Triathlon Series Tri-Camp, it wasn’t easy acclimating back to freezing temperatures AND snow.

I did fit in some track work on Wednesday and pushed some hard quarters for speed.   On Friday, I worked on mile repeats at 5:30 pace and fit in a couple of easy 5 milers on the other days.
On Sunday, I was able to end the week on a high note.  We had a great group of runners come out to train on the Kiwanis Kingston Classic course.  Finished the Half in 1:40!  I’m happy with that.

Unfortunately, still no biking or swimming until the weather turns.  Luckily that should happen any day now because I am ready to get out for a ride with some hill climbs.

This weekend is HITS Triathlon Series Ocala, FL.  I’ll be able to get in a run Friday morning and Saturday I’ll call a “long day”.  I won’t be swimming, biking or running, but I will be on my feet for 21 hours and THAT COUNTS!  It’s an endurance day, for sure.
When I get back from Ocala, my plan is to run the Kiwanis Kingston Classic marathon course.  I’m really excited to run that course — beautiful trails, with a nice downhill and fast finish.  It’s a perfect run to get ready for the Rock the Ridge 50 Miler on May 2.

Don’t forget, beat me in the Full at HITS Kingston July 11 and you race for FREE in 2016!  I’m not doing all this work for nothing….come on, you can take me!

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HITS Napa Tri-Camp Training

Heading into this past weekend’s HITS Triathlon Series Napa Valley tri-camp, my confidence and fitness were soaring.

The Sunday before, I ran 13 miles, with the last 4 miles at 6:30 pace.  I was pushing it.

On the following Wednesday, I did 12 x 400 on the track…FAST.

Photo courtesy of Facebook.com/RocktheRidge50

In fact, I signed up to run a 50 Miler. Rock the Ridge is on Saturday, May 2nd.  This will be the LONGEST running race of my life.  Up to now, I’ve done 6 50K’s, but that’s been the longest.   My goal is to average 10 minute miles and finish in 8:20:00.  We’ll consider that a “long” day.  The run supports the beautiful Mohonk Preserve here in the “Gunks” of the Hudson Valley.  If you can, come run with me!

HITS Napa Tri-Campers out for a bike.

I’m back from Napa tri-camp now and going from below freezing temps here on the East Coast to 80° and sunny in Napa was not easy on my training. On Friday, the group and I biked the Olympic course for 24.8 miles.  Then we ran a 10K and finished with a few “heads up” laps around the lake.

The next day, we rode 56 miles with a fast, sub 7 min mile run off the bike.  No way around it, the bike course in Napa is hilly.

We pushed the pace on the hills, though, with 3-5 minute climbs.  We finished the day with a few more heads up laps in the lake.  [Another photo from my cell phone]On Sunday, we finished the weekend with a 10K run at an easy 8 ½ /9 minute pace.

Let’s face it, I am getting older, but I want to get faster.  For the 1st time ever, I want to hold 5:59 pace for 6 – 9 miles.  Running is the most important.

Biking is my best, it’s natural to me.  The 100 miler in Ocala was the 1st time I had ridden since December. I just look at a bike and my thighs get bigger.  Cycling is just in me.  My plan is to tweak my riding with a few shorter group rides and a long 60 – 100 mile ride/week.

Swimming is the least of my concerns right now.  If I can gain fitness through the running and biking and get in a few 2 mile swims a week, I know I’ll be fine.

I know that right now I don’t really have the endurance…I’m quick and strong, but not quite ready to go long.  As the weather here in New York is shifting, I can’t wait to get back on the bike.  The climbing will get me stronger; and with a decrease in my eating volume, I can lose the last few pounds I need to lose to hit my goal at HITS Kingston.  Remember, beat me in the Beat the HITS Race Director Challenge and win a FREE Full entry to 2016 HITS Kingston!

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Pushing Through The Pain

As many of you might know, I have had a personal loss and have not had a chance to post any training updates. Thank you to everyone who has emailed, called or text with their condolences.   It has truly meant a lot to me.

Rich collecting his award and swag after finishing 2nd Overall in the Full at HITS Triathlon Series Naples, FL. Photo courtesy of Pat Hendrick Photography.

A special thank you to Mike Plumb and Rich Wygand for stepping in and leading tri camps in Palm Springs, California and Ocala, Florida. You guys are the best!

Now, back to training…Beat the HITS Race Director is only 4 months out.

Fortunately, I was able to attend tri-camp this past weekend in Ocala, FL.  Okay, so the weather was not the greatest, but that didn’t stop us!!

Wednesday prior to tri-camp, I was able to get in a track workout.  12×400 meters at 5:57 pace or faster with 1 min rest in between.   I worked with our CEO’s son, Tommy Struzzieri, who is FAST.  He’s also only 14, so I gotta keep up if you know what I’m sayin’!

Tommy on his way to 3rd Overall in the Sprint at HITS North Country Hague, NY. Photo courtesy of Pat Hendrick Photography.

I got into Ocala on Thursday and fit in a 7 mile tempo run.  Pushing the pace, I was able to hold 6:50 minute miles and it felt great.

Tri camp began on Friday and we got to work!  We began with the Olympic bike course, 24.8 miles, followed by a 10K run.

I had one tri-camper, Alina, who will be doing her 1st Full at HITS Ocala.  On Saturday, we really wanted to go for it and we rode 100 miles…through the rain!  That evening, I attended a tri workshop at Santos Trailhead Bike Shop, the Official Bike Shop of HITS Ocala.  They were extremely welcoming and it was so good to see familiar faces.

Sunday, Alina wanted to go long on her run.  We had a goal of 20 miles.  Happy to report, we did it.

Some say endurance is about pushing through the pain and enduring through the hardships.  This weekend reminded me that it’s that, and so much more.  I’m back.



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Focus and intensity – HITS Race Director’s recipe for success!

A colleague of mine recently asked me, “How has your training for this race been different than others?”  I answered almost immediately – FOCUS.   Focus and intensity –which is crazy, and even hard for me to believe!
Before, I would document EVERYTHING, study constantly and think deeply on every single aspect of my training.  I could train longer, which means I could take the time to plan, develop and execute.  I could adjust along the way to however my body was responding.  Now…everything has changed.   Now, I have more determination than ever, I have more intensity than ever, and I want to squeeze every single ounce out of every single second I have.  Maybe it’s because I’ve done this before, maybe it’s because the race is in July, maybe it’s because I have a lot going on in my life.  I do know I am ready for the challenge.

Here’s what I’ve done/will do this week:

Monday: Run-6 mile active recovery
Tuesday: Run-5 mile active recovery
Wednesday: Run-12 x 400 @ 1:29 with 1 minute recovery between intervals
Thursday: Run-5 mile active recovery
Friday: Run-6 mile active recovery; Swim-3,000 yards; Bike-10 miles FAST
Saturday: Bike-24 miles HILLY
Sunday: 13.1 Tempo

See ya!



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Q& A with Julie Stackhouse | 2015 HITS Naples Overall Female Full Winner

Julie Stackhouse
Hometown: Jacksonville, FL
Claim to HITS Fame: 2015 HITS Naples Overall Female Full Winner & Breaking the Women’s Course Record by Over 40 Minutes

HITS: Why did you decide to race HITS Naples?
JS: I am a track coach and I knew once the season started in January I wouldn’t have as much time to train.  October-January we have really great training weather in northeast Florida so the timing was ideal.  I came across HITS Naples and it seemed to have good reviews.  Gulf swim, flat bike and run course, not too crowded, location ideal driving distance (bike transport considerations) – it seemed to have all the elements to make for a great first full distance experience.  Yes, this was my first full and my first HITS event.  Years ago (2006) I completed a half and this past December in preparation for this event, I competed in my first Olympic distance.

HITS: When and how often were you training for the big day?
JS: I started training for Naples October 13, exactly 3 months prior to race date.  I only took 3 days off during that time, one day each month.  I did the majority of my training solo, although I did schedule several organized cycling events for my longer rides in the months leading up to Naples.  I have my own personal training business, Stackhouse Fitness, so literally training is built into my job, which really helps.  During that 3 month period I logged 18:36 hours swimming, 78:51 hours biking and 516 miles running. My longest continuous swim prior to the race was 2.4 miles, longest bike 95 miles and my longest run was 18 miles. Strength training and dynamic stretching is also a regular part of my weekly routine.

HITS: It’s the week of the event. What is your pre-race ritual?
JS: I started my taper about a week out from the race.  I tried to keep the volume low during that week and the intensity dialed in.  I tried out all of the gear that I intended to race in and made a checklist of all of the items I would need to compete.  I wrote out my race nutrition plan as I was told this is the “4th training discipline” of a full.  I set my Garmin to beep every 30 minutes while on the bike so that I would stay ahead of my nutritional demands.  I sipped water and Heed constantly.  Race morning I woke up at 4:30am and had a Gingerbread Clif Bar, which I tried during the Olympic Tri and it seemed to work well on my stomach so I stuck with that.  About 30 minutes prior to the swim start I had half of one Strawberry Huma gel because I was already feeling a little hungry.

HITS: Tell us about the course…
JS: I am big on visualization prior to a big competition, as I feel it really relaxes you mentally on race day.  I had studied the course maps pretty extensively beforehand and had already pictured what I expected to be feeling like on race day as I went through the different phases.  My plan in the swim was to go out conservatively and as relaxed as possible on the first loop, since we had a common start with the half and relay participants, so I didn’t want to expend unnecessary energy early on.  During the bike, I focused on keeping relaxed, patience, sticking with my nutrition plan and not getting too caught up in the moment.  I come from a running background so all day long I drew confidence in knowing my best event was last, and didn’t want to do anything to sacrifice that along the way.  I broke the race into components and wouldn’t let myself get ahead mentally for what still lay ahead – I tried to stay focused on the current task at hand. The run course was an out and back twice and the first 1/2 marathon flew by.  I was so glad to finally be running that I was out in under 7:30 pace. The second half of the marathon mentally was tough because I knew the ground that I just covered, I had to do again, at the end of a long day.  I kept watching the sun’s position in the sky and thinking that I was racing the sun to the finish line (I recalled entering the water about 15 minutes before it had risen that morning)!  The last 5k I knew I had the race won (since the course was out and back and I could see where the next competitor was) so I started to let myself think about the finish line moments, getting there in one piece and feeling good.

HITS: What was going through your head when I saw the finish line?
JS: I was definitely anticipating the excitement/relief in my family and friends’ faces as I neared the finish line.  I knew it had been an especially long day for them, as they had also risen early and tracked me eagerly throughout the day using the athlete tracker app.  Their cheering each time I entered transition definitely helped!  I had another friend who traveled from Jacksonville to watch and a group of friends from the Key West Tri Club who had participated in the half earlier in the day and they were just as energetic for my finish as they were during their respective races!  Plenty of high fives were shared and I slowed down a little to be sure to high five everyone who supported me all day long.  One of my favorite race moments was a little boy off to the side of the final stretch to the finish line holding a stuffed Mickey Mouse doll hand, outstretched to me, which I also high-fived.  I still smile thinking about it!

HITS: Finish this sentence - “When I feel like giving up, I _______”
JS: Giving up is never really an option for me.  I knew that fortitude and mental toughness would get me through the day, regardless of conditions (which turned out to be perfect), or any other race day hurdle that may come up.  That being said, my family instilled this in me and they are the reason that I never give up on anything. I try to remember that it all starts with faith, and I feel blessed that I am able to be so healthy and do what I love – to continue to find new ways to challenge myself and to compete.  Also, I dedicated my racing efforts to the LoveJoy Foundation, which is a really worthy cause.

For more information on HITS Naples, visit HitsTriathlonSeries.com.

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HITS Race Director Trains for HITS Triathlon in Kingston, NY

Starting to train again for a Full Distance triathlon has been energizing, invigorating, AND challenging…but this is about endurance after all, right?!

As anyone who has ever trained for a 140.6 mile race probably knows, sometimes simply finding the time to fit in all the necessary training can be the most difficult part.  However, when you challenge every single Full distance athlete in the inaugural HITS Triathlon Series Kingston, NY race, you find a way!

This past weekend, HITS Triathlon Series began 2015 with a bang in Naples, FL.

Photo courtesy of Pat Hendrick Photography

It was a HUGE success, with over 1100 athletes; including six-time NASCAR champion, Jimmie Johnson.  Awesome guy – finished his first ever Half in 4:42:10!

Photo from my Instagram account @markherbertwilson! That’s Jimmie on the right in the gray hoodie.

With 5 different distances over only 2 days, I ended up on my feet for 57 out of 72 hours – I’m pretty sure that counts as endurance/long course training!  I was also able to get in a 6.5 mile run on Friday morning.  After leaving -2° F temps in Upstate New York, it felt so good to run in 60° weather that morning!

Now, I’m back at HITS Endurance headquarters in Saugerties, NY where I live and work.  It’s currently 20° and feels downright balmy after last week.  Today, I got in a 1 mile warm-up, then 8 x 400’s at the track @ 1:29 with 1 minute rest between intervals.  Here is my plan for the rest of the week:

Thursday: Run-5 miles EASY
Friday: Swim-3,000 Bike-10 miles FAST
Saturday: Bike-24 miles HILLY
Sunday: Run-13.1 TEMPO

Thanks, Everyone!

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HITS Austin Training – Race Day | Leah Ann

The race is here… and now it’s done!  In preparing for the race, I did three easy runs and then I was ready for the race on Sunday.

This week also took me to the Texas Running Company to pick up some new shoes and accessories for my race.  The staff there was quite knowledgeable and very helpful.  I left with exactly what I was looking for – a pretty sweet new pair of kicks!

The race itself was a breeze… sort of.  I thought I was fairly prepared for the hills that are part of the racetrack.  I can’t imagine how hard it would have been if I had not ran any hills over the past few weeks as that first hill was a doozy (as you can see from my candid race photo!)  I ran the race with my friend Kathy and we kept each other motivated through each hill and turn and sprinted to the finish line together.

This was truly a great experience and feel very lucky to have been chosen to be a part of it. The best part was definitely working with Mark.  Although I do wish a tiny bit I had been a little bit more of an experienced runner as I think I could have learned so much more from him.  However, I will be forever grateful to him for teaching me about running form.

I have no doubt in my mind that I would have given up the sport if I had continued on the path I was on – I would of given it up because it would have been to painful to continue.  I owe my new pain free running form to you, Mark.  THANK YOU!!

Thanks HITS – thanks for the training, the sweet swag and an awesome race!  See you in 2015!

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HITS Austin Training – Race Day | Carm

I would like to start off by thanking coach mark, for all of his knowledge and coaching. I had a lot of fun today, even though the hills were worse than I thought they would be. I also want to thank HITS running for providing me with this wonderful opportunity to participate in this event.  Lastly, my wonderful husband who has always supported me and even joined me in this event. He ran great today and I’m so proud of him.

Training for this event was a lot of fun and gave me a new perspective on running.  It will be a memory that I’ll always have. The event was well organized and I look forward to participating in future events by HITS.

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HITS Austin Training – Race Day | Mariana

First and foremost I want to thank Emily and Mark with HITS Endurance for giving me this amazing experience.

I also want to thank Texas Running Company for providing us the contest winners with amazing gear!
Training has been challenging and wonderful and yesterday I felt great at the race. Thank you for showing me that I can do anything I set myself out to do. The 10K was so much fun. I really enjoyed this experience and I am very excited for things to come. I will be doing a half marathon next!

Thank you again for this amazing experience I will never forget!


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HITS Austin Training – Race Day | Mark

I have completed several long-distance swimming events, each being over 12 miles. A few cycling tours/races over 100 miles. A bunch of triathlons and duathlons of varying distances, one being 70.3 miles. I have ran six half marathons and one full marathon.

December 14, 2014 will be a date I will never forget. Besides being my birthday I participated in the most challenging endurance event of my life. The HITS Marathon in Austin, TX.

It started out as any other race day. Bagel and bananas for breakfast followed by a Starbucks mocha latte. Then I walked into the event venue. The Circuit of the Americas Formula 1 race track. Wow!

I was not prepared for what was to be approximately the first quarter mile of the 26.2 miles I was about to attempt. A fellow runner told me that the incline was over 130 feet. That’s 13 stories for crying out loud!!!

That was just the beginning. There were more hills and then even more hills. Up and down the whole way. The wind was blowing like a hurricane and it seemed like it was always a headwind.

I sincerely believe that if it hadn’t been for ALL the training Coach Mark put me through I wouldn’t have even come close to finishing.

You see I am not a young man anymore.  I’m in my 50′s. I haven’t ran in decades until a little more than a year ago. I have even had spinal fusion surgery and lost over 60 lbs.

His training for me was perfect.  Each week he gradually increased the distance I ran. He had me do aIot of cross training. In addition to the runs, I did strength training, swimming an hour each day and cycled. I feel this is what kept me motivated and really excited with the training program.

This is my second event with HITS Endurance.  The first was a half marathon in Oklahoma City.  HITS put on first class events on both occasions. Very well organized and  always put the runner’s first.
HITS has a mantra, “A distance for everyone!” As far as I’m concerned,  they can add “A training program for everyone!” Even me!

Not all things we do in life are easy nor should they be. The difficult and challenging endeavors we take on are the ones most likely to be remembered and to be proud of. As I mentioned earlier, I will not ever forget this event and yes I am proud.

Finally, I would like to thank HITS Endurance,  especially Mark Wilson and Emily G. I also want to send out a high-five and a very special thanks to The Texas Running Company for the awesome high end running shoes, trunks and T-shirt. I am very thankful.

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