COACH'S CORNER: September 12 - A Send-off
This week we get to welcome the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship to St. George, Utah. It promises to be a spectacular race, with an honest course that will bring more than enough challenge, and a competitive field vying for top spots. I will be on course with coach Mike throughout the weekend, and look forward to meeting participating athletes at our pre-race meet up at the East pavilion of JC Snow Park at 5:30pm MT.
I would like to take this opportunity to outline a few quick thoughts:
- Safety. For those attending the race, please maintain your highest level of precautions and safety throughout the weekend. Far from me telling anyone what to do in life, I will simply say that Utah is known for its low-key approach to COVID-19. First eyes would suggest Utah has been spared the pandemic given the lack of masks and precautions in public places, but its ICU wards paint a different picture. It is going to be easy to let all guards down when you arrive in town, and fall into the patterns of the local approach. It is, of course, your prerogative to do what suits you best, but I would encourage us all to maintain behaviors that we deploy at home. That’s a simple approach that should cover bases, but might take a little bravery in action against the grain.
- Define the mindset. When folks got to return to racing this season, I suggested that the best mindset would be celebration. The same mindset should be deployed for these championships. I encourage you to have some real gratitude for being able to race in an event like this, and dive into a commitment of giving it your very best effort on the day itself. Smiling on the inside, with a commitment to be fearless in effort and relentless in your attack, will yield a collection of wonderful individual performances. You are not racing alone this weekend. You are racing with everyone at Purple Patch behind you. Let this be the wind under your wings, and go fly.
- Sparing a thought. We have a large number of athletes who have qualified, but are unable to attend this race due to circumstances out of their control. To both those missing out on St. George, and those with delayed plans forced by the postponed Hawaii IRONMAN, I am truly sorry for your situation. We will miss you, think of you, and I am sure those racing this weekend will join me in committing to try our best to represent you to the very best of our ability.
I will be sharing pictures and updates from the race site, but here are a few snippets from attending Purple Patch athletes who caught our eye. Good luck to all who are competing, and see you there:
The Purple Patch Pros: We have three pros racing: Sam Appleton (Australia) and Martin Ulloa (Chile) in the men’s event, and Line Thams (Denmark) in the women’s race. Make sure to add them to your IRONMAN Tracker app!
Purple Patch 1:1 and Squad athletes: We have 40+ athletes representing Purple Patch this weekend. There are many great stories in how these athletes have found their way to St. George, and we encourage you to share yours on our Facebook group. That said, here are just a few highlights from those attending, and what they are looking forward to:
Jeff Lipschultz (qualified at Des Moines 70.3):
"Community is what I'm excited about! Oh sure, and getting that medal after climbing thousands of feet..."
After learning to swim at 48 years old and battling many years of injury and fatigue in his racing, Jeff has mastered how to nail the basics, and come out ready to take on the challenge of St. George. You've cheered on so many people in the PPF community, Jeff -- now it's our turn to return the favor.
Alan Jackman (qualified at Lubbock 70.3):
"I think what I'm most scared of is that I feel like I don't belong at this race. I know I've put in some super good quality work and I'm excited, but also nervous too."
A former D2 collegiate swimmer who's working on bringing that talent to his bike and run, Alan qualified to Worlds at his very first 70.3 this summer. He has faced several personal challenges this season while balancing being a good husband (and dog dad). Use that nervous excitement as fuel, Alan. Be confident. You earned this and you belong on the start line!
Susan Henning (qualified at St. George 70.3):
"I’m very excited to experience a World Championship event. It makes me emotional to reflect on the past 21 years of racing and all the support and friendship I’ve experienced."
Coached by Mike Olzinski, AARP Anarchist athlete Susan is making a strong statement in returning to racing this season after a serious bike crash in 2020 where she lost consciousness and broke several bones. Susan, your depth of experience is a valuable asset. No matter how hot it gets out there, you've got what it takes to stay cool-headed -- go set that course on fire!
LeAnne Carlson (qualified at Steelhead 70.3):
"Here I am. Ready, excited, and in the best fitness all year! I am beyond thrilled and blessed to have this opportunity!"
LeAnne has navigated significant adversity this season, including foot surgery and her husband being hospitalized with COVID. She went into Steelhead without any expectations -- but she still committed to giving it her all, and that mindset helped her earn her first-ever Worlds slot. LeAnne, you've remained pragmatic and mission-focused, even when the going got tough. Don't underestimate the power of grit or gratitude -- they will lend you much-needed mental strength throughout the race.
Congratulations to all who qualified and best of luck to all those competing.
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