Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Worlds Greatest Race Report: Muncie, Indiana 8/6/2014

     A couple of months ago Mary Ann Sedor, co-founder of INTENT, said "The best race is a boring race". Simply meaning, the best race is one were everything goes perfect with no equipment or nutritional issues. To put it simply...this race was far from perfect.

     Flash forward to the week of September 4th and it was time to race the Muncie Sprint Triathlon. After previously doing this race in the spring, not have my best performance, I was excited to see the work that was done over summer working with Coach Guy and the awesome INTENT teammates. After some confusion about driving during the week, I decided to work on Friday, then drive down alone when work ended. Due to personal reasons over the last couple months, I would have rather repeated the drive home the day after Collegiate Nationals in Tempe, Arizona, hungover and dying in the back seat, then travel to Muncie, Indiana. However, after a semi-eventful drive of attempting to outsmart Mapquest and a monstrous thunderstorm, I arrived at the hotel were Bob Jones let me sleep on his floor.

                                (Early morning training session at the INTENT Training Facility)

     Race Morning: After a night of tossing and turning in my sleeping bag, we got our wake up call at 4:45am and out the door by 5:15am. A forecast calling for rain had me kind of nervous the race might get delayed or cancelled. After arriving and getting checked in, it was still dark out and we had a couple hours until the start so I took a quick 15 minute nap and relaxed in my car before heading out to do a warm up. At 6:45am I asked the volunteer checking athletes in what time it transition closes. Her response was, "Transition will close at 7:45am", so I thought "Perfect, more than enough time to get a good run and bike warm up before a swim warm up". Going out onto the run course, I ran a mile down and it started to have a misty rain so I went under a pavilion and did some calisthenics to loosen up. Running back the mist stopped so I went out onto my bike around 7:10am. After coming back into transition, the volunteer(who at times was friendly, others not so much) was telling people transition closed. Fortunately, there was a handful of us who had gotten the incorrect information and still had to set up transition so we quickly got in and got out. With the National Anthem playing, I was unable to get a swim warm up in so I had my wetsuit and tri kit halfway on while waiting for the start.

     With the multiple races going on at once(Tri, du, aquathon, 5k, mini marathon) I was under the impression we started after the olympic, so I started talking to some people from ISU and a couple other people. A triathlete from ISU, Abby, was competing in her first triathlon, which means the pre race excitement was at an all time high. Watching her bounce with nerves and anticipation not only led to great entertainment for the people watching, but it gave me confidence in the work and coaching I have had over the last three months because I was not nervous at all, simply confident that I'd have a good performance.

     Race: After half of the olympic athletes started the race, the announcers quickly said they were starting the sprint race, although half of the olympic athletes were still waiting. After hearing this I sprinted down to the start line to be in the first wave and as I was zipping up my wetsuit, the zipper wouldn't move. 10 seconds to start and neither a man I asked or me could get it to zip. I quickly ripped off the wetsuit, another guy took it, and I ended up starting about 50 seconds after the beginning wave(My time doesn't start until I cross the start line). Two dolphin dives in, I suddenly feel my timing chip come loose, in about 7 feet deep of water. Instantly thinking about a youth triathlon when an INTENT Youth Team athlete forgot to take his helmet off when heading to the run. Coach Rick, the other co - founder of INTENT, just yelled at Jasper to drop his helmet and keep running. Quickly grabbing the chip, I decided to keep swimming and held it in a fist in my left hand. Because of this, I was left with only my right arm getting a pull on the swim. Although this was a bummer for the swim, I was able to catch up to the back half of the first wave and then pass four or five others in transition. (400 meters: 6:53 w/out wetsuit and one arm)

     Bike: For the bike, the ground was wet with a slight wind in every direction. I had known the course from racing previously here so I knew there was some rolling hills but nothing to be overwhelmed about. After the first mile, feeling awesome, I was going over a bump in the road and BAM! A bracket on my aero bar cracked and was just barely hanging on. After this previously happened to my other aero bar(due to a callback on the brackets last year), I knew there was a chance of making it back to T2 for the run if I don't put to much pressure on it. Going half aero/half upright, I was able to hold ground on the bike and started the run in 9th, not including the :50 second delayed start. (12.5 miles: 22.3 MPH)

                                                             (Broken Aero Bar Bracket)

    Run: After a quick T2, I was feeling solid for the run, something I have been working on over the summer. Although I won't say specific workouts (you'll need to stop by the INTENT Training Facility to get those), I will credit my performance to great controlled workouts and the added strength component to our training regimens. Seeing a couple other runners and feeling strong, I had the mindset I would be able to outrun and if needed, outmuscle several athletes on the run. After running the first mile in 6:05 and passing a couple others I took a little off while trying to keep the pressure on. After a second mile at 6:27 the pain started to come throughout my body, so naturally, I started singing "Bring Sally Up, Bring Sally Down", thinking of how we have been through more pain and harder workouts at the training facility and that I would get through this last mile or so winning my age group because of it. After a 6:10 third mile I still had to get my timing chip out of my back pocket so while fumbling around for that I finished the 5k in 19:58.
                                                                 (Post race festivities)

    Overall, I am happy with my performance, 1st AG/6th OA, and to have qualified for the USATriathlon National Championship in 2015(Lets hope it's in California!). Way to go super stud duathlete Bob Jones on your 2nd place finish in the olympic distances duathlon, congratulations to ISU athletes Andrew Seipol on winning the aqauthon and Abigail house for completing your first triathlon this weekend. I would like to also congratulate an INTENT athlete Kelly Puah and my future roommate, Coree Woltering, who killed it at the 70.3 World Championships today. Also to INTENT teammates Brandon Engle and Jon Smail, who are currently rocking Ironman Wisconsin.
                                            (INTENT athlete Bob Jones - 2nd place duathlon)

Thank you to the entire INTENT organization, SKINS, Skratch laboratory, and FnA bicycle shop for all of your support. Happy training to everyone and hope to see you this week!

Email -
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Instagram - mattjennings1991

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tentative race schedule 2014 and some other cool stuff

Hey everyone,

It's been about two weeks since my last post and it has been quite the eventful two weeks of offseason training. To start off with, Team INTENT opened up their training center! For those of you that don't know what a training gym is, it's a place where people have the ability to train for their upcoming race season or to work out in general. To go along with the state of the art WaHoo KICKR's for cycling training, INTENT provides athletes with  all the necessary tools for strength training, cross-fit, and functional strength classes.

                                                                 *Race with Intent*
                                            Coach Mary Ann explaining how to use power

                                                     Where are you, Benjamin Mommer?

Now onto a tentative race schedule for the rest of the 2014 year. I started out the season a couple weeks ago at the local indoor tri. This was a good way to get some baseline fitness testing done and see the progress that has been made since September.

The next organized race I will do is the Chicago Shamrock Shuffle 8k on March 30, 2014. I chose this for a variety of reasons, with the after party ultimately making it an easy choice. I ran this last year absolutely loved the race. For my first official 8k, I really enjoyed the distance. It's not to short, as a 5k, but not as long as a 10k. The other great parts of this race include the theme, number of participants, and ultimately running through the streets of Chicago.
                                                            Shamrock Shuffle 2013

The next race is the Chicago Spring Half Marathon on May 18, 2014. I originally had very little intention of running another half marathon until Amanda Carey posted on the FNRC Facebook page that they had free registration. After looking through other races I wanted to compete in and seeing 25 - 30 people I know sign up it became another easy choice.

In reference to my first blog post about the "triathlon lifestyle", the way everyone helped each other out in getting the limited free spots really showed the camaraderie in the sport.  

                                               A sunset that made me want to ride outside

Now onto summer, I have so far chosen to compete in the Chicagoland tri series races. These include Leon's Triathlon on June 1, 2014 followed by ITU World Triathlon Chicago on June 29, 2014 and finishing up with the Chicago Triathlon on Sunday August 24, 2014.

The race venue for ITU World Triathlon Chicago! Buckingham Fountain!

Lastly, I plan on competing in a couple of sprint triathlons and possibly an early season olympic down south. The main reason for this is to qualify early enough for Age Group Nationals which our located in Milwaukee.

   My new nightly ritual of icing my foot

A couple of other fun events I have are the Elmhurst criterium, Xterra Indiana and Wisconsin, and a couple of century rides. If anybody knows of any of these I'd love to hear about them and check out other races.

Finally, I am excited to announce my Level 3 cycling certification has officially come through. I look forward to this being one of the first steps into what I hope to be able to do and would like to thank everyone who has helped me so far.

Happy training everyone,

Matt Jennings

Ways to reach me:

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The craziness is set to begin

What to begin with,

The past couple weeks of training have been consistent and I've been thinking about what my intention for starting this blog is. As much as I'd love to tell everyone about my ever intense treadmill workouts or trainer rides, which are much harder then Wyatt's or Ben's, I think each post I will try to cover a topic within a recap of the last couple weeks. This way I believe us triathletes, endurance athletes and people who want to become involved can bounce information off each other, thus helping us all improve.

For this post, I have chosen to talk about the benefits of proper nutrition. The reason I chose this is because I have slightly adjusted my diet, which has lead to me feeling the fittest I have ever felt. As nutrition differs for every person, I'll probably be criticized by nutritionists out there, these are personal opinions.

            *Thank you Bernie Conway from 140point6 Computrainer Lab for the phenomenal bike fit*

     As most triathletes know, you often start by out in the sport by having background in running or swimming and decide to venture into something new and more challenging. For me, I started out by doing a 5k and moving up in distance until focusing on triathlons. As I started out, I didn't pay much attention to nutrition except for the night before carb load with pasta.

                              Random photo - My 7th grade weight set(which if anyone wants take it)

     As a person continues to compete in the sport, they gradually learn more information from a variety of different sources. This could be training partners, seminars, websites and many other places. The one thing that is never consistent however is that nothing is consistent. For example, if you hangout with body builders, their diets will be drastically different then a group of cross country runners.

                                                  Pre-run = watermelon/banana/granola bar

     For me, it has taken awhile to find out what works. I believe it is impossible to know exactly what you need nutritionally, as our bodies are constantly changing as we progress. In my last post, I mentioned how I am extremely run focused this off season. Like the majority of people, I like to feel light on my feet and have a very fluid form. For this reason, I eat a great amount of fruits and vegetables. This allows me to not feel quick and loose, such as a gazelle. I try to avoid a ton of processed carbs such as pasta or sandwiches, which make me feel bloated and lazy.

                                            Post workout = Carbs/Protein/Fruits/Vegetables
                                (Photo from NIU dorm food..only healthy thing I could find their)

     After I workout, I often eat more than any person should. This is especially true after long bike rides or swim sets, were I constantly find myself snacking the rest of the day. For me, the post workout meal is just as important as the workout itself because it refuels the body and gives you energy for the rest of the day and a second workout. Although I rarely don't go without eating or stretching after a workout, I often become tired and regretful when I do. This is because in the back of my mind, I know I didn't do what is necessary for me to get better and I am opening myself up to injury and lesser results.

Lastly, I titled this post, "The craziness is set to begin", for a reason. My coaches, Rick and Mary Ann have officially announced the grand opening of their INTENT Multisport Training Facility for Tuesday, April 15. I haven't been able to make it up there in the last couple of weeks due to work and school hours but I have heard nothing but incredible things. The amount of work that has been put into the facility leaves no doubt that this will be an incredible place to train at. I am extremely excited to begin working out with everyone to become better athletes. I also look forward to working with all the coaches, helping all triathletes meet or surpass their goals.

If anybody has a suggestion for next weeks topic or until race season starts, feel free to leave it in the comment section.

Things I noticed this week:
*Importance of angles and degrees for a bike fit
*Chicken Breast sandwiches with spinach artichoke dip is a delicious post workout meal

It's supposed to warm up the rest of this week and next so hopefully everyone can get out for a run, stay safe and watch out for black ice!

See you all out there

Contact info:
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Twitter - @MattJennings9_1
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Monday, February 3, 2014

First triathlon blog post. 2/3/14

Hi everyone, for my first blog it will be kinda long and just a little background about how I got into racing where I'm currently at for the upcoming race season.

Most of the people reading this know me. If you don't, my name is Matt Jennings. I'm a 22 year old college student and triathlete from Frankfort, Il. The reason I have started this blog is to help network with other triathletes and to keep my friends and family(Grandma's) updated on whats going on.

To begin with,

I started getting into endurance sports through my sister, Amanda, by signing up for different distance run race including the Soldier Field 10 miler, Palos Bank Half Marathon, and eventually leading up to the Indianapolis Marathon in October, 2011.
                                  (Post Indianapolis Marathon..lots of pain/cramping at this point)

During that time I started riding bikes on the trail and eventually became hooked on riding. In January, 2012, I transferred to Northern Illinois University and joined the triathlon club right when I got there and was instantly hooked. Along with the great teammates I had at this time, I was incredibly fortunate to have Coach Mike Kanute. Before joining, I didn't know much about triathlons but at a meeting, Coach talked about the "triathlon lifestyle" and how it becomes more than just working out and racing. After a couple weeks I realized he was talking about all the camaraderie, corny jokes, feeling perfectly comfortable in public places wearing bike spandex, road trips and tons of other traits that make the sport so unique(All of which will be talked about through different posts). Through the teams experience and school's resources, we were able to compete in several different races including three National Championships, three of the greatest weekends of my life. Twice at the University of Alabama and once at Arizona State University.

                                                    NIU Triathlon Club - University of Alabama

                                                        Arizona 2013 -  Pre-race day ride

                                                                           Swim Practice

Arizona - My favorite place in the entire world

During the beginning of the last summer, my work schedule differed with my riding partner, Ron Kittler, so I was often training alone.
*On a side note, I would like to thank Ron, owner of FnA Bicycles, for all the support, riding and complete craziness we have while riding. *
Anyway, there was a couple of different groups I had previously heard about and trained a little bit with, but never really connected with them. Eventually, I was lucky enough to run into Jeff, Kim, and Pam along the trail one Saturday and they invited me to a ride the next day. I absolutely loved the 40 mile route, pace, and group but decided I needed time to by a new bicycle.
                                                              (Insert creative name here)

I ended up training with this group throughout the summer which included a trip up to the Ironman Wisconsin course and multiple 80 mile rides.

"Triathlon Lifestyle moment" - Not going out with your friends on a Friday night so you can wake up at 5: 30am to go on an 80 mile bicycle ride.

As summer went on I stuck to the MECTC race circuit which included Rockford triathlon, Evergreen triathlon, Muncie Conference Championships and Tri-the-Illini. Every race was a different experience whether it's sleeping in the back of your car, pre-race party, and meeting dozens of new people every weekend there is always something to learn.

As summer came to a close, I was able to work myself into a position at work and decided to take a semester off of school. During this time the group I was training with was looking for a new club to join. This is how, through Jeff, I met Mary Ann Sedor and Rick Schopp. They are the owners of Intent Endurance Sports Club, Unlike the previous clubs I had tried, I felt a positive connection and similar outlooks on racing and "intentions" for why we do what we do. Over the last couple months we have worked together and I am proud to say I'm on their race team and one of the coaches for their youth/juniors teams.
To go along with working with at Intent and other jobs. I am back to taking classes at Governors State University, Joliet Junior College, and Second City Chicago trying to figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life after I graduate in December 2014.
                                                              Intent Riding Jersey

Lastly, I decided to end my season one race early(Purdue) due to being tired and really fatigued. It was something I didn't want to do because the course is incredibly fast and competitive, but I knew it was the best decision. I then decided to take 4 weeks off swimming completely and slowly work my way back into it so I can focus on running. Yesterday, I competed in my first race of the year and can now say that the decisions made months in advance are now paying off greatly. My swim was sub-par for me but I made the mistake of not getting a serious warm-up, did 200 of normal 900, and I went out way to fast for the first 300. I ended up being 175 yards short of 15 min PR but somewhat expected that for the decrease in swimming. I went into the bike not knowing exactly how to use a basic stationary bike. For the first couple minutes I was going out decently hard but looked over and saw Michelle(Cough, Cough, Amanda) was further than I was. Amanda is a great cyclist but I knew that shouldn't have been happening so I adjusted the resistance settings and cranked the RPM's up to 140 or above. My right glute started to cramp up but I knew I wouldn't be able to pedal out of it since the RPM's were already up so high so I figured since it was only 11 minutes left I could just get through it and hope nothing bad happens. I ended up close to the top of the bike and quickly drank water and stretched out for as long as they would let me. Next came the run portion of the race which I was more excited for than any other race I have ever been in. Our wave had only four people in it, which my sister randomly knew the two others very well through her boyfriend. We all started at the same time and after the first half a lap I was all alone. I did the first lap in 42 seconds but felt that was a very comfortable pace. I knew if I wanted to win 1st overall I would have to place at the top of the run so I decided to pick it up a little more. As for my specific splits I don't know but it came out to 5:58 minute miles for 15 minutes. This set the course record which I was happy about but more what was even more encouraging was being able to go that fast after the sup-par swim and cramp on the bike.

                                                               Run portion of indoor tri
                                                     What my evening activities include


Most posts won't be this long but there was a lot of information I wanted to get out there and how I got to where I'm at now.
Anybody looking to train or just starting to get into triathlons/running/endurance sports can feel free to connect with me on here, Facebook or Twitter.
Facebook: (May or may not work)

As always, I'd like to thank everyone who's supported me, especially my parents and two sisters, Amanda and Michelle.

Till next week,

Matt Jennings

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man".