Laurel & Rebeccah Wassner

Professional Triathletes

 




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      MEET LAUREL                MEET BEC 

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Tuesday
Dec022014

Sarah's Recap of racing 26.2 Miles in Seven Days

Our younger sister Sarah (and mom of three) has been racing up a storm. Over the Thanksgiving week she braved three races in a seven day period. If that wasn't impressive enough, she ran fast and added a PR to her record books. Sarah is finishing out this year as a runner, but is going to transfer her leg speed and years as a competitive swimmer to triathlons in 2015. In the meantime, read Sarah's race recaps to see just how fast she ran and how she managed to do so. 

-Laurel and Bec

Race Recap: TCS Annapolis Running Classic Half-Marathon by Sarah Wassner Flynn

“Head strong, heart strong, legs strong.” It’s funny the things you come up with while running. When my quads starting tightening up around mile 8 of the TCS Annapolis Running Classic Half-Marathon, I began repeating this mantra over and over in my mind.  It worked: I willed those legs to power me over the next 5.1 miles to my second-fastest half ever—1:36:40.

I didn’t set out to run a PR. Given the both the cold outside (19 degrees at the 7:05 a.m. start. BRRR!) and the cold I caught earlier in the week, I gave myself a break and made a plan just to run smart. Start at an easy pace, build as I go, finish strong. I’ve had enough disastrous long runs to know exactly what plagues me: Going out too fast and falling apart around mile 10. 

 

So I started about a minute back in the pack with my training partner, Julie, taking the first mile super comfortably. I even worried a little when I saw my split (7:31), as I thought perhaps that was too quick. I didn’t really have a goal time, just a goal: To run evenly and maybe even negative split, a feat I’ve never mastered. Soon, I spotted Colleen of Live Free and Run in the crowd, and we chatted for a bit. I’m usually not one to strike up a conversation in a race, but I felt really relaxed. It was a nice—and brief—distraction to touch base.

 

For the first four miles, the course winds around downtown Annapolis, which I loved despite the many turns. I thought about the weekend Mark and I spent there last summer, when we took a sunset cruise and sipped cocktails by the water. The only sipping I was doing was on the ice cold water, but again, I had a nice little distraction to get me through that initial part of the course.

 

Should I have been more focused on the race? To the people I should be passing? To the women passing me? Maybe. But for a while, I mentally checked out, lost in my thoughts as though I was on a solo run.  I just let my legs do their thing and didn’t even look at my watch. Before I knew it, I was cresting up the Severn River Bridge (about an 80-foot stretch), one of the few major climbs on the course. I passed a few people, then tried to use the downhill to loosen up and shake out my tightening quads.

 

Which is when that mantra popped into my head.  I did a quick head-to-toe inventory. I was feeling good everywhere else except for those darn quads. I was finally warming up after being bitter cold at the start. I had feeling in my fingers. So I knew I could take control of the situation if I just stayed in a positive mind space and didn’t let my legs bring me down. Head strong, heart strong, legs strong. After a series of rolling hills, we hit a turnaround near mile 8. I began counting the  top women and cheering for them (another distraction…). As I got to number 9, I realized I was next! I had no clue I had made my way into the top ten…especially since we started pretty far back in the crowd.

 

This fueled me further. I didn’t want to finish in 11th. I kept up the momentum as we summited the bridge yet again. It hurt. But I had just about three miles to go. So I worked. I passed a woman whose ponytail I’d been chasing since mile 5. I dug deep, running to the beat of DMB’s Ants Marching (it always puts me in a good mood, so it’s a great pick-me-up song).  Without looking at my watch, I knew my pace had dropped. But…there was a short but significant hill leading into mile 12. I could no longer talk my legs out of being tired. They tightened up, and I could feel my body slumping. A woman passed me, and I tried to keep up, but I felt like I was standing still. I still had a little fight in me, though, and gave myself a quick peptalk. You are less than a mile away from the finish of a half-marathon.  You. Can. Do. This.  When I saw the stadium, I opened up my stride and sped into the finish line with a smile.

 

Turns out that the woman who passed me started at the front of the pack, so, based on chip time, I beat her by 4 seconds.  I feel a lot less defeated about letting her go—plus I squeaked into the top 10 with as close to a negative split as I’ve ever ran.  And it’s my first AG podium in a half-marathon! All in all, it was a really good day for both me and Julie, who PR’d with an impressive negative split finish. She’s tough.  FINAL STATS: 10th/ 1614 overall women, 1st/327 for age-group

 

KINDA/SORTA SPLITS (Garmin was a little off…)

Mile 1: 7:31

Mile 2: 7:24

Mile 3: 7:13

Mile 4: 7:30

Mile 5: 7:14

Mile 6: 7:14

Mile 7: 7:20  

Mile 8: 7:21

Mile 9: 7:24

Mile 10: 7:20 

Mile 11: 7:15 

Mile 12: 6:45

Mile 13: 7:27  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Race Recap: Fairfax Turkey Trot and Turkey Burnoff 10-Miler by Sarah Wassner Flynn

What’s gotten in to me? I raced 26.2 miles this week, definitely an all-time high—minus that one marathon I did in 2000. After the Annapolis Half-Marathon, I tacked on a 5K five days later, and a 10-miler just three days after that. And I’m still standing!

The 5K—a Turkey Trot—was a given. It’s a tradition. We chose the Fairfax Turkey Trot, a new race, based on proximity and the fact that the Trot we’ve done for the past three years wasn’t being held this year. Off to downtown Fairfax we went (Maureen, Paul, Kristen and me), froze our butts off, and I raced a decent but unremarkable 5K. I decided to hold back a bit because I wasn’t warmed up and immediately felt short of breath as soon as the gun went off. My legs felt fine despite the fact I hadn’t run since the half-marathon. (Whoops.) But I didn’t like the way my upper body was reacting, and I even felt a little faint. So I cruised the entire thing, running 6:24, 6:29, 6:49 splits (that last mile was mostly uphill, but I also shut it down knowing I had my position locked in place), turning in a 20:34 finish. Not my best, not my worse. I let a woman I was running with go after mile 2.5 and regret that; but as it turns out I won my age-group (out of 131) and finished 4th/560 overall. I’ll take it.  

 

On to the 10-miler. This was also a given since it’s part of MCRRC’s Low-Key Race Series. I had to do it collect points, so I didn’t give myself the option to back out. Plus, I knew I’d be ok with a 10-miler since the half felt so good just a week before. It was a two-loop course and the race director promised “plenty of hills to make sure you burn all of that turkey off.” Whatever, I can handle hills, right?! So, Julie and I chatted up until the gun and neither of us seemed very nervous (but we were cold). I took a quick glance around me at the start and spotted some speedy women in the bunch and figured I wasn’t going to be in it to win it. (Not the best attitude, but it helped solidify my laissez faire approach to the race). So, the gun goes off, and I hold back without holding too much back. I caught up to other women, passed them, they passed me back. This kind of back-and-forth used to drive me crazy. I couldn’t stand trading leads with people—once I passed them, I would be determined to drop them. But lately, I’ve been much more successful in attempting to run my own race and let the cards fall where they may. 

 

So, I let my legs lead the way and kept my head completely out of it. In all honesty, I was trying to hit sub 7:30s. But after the first half holding closer to 7:10’s despite the hills, I decided to just go with it. I ran with another woman for a while, but it was clear she was running much harder than I was (I tried to chat with her at mile 5 and she spat out a one-word reply and then sped up.) I’m still not mentally comfortable running anything above 5 miles, and I find myself seeking out distractions: Looking for Julie at every out and back definitely helped—we passed each other three times, and I got a quick burst of energy each time (she was doing awesome, on her way to another PR and negative split!). Then, bonus: I realized that the woman who had been in front of me until mile 8 or so was actually an old high-school teammate. By that time, my face was frozen and I really couldn’t talk, but we did exchange a few words as I ran by—and it gave me something else to think about for the next couple of miles. 

 

Despite the cold, the hills, and my wandering mind, I truly enjoyed the entire race. But I wasn’t in race mode—it was more like a tempo run. Still, by the time I reached the crest of the hill before the final turn to the finish line, I was ready for it to end. I never really warmed up, and my legs had had enough of the hills.  I noticed Mark and the kids standing there and gave them a half-hearted wave, then tried to power in to the end. I could barely hit the stop button on my Garmin with my numb fingers, but was pretty excited when I saw the results. Official time: 1:11:37 (5-mile split: 35:22)…A PR! 7th OA/121; 3rd/19 Age-group

 

SPLITS

6:50, 6:48,7:24, 6:53, 7:19 (loop 1)

6:53, 7:09,7:28,6:59,7:28 (loop 2)

 

Next up, the Jingle Bell Jog 8K on 12/14. Time to beat: 33:28.

 

 

 

Monday
Nov032014

Miami 70.3 5th place

Last weekend I competed in the Miami 70.3 triathlon.  I'm just getting to my race report because the weekend/weeks before and after have been a bit of a blur of exhaustion!  I learned a lesson in race prep, for sure, but also felt like I did what I could with what I have.  That's always been my mantra: use what I HAVE (not what I want or what I think is perfect) and do my best with it.  And, I know, I'm very fortunate to have a lot.  Thank you family, friends and sponsors!  Focusing on this and not what others are doing is sometimes hard but is really the only way to succeed.  And, it brought me another top 5 finish.  

I wanted to race in Miami for Kona points, experience, money, and a good result.  I worked hard on my running to get in the kind of shape where I thought a win was possible, and a podium very likely if I had good luck.  Looking at the travel expense was a bit depressing however, and what if I had bad luck...  After much searching I found a cheap airfare, a discounted hotel room (thank you Citibank!), a free ride to the airport and decided to do the best with what I had - one night in Miami, a few very, very early mornings and late nights, and the possibility of having a great race.  

I geared myself up for it, made it to the race meeting (barely), and put my head down and raced as hard as I could.  I felt good in the water and had a solid swim.  I got on my bike and by 8 miles had caught the lead pack.  However, I was at the end of the pack and when a pro guy cut in front of me I sat up to avoid a penalty and subsequently lost the train.  I worked so hard to catch but by then we had turned onto a highway with a massive headwind.  All I could do was watch them pull away.  Instead of giving up, I focused on minimizing the gap and at the turnaround I was suprised to see the group wasn't too far ahead.  Unfortunately, that was short lived as a massive tailwind didn't play into my favor.  I just didn't have a big gear on my bike to push hard and get the speed of the bigger athletes.  The guys I had passed on the way out came screaming by me.  Mentally, this was a very challenging bike ride.  I was very happy to get off the highway and back onto the streets.  I even caught back up to a guy who passed me on the one tiny hill in the race!  

Getting off the bike to start the run, I had no idea how far back I was but I knew I had my work cut out for me if I wanted a good place.  I went out hard but soon realized my legs weren't responding.  I was trying hard but not running the paces that usually come easily.  I was looking at my watch every five seconds thinking maybe it was wrong, but nope, still said closer to 7 minute pace.  Ironman pace!  Not going to win a race when girls were running 6.  I wasn't my usual smiling self.  I got a bit of a boost coming back into the city on the last lap - thank you crowds! - and was able to finish strong but was still 2 or so minutes from Leanda (4th) at the end.  

I think this was the most difficult race from a mental standpoint this year.  And physically, in hindsight the travel probably tired me out, but I really did not let myself think about that one bit.  I was more impressed with myself for staying focused on the bike and using what I had - my determination - to minimize the damage.  In the end, that is probably what secured a 5th place finish.  In the past, I have had bike splits balloon out of control when things get rough or the course doesn't suit my strengths.  

If it's one thing to takeaway from this race is use what you have.  If it's an amazing run, or an unwavering focus, or a really fast bike set up.  Use it and and use it hard!  

Congrats to Magali, Lauren, Amanda and Leanda for their strong races and thank you Miami for the crazy atmosphere.  Next time I'll stay for some food other than gel or powder based products!!

Next up some international travel - Queen of Bermuda Tri and Challenge Bahrain.  

Thanks for reading and thank you for the support.  

Smile- it's so much better that frowning through a triathlon, believe me!

Laurel

 

Saturday
Oct112014

Racing Back-to-Back: two races in two days

Thursday
Oct022014

Ironman Chattagnooga - 4th place!

If you told me last year that I'd be doing my second Ironman in the span of 3 months I would have rolled my eyes and laughed.  If you told me that I'd do the second of those in 9 hours and 14 minutes I would have had no idea whether that was fast or slow.  For my entire triathlon career, I have been focused running a fast 10k after biking and swimming as hard as possible.  And, I love that.  But, I also realized after racing Challenge Atlantic City that I also love trying to run a fast marathon (after biking and swimming). 

So, Bec and I decided I should give it another go and signed up for Ironman Chattanooga.  I originally planned to do Mt. Tremblant, a race with a bigger prize purse, but those points do not apply for qualifying for the Ironman World Championships in Kona for 2015.  A person can only run so many marathons, so I figured I should wait and do a race with points and get a headstart in the qualification process for next year.  The goal of this race was to get points on the board for Kona and now I have 960...a long way to go but it's a start!  I also had a goal running time, but when we arrived in Chattanooga on Friday I quickly realized that would be extremely difficult/impossible with 10 miles of huge hills.

Of course, I also had the goal of a podium finish, but that too was made more difficult when we realized the swim was in a raging downcurrent river.  The swim was won by Anna Cleaver in under 40 minutes!  I won't go into the details of my swim, will just say it was slowed down, even in a fast river.  I came out of the water in chase pack (41 minutes!!)  but instead of 9-12 minute lead I was expecting we only had about 3-6.  Not ideal and frustrating not to be able to use my swim strength to my advantage, but a race is a race and I knew I still had the chance to have a strong bike and run fast.  

After about 30 minutes of riding I settled into 3rd position with Malaika and Bec.  Anglea was on a mission and caught us about 45 minutes into the ride.  She had a great day and went on to win her first Ironman! (Congrats Angela!!)  Meanwhile, we were riding a fairly relaxed pace.  Mostly I was just trying to stay legal in our three person paceline.  The rolling hills made that hard to do and I spent a lot of time sitting up and soft pedaling.  Weird to do that in a race!  Around 70 miles, I just couldn't take it anymore and I made a move - the good thing about having a twin is that we can read each other's minds and after a few minutes I looked back to check and there was Bec with the motorcycle behind her.  We had made a break and kept up our solid pace for the rest of the ride.  When I passed her, I even said, "Isn't this fun?".  She responded by pushing the pace for a solid 90 minutes.  Bec can really ride when she is motivated.

I started the run in 3rd and stayed there for 8 or so miles when Ruth came flying by.  Then Jennie came flying by.  I started to try to match their paces but decided to do my own thing since it was so early on in the race.  When we got to the hills and then the second lap things got crowded and I didn't have any idea where I was until a guy on a bike told me I was about 62 seconds from 3rd.  Then another guy on a bike told pointed out 3rd place up the road.  I had no idea I was still in podium contention.  It was a great boost.  Thank you mystery guys!!  One of them even went back to find Bec.  He came back to tell me she wasn't there and hadn't registered a split since 13.5 miles.  I freaked out a bit and just went as fast as I could til the end.  Jennie was in third place fighting too so I didn't make up much ground but I ended up doing my last mile in a little over 6 minutes!  And I felt great.  Close, but no cigar as my grandfather would say.  I couldn't believe how good my legs felt, 9 hours and 14 minutes of exercise and I was ready for more.  That leaves me confident for the next one and I know I can become good at this distance of racing.

The long drive back to NYC gave me time to think about the race.  I had thoughts of wishing I had gone faster, yes, but more forefront in my mind was HOW ON EARTH DID I DO THAT?  

1) Equipment:  I felt confident and comfortable with my gear.  Thank you Cervelo for my fast little bike, ISM for a super comfortable saddle (not a single bit of discomfort all 116 miles), ROKA for my speedsuit, Rudy Project for a comfy helmet and a choice of lenses (I opted to use the red lenses because it was overcast).  Thanks to Nate and Doug at Bikeway for making sure my bike was overhauled and ready to race.  Also, special thanks to the New York Athletic Club for their support in getting me to the race.  Driving down to Chattanooga also helped, since I didn't have to pack and reassemble my bike.  Things always seem to go awry in the airplane travel.  

2) I enjoyed every minute of it. (Well, not the traffic on the second loop of the bike course- that was scary!).  I loved racing with Bec and having my mom and dad there to support us.  It's always good to have the team of people who believe in you most there for support.  

3) Preparation: I made some sacrifices in order to make sure I had did everything to prepare for this race like a professional.  Bec and I did a "run-through" the Sunday before the race where we practiced our watts/hr, nutrition, and legal paceline riding.  That was a key session for both of us.  While my training was not high volume (longest run was 90 mins, longest ride 85 miles), it was consistent and quality. I am grateful to my reliable and willing training partners to help me get through some hard days - thank you Anne Thilges, David Welby, Brad Austin and Monica Moreno.  Want to ride for two hours around a 1 mile loop? Sure!  Want to run up a mountain in 100+ degrees?  OK!  Good people are everything! 

3) Motivation and Determination:  After a very disappointing race at Hy-Vee, I was more motivated than ever to make up for that result.  I witnessed some amazing performances in Mt. Tremblant that really fired me up. Another thing that's really motivating to me is doubters and negative feedback.  That's just always going to happen, but I always find it can be be a weapon if you don't dwell on it.  Someone insults you or doubts your abilities?? Prove them wrong!!  

For anyone interested in registering for this race, I highly recommend it.  Chattanooga is a great town.  We are going to do a blog post about the things to do there since there are so many. 

Congrats to anyone reading this that raced and especially to Angela Naeth, Ruth Brennan Morrey and Jennie Hansen for their podium finishes.  I have no doubt those three will be in Kona next year and make an impact.

Thank you to the fans in Chattanooga, especially those guys on the bikes.  It was amazing to have so much support on the course.  And if you volunteered and I didn't get so say thanks when I got a drink - Thank you!  My legs are now recovered from those hills and I will resume training tomorrow for my next race October 26 in Oceanside, CA.  

 

Saturday
Sep132014

Check out AthleteFood.com!

Athlete Food has expanded and now has it's very own website. Please check www.athletefood.com  for the latest healthy fueling ideas, quick nutrient-dense recipes or if you're just wondering what it's like to eat like an athlete

What is Athlete Food?

Athlete food is a collection of recipes for active people, created by athletes and designed for the inner athlete in all of us. We all wish we could eat whatever we want, whenever we want. But eating a breakfast burrito before a morning spin class or a BLT before a tennis match or skipping lunch before a mom and me swim class…none of these things make us feel our best. Believe us, we’ve been there. With over 10 years of competing behind us, we’ve had plenty of time to figure out what foods work and which leave us wondering, "Why did I eat that?"

We started this blog, along with our good friend and food writer, Melissa, to share our experiences with fueling an active lifestyle. Our friends and family wanted to know: What do you eat before a workout? How do you refuel? How do you fit cooking into your jam-packed schedules? The short answer is REAL food – not just boiled chicken breasts and packaged energy bars – and a lot of it! Take a look at our recipes and you’ll see that we indulge in sweets, we experiment with the latest superfoods, and we pack as many nutrients as we can into our healthy dinners.

Thursday
Aug212014

Sarah's IronGirl Columbia Race Report 

Guestblogger Sarah joins us today with her report from IronGirl Columbia. We couldn't be prouder of our little sis for fighting her way to a second place OVERALL finish. Just how did she pull that off? Continue reading to find out. --Laurel and Bec

IronGirl Columbia Race Report

As I stood among a sea of women in multi-colored caps, I couldn’t have been more pumped to race. It had been nearly a year since I entered a triathlon. But after a (mostly) successful few months of training–uninterrupted by injury or illness—I was confident and excited about  this race. Besides, I’d always wanted to complete an Irongirl. No time like, uh, right now.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Aug132014

Norway 70.3 Open-Faced Salmon Avocado Sandwich 

It turns out my trip to Norway last month got me more than just a $2750 novelty-sized check. The points I earned by finishing in second place qualified me for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships coming up on September 5. Competing in this race was one of my biggest goals for this season so I’m pretty excited to be given the opportunity to line up against the world’s best in Mont Tremblant, Quebec in a few weeks.

I was only in Norway for a few days, but I did my best to take in as much as I could. Most of my sightseeing was done during the 56 mile bike leg of the race. The scenery was stunning with winding roads and views of fjords around every corner. Even though we were way out in the countryside, there were local fans at top of every rise, cheering on everyone who rode by. It was cold and rainy, so the fans were bundled up in parkas and gloves. I stuck out as the crazy American racing in a bathing suit! Even though it was mid-July, this was not beach weather.

photo from Lava.com

As for the food, everywhere I went, I saw open faced smoked fish sandwiches. I even had one (without the bread) the night before the race…and then the next morning I ran my fastest half marathon in years (1:23). Now that I’m back in training for this big race, I’ve been fueling with my own version of a Norwegian salmon sandwich, in hopes that it will power me to another top finish.

--Bec                                                      

Open-Faced Salmon Avocado Sandwich

Ingredients:

2 slices multi-grain bread

1/2 avocado, sliced

2-3 slices of smoked salmon

sliced cucumber 

fresh dill

How to Assemble:

Layer avocado slices on bread and mash down with a fork,

Top with a few slices of smoked salmon, a few slices of cucumber and some fresh dill.

Finish with a few grinds of pepper. 

 

Wednesday
Aug132014

Fall Race Schedule

We've made some updates to our schedule for the second half of the season. Check out the third race on the list. That would be an Ironman for BOTH twins. Bec's first! 

Photo by LJW. Bec running up the driveway after a day or Ironman training.