Winner, winner, Chicken Dinner!

SSSMST lads and lasses were out and about again over the last couple of weeks.  Locally, we had a few racing at Huntington, but we also had mates in Wisconsin, New Albany, OH and Grafton.  Lets find out how things went in Bay Village:

Patrick K:  Nice morning for racing the Cuyahoga county championship as Henely put it. Fun time, lots of SSSMST in the cheering section. For as honored as I am to be on this team, I continue to be impressed. Before the race the RD asked if anyone would volunteer to fix a ladys tire. Before you know it (before I could step up) I see 2 people in blue & green (walsh & rood) taking care of business. You guys are awesome. Great to see so many friends cheering along the way – including krol, Jeanne, joe, jen p, murphy and the kids cheering was awesome too – my family, the kosturas, walshes and henelys – great family support! Race went well for not training a ton, I will take a decent result!

Brian Kostura:  It has been several years since I’ve had the opportunity to do this race, and it was great to get out on the new course with all the blue and green! Struggled with a pulled neck and stomach cramps throughout the race, but that just increased the challenge. With all the familiar faces around, it was hardly a focus. Aaron, PK, and Walsh blew up the course! Good to see them out there winning their respective age groups, and Aaron with a 3rd Overall!

Mike Schaefer was vacationing in Wisconsin.  What else to do on vacation – fishing, camping…..triathlon!

I’m on vacation in WI, and there happened to be tri going on here – As it turns out, this race has been held since 1979, and my parents both ran it a few times back in the early 80s! I even remember watching them at the same venue; (I was 10yrs old). It is a non-conventional Oly-distance race with a 0.75 mi swim, 28mi bike, and 6 mi run. The bike course was absolutely beautiful, but pretty hilly so I took it slow and saved it for the run. Had great legs on the run and wound up with a PR on the run portion (even with the adjustment for non-metric distance). It was a very classy local race and a nice walk down memory lane! Will definitely consider it when scheduling next year’s vacation… I was 1st in AG (actually 1st man over age 30!) and 5th OA, only 5mim behind leader!

Down in New Albany, OH, Brian Stern won his age group at Challenge New Albany (report forthcoming)

And not only was Aaron Henely killing it at Huntington, Aaron won the overall Our Lady Queen of Peace 5k.  After running a dozen or so miles with rockstar Irongirl Jeanne Debonis!!




Great job all!!!

More race ‘rap ups!

We’ve had a flurry of activity over the last couple of weeks and want to get everyone caught up on our doings.

First we start with the Bay Days 5 miler in Bay Village – a longstanding race on the running circuit:


I suppose everything is a PR if a distance is new to you! This race started out a bit slow for me (not enough warm up? not enough nutrition? not enough sleep?) Regardless, thanks to a few CTC members, I pushed harder miles 2.5-5.
Team makes a huge difference, as do fans…and I was happy to see both team member volunteers and team fans out there cheering. I’ll need to find another 5 miler sometime this summer!

We think Rood had a report from Bay Days as well, but it got lost in translation.

Next we head to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and the Muddy Paws 5k, where Jen P took to the trails:

This was a fun race for a good cause! The morning was beautiful for it too. I was glad I made the venture down to the CVNP for the event and hope to do so for some more fun trail races!

Next up, Team Kostura hit it up in Avon Lake for the Smiles for Sophie 5k:

Bridget: This was a great race with a great cause…confronting pediatric brain cancer. It was well organized, there were lots of kids activities and even a post-race birthday cupcake. It was a lot of fun!

Bridget running in the Avon Lake sunshine

Bridget running in the Avon Lake sunshine

Brian: 4th race pushing Carolynn, and she is definitely getting faster! Good race for a good cause, and very well run. There were a lot of things for racers and spectators to do before and after the race.

Brian and Carolynn enjoying the post race!

Brian and Carolynn enjoying the post race!

And finally we head further west to Lorain where Mike Schaefer and yours truly raced at the Summer Sprint Triathlon:

Mike: Same old Lorain race and I had some cheap local fun despite the wet roads and wind. I had a great swim (first guy 40+ to T1) so I probably handled the waves better than most. I experimented with bigger gears on the bike, and seemed to go well but I paid for it a little on the run. Then again, maybe I’m just not recovered from all the wine tasting earlier this week!! I barely missed 2nd OA by ONE SECOND to a a guy in an earlier wave, but I’m still very happy to be on the podium. Thanks to Jeanne and my sister for cheering and taking pics!

Krol: Even though this race in my hometown has been around for a few years, it’s never quite worked out for me to be able to race it.  Had no idea what to expect with not having raced in quite a while and fighting continued knee problems.  What better way to give it the ol’ college try – little swimming, tons of biking and virtually no running.  Swim was a little wavy which always helps me, and I manage to keep Schaefer within shouting distance at the swim exit.  T1 was a little slow as I debated whether I wanted socks or not. First half of the bike was windy and started to suffer the last mile before the turn around, but was absolutely able to hammer the way back and put the new bike to the test.  Another leisurely transition where I got harassed by DeBonis and got caught up on Mike’s take down of the bike rack.  Just missed having brunch while I was there.  I wasn’t expecting to be able to run at all especially pushing into the headwind for half the bike but I actually didn’t feel too bad. Of course that also equated to running about 8 min miles.  I actually felt pretty good the first two and kind of blew up the third.  Managed to come across the line 8th overall and but my lack of running cost me three places by HUNDREDTHS of seconds!  


Great job everyone!!


Kona Kualifyin’!

SSSMST’s Jeanne DeBonis has been on a absolute tear this season, with overall victories and National Championships to her palmares.  Her latest sortie was toward the Pacific Northwest and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho for Ironman Coeur d’Alene, where she had a date with destiny to try and punch her ticket to the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii later this year.  Let’s hear how it went!

Ironman Coeur d’Alene (IMCDA) 2014 was my first Ironman since dropping out of Kona in 2012 with what I thought would be a career-ending hamstring tendon injury. I had done this race in 2009, and, although I finished, I suffered severe hypothermia (body temperature of 90.3). This year it wasn’t as cold, but the race was plagued by high winds gusting to 30 mph – causing a very rough swim and headwinds on an already-hilly bike leg. The conditions resulted in a 23% drop-out rate.

As for my race.. IMCDA 2014 was the first time EVER that I panicked and reconsidered entering the water at an Ironman start. The 2.4-mile swim was two loops with a short beach run between. The swim start is a rolling self-seeded affair – like a marathon start with faster swimmers up front, slower swimmers in the back. The way out was a mess because we were swimming into the swells. I stayed on the outside to avoid getting clobbered, and for the first time in a race, I noticed people grabbing onto the support kayaks. My swim took 1:04 (slower than usual, but faster than 2009).

With temperatures in the 50s for the bike start, I decided to wear wool socks, gloves, hand warmers, a bike jersey, and arm warmers. The 112-mile bike course consisted of two loops starting in downtown CDA: a short out-and-back with a steep hill along the lake followed by a longer out-and-back with long rolling hills on US 95. The second part went out into the wind and local Cleveland triathlete, Ben Norton, summed it up well: “We were going downhill, PEDALING, at 13-14 mph.”

Keeping it real on a tough bike course under tough conditions

Keeping it real on a tough bike course under tough conditions

My goal on the bike was to go easy and not feel anything for the first four hours, but I NEVER felt good on the bike (bad taper perhaps?). My legs were fatigued and my hamstring hurt like it had only partially been rehabbed. I backed way off. Heading out on the second loop, my husband indicated I was third in my age group. I tried to pick things up in the final 15 miles – but I now know I need better bike-handling skills going downhill in the aero position with the wind. It was so windy that last years mens winner, Ben Hoffman, crashed and shredded his tire when an age-grouper was blown into him (amazingly, he still finished third overall this year).

When I pulled into transition, I was still in third place, but now only three minutes behind the age-group leader. Knowing the Ironman marathon can be undone in the first mile, I had promised myself I would not go out faster than an 8-minute pace. The soreness and fatigue in my quads dissipated (surprisingly) at the run start, and the day had warmed into the high 60s. Excited at the thought of being “IN” the age-group race, I went through the first four miles at a 7:30 pace and passed both women in front of me.

But the 26.2-mile IMCDA run course is too loops with a 6% hill, so I got the run under control and focused on proper nutrition. At mile 8, I had put ten minutes between me and second place, but my legs were sore and cramping. At the half, my husband said I was running at least a minute-per-mile faster than the other women in my age-group. But by mile 18, I was struggling with stomach issues (my biggest problem in Ironman), and had to stop and walk a few times.

I knew it was my race to lose – or WIN – so I had to figure out how to get through the final 8 miles. And I chose to do something I’ve never done (willingly) during an Ironman: I ate pretzels. My nausea vanished, and I was able to get back to running in time for the hill. But the weather had one last trick. When I hit mile 23, the wind kicked up and it started to rain. It didn’t last long, and shortly after, a rainbow appeared and that was all I needed. I focused on letting the crowd support carry me through the last two miles.

You are an Ironman....Champion!

You are an Ironman….Champion!

20 months ago, I never thought I’d see another Ironman finish line, and here I was IMCDA W45-49 age group champion – and Kona qualifier – a month after turning 49. I can’t say enough how much it’s helped me to have a team and teammates like SSSMST this year – I certainly wouldn’t have been able to do it without their support. (Especially Kevin Krol who dragged me through so many long bike rides in windy conditions this spring.)

Age Group Podium!(Jeanne center-left)

Age Group Podium!(Jeanne center-left)

On to Kona.

Awesome, awesome job!!  We knew you would do it!

Mohican Endurance & Fat Little Buddies

More halfsies and 5k racing to be had out there.  SSSMST’s Mike Schaefer, Joe Bush and Aaron Henely trekked down to Mohican for the inagural Mohican Endurance Festival Half Iron.  A bit of local racing history comes with it:  Pleasant Hill Lake, which is on the west side of the Mohican State Forest was a long-standing fixture on the HFP Powerbar/Clifbar series’ in the 1990’s, and also site of what would have arguably been the hardest iron-distance triathlon back in 1999 – the Mohican Pineman.  After a long hiatus, HFP brings back triathlon to the Mohican area, and if past races are any indication, this one promises to be a suffer-fest!  Lets’s hear from Schaefer, who used the course to his advantage in setting a half iron PR:

Great race. I swam and rode with Henely. We had a good group on the bike and it helped a ton but it was a BRUTAL course – at least 6 climbs when I was in the 39×25 for a long time. The run was even tougher. Out and back, partly on trail, but even the road portions included some major climbs – one was over 2 miles long! Henely got away from me immediately on the run but then he ran off course.. (Follows down flags from yesterday’s trail race.. When he finally got back on course I was 2 miles ahead on my way back (at mile 7), so he cashed it in and paced me the rest of the way. He pushed me perfectly and gave me splits I needed to go sub -5! I only walked a bit on the last 3 steep uphills. Overall It was of my best races ever! Really feeling bad for Aaron as he would have been about 4th OA, but he had a hell of a workout! 

To the off-course go the spoils

To the off-course go the spoils


We also had Team Kostura out in force at the Fat Little Buddies 5k in Olmsted Falls:

Bridget: After a very hot race, a lady came up to us raving about SPIN, how she bought her bike there and that a couple of her friends were going up to buy bikes. Nice work SPIN!!!

Brian: This was a fun little local 5k. Bridget and Carolynn got to race in their new kits, which attracted some welcome attention. I also got to see some old friends out on the course, and do a little promoting for Spin and Second Sole. Always good to get out.


I love my new kit!

I love my new kit!


Great job all!!


Champions (National!), Among Us

Now that the dust has settled, we’ll be giving some major kudos to one of our own.  Brian Stern and Jeanne DeBonis were recently in Grand Rapids, MI for the Grand Rapids Triathlon.  Stern was there to raise his usual bit of hell.  Jeanne, new SSSMST’er, old skool triathlete, was simply looking for a race to gauge fitness and usher in the start of her taper for Ironman Coeur d’Alane later this month.  Well, it turns out this little training race was for just about all the marbles – Long Course National Championships!  You can guess what happens next…..

Early this year, I registered for my first longer-than-Olympic-distance race after 1.5 years of injury rehab. The race I chose was the Grand Rapids Triathlon (half-ironman) in Grand Rapids, Michigan, but I missed a tiny little detail: it was also the USAT Long Course Age Group National Championship (Brian Stern clued me into this oversight at our first team meeting). Yep. I accidentally registered for a national championship while looking for a low-key-let’s-get-back-to-longer-distance-racing-without-expectations kind of race.

Wet running shoes.....not easy to get on!

Wet running shoes…..not easy to get on!

But if you’re looking for a good early-season multisport race, the Grand Rapids Triathlon is several: a half, an Olympic-distance tri, a sprint tri, an aqua-bike in all three distances, and a splash-and-dash. If I had to name a drawback, the only thing I can come up with is that the venue has limited space – meaning there’s a cap on the number of athletes that can participate, and there’s no parking anywhere near the race site (but they do have shuttles from the parking lots).

Hauling ass on the run....and loving it!

Hauling ass on the run….and loving it!

By the time I arrived on race day, I was suffering from lack of sleep (due to nerves the night before) and a head cold (due to.. um..contagious sick people). That morning, however, I felt better than expected, and I knew I would finish even if I had to walk and/or take pit-stops. Actually, the only really bad thing was the rain – it poured from about 5:00 to 7:00 a.m., and the roads were wet and slick through half the bike leg. At least it dried out by the run leg for the long-course athletes.

(l to r) Jeanne, Stern, and newly christened local pro Nick Glavac

(l to r) Jeanne, Stern, and newly christened local pro Nick Glavac

I started with the 40+ women in the fourth wave and got through the swim in one of my personal slowest times ever for 1.2 miles (note: Stern and others thought the course was long because swim times were slow overall). The bike leg was a single loop out-and-back course with long rolling hills – nothing too steep. I had my second-fastest 56-mile bike split ever – 2:37 – but it was only good for 15th fastest of the women. I made up the time on my run leg, averaging 7:12 miles with the 5th fastest run of the day (again, for women) on the 13.1-mile two-loop course. Surprisingly, my finish time of 2:46:21 landed me fifth overall and first in my age group.

Top of the podium!  Only missing the spraying champagne bottle!

Top of the podium! Where’s the spraying champagne bottle!

Age group winners got awesome “National Champion” Rudy bike jerseys and the race served as a qualifier for ITU World Championship in Motala, Sweden. I have yet to decide whether I will take my slot. Right now, I’m still high on being named a USAT Age Group National Champ.

Major congratulations going out to Brian and Jeanne!  This is a first for our team – a standing National Champion!!!!  LOVE IT!!

Lula 5k/5mi and Maumee Weekend

Over the last few weeks we’ve had some major goings-on and over the next post or two will be bringing the first phase of race season to a big crescendo!

First, we visit Rocky River, Ohio and the Lula 5k/5mi.  This race benefits Girls with Sole ( which offers free fitness and wellness programs to girls that are at-risk or have experienced any kind of abuse.  Girls with Sole was founded by friend of team Liz Ferro, and we encourage supporting their mission.  So, off to the races!

Offering a 5k and 5mile running race through the lakeshore residences of Beachcliff I, SSSMST was out in force for both races.  Lets hear from our 5k runners:

Jen P: As always a fun race -lots of friends and teammates and for a good cause! I was quite surprised I was able to run as well as I did considering the minimal training I’ve been doing lately. Thanks to one of our head sponsors Second Sole in RR for being a sponsor of this race.

Brandy: My streak of fast running continues post-baby. I planned on pushing the baby through the race, but my husband agreed at the last minute to keep him while I ran. So I pushed myself through the race and ended up with a PR! I was hoping I might win one of the coveted hand-painted trophies, but alas I was only 4th in my age group. A loss by 12 seconds!! But, a 26 second PR, 8.5 months post-baby? I’ll take it.

Krol: Still testing the legs……great little race.  Eased into the first mile, pushed the second mile, and backed off the third.  

And our 5-milers:

Rood: Great Race, Great Cause. Pouring down rain.

Patrick K: Great event, huge crowd. Good to see lots of Second Sole supporters out. I enjoyed the rain that started at mile one. I also appreciated the tow AROOD gave me from mile 4 to 5. He pulled a nice stunt to push me in the finish corral ahead of him. Good to be racing!

And lots of folks began their multisport season in earnest at HFP’s annual flatland-fest at Maumee Bay State Park:

Timmy Walsh: A fine way to kick of Father’s Day. Conditions were prime for a fast race day. Many of my teammates and clubmates delivered, me not so much, nonetheless I loved it. The cheering sections were deep, mainly made up of fellow multi-sport athletes of the kid version, who were a day removed from their Saturday races. How fun is that?

Rood: Another great race and another great weekend.
Rood Boys, My Dad and I camped out at Maumee State Park for the weekend.
On Saturday- Rood Boys and Luca Lamastra took on the 10 and under kids Duathlon. Man was that cool. It is so exciting to see kids racing their hearts out! One Proud dad.
Sunday was a perfect day for racing, a sprint at least. It was plenty warm to go any longer.

I had a good race. I ran well in the opening run.
The bike was interesting. I rode my brand new 2014 Spin Bike Shop Ridely XFire cycle cross bike (with slicks, of course). I thought at the time this was a good move— but man the winds of Maumee had me wishing I could “get more aero”. I may need to dust of the TT bike for the next race.
Second run- I was joined, and quickly passed by Henely. Dude ran a blazing 18:15 off the bike.
This was great weekend. The racing was great. It was great to share the road with SSMSMT legends like PK, Walsh and Brandy (check out Brandy’s bike split, btw). It was also fun to share some campfire stories with Team Henely and Team Lamastra.
I gotta add, camping and racing is just not the same with Kevin Krol.
I will be back at Maumee next year.

Patrick K: Awesome way to spend fathers day morning, back on the race course. Lots of teammates and family at the race, made it a great time. Apparently training really pays off (I really need to be swimming & biking more to get better results). Swim was a little rough since it was my first time in open water since this race last year. Bike was probably too comfortable. T2 was a bit hectic, I had to bunny hop a shoe as I was dismounting and I owe an apology to someone for stiff arming him in transition (in my defense, he never looked behind him before he turned his bike in to my run path – oops). Decent run. Great to be out there racing multisport again.

Brandy: This was my first multisport race post-baby, and so my first multisport race in just about two years. I dusted off the tri-bike a couple weeks ago and got on it 3 times before the race. After a short brick on the Wednesday leading up to the race, I told my husband, “I think I’m going to push it on Sunday.”
So, I pushed it, and went ahead and won that duathlon (1st female that is, 6th overall finisher)! I was in 3rd place after the first run, and passed the closest female on a road bike, and the next female on a mountain bike with slickers on. It felt a little unfair as I breezed past on my tri bike, but whatever! I’ll take the win! :)

Way to go team!!!!

Island Lake Tri….for the WIN!

We’re still playing catch up here in the interwebs.

New SSSMST’er Jeanne DeBonis trekked to that state up north to partake in the Olympic Distance version of the Island Lake Triathlon. Jeanne’s been immersed in volume, building up to her Ironman next month in Coeur d’Alene.  You can guess what happens next…..

This was my first triathlon of 2014, my first since London in September 2013. and the first since I’ve almost fully recovered from a major hamstring tendon injury (that took 1.5 years of rehab). I chose this particular race because it was close to home on Saturday of Memorial Day weekend and I needed to get in two more days of long training. As luck would have it, the weekend weather was perfect, and the race took place in a very scenic location – Island Lake Recreation Area in Brighton, Michigan.

I did the Olympic distance triathlon – there’s also a sprint – and all the legs are two loop courses. The bike course is mostly flat, slightly rolling, and the run course is hilly with some cross-country parts. And Although it was a “shakedown” race and I struggled to stay on course in the swim (swimming into the sun and being consumed by seaweed), I led from start to finish – it’s only the second time in my life that ever happened.

The only negative thing about this race is the lack of a USAT official. I got caught in a pack of drafters (all men) on the bike and one of them yelled at me for blocking him (after drafting off me), almost causing me to crash into another one who was passing on my right. I had a verbal outburst that went on for about a half mile – reading them all the riot act for drafting and called them all “cheaters.” I rode into T2 still ranting, but determined to chase them all down on the run – which I did. My run was slow and I wasn’t completely satisfied with my time, but it was hard to argue against a fun race with great weather and a nice course for a first tri of the year. And the awards were bottles of wine!

Jeanne, hauling ass on the run!

Jeanne, hauling ass on the run!

Pointing out drafting....(Aussie would be proud!)

Pointing out drafting….(Aussie would be proud!)

Winner, winner, wine for dinner (she chose red, noted by all the white still on the table behind)

Winner, winner, wine for dinner (she chose red, noted by all the white still on the table behind)









Awesome job Jeanne!



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