You are an Ironman!

SSSMST’s Jeanne DeBonis took on the challenge of the biggest triathlon on the planet – the Ironman World Championships at Kailua Kona, Hawaii!  The race that EVERYONE knows.  It’s been a race that has had unique challenges every time out (this is Jeanne’s fourth!) and this year was no different…..

I seem to be plagued with disastrous races in Hawaii and this was be my fourth time there. I knew I had to do some things !differently.

I trained differently – in fact, I trained harder than I ever have for any race. By the time I toed the line in Kailua Bay on October 11, I felt I was in THE best athletic shape of my life, like I finally deserved to stand among all the amazingly fit athletes there. And I truly believed things would fall into place this year. But during my taper, I had worrisome pain in my left hamstring – an injury that I’ve been rehabbing for the past two years. Something just wasn’t right, even during the easy days of running, riding, and swimming in Kona. But I just didn’t believe it would become an issue on race day.

If you’ve read anything about Ironman Hawaii this year, you already know that swim conditions were rough and the cross-winds on the bike have been quoted as “the worst they’ve been in the last 15 years.”

Having a blast getting started on the bike!

Having a blast getting started on the bike!

For the swim, I was about five minutes slower than expected. But, because of the rough water, I had a blast in the bay that morning. On the bike, everything seemed to be going well despite the horrific cross winds. My nutrition was good – timing was an issue because it was hard to take my hands off the handlebars in the wind. It was only in the last two hours of the bike leg that I realized things were NOT ok with my left hip and hamstring. I started feeling pain and weakness on my left side, and all I can attribute it to is having to fight the crosswinds. Things continued to go downhill and I had to make a decision getting off the bike: (1) try to run (possibly limp) the whole marathon, potentially cause more damage, and/or have to drop out or (2) walk the marathon and secure the finish. When I got off the bike, the pain in my hamstring was excruciating and I could barely take a step forward. I was able to get a shuffle going out of transition, but by mile 8, I realized it would be better to just stop and walk the marathon and avoid doing anymore damage that might cost me next season. I knew I could finish if I walked.

Once it got dark, it got a little tedious, but I arrived at the finish line, smiling, well after 13 hours, with my worst time ever in an Ironman. But I finished. And I think (hope) I avoided a serious re-injury to my hamstring. And I learned something new: it’s NOT EASY to walk a marathon.

Finishing in style, with a smile!

Finishing in style, with a smile!

And despite a sub-par race, I had an amazing time in Hawaii.

Congrats on capping off a pretty killer season, Jeanne!!


Dreams of the Queen K

It’s that time of year.  Weather starts to change here in Northeast Ohio.  Racing for the season is nearly wrapped up, save for the fall bike tours and assorted running races.  It’s time for the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

It’s the one that matters.  Most people don’t know it’s actually taken place until the middle of winter when a condensed 2-hours is orchestrated on national TV.  But it’s also the race that people ask you if you’ve done when they find out you’re a triathlete. And it’s probably the single race that inspires all of us at some point to get into long distance racing.

From this (late March 2014)....

From this (late March 2014)….

Well, SSSMST’s Jeanne DeBonis is heading there…..NOW!   (Race day is next Saturday, October 11)  She’s not only going there, she’s qualified against a lot of odds.  Coming off some big injuries. Here’s some of her highlighted steps to get there this year:

  • Island Lake Triathlon – 1st OA Female/8th OA
  • Pittsburgh Marathon
  • Ironman Coeur d’Alene – 1st Female 45-49 (the race that gets her to Hawaii)
  • USAT Age Group National Championship
  • ITU Age Group World Championship
  • Rev3 Cedar Point – 1st OA Female/10th OA THIS! (The unequivocal finish line at Kona)

…to THIS! (The unequivocal finish line at Kona)

Let’s all wish Jeanne an AWESOME race and great times!!!!!!



Recent Race Wrap

We’re in October (Eeek!) and SSSMST is still trying to get some digs in before the snow flies!  Here we catch up with some of our athletes as they tackled some running and, yes, still more multisport, races.

First,  Rood put his game up and beer down to run the Air Force Marathon in Dayton, running a 3:07 in rough conditions:   This marathon was HOT AND miserable.  Seriously, how was it Rood?  OK, it was all on concrete.

Next,Mike Schaefer scraped out an 8th OA/3rd Age Group at the Vermilion Harbor Tri:  It rained and I Lost 2 minutes in the run due to a side cramp. Blah. Overtrained going into this one….

Patrick Kolozvary ran half of what Rood did, but at Akron, and had twice as much to say: There were apparently 15,000 running the Akron Marathon, Half & Relay. I suspect there were just as many reasons as to why each of these people were doing the race. A year ago when we were in the hospital a few months in to my son’s treatments, Erin said she hoped to do a race a year later to bring attention to the fight Kellen was going through and some of foundations that supported us in different ways.
Erin, my father in law and I were all very grateful to just be at the starting line this year. We all agreed that any pain that cam from training and the race is minor compared to what Kellen had to go through.
It was great to be out with family, the race was tough but we had perfect weather and it is a well run event.
We wanted to say thanks to , ,, and of course and – for all the support!

Brian Kostura took in the HFP finale of the year down at Portage Lakes:

Well…Fall came here in a hurry. The air temp for this race was 45 at the start, and the water temp was 70. Given that factor, there was a little bit of fog in the morning, so the race was delayed by 30 min…but that still didn’t help visibility much once the race started.
The bike was obviously cold, but you warmed up fairly quickly with the number of quick inclines on the course. The bike had proven to be a bit more technical than I remembered in years past which added to the ‘fun’ factor.
My favorite part of this race however, was the run. Half the course was on trails, which for some reason I felt stronger at than running on the road. In years past the run was an out an back, but this was by far more exciting.
Overall, the race was well run, and a good end to the tri season for me, unless I head to Deer Creek in a couple of weeks…

Lastly, Adam and Aaron Henely sprinted through the Apple Festival 5k in Elyria (as told by Schaefer):

Get down

Get down

I’m not sure if either of these “Blues Brothers” wannabes will send you their race report, but I thought you might like these pictures for a web post.  (Please note the sunglasses even though it was very cloudy). The picture at the start line looks like they are taking disco dancing lessons and Adam is throwing in a little move of his own…. I’m not sure which one of them is John Belushi.   


Henely.  This one looks fast!

Henely. This one looks fast!

Adam doing the shuffle

Adam doing the shuffle


Henley was third overall, Adam was first in his age group and well within in the top 10.I just stopped and took

pictures briefly on my way to church but couldn’t stay for the finish.  The most notable story was that Henely family won the trophy for most family racers!  We need to get some green and blue on those girls!


Adam with some hardware!

Adam with some hardware!

Team Henely!

Team Henely!

Revving it Up!!

The beginning of September brings one of the marquee long course races in the country to the North Coast of America.  Rev3 Cedar Point offers both a full and half-iron distance race format, and traditionally, SSSMST has shown well here at both distances.  This year was no different, with Mike Schaefer finishing sub-5 hours and finishing 23rd Overall (5th age group), Brian Stern finishing 4th Overall, and Kona-bound Jeanne DeBonis winning the women’s race, and finishing a lights-out 10th Overall among all competitors!!!!  Plus, Team Kostura was volunteering at the finish line to greet the final finishers on the day!  Let’s hear how things went….


Brian: Bridget and I volunteered to work the finish line for the Rev3 Full from 8pm to midnight…oops 1am. Working the finish line after such a long day for all the athletes was an incredible experience. Observing the athletes pure joy and exhaustion as they crossed the finish line up until almost 1am was inspirational. Many of us know what it takes to just complete one of these events, but being out there all day until the very end is a whole new level. It was great to be there to help aide them to the start of their recovery, and Finisher Photo.


Brian & Bridget working the finish line!

Bridget: I had a great time volunteering at Rev 3. Brian and I were at the finish line from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. Having done an Ironman myself, it felt really cool to place the medals around the finishers neck, knowing what they just went through and all that it took to get there. The finish line for the full pales in comparison to that of an IRONMAN. However, the people that were there were energetic and stayed till after 1:00 a.m. to see the last finisher through. So that was really exciting! I highly recommend volunteering for any Full Iron Distance Triathlon. Brian and I had a lot of fun!!!

Top 3!  (l to r): Jeanne, Mike and Brian

Top 3! (l to r): Jeanne, Mike and Brian

Jeanne: Six days after ITU World Champs in Edmonton and beating myself up in workouts during the week, I toed the line at the Rev3 Cedar Point half in Sandusky, Ohio. I was dealing with extreme soreness in my quads that refused to subside by race morning, but the weather made everything a lot nicer – it was a little windy, but skies were clear and air temperature was in the 60s – it sure beat the hand- and feet-numbing 40s we had in Edmonton.

The water was quite rough that morning. We started in waist-deep water, and it took me a minute or two to get a breathing rhythm going, but after that, the only problems I had were in spotting buoys between the swells. The rough water made all the swim times slow, but what I CAN say about the first leg of Rev3 Cedar Point was this: in all my years of triathlon racing, this was THE most fun I’ve ever had in a swim. It was a blast.

The 56-mile bike course started out along the causeway to Cedar Point and continued along the Lake Erie shoreline for several miles before turning south and going through a slightly-rolling rural countryside. I maintained a steady hard effort that put my speed around 20-22 mph. At 2:38, my bike time was slower than I would have liked on what seemed like a fast course.

Coming off the bike, all I wanted was to have a solid, even-paced run. What I didn’t know was that I came off the bike within 9 minutes of the overall women’s leader. I went out in a surprisingly-comfortable 7-minute pace. In the first four miles, I caught two of the women who passed me on the bike. All the women In front of me had started in the wave five minutes ahead of me, and at mile 9, a woman running in the other direction yelled to me that the leader was four minutes ahead. If she was right, I had a shot at winning this thing. I tried to push that thought out of my mind, but at my age – 49 – I know how rare these chances are. I now had to exercise mind over matter because my already-sore legs were really starting to burn and my energy was waning. Somehow, I pushed through the last three miles while slowing and feeling increasingly worse. When I turned toward the finish chute and saw my husband, he looked at his watch and said definitively, “You won!”

Jeanne, at the finish,  leaving it all out on the run course

Jeanne, at the finish, leaving it all out on the run course

There was no fanfare or name-announcing… because I was actually the “second woman to cross the finish line.” I congratulated Heidi Benson – the young woman who crossed three minutes in front of me (unfortunately, the Rev3 announcer mistakenly assumed she won the race), and ten minutes later the announcement came that I had won the women’s race – and finished tenth overall. The official time was 4:50:54.

Top Women (l to r): Jeanne DeBonis (1st), Heidi Benson (2nd) and Erin Kersten (3rd)

Top Women (l to r): Jeanne DeBonis (1st), Heidi Benson (2nd) and Erin Kersten (3rd)

I celebrated with SSSMST teammates Mike Schaefer (5th AG 40-44) and Brian Stern (5th overall an 1st AG 45-49). It may have been just the pick-me-up I needed to get through the final month of Kona training.

Schaefer:  I did it! 4:59:31. I’m absolutely wasted with fatigue but couldn’t be happier. Very wavy swim cost me 5min compared to my 5:06 effort in 2012, but I was taking it slow and “babying” a sore neck that I strained earlier in the week. I didn’t feel very good on the bike, but the wind was favorable and I chased down and dropped a few people just to keep me motivated. By T2 I had made up 3min of the time I lost in the swim and I was keeping fluids and food down pretty well, so I knew I had a the legs to run at least 8minutes faster this year. The run still sucked, but this was no surprise – Fought cramps from mile 7to 11 but kept them at bay by walking preventively before they seized up. Lots of mental games and time calculations kept me busy as it was really lonely and hot in downtown Sandusky. I Really thought I wouldn’t make my sub-5 goal when I slipped behind pace by mile 8, but I kept it close enough to make a late push in the last few miles if only the legs would respond. Mile 9 was also off pace but only by a few seconds. Finally I decided I had to give it a “go”with 3.1 miles left ( if anything just to get it over with!) I had downed at least 10 electrolyte tabs and as many cups of fluids trying to shake the cramps. I also was pouring ice water on my head and face at every stop (except the one at mile 9 where I splashed coke on face by mistake!). Even in this lowest point of misery I mangled to chuckle at myself a little. Finally the cramps eased up (thanks for the electrolyte advice Aaron) and I was able to run an 8:55 on mile 11 and kept it rolling. I managed to run negative splits on miles 11-13 and kicked hard when I saw how close it was to sub-5. I made a brief visit to the medical tent as I was pretty woozy going thru the chute, but a few minutes in the icewater tub and a half-gallon of Gatorade later I was ready to celebrate! I just can’t express how happy I am. What a great end to a great triathlon season!

Tremendous job everyone!!!!!!

All World

SSSMST’s Kona Kualifier, Jeanne DeBonis is also making regular appearances on the ITU Olympic Distance circuit – especially when it comes to National and World Championships!  This year she somehow managed to wedge in ITU Worlds in Edmonton Alberta, Canada in between all the long course training she’s been doing.  Here’s her firsthand account of how the race went:

On Labor Day, September 1, in the midst of Ironman Kona training, I competed in the ITU Olympic distance Age Group World Championship in Edmonton, Canada. 

Race morning brought very low temperatures – 6-7 C (low 40s F). They lined us up just after 9 am, so we still had a long cold wait for the 45-49 women’s start at 9:40. The 1500m swim was two loops in a chlorinated man-made lake and the start was fun – we all lined up with one foot on a platform, then ran and dove into the water. I was relieved to start swimming because the water temperature (at 19 C/66 F) was balmy compared to the air. My swim was the one thing that did go well. I felt strong and going into the second loop, I was able to drop the two women flanking me for most of the first lap.

JD @ worlds
The 40K bike course was also a double loop with a steep climb at the beginning. The course was very fast, but the cold was an issue for everyone. I thought I had a strong ride, but my time – same as Milwaukee – was disappointing to say the least.
Thus, when I saw the time as I pulled into transition, I started to mentally unravel. After racking my bike, I couldn’t get my helmet strap unclipped because my hands had gotten so cold my fingers didn’t work. I finally yelled for help and an ITU official came over, but right before she got to me, I actually managed to unclip the strap myself. I started the run frustrated and discouraged and all I could do was “run through it.” I had mentally checked out. By the time it was over, the only positive thing I could glean from my run was that I actually started to feel good around mile 5 or 6. Unfortunately, I had no speed, and that was when the race was just about over.

My finish – 11th in my age group – was better than last year, but not what I feel I was capable of.

Great job Jeanne!  Still an admirable attempt in the midst of prepping for Hawaii!


Back to School Special

We bring you more big race results for a bevy of our SSSMST’ers, who were again far and wide on the race scene the last couple of weeks.

Patrick K hit up the venerable Classic at Mastick – this year as a volunteer, but had a chance to give us his take:  This was the 5th year or so that I have volunteered for this race. Good publicity for Second Sole Rocky River especially with the high school cross country kids in attendance. Great race, great that they can raise funds for scholarships. Good times.

We head to Vermilion, where a number of our teammies slogged out the HFP Vermilion Harbor Tri in some sloppy weather….

Patrick K:  Rainy morning, but that didn’t keep the crowds away. I got a wake up call on the swim, I haven’t been in open water much in the last 2 years. A little current for the swim made it interesting. It rained for most of the bike, so I tried to ride conservatively. Rookie move of dropping the chain on the big climb didn’t help the cause. The run was solid, Rood helped keep me dialed in. Great to see so many team members out racing Susan (the triathlete formerly know as SOD), Kostura, Walsh, Rood Henely, Mike Schaeffer all out doing their thing. Roark was cheering, good to see everyone!

Brian Kostura:  It was wet! A triathlon is traditionally 3 sports (swim, bike, run), but on this day it was basically all swim! It rained from the start through the finish, which led to some hesitation on the bike, but overall I was please with my race. 

Henley and Schaefer were tearing it up on the course. It was exciting seeing the two of them battle it out despite the conditions. PK and Walsh had another strong showing, finishing first and second in their respective age groups. Susan looked like she was having a blast, and Rood provided some great run support. Overall good morning for the blue and green.

Tim Walsh:  In spite of some lousy weather, the race was worthwhile. A bit choppy on the swim but still navigable; wet roads were still safe on the sprint course; the run was plenty comfortable when you have teammates like A.Rood encouraging you while running along. Props to A.Henely and M.Schaefer for stepping up and hitting home runs on the Olympic course; good to see S.O’Donnell back on the course as well. With better weather next year, we’ll restore the post race burgers & refreshments on the river!

Jen P is hitting the trails hard late this summer – first at the Twilight Trail 8k in the North Chagrin Reservation:  This is always a fun evening. Was a little stressed getting from far westside to eastside and almost bagged it but Mark said we should give it a go so at 6:50pm we parked (race starts at 7) got our bibs, hit bathroom and lined up. One of the great things about small races 🙂 There were a few fast girls there and being I’m still working on getting fitness back I was not going to even try to keep up and die although I have been doing a weekly long trail run for several weeks now. Anyways….cool evening, beautiful woods, hard run…then pizza and beer after. Can’t get any better, right?! Except since several of those fast chicks were on teams I got 2nd OA female and earned some cash. Woot woot!

And our own Ironman World Championship-bound Jeanne DeBonis got in a little speed work in Milwaukee, WI, at the USA Triathlon National Championship!

Jeanne: Just over a week ago, I took a quick jaunt to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for cheese curds and kringle, and also to compete in the USA Triathlon Age Group Olympic-distance National Championship on August 9. Despite being eyeball-deep in Ironman training, Nationals stayed on my schedule because it was a qualifier for the ITU Age Group World Championship in Chicago next year.
I had second thoughts about my lack of preparation for the race and I had nothing even resembling a taper, but I took the day before and decided to execute a race plan called “hammer the bike and see what happens.” My 1500-meter swim was in the top ten in my age group (22:18), but my bike leg turned out to be a major struggle – my quads were sore and cement-like and protested immediately. I was not happy with my 40K bike time (1:09:37) because it was only about one minute faster than last year and I thought I’d be faster. The good part of the race was that I was able to chase down every woman who passed me on the bike (except the eventual winner). My 10K run was just under 7-minute pace until the final mile when my legs began revolting like I had “hit the wall” in a marathon, but I willed myself to hang on for 6th in the W45-49 age group (run time 43:28, total time 2:19:41) and an entry on Team USA for Chicago (top 25 made it this year).

With a 6th place finish, it was easy to regret not tapering for this race, but I once again have set my ultimate goal to hopefully peak in October in Kona.

Jeanne busting out a strong finish!

Jeanne busting out a strong finish!


Major kudos to all!!!

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!!!