Meet QR Athlete Kevin Taddonio!
QR Athlete Kevin Taddonio became interested in the sport of triathlon the way a lot of athletes do…he was emotionally moved by the heart, soul, and pure guts he observed first-hand as he watched athletes competing at Ironman Arizona in 2008. One year later, Kevin participated as an IM AZ athlete and experienced tremendous success, winning his age group (25-29) with a time of 9:07 in his very first Ironman!
2010 promises to be a huge year for Kevin and will include goals like setting a new amateur record at Kona. Kevin has set his eyes on a sub 8:40 goal and is prepared to do the hard work and have the discipline to get there. Kevin will be racing the high modulus CD0.1 and swimming in the QR Superfull-undoubtedly, QR’s technology will assist Kevin in his pursuits. Kevin is appreciative of the supportive partnerships he has with Quintana Roo, Tribe Multisport in Scotsdale, AZ, and Camelback Coaching, also in Scotsdale.
Below, enjoy some tips from Kevin for success while preparing to race Ironman.
1. Be honest with yourself. Take a dispassionate inventory of your strengths and weaknesses and have a plan for improving in every area.
2. Have a focus "A" race that you can structure your training for. If you think every race is an "A" race, then no race is truly a priority for you.
3. Plan for and treat your rest and recovery just as seriously as you plan your hard training.
4. Add variety to your training. New trails, routes, group rides, and destinations can help eliminate the monotony training can often have.
5. Have an understanding girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife!
Thanks, Kevin! Enjoy more about Kevin by reading his race report from always challenging Wildflower.
I had just started up the “Nasty Grade” at mile 42 of the bike at the Wildflower ½ Ironman, when my coach’s words came back to my mind: “you should really do the Wildflower Triathlon. It’s like the Woodstock of the Triathlon world. Beautiful and epic!” While the Wildflower Triathlon is epic and beautiful, the only thing on my mind at this point was “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WILL THE CRAMPS IN MY RIGHT BUTT CHEEK PLEASE GO AWAY!”
The “Nasty Grade” is a series of unrelenting 4-8% pitches for about 5 miles of an already tough bike course. Someone had told me that there was a topless water station at some point on this climb…. Unfortunately, I didn’t see this. The hills are perfectly positioned to mentally, physically, and spiritually ruin any athlete that dared to go out too hard on this picturesque bike course. Although I felt like I had intentionally held back my effort in preparation of this tough section on the bike, my glutes decided that they had enough and were going to make the rest of my day miserable. Even though the road was going up, my heart rate was going down. 165. 163. 160. 154. 148. I simply could not recruit enough muscles to get my bike moving… I was not in a good place, and I still had 14 more miles to bike, and 13 miles of some of the toughest trail running I’ve ever done.
Only 24 hours before this point, I was loving life. My girlfriend, Kristi, and I were enjoying a beautiful drive up Hwy 101 on California’s wonderful Pacific Coast. Wineries, beaches, green mountains, and sunshine – we were enjoying all of it. As we drove into the Lake San Antonio Park, I could see why this triathlon festival was billed as the “Woodstock for athletes.” Thousands of people were camped in the green hills above Lake San Antonio. It was quite a sight to see. There was a pretty good cross-section of triathlon-society represented in these rows of tents. Some athletes had their bikes up in stands putting their mechanical touches on their racing machines. Some athletes fumbled with glue all over their fingers trying to put tubular tires on for the first time. Some collegiate athletes were doing beer bongs. And athletes all over the place were jogging around testing out their legs for the weekend’s races. Ground zero of this festival was down near the shores of Lake San Antonio, about 700 vertical feet below the camp grounds. When I first made the walk down to the transition area, I was astounded by the size and breadth of this race. The transition area, which would host three races over the course of the weekend, was easily the size of a football field. As one race would finish, the bikes would empty out and the new racers would funnel in. The transition area was also next to the start/finish lines as well as the expo and music stages. It was fun to check out all of the vendors, eat gelato, and walk around while listening to good music in the California sunshine.
The ½ Ironman Race that I was competing in started early Saturday morning. Swimming has been my primary weakness since starting in the sport last year, and this race would not be an exception. Early in the swim I kept trying to get close to faster swimmers in front of me in order to get in their draft and save energy. Unfortunately, every swimmer I saw seemed to be swimming at a perpendicular tangent to my direction. About 600 yards into the race, I realized that the other swimmers weren’t going in the wrong direction, I WAS! Throughout the race I constantly found myself stopping to reorient myself and I chalk this up to lack of open water experience. When I came out of the water in 33 minutes, I knew I had some work to do for the bike and run (Michael Raelert, the overall winner, would outsplit me by 10 minutes in the swim! I can’t believe how fast the best pros can swim. Truly impressive…)
After a smooth transition, I eagerly mashed the pedals as I flew up the first hill at mile 1, an 8% grade that lasts a little over a mile. My race bike, a Quintana Roo CD0.1, weighed 16.4 lbs at the start of the race and I decided not to carry any superfluous spare tires, CO2, or water. I knew there were going to be water bottles at every 6 miles of the bikes, so all I carried were 2 gel flasks containing 400kcal of EFS Liquid Shot. I decided that with brand new Vittoria tubular on my race Zipps, the chances of flatting out were low and carrying extra crap would just add to weight and aerodynamic drag. Until mile 42, the bike leg was pretty uneventful as I started to catch the female pros and occasional male pro.
I’ve already briefly described what happened during “Nasty Grade,” but the only thing I can add is that the posterior leg pain continued all the way back to transition. The only time my mind was off the pain, was when flying down the 50 mph descents heading back to Lake San Antonio. SCARY FAST!
I was feeling extremely confident in my running abilities going into Wildflower having completed some of the fastest workouts I’ve ever completed. The cramps in my glutes and the tough early sections of trail, would ruin any chances I had at 1hr 18min run split (my goal going in). As the early miles ticked by, I tried massaging my glutes and one point punching them to try to alleviate the tightness. Unfortunately, the steep hills would eventually reduce me to walking up some of the steeper pitches of trail around mile 4. The death march of a course started to yield some fun after mile 7 when the course completes a few loops in the upper campgrounds. The course also flattens out in this section and my glutes FINALLY started to release. I went from running 7min/mile pace to running sub 6min/mile pace once my glutes eased up. It felt great to know that I had this fitness in me as I started to pass some of the top pro women in the field. When I flew by Virginia Berasategui at mile 10 I felt a surge of adrenaline as I realized this chick finished 3rd at last year’s Ironman World Championships. Berasategui was a favorite going in to this race but was hampered by some lingering injuries incurred early in the year while training in the Canary Islands. It still felt good to motor right by her!
The last miles of the run course take you down a steep hill that is so steep you literally feel out of control as your legs freewheel like a drunk Usain Bolt. Once the lake and transition area was in view I opened up to a full sprint and high-fived all of my hippie supporters that came down from Berkeley to watch the race. Although I finished in a time much slower than I had hoped, this race was a good gut-check to see how my form is coming along. Despite the glute pain, I still felt that I am aerobically in great shape and will have a lot more positive results going forward.