Monday, October 22, 2012

Life Inspires Life

Are you looking for a fresh, fun and ingenious method of training for your 2013 triathlon season?  Scan the above QR code to enter Tranter Triathlon Coaching.  Be advised, Rob only encourages athletes to inquire if they are serious about commitment and dead set on a personal best 2013 season!

Just in case you are not familiar with Rob Tranter's philosophy, sit down with a warm drink, relax and get ready to vicariously enter a SOUL SEARCH.  Rob passionately believes in experiential coaching - practicing the committed lifestyle of endurance performance is a commitment to his athletes.  2012 allowed Rob to diversify his endurance coaching arsenal with the fastest growing outdoor sport of trail running and to allow the fullest challenge - ultrarunning.

2012 DPR Trail Race, Lincolshire, IL.

Results Summary

5th overall - 6:47h for 50.3mi (81km) a qualification time for the National Ultramarathon Team (ACU- Assoc. of Canadian Ultramarathoners) and funding to attend the 2013 World Champs in North Wales.  I paced to a 4:30/k 3:10h marathon split (Boston marathon Q-time). Considering roads are faster than a soft and damp trail with less gear to carry and one can speed up in the last portion, I was grateful for such a strong first half.  My proudest achievement was my 50k trail split of 3:42h, a top 5 rank in Canada for 2012. 

Professional Elites: The event was won by 40-year old Oswaldo Lopez (Mexico, Team: Sole to Soul) in 6:18h, followed by a Polish immigrant Piotr (41), now from the Chicago-area, only 22 seconds behind!  3rd place was Jordan Lafreniere (29) from Grand Rapids, Michigan and 4th was Zack Perry (38) from Memphis, Tennessee.  Our 7h drive no longer looked long; I was in some serious company!  What may also surprise you is how endurance is maximized around "middle-age".

Race Course Description: Race directors Terry Madl and Ed Kelly (ultrarunning veterans) hosted this 3rd annual event just after the inaugural G2G (Grand 2 Grand) Grand Canyon one-week ultrarunning adventure attracting runners from several continents.  The DPR trail was a wide, finely crushed gravel track, free of roots and rocks and quite flat, except for bridge and overpass ascents/descents several times.  It was fast in profile, but a bit slower than expected because it was soft and damp from a lot of rain.  However, puddles were almost non-existent as the moisture absorbed into the cushioned trail surface meandering between lush forests and open wetlands.  In my 23 years of endurance sport racing I rank it alongside with race venues in Stony Lake, ON and Halifax, NS.  Terry Madl attained an IAU (International Assoc. of Ultrarunners) bronze label to verify distance certification which enabled me to seek funding to attend the World Champs next year.  These are great people!

Just before the race with Hilary

Experiential summary

It went great! It was a soul crusher and a supremely rewarding experience.  Let's talk about what really happens in races like these, the part that is difficult to articulate - let me try.  Let's start with the lows so you can begin to comprehend why Tranter Triathlon Coaching utilizes PST (psychological skills training), specializing in MT (mental toughness):

As Rocky Balboa once said: "The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows... I don't care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it... it ain't about how hard you hit, it's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward... that's how winning is done... Now if you know what your worth, go out and get what your worth, but you got to be willing to take the hits and not point fingers because you're not where you want to be... cowards do that and that ain't you.  You're better than that!".  When you fall, you get up and finish what you started; that's what winner's do - they win.  A personal best performance in an IRONMAN or 50-MILER TRAIL is all about character.  Only you can pick yourself up at the 50k mark as your legs crumble beneath you, and if you try walking you can finish, but you won't win in your heart.  You must muster every molecule of energy and move forward at your TRUE potential.

I don't complete these races to demonstrate finishing; I compete in these races to represent the will to live.  When you are the most vulnerable you are also the most powerful.  This is how I understand attrition; being passed at 50k to fall back to 6th, but then 5k later I picked off a "champion-on-another-day" (a sub-2h30 marathoner) and willed myself to the finish through 31k of abyss.  My knees were seized up like the tin man (The Wizard of Oz), my left foot was swollen laterally and throbbed every midfoot strike and my right foot was cramping in the arch.  The most intense pain just kept relocating until finally physical pain was secondary to emotional challenges.  As a motivational speaker at my college, speaking to groups of 60 students, I ask them to perceive differently: "When confronted with a seemingly insurmountable obstacle, humbly acknowledge the answer exists, you just don't see it yet; faith in something greater than yourself will direct you through the fog to the answer - the finish line of your goal".

In this gorgeous landscape, the Des Plaines River Trail, I captured silhouettes of our baby in the clouds over and over again, still vivid in my mind from the ultrasound image the night before.  The final words from Hilary remained imprinted upon my mind: "Do this for the baby".  Now stop there.  If you are not motivated by that statement you won't become your best as a Tranter Triathlete.  Suffering in beautiful places is a challenge by choice, a transferable efficacy for something MUCH bigger than yourself - the ones you LOVE.

After an emotional spiral from 60k, I see Hilary at 72k

Yes, I methodically watched the pace drop, so I methodically revisited the well within.  Every 5k, I robotically and routinely performed the following: 5 deep yoga squats, a brief IT band origin / hip flexors massage, peel open and begin consuming another disgusting gel with water, stuff down PB and J sandwich quarters and shake out arms and refocus. After all, it is a privilege to be alive and extremely capable of managing this choice of character development.  If you have done it before, you know it isn't far off to do it again.  To truly live is to test your limits, to expand your awareness and enrich your perspective of life, to laugh deeply when you know it could be much, much worse.

At 60k I expected to see Hilary at the aid station, but unknowingly the I-94 traffic was terrible, so she waited for me at the last aid-station before the finish, at 72k.  I tried to prepare myself for the lonliness of the race (see 60k training run below), but nothing could prepare me for the intense withdrawl from my wife.  The 6-hour period wasn't long, but it was the intensity of the task that added magnitude.  My only source of strength from 50-60k was the anticipation for this reunion, but I had to overcome this hurt and refocus on my basic needs, simply administering the gels and water like an IV, and reconstructing the hope of our reunion at the next aid station, closer to the finish.

Capturing a glimpse of Hilary and having her run alongside me for 50 meters was intensely satisfying.  People were yelling: "You're in 5th place!" and I would respond "I don't know how!" and Hilary's smile and happiness were infectious, helping to rebuild my dismantled self-concept.  She effortlessly traversed the multiple-coloured freshly fallen leaves in bliss looking so beautiful and alive.  In retrospect, it is truly amazing to reflect upon this fragmented moment in time.  Now archived in my subconscious, I will replay this memory to counter any challenging times ahead. 

Sprinting and gesturing a kiss to Hilary in the final yards

It was difficult not to look back after moving beyond her, in that majestic scene, but it was time to go "boot camp" on myself and forge ahead to a personal best performance.  Physical agony began to revisit, now that my emotional needs were met, so I became grateful for the physical pain I felt, as I knew it was far less intense than the emotional.  Normally, in races like the 21k Springbank (London) I could sprint from as far out as 800m, but this task was different and similar to the Ironman.  I knew I could sprint from 400m out and so I did as I exited the main trail and began to circumnavigate the Half Day Road Park just like the backside of a track with the technique and focus but devoid of a true snap.  Someone yelled: "2/10ths of a mile to go!" and I shifted from 3rd to 4th gear and then with only 1/10th of a mile to go Hilary captured the photo above and I gestured a kiss in return, shifting into the final 5th gear.  Curving around the final bend and lunging for the tape and timing mats I knew I may break the minute mark and did - 6h, 47min, 59.6 seconds and just like that the task was complete.

The greater the risk in the challenge, the greater the reward

Overcoming Obstacles Prior to Race Day

Since September 1st, I had been managing plantar fascitis.  On September 9th, I managed to do well in the 21k Springbank race (1:19h), but then on September 23rd, I had to drop out of the 21k Hero's race in (Amherstburg, ON) and thought my dreams of making the ACU team were gone.  I tried to dispose of that thought, but my subconscious would not let it go.  I began cycling a lot and swimming occassionally in addition to maintaining my diligent strength and mobility workouts with my college students. 

After 12 days of absolutely no running, on October 2 (Hilary's birthday) I was inspired to try again.  Milestone celebrations can bring out the best in people, allowing a change in pespective, generating a more holistic picture.  Unable to sleep, knowing something was off, I decided to try running 20 minutes at midnight.  The mental clarity achieved post-run was exhilarating and profound, so I sketched out a plan to possibly attempt training for the 50-miler after my time off and having not run longer then 2-hours in the last 2 months!!  The secret to every risky decision you make comes back to HAPPINESS and I intuitively realized  I needed that race to be happy.  Bear Gryllis' (Man vs Wild) autobiography spoke to me.  So did the ACU National team member patch that arrived at our door with a Purolater package - a free pair of Montrail Rogue Fly (light trail shoes), thanks to my sister-in-law.  I needed to RUN.

Afterall it was the book BORN TO RUN, read for the first time one year ago, after finishing the Ironman that inspired this new personal quest of limit searching.  In times of stress we run; nothing is more satisfying to search and reflect for creative answers.  As a triathlete, I am fortunate to have worked hard to create a custom lifestyle to keep me fit and happy.  So what was stopping me from ultrarunning?  Specificity.  The extreme, never-try-this-at-home plan was devised: run only every other day (to maximize recovery) and increase duration rapidly!  So on October 4th, I ran 1 hour from work and watched Max King win the UROC 100k in the gorgeous trail of Virginia. 

On October 6, the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, I ran in the Montrail Rogue Fly for 2:04h of pure London trails!  Good turnover was necessary after running on previously strength training weakened legs (lunges, explosive leg presses and eccentric quad calf raises, push-ups, pullups, core drills, circuits and then golf ball rolls on foot arches, and finally heel walks and hot tub therapy). YES!! This dream will become reality!

Thanksgiving Monday - 3:42h (43k trails) and then 2 days off running with intensive therapy and self massage. I completed almost 2 laps of the last run.  Wednesday morning run was tough mentally, not recovered attempting race pace efforts, 2 (5k @ race pace) with a small rest holding 4:20 - 4:40/k (16k total).  Finally on Saturday, after 3 days off with nothing but active recovery (small swims, bikes, ice feet, hot tubs), and one week to race day, I performed a 6:30am dark, damp and freezing trail run of 60k covering the London trails in a massive T-shape unaided and race simulated.  5:20h later I was exhausted having consumed 7 gels, 3 bottles of water and 3 granola bars.  Off to the Spa with Hilary for our 2nd wedding anniversary treat - a pedicure for her and a foot/lower leg massage for me!

After 3 more days off in the same style, a mid-week massage (feet/lower legs) and a 20-minute run with strides and one more 20-minute run the day before the race.  Now it was time to go get the ultrasound done.  Afterall, I do these races for things greater than I, so Hilary and I watched the 13-week old baby rotate and move it's long arms (Hilary's limbs) and pointy chin (like mine) to and away from the transducer probe reacting quickly to the pressure - this one looks to be spartan!

The Classic Ultra belt buckle Sub-9 hr award


Name Age Sex Sex
Division Division
Time Pace
State /
Hometown Race Number
1 Oswaldo Lopez 40 M 1 M 40-49 1 6:18:03.8 7:33.7 CA Madera 2
2 Piotr Janczyk 41 M 2 M 40-49 2 6:18:25.2 7:34.1 IL Elmwood Park 46
3 Jordan LaFreniere 29 M 3 M 20-29 1 6:24:57.8 7:42.0 MI Grand Rapids 61
4 Zack Perry 38 M 4 M 30-39 1 6:34:12.4 7:53.0 TN Memphis 74
5 Roburt Tranter 35 M 5 M 30-39 2 6:47:59.6 8:09.6 ON London 96
6 Mike Geldean 50 M 6 M 50-59 1 7:12:33.4 8:39.1 IL Minooka 30
7 Brandt Ketterer 28 M 7 M 20-29 2 7:15:48.0 8:43.0 IL Chicago 53
8 Brian Rourke 35 M 8 M 30-39 3 7:22:11.7 8:50.6 LA St francisville 82
9 John Kiser 51 M 9 M 50-59 2 7:24:17.3 8:53.1 IL Grayslake 54
10 Siamak Mostoufi 38 M 10 M 30-39 4 7:28:48.8 8:58.6 IL Chicago 71
11 Justin Heinz 20 M 11 M 20-29 3 7:45:52.7 9:19.1 IL Geneva 40
12 Tracy Hixon 48 F 1 F 40-49 1 7:48:09.6 9:21.8 IL Chicago 43
13 MARK FINE 47 M 12 M 40-49 3 7:54:32.6 9:29.5 GA ATLANTA 25
14 Mark Konicek 50 M 13 M 50-59 3 7:55:44.9 9:30.9 IL Arlington Heights 60
15 Kenneth Smith 30 M 14 M 30-39 5 8:07:23.5 9:44.9 IN Evansville 89
16 Katie Koester 31 F 2 F 30-39 1 8:20:54.1 10:01.1 KS Prairie Village 58
17 Nick Pinto 45 M 15 M 40-49 4 8:32:42.6 10:15.3 IL Arlington Heights 76
18 Richard Plezia 54 M 16 M 50-59 4 8:35:30.2 10:18.6 Il Morton Grove 77
19 Matthew Tobin 26 M 17 M 20-29 4 8:37:51.3 10:21.4 IL Deerfield 94
20 Dave Caldwell 34 M 18 M 30-39 6 8:38:11.0 10:21.8 IL Chicago 12
21 Brian Pfister 40 M 19 M 40-49 5 8:38:11.8 10:21.8 IL Wilmette 75
22 JP Bordeleau 38 M 20 M 30-39 7 8:38:45.2 10:22.5 IL Chicago 9
23 Mungai Kamiti 60 M 21 M 60-69 1 8:40:24.7 10:24.5 IL Oswego 49
24 Terry Knull 44 M 22 M 40-49 6 8:40:44.4 10:24.9 IL Grayslake 57
25 Adam Kissinger 38 M 23 M 30-39 8 8:40:44.5 10:24.9 IL Grayslake 55
26 Drew Heitman 29 M 24 M 20-29 5 8:45:11.6 10:30.2 IL Shorewood 41
27 Uli Widmaier 50 M 25 M 50-59 5 8:55:13.6 10:42.3 IL Elmhurst 18
28 Scott Gold 25 M 26 M 20-29 6 8:59:23.2 10:47.3 IL Wilmette 32
29 Maritza Hernandez 29 F 3 F 20-29 1 8:59:24.3 10:47.3 IL Chicago 42
30 Anton Weyers 43 M 27 M 40-49 7 9:13:39.3 11:04.4 IL Chicago 97
31 Rita Thiel 49 F 4 F 40-49 2 9:22:09.1 11:14.6 Il Burr Ridge 93
32 Elliot Smith 29 M 28 M 20-29 7 9:25:19.7 11:18.4 IN Highland 88
33 Brian Leach 44 M 29 M 40-49 8 9:35:56.4 11:31.1 IL Algonquin 63
34 Mark Koester 32 M 30 M 30-39 9 9:35:57.1 11:31.1 KS Prairie Village 59
35 Therese Tomiello 30 F 5 F 30-39 2 9:42:47.0 11:39.3 IL Chicago 95
36 Susan Malnati 45 F 6 F 40-49 3 9:51:10.5 11:49.4 IL Chicago 67
37 Mark Hoogterp 53 M 31 M 50-59 6 9:51:52.4 11:50.2 MI Grand Rapids 44
38 Meghan Garvin 33 F 7 F 30-39 3 9:53:29.3 11:52.2 IL Cary 27
39 Richard Pye 53 M 32 M 50-59 7 9:54:39.6 11:53.6 IL Naperville 79
40 Alfredo Pedro 43 M 33 M 40-49 9 9:54:40.0 11:53.6 il Chicago 72
41 Steve Richey 57 M 34 M 50-59 8 10:03:59.1 12:04.8 IL Aurora 80
42 Randy Peoples 53 M 35 M 50-59 9 10:05:08.4 12:06.2 IL Naperville 73
43 Caroline Yasuda 50 F 8 F 50-59 1 10:07:54.4 12:09.5 IL Naperville 100
44 Joe Tennant 55 M 36 M 50-59 10 10:09:22.0 12:11.2 IL Elgin 92
45 Andrew Lausch 40 M 37 M 40-49 10 10:21:12.5 12:25.4 IL Libertyville 62
46 Kerry Knight 46 M 38 M 40-49 11 10:26:17.8 12:31.6 IL Arlington Heights 56
47 Tony Bierman 56 M 39 M 50-59 11 10:27:37.1 12:33.1 IL Effingham 7
48 Evelyn Santos 41 F 9 F 40-49 4 10:28:15.0 12:33.9 IL Des Plaines 84
49 Kevin Johnson 42 M 40 M 40-49 12 10:28:24.2 12:34.1 IL Glen Ellyn 47
50 Elizabeth Coll 50 F 10 F 50-59 2 10:36:39.1 12:44.0 IL Schaumburg 15


NOTE: If interested, I will be posting the 81k Garmin GPS file here when I receive it in the mail. I was so disoriented after finishing, I left the wrist watch GPS on the picnic table while Hilary and I were speaking with 2nd place Piotr about his experience.  Oswaldo was entertaining the crowd!  I will be posting the professional photos here soon.



  1. What an interesting and enlightening recap, Roburt! Thanks so much for running our race and being a part of what makes the DPR experience so special for all of us who are involved. Your comment above, "When you are the most vulnerable you are also the most powerful", is a wonderful insight. I might have to get you permission to put it on a t-shirt :)

    All the best and we hope to see you again soon around the ultra circuit. Rgds, Terry

  2. Thanks Terry!

    Absolutely- please use that quote for a t-shirt!

    Thanks so much for the GPS in the mail!

    I will post the pacing analysis now - it may be of interest:)