Are you ready to get back to racing? On this episode, host Andrew Harley interviews athletes that had the opportunity to race in 2020. Join the conversation as the athletes discuss being in limbo throughout the season with multiple event cancellations. Learn what precautions events are taking in regard to COVID and get tips and advice for handling new policies and procedures for when you're ready to return to the race course.


Intro:  This is the TriDot podcast.  TriDot uses your training data and genetic profile, combined with predictive analytics and artificial intelligence to optimize your training, giving you better results in less time with fewer injuries.  Our podcast is here to educate, inspire, and entertain. We’ll talk all things triathlon with expert coaches and special guests.  Join the conversation and let’s improve together.

Andrew Harley:  Hey folks!  I am really excited for the show today for a couple of reasons.  #1- we have two TriDot athletes making their TriDot podcast debut and I always like conversations with new friends.  And #2- we are talking about racing!  Yeah, races.  Remember those?  Look, I know it has been a good minute since that 4:00 a.m. alarm clock has woken you up for a race day, but as we kick off the new year we are cautiously optimistic that more and more athletes will be returning to racing in 2021.  So we need to be ready for that.  Today I am joined by two athletes that were fortunate enough to race in 2020 and they’ll be sharing their stories and kind of giving us all the inside scoop on what differences to expect at our own next race event.  Our first athlete I am pleased to welcome to the show is Sara St. Vincent.  Sara is from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania where she works negotiating gas and diesel contracts as a Hydrocarbon Dealmaker. Her first triathlon was 70.3 Texas in 2014 and since then she has gone on to 2 Ironman finishes with several 70.3 medals earned along the way.  Sara has been training with TriDot since 2019.  Sara you ready to do the podcast today?

Sara St.Vincent:  I am very excited to share my experiences and frustrations from the past year.  But I have to laugh at the 4:00 a.m. wake-up call because Florida started at 6:00 so I was actually awake at 3:00.

Andrew:  Oh, that’s gross!  I hate the mornings.  I would race more often if it didn’t involve getting up so early in the mornings. Now, Sara we mentioned that your first 70.3 was in 2014 and you shared with me there’s a pretty good story on how you even got signed up for that in the first place.  Do you want to share that real quick with us?

Sara:  Yes.  A group of friends and I were sitting on a patio drinking mimosas and I signed up for a race and then subsequently had to go buy a bike and a bathing suit because I didn’t own either.

Andrew:  Fantastic decision making and here you are many years later.  Also joining us is TriDot athlete Dan Caskie. Dan is from Summerville, South Carolina where he is a physician’s assistant by trade and an award winning BBQ Pittmaster by hobby.  Dan discovered triathlon during a health journey to lose 100 pounds and has been training with TriDot since signing up for his first race in 2019.  He is a USAT Certified Coach and a certified bike fitter. Dan!  Welcome to the show my friend!

Dan Caskie:  Thanks man!  Let’s break out the sanitizer, pull back the mask, and get fired up for this one here.

Andrew:  So I’m Andrew the Average Triathlete, Voice of the People, and Captain of the Middle of the Pack.  As always we'll roll through our warm up question, settle in for our main set conversation, and then wrap up with our cool down.  Lots of good stuff, let's get to it!

Warm up theme: Time to warm up!  Let’s get moving.

Andrew:  Whether it’s during a training session or just going about day to day life, we all know what it is like to get a random song stuck in your head that you just can’t seem to shake.  Sometimes it is a welcome tune that we enjoy and other times it is an earworm we can’t wait to be rid of.  So Dan, Sara, to warm us up today, what is a song that you really like that would get on your nerves mid race if it were to get stuck in your head?  Dan, I’m going to start with you on this one.

Dan:  Alright…I struggled with this a little bit.  I’m one of those philosophical athletes.  When I run with music I’ve got to go with a couple that inspire me to push harder.  I was thinking Matthew West, “What If.”  But it happened the other day, somehow– it played like three times when I was on a long run.  So it’s “Love Lockdown,” Kanye West.  It just kind of got me.

Andrew:  “Love lockdown” (singing)

Dan:  In two miles see how you feel about that?

Sara:  How have I never heard this song before?

Andrew:  You haven’t heard Kanye West, “Love Lockdown”?

Sara:  I don’t think so.

Dan:  It’s a good beat.

Andrew:  Yeah, “Love Lockdown” is a great song, but yeah, I can see that after a couple miles just being like, “Okay, Kanye, I get it bro.  I get it.  My loves on lockdown.  Let’s move along.”  Yeah that’s a great pick.  Sara, what was that song for you?  Something that you like that if it got stuck in your head at first you’d probably be happy, but after a while you’d get real annoyed?

Sara:  So it’s not quite as new as a Kanye song, but “Karma Chameleon” by the Culture Club and that has actually gotten stuck in my head in previous races and it is…it’s really great at first, but it gets old really, really fast.

Andrew:  Really, really hard to shake when it gets stuck in your head.  That’s kind of the thing.  I’ll kind of purposely on a race morning listen to music I like hoping that if something is going to get stuck in my head for the rest of the day it’s going to be one of those songs I heard that morning because logically that’s how you would think it would work, but that’s not always the case, right?  Sometimes you get a song in your head that you’re like, “I haven’t heard that in years!” And somehow it’s the song that’s stuck in my head.  A song that does it for me…this is totally random, but I wasn’t planning on sharing this. The main theme song from Beauty and the Beast.  For whatever reason, that song gets in my head on my long workouts and we don’t listen to that often.  I’m not just firing up the Beauty and the Beast Soundtrack randomly, but yeah.  Sometimes I’m just running and I’m like, “Beauty and the Beast” (singing).  But anyway.  My answer to this question was not that.  My answer to this question, a song that I actually like that gets in my head that gets annoying is “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke.  That came out many, many summers ago now and the year it came out it was just like the song of the summer.  It was played on all the radio stations, all over the place.  By the end of the summer since they played it so much on the radio, everybody was so over “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke.  So now when I hear it, it was like so many years had to pass before I could like that song again and so now I’m back on board with “Blurred Lines.”  It’s a song I enjoy if it comes on my Spotify or something I’m happy about it, but if that got in my head on race day it would be game over.  It would get to me.  I would have to just frustratingly walk off the course and just storm off.

Dan:  Yeah that morning DJ can set you up man.  Sometimes he gets a good one and sometimes, man, they’ll send you some crazy song and you’re done.

Andrew:  Hey guys, we’re going to throw this question out to you on our social media. Go to Facebook, I AM TriDot and join that group, be a part of that group, and you’re going to see that question out there.  What is a song that you like that if it were to get stuck in your head on race day would get on your nerves?  We’ve thrown out a couple good ones here– “Love Lockdown” by Kanye, “Karma Chameleon” by Culture Club, and “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke, and a bonus shoutout to the Beauty and the Beast Soundtrack.  What is something that would do that for you?

Main set theme:  On to the main set.  Going in 3…2…1…

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Andrew:  All through 2020 triathletes had to roll with the punches of races getting moved, deferred, and/or canceled.  Some athletes were able to get in a race or two, but many never actually made it to the start line at all.  Obviously for many, many reasons we are hoping and praying to see a healthier world in 2021 and here at TriDot we are cautiously optimistic that more athletes will return to racing this year.  With so many deferrals and cancellations, I know all three of us just feel grateful to just have had the opportunity to get out on course this year and get a race in.  Sara, what races were you able to participate in this year?

Sara:  I was able to participate in the Onalaska Triathlon which was a half distance and then Ironman Florida.  I was originally signed up for Texas 70.3 in Galveston and Texas Ironman in the Woodlands. Of course neither of those happened so I was grateful to at least be able to race those distances in different races.

Andrew:  Yeah and Onalaska I know Coach John Mayfield raced that one.  I know Coach Jeff Raines raced that one and we had some more Texans…

Sara:  Joanna, yeah.

Andrew:  Local Texans, Joanna Nami from Hissyfit Racing raced that one.  I heard so many tales about how miserable that race was.  Can you share about that for a second why that was the case?

Sara:  So I got up there late and they had all ridden the bike course and I remember asking John, “Hey, what about the bike course?”  He was like, “Yeah, it’ll be fine.”  And after the race he goes, “I guess we should have talked about racing on hills.”  I’m like, “Yeah, maybe a little bit.”  I will say though that that is the race that convinced me that I needed a new bike. So I finished that race and bought myself a new bike before Florida, so that was a good thing.  But it was really hot and there was not a lot of direction on where to go for the run so thank goodness for the spectators that were just hanging out around.  We were like, “Where do we go?  Which way do we go?  How far do we have to go?”  One guy finished and he goes, “My Garmin only says 10 miles.” and they were like, “Turn around, go back out, and run three more!”

Andrew:  It was something.  Yeah, I just heard like even Coach Jeff Raines who is a strong runner, he was like “It was so hot, we were all just walking the run course.”  So it’s funny. It’s your first race of the year.  Everybody’s so excited to race when people get out there and it’s just a miserable, hot, muggy South Texas day.  So kudos to you for enduring it.

Sara:  Yeah, at one point I ran by John Mayfield and I was smiling and he just looked at me and goes, “Shut-up!” and I didn’t even say anything.  We were all just dying out there.

Dan:  Man!

Andrew: He didn’t want to see anybody happy.  Yeah.  So a few of us from the TriDot team drove out to Panama City Beach and we socially distanced while cheering you, Sara, and kind of our other TriDot folks on that were able to do the Panama City full Ironman in Florida.  Now that was a different day.  It was a beautiful day for racing.  What were just some of your favorite moments from the day?

Sara:  So a few things.  I got to actually see Chris Nikic on the bike course and then on the run course which was so, so inspiring.

Andrew:  And for our listeners who aren’t familiar with Chris, he’s the first athlete with Down Syndrome to finish an Ironman.  So Ironman obviously was, rightfully so, kind of publicizing his attempt at that and I know he was on social media quite a bit leading up to the event sharing how his training was going.  Yeah, we saw him several times, Sara, on course and you actually Sara– I was hanging out…at these races I try to keep the bib numbers of our TriDot athletes on the Ironman app pulled up so I can try to get pictures and video footage of you guys.  So I was waiting at the bike mount line for you to come through and Chris– I don’t remember if Chris came through on his bike right before you or right after you…

Sara:  Before.

Andrew:  Yeah, but it was right around the same time that you came through so I got to see him start the bike course.  But, super cool to see Chris finish as the first athlete with Down Syndrome.

Sara:  He, when I passed him– so I saw him on the bike and passed him and we were all just yelling out words of encouragement.  I just yelled “Go Chris!  Keep going!” and the guy who was helping guide him he goes, “Okay Chris, now’s when you say thank you.”  I was like, “He doesn’t have to say a damn thing to me.  He just needs to keep doing him and just keep going.  He just needs to know that we’re here for him.  He doesn’t have to respond one bit.”  So another moment, it’s memorable, kind of funny…I was on the bike course and everyone is just doing their own race and I must have passed a guy and he saw me pass him then he came flying by me standing up on the bike and as he’s passing me he says, “well if I can’t even pass you (meaning a girl) then I don’t even deserve to be out here.” which I thought was so rude.  I was like “whatever.”

Andrew:  The nerve!

Sara:  The nerve.  So…

Andrew:  I remember maybe a year or so ago I was introduced to the term being “chicked.”  Kind of that chauvinistic guy mantra is “I don’t want to get chicked on the bike course.” I don’t want a girl to pass me on the bike course.  Listen, I don’t throw around swear words very casually.  I’m very intent when I use them.  I love it when a badass woman cyclist goes by me on the bike course. Like, listen.  If you’re fitter than me, you’re fitter than me and there are hundreds of women on every single race that I do that are fitter than me and will pass me on the swim, the bike, and the run.  It’s awesome!  Good for them.  That guy can get over it.  And listen! He was, like to pass you back I mean, he’s over biking, he’s over extending himself, and he’s going to suffer on the run and that’s just karma, right?

Sara:  That was the best part was I did my entire bike based on heart rate so I just tried to stick to 145 on my heart rate the whole time.  So as soon as the wind shifted directions and I had a little bit to give, I passed him again and he muttered something as I passed him and I never saw him again for the rest of the race.

Andrew:  Justice!

Sara:  Yeah, it was justice.  I will say though the thing that was great with seeing you, John, Elizabeth, and Steve, I mean I saw you guys multiple times.  The last quarter of the race, of the run, when I was dying Steve I think was driving and seeing me every mile just to make sure I kept going.  He was like, “Just keep going!”  I was like, “I hate you.  Stop talking.”  But…

Andrew:  What a great partner/Sherpa for the day.

Sara:  Yes!

Dan:  That’s one of the amazing things about triathlon, like you said. The support makes such a huge difference.  I remember I was passed on a course by a pregnant lady on the run portion.  And I’m like, “Alright, she’s suffering.  I can suck it up a little bit and go.” Then when they pass with the age numbers on there I was like, “Okay, this 70-some year old person just passed me. Let’s go!”  But I had a similar experience on the end of an Olympic where some friends happened to be in town and they found me on the course.  They were texting with my wife and I come around a corner where I’m getting ready to walk.  I’m like, “At that stop sign I’m walking.”  And they start yelling and screaming, “Go Dan!  Go Dan!”  Of course you can’t walk when people are there so that picked me up.  I needed that so bad.  So it’s huge encouragement seeing people at the race.  It’s so cool.

Andrew:  So Sara, you had just a spectacular 11 hour 56 minute finish time which was a PR for you at the full Ironman distance.  Congratulations on that.  What was it like crossing the finish line and what did that sub-12 finish time mean to you?

Sara:  So the finish time for me was a bit unexpected although John continuously told me, “I think you’re going to go sub-12.”  I was like, “You are crazy.”

Andrew:  What did your RaceX say?  What was the RaceX prediction?

Sara:  I’d have to go back and look.  I think it was 12:30, maybe 12:40.  I don’t think it was under 12.

Andrew:  Ooo, you beat RaceX.

Sara:  I think.  I need to go back and look, but I guess I didn’t really think it was a possibility until I hopped of the bike and of course when I saw ya’ll at the beginning of the run, he goes “You have 4 ½ hours to finish this run to go sub-12.Go!”  So I padded off with my bag of dill potato chips and my running bottle and a couple hours later I finished.  It was different crossing the finish line.  So I did Texas in 2015 and of course then you had all the spectators around the finish line.  You had all the people cheering you in as you were going into the chute.  I mean, you still had people cheering you in as you were approaching the finish line, but of course you didn’t have anybody around the finish line because they had that completely blocked off.  But it was still awesome.  They had music playing and it sounded like people were cheering and Mike Riley was announcing so you got to hear, “Sara St. Vincent you are an Ironman!” which was pretty awesome.  There was this brief moment as I was running down the chute I’m like, “Man, I should really throw my water bottle so that I don’t have my water bottle in my pictures when I’m finishing.”  I’m like, “This thing is like 30 bucks.  I don’t want to throw it!”

Andrew:  And what’s funny is you’re making those kind of decisions when you're 12 hours into a race and dehydrated and starving and exhausted.  I think John said it before.  I don’t know if he said it on the podcast or just off the podcast to me, but I’ve heard him say like, know how you want to look for that finish line picture.  Have it in your head.  Am I going to throw my arms up?  Am I going to ditch my water bottle?  Am I going to take my jacket off?  Am I going to zip up the tri kit?  You know, kind of have some idea of what you want that picture to look like because once you get there and you’re exhausted the critical decision making isn’t always there.

Sara:  Yeah.  It was cool though.  But I just…I didn’t actually think I was capable of hitting that time so it was pretty amazing finishing.

Andrew:  Yeah, no and we were thrilled for you.  We’ll talk a little bit more later about some of the differences from your first Ironman without COVID precautions to your second Ironman with the COVID precautions, but the finish line while we’re talking about it, was one of those.  There wasn’t the ability for fans to gather at the finish line. So fans were kind of spread out.  To their credit, they had a very long finishing chute.  The finishing chute I think was over half a mile that you were on the carpet, in the barricades so there was a lot of space for fans to spread out and kind of be there.  So that’s where we were kind of set up trying to watch some TriDot athletes come in, but the finish line experience itself, we as fans could not even get close to it to see you cross.  I’m glad Mike Riley was there.  If you’ve got to have somebody there that’s not your friends and family it needs to be Mike Riley.

So Dan, what I like about your season that’s a little bit different is you were able to get in a variety of races with your trusty RV camper.  You and your family just made a road trip, travel experience out of a few of them.  So following the Caskie fam on social media this summer was a lot of fun.  What races were you able to get in that way?

Dan:  Man, it was a great year for us.  I was actually able to line up 11 times in races– from running races to triathlons.  I was starting to add it up when you asked me.  I think we put about 5800 miles just for racing and family vacations– Mississippi and things like that.  So it was a fun time for us to do it in a different way than we did before and kind of incorporate that family part of it.  We went from everything from some local sprint races that didn’t take off. I was fortunate enough to have an early season race in Ft. Lauderdale.  That was March, so it was right as things were starting to look a little funny.  Then went to Mississippi, was out in Mississippi at Deep South.  That was a 70.3 and even back to a couple races in Florida and Challenge Daytona here we ended up in December.  So between that and some running races that we got in, 11 times so that was pretty crazy.

Andrew:  That’s absolutely wild.  I didn’t even realize that you raced 11 times.  That’s literally the opposite of everybody else's race season, right?  I think athletes that raced last year, we’re in the minority.  The majority of athletes didn’t get the chance to race whether it was just intentionally like saying, “Hey, those races will be there next year.  I’m just going to hit pause and stay healthy.”  Or whether it was because of cancelations and postponements.  So to get 11 races in is really something.  Talk about getting good use out of that RV, right?  5800 miles getting to all those races and getting to travel with the family is super cool.  From those 11 events, which few of them would you say really stood out in your mind as your favorites?

Dan:  Yeah, so a couple of reasons it waxed and wanes emotionally and stuff. We had some great family vacations and stuff and the top one…maybe it’s most recent was Challenge Daytona.  I did that with the whole family.  My mom raced the 5K.  My wife had a foot injury from stepping on my son’s toy duck so she couldn’t run.  My daughter did a triathlon and I did a race.  So that was amazing.  In Florida, we did a Jacksonville tri and my step-mother who unfortunately passed away in December, but she was able to be there and see me race.  So that was really, really cool.

Andrew:  Oh, that is cool.

Dan:  So the local series was also really special.  There was no fans and it was really weird, but it was like me against the clock.  It was me against my training and really dialed in with the coaches and what I wanted to perform and going out there three different times on the same course, the same race, and seeing the improvement I could make with the right training and the right choices, that was really special.  So I hope that I…

Andrew:  No that is really cool.  What improvement did you see throughout the year with your training and everything going as well as it did?

Dan:  I’m still new to triathlon and this whole athlete thing is still new to me. I have definitely improved in speed and in confidence which working on a little bit of those different ones each time. You know, making sure I had a confident swim and not blowing up on the swim.  Then, okay power on the bike.  Then, hey let’s focus on the run.  So through that my times have improved.  I’ve PR’d almost every race I’ve done over the last– comparatively speaking.  You know, some of the distances didn’t all add up, but when you look at the time per minute, time per mile kind of thing, definitely just stark improvement by staying in the training and focusing on bike fitness.  Got a new bike, bike positioning, bike fit.  That’s a huge thing for me.  I learned a ton about that this year and then learning to push myself to where I thought “I can’t believe I went this fast.” to “Wow I’m way faster than that now.” So good improvements.  Yeah.

Andrew:  Yeah.  That’s the dream.  That’s what we’re all aspiring to, right?  Just a little bit better every day.  A little bit better every race and when you look back it’s cool to see how far you’ve come.  So congrats on the good year, Dan.  So my one race of the year was also Challenge Daytona.  Obviously I’ve talked about it on the podcast several times and I admittedly…I was one of those athletes that about half way through the year I was like, “You know what?  Races will be there next year.  I’m not looking for a reason or an excuse to get on a plane to travel.  We’re just going to stay home and keep training and next year kind of get back at it.”  And Coach John Mayfield was really interested in doing Challenge Daytona and he knows I have family in Florida so he was like, “Man, let’s go to Daytona and let’s do that race.”  At first I was hesitant.  Again, I had already kind of mentally decided to just not race this year.  So my grandfather passed away back in June.  He was very elderly.  It was very expected.  He lived a great life, but my family just kind of kept putting off doing a memorial service for just COVID precautions and so finally in December they booked his memorial service for the weekend after Challenge Daytona.  So they wanted me and my brother and several of us to fly in for it and it was like, okay, well I need to go honor him and his life and his legacy and it was a privilege to do that with my family.  So I wasn’t looking for a reason to travel for a race, but since I was traveling anyway, it was like, “well, why not pack the bike and go do Challenge Daytona with John.”

Dan:  That’s awesome.  That’s great.

Andrew:  So it really worked out well to get to do both of those and I’m so glad I was able to because one– you know again, we’ll talk about it in a little bit, but the Challenge Family did a great job of making sure that that event was safe and distanced and at no point did I feel like I was put in a bad situation because of racing.  It was so fun to get out there.  It was a great atmosphere.  It was great to…a lot like you said Dan, kind of take the training, take the fitness that was earned and see what it could do on the race course.  I PR’d a 70.3 for me and was just thrilled.  But, I say all that to say John Mayfield and I were walking up to the registration line and the first TriDot people that we see is the Caskie family and there’s Dan, “Andrew, John what’s up!”  And we had met before at previous events and chit chatted a little bit so we knew you pretty well, but it was cool to see you guys there doing the sprint.  To see your whole family there racing.  And your daughter did the kids race and that’s one of the cool things about the Challenge Family.  They made it a weekend long festival.  There were multiple races of multiple distances.  TriDot had athletes doing the duathlon, the aquathon, the kids race, the full, the sprint– not the full.  The half, the middle distance and the sprint.  So tell me about your daughter’s experience doing the kid’s race?

Dan:  Yeah, Abigal, so she’s 11 now.  So she just aged up in October and so she has done some local stuff and says, “Hey, I want to do triathlons.”  It was awesome for her to kind of say, “Hey Daddy, can I do that?”  In preparation she was able to go to a triathlon camp that was held here over the summer.  So that was really cool.  She’s a fish. She’s loved to swim since she was a little girl and one of the things that got me into triathlon was that they opened a YMCA a mile from the house.  So she’s on the Y swim team.  I was like open water swim freaked me out, but she was like, “Okay, 200 meters that’s it?” and I was like, “Yes, that’s what you’ve got to do.”

Andrew:  Fearless.

Dan:  So that didn’t bother her at all.  To see her line up there, I’m telling you.  Just such an emotional…like you can’t describe the pride.  It’s one thing to do it for yourself and to accomplish it, but to see her just fearlessly jump in there it was such a…it was a crazy weekend.  I was emotional.  We lost my step-mother, she passed away on Friday and she was racing Saturday.  So it was just so cool.  She didn’t quit.  She’s not the fastest and she’s getting there.  She got on the bike, a new bike for her.  We got her kind of a race bike and boy, she did great.  She pushed through.  We’ve taught her that we do hard things and things are hard.  She pushed through.  Big emotional weekend.  She’s definitely going to do more, she said.  In fact she’s signed up for 2021.

Andrew:  Alright.  Can’t wait to see her out there.  Dan, becoming a triathlete has just been a larger part of a health journey for you. You’ve lost over 100 pounds just on your way to a healthier lifestyle.  What inspired that journey for you and how has triathlon helped?

Dan:  Five years ago I found myself stuck.  I was just tired.  I was miserable.  I thought this was the lot I was dealt, but as a healthcare professional I was telling people to get healthy and doing nothing about it myself.  I was a hypocrite.  As a father I would drive my daughter to the park which was less than a half mile, a quarter mile from the house, sit in my car in the air conditioner because I couldn’t play with her.  Our church announced a mission trip to Kenya, a place that my wife had a heart for. She had done mission trips before. We were both excited, but quickly I said, “Man, I can’t go.  I’m overweight.  I don’t know if I can fit in an airplane seat.  I’ll get eaten by a lion.  I’ll die in the desert.”  And I realized that I had allowed my body and my health to limit my ability to serve God. It’s one thing to not have the time or the resources, but at the same time this was something I was in control of and we said no more.  We said we had to change.  We reached out to a college friend of ours who I had been watching on her health journey and she told us about a company called Isagenix and helped us.  If we could put good stuff in our body, get the junk out it would do what it was designed to do, and we would find that health that we were looking for.  So we said, “Okay, we’ll give it 60 days.”  Well that was nearly 5 ½ years ago.  Since then we’ve had amazing results.  I’ve lost over 110 pounds, almost 120.  Since then, man, I’ve used TriDot with my nutrition to grow and excel as a triathlete getting faster and healthier along the way.  Now I’m more on the performance product side of things and recovery.  I could never work out before because I couldn’t recover well.  So I’ve learned so much about that fourth discipline and now triathlon helps me live an abundant life and share that with others. So that’s been kind of how it’s all fit together and it’s just so much fun.  We’re having a blast and it’s been such a blessing to us and now we’re helping others.

Andrew:  Well very good.  So Dan, you were able to get 11 events in like you said, and a lot of those were the locally produced races all the way to the sprint at Challenge Daytona, a major race production company.  What were some of the precautions that you saw events taking for COVID that athletes heading into the races this year should be aware of?

Dan:  Sure.  It was definitely a progression.  The first race that I did was a local race and it was kind of unknown.  They were strict.  There was no spectators, but they hadn’t figured out things like temperature checks and screening profiles.  Basically they said if you’re healthy come, if you’re not don’t show up. The race did do a rolling start. It was the first time at this race as normally everybody jumps in in waves.  So they had us go in a couple seconds apart.  They were still figuring this whole six feet thing out.  I think I had two bikes on the rack; it was just two bikes per rack or something.  They had to mail all the trophies home which for a ceramic mug in the United States Postal Service was a bad idea.  Fortunately, I won one from every race and none of mine got broke.  So I was like, “Yes!”  So that was awesome.  Then it progressed.  Some of the other races they started to do the temperature checks before the daily races. Definitely the post race stuff kept just getting cut down.  Nutrition changed a bunch.  I know that affected a lot of people and then the rolling starts you started to see.  I felt like, as you did Andrew, that by the time we showed up at Challenge Daytona they had a really good system and of course people had dealt with it for a while and I think the triathlete community was really respectful at that time to say, “Hey what seems to make sense.” and to have these different areas set up where you could see the different levels that people were going through.  Inside buildings where it was crowds they were doing more stuff and trying to keep everything outside.  So it was an evolution, but those were the kind of things– wetsuits not being…no helpers with that was one of the big things though.

Andrew:  Yeah and that’s a good point.  Some of the takeaways just from listening to you that I want people to note is on race morning, maybe get there a little bit sooner than you normally would because there are temperature checks.  You want to make sure you have enough time to get through that.  There’s not the traditional body marking line anymore. A lot of races are asking people to body mark themselves ahead of time, you know if that’s just a Sharpie at home or using TriTats at home.

Sara:  Florida didn’t even require any body markings.

Andrew:  Oh really.  For Ironman Florida?  Okay. So it was just on you that if you want those race pictures afterwards find a way to get the body marking on yourself beforehand, right?

Dan:  They were big about the bib.  Just making sure you had the bib on the run.  That was I think they centered on that.  A couple of the races didn’t care about your bike as much, but you’ve got to have your bib on the run was pretty much all they said for marking.

Andrew:  Okay.  Good to know. Like you said Dan, no wetsuit strippers. You had to take your wetsuit off on your own.  Another thing you mentioned was the nutrition.  I know the Challenge Family, I know Ironman– Elizabeth James, Coach John Mayfield, and myself we volunteered at an aid station at Ironman Florida and so we first hand saw kind of the differences in where the nutrition is. We were not allowed to hand nutrition to an athlete.  An athlete had to take it from the table.  So we were essentially standing multiple feet behind the table keeping the table stocked for athletes to then grab things themselves.  So all that stuff is still there.  There’s still nutrition on course.  There’s still water on course.  There’s just a little less help from volunteers.  I know Challenge Family they had less volunteers at each aid station and so there were a few fewer aid stations.  So just kind of know.  Maybe if you haven’t carried a water bottle in the past for that long course race, maybe you carry a water bottle; a little handheld one or something just knowing there’s not going to be as many there.  So just look into your course ahead of time.  Look at what the aid stations are going to offer.  Look at what their precautions are.  Both Ironman and Challenge Family and a lot of local races are being very proactive about announcing ahead of time to athletes what those aid stations are going to have and what they’re going to look like.  So just make sure whatever your races are in 2021 as you head into them you’re doing your due diligence there to look up those.  Sara, for you at the Ironman level, what were some of the differences that you saw Ironman take?  Because you raced your first Ironman was back in 2014 so obviously no COVID precautions necessary and then your second one was 2020.  So just thinking between the two of those, what were some of the things that you saw that you would want to point out?

Sara:  I mean, it started even just from packet pickup.  You actually had to make a reservation to go pick up your packet.  You couldn’t just show up at any time and grab everything.  They would check you in before you went to grab your packet.  You had to stand in distanced lines.  Only athletes are allowed in which typically you would take your family in, you would go to the expo, but only the athletes were actually allowed into the village.  Even the shop after you checked in– and I think it’s because they didn’t know how many people were actually going to show up, but for every Ironman race I’ve done I always buy the name shirt; the shirt that has all the names on the back, and they didn’t have those there.  You actually had to order those on-line which is a bit of a bummer because it’s nice to walk away– like see your name on the shirt and then walk away with it.  But I had to end up ordering that one on-line.  For bike check in, so when you picked up your packet for bike check in you had to get a slip of paper that said I want to check in my bike at this time and you had to bring that piece of paper and your timing chip the next day to actually to be able to check in your bike.  You can’t just show up drop it off.

Andrew:  Which that to me Sara, and you can answer this from the athlete’s perspective. I mean, that to me almost sounds better even non COVID because it’s normally just such a crap shoot on you can show up early trying to beat the rush or you can show up later trying to let the rush die down and you just never know if you’re going to get caught at the wrong time with a huge crowd trying to check in and it almost sounds like a nice way to control how many people are checking in at once anyway just logistically.  Did you find yourself liking it or was it harder to try to pin down one narrow time window that you could go do all that?

Sara:  No, I don't think narrowing down the time window is a big deal. Again, it wasn’t a big deal.  I just picked a time I knew I would be there.  But I mean if you had issues maybe with flights getting canceled, it might become a little bit stressful if you missed your first window, can you go pick up your packet at a later window? I’m not sure about those, but it was fine.  Dropping off the bike was fine.  The first race I did of course you dropped off your bike at the bike rack and then you dropped off your running bag in one section and your bike bag in another because you would grab them and then go into the changing tents.  Of course, this year there are no changing tents.  You drop both bags at your bike rack so everything was there with you at that time.

Andrew:  So athletes that needed a change of clothes, did you see anybody just doing full on changes out in the open?  Or do you know how anybody handled that?

Sara:  I don’t know how anybody did it.  I didn’t change.  I just made a conscious decision that I wasn’t going to try to change out of anything wet.  It’s hard enough when you’re trying to do it without trying to cover up or do it in a porta potty.  Because they did say you could go change in porta potties which that does not sound appealing to me in the least.

Andrew:  I don’t know logistically how I would pull that off.

Sara:  It’s hard enough…I mean as a female it’s hard enough getting a sports bra off so you don’t need any other restrictions trying to…The first Ironman I will say the women in the changing tent were amazing because they were pulling wet clothes off of everybody.  So I don’t know if I would have been able to do it myself.  Then for race morning, you go into transition and I honestly can’t remember if I took stuff out of my bag or if I left stuff in my bag, it was kind of a blur.  But you go in and you just stand by your bike and you wait for them to call you.  They did a self-seeded start; a rolling start. So they would call out “If you’re going to be between these finish times for the swim, line up.”  And you’d line up and then you’d walk across the street. I’m sure you guys saw it when you walked in that very long line all the way across the street and then down to the beach and into corrals and they were letting, same as Dan said for his races, they were letting people go every couple seconds.

Andrew:  I was very impressed at Ironman for how controlled that start was. Because essentially, Sara, they had athletes four wide with a couple feet in between athletes four wide and they had little individual cones for people to stand on.  So you were six feet behind the person in front of you.  You were six feet in front of the person behind you.  You were a couple feet away from the person to your right or left and when you first saw it you were like, “Man, this is going to take forever!”  But it didn’t.  They were able to corral everybody and get them in a very controlled manner down to the beach, into the water, and within as much time as normal. Everybody was in the water and swimming and fine the rest of the race.  Dan for you at local races for Challenge Family and Sara for you at Ironman, it’s what? Masks on until the start and then masks back on once you finish, correct?

Sara:  Yeah, they had a trash can right at the swim start so when they said, “okay you can go swim.” they had trash cans right there that you dropped your mask in and then you went into the water.

Dan:  Yeah, that way you could be in line without worrying about– people were like, “well I want to have my fancy mask.”  They gave you a disposable mask for the line.  That way if you preferred to wear a different type of mask you only had to wear that one for that.  They handed you your medal and a mask at the same time which you know if you were still hyperventilating was just not…I mean they were legitimate about it and they were like, “Hey use this,” but everybody gave you a second.  There was enough space at the finishing chute and stuff like that to be able–  Timing chips, that was a different story, like trying to stand still and bend over and get your… that was painful.

Sara:  Yeah, I could not do that.  I mean at the end when I finished they gave me the mask and they said, “We need your timing chip.”  I’m like, “Okay.”  And I stood there and the guy stood there and we just looked at each other.  It was like a stand-off.  He goes, “Can you bend down and get it.”  I’m like, “Are you kidding me?  No!”

Andrew:  No, I can’t bend down right now.  Do you know what I just did?  I just ran a sub-12 hour Ironman.  I can’t bend down.

Sara:  So I had to get it, but it was funny because we were both just standing there. He goes, “Could I take it off for you?” I’m like, “If you want it back that’s the only way you’re going to get it.”

Andrew:  And shoutout to all the volunteers because they are great.  I know they’re dealing with some different procedures and things they’re supposed to do and not do.  So shoutout to all the volunteers who have to make all the races happen.

Sara:  Oh, heck yes!  The volunteers– I will say to you the volunteers in transition were amazing.  I know one guy came by and he was like, “Just give me– I know you have stuff here.  Just give me your trash.” and he had a trash bag.  He was like, “Just throw your trash in here so you can keep it away from the rest of your stuff.”  So it was great.  I will say the biggest change from my first race to Florida though, nobody else can go get your stuff after the race is over.  When you drop your stuff…when you start off on the run before you were able to give people a ticket and they could go and they could get your stuff for you, get it loaded up, and then you didn’t have to worry about it at the end while this year I had to go get my stuff by myself.  So I crossed the finish line, they gave me my mask, they gave me a bag with the medal, a t-shirt, something else.  They gave me a box of food.  They took off my timing chip and they were like, “Okay, now go collect your things.”  I’m like, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”  So I, you know, shuffled on over to my bike rack and got everything situated.  I was fortunate enough that Steve found somewhere that was on the other side of the barricades that he could stand and I could just pass everything over to him so I didn’t have to take anything too far. So he took my bike and all my bags over the barricades.  Then he goes, “This is the only thing you need right now.” and handed me a cold Bud Light.

Andrew:  So thinking back to all these things that were just slightly different about your 2020 race experience, what are some last second…we talked about some things there, but what are some guidance or tips that you would give athletes on handling these changes that you learned that maybe you wished you had known going into the 2020 races?

Sara:  So I mean, it’s not really what I learned, but I would say just as a mindset. Make sure to just be prepared to be patient.  Be ready to wait in a line.  Be ready to wear a mask when they ask you to.  Then, again I know we talked about this, but for the full distance be prepared to find another way to change clothes if you want to do that because there are no changing tents.  But it’s really just be patient and be respectful.  That’s what it’s all about.  If you’re not respectful to the rules then we’re not going to be allowed to race.

Andrew:  Yeah.  And Dan said it earlier.  The tri community is a very positive community by default.  We’re all very, typically optimistic and positive team player kind of people.  Everybody at– I only went to one race this year, but the one race I went to everybody was very respectful and did what they needed to do.  The Challenge Daytona swim start, it was like the Ironman one.  They had cones out and we were supposed to stand on the cones appropriately distanced.  Everybody was wearing masks and you could pitch the mask right before the swim start and it was funny because on social media there was a picture going around from the Challenge Daytona swim start where it looked like, from a long way away, from the other side of the lake, it looked like a big mass of athletes in wetsuits about to jump in the water and people were like, “Oh my goodness!  If we can’t respect the rules on race day they’re not going to let us race next year.” And it was like, I don’t know what angle that picture was taken from.  Like, being out there as an athlete in the moment I felt totally safe. I was totally distanced from everybody. I was never– I was literally standing with Coach John Mayfield and another TriDot athlete.  We were all wearing our masks about to jump in the water. There wasn’t another athlete around me. So you’re jumping in about to swim and start the race and it felt very safe and very controlled.  I know to some extent it’s on the athletes to stay apart and to follow the rules.  It’s on the spectators to do the same.  At Ironman Florida there were certainly some spots along the course where spectators were grouping a little closer than maybe they should have, but Ironman can’t control all 140 miles of the course how close people are standing to each other. You know, it’s kind of on us as spectators to be respectful of the rules and for the most part I saw people doing that.

Sara:  I’d say my favorite spectator– sorry I didn’t mean to interrupt.  But my favorite spectator they had, they were giving the butt flaps, but it was the six foot stick that they were…

Andrew:  Yeah, they were at the run turnaround and they had these giant plastic hands basically on like broomsticks and they were slapping runners on the butt from six feet apart.  Yep. We saw them at the run turn around. That was hilarious.  Dan at your events what were a couple last minute tips you would give to athletes heading into their next race?

Dan:  I think the biggest thing is do you.  We’ve said this as a family with what’s going on; is we have our standards. We know how we’ve chosen to protect ourselves to feel comfortable and then just be prepared to see other people who feel different than you.  Some people are, they keep their space and don’t get near me and they’re nervous and uncomfortable and I’ve seen people running in a mask and that’s on them. Other people they’ll go up and hug everybody they know.  So what I would say is don’t worry about what other people think in that moment. Decide what you want to do for your family and what you’re comfortable with do it and if you’re ill or you’ve been exposed or somebody’s ill or you get a weird feeling, just stay home.

Andrew:  Yeah, great point Dan.  I’m glad you pointed that out.  I know for me, my wife and I have been a little bit more cautious with COVID and we err on the side of staying home when we can stay home and doing less instead of more.  We kind of recognize we have that luxury.  There are people that have to go into their workplace and there are people that have to go out and put themselves out there a little bit more just by default of their lifestyle or their job and we’re both blessed with jobs that allow us to largely work from home.  So we try to love our neighbor and keep our distance.  So we recognize we’re on the more conservative end of the spectrum. I felt totally safe out on the race course.  Again, I was not looking to travel for a race this year, but I was pleasantly surprised by the experience.  I did my research.  I want to point this out to folks.  Now that we have kind of a sample size of races that have happened from local sprints and Olympics, from the local 70.3 Onalaska Tri that Sara did and similar races like that to the big Ironman and Challenge Family races that have a ton of athletes there.  There have been no reports of athletes leaving those events getting sick, of athletes leaving those events feeling like they got exposed.  By default our sport is outdoors, right?  We’re racing outdoors, we’re moving through the air. We’re not standing in one spot for very long and so even that swim start where you are grouped together a little bit, you’re spread out, you’re wearing a mask, you’re not there very long, and it’s been very controlled.  To credit the sport, organizers are taking the precautions they can.  Athletes are largely being respectful of the rules and each other and it’s been a great experience.  So just kind of all the ups and downs, the twists and turns of training in 2020, unsure if each race would happen, and then just navigating the differences of racing under COVID precautions.  How much did having a coach help you through this year?  You mentioned Coach Jeff Raines, a podcast regular, is your coach.  Coach John Mayfield, Sara, is your coach.  I do want to point out to people I did not choose you guys specifically because of that. I promise.  I’ve met you both.  I’ve heard your stories and I just thought you’d be a great fit to share your racing experiences this year.  Sara, for you how much did having a coach help you out?

Sara:  It was definitely a weird year so I am really glad that John was there for me to talk to when I was sick or unmotivated or traveling.  Even signing up for Onalaska, he sent me a text one day and he goes, “Sign up.  It’s a go. It fits into your training plan for Florida.  Just sign up.”  Okay. So that’s how I ended up signing up signing up for Onalaska.

Andrew:  Yes, Coach.

Sara:  Yes, Sir.  Then even towards the end, John doesn’t live very far from me so towards the end when the rides were getting super long I was able to ride with him and Joanna and a group of amazing women.  So it was even nice just getting that time with him to talk about race strategy and how I was feeling.  Of course I bought a new bike in between Onalaska and Florida so even talking about “okay, what’s your strategy for where you’re going to put the different things on your bike?”

Andrew:  You have the blue Argon 18, yeah.

Sara:  It’s very, very– I know.  I got so jealous…well I mean I have wheels that match now so that’s a plus.

Andrew:  Yes, fantastic.  Dan for you, having Jeff Raines in your corner, having that coach kind of walking you through such a different year, what did that do for you?

Dan:  I think it was monster.  I will give a shoutout to you Andrew.  The podcasts were cool too.  You can ask Jeff, he could tell what time on Monday I listened to the podcast.  Just check his phone messages.  I’d blow it up and say “Hey we need to talk about blah, blah, blah, blah.” after each one.  I think the Power-Stamina Paradox was one that came out that really helped get the right training right.  Goal setting. One that came out just– doing the training when there’s nothing in sight; one of the more recent ones.  It was certainly good going forward as I’m prepping for May, but in that build decision it was a critical time between hey do I go to 70.3 or do I get faster  with this and then progress and then having to pivot, right?  Oh hey, my Olympic is canceled, what the heck should I do now?  I’m not ready for 70.3 and he’d say “Do a relay.  Let’s do it.”  So sticking to that, having him in my ear to reassure me fast before far, strong before long.

Andrew:  Well thank you both for coming on and just sharing your stories and your races.  I really hope people have heard how much fun you guys had on course.  I hope they were able to kind of get just what a great experience it was being out on course again and we’re excited out of our minds for athletes to get back to it in 2021 and to be able to cheer TriDot athletes on at their local races, Olympic races, halves, and fulls.  We’re excited for all of it, whatever folks are able to get in this year.  As we move into the new year, just praying for a healthier world, hoping more people get back to racing.  What are you both planning to race in 2021?  Dan, what do you have lined up?

Dan:  So I’m going 70.3 Gulf Coast, May 15th.  It’s going to be my first and I will not miss Challenge Daytona 2021.Already signed up.  The whole family signed up again.  So we’re stoked.

Andrew:  Yeah, no.  Great event and we’ll be very, very excited to see you cross the 70.3 threshold. I’ve noticed you say 70 dot 3.  I say 70 point 3.

Dan:  Oh, I didn’t know.  Am I out of lingo?  Do I have the wrong lingo?

Andrew:  I mean, I’m wondering now because I’m sure we’re going to hear about it on Facebook, they’ll bring it up.  I’m sure there’s folks that say it like you say it; 70 dot and I’m sure there’s folks that say it like I say it, 70 point.

Dan:  Sara’s the tiebreaker.

Andrew:  The M-Dot, they call it an M-Dot logo.  It’s not an M-Point logo.  I don’t know.  Which one’s right?

Sara: Yeah, I think 70 point 3.  That’s what I’ve always called it.

Andrew:  Okay.  So I’m wondering if there’s a…

Dan:  Well I want to be right.  I don’t want to be the guy that shows up at the party, you know the triathlete who describes his race as the wrong dot or point.  So I need to be advised.  So let's see the Facebook family says out there.

Andrew:  I’m sure you’re not the only one.  Actually, here’s what I’m going to do.  On the day this podcast comes out; we’re recording this on a Friday, it’s going to air on a Monday.  Dan Caskie, I’m assigning to you, on the I AM TriDot Facebook group throw this out. I’m going to throw out the warm up question.  I want you to throw out, “Okay, do you guys say 70 point 3 or do you say 70 dot 3?Do you say 140 point 6 or 140 dot 6?”And we’re going to see what people say because I’m super curious now.

Dan:  Oh boy!  Yeah it’s going to be a good one.

Andrew:  That’s going to be Dan’s homework so guys look for that post as well. Sara, for you what do you have coming up in 2021?

Sara:  So far I have Texas Ironman in April, Augusta 70.3 in September, and then I’m doing Florida again in November.

Andrew:  Wonderful.  So I’m obviously also doing 140 point 6, 140 dot 6 Ironman Texas in April.  So Sara, have you started your race prep phase?

Sara:  This week.

Andrew:  Yep, yep.  My long runs are starting to get longer and yeah, it’s getting real again.  That oh man, that’s 16 weeks away.  Very, very cool!  Cool, cool, cool!

Cool down theme: Great set everyone!  Let’s cool down.

Andrew: While I have Dan and Sara with me today I thought we would keep them on just a little bit longer for our cool down.  From time to time on the podcast we take a moment to throw out some new book recommendations for our readers in the audience.  Whether you’re firing up the Kindle during some R&R or throwing on an audiobook for a trainer session it is always nice to have a new book in the cue ready to go.  Dan, Sara, what is a book that you have read lately that you recommend folks check out? Dan, we’ll start with you.

Dan:  Well, asking me to name just one book is like asking Jeff Raines to name just one flavor of Gu that he enjoys, so…

Andrew:  If you can’t do it, you can’t do it.

Dan:  You told me about this and I’ve got four on my desk, but I think I’m going to pull the triathlete and go with three.  I’ll shoutout to the book called “Grit,” Angela Duckworth.  I was surprised it didn’t come up in that podcast, but it’s a great story about what’s poignant and a lot of psych.  If you like science, you’re a nerd, you’ll love that book.  “The Slight Edge,” Jeff Olson.  That’s what helped me finish a half marathon knowing that you do the things once a day that are easy to not do, but they’re easy to do that make a difference in the long run.  And a book that follows that is “Change Anything” by Peterson.  That’s a really cool book.  Again, I’m a science nerd so that’s where I’m at with those three.

Andrew:  Very cool.  We’re going to take all three of those and make sure they’re in the show notes so people can hit those titles up.  Dan Caskie book recommendations from today.  Sara St. Vincent, what is a book you would tell our folks to go check out?

Sara:  I will say the book that I have read on repeat for the past few months is “Jelly In My Belly.”

Andrew:  Fantastic!

Sara:  Sadly a lot of the reading I’ve done is just with my 3-year-old, but at least she’s a Wonder Woman fan so we’ve also read Wonder Woman a whole bunch of times.

Andrew:  Very nice!  So for all the parents in the audience, if you don’t have “Jelly In My Belly” that is a book recommendation from mother and triathlete, Sara St. Vincent.  So Sara thanks for that.  I’m going to give a quick shoutout to one today.  I really like memoirs.  The thing with a memoir though is that they’re either super interesting or they’re just super boring because it’s just somebody writing about themselves, right?  And depending on how they do that it can be interesting or not so I’m always cautious about which memoirs I choose to fire up.  I tried “Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight, the founder and owner of Nike.  I looked at that one for a while and I kept going back and forth on do I want to try it or not and I got it.  I read it.  It was very, very interesting just to hear the early stages of the company and how the Oregon Track Club kind of was the testing ground for a lot of the early Nike shoes and just hearing his story of kind of walking through the inspiration for the company to where it is today.  It was really, really interesting and he shares a lot of personal stories, a lot of behind the scenes stories and I loved every bit of it.  So “Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight whether you run in those Nike Vaporflys or not, it’s a great read just to kind of see how a big-time athletic company came to be.

Dan:  We could even get Jeff Raines to read us a shoe book.

Andrew:  If I could have Jeff Raines’ voice reading “Shoe Dog” to me that would be it.

Well, that’s it for today folks.  I want to thank athletes Sara St. Vincent and Dan Caskie for sharing their back to racing experiences with us today.  Shout out to TRIBIKE Transport for partnering with us on today’s episode.  As you get back to racing this year head to to get your bike to the starting line.  Have any triathlon questions or topics you want to hear us talk about?  Head to to let us know what you’re thinking.  We’ll have a new show coming your way soon, until then, happy training.

Outro:  Thanks for joining us.  Make sure to subscribe and share the TriDot podcast with your triathlon crew.  For more great tri content and community, connect with us on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.  Ready to optimize your training?  Head to and start your free trial today!  TriDot – the obvious and automatic choice for triathlon training.

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