Great job to all who raced Donner Lake Triathlon this past weekend! Here are some of Coach Leroy’s observations and thoughts from the event that will help you prepare for IM Lake Tahoe and other races this season:

1. It was a perfect test for things. It’s a best practice to have a dress rehearsal in before an “A” race. Athletes who raced the Donner Triathlon had a taste of the effects of altitude, on a hard course, on a hot day. Don’t be too hard on yourself if things didn’t go as planned; remember you were challenged on Sunday in every way possible with heat, hills, altitude, attitude. So I ask, what did you learn from your dress rehearsal?

2. Focus on the things that you doing well, and make them strengths.  Here is an example. One of our athletes had a hamstring injury going into the event. I cautioned her not to push beyond a certain pain level that would risk even more damage to her hamstring on the run. She swam well, road the bike extremely well (fastest bike split of her group), but ran conservatively — and still finished on the podium!!! I reminded this athlete, “You are not 100 percent healthy and you had a great day!” Focus on the things that you doing well, and make them strengths.

3. Let yourself off the hook, you are doing something very difficult to begin with. I had an 8 min gap to make-up from a horrible swim (against a mad-fast competitor). And when I had already conceded that I would be chasing on the bike and run, the gap didn’t get any smaller. I don’t know about you, but I never want to stop trying. If you gave it your all, don’t beat yourself up. Little more than 200 people attempted this inaugural half iron race. That means you are in a very small percentile of triathletes  that experienced Donner Lake Half Ironman ever, in the world. Be proud! The high-altitude race experience will give you a leg up over the 3000+ IM Lake Tahoe participants that didn’t sign-up for it.

4. Finish what you start. Regarding another mate (a cheeky-bugger, wanker of a bloke) that had a great day at Donner. He thought he was retired from IM racing….he’s done it all: from endurance horse racing, to ultra-marathons, to Ironman. What an impressive body of work! I watched him pass through the run course after his first loop. I noticed the look on his face. It’s the exact same look I must have had. “I’m done with this run” at altitude on hard course, on a hot day… I remembered the reason I was at Donner in the first place, “A perfect test for things”. I hung out to watch him finish. When he came across the finish line, he had a different look on his face. Maybe contentment, almost a little peaceful. I was proud of this guy and others just like him (such as Judy DeSherlia). The number question I must answer in any event I begin…”can I finish what I start today?” Take this a step further, and test yourself.

5. Hold on to the experience. The results are just stats at the end of the day. Be proud of how you fought and hung in there. Savor the learning.

Don’t be too hard on yourself, if Donner wasn’t the ideal day for you.  It’s okay. Learn from it, adjust little bits in training, recover, and don’t judge the performance as good or bad or your fate for Ironman Lake Tahoe. Get back out there, adjust and keep training!


Leroy Thomas, Kain Performance Coach 

Coach Leroy Thomas is originally from a town called Epping near Sydney, Australia.  His favorite pastime is coaching adults and kids in sport. Coach Leroy has a B.S. in Health Movement & Leisure and Business Marketing. Coach Leroy was a Track and Field All-American and a Cross Country All-American, as well as the following major career results and more:

  • Santa Barbara Triathlon Long Course Champion 2007, Open Elite, Santa Barbara
  • Carpentaria Triathlon Champion  2006, 2008, 2009, Olympic Distance,
  • Admirals Cup Triathlon Champion, 2007, 2008, 2009, Port Hueneme CA
  • USA Duathlon National Championship 4th place Overall, 2008, Auburn CA
  • 2007 World Triathlon Championships Hawaii, 10hr26min, Kalua Hawaii
  • 2008 ITU Triathlon Championships Vancouver British Columbia, 9th 30-34, 4th USA
  • 2009 ITU World Triathlon Championships Gold Coast Australia, 19th 35-39, 3rd USA
  • Worlds Toughest Half Duathlon Champion 2010 Auburn California
  • 2010 World Triathlon Championships Kalua Hawaii 10:10