This spring, three REV instructors are racing in their first major endurance races: Hannah Byrne, Ashlee Wilkes, and Sean Sanders. Check out their stories below and give them a high five when you see them in class!
While Hannah credits REV in helping find the edge she needed to commit to this race, most of her motivation stems from her mom - about to turn 50-years-old - who decided to sign up with her. She started training in February for race day on May 6th. Because of her extremely full schedule, Hannah found a realistic training schedule that helped her slowly increase her distances each week. Though she did not follow any specific plan to a “T”, Hannah demonstrates how it can be done with a busy schedule if you can allot your time wisely, listen to your body, and simply commit. “I think knowing what your body needs and then tailoring training is important,” she said.
This is not to say it will be easy - the hardest part of Hannah’s training has been mentally balancing her workouts, her job as a full time photographer, and teaching classes at REV. Some days she felt great, while others were a struggle to simply get out of bed. However, as soon as she started to realize and accept this pattern of highs and lows, her mindset started to change. “When I was in the low week, I could push through, knowing that I would find that high at some point.”
Despite fatigue and sacrifice, Hannah’s motto is simple: Enjoy the process. She continues to tell herself what she tells her classes, "I know you're tired. But don't use that as an excuse to check out. Stay focused, stay in it, and finish.”
Ashlee’s cousin is a military veteran who always told her that the hardest thing he has ever done besides fighting for our county was running marathons. She told him she would agree to do one long race in her life; thus, in a few weeks, Ashlee will be racing alongside her cousin in her first ever Ultramarathon.
Ashlee started training in February for her race on May 12. She followed a basic 32-mile race training plan while throwing in spin and CrossFit for cross-training. Ashlee has had to push her body past her perceived limits on days where she teaches back-to-back spin classes at REV. “I would teach at 8am, go to CrossFit from 9:00-10:00, then run 4ish miles from 10:00-10:45, and teach again at 11am.” On these days, Ashlee reminds herself that she is setting fear aside to go for something completely out of her comfort zone. Having gone through three ACL tears in high school and college, Ashlee is already mentally trained to fight and persevere through the days that seem impossible.
Ashlee’s describes her training as being a mirror of her own life. “We start off on a flat road during a run, and we can relate this to the ease we have in many of our brightest days. Then, we start to head up a steep road…and we are faced with pain and struggle maybe in our legs or knees. But in life, the pain we are facing - whether it is a loss of a friend or a loss of a job - is preparing us for the top, the reward.” On May 12th, when she races next to her cousin who risked his own life for our country, Ashlee knows the reward will be well worth the struggle.
This race is not only special because it is Sean’s first ever half Ironman, but it also takes place in his home state of Tennessee. In December, Esther challenged Sean to sign up for something new, something that would push him away from the comfort zone of a spin bike where we all know him so well. Sean is never one to back down from a challenge so he welcomed the opportunity with a positive mindset and a determined attitude.
Throughout his training, Sean has focused primarily on the run and swim. He foresees these two events as being the weakest part of the race for him; therefore, he puts the most work into them. His hardest days, the days that are both mentally and physically draining, are when he has to teach spin at REV multiple times a day while keeping up with his training.
Sean’s biggest training lesson? The importance of rest. “The hardest thing for me is to step back and give my body the time it needs to recover and reset.” He has also learned how crucial diet is and what foods he needs to fuel his body and keep him strong.
On race day, Sean is most looking forward to his family who will watch him push himself past what he ever thought he could do. “I’ve never done anything like this. I’m really looking forward to completing this Ironman because failure is not an option.”