We last spoke with ROUVY ambassador and US triathlete Terri Buryanov back in the spring of 2022, when she was starting to plan for the Challenge Almere-Amsterdam in the Netherlands - the oldest long distance race in Europe and the second oldest in the World. We caught up with her again just after she completed the gruelling race to see how she was doing and how she fared.
While the race might not have provided the Hollywood ending that we, or she, were hoping for, it was obviously a highly affecting and emotional experience. It gave us the chance to get a fascinating insight into the thinking of a highly dedicated and passionate athlete.
The Challenge Almere-Amsterdam (a.k.a. Triatlon van Almere) is the most famous triathlon in the Netherlands and the world's second oldest long-distance triathlon after Hawaii. It's been held annually since 1983 and consists of a 3.8 km swim, 180 km bike ride and 42.195 km marathon run - equivalent to ironman distances.
Hi Terri! The last time we talked you had just recovered from Covid and were starting to plan ahead for Almere. It's been yet another crazy year and I think it's always important to ask people how they are doing at the moment. So how was your summer?
I remember that the summer here in Las Vegas was super hot and I was really busy. Other than that, it’s all sort of a blur to be honest. I suppose that has something to do with all the training I was trying to fit in alongside the real-life stuff going on. Overall, I would say it was pretty good and interesting to say the least. Training for a race like that is definitely not a joke.
With lockdowns easing, did you manage to get more outdoor riding done or were you still riding indoor too?
I recently began working with Life Time Fitness as one of their run group and cycle group leads so I was riding outdoors twice per week throughout most of the summer with my groups and then any other scheduled training days I would download my workout from Tridot and upload it to ROUVY. I really loved that feature because it took all the thinking out of the training session. I just had to put my head down and keep my watts as close to the green line as possible. Easy peasy!
And how are you now?!!! You've just finished Almere which must have been intense. How did it meet your expectations - both physically and mentally?
I would say physically I did not meet expectations and mentally I far exceeded my expectations. I am happy I finished the race, but I am even more glad it’s all over.
Photo credit - marathonphotos.live
What was the hardest part? Did anything surprising happen that you hadn't anticipated?
I knew it was going to be hard, but I was pretty silent throughout the summer about a hip injury I was dealing with. 15 miles into the bike is when the pain set in and for the last 97 miles of the bike I just wanted to cry, but I did my best to manage my expectations of the day and just look around and be thankful for the fact I was racing half a world away and I was really glad to be out of the desert heat for a bit so that made the day a little bearable, but it was still quite sad because the bike should have been easy points for me. In the end, I finished the bike at a time of 6:43 when I was expecting to finish around 5:30.
OMG that sounds brutal. Did quitting cross your mind at any point? What helped you push through?
I guess I just have a lot of willpower. Quitting wasn't something that ever crossed my mind. I came way too far, trained more hours than I wanted to, and spent way too much money to not cross that finish line. I'm just glad it never came down to me actually having to crawl to the finish line because I would have done that if I had to.
Photo credit - marathonphotos.live
And how do you feel now, after you've had a few days to recover? Are you ready for another challenge?
In short, No! I’m not sure how long it will take to recover. Within two days I wasn’t sore anymore, but my hip is still bothering me quite a bit. I can’t walk down the stairs without assistance, but I don’t have anything on the schedule to train for so mentally, I’m totally ok! I have a goal to recover completely, figure out how to live a life without constant soreness and then I will ease my way back into training with a strong focus on recovery and strength training. That way when I do decide I’m ready to sign up for another race I can actually be competitive and get on the podium.
Often these races are like a metaphor for something bigger. Did this experience teach you anything about life?
Training for this race made me question a lot of things about how I go about life. Triathlon is a hobby. I think a lot of us triathletes get so caught up in our own heads and convince ourselves that it's super important we continue racing, getting better, and signing up for more races that we don't realize in the grand scheme of things it really only matters to us. I really felt bad about having to put off a lot of things until "after the race". If I sign up for another one, I want to make sure I have the time to enjoy the process and I would love for my family to have the time to be more involved in the journey as well. I'm sure that would make a huge difference in the end results.
Tell me about your training regime in the last 3 months. Did you use ROUVY to practise on the route? If so, how helpful was that indoor experience?
For the past three months, my alarm would go off anywhere between 4:30am-6:00am and I would roll out of bed like a zombie and just do whatever was on my Tridot plan for the day. I rode a portion of the Challenge Almere course a few times on ROUVY. It was good to be prepared for the fact that there were a lot of turns during the first 20 miles of the route, but I wasn’t prepared for the cobblestone roads and wind along the ocean. That was humbling wind out there. Perhaps in the future, ROUVY can be linked with the weather services and the wattage could be affected by what the actual weather is while riding. That last sentence started off as a joke in my mind, but now it sounds sort of like an interesting concept to make ROUVY even more realistic.
Was it the first time you had taken part in a race outside of the US? What were your impressions of the Netherlands and Europe?
Yes, this was my first time racing outside of America. I absolutely fell in love with the Dutch people. Everyone is just so happy and friendly there. The marathon portion of the race was my favorite because I really got to interact with all the volunteers. I can’t imagine a much better run course anywhere else in the world. 6 loops around the lake with four full aid stations and a few water stations. After the first loop the volunteers and even a lot of the spectators started making me believe they were all there to watch me. There wasn’t a moment on the run that I wasn’t enjoying myself. And fortunately, despite how much pain I was in on the bike, I was like a new person on the run. My hips really opened up and I was comfortable all the way until the end.
Now you've completed it, do you have any advice for someone considering doing the Challenge Almere-Amsterdam for the first time?
Be mentally prepared for the wind! The stretch of the bike course along the sea was a brutal headwind. Having to go through that pain twice was not my favourite. Apparently, it's always windy in the Netherlands.
Photo credit - marathonphotos.live
Is there a difference in attitude or approach between US and European competitors?
There is a HUGE difference between Europeans and Americans when it comes to racing. It’s no secret that Americans in general, are very unhealthy people. I find it appalling what athletes eat to fuel their bodies over here so needless to say I don’t think many take endurance training as seriously as they think they do and come race day most of them are just doing it to finish it so they can call themselves an Ironman or the Challenge equivalent of that.
In Europe, it seemed as if everyone was so fit looking and even the age groupers I was up against were so pro-looking. I rarely do a race in America and not make a podium finish, but I think even if I were at my complete best in Almere, it would have been really hard for me to get on the podium. The level over there is a bit more extreme and it was really cool to witness it all in real-time.
You've been a little quiet on creating content lately. Any plans for some new videos?
Yes!!! It was honestly a struggle to get through this summer training for this race and trying to maintain family and real-life stuff. I sort of put all my “fun” off to the side for a bit because I was a total absent-minded flake these past few months and I had to sacrifice some things to remain somewhat functional.
I didn’t actually completely disappear from YouTube though. I was just more involved in helping my husband with his channel and my hands even made quite a few appearances in his videos. His channel (Vlad Slickbartender) is what pays the bills so it was more important I spent any time I wasn’t training or with my son, helping him create his content and doing all the behind-the-scenes stuff that no one knows a creator has to deal with (the boring business side of things). But, I learned a lot about YouTube helping him and I’m VERY excited to start creating my own content again with a focus on creating better quality content now that I understand YouTube a lot better than before.
What's coming up in the next 6 months? Any hot news you'd like to share?
That’s a very good question. I will probably be able to answer that one in a couple of weeks. For now, I am just going to take it easy and get caught up on everything I have been slacking on for the past few months and I am going to deep clean my house. That’s probably not that exciting of news for you all, but for me, there isn’t any hotter news out there than that! :-)
Terri might be taking it easy but she still found time to create a great video report of her Almere experience which you should check out.