Top 10 Ironman Finishes
Top 10 Ironman 70.3 Finishes
PB: How did you first get into the sport you are competing in?
Late to the game! I did not swim or bike until my late twenties. I began marathon running during grad school to offset the effects of going to the pub every night, and I ultimately added cycling and swimming for cross-training. Some random person told me I should do the Lake Placid Ironman, to which I responded, “OK.”
I was 30 when I did Placid, and I barely finished. Then, by circumstance, I began hanging out with some elite triathletes and regularly leaving for workouts with them. I never considered racing competitively, but I got exponentially faster, and before I knew it I was qualifying for Kona as an age grouper, and subsequently, before I knew it, I qualified for my pro card and have maintained it ever since.
PB: At what point did you know you would be able to compete at a professional level, Was there a specific race or moment that stood out to you as a watershed event?
If I’m being honest, even now I go through periods where I’m unsure that I can compete at a professional level. I think many of us do, especially as the fields get deeper and far more competitive each year. Every fourth race or so, however, I am buoyed again. Perhaps more significantly, having success at the Ultraman distance has given me significant confidence to carry into the shorter events.
My original watershed moment was at Ironman France. I went in with little expectation other than enjoying the Mediterranean, but I pushed super hard on the marathon and ended up passing pro women. I got a World Champs spot, which was most exciting, but my sights surpassed Kona that year when I realized I would’ve been on the pro podium and made some Euros.
PB: What was that transition from amateur to professional like?
Just the best. I ironically felt far less pressure, stress, and intimidation beginning with my very first pro race. Sure, the training is more rigorous, and the racing is indescribably more intense, but the community is amazing, and the racing is free from pressure to win (at least for me). I find myself traveling all over the world, and connecting with pros and race personnel who are like family now.
PB: Professional athletes are known for their intensive training regimens. What does a typical week of training look like for you while in season?
There is no typical week, which is why I have a coach! Of course before and after a race is chill, and everyone has the annual full-on rest period, but beyond that every day, week, and month vary wildly in both volume and intensity. The highest volume would be a 30 hour week (let’s not discuss Ultraman), and the most intensity would entail a hard track session and a few grueling bike workouts with killer intervals. I personally like to supplement with trail run races and gravel races, so my coach builds around those and takes my whole year progression into account.
PB: Many recreational athletes see being a professional as a “dream job.” But even the best jobs in the world have their drawbacks. From your experiences, what do you see as the hardest part of being a professional athlete?
Often pros get comments like “It must be nice to be able to train anytime,” or “Well, yeah, it’s easy to be faster if you’re a pro and get all the support you want.” First off, many professional triathletes, myself included, hold down additional jobs. Secondly, when you’re a pro you need to race all year long nearly every month, never able to take an extended break. Of course there is the annual rest week, but with expectations from sponsors and the constant attempts to win prize purse money, there is rarely an opportunity to chill like a normal person for any real stretch of time.
The hardest part is never stopping. Even when you travel to see family you have to awkwardly skip quality time to get out the door for training every day. That’s when it’s most challenging: when you realize you might be missing out on other important parts of life, which is why we are all constantly striving to achieve some semblance of balance.
PB: Having good nutrition practices is a critical part of performing at your best as an athlete. How do you approach fueling yourself inside and outside of training?
I firmly believe that the majority of triathletes make one identical and critical mistake: they don’t train with what they race with in terms of nutrition. So many athletes who have bad races point to the fact that they couldn’t get sports drink down, or they couldn’t stomach one more gel. Chances are that’s because they didn’t train their fourth discipline in training: nutrition.
My race day formula entails a half of a PowerBar original bar every 35 minutes. Halfway through the bike leg I switch to caffeinated PowerBar gels. On the run I take one PowerGel Shots energy chew every mile, which is an awesome way to break up the distance. In case I end up really struggling, I always carry two extra gels for a “Hail Mary” boost.
PB: Balance is an important term when considering all aspects of a professional athlete. How do you approach maintaining balance across the sport and non sport aspects of your life?
The most significant non-sport factor in my life is family. To ensure I can see them with some actual quality time, and not just depart every morning for a century ride or long run, I plan my family travel first, and then my race schedule. It’s especially ideal to see fam right after a big race since I’m less anxious and don’t need to train much.
When I’m at home I always get all my training done first thing so that when it’s time for work or anything else I’m not anxious about lingering workouts that same day. Perhaps most importantly, even if I haven’t finished my work, laundry, or social media, I shut down all my devices at a certain time each night and get a good supper, and perhaps some Netflix free from distraction.
PB: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received (and from who) that you feel is worth passing on?
“Continual forward motion.” Meredith Kessler, legendary Ironman Champ, once told me that adage, and I’ll never forget it. She explained that no matter what’s happening in a race, you should focus on one thing: moving forward, towards T1, T2, or the finish line. If you’re having an awesome day, you should speed forward at every second. Conversely, if you can’t speed ahead because you got a flat or you are struggling, you should still just focus on moving in continual forward motion.