The Ironman World Championships ("Kona") will be here before we know it, taking place Oct. 13th. As you know, it's incredibly competitive to qualify and a major accomplishment to do so. As we've done the last 2 years, we'll be catching up with our local Cinderellas... getting to know them as a tri community and cheering them on as they get ready for the ball!
Laura and Gentry Yost live in Pocatello, ID, but are known by many members of the UT tri community and deserving of some love. First up is Laura, and in the near future we'll catch up with her husband as well.
Name: Laura Yost
Age Group: F4044
Qualified: Ironman Boulder
Qualifying AG Place & Time: 2nd 10:53:01
Splits: Swim 1:15 Bike 5:22 Run 4:08
What’s your athletic background and how did you get into triathlon?
I grew up playing multiple sports. As an adult I enjoyed running ultra distance and racing endurance horses (50-100 mile races).
We learned that you raced Kona last year, throwing down a 3:46 marathon en route to 11:05 overall and 29th in your AG. Have you raced Kona other years as well, and where did you qualify for each?
I qualified for my first time to Kona at Ironman Lake Tahoe 2015 (the last time the race was held), then at Coeur d'Alene in 2017.
Can you give us a high level recap of your day at Ironman Boulder?
I knew IM Boulder was going to be tough. Not only does it draw strong athletes, I also knew the conditions were going to be an issue. I expected the temps to be low 90's and I have noticed from prior visits that Boulder is more humid then Pocatello. I am not as strong on the swim as I would like to be so I had a goal of pacing well and coming out of the water ready to push hard on the bike. I had studied the bike course and knew where I would have tail/head winds, where I could find time and where I needed to be patient. I enjoy descending so I took full advantage of all of the descends and got as aero as possible to gain speed. I stuck to my plan of how many watts I wanted to push and was diligent with my hydration. I feel like I paced the bike well and used every opportunity to get cooled down with the water from the aid stations. I started the run and had pretty heavy legs. I also had a huge blister on my left foot which was weird for me so early on. I actually stopped and removed my shoe thinking I had something in it... nope just a big blister. Possibly from all of the water I drenched myself with during the bike! A couple miles into the run I found a comfortable pace and tried to hold steady.
What specific race day strategies enabled you to excel on a very hot day in Boulder when it broke so many fellow participants?
A week prior to the race I wrote down my nutrition and hydration plan in detail. I knew what I would eat 2 days prior through the end of the race. I had a plan of how many watts I would shoot for early on on the bike portion and knew that if I pushed too hard it would all catch up to me later. I had set a goal of how much hydration/calories/electrolytes I needed and knew I would be self evaluating every hour to assess what I was short on or what I needed to change. I knew that I had to be adaptable to the conditions and monitor closely how my body was reacting to the heat. The night before the race I upped my electrolytes in my bottles. I took in as much water on top of my normal nutrition bottles as I could, and took every opportunity to use water and ice to cool down.
How many spots were awarded for your age group at Boulder, and how aware of your position were you throughout the day? How deep in the pain cave did you have to go to hold off 3rd in your AG (just under 5 min back)… or was there enough cushion to be comfortable?
I knew there were only two spots available and that there were plenty of women who could easily take them. I came off the bike not knowing anything about where I was placed. About 4 miles into the run my son and daughter were on course and told me there were 5 women ahead of me still. I definitely had a moment of self doubt because my legs were abnormally heavy. Unfortunately, I have a very fussy stomach so if I consume too many calories too early it rebels, this happened in Kona last year. Because I was protecting my stomach so well I think I went a little low on fuel. I stayed well hydrated though and this is what saved me. All I knew is that I couldn't look at my watch because I would get discouraged with my pace. I luckily deal well with heat and can tolerate a good amount of pain while running. I definitely was hurting in my legs... I'm not even sure if I paid attention to ages on the calves of the women I passed, I just went into my run zone where all I think about is the rhythm of my feet hitting the ground. At mile 13 Jen Johnson, my coach's wife and a BAM coach informed me that I had a healthy lead above 3rd place and that I could slow down. Never in a race have I chosen to slow on purpose and not chase 1st... this would be the first for me. I happily slowed and even took my time through aid stations. At that point I just wanted to finish strong and not give up too much time and lose 2nd.
As a resident of Idaho, how did you connect with BAM? How long have you worked with them, and who is your coach? Are there other Idahoans among the BAMFAM not named Yost?
At the 2015 Ironman Lake Tahoe I qualified for Kona 2016. I had trained myself and had set myself up perfectly to have a full year to prepare for my first World Championship Ironman. I visited Dr. Max Testa in Park City for a bike fit and asked him to coach me. He said he didn't coach triathletes anymore but gave me a few names of local coaches. I chose to go with BAM and hired Ali Black as my first coach to get me better prepared for Kona. After Kona 2016 my husband thought that it looked pretty dang cool to race in Hawaii so he hired Wes Johnson (BAM) to coach him. I thought it might be healthy to each have our own coaches. I again qualified for Kona out of Coeur d'Alene IM 2017. After 2017 my husband and I realized that with both of us trying to compete at a high level we wouldn't be seeing each other often. We have 4 children going in all different directions, my husband is a busy Pediatrician and I have my own work load with my own clients and teaching at the University. At the beginning of this year I decided to switch coaches and went with Wes. This allowed us to both train and date at the same time. Our schedules frequently work together and allows us to see much more of each other. As far as I know we are the only Idahoans to be coached by BAM.
Are there any differences between the triathlon communities/scene in Idaho vs. Utah?
The triathlon scene differs greatly mostly due to numbers. The clubs in Utah are much bigger and events are well attended. That is not to say we do not have some absolutely amazing strong athletes up here! We do have a small club locally but nothing that offers the type of coaching we wanted.
Do you and your husband ever have friendly competitions going into races?
This question really got me thinking about how competitive Gentry and I are with each other. We compete in almost everything and go so far as to having blood pressure/heart rate competitions on those machines in the grocery store! After training sessions we compare average HR's or how many miles were run during a workout. The interesting part of this question is that we have never competed or made bets about a race. When race week rolls around we are absolutely one with each other. I figure out our calorie/electrolyte needs, Gentry gets my bike and gear in proper working order. We celebrate each other's success and comfort each other after failures. We are very competitive people but on race day we truly compete with ourselves, only to look forward to sharing each other's success.
Would it be worth your while to travel south for at least 3 Utah Triathlon Championship Series races in an attempt to steal the F4044 Championship Belt (currently held by Tracy Campbell), or is your motivation focused more squarely on Ironman?
I did not know this title existed. I prefer long course but I will never say never! I would love to schedule some of these races and use them to build fitness and speed for long course races. I happen to be good friends with Tracy so it's always an honor to race her!
Anything else you’d like to share?
I would like to tell all of those women out there that have self doubt.... You absolutely can! It's never too early or too late. Kids or no kids, partner or no partner it can be the best thing you will ever do for yourselves. Anyone can learn to swim/bike/run, trust me on this one. It doesn't matter how fast, slow, ugly, or pretty you are doing it, what matters is that you deserve to do something for yourself. There are amazing resources all around Utah so take advantage and get out there and TRI!
Kona Profiles: BJ Christenson Back for #10
Utah Triathlon Championship Series
Utah Triathlon Championship Series
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