Sunday, July 31, 2016

Interview w/a Sports Psych Consultant... Are You Mentally Tough??

Sure, you train those raging quads and glutes of yours, but what about your mind?

Through his company, Mental Grit Consulting, Nathan Last is on a mission to help athletes unlock their most powerful weapon... their mind. Here he provides some great insight into the mental side of triathlon, along with some practical tips. Thanks for the time, Nate!

First of all, what can you tell us about yourself and your company?

Well, I guess to start this all off, my name is Nate and I like to party… ;) Not going to take that one back.

What to say about myself and Mental Grit…Well, Mental Grit Consulting is the result of my years studying applied sport psychology at the University of Utah. I found a passion in helping people fulfill their performance potential in athletics and now knowing what I do, I would like to get this kind of training into as many hands/minds as I can. Sadly, it is really only available to Olympians, professionals, or collegiate athletes even though it’s a big part of sport performance… it's my mission to make it accessible to all athletes!

If not answered above, what led you to go into this field of study & work? 

When I was a kid, I competed in a myriad of sports ranging from moto-x to ballroom dance to swimming, golf and lacrosse; through all of it I had some great times! I also had many rough times... Many of those negative experiences stemmed from things that I had complete control over (attitude, effort, etc…), other issues had to do with the program itself and the coaches… Mental skills training could have helped with all of that. I could have had a much better experience. When I found sport psychology it was like a light that just clicked with my personality and overall goals in life. I could work with people, own my own business in a budding field, and be a part of the athletic scene in a variety of sports.

Why I got into running, and later triathlon, was really to fill a gap in my competitive experience. I couldn’t really wrap my head around what some of my clients were talking to me about so I had to figure it out for myself… and boy did I!

After Ironman Canada, Rory Duckworth raved about the “mental training” he's been doing with you. What does mental training mean for triathletes, and is it an area we typically overlook?

To be honest, the training is different for everyone. I like to say that what I do is all about optimizing the potential of the athlete. We look at all of the factors that are involved with that person and figure out where the most potential is to start working on.

What do triathletes have some opportunity in getting better at? A few things come to mind right off the bat, like energy and emotion management before races, controlling their self talk in the race and during training, and focus control over the training period.

Is it an area that is overlooked? Most definitely. Not because of any negligence on the part of the athlete. In my experience, most athletes know how important the mind is in performance but just don’t know what to do about it. The fun thing is that most already have mental techniques that they have developed over years of training. The Mental Skills coach will help to bring purpose behind what they are already doing and provide some training on how to respond in those things they don’t have techniques for. We are a third party of sorts to help bring perspective to the athlete's situations and provide guidance.

physically and mentally ripped
All sports require mental toughness, but where would you rank triathlon? In some ways, the ability to perform a “skill” isn’t required on the same level of a baseball pitcher, Olympic gymnast, pro tennis player, etc. On the other hand, endurance racing is the ultimate battle between mind & body.

Being a triathlete, the toughness factor is critical. However, what I define as mental toughness is much less about strength & power… rather, I have found it is more about making really tough decisions, and then doing the hard things to act on those decisions. You know the ones I am talking about… Getting out bed at 4 or 5 in the morning vs staying in bed and sleeping, completing a training ride vs ending early, pushing the limits vs slowing down because it just makes sense; all decisions we have to make in our daily performance as triathletes. Now these are the decisions that naturally come to mind but what about these ones… deliberately putting the training down at the end of the season for a while vs continuing the structured daily workouts; something that I found harder than I thought it would be at the end of this season (yes, deliberately putting down the training after a season for a while is very important for long term performance, it’s called energy management).

Alright I will get to the point here… I would rank triathlon in the top 5 sports requiring the most mental toughness purely due to the training and the fact that those two 70.3’s that I did this summer were 2 of the hardest things I have yet to do in my life.

Ok then, I’m putting you on the spot: give us the “Nathan Last Top 10 Mental Toughness Sports.” (for example, a sport like soccer wouldn’t be on my list. Golf probably would).

Ah man I don’t think I could even start here… Ok well I “ranked” triathlon in the previous question… but every sport has its own mental challenges. Soccer for example has some really tough mental aspects that those athletes need to work; these might include spatial ball/body awareness, focus control, and playing under pressure. Where 1 step can mean the difference between a goal and a turnover, and the athlete needs to know his/her position and the position of every moving body on the field all the while staying poised and ready among the carnival of chaos in a stadium… well let's just say it takes a lot of mental and physical skill to make big things happen on the pitch.

Yes, the endurance sports take a lot of mental toughness but every sport has its own challenges. All going back to working each athlete as an individual.

If I was to say something I would want to put a condition on the list. The condition is that these are based in reaching the highest competitive levels vs participating in them. 

With this in mind I would have to bring in some really tough individual sports like enduro mtn biking/motorcycling, long distance running Marathon+, trail running, Ironman, Golf, gymnastics. They all require YEARS AND YEARS of mental and physical training to reach the highest competitive levels. 

No matter how mentally strong I am, I’m not going to beat Chris Hammer… that said, how large of a role can mental toughness play in someone’s own race?

I would say it this way: Every athlete has a certain physical potential in a given sport based on many factors like training, experience, natural talent, body elements (muscle type, muscle length) etc. It blew my mind to know the depth of sport science programs that I could have gone into in college where all of them study an area of sport performance factors. I believe this physical potential is unlocked by the mental skill of the athlete. Where all action starts in the mind, the more you train the mind, the more you are consistently able to unleash your full potential.

I want to clear something up really quick. The component of mental toughness is a small part of the whole of what I do. Toughness is important yes, but more important is control. Control over where you place your focus; Control over your emotions; Control over the talk and the images we create in the mind; control over developing and executing a plan; control over how you see the world and where you are in it.

Scientifically, what’s the phenomenon behind people “choking” in sports, and what can an athlete do to prevent it?

Scientifically, theories point to uncontrolled anxiety, varied attentional control, inadequate mental processing, self consciousness, or a combination of each as the culprit. To say it frankly, science does not know… or at least can’t agree…

Unscientifically, choking is the negative effect of an untrained mind. This is really a big part of what a mental skills trainer does, help the athlete develop the skills that, when used, can be implemented to combat anything that might keep them from performing in the big moments.

You’re days, hours, minutes away from go time, and you’re in need of some Depends. What are some practical tips to enjoy the build up and prepare effectively as opposed to stressing out? 

Preparation yields confidence and composure. Put a plan in place, run through it so you know it, execute.

Practical tip #1 (Days before race) – Make a checklist of everything needed for the race (race bib, jersey, shoes, etc) and pack it all up. YES DAYS BEFORE THE RACE. Check it twice before putting it in the bag and then seal that puppy up. Once it is zipped, tied, or sealed and checked LEAVE IT ALONE UNTIL RACE DAY! Trust your processes and let go of worry.

Practical tip #2 (Morning of Race) – Again trust your process. You have probably worked through this all in your head before hand a few hundred times.

Practical Tip #3: Breathe. Yes, breathe… and when you breathe let the diaphragm do the work inhaling and exhaling through the stomach. The energy of T1 prep and the start line is incredible. Unregulated thoughts, images (visualizations), and memories with that much energy behind them can cause people to literally get sick with worry, anxiety, and overall emotion if the thoughts are any kind of negative. Just breathe, engage in everything that is around you (GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD) and just be! I like to be completely out of my head by the time I hit the water for warm up always repeating to myself BE HERE NOW and at that point nothing else exists but each stroke, each breath, and a cannon signaling the start of the race.

Your race is falling apart. You’re suffering physically and beating yourself up mentally. What should you do from a mental perspective?

Fight and Fake it - You know the form you should have physically – put yourself there using a few cues to help get you in better form. (Ex. Chest high, head up, arms 90 degrees, etc.)

Who is your idol in triathlon? Ask yourself: What would they do? How would they think? What would they look like? How would they act?

E.A.T. Up – In many ways, when suffering happens we act and think the same way we act and think when we get really hungry. The ‘HANGER’ sets in… In this case we always have the choice to E.A.T. Control our Effort, Control our Attitude. Control our Teamwork. Effort and Attitude are always under our control if we choose to control it. This is a part of training. When it comes to the T for Teamwork I am really talking about the way we are working with ourselves. Like you said, you're beating yourself up… this is not very good teamwork. However, you can control it through a lot of mental toughness and choosing to support yourself… Soon enough you make enough decisions to control what you E.A.T. and you will be back to your regular self in no time!

This made me think of a song called Eat That Up, It's Good For You

What makes one person mentally stronger than another? Are we born with it, developed through experiences, etc?

In my personal opinion, mental toughness and high mental skill comes entirely from our experiences. This is the reason why I want to get this kind of training into lower level programs; help athletes at younger ages and/or at earlier stages in their sport to have more effective experiences early in both mental and physical skill development.

How can we get mentally tougher, and how do triathletes benefit from working with you?

Train the skills. Emotional Control, Focus Control, Self-Talk, Imagery, Mindset, Routine Development… they are all skills that we have the capability to develop.

How can all athletes benefit?: Well, if performance is weighted more mental than physical in competition… actually training the mental side might just be a big step in the right direction…

What an athlete can expect from training the mental skills?

  1. Higher confidence
  2. Sustainable Motivation
  3. Deliberate Focus
  4. Consistency
  5. Resilience
  6. Self Trust
  7. Self Control
If any of these are things that you feel like you need to optimize your performance potential, then working with a sport psych or mental skills trainer can help.

Instagram: @mentalgrit
Facebook: /mentalgrit
Twitter: /mentalgrit

O ya, I also have a partnership with SLTC members, please reach out if interested.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

B.J. "The Potato" Christenson Breaks Down Spudman

The Spudman takes place this Saturday in Burley, ID... although not a Utah race, since it attracts so many Utah triathletes we consider it worthy of a preview.

Who better to provide that preview than Local Legend B.J. Christenson?!? Sure, he's going to Kona for the 9th time this year, but his true love is the Spudman. This year will be his 20th!

  • The swim is one of the main reasons why Spudman is so popular. Not sure if you can swim a mile?? The current takes that away, it's the great equalizer!
  • This is great for anyone who's a little timid in open water or stepping up to Olympic
  • It's a wide river, plenty of space to spread out
  • No turn buoys, just swim straight down river
  • Stay towards the middle, the current is stronger there
  • There's a slight bend as you go past the island. The current will try to push you into shore as it bends, so try to stay a little closer to the island
  • As soon as you sight the exit bridge and the poplar trees, start beelining towards shore 

  • You may want to walk your bike out of transition, walk up to the road before trying to mount. Most people don't mount very well on a slight incline, and there are sometimes goatheads there. Better to carry your bike to the road
  • You place your bike the night before, and I like to check things over early race morning. Get any fluids on your bike, then head to start. 
  • There are a lot of people, so plan lots of time. Start time is 8:00, but beginning at 7:00 they won't let you thru anything
  • Another great thing about Spudman, if you’re new to triathlon this is one of the easiest bike courses you can ride
  • Country roads, flat. 4 turns, big square
  • There's some chip seal, which comes with rolling resistance; you'll want to ride with a little lower pressure than you’re used to
  • Of course everyone tries to avoid drafting, but don’t get your panties in a wad if you see it. There's no way to spread it out. There are gonna be little groups that form whether you like it or not. If you want a perfectly clean race, race in the elite wave!
  • On the grass, really nice on the feet. It's nice that they open that golf course for the race so you don’t have to worry about stepping on thorns
  • There's a short, "punchy" hill in the beginning, but then it's flat around country roads 
  • 2 mile stretch of gravel on the canal bank can be a little bit slower section 
  • For people starting a bit later it can get little warm. There are 3 water stops, every other mile, but if you know you don’t do super well in heat you should make plans.
  • The finish line is awesome, you come bouncing through the trees then onto the golf course grass

Post race?

If you don't have to take off right away go check out Shoshone Falls in Twin Falls, only a 30 min drive. It's actually taller than Niagara. The Snake River's also a great place for a post-race bbq or boating.


B.J. has collected the whole set! Known to throw some epic tea parties.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Locals at Ironman Vineman

California's Vineman triathlon (north of San Francisco) has been around for a long time, although this coming Saturday will be its first running as part of the Ironman brand. This is clearly a popular one in our state, with a total of 69 participants (more if anyone decided to register last minute), including 2 of the 19 female pros!

Good luck all!!

Monday, July 25, 2016

IM Canada - Havoc Officially Wreaked!

The other day we mentioned that Andrew Hall and Rory Duckworth would be "wreaking havoc north of the border"...  well, they certainly didn't disappoint!

We just wanted to use this forum to say congrats to both: Andrew won IM Canada 70.3 outright... there weren't pros at this race, but this is an incredible accomplishment.

Including a professional field, Rory took 31st overall at the full IM Canada with a blistering 9:53.

Race reports hopefully coming soon!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

BOOYAH!! Interview with SUTC President Amber Blair

Amber Blair is the current president of the Southern Utah Triathlon Club (SUTC) and one fast athlete herself. Read on to learn about this awesome club and its fearless leader.

Thanks for the time, Amber, and best of luck to the entire SUTC this season!

What’s the history of SUTC, and how has the club evolved over the years?

SUTC was founded 10 years ago in 2006 by Rob Gray. There have been 4 other club presidents since him that have done an amazing job in growing the club. It is like a family and we love getting together to train, race and party! We continue to grow every year as people move to the area and see how active the area is and also are introduced to triathlon through watching IMSG 70.3.

It was heartbreaking to hear about Braydon Nielsen’s passing in a car/bike collision a couple years ago now. What legacy has he left on SUTC?

That was such a sad time. It happened right after I joined the club, so I didn't know Braydon personally, but he left behind his trademark "BOOYAH" which is something he would say all the time and is now what we yell to each other out on the race course as a way of saying "good job, keep it up" and to me it also reminds us to race with a good attitude and to never give up on our dreams just like Braydon, who always had a smile on his face and kept pushing toward his goals!

What would you say are the “crown jewels” of southern UT racing? When SUTC teammates travel to race is it typically south, out of state, or venturing north like you did for the Utah Half?

The biggest crown jewel is obviously Ironman STG 70.3. There are also the sister races of Sand Hollow and Kokopelli triathlon that have a good turn out. The SHAC and Trick or Tri sprint triathlons as well as the Road Rage duathlon put on by the City of St George are great beginner or training races also.

The members of SUTC travel just about anywhere for races. We love to do races together and support each other. We always have a good showing of usually over 30 athletes at Ironman Oceanside. We've also had some good groups at Ironman Florida, Arizona, and Texas and I think we'll have a good group going to VineMan in 2017!

On that note, really the objective of Utah Tri Buzz is to be a source for triathlon information (and hopefully a little hype/inspiration) for the state… would you say SUTC feels “connected” to the tri scene up north, for example via the Ryan/Rory Duckworth connection, SG 70.3, etc., or more independent?

I think we are pretty connected to the tri scene. Having the Ryan/Rory connection has been a great way for us all to come together as we've worked together to put on a Tri Camp in April the last couple of years to get some good training in before IMSG 70.3.

There are a lot of people from all across the world that come here to train, not only for IMSG but because we have great weather, lakes, and an all around active community that makes it appealing to many athletes.

From your perspective what impact has the Ironman brand had on triathlon in St. George?

For me, the Ironman brand brought a lot more light to the triathlon world. I knew about triathlons before and had a desire to do one some day, but being able to watch it right here, gave me more of a push to get into the sport and I'm sure it does the same for others.

What’s the bigger advantage for a local at SG 70.3 a) acclimated to the heat b) can attempt to tame the Snow Canyon climb and Red Cliffs Parkway thru repetition c) can read the clouds and know when a freak desert storm is going to roll through

I think we have a definite advantage with being able to acclimate to the heat and ride the course a lot. I mean, those hills are no joke and don't get any more flat the more we ride or run them, but they do make us stronger.

No one can read the clouds and see a crazy storm coming! Not even Justin Bandley, who predicted "perfect weather" for race day to our club this year.

What’s your athletic background and how did you get into triathlon?

I was not an athletic person at all until almost 7 years ago when I decided I wanted to lose some weight and ran my first 5k. I ran my first marathon in 2010 and was quickly addicted to running but took some time off in 2011 to have my third baby girl. I started running again 5 weeks after she was born. I ran a lot of races in 2012 and started to get burned out of just running. I wanted to do some cross training, so I signed up for my first sprint triathlon in May 2013, bought a bike, wetsuit and all that fun stuff, then worked my way up to an Olympic and Half Ironman less than a year later. I fell in love with the sport of triathlon and it has driven my husband and family to be more active too. My husband just signed up for his first half Ironman in Oceanside and my oldest daughter says she wants to grow up to be a triathlete too.

I noticed a picture of you at Ironman Texas… speaking of freak storms, what was your experience on that crazy day?

That was my first full Ironman and I loved everything about that day, even the freak storm! I went into the race with the word "Enjoy" as my biggest focus and that's exactly what I did. The day started out warm and humid- seriously 100% humidity- making for a foggy swim. The bike course was shortened (only 95 miles) due to some flooding in the area a few weeks prior to the race that washed out some of the course. The bike ride was warm, but the first part of the run was when I really felt the heat. The storm hit when I was about 15 miles into the run and I was so happy to cool off. 

The race actually ended up being stopped for a few minutes because of the storm. Although I wasn't taken off the course, I did take cover for about 6 minutes before going on to finish my last lap of the run. Even though the lightning made me jump a few times because it was so close and the hail hurt as it was being blown into our faces, I was smiling and laughing through it all. I think attitude is a big part of getting through any race. I had my best race ever that day, feeling better than I ever expected to while racing a full Ironman, and left wanting to sign up for another one ASAP!

Any other races on the schedule this year?

I don't have any other triathlons on my schedule for the rest of this year. I'll be running the STG marathon and focusing on getting stronger on the bike and swim for the races I've got planned for 2017 which are IMSG 70.3 and VineMan. 

What would you say are the broader goals for SUTC as a club and for you personally over the next couple years?

I would like to see the club grow in number (it's always fun to train/race/party with more people) and just continue to strive to live up to our mission statement which is:

To provide an environment for every member to reach his or her potential and to promote the growth of triathlon in Southern Utah.


Related Posts:

rain or shine, gettin it done!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Locals at Lake Placid & Canada

We took a quick look at the start lists for IM Canada and IM Lake Placid, both taking place this weekend. Unfortunately, the Canada list didn't show states... we know that Rory Duckworth and Andrew Hall will be wreaking havoc north of the border, and best of luck to any and all making the trip!

As for Lake Placid, there are 5 locals crossing the country for that historic race. Go get it!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Results Breakdown: Toughman Utah Half 2016

Assisted by a couple of number crunching fellow triathletes, we'll be breaking down 2016 results race by race. The idea is to show everyone's percentile for each discipline, which is simply your swim rank, bike rank, etc. divided by the # of total participants. That way you can better compare your performance from one race to the next. Lower # the better!

pic cred Joe Martel

Water conditions forced RaceTri to get creative, replacing the 1.2 mile swim with a 1.2 mile "warm up" run (shown above). Despite the last-minute curveball from Mother Nature, it was a great race!

As always you can click on any of the snapshots below to make them a little bigger.                                       

Related Posts:

Monday, July 18, 2016

Echo Breakdown - 2016

Assisted by a couple of number crunching fellow triathletes, we'll be breaking down 2016 results race by race. The idea is to show everyone's percentile for each discipline, which is simply your swim rank, bike rank, etc. divided by the # of total participants. That way you can better compare your performance from one race to the next. Lower # the better!

Echo has been a great race since the late 90's and this year's edition was no different. Some highlights from the Olympic distance race were the women's podium separated by a mere ~40 sec and an epic duel between Jorge de Amorim Filho and Andrew Hall.

For the sprint it was Rio bound Chris Hammer holding off a few young bucks on his team and Megan Foley winning in dominating fashion.

Special thanks to Sportstats for supplying the source data... visit here for the official results page, and contact here for any questions.

As always you can click on any of the snapshots below to make them a little bigger.



Related Posts:

Friday, July 15, 2016

Toughman Utah Half: The Good, The Bad, & the Start List

The Toughman Utah Half in Provo tomorrow is the next race up on the local scene.

BAD NEWS: Mother Nature threw us a nasty curveball with the emergence of an "algae bloom" at Utah Lake, making the water temporarily unsafe to swim in. When I lived in WI there were multiple swims cancelled at Lake Monona (home of Ironman Wisconsin) for the same thing. It's a common thing during hot summer months. We defended Utah Lake in the Utah Half preview (and 99% of the time it's totally fine to swim in)... just bad timing.

What comes to mind is this scene from The Office:

Dwight: Michael, can I talk to you, please? Privately? In your office? I think I should be on the team.
Michael: No. And that's not me being mean, Dwight. That is based on your past behavior.
Dwight: Oh, please.
Michael: [to camera] When I let him come to my pick-up game...
Dwight: I apologized for that.
Michael: [to Dwight] I vouched for you.
Dwight: Michael, I...
Michael: I vouched for you in front of Todd Packer, Dwight. All right, here's what I'm going to do. The hand strikes and gives a flower. You are not going to play basketball. But I need somebody to come in and take over the holiday and weekend work calendar.
Dwight: I can handle that.

GOOD NEWS: there will be a race! RaceTri is working tirelessly to come up with the best solution. Whatever the format, will be fun.

Below is a quick look at the start list. Of course you can't put a lot of stock in all the self-projected times, but for what it's worth that's what I sorted by... 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Jen Johnson - BAM Mom. Fast Mom!

Jen Johnson is well-known on the local scene... for starters, she and her husband Wes are the celebrity couple behind BAM, a team that is producing fast athletes and breakthrough performances in droves. 

Secondly, Jen herself is one of those fast athletes, having punched her ticket to Kona and winning the Echo Olympic last week (as two of many examples). Among other things, here she talks about what makes BAM tick and the insanity that was this year's Ironman Texas.

Thanks for the time, Jen, and best of luck to you and the entire BAM FAM!

Can you give us a quick history of BAM, up to where you’re at today?

Wes has been coaching full-time for 8 years now. He has always coached and ran training camps along with other programs since that time. It wasn’t until about 4-5 years ago that we identified ourselves as Balanced Art Multisport (BAM). An athlete living in San Fransisco that Wes coached at the time actually helped us come up with the name. We felt it really embodied our training and coaching philosophy. It’s an ART— there is no cookie cutter plan but real coaching takes thought and personalization. It is also learning to balance the 3 disciplines along with nutrition and recovery. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses and where and when to spend your time on each. However, it is also about balancing training with work, family life, and other stressors. It is about becoming a balanced athlete all around.

With our growth we now have an entire team of coaches and specialists working with our athletes.

What’s the vision for BAM going forward?

Our vision is to continue growing in the right kind of way. We want athletes and coaches to be a part of this team that contribute to the amazing atmosphere and family feel that we have created. We look at everyone on the team as human beings rather than just athletes. We care about every single one of them and we want to keep that even as we grow and get bigger. We have always been careful about growing too quickly to a point that we are not ready for it. We want to create an environment of success where everyone can succeed if they put in the work. Every year we get closer and closer to creating that perfect environment for success. We still have a ways to go to get where we want to be but it's all coming together year by year.

What’s the most fun/rewarding aspect and least fun/challenging aspect of helping run BAM for you personally?

I love the friendships and relationships I have made. It is rewarding to work together and accomplish things together as the BAM FAM. Everyone is supportive of each other and it creates a great training environment, which I feel is important since we spend a huge amount of our time with each other. Training should be fun!

The most challenging aspect is the time. This job never stops and isn’t a 9-5 hour day. Our busiest hours are when others aren’t at work so that is early mornings, evenings, and weekends. It definitely requires balance to make it work for our family.

Who’s on the BAM podium (can name more than that if you want) for M.I.T. – Most Improved Triathletes over the past 1-2 years?

Everyone has improved!! If they weren’t improving then we wouldn’t be doing our job right :) Such a tough question. We are full of very different people and lots of different personalities— it makes it fun!

Megan Foley & Skye Moench
For those of us not entirely in the know, who are your dangerous young bucks who compete at Elite nationals, etc? Where did you guys find all this young talent?

Probably the one person you don’t know about is Megan Foley. She races on the PRO ITU circuit so isn’t seen on the local scene much. She has been racing PRO for over a year now and a lot of people don’t know about her because she doesn’t race Ironman events. Short course isn’t well followed or known about in Utah but they are some fast incredible athletes.

The youth elites are: Evan Santo, Tucker Hathaway, Trinity Schimbeck, Ty Perkins, and Ryan Rummens. We also have the #2 junior athlete from Chile moving here to be a part of our team next week. He is 16 years old but should be making a name for himself on the local scene this upcoming year. Most of them are involved with high school swimming and cross country/track as well. We also run a kids camp all summer long for youth as young as 8, which allows us to identify and develop fast talent from a young age.

What’s your athletic background and how did you get into triathlon?

I grew up dancing through middle school but didn’t play any sports growing up. Actually, people from high school see me what I do now and are quite surprised since I was no athlete before.

I started casually running with roommates in college and ran my first marathon shortly after graduating from BYU. I quickly realized through injuries that the amount of running marathon training required wasn’t for me. As a graduation gift I received some money and put that towards buying my first road bike. That following spring I registered for the Boise 70.3 and got my start in triathlon. I signed up with a friend, who ended up being the one to set Wes and I up on our first date!

Ironman Texas was quite the day… give us a quick synopsis from your perspective, and how were you able to handle all that chaos and punch your ticket to Kona?

Texas was a whirlwind and it's hard to process my thoughts and emotions on the day. I started the race very calm and with the goal of qualifying for Kona. I knew based on my training and past race results that it was a real possibility and a realistic goal if I could put together a good race. Texas had many changes the weeks and just days before the race.

The bike course wasn’t released until a few weeks before and then was shortened due to the flooding taking place in the area. 2 days before, the swim course was changed and it went from being a single transition area to two separate locations. The new bike course also added in 85+ turns, which is very uncommon for an IM race. This of course was nerve racking but I took control of the situation and spent an afternoon practicing cornering and turns in a parking lot with Precision Bike fit coach Jeff Sherrod. I went into race day confident in my ability to handle the turns in aero and figured we were all doing the same race and nothing we could do about the changes.

Race day was of course hot and humid. The heat really started to get to me on the 2nd (of 3) lap of the run. It wasn’t until my 3rd lap that the cloud cover came in and it started to cool off. Then the rain… It turned into a strong wind and hail. It was so hard to run against the wind. It was like everything was fighting against your body moving forward and the hail pelting our bodies really hurt. There was also water blowing up off the canal and we were left running in inches of standing water. Honestly, it was crazy and all I could think about was my daughter and hoping she was okay. I wasn’t surprised at all that they made us stop. Really with the lightning and crazy storm it wasn’t safe for us to be out there and I did think it was crazy we were out there for as long as we were. The poor volunteers and spectators as well. The run aid stations were completely blown over and there was no support for the runners. I was at mile 26 when I diverted from the run into a parking garage and told the race was stopped. I didn’t know what to think at this point. Was the day over? Would I be able to say I finished even though I had .2 miles left? What about Kona? What had I worked so hard for? Was my daughter able to find shelter? Was the storm going to get worse?

heading to Kona, along with Tracy Campbell
At one point I didn’t even care about the race anymore. I just wanted to be safe and hold my baby and find Wes. I honestly felt like we were in a natural disaster. Standing in the cold and shivering was so hard on my body but when they told us we could go back out on the course I sprinted. Being stopped in the garage only allowed for several of the girls who weren’t far behind me to catch up. We were all in the garage together and left the garage together. I sprinted that last 1/4 mile and was one of the first to cross the finish line after they announced the race had resumed. Everything at the finish line had blown over. There wasn’t a single spectator. No Mike Riley announcing you were an Ironman. It was just me and a desolate scene. I crossed the finish line almost in shock. There was a single volunteer there and she came out from under an umbrella, put a medal around my neck and asked if I was okay. All I could say back to her was “I don’t know.” With 3 miles to go I had seen Wes and he had told me my mom and Jayda were at the finish line waiting for me. And none of that happened. It was definitely a mix of emotions.

Did you put a lot of pressure and expectations on yourself to qualify or did it come naturally? Are you stressed or pretty carefree thinking about October?

Honestly I really had no pressure or expectations. I went into race day focused on my own race plan. Of course Wes and I talked about the possibility of Kona this year but it wasn’t until my performance in Oceanside 70.3 that I really made it a goal and realized the potential I had. I felt like more of the pressure was on Wes. I had 100% commitment to my training plan and just did what he said. No pressure right!? :) It took a lot of me trusting the process every day, especially on those hard days.

I am definitely carefree about October! It’s my celebratory race.

Rank the three disciplines from your strongest to weakest. Also, what were some of the keys that led to such a major accomplishment (especially not very long after having a baby!).

I think I am pretty equal in all 3! That’s what makes me a triathlete right :) But if you were to ask Wes he would say I am strongest on the bike. Then probably the run with swim being my weakest. (Although I do consider myself a strong and confident swimmer).

The biggest difference in my training this year was my recovery. I made my easy days very easy and my hard days hard! That and I took a nap almost every single day!! It worked great to have my husband Wes as my coach cause often times the communication between athlete and coach is what holds people back. He was able to see my training and how I was responding and recovering from those workouts on a daily basis. I become very good at listening to my body and knowing when to pull things back or dial it down.

I attribute most of my improvement this year to my dedication to recovery but as far as key training— I would say it was attending 4 training camps this winter. 100% focus on training and recovery with no distractions for weeks at a time. This past winter we trained in San Diego, Tucson, and St George. While at home I would bike 3-4x a week on the Computrainer, attend Masters swimming, and would do my easy recovery runs on Dr. Tom Fletcher’s Anti-Gravity treadmill. Like I said— easy days easy, and the only way I could keep my run milage higher without risking injury.

Your husband, the infamous Wes, is built like Michael Phelps. How can normal people get faster in the water?

Consistency. Swimming often. I always tell people that it is better for them to swim 4x a week for 30 min than 2x a week for an hour. Have your stroke looked at. Work on your technique but mostly it just takes hours and hours in the pool.

Podium for favorite venues/races in Utah?

Oh…I love them all!!! Utah is so amazingly beautiful and we are lucky to have so many great races almost every single weekend. Get out and race!! Racing is what gives you experience and makes you a better triathlete. You can train day after day but you don’t learn to race unless you race.

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