Monday, March 20, 2017

On Your Left!! Interview with Savage Predator JC Smoot

My introduction to JC Smoot was incredibly brief. Mile 1 of the run at Brineman... the faint pitter patter of footsteps behind me, followed by the sound of breathing on my shoulder. And then, like one of those futuristic bullet trains, he was gone...

Here we learn more about this savage predator, and what, if anything, you can do to protect yourself on race day.

Thanks for the time, JC!

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

I'm a relatively new triathlete. I did some sports growing up with wrestling and football with a little bit of track doing mostly sprint work. The longer distance stuff is all pretty new to me. A couple years back, I watched the finish line of the St. George IM and saw some good friends cross the finish line that I had no idea were involved with IM Triathlons. Kyle Gold, John Harward, Keshia Sawyer, Melanie Perry, Mario Castro etc etc...watching them cross the line put me over the edge with wanting to give it a try. Anyone who does this sport has my full respect! I watched the Kona IM on TV when I was 15 and it was always at the back of my mind to give it a shot...My job took me traveling all around the world and I never made it happen. 2016 was finally my year. I had to quit making excuses and get to my bucket list items.

JC exiting T2 at last year's Brineman

Is JC your given name or does it stand for something? 5 guesses just for fun: Jonathan Christopher? James Charles? Jeremy Cooper? Jebediah Constantine? Jacques Cousteau?

You have bulimia? You can read minds? close. Jacob Charles is my name actually....Apparently Jacob was a big name in 1982 and the administration thought it was a good idea to put four Jacob's in the same class in 5th grade. For my teacher's sanity, my name went to JC then and stuck ever since..Don't call me Jacob or I'll think I'm in trouble by my mom.

What were the keys to your incredibly impressive Ironman debut (Swim 1:27, Bike 5:16, Run 3:37, Overall 10:32) at IM Arizona this past November, both in terms of training and race day execution?

Haha, I appreciate the shout out. I had a few goals going into it though. Of course #1 is..Don't Drown, if goal one is met then move onto #2 with keeping the rubber side of the bike wheels on the road. If #1 and #2 were met then try and beat the sunset to the finish line and enjoy the run. (About 8 mins short from beating the sunset) It was a really cool experience and I know I can improve after my first full in all three areas. I got into a lot of liquid nutrition and I think that helped a lot with maintaining a constant level of energy without any dips. I also had some great training partners with the beast Russell Baughman and Malias Emem and John Lang. They're great people to train with. We did some good Antelope Island loops to prep. The race was incredible and I recommend IMAZ for anybody. They put on quite the show in Tempe. There's no question though as there's room for improvement on my swim...Honestly though, I was just happy not to drown. My mom would have killed me if I had..

As a relatively slower swimmer with that run of yours, you are the ultimate hunTER… (in contrast to fast, yet hunTED species such as THE DANIMAL Dan Trott). However, what are you doing to address your swim in order to catch even more prey in 2017 and beyond?

Haha, why I love the sport is the idea of always improving onself. Really some of the coolest people I know are in the sport and doing cool things in and out of the sport. (Really passionate people in all areas of their life) We've all got a couple screws loose to like to do what we're doing. This year I bought for myself at Christmas one of the swim critique lesson packages for the new facility in Sandy. Swim Labs. I haven't gotten in there yet but with 2 months to go at IM STG I need to get in there to help perfect my swim. If I can be half of the swimmer that Heath Thurston is then I'll chalk that up for money well spent. I'm excited to learn more. It's time to turn in my Tortoise swim card to a Dolphin. (I hear Dolphins have all the fun too)

On that note, for a typical non-Kona Qualifier looking for their personal best Ironman, does a slower swim even matter? In other words, based on your experience at IMAZ (where you biked and ran your way from 123rd in your AG out of the water to 35th across the finish line), would you encourage people to swim less, bike and run more?

I'm really lucky to have the running base come fairly easy to me but I'm really new to swimming.. My strava showed me zigzagging through the entire swim course at IMAZ. I would recommend focusing on the areas that need focus as a triathlete. if you're a hobbyist racer doing a IM then work and train hard and just enjoy the ride taking it all in. If you're there to always want to improve then focus on the things that you know need improvement.. I'm really amazed by the athletes that are really rounded out in all three sports. I always play catch up after the swim and it would be nice to build that side.

What are your race plans for 2017?

I'm doing Oceanside 70.3, St. George 70.3, Ironman Arizona again along with some of the fun local ones. East Canyon again, BrineMan again and probably hit Kokopelli and a few half marathons.. I had a great time at Spudman last year and I had three or four friends join me for their first Tri there. They're on the fence about doing St George IM this year but I'm working them down. You know who you are.... I did my first and only Marathon a year ago September and ran a sub 3 with my little sister. She didn't qualify for Boston with her time and wants to do so so I plan on doing one with her and push her to a qualifying time and qualify again myself if we can both put it together.

Last year at St. George 70.3 you went: Swim - 41 min (54th percentile), Bike - 3:06 (37%), and Run - 1:37 (8%) for a 5:35 (21%) overall. Has Arizona given you new-found confidence to obliterate last year’s time? What are your goals for this year?

Yea, you really don't know truly what to expect until you do one. I was doing the breast stroke for quite a bit of the swim so I'm excited to see what sort of improvement I'll be making. I feel like I've come a long ways in the past year.

There’s such a delicate bike/run balance for the 70.3 distance, especially a course like SG. On a scale from 1-10, how hard would you say you pushed the bike last year, and are you thinking you’ll change strategy at all this year?

I felt like I pushed at an 8 but I'm sure my output was more like a six with my strategy... I really got burnt out with my nutrition trying lots of different things that probably didn't work.. I feel like I've got my nutrition a lot more dialed in now. I've had to travel a lot for work this year so I'm a little behind the 8 ball catching up with workouts and it can be tough to get some runs and swims in while I'm on the road. Strategy this year will be to not push the climbs when I shouldn't. Stay steady and don't spike the heart.. last year's race was pretty rough in general with the cold rain and weather but St. George is a beast with all the hills.

You finished a very respectable 8th in the M3034 Utah Tri Buzz rankings for 2016, (behind slouches such as Chris Hammer, Andrew Hall, Nate Dressel & Brian Botts) but word on the street is you plan on wreaking havoc on the “geezers” in the M3539 AG this year. #fakenews or legit? Let’s cut to the chase here… should people buy Smoot stock in 2017?

Hahaha, well stock prices are soaring so....I'm coming for you Rory Duckworth. On your left...

What are some of your favorite local races and why?

Brineman was great this past year. I think it was the first year but it was beautiful and fun to be on the causeway to Antelope Island. The Lake Powell Tri was my first one I ever did and I missed it this last year. The backdrop is unbeatable for that. Kokopelli I heard is great and I want to do this year as well.

Anything else you want to share?

It's been fun to get to know the peeps from both SLTC and some of the BAM crew. I've got some great friends in both groups and they're some of my favorite people. I'm more of a hobbyist Triathlete but I'm excited to get out and push it to another level this year and keep spinning those wheels.

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