Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Blast From the Past: Interview with Spencer Woolston

As we take a breath before gearing up for the gauntlet of local races below, we thought it would be fun to re-post a little blast from the past...

Spencer Woolston is/was known for blasting past just about everyone. He's been out of the Ironman grind for a few years now, but at his peak he was an absolute monster, especially on the bike. Here's an interview that I did with Spencer for another triathlon site a few years ago.

Jun 10:  East Canyon (S & O) - Morgan
Jun 17:  RockCliff (S & O) - Francis
Jun 24:  Daybreak (S & O) - South Jordan
              DinoTri (S & O) - Vernal

Jul 8:    Echo (S & O) - Coalville
Jul 15:  Topaz (S & O) - Delta
Jul 15:  Toughman Utah Half

Spencer Woolston is an elite age group triathlete who has qualified for the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii the past three years. He’s most known for his dominance on the bike, where sources tell me the watts he generates during a 1-hour time trial could power the state of Texas for over 45 minutes. At Ironman St. George this past year, he had the 12th fastest bike split, including pros, despite losing 15 minutes to a flat tire! He followed that up with an even better 8th fastest 3:07 marathon to finish 10th overall.

another victim

Here are some numbers from Spencer's Ironman performances, showing times, placing, and % rank vs. the field (as in “top 1%”).

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

My athletic background is football. Football was my life obsession as a kid through my senior season in college. After football I stopped working out and I didn’t do much athletically other than pickup basketball every once in a while till I became a jogger in my late twenties. I never did any running races till the 2008 St. George marathon, and I loved it. I raced in the Clydesdale division and was competitive in that classification (editor’s note: I looked it up, 3:00 flat!). I started thinking after the race that I might be a better cyclist than a runner, so I started looking into Ironman racing. I never swam as a kid and could barely tread water, but I had just watched the summer Olympics and they raved about Michael Phelps size 14 feet and how they helped him (I also have size 14 feet) so I decided to jump into it. I signed up for an Ironman, bought my first bike and started getting swimming lessons.

How would you sum up this past season? What was the highlight/lowlight?

I raced 3 times. Ironman St George was my best race. I had my worst swim ever swimming a 1:18, having swum a 1:04 the previous year (editor’s note: high winds made for really tough conditions). I was really happy with my bike but then disaster struck when I got a flat tire. I ride tubular tires and since I didn’t bring anything with me to fix the flat, I thought my day was over. Thankfully, within just a few minutes bike support happened to drive by and they fixed my flat for me. I only lost 10-15 minutes, so I was very lucky. I was able to have my best Ironman marathon time, going under 3:08 to finish 10th overall. When I factor in the bad swim and the flat tire it was by far my best race yet.

My worst race was in Kona at the World Champs. I came into the race in the best shape, expecting to have my fastest race ever. My 4000 yard TT’s in the pool were my fastest ever, my 2 hour average watts were higher than ever, and I was running faster than ever, but something was very wrong on race day. After about 90 minutes on the bike I just didn’t have the energy and I faded to have my worst Ironman time ever.

What’s on your schedule for this year and what are your goals?

As of now Ironman St. George 70.3 and Ironman Coeur d’Alene. I would love to be able to put everything together and be the top amateur at both of these events. I have been close before but have never done it in an Ironman race.

What motivates you?

I am motivated by the thought of doing really, really well in races. I dream big and a lot of the ideas that push me the hardest are highly unlikely. I can push my body much harder with crazy, grandiose ideas like winning an Ironman. I have never finished better than 10th overall in an Ironman and the guys who win are beating me by a lot, but the thoughts that push me in training are the thoughts of winning an Ironman. I know that the likelihood of me ever accomplishing that are very, very slim. Even though I know logically that I will probably never have the fastest overall time (pros and amateurs) that is what I think about to motivate myself. I am also motivated by numbers because numbers can represent progress.

I guess the thoughts that motivate me in training are hitting numbers that I have never hit before, so I base my training on hitting numbers like my time in a 4000 yard swim or my average power over 2 hours on the bike, or my time running 10 miles.

You and BJ Christenson are widely considered to be two of the top amateur triathletes in the state. He races a lot, whereas you’re more selective. I see the argument for both approaches… what’s your take on racing less vs. more?

I think it’s just a preference thing. If you enjoy racing a lot and it fits your life situation then you should do it. I race less for four main reasons: 1) I have 3 kids and a wife who have stuff going on in their lives and it’s hard to fit in a lot of racing with what our family has going on. 2) I enjoy the process of preparing for the big “A” priority race and trying to knock that one race out of the park. I’m just not that excited about doing a race just for fun. 3) I am best at the half and full Ironman distances and to race those distances you usually have to travel. I hate traveling so the thought of flying somewhere to do a race that is not my big priority is disturbing. 4) Almost all of the local races are Olympic distance and because I am a poor swimmer the Olympic distance isn’t great for me.

What’s your perspective on the triathlon scene in Utah?

It is a great community. When I first got into the triathlon scene I did not encounter any jerks. Even though everybody wants to win, everyone is also really friendly as well. All the fastest guys in the state are also really nice guys. Heath Thurston has helped me with my swim. B.J. gave me a pair of shoes. I’ve never done a cycling race but I am told that the difference between cycling and triathlon is that the tri guys are happy to help and give advice while in cycling it’s a colder culture. I have liked being able to make a ton of new friends through triathlon.

What have you learned from experiences at Kona the past few years?

I have learned that I am really not that great of a triathlete and that I have a lot to improve on if I’m going to be more competitive.

Have you developed any “friendly rivals” from your battles at IMSG, Kona, etc?

I have raced B.J. Christenson 3 times at Ironman St. George, 3 times at Kona and 2 or 3 other small races. I wish I could consider B.J. a rival, but his record against me is pretty dominant. He has beaten me almost every time… I have only edged him out twice. Maybe if I can improve over the next couple years I can gain ‘friendly rival’ status with him.

It’s been rumored that you have the strength of 10 men. How does your college football background most help you in triathlon? Does it help specifically with power on the bike?

Ha ha ha… the strength of 10 men and the mind of 1/10th of a man. When I played football strength always came easy. My best lift was always the squat. After football ended I stopped lifting, but when I started riding a bike just before my 32nd birthday the power on the bike came easily as well. I think that came from the lifting background and from just the way God made me. The negative part about my body type is that I just can’t get to a more competitive size. I am 6 feet tall and it’s really hard for me to get under 190 pounds. I would love to be around 170… I think I could run a lot faster at 170.

how many tree trunks do you see?

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to those new to the sport?

1) Get a good swim coach. Even though I am still a terrible simmer, I have improved dramatically through swim coaching 2) Train with Power, either a power tap or one of the other power meters. Being able to track your progress is important in anything you want to be competitive in and the only way to do that with a strong degree of confidence on the bike is with a power meter.

Friday, May 26, 2017

One-Year Anniversary! Top 10 "Greatest Hits"

THANK YOU for supporting Utah Tri Buzz and our efforts to "hype the local scene!" It's been a great first year!

Just for fun, here are the Top 10 posts in terms of traffic over the past 12 months.

You can click on any of the titles (in red) to go to those posts.

10) Anonymous Trash Talk - Blow the Whistle!    

Around Thanksgiving, one of you heated up the cold offseason by sending in this hilarious triathlon "trash talk." So far this individual has been "walking the walk" to some degree, although his/her legs still have some work to do to catch up with his/her mouth!  :D

9) SWAG Announcement 2017!!     

In March, we announced our plans for some unique awards... will you hoist a Utah Tri Buzz belt in 2017??

ps. stay tuned for news on a potential Utah Triathlon Championship Series for 2018...

8) TriUtah: THE PREQUEL  

As part of our Respect the RD! Series, two Utah triathlon pioneers gave us all an excellent history lesson on the sport in our state.

7) Jen Johnson: BAM Mom. Fast Mom!   

We've done ~30 interviews since last June, and three of them were in the Top 10 overall in terms of views. Jen Johnson is a mom, Kona Qualifier, and one of the driving forces behind BAM. 

6) Leavin'em in the Dust: Interview with Evan Santo

Another interview in the Top 10 - lightning fast Evan Santo discusses trading in his Felt for whatever that thing is he's rumored to be riding as a missionary in Germany.

5) IMTX Race Report - Adam Lee     

We got some stellar race reports from Coeur d'Alene, Kona, Oceanside, St. George, etc, etc, but one of the most inspirational was SLTC president Adam Lee's report from Ironman Texas.

4) Utah's Fastest Ironman?? Welcome Anatoliy Uspensky!   

The highest traffic for an interview actually went to one we just did. Learn more about this fast newcomer who punched his ticket to Kona at his Ironman debut in Texas.

You can scroll to the bottom of this recent interview to see all ~30 other interviews from the past year.

3) B.J. Christenson's Kona Race Report: THE LEGEND GROWS  

Broken scapula no big deal!! 

2) Top 10 Utah Races: THE PEOPLE'S VOTE   

We collected votes from you the people on the best triathlons in the state and consolidated into an overall Top 10.

1) Age Group Rankings 2016 - those who qualified for our inaugural WALL OF FAME

WALL OF FAME Final Rankings 2016 - Women Part 2

WALL OF FAME Final Rankings 2016 - Women Part 1

WALL OF FAME Final Rankings 2016 - Men Part 2

WALL OF FAME Final Rankings 2016 - Men Part 1

Special thanks to all who have pitched in over the past year! As always, Utah Tri Buzz is open to your ideas & expertise. Feel free to reach out if you'd like to contribute in some way.   

Follow us on Instagram @utahtribuzz
Utah Tri Buzz FB page

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Recon Mission: Echo Course Preview

Time for another recon mission! This time special thanks to Utah Tri Buzz contributors Mandy & Eric Oscarson, who ventured to Coalville to shoot some video of TriUtah's Echo Triathlon, taking place July 8th.

In our Top 10 Utah Races: The People's Vote, Echo was voted the #2 race in the state, behind only St. George 70.3. It's a great course for beginners, while also typically claiming one of Utah's deepest and most competitive fields for a local race.

This preview isn't affiliated with TriUtah, so apologies if something isn't perfect.

Check out the course video below, and please share with friends/family who may consider this fun, classic event.

Main site: TriUtah

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A few pics of Echo from previous posts

Monday, May 22, 2017

Results Breakdown: Sand Hollow 2017

Congrats to all who raced St. George's Sand Hollow Triathlon!

This post has more detail behind the results breakdown methodology if you're interested.

Along with other Utah races, we'll use these results towards SWAG ANNOUNCEMENT 2017Remember we take the average of your 3 best local races (overall %) for "Most Improved Triathlete" awards, rankings, etc, so plan your season accordingly!

The next few qualifying races on the Utah calendar are:  

Jun 10:  East Canyon (S & O) - Morgan
Jun 17:  RockCliff (S & O) - Francis
Jun 24:  Daybreak (S & O) - South Jordan
              DinoTri (S & O) - Vernal
Jul 8:   Echo (S & O) - Coalville



Thursday, May 18, 2017

Utah's Fastest Ironman?? Welcome Anatoliy Uspensky!

Is a newcomer among us currently Utah's fastest Ironman?? At a minimum, he's definitely in the conversation...  

Join us in welcoming and getting to know Anatoliy Uspensky, who recently moved from his home country of the Ukraine to Utah for work. Here he talks about US culture shock, what he likes and dislikes about Utah, and his amazing, Kona Qualifying IM debut at Ironman Texas last month.

Thanks for the time, Anatoliy, and best of luck at both the IM & IM 70.3 world championships this year!

What’s your athletic background and how did you first start in triathlon?

I’ve been doing triathlons back in high school, but quit in University and forgot about this sport for about 12 years. Started training again just in mid January 2016. My first and only major race last year was IM70.3 Budapest.

What brought you to Utah, and how long have you lived here now? Did you move here directly from the Ukraine or have you moved other places in between?

I’ve been working as a software engineer in Utah for about 9 months now. Moved here from Ukraine with my TT bike to support me. Straight from the airport began looking for good places to train. Thankfully Utah has plenty of great bike routes and running trails.

Whereabouts do you live, and have you been able to meet any training partners or do you train solo?

I prefer training solo. However, the local swimming team invited me to join them a couple times. I live in Draper about one mile away from the Draper Canal Trail, which is great for running. For bike, I usually go to Saratoga Springs and ride around the Utah Lake.

excellent timing!

What’s your “podium” of 3 things you really like and 3 things you really dislike about living in Utah?

Likes: Zions National Park, People, Bike rides. Dislikes: Snow and harsh weather changes, Imperial system (as in miles instead of kilometers, etc), traffic light intervals are very long in US.

Similarly, what were the 3 biggest “culture shocks,” or differences, you first experienced between the US & Ukraine?

1. Many pleasant and smiling people around. Unfortunately, that is the first thing that the eye catches and it’s a great contrast to people in Ukraine. 2. Imperial system again :). Even after a long time here haven’t got used to it. 3. Local bike and tri-race organization. Once again, pleasure in racing, training and the overall race atmosphere comparing to my home country.

Budapest 70.3

What were your expectations going into Ironman Texas? Was this your first Ironman, and was Kona a big goal going into the race?

First Ironman. Actually, I did not think about Kona much and been more focused on the race itself. On the opposite, for my coach, Kona was the major goal, the only reason that I should even sign up for the race in Texas :)

You were 3rd in your AG after a ~58 min swim, 8th after a 4:51 bike, and 7th overall after a 3:16 run. Were you aware of your position throughout the race, and when did you know that Kona was within reach?

I was not. I knew my finish place about an hour after the actual finish. I was hoping to do well on the swim and was a bit disappointed with the result when I saw the time on my Garmin. On the bike, I got completely lost about my placing. I passed some guys, others passed me, so it was impossible to keep track of where I was. And running was hard. I was focused on getting to the finish line as fast as I possibly can, and I do not remember much about what happened around during the running stage.

How many spots ultimately went to your age group? Were you nervous at the awards ceremony for a roll-down, or did you qualify automatically with 7th in your AG?

I missed the point that the slots allocation ceremony was on the next day after the race and had to change my flight tickets. There were 6 slots for my age group and I was 7th, so there was a chance that I will not get my Kona slot. I was shaking I was that nervous. Fortunately, guys who took 1st and 2nd places in my age group already had their tickets to Kona and I now I have mine.

How did you celebrate?

Had an extra day in Houston after the awards ceremony, so went to the NASA center, and then flew to California for a short vacation.

I know you did TriUtah's Brineman last year on the local scene. Will you do any other races between now and Kona?

The only 100% race for me now is IM70.3 Worlds in Chattanooga. I’ve got a slot for that race from the IM 70.3 Budapest 2016. I’ll probably do some local short distance races, maybe one or two IM70.3’s. But not sure right now.

Anything else you want to share?

Triathlon is my hobby and lifestyle. I like music, cars, basketball, professional cycling, Formula 1 racing, but triathlon leaves little time for anything else. However, this is not a wasted time for me because I enjoy training. Moreover, it is great sometimes to see people I love at the finish line - after the race is the best time to spend with them.

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