Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Kona Profiles: Dr. Jorge de Amorim Filho

The Ironman World Championships ("Kona") is quickly approaching, taking place Oct. 14th. As you know, it's incredibly competitive to qualify and a major accomplishment to do so. Like last year, we'll be catching up with our local Cinderellas... getting to know them better as a tri community and cheering them on as they get ready for the ball!

  • Name: Jorge de Amorim Filho
  • Age Group: M3034
  • Qualified: Ironman Arizona – Nov 2016
  • Qualifying Place & Time: 4th - 9:06:31  
  • Splits: Swim 56 Bike 4:48 Run 3:17

First of all, for anyone who didn’t know, it’s “George,” not “Horhay,” correct? Did you live in Brazil as a kid or always the States, and is it true that coach Wes yells Portuguese obscenities and trash talk to inspire you mid-race?

It is actually neither of those, but I now go by either one. It is a little more difficult to say it in the correct way so it is easier to just go with George. Wes is good at the correct pronunciation. I lived in Brazil until I was 16 then I moved to American Fork for an exchange program for a year. I moved back to finish high school in Brazil and then back to the US for college. I don't know how much yelling Wes does in a race. I know he gets mad at me when I suck at the swim. I don't know the exact words he uses, but mostly he tells me I have to go faster, hehe. My favorite one from him was in Oceanside when he told me that I had to redline the second half of the run, now that hurt. He is really good at reading the situation in terms of pushing or being encouraging. Sometimes you just don't want to hear 'go faster, you can do it' because deep inside you know your lungs and legs are at the verge of collapsing. He titrates to the situation which is very important.

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

Mostly swimming. I played some soccer and tennis. I swam in college at Utah, which was awesome. That’s where I met my wife. GO UTES. I started with some sprint triathlons during medical school, then on a dare I did the Utah Half and I was hooked. Ali and I then signed up for St. George and we were happy with our races despite minimal training and Wes was there to plant the seed.

The volumes required of competitive swimmers are notoriously insane… can you give us an idea of a typical week of practice at the D1 level? Did it ever burn you out, and what events were you best at?

It was pretty hard. 20 hours a week according to NCAA rules. mostly swimming with some weights in there. Monday - Saturday. Doubles everyday but one. In terms of burning out, I think everyone goes through it specially when yo spend a whole season training and training and you merely drop 0.2 seconds on a fifty or even worse you get slower. That happens a lot in swimming. Frustrating. I was best at the 50. It is a great furious race.

The triathlon swim is often referred to as a “washing machine,” but for you it’s more like an Aquafina commercial. For an Ironman, how hard do you push it? For example, do you swim “hard” to maximize your strength and get that clear water or put it on cruise control and save energy?

HAHAHAHA. I would not say it is an Aquafina commercial. The swimming part is one of the most intimidating parts of the race for me. The expectations are high so I can honestly say that the swim ALWAYS hurts. I try to push in the beginning to get in the front pack and stay. On a scale from 1-10 I would say 7 or above, mostly focusing on saving the legs for the rest of the race.

The swim leg of Jorge's races is summed up by this video:

Can you give us a brief recap of Kona last year? There’s the picture of you, Sam Hobi, and Matt Davis crossing the line together… did you guys plan that or did it happen more or less organically?

Kona was great last year. I did not have any expectations. I went there to experience the race. I had a great swim, but crashed on the bike. Fortunately, the bike and I were ok. The run always hurt but I had Matt and Sam so we had fun. We were all close after the bike. I was in the med tent getting bandages and I saw Matt. We ran out of transition together and decided to run the whole thing at the same pace. Sam was a couple minutes ahead. He decided that suffering alone a couple minutes ahead was not worth it, so he walked a little while until we caught up and after that it was great. Misery loves company and we were all together...hahahaha...joking aside it was great sharing the experience with them just check out the picture and you will see. Priceless.

What did you learn from last year’s experience, and how is your mindset different this year as a veteran vs. last year as a rookie?

Kona is a beast. I think the most important lesson is not to underestimate the changes in the conditions and be meticulous about hydration and nutrition. The mindset is not that much different. The pressure to PR or qualify is off. You just go out there and race and often that’s when you have your best performances. Kona is a celebration.

How many spots were there for the taking in your age group at Ironman Arizona? Were you aware of the four guys within 3 min trying to hunt you down, and how did you manage to hold them off?

3 spots available and I was 4th. The first guy had already qualified. I had no idea those guys were coming. At mile 13 on the marathon Wes said that I was solid 4th and the guys ahead were running well. He said I had a little gap to the guys behind but I had to keep running. The second half you really have to focus on your race and dig deep. You are aware of the other competitors but you have to run your race. The goal in AZ was to try and do my best and not qualify for Kona. I had no idea I had a spot until they called my name. I was happy I qualified but I was even more excited by the fact that I put together one of my best races.

How did qualifying so early impact your training plan for Kona and overall 2017 season?

It was great! I was able to work on some weaknesses without having the pressure to race. One advantage is planning the trip early, so I was not running around trying to find a place to stay.

testing on the bike

What was it like watching your wife (her interview coming up!) gunning for Kona at IM Santa Rosa? How were your nerves compared to your own races?

Awful and fantastic all at the same time. I was sooooo excited and proud of her. I was running on Red Bull and Mountain Dew all day. She was not going for Kona, she wanted to be able to put together a great race. She did not want me to tell her what place she was in. I was extremely nervous about her race, specially on the bike with the bad roads and after Matt Davis crashed I was very anxious. I was happy to see her off the bike and running well. My phone ran out of battery by noon because I kept checking even though I knew it would be a while until the next check point. She works full time and takes care of Enzo and I, and still did it. BADASS!!!

On Instagram you’re known as “@D0ctorDelicious.” Are you all the way through the med school/residency/etc journey and now practicing?

Yes I have been done for 3 years. I am still working in Elko, NV, but hoping to move to SLC permanently.

On the local scene, last year you won Daybreak & Echo, and this year East Canyon & Brineman (all Olympic distances) and went 4:27at St. George 70.3. Who are some of your “friendly rivals,” and what’s your podium for favorite local races?

I just like racing but it is always a little more fun when the 'crew' is there. My age group has some power houses. It’s always nice to race with Sam Hobi, Matt Davis, Andrew Hall, Rory Duckworth, BJ Christenson, the more the merrier and there are some new faces too. It's always the same story, I get out of the water and the cat and mouse race starts. I know they are coming, the fear is real and keeps you moving. Favorite races probably Daybreak, East Canyon, and now Brineman (first time this year and I loved it).

Anything else you want to share?

I just want to thank my wife for supporting my endeavors and my coach Wes Johnson for believing.

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