Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Meant to be! Interview with Steve Monson

Less than a week ago, yours truly was out for a run on an island in the Pacific, minding my own business, when lo and behold I spot a guy chilling with his family in Ironman gear. As I got closer it dawned on me... is that Steve Monson?!?

Indeed it was!

We chatted for a few minutes, then met up a couple days later for a run. I also told him he was now on the hook for an interview, as this was truly meant to be.

Side note: Steve is a humble guy, but FYI his financial mind is as fast as his feet. He's a highly respected financial advisor with Edward Jones. Reach out to him if you feel his services could be a benefit to you and your family.  Link to his page --> Steve Monson / Edward Jones

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

I played soccer in high school but I’ve always been interested in endurance sports. I remember idolizing Greg Lemond in the Tour on TV and have a few recollections of watching the Ironman World Championship on the CBS Wide World of Sports In the early 80s. I’ve been a runner and cyclist for years but was never a swimmer. While I love the water, I’ve hated the gym, and to me, the pool was just another gym. When Ironman came to Utah, first in Provo, and then down in St. George, my brother Jeff and I really caught the bug. I stuck with running and cycling races for a few more years due to the swimming, but my brother decided to give triathlon a shot. After watching him for a couple of races, I decided to give it a try and began hitting the dreaded pool to prepare for Kokopelli in September of 2014. We raced the olympic distance together and I was hooked. Interestingly enough, I really love the pool now, and an open water swim is just as enjoyable as a run or ride.

You’re the current M4549 belt holder following the 2017 season (side note - Steve’s top 3 races for his season average were a 3% at Kokopelli Oly and 6% at both Echo and East Canyon Oly. His 8% at Jordanelle Oly and 11% at St. George 70.3 fell out of his top 3 average). Isn’t it true that outside of your wedding day and the birth of your children, hoisting the belt was your greatest honor?

Of course! Seriously though, winning the belt was a pretty big thrill. I aged up into the 45-49 division last year and knew I had a year before some of the fast guys my age that I knew, like Adam Hicken and Adam Krommenhoek, came in. So I tried to enter enough races and train hard enough to be competitive and it worked out. It’s been fun getting to know some of the other guys in our division that are working hard as well. Thomas Risse is a constant threat (and really fun to race with), and I always seem to be going head to head with Layne Argyle during the run.

After Round 1 of the 2018 rankings you’re currently in the 2 spot in your age group… a mere 1.8% out of 1st and 2.1% and 3.0% ahead of 3rd and 4th respectively. What will it take to defend the belt in 2018??

Maybe another flat for Adam Hicken? ;-) He’s such a strong biker and runner. But, Echo showed me that you just never know. Adam got a flat then and I ended up in 1st. I’ve also raced more this year to have a better chance at a good Top 3 average score to retain the title. I’m not sure it will be enough… 

What’s left on your calendar for the 2018 season?

Ironman Boulder 70.3 is my A race this year. I’d really like to qualify for 70.3 Worlds in Nice in 2019. I’ve been there once and love the venue. I’m also racing the Brineman Olympic / State Champs in September.

What are your thoughts on the inaugural Utah Triathlon Championship Series and culminating State Champ race? What do you hope to see at Brineman?

I’m really excited about it! It’s been great to see all of the race organizations get together and work out a schedule that makes sense for the athletes. The change in schedule has allowed me to race more than I usually do. It’s really fun to build points towards an end of season goal, and to have the State Championship race to give a one time opportunity for a strong showing. I’ve never done Brineman. I hope the race is filled with the best athletes in the state. It’s always fun to race with a deep field. I’d really like to see the series become more and more competitive. 

Is the flat and fast Brineman Oly a course that suits your strengths?

I’d like to think so. I’m a big guy so the climbing just isn’t my thing. Hopefully, after a good swim, I can push some decent numbers on the bike and then hold a good pace through the run.

You went 5:04 at SG 70.3, the longest race in the Series, yet also finished 2nd overall at the shortest - Icebreaker. What’s your best distance?

According to my USAT points, 70.3 is my better distance. I score better on the USAT scale at that distance than I do in the shorter distances. I thought I was fast at Icebreaker but then Dan Cushman just blew by me on the run like I was standing still. He’s a machine.

On that note, what pushed you over the edge in terms of the Ironman plunge and what are your goals for your debut at Santa Rosa?

After SG 70.3 I realized that I was ready to finally try the full distance so I signed up for Santa Rosa as soon as it opened. I find it easier to train during the school year than in the summer. Our summers are full of camps for our kids, family reunions, church camps and youth conferences and then squeezing family vacation in there. I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to get some good training in through the winter and show up ready to go in May.

What’s your podium for Top 3 local races and why?

Ooohhh, that’s tough. I really love racing in Utah. We have so many great venues and race organizers putting together such great events. Kokopelli is a fav. It was my first race and is still such a great course. Doing Sand Hollow in the spring and Kokopelli the fall is a great way to evaluate your fitness through the season. East Canyon is also a favorite. I like to think of it as mini SG 70.3 as it has two transitions, a pretty nasty climb, and a zoom down to T2. It’s a great way to start out the olympic distance for the year. The top of my podium would have to be SG 70.3. I love the National Championship vibe. So fun to see the big names of our sport out on the course. It’s such a challenging course too. I hope to get faster and faster there each year.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Thanks for all you guys at Utah Tri Buzz are doing to promote the sport here in Utah. We are really blessed to have gorgeous venues, great race organizers, and really supportive local clubs. I hope this new championship series format really takes hold and that the state championship race becomes more and more competitive over the years. Thanks again!

Steve Monson / Edward Jones

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