Monday, September 17, 2018

Kona Profiles #3 - Lee Weatherhead

The Ironman World Championships ("Kona") will be here before we know it, taking place Oct. 13th. As you know, it's incredibly competitive to qualify and a major accomplishment to do so. As we've done the last 2 years, we'll be catching up with our local Cinderellas... getting to know them as a tri community and cheering them on as they get ready for the ball!

Name:  Lee Weatherhead

Age Group:  M4044 

Qualified:  Ironman Chattanooga

Qualifying AG Place & Time:   3rd   9:39:55

Splits:  Swim 49   Bike 5:03    Run 3:40

Standard question - what's your athletic background and how did you get into triathlon?

I grew up playing baseball, football, and basketball. After I had a spine injury from football I had to stick to baseball through high school.

Why did you choose Ironman Chattanooga, and what were your thoughts on the venue & race in general?

McKee Foods is the corporate sponsor for the Ironman Chattanooga races and I’m a sub contractor for them so they gave me one of their free spots. It was a great venue. The down river swim was definitely a plus for me.

Did racing the Ironman 70.3 World Champs (hosted in Chattanooga last year shortly before the full IM Chattanooga) help you prepare?

70.3 Worlds was a lot of fun. The swim and bike were completely different than the full Ironman. The run course from Worlds was only part of the full. But being there 2 weeks before the full Ironman helped me get ready mentally. Getting to know the area, seeing the course, and feeling the weather I think helped a lot. The elevation graphs they post online don’t really give you a good perspective of the course.

How did the race play out for you, and were you aware of your age group position throughout the day? Ultimately how many spots went to your AG, and when did you learn you had KQ'd?

Because of the way they do the swim start I didn’t get into the water until almost 40 mins after the official start. That helped my wife see exactly where I was in the standings as I crossed the timing mats and would relay it to me as often as she could. I knew I was in 12th after the swim and 6 mins back. When I got off the bike I found out I was in 1st by almost 3 mins. She would keep me updated whenever she would see me on the run. I wasn’t sure if I was going to end up in 2nd or 3rd until I crossed the finish line. I was pretty sure there was at least 3 spots in my AG so I assumed I had qualified but wasn’t 100% sure until the following morning at awards when I saw the sheet that showed there were 4 spots in my AG.

Whenever we've crossed paths this year, it seems like you can barely walk... and yet, then you go out and destroy every race you do. How has the injury situation been, and how would you summarize your season thus far?

I have been injured pretty much since February when I stumbled on a treadmill. Taking time off for me is hard. I love to race. But my training has suffered this year trying to recover to make sure I will be able to finish Kona. It’s been a disappointing season as far as the amount of racing I have done, but with a lot of physical therapy, dry needling, adjustments, and massages I have timed it just right to have had some great races.

It appears from afar that you throw down a lot of volume. From your perspective what does it take if someone's serious about qualifying for Kona?

I probably don’t put in as much volume as you would think. Exercise balances me out. It keeps me from having to be medicated for anxiety/depression. But it’s also that anxiety that pushes me to go faster. Kona takes a lot of hard work and dedication. Everybody is different but the biggest thing that helped me was getting my daily nutrition figured out. I could push myself harder and recover faster when I learned how to fuel my body correctly. Putting together a great race also comes with a lot of luck. You can put in all the work and come to race day and have bad luck. Flat tires, illness, injuries, etc. the biggest lesson I learned this past year is to have fun. Make your races fun. You’ll be a lot more relaxed and have a better race. You just never know what’s going to happen, make the best of every race.

How has SLTC supported you along the triathlon journey and do you have training partners who have helped get you ready?

SLTC is a great group of people. They have given me a lot of support and encouragement over the last couple years and I have made some lifelong friends. But the thing I have found with Triathlon is it’s a great community of people no matter what club you are part of. Last year I trained a lot with Sylvia Bedford and her running group from Lifetime and Rory Duckworth as he was training for Kona.

You recently spent some time in Hawaii... did that give you any insights that you'll use on race day? What are your goals for the race?

Maui was a lot of fun. It was a family vacation that we had planned before I had qualified. It worked out nice that I could go train for 8 days in the heat and humidity. I will be making a couple of adjustments in my race day nutrition because of what I learned. Goals for Kona are a tough one because you never know what the winds are going to do. I have a few in my mind but the biggest one is just enjoying the experience and making the most out of it.

On the local scene, what are your top 3 favorite races and why?

All the local race companies do a great job. Not sure this is the best question for me. There are a lot of local races I haven’t done. Mostly because I hate to wake up any earlier than I have to then drive for an hour or two. I get up at 3:00 am for work during the week. Any extra sleep I can get I take full advantage of. So I usually stay close to home out of laziness.

Do you see Kona as a yearly quest? For example, will you be gunning for it next season or have different goals/focus in mind?

I’m not sure if I will be doing another full after Kona. Maybe in a couple of years. When I got into Triathlons I never planned on doing a full. After getting tired of people asking if I had ever done a full I signed up for Vineman. I figured it would be 1 and done. When I found out that I would get the sponsors exemption for Chattanooga I decided to do another one and thought I would make a run for Kona after being so close at Vineman. I do this sport for fun. I really enjoy 70.3’s and sprints. 70.3 Worlds in France is a goal. I just missed my spot by 15 seconds in Santa Cruz.

Anything else you'd like to share?

Just want to thank my family for all the support they give me. Emma has never complained about my training.

I especially want to thank Jamie Dickson and Total Health and Fitness. They saw potential in me 3 years ago and have helped me achieve goals that I never thought were possible.

Related Posts

Kona Profiles: BJ Christenson Back for #10

Kona Profiles: Laura Yost "Host With the Most"

Ironman 70.3 World Champs Race Report: Lee Weatherhead

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