Monday, October 8, 2018

Kona Profiles #7 - Gentry Yost, No Need to Boast!

The Ironman World Championships ("Kona") is upon us now, taking place this Saturday. 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:  Gentry Yost

Age Group:  M4044

Qualified:   Ironman Boulder

Qualifying AG Place & Time:   5th   10:01:40

Splits:   Swim 1:06   Bike 4:59    Run 3:48

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

I grew up playing lots of soccer and skiing. Never a great soccer player, but played well enough to play for U of U men's club team when it was in its infancy. Pretty much you could be on the team if you'd show up to practice. Truly love skiing and dreamed of skiing in movies when I was younger. I did run one year of cross country in junior high, but soccer schedule conflicted enough that that was the extent of my running. 

Right before we undertook triathlon our family was very active in endurance horse racing. We traveled the country and competed in 50-100 mile horse races. Our family won the national family mileage award three years in a row. I mention this because the training and racing of an endurance horse has many parallels to how a human endurance athlete trains and races and I think our horse racing experiences have helped our triathlon performances.

In 2010, our horse racing was slowing down as our kids were becoming interested in other things, and my wife decided to do a triathlon. She enjoyed it, and told me shortly thereafter that she'd bought me a membership at our local rec center so that I could learn to swim. She then included that she had also entered us in the Silverman half ironman distance triathlon in Las Vegas. She gave me one month to prepare. My first swim was a disaster as I realized I couldn't swim across the pool (25 yards) without stopping to breast stroke. We did the entire race together with me breast stroking every 10 strokes. I fell in T1 trying to run with my bike. It took us over 6 hrs to finish. I remember most a women yelling, 100 yards before the finish line, "you can still take 4 seconds off our time!!!". I sprinted so hard for those 4 seconds that I almost passed out at the finish. That is how triathlon started for me.

Have you raced Kona before or is this your first rodeo? Regardless, how are you feeling one week out?

This is my first time getting to race Kona. I did take my bike 2 years ago when I watched Laura race. I did a self support half ironman distance the day before the race and just remember quitting my run at 6 miles, due to utter exhaustion, and being happy I didn't have to do the full race the following day. Then after watching Laura race the following day, it became a dream to some day qualify and run through that finish line. That is when we approach Wes through BAM about formal coaching. I still joke that he took me on as a "project" athlete. Feeling pretty good, still looking forward to some tapering. We are still in ID currently and will not get to Kona until Tuesday.

Like we asked your wife earlier, can you give us a high level recap of your day at Ironman Boulder? How were you successful in the heat when it broke so many competitors?

Boulder was a tough day. Started really well with the swim being as smooth as any IM swim I have done. No breast stroking needed. Swim was one minute slower than my PR. I knew it was going to be hot, but it was not until a couple hours into the bike that I realized just how hot the day was going to be. I was happy that we had increased salt in our F2C bottles for the day. I used all my nutrition as planned on the bike, drank extra Gatorade Endurance when I could and also kept a water bottle on board to keep my self as wet and as cool as possible. The hills were very difficult towards the end, and I had to push it the last 10 minutes because I really wanted to finish the bike in under 5 hours, something I had yet to do at an IM distance. My legs did not feel great starting the run. The majority of the first 5 miles were a steady climb and I was content to run a little slower than I had planned for that portion with the goal being that I would be able to pick it up when the coarse flattened and then went downhill a little.

I think accepting at 6 miles that I was not going to be able to run 8 minute miles (which was my goal) is what allowed me to keep running to the finish despite the heat. I dropped my pace to 8:30s and was able to hold that for the remainder of the race. With temps around 100 degrees out on the course it was very tough mentally. I think if I had pushed for my goal pace, I might have bonked and been walking it in. I kept thinking how Wes says we want to be racing at the end of an Ironman and not walking. Slowing down in that heat was key for me. I also credit the support crew of my two youngest kids and the BAM coaches on the course with keeping me moving.

Jen Johnson was out on the course and at about 1/2 of the way through the marathon she told me I was in seventh, but was catching the 2 guys in front of me. I still remember, and will always remember, her saying "you're in contention". Those three words did more to motivate than anything. All my training had been done with the hope that I would some day be in "contention" for a Kona spot. Mick Campbell also rode up next to me with about one mile to go and told me, "Wes says there is a guy on your tail and you have to GO!!" I'm pretty sure this was a lie, but it helped get me across the line.

How many spots were awarded for your age group, and how aware of your position were you throughout the day? At what moment did you learn you had qualified, and what was your reaction?

Age group had 4 allotted spots. I took fifth. I worried all night that I wouldn't get a spot and tried to have myself prepared. The next morning all five of us showed for awards, so I was even more sure it wasn't going to happen this year. I talked to fourth place before roll down and he said he was taking his slot. I was too scared to get more disappointment so I did not talk to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.

When 1st and 2nd took their spots I was sure it was over. Then they called for 3rd place and he didn't answer, I started to hope, and then they called him again and he still didn't answer at which point I knew there would be a roll down to fifth and I was in!! Still can't believe it. I jumped out of my seat and yelled, "YES" when they called my name. My wife was already up in line after accepting her spot and she ran over and hugged me as I headed over to join her. It was very emotional!! Celebrated by hopping in the car and driving to ID. I texted everyone I knew on the way home with the news.

GO YOST!!!!    GO YOST!!!!

Laura dodged this question ;) , but theoretically what would be a fair competition between you two? For example, what are the odds she out-runs you?

I don't mess with Laura. She is the most competitive person I know. Your title of her interview would have been more appropriately called Laura Yost: the Yost with the Most. When compared to women her age she is at a whole different level than I am against men my age.

You traveled south and threw down a great race at our inaugural State Championship race (this year Brineman Olympic), finishing 2nd overall. What are some of your favorite local races, whether in ID or UT?

Brineman was a really great race for me. It has helped to keep my confidence high heading to Kona. Pocatello has its local Bengal Tri that I do each spring. It's a sprint with a pool swim the night before the bike/run. It's a great time to get all your gear out and get excited for another season of racing. I did the Spudman for the first time this year and will likely make that a yearly race I compete in. As far as UT races I have done Echo, East Canyon, and Brineman.

What are your goals and/or expectations for the big day?

I want to do more than just finish in Kona. I've trained too hard to have that be my only goal. I am still trying to break 10 hrs, so that is my goal. Not sure if I can do it, but I am going to try. Race day may dictate changes to my goal, like what happened in Boulder, but I am going to give it my all.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Thanks for the opportunity to share some of my story. I have enjoyed reading other people's as well. They are very motivating. Triathlon is a great sport that is wonderful for a person's health, both mentally and physically. The sport has been a tremendous blessing for my wife and I our relationship. I am lucky to have her enjoy being as active and competitive as I am. I have four wonderful kids and appreciate their understanding of the time it takes to participate in triathlon like I am.

Related Posts

Kona Profiles #1: BJ Christenson Back for #10

Kona Profiles #2: Laura Yost "Host With the Most"

Kona Profiles #3: Lee Weatherhead - The Chattanooga Choo Choo

Kona Profiles #4: Brice Williams & the Ironman Itch!

Kona Profiles #5: Greg "Papa Bear" Peterson

Kona Profiles #6: Jess the Pocket Rocket Perry

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