Friday, December 21, 2018

Break On Through! Interview with Local Pro Skye Moench

Local pro triathlete Skye Moench (rhymes with "launch") had an outstanding 2018 season. We thought we'd catch up with her to get a recap on her year of training & racing around the globe. Thanks for the time, Skye!

Can you give us a quick rundown of your 2018 races & results?

This was my first year racing on other continents, getting on some Ironman professional podiums, and going under 9 hours in a full ironman (IMAZ)! Here’s a full list of my races and results from 2018:

  • February 4 - Hell of the West (Australia) - 2nd
  • February 25 - Gold Coast Triathlon (Australia) - 2nd
  • April 7 - Ironman 70.3 Oceanside - 9th
  • May 20 - Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga - 4th
  • June 10 - Ironman 70.3 Switzerland - 3rd
  • July 8 - Ironman European Championship - 7th
  • July 29 - Ironman Switzerland - 2nd
  • September 9 - Ironman 70.3 Santa Cruz - 3rd
  • November 18 - Ironman Arizona - 4th

What was the highlight and lowlight from all your racing this year?

The highlight was performing at a higher level than I ever have before, including my first pro podium at Switzerland 70.3 in June. I had been working with Cam a few months at that point, and while training was going well, I didn’t know what to expect after traveling across the world and hitting the start line with women I mostly hadn’t raced before. Turned out that some jet-lag-forced sleep and delicious Swiss bread made for good race day for me.

The lowlight was making the decision to not race Indian Wells 70.3. I LOVE Palm Springs and that race was on my radar since they announced it last year. I was signed up for it, but after racing Ironman Arizona three weeks prior, I had to listen to my body and take the rest it needed instead of trying to squeeze out one more race. There will always be another race. :)

How would you summarize the season overall? Would you call it a breakthrough year?

This season showed me that I am capable of becoming a top performing professional triathlete. While 2017 wasn’t a bad year, I didn’t perform at the level I expected of myself, so a small part of me was starting to question whether or not I had it in me to be a top level athlete; this year has again validated my pursuit of triathlon. This season was also about doing things differently. From working with a new coach to the amount of travel and racing I did, things changed quite a bit for me! This year was certainly a breakthrough based on results and having it renew my confidence, but there are more breakthroughs to be made. :)

What are your race plans and/or goals for next year?

There are no set race plans yet, but I will share what I’m up to on social media! I do anticipate racing in the USA and in Europe again. However the plan unfolds, the goal is always to improve and get to the next level. Kona qualification is obviously the big target for long course professionals, but day-to-day we are focused on working hard to show up when it comes time to race.

What's your current coaching situation, and how did you connect with him/her?

Cameron Watt is my coach. He’s based in Brisbane, Australia, and our group is called The Hills District (@thehillsdistrict). I met Cam in 2016 when he and Sarah Crowley came to Park City to do some altitude training - they joined the BAM group for some sessions that summer. They came back in 2017 to do some more training and racing here, and over the course of that time we all became good friends. I wanted to mix up my winter training in 2018, so I went to Australia in February/March to train with Sarah and ultimately Cam’s whole group. I was still working with Wes at the time, so he guided my workload, but I did a lot of the Hills District training. I really enjoyed the training and I felt like making the switch to Cam was the next step for my progression as an athlete. I started with Cam after I returned home in mid-March of 2018.

Cam has helped my progression in a lot of ways, even outside of giving me great training plans every day. We’ve worked on my bike set up and race nutrition, among other things. On a day to day basis the training style really suits me. Cam’s ability to give me very specific tools and cues to improve my form has been extremely helpful, especially since I’m not in-person with Cam every day. Outside of his direct coaching and advice, being part of his hills district group (even if I’m in the opposite hemisphere some of the time) has helped to elevate me mentally because the group of professionals as a whole is trying to improve every day.

Who are some fellow pros you find yourself regularly battling on race day? What were your 2-3 most epic race battles of the year?

That depends which part of the race it is. I raced Heather Jackson a few times this year, and we seemed to find each other in the swim. I think we both probably slapped the other person in the water at least once, accidentally of course. (Sorry HJ!) Since I did a lot of racing outside of North America this year, I was able to race some women who I had never faced before, which I enjoyed.

Epic race battles probably happened over in Europe. Ironman Frankfurt (the European Championship) was “the battle of the porta potties” for me and Rachel McBride toward the end of the marathon. She was in and out of the toilet (I made one toilet stop myself) yet she came from behind in the last 400m of the marathon and made a fast and final pass. I had no idea she was behind me because last I knew she was ahead! We finished 6th and 7th. I learned a lot from Frankfurt :).

Three weeks after Frankfurt I did Ironman Switzerland, and that was somewhat of a battle. I was running in 3rd place for almost the whole marathon, but in the last few kilometers I saw Annabel Luxford just up the road. I knew I could make a pass before the finish if I stayed strong, so I dug deep and went for it! I was running a bit scared once I made the pass because I knew anything was possible, but that one ended in my favor.

What was your general experience training and racing overseas?

I was in Australia for about seven weeks, and Europe (more specifically, Switzerland) for about eight weeks in June and July. I was there training with The Hills District group in both places - you can go check out @thehillsdistrict instagram to see who that consists of.

Training in Australia was extremely hot and humid, but I love the heat, so it was a great alternative to being home in the Utah winter! Getting used to riding on the left side of the road was a first for me, but I left feeling pretty comfortable with it. It was also a lot of fun to be immersed in the Australian culture and language. I had to think fast to keep up with the Aussie way of shortening words and different commonly used words. (Soz!) I was so grateful to be welcomed by so many Aussie friends there. I loved it.

Training in St. Moritz, Switzerland was absolutely amazing. Coming from such a beautiful, mountainous place as Utah, I’ve become a bit of a mountain elitist, but Switzerland was unbelievably gorgeous. The whole town became an elite endurance athlete mecca, which was a cool environment to be in. I got to meet some of the USA Olympic Track and Field athletes whom I closely follow - I like to think I played it pretty cool and didn’t fan girl too much :). St Moritz was also a great opportunity to meet and train with some of the other TriSutto athletes who made St Moritz home for the summer. Not least of all, I was able to experience European racing. Triathlon is a MUCH bigger sport over there, and it shows in the way races are conducted, celebrated, and supported.

Specifically where did you see the biggest improvements in your training & racing this past year? Was part of it also mental in terms of confidence that comes from experience?

I’ve improved all around this year, but it’s easy to quantify how much I’ve improved in the swim, especially training in the pool. When I’m swimming alone in Utah, I use the digital clock at the pool as my training buddy. It never lies, and it always pushes me. In racing, my favorite “biggest” improvement has been my 70.3 run speed. Believe it or not, my background is running (I ran a marathon when I was 16!) yet I struggled to produce run times I felt capable of since truly dedicating myself to triathlon. So I’m looking forward to further improving that for all distances. Overall I feel really well-prepared for race day (whether 70.3 or Ironman) and feeling strong and fit makes going fast on race day a bit easier.

Experience (in terms of more time in the sport) may have helped to make for smoother race mornings, but my specific experiences this past year have absolutely built and reinforced my confidence, both in training and racing. I feel more confident in myself and in my training which of course carries over to my performance on race day.

What 1-2 types of workouts do you look most forward to in your training regimen and which 1-2 least look forward to?

In one way or another, I love it all! Sometimes my favorite workouts are the ones I get to do a lot of math for - push myself hard plus calculate rest times and when I start next - does it get any better?! That’s the accountant talking :). But really, I look most forward to hard run workouts on the road or on the track, and I look least forward to treadmill run workouts. Die hard road runner over here!

Anything else you'd like to share?

Just a big thank you to the Utah triathlon community for the friendship and support! I’m always so impressed with how many people get going in this sport, no matter age or physical circumstance, and that is truly inspirational. I love when I can get out to local races to be a part of that exciting Utah tri buzz. :)


Below are links to all the races in the 2019 Championship Series:

Below are links to all Challenger Races:

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