Archive | AthleteFocus

Roth Royalty: Laura Siddall

This is an excerpt from my “2018 Roth Rating Report”. You can download your copy here.

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When Laura raced her first Challenge Roth in 2016, her fourth-place finish was a big step forward: It was her best performance so far and she was starting to beat more established athletes. One year later she was one of the most sought-after interview partners before the race – and her second-place finish to Daniela Ryf didn’t change that at all.

This season has been going well for her, she has already won two IM-distance races in New Zealand and Australia. Can she claim the top spot on the podium this year? It would be the next big step forward for the world-traveling Brit.

Laura Bike Denmark

To put herself in a position to win in Roth, Laura would need to step it up across the board. Last year she had to work hard on the bike after a slower-than-expected 58-minute swim, and even a minute can make a difference for the dynamics on the bike. She should be among the strongest on the bike, and she has the experience to put out her biggest effort when it will make a difference. This year she’s raced the same races as last year, and her marathon times have been three to four minutes quicker. This indicates she might be able to run her first sub-3 marathon, and even after a good swim and bike that’s likely what she’ll need to challenge Lucy Charles. But in almost every race scenario, Laura is going to be at least in contention for a podium finish.

(Photo: Laura on the bike at Challenge Denmark. The image is property of James Mitchell. Prior permission must be sought before usage, please contact james@jamesmitchell.eu.)


Thorsten: You’ve raced a lot of races last year, then you seemed a bit flat in Kona. Are you adjusting your schedule for this year to be fresher for October?

Laura: I don’t plan my seasons around Kona. Yes, it’s a big race but it’s never my main focus. Last year and this year were the same: If I qualified during the races I wanted to do (Ironman New Zealand and Ironman Australia) then that would be great and I’d go to Europe to race Challenge Family over the summer. If I hadn’t qualified after those races, then I wouldn’t have started chasing points just to get to Kona. I still plan to race a lot of races in Europe with the Challenge Family. There are some great races that I really love and get a lot of joy and happiness from them.

With regards to Kona last year, there are of course many lessons I took away, and have implemented and will be implementing in my races and continual development this year as an athlete and a professional.

T: How does the female race in Roth develop? Based on the data there might be a larger group of WPro on the bike, and how much do the faster age groupers influence the race?

L: I don’t envision there being a single group chasing – even if it looks like that on paper, it rarely spreads like this, even if on paper like this. My job is to respond to scenarios that occur in the race and focus on my performance.

I can only speak for myself in talking about a clean race, and that I will be riding a clean and honest race. I can’t comment on the other women and how they choose to race. I do think though that race organisers and event teams need to put consideration into the start times to ensure that there is minimal impact on the Pro women, from either the Pro men or the Age Group men. Challenge Roth have been great at listening to the feedback of the women and Pros and have altered the start times [there will be a 12-minute gap this year], which I hope is a good step to give the women a clean and fair race. I’m sure there will still be some cross-over with it being a two lap course.

T: You’ve improved from fourth to second in Roth. How do you see your chances this year for a further improvement?

L: When you put yourself on the start line, you put yourself in the frame of winning. Roth is a special race to me and one that I would of course love to win. I can’t control the other women on the start line though or what performance they have on the day. All I can do is to focus on my performance and getting the very best out of myself.

My goal for Roth 2018 is to put in a better performance than I did in 2017. My goal is to continue to develop and improve and build on my past races as I move forward. Therefore I’ll be focusing on executing the very best swim-bike-run I can on the day, and aiming for a personal better performance than last year. This is what I can control. This is where my focus always is.

T: Your current run PR is from Roth last year (3:05). Do you think you can attack a sub-3 hour marathon in Roth this year?

L: My running has been going well, and improving all the time. However you just never know on race day what will happen. To be competitive against the best women in the world, you really need to be running around 3 hours off a strong bike, so that’s always the goal when I’m training and racing to be moving closer to that mark. Whether I do it in Roth, or this year, or next year or never, who knows, but that’s always the driver to get better and better. I am aiming to go in fresher to Roth this year and see what my legs can do.

T: How are you dealing with all the events before race day? Are you someone who gains power and strength from all the interactions before race day or will you need some extra “quiet time”?

L: I have ZERO pressure! None. Challenge Roth is a special race for me, as I have grown to love the event over the past few years, and all the team that’s involved. It’s an amazing atmosphere and that’s why it’s the best race in the world. I love this race, it is a celebration, but the result won’t define me. I am stoked at already winning two IM races this season, so I can go and race with a fearless attitude and soak in the atmosphere and occasion of the special event that is ROTH.

As a professional, I know that I have commitments when I’m at the race but at Roth with the energy and vibe it’s always such a positive. I draw a lot of energy from these interactions and it feeds me leading into the race. Of course, I do balance these with ensuring I also have enough “me time”, but the Challenge Roth team also respect this.

Roth Royalty: James Cunnama

This is an excerpt from my “2018 Roth Rating Report”. You can download your copy here.

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In any race he starts (even all the way up to Kona), James has to be considered among the favorites for the win, and if he’s on form, he’s likely the biggest competitor for Sebi in this year’s Roth race. He’s always been a good swimmer and should start the bike about two minutes ahead of Sebi. There are very few athletes that can match James on the bike – when he won IM Hamburg in 2017 no one was able to stick with him when he gently increased his pace at the start of the second bike loop. With Sebi, Cam Wurf and possibly Andreas Dreitz there are a few in the Roth field that might test his bike strength, but Roth is a good race to take some more risks. I also expect James to post one of the fastest run splits of the day, his 2:40 from Hamburg was the second fastest of 2017 (only Patrick Lange was quicker in his Kona win) and he was almost able to run down Sebi at the end of the marathon in Kona.

James Bike Samorin

However, James’ 2018 form is a bit of an unknown. At the end of 2017 he had a crash that resulted in fractured ribs; it has taken him some time to bounce back and he wasn’t able to race his home race, IM South Africa. In early May he won a South African half-distance triathlon, but so far hasn’t done any European races. He also still needs to validate his Kona slot by finishing an Ironman, but we’ve seen last year that he’s not worried about racing in August.

In short, if he’s on the start line, expect him to do well and finish at least on the podium.

(Photo: James on the bike at Challenge Samorin. The image is property of James Mitchell. Prior permission must be sought before usage, please contact james@jamesmitchell.eu.)

Roth Royalty: Yvonne Van Vlerken

This is an excerpt from my “2018 Roth Rating Report”. You can download your copy here.

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Yvonne is obviously the most experienced athlete in the female Pro field, and she has shown some great performances in Roth. In the last two years her Roth races didn’t quite go as planned but she still finished in third. A podium finish is likely the “base goal” for the crowd favorite, but she’s not the type of athlete to not go for the win.

While she’s probably the strongest woman on the bike, she’s always been a bit slower in the swim. That’s unlikely to have changed, but she’s strong enough to make up lost time in the early parts of the bike. The exception is of course going to be Lucy Charles, it’ll be interesting to see how much Yvonne is going to reduce the gap of likely nine minutes after the swim on the bike.

Yvonne Run Gran CanariaThe last two years Yvonne suffered on the run in Roth (3:11 in ’16, 3:20 in ’17). If she wants to catch Lucy, she’ll probably have to run close to 3 hours – the last time she has done that was in Barcelona 2015 when she ran with Kaisa for most of the marathon. The only time Yvonne has been off the podium in Roth, she finished in 8:59, and she has been consistently finishing around 8:50. Anyone who wants to beat her on her favorite course has to be prepared to go faster than that.

(Photo: Yvonne on the run at Challenge Gran Canaria. The image is property of James Mitchell. Prior permission must be sought before usage, please contact james@jamesmitchell.eu.)


Thorsten: You’ve had a lot of success at Challenge Roth, but the last two years you didn’t have the races you were looking for. How do you feel going into this year’s race?

Yvonne: Yes, Challenge Roth has always been my favorite and will continue to be so. Last year I had a serious crash at Challenge Heilbronn just before Roth and with lingering injuries I didn’t feel good before the race. Two years ago I’ve had some stomach issues. It’s about time for the next good result here in Roth! Being on the start line is very special for me: Challenge Roth was my first long-distance race and it’s going to be the last one for Yvonne Van Vlerken. I’m going to get married in July, two weeks after Roth, so I won’t be racing as Van Vlerken anymore!

T: Last season you and Per spent the Northern Hemisphere winter in Thailand, Australia and New Zealand. How did this year’s winter and spring look like?

Y: This year we didn’t travel far, we were for a few weeks on Lanzarote (my favorite island!), two not very nice weeks on Mallorca and the rest of the time at home. It wasn’t quite as luxurious, in addition I was sick for a few weeks starting with Mallorca. Unfortunately a trip to Boulder didn’t fit our schedule, but Siri [Yvonne is coached by Siri Lindley] and I are in regular contact via the Internet or telephone. But even if my prep wasn’t quite a smooth as in other years, the first races felt really good.

I’ve entered IM Lanzarote just before the list closed, but I’ve had some problems with the salt water during the swim. Usually the women Pro start is pretty relaxed with just 10 to 20 athletes, but Lanzarote is a mass start and I’ve swallowed much more water than in other races. I really like the island and the bike course, but I’m not going to race there again.

T: What are our goals for this year’s Roth?

Y: To be honest I have always been chasing records and sub-9 finishes, but recently fast times seem to be more important than exact distances, I just have to mention Challenge Rome and Ironman Texas. So the value of fast times is diminished and this isn’t good for our sport. My goal this year is to have a good race for myself, and to have as close to perfect day as possible – then the result will take care of itself.

I know I still have a lot in me, and even if I’ve already been doing our wonderful sport for quite some time, I’m still improving. I recover quicker, can race more often and am still getting faster on the swim and run. The “young girls” shouldn’t underestimate me, I now have the full package of performance, experience, know-how, passion and love for our sport. And I still feel pretty young myself!
The field in Roth is always one of the strongest and it won’t be easy to get onto the podium – but that’s where I would like to finish.

T: How do you see the female race this year? Lucy is likely going off the front with her strong swim, but you could be in a group of fast cyclists chasing her.

Y: Lucy can swim, bike and run well, but she will have to run a really fast marathon which she hasn’t done yet. She’ll be among a lot of Pro men and that’s a huge advantage for her. That means that it would be great if Kaisa, Laura, Daniela and I can work together to close the gap to Lucy. But first we’ll have to catch my countrywoman Sarissa de Vries who swims very well and can bike as fast as I – she might be second or third at the start of the run. Maybe she can even be the “Dutch Dark Horse” as I was in 2007.
But currently my run is my strongest leg, so I wouldn’t mind when the race is decided on the run. When I was able to run away from Kaisa in Barcelona 2015, that was a combination of experience and good tactics, but since then she has made huge improvements. Now we also have the same coach, and while it would be nice I probably won’t be able to run from her now. Laura and I love to run together, but she’s also getting better and better, just as Daniela who is another athlete I really like very much!
In order to have a chance I think we will have to legally work together. I’d love to be able to catch Lucy, but it’s hard to predict if it’s going to be possible for any one of us, a lot will depend on how each of us feels on race day – but it’s 100% going to be an exciting race!

T: What’s your view on the new run course?

Y: I have a lot of respect for the team of Challenge Roth for listening to their participants – and I say thank you for creating the perfect combination of the old and new run courses. I love to run along the canal, 90% of my run training is on crushed gravel which I think helps to avoid injuries. Running the “mountain” towards Büchenbach only once will be enough this year – even if running around the small lake was awesome, having to get there twice last year was once too often! I’m really looking forward to the marathon this year!

T: What’s your plan for the rest of the season after Roth?

Y: After Roth I’ll be taking a break – two weeks after Roth we’ll have our marriage and I have butterflies looking forward to spend the rest of my life with Per. IM Maastricht will be five weeks after Roth, another big highlight to have an Ironman in my home country. The week after will be the great Challenge Turku, I much enjoyed it in 2016 and 17. Next up is a smaller race on my daily training routes, the Transvorarlberg, before Challenge Almere where I hope to win for the third time and enjoy another well organized “home race”. The last long-distance race for this year will be Ironman Barcelona, I just like this race. October and November Per and I will be on “honeymoon” at Thanypura in Thailand, we’re just looking for a few races in Asia. And maybe I’ll close 2018 at Challenge Daytona.
Even if have enough points for a Kona slot, I won’t be racing there. That chapter is closed, and for the last years of my career I’ll be doing races I enjoy racing, that matter to sponsors and that won’t require as much travel.

Athlete Focus: Brent McMahon

Brent entered the world of long-distance racing with a huge bang: He won IM Arizona 2014 with a time of 7:55:48 which is still the fastest IM debut ever. He continued his first season as an Ironman athlete with another sub-8 finish at IM Brasil and a ninth place in Kona. Since then he’s been racing at a similar level, winning IM Brasil in 2016 and IM Lake Placid 2017. But he hasn’t been able to make that next step forward that everyone seems to be waiting for: His Kona results were not what he was looking for (30th in 2016, DNF in 2017), and while he raced well in Arizona, his results were overshadowed by Lionel Sanders winning the race three times in a row. Brent is now lining up to race his first 2018 Ironman in Texas.

Thorsten: Looking back on your 2017 season, it seems to have been lots of lows and highs.

Brent: It was certainly an up and down year which was frustrating because my fitness was always there. The down races could have just as easily been great races because I was fit and ready .. but “bad luck” (for lack of a better word) is just what happened.

SuperLeague was one of those opportunities that you have to take. I wanted to be part of such a cool new format, a little nostalgic for me from when I was younger and racing the short stuff. I enjoyed it but the really short and fast stuff is no longer in my wheelhouse and the risk is too high. I was taken down in SuperLeaue and had to get thumb surgery.

Once recovered I went to Brasil ready to duke it out with Tim Don – then I got a sinus infection the week of the race. I carried my fitness into Lake Placid and I was super happy to win with a new course record. I knew I’d have a great race there, I was fit for the whole season but just haven’t been able to race before. Lake Placid was an indication that the fitness is there and I raced 70.3 Worlds to get a solid effort before my Kona build.

Kona went sideways when I got stung by a jellyfish all over my calf warming up, maybe four minutes before the start. It hurt like hell but I couldn’t get out and do anything about it, so I just had to go and see what happens. Towards the end of the swim my asthma started to flare up, once on the bike anything I ate or drank just came back up. It was hurting a lot with the wind blowing on it. I just wasn’t able to keep going. Tactically, I’m comfortable with Kona. I know where I need to be, and I was able to do that the first year I raced there. I just have to do the same thing and get my hydration right for the marathon – and then run what I’m capable of which should be under 2:50. We’re figuring that puzzle out and I feel pretty comfortable that we’ll have it completely sorted by the middle of this year.

After Kona I went to Arizona, I’m comfortable on that course and had a solid day to finish second. Of course Lionel is always pushing the pace there and it wasn’t one of my top performances. I was just happy to carry the fitness from Kona into another race and finish the season with another solid Ironman. Then I took a good off-season to regroup, put things behind me and focus on this year. I think I’ve had enough bad luck and am excited for this season!

Brent AZ Bike  1

T: How did you prepare for Texas? Any heat camps to avoid the Canadian winter?

I have a training base on Maui with friends. I’ve been there for all of March and I will probably go back there in September and early October to get ready for Kona. Daniela asked me all about it last year, I spilled some good parts but told her to keep it on the down low. It’s awesome there but there’s not a ton of triathletes there.

I did one prep race in Davao. [Brent finished in tenth place with an uncharacteristic slow half marathon of 1:45.] We were trying to figure out the nutrition and hydration for hot weather. I was taking too much sodium so I started cramping up halfway on the bike. On the run I was also cramping up pretty badly, and it took me until the halfway of the run to take up enough water and start to jog again. We tried some different things that obviously didn’t work. I’ve had a few races with symptoms of cramping, but we think we now have the dosage figured out which should allow me to race better in Kona. It’s hard to take these beat-downs, but as long as you’re learning from it then it’s worthwhile.

T: Have you had a chance to explore the course in The Woodlands? 

I got in Tuesday evening and have been checking out the course. The bike course is a long interstate highway that we go South and then turn around and come back. There are a few turns at the start and the end, but the middle 160k is all straight and flat. It’s similar to Brasil and Arizona once you get on the main part of the loop. This course has some overpasses but essentially it’s flat. It’ll be about pacing, being consistent and strong towards the end. Similar to Arizona I think there’ll be some groups on the bike. It’ll probably be a little tighter for the first 90k and then things will break apart on the second 90k. You just have to balance your efforts and see who’s doing what. At the start it’s similar to Kona where there’ll be a group and you have to bide your time and make your move at the right time for you.

T: What will you and the others do when Starky is going off the front?

He’s going to do what he’s going to do. I have my own kind of race plan, even if I have a mediocre marathon I can run ten minutes into Starky. If it starts to get towards 30 minutes then it’s something to worry about. But if we’re in the ten to 20-minute range then I’m going count on my run being there and being smart on the bike.

T: What about the other good runners in the field?

Everybody wants to be in a good position coming off the bike, Starky is going to do his thing off the front, the rest of us runners will try to drop some of the other runners. There are enough competitive guys here to push the pace regardless of what’s happening way off the front on the bike. Not everybody wants to be sitting in and just have a marathon – I race triathlon so I’m trying to make everyone work, make the bike hard and then get off and run fast.

Brent Run AZ

I’ve raced Will Clarke on the half distance and Matt Hanson has run really fast here in Texas. Fred Van Lierde is a Kona champion, he knows how to race well and he knows how to bike and run. I’ll pay attention to them, but ultimately I have my own race and I’m going to do my efforts. If these guys are around, then they’re around, and if not they’re not. We’ll see who’s riding low-4 hours and running low 2:40s.

T: Assuming you secure Kona qualifying in Texas, what’s the plan for the rest of the year?

I’ll be staying in North America this season, doing a little less travel and focus more on being home. We’ve got 70.3 Victoria in my hometown that I haven’t been able to do the last years. I live on the trails and the roads that we race on, so I’m looking forward to that. Then I’ll head over to Tremblant at the end of June. Before Kona, I also plan do 70.3 Cebu, the Asia Pacific Regional Championship race – the climate will be a good test for my Kona hydration. I won’t be doing 70.3 Worlds this year, I’ll just take a big block into Kona.

I’m also looking into doing IM Canada in Whistler. It’s one of the races I’ve been looking to do since I’ve started racing Ironman. It’s a good strength with a lot of climbing on the bike, it’s a good hard event so it’ll be good training to get in the legs. It looks like a good opportunity to race without much travel. When I feel strong and healthy at that time of the year, it’s still far enough out from Kona that I can take a bit of a break in August and then train up for Kona. Doing Lake Placid last year put me in a fairly good spot through August, with no 70.3 Worlds this year it could work out well. Even if you take a break, you’re still holding most of your fitness it’s more about getting your adrenal system rested, then you can carry your strength and the aerobic fitness into the two-month training block for Kona which is enough time. But we’ll make the call a little bit later, also depending on how the body feels after this weekend and a couple more races.

Texas is a big race on the Pro race calendar, and obviously a big one for Brent as well. A good result such as a Top 5 should take care of qualifying and will allow Brent to plan the rest of the year leading into Kona as he wants to. But I’m sure that he has his eyes on the win in Texas. I have him seeded in first place (full seedings for IM Texas) but the margins are pretty small.

There are likely to be changing alliances throughout the race: For most of the bike the stronger runners will probably work together to keep Starky’s lead from growing too large – while at the same not exerting too much energy to save their legs for the run and letting the others do most of the work. With Brent but also Matt, Fred,  and Will there are experienced Ironman racers that have shown they can work in this tactically difficult situation.

I’m looking forward to following an interesting race, and I hope that Brent can plan an important role in it!

(Photos: Brent on the bike and run at IM Arizona, supplied by Brent and his team.)

Athlete Focus: Meredith Kessler

Meredith Kessler is one of the most prolific Ironman racers. She raced a ton of IMs as an age-grouper, since turning Pro in 2009 she has 27 finishes! (In the Texas field, the only woman with more Pro finishes is 47-year-old Dede Griesbauer with 28 finishes.) After finishing third in Ironman New Zealand 2017 (full results here), she announced that she was pregnant and took a break from professional racing. Son Mak Ace Kessler (spelled either Mak or MAK, his initials and also short form for his parents’ names Meredith and Aaron Kessler) was born in November, too close to reclaim her New Zealand title in March 2018. I’ve had a chance to chat with Meredith before her comeback race at IM Texas  at the end of April.

Thorsten: You’ve raced IM New Zealand in 2017 without knowing you were pregnant, how active have you been able to stay during the rest of the pregnancy?

Meredith: Exercising and training have always been a way of life, and this didn’t change when internally growing a human! I am a big believer in maintaining your lifestyle during pregnancy. After all, we are pregnant, not powerless! The intensity was not the same, and there were no 5-hour rides outdoors, yet it was relaxing to me to keep up on exercising two to four hours every day while pregnant up until giving birth. Running on the treadmill, swimming (the most!), strength training, and indoor bike trainer workouts were all part of the routine. This gradually became walking on the treadmill, using my buoy a bunch in the pool, and slower indoor bike rides. Healthy mom and healthy baby!

T: After giving birth to MAK, how was your return to training?

Giving birth is traumatic on the body; there are no ifs, ands or buts about it! From the havoc it inflicts on the body, to the emotions, and lack of sleep, you end up just running on adrenaline. Knowing this going in, I tried to get copious amounts of sleep in the months leading up to the birth, though you are never prepared for the actual thing.

In addition, my personal labor was a little hectic in that I ended up needing an emergency c-section after 20 hours of labor. My birth plan was simple: To have a HEALTHY baby and that was what needed to happen in order to do that. Sure, recovery from that was a bit more invasive than I had imagined; yet, just like in sport with injuries, it was key to let the body guide the way.

Swimming came first, about two weeks post MAK (no flip turns for a bit!) and biking at about four weeks. Running was much more of a labored process. After studying and chatting with many athletes who gave birth, the main thing, again, was to just listen to the body and not go out too hard because overcompensating hurt areas can lead to damage elsewhere. I tried running very slowly (we’re talking 12 minutes per mile) eight weeks post MAK and just widdled away at that day by day. There were tolerable days and there were days where the body said NO to that. I would say for the swim/bike, it was about 12-14 weeks that I was gradually back to harder interval sessions and for the run it was a few more weeks after that as I needed to spend time building the base.

MAK will have just turned 5 months come IRONMAN Texas and it is amazing how resilient the body can be if we just allow it to do its thing! Could I have used a few more weeks? Absolutely. I’m sure many others could have as well yet I look forward to going out there and doing the best that I can muster – and seeing MAK and my husband at the finish will be so rewarding and appreciated!

T: How did your “daily routine” change with MAK in the picture?

With a new boy in the mix, we have adjusted our routine accordingly. We are on his schedule –  he is the boss, ha! Once we get a schedule down, we have to be adaptable because it can change in a heartbeat. The most significant difference is the timing of my workouts. With my training partners in California, we were starting at 5:30 am and everything would be done before noon depending on the day. Now, my workouts may begin at 9 am. There could be a swim with high schoolers which starts at 4 pm and so forth so the day is much more spread out.

Mbk mak bike

Some of my best sleep comes between 4 and 7 am so these hours are crucial for my well being as the adaptation between fueling MAK up and resting takes place. It also is advantageous that my husband works from home, so he plans his schedule around my training and helping with taking care of Mak. If we did not have this luxury, we would absolutely need to hire a nanny to do our jobs yet we had been hopeful for this for a long time and planned accordingly. It is indeed a team effort and of course there are times when Mak needs his mommy so it is demanding, awesome, challenging, and rewarding all wrapped into one and I am stilling pinching myself that he is real!

T: When we chatted in the fall last year, you mentioned that you’d love to do IM New Zealand in March, but now IM Texas is your first race back. 

Taupo, New Zealand is a second home for us; we love it there, so of course it was hard to miss the iconic Ironman New Zealand. We missed hanging with our friends, going to the beautiful Poronui fly fishing resort and enjoying good times and living the lush life New Zealand has to offer. However, it did not make sense for many reasons to go all the way there and not be able to give all that you could on race day; we just didn’t know how the body would react, so we decided Ironman Texas was the right call to give ample recovery time.

I have been racing a long time, and I am counting on this knowledge and the body remembering (c’mon muscle memory!) what it takes to get to that finish line! There is no substitute for experience, and this breeds comfort. With that being said, there is always the fear of the unknown though what I have found is that the body can be resilient and you need to test it to see what it can do. As I mentioned, I equate this to an injury, which I have had my fair share, and trying to bounce back into race shape. Yes, there will be stumbling blocks, yet you don’t know where you are unless you go out there and do it – and TRY.

Mbk runT: Texas is a race that’s usually decided with a stellar marathon.Since the run is probably the hardest to come back from after giving birth, what are your expectations before Texas?

There is the good kind of nervous and the bad kind. The right kind is knowing you have done the work and you are up for competition which is why you race. If you are human, you have this type of excitement or nervousness. The wrong kind is if you are unsure if you have done the work and you are questioning your fitness. There isn’t much scaring going on in triathlon; you either race to your potential or you don’t, and the chips fall where they may. I’m not sure how many competitors will be shaking in their boots about a 39-year-old who just gave birth and hasn’t raced in a year, so let’s go out there, give it some gumption and have fun in the process!

The run, in any Ironman, is where all of your inconsistencies, deficiencies, and inadequacies come to light. You always go in with the mindset that you will complete a dominant run, but this is where that lack of hydration a month ago or lousy fueling day a couple of weeks back come to the forefront. All you can do is trust your process, do all the little things, and compete.  It’s those little things that help to make the bigger things happen. It’s about showing up every day and doing what you can to become a better athlete and racer. I have really enjoyed trying to do these things – now with Mak leading the charge!

T: What are your goals beyond Texas for this and the next seasons?

The goal for 2018 is to show that being a mother, wife, sister, aunt, friend, triathlete, and living a balanced life can be done. I was always so inspired by the age group triathletes that competed in triathlon with loving families in tow. Now, I am so thankful to be in their boat, and the journey will be rewarding and hopefully inspirational to others like they were for me!  And heck yeah, these old legs still have many more years of competing with Kona being a puzzle (for me) to continue to try to solve!

T: Thanks so much for the chat, Meredith, and all the best for race day!

Based on the numbers (see my seedings for IM Texas),  MBK is certainly one of the athletes in the mix for a win in Texas, but everyone (including Meredith!) will have to wait for race  day to see how much of her potential she’s able to show just five months after giving birth. I hope that she can have an enjoyable race day (at least for most of the day) and a result that she can build on for the rest of the season.

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