Q&A: Words of wisdom from the Lake Placid pros

The present, and the future, of Ironman gathered under the special events tent on the Olympic Oval Friday morning. The traditional press conference, open to questions from the media and from the public, allowed a glimpse into the mindset of the professional triathletes gathered for Ironman Lake Placid.

This week’s Wednesday Q&A brings together humor and insight from several of the best long distance triathletes in the world, albeit in a slightly non-traditional Q&A format. Then again, little about the life of elite athletes is “traditional.”

Jason Shortis

The 40-year-old has competed in 52 Ironman races. Yes that’s right — 52 — and he has two titles at Ironman Western Australia. In Sunday’s race, Shortis got out of the water in 1:00:38 but a broken spoke on the bike course led to a DNF.

On his age: “I already turned 40 and I feel some of my best races are yet to come.”

Tips for your first Ironman: “It’s not too late to pull out before you start. And you should do the entire course tomorrow,” Shortis joked with an audience question on Friday. “Really, one of the big mistakes is that in your first Ironman you get so caught up in the finish line that you take time to enjoy it. When you enter the finisher’s chute, soak it up. Quite often you’re so focused on trying to get to the end, to get to that finish line, that you don’t remember any of it. Take the time to look around and soak it all in.”

On how to survive the dark moments during the race: “Ironman mirrors real life. You face hard times in life, but you keep going. Think about why you’re doing the race. The finish line is a big pull. Think about why you’re doing it and all the hard things you’ve done to get here. The race is a reward for all the hard work you do. It’s a long training day that’s catered.”

Ben Hoffman

Crossing the finish line in 8 hours, 39 minutes and 34 seconds, the 27-year old from Colorado won his first Ironman on Sunday. New on the Ironman scene, Hoffman finished second at Ironman St. George in May and has four top-10 finishes in Ironman 70.3 races this year.

On being one of the top American triathletes: “I do like the idea of being the next American long distance athlete. With no disrespect to guys like Chris Lieto, they have have many years of good racing ahead of them, but eventually there will be a period of time when the next guys come along. I feel good where I’m at. This is my fourth Ironman. I don’t have a lot of experience and I feel it’s an advantage to race a lot.”

On how to survive the dark moments in a race: “I’m mostly racing for the money, fame and the girls. Oh wait, I’m in the wrong sport,” Hoffman joked. “It’s a day of ups and downs during an Ironman and you just have to trust your training. You’ve had dark points in your training and you went through those hard sessions. You just have to know that you’re ready for this.”

Caitlin Snow

A native of Massachusetts, racing Lake Placid is practically like racing at home with all the friends and family that make the trip. Snow won the event in 2008 and finished second in 2009. She gained 15 minutes on the leader Amy Marsh during the marathon, running the 26.2 miles in 3:03:37, but Marsh crushed the bike course and Snow again took second place. But her run has been the key to her triathlon success.

On her unorthodox style of running: It’s been called short and choppy and I didn’t realize how silly it looked until I saw video of it. I knew I had a short stride but I thought that just went with my short stature. I don’t really work or try to accomplish anything in the way that I run.

On the finances of a pro triathlete: I coach with QT2 and I try not to look at the prize money of races. I consider making my income from coaching and not from racing. I don’t want to race for the money. For me it would take something out of if. There are still moments when I’m at a race and the announcer is listing the pro athletes and they say my name. I still get chills hearing my name associated with those great athletes. I get chills just thinking about it. It’s really a dream to keep doing what I’m doing.

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~ by amymoritz on July 28, 2010.

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