Race Previews: WTS Grand Final Chicago + IM 70.3 Cozumel

WTS Chicago

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Greg Billington

The course is quite different from Stockholm. Flat, windy and full of turns on the bike (and run really). Have you been practicing your 180º turns and doing lots of short accelerations?

Yeah, Paulo likes to make sure we’re prepared for the challenges each course presents. Usually he likes to yell insults at us while we do 180s and technical work, but Alistair Brownlee isn’t racing, so he didn’t feel the need this time.

The run will give you a ton of looks at your competition. Do you prefer that so you can see who is suffering ahead of you (or surging from behind)?

It’s most advantageous to see where your competitors are during the bike, but it’s obviously nice to see where I stand at all points in the race. With such a windy day, it’s especially helpful to see when it’s appropriate to try to accelerate into the wind or hold off and let other people do some leading. And with so many U turns, there’s ample opportunity to say hi to some competitors I haven’t seen in a while.

The dynamics in Rio were different with so many countries having Olympic qualification on the line. It is the same in Chicago but with Grand Final implications mixed in as well. How do you think that will affect the race?

Rio was interesting because the bike was going to be hard regardless of how the race played out. In Chicago, especially with the wind and the very flat course, there’s going to be little incentive for the people to push at the front long enough for the pack to break up. With so many personal ambitions on the line, Olympic spots and final rankings, people will be trying to save every watt possible for the run. We’ll see how it plays out.

Tyler MTyler Mislawchuk

Have you been practicing your 180º turns? 45 of them on the bike course—a true crit style race.

Yes, Training has very much been tailored to this race course! Almost all of the WTS races are unique and this one is no different. I have been doing crit style training with high torque efforts since rio for preparation. I train with the wollongong wizards which makes for a pretty competitive environment in the crit style training.

What’s the deal with the Canadian Olympic selection? Do results from this race and others factor into selection?

A top 8 here, just like Rio will give you the first criteria to make the olympic team. Prove fitness next year and you have punched your ticket to the big show.

Are you happy with how the year has gone? You have made the step up to racing a lot of WTS events. What have you learned and are you happy to have this year’s experience leading into 2016?

Ya, every race I have done has been a completely new experience. Just like most athletes I would say I’m happy with how the season has gone but Still searching/wanting more. 2016 is a big year and I’m glad to have my rookie WTS year done and dusted.

Sarah TSarah True

Stockholm was a great race. You have your Olympic qualification sewn up so now do you feel like you can just “race?”

It certainly is a relief to have my qualification wrapped up for Rio. I’d say that the biggest difference is that I’ve been able to spend more relaxed time at home than I would have if I hadn’t qualified. I’ve tried to moderate my celebratory donuts and beers intake since I still want to race well, but I haven’t had the same intense focus. That’s not good or bad, just different.

There are 45 180º on the bike course. Have you been practicing? It could make or break some athletes on the run if they are positioned improperly and have to do huge accelerations off every turn.

It definitely could make a difference for athletes hanging at the back of the pack. Huge efforts can take the punch out of your legs. I haven’t been training specifically for the course, but I’ve been a bit more focused on my bike training in the past few weeks. With this bike course, the race could get really interesting if we end up having the thundershowers predicted for Friday.

Ending the season on US soil must be nice—you will have lots of fan support out there. Does it make the race even more special?

There’s no question that racing downtown in one of the biggest cities in the U.S. is special. Hopefully we will have tons of spectators out there on Friday. I fully expect the TRS nation to be out there en force in patriotic regalia. I’ve heard rumors that Dark Mark has a racy Uncle Sam get up for the occasion.

Joe MJoe Maloy

Your image is now etched into a finisher medal for Pacific Grove Triathlon. Does this make you feel like a boss heading into the race and infuse you with confidence and bravado?

It’s about time someone put my image on a medal! Seriously though, if you’re looking for confidence from external notoriety, then you’ll never find it.

The bike course is criterium style–flat and 45 180º turns on the course (9 laps x 5 each lap). Positioning will be incredibly important because you don’t want to be yo-yoing off the back of a group?

Actually, there will be 48 u-turns (8 laps, 6 per lap). But it doesn’t change your point…Yes, of course positioning will be incredibly important, but ultimately it comes down to fitness. If you’re not fit the accelerations will ruin you.

It seems the weather will not be cold like Edmonton. However, there is some wind forecasted. I lived in Chicago for 10 years and know the gusts off the lake and then through all the downtown builds can create quite a wind tunnel. With the turns and wind this could break up some of the groups. How do you see the dynamics of the bike course?

I’d be disappointed if the windy city didn’t deliver any wind on race day! I think comparing conditiions to Edmonton would be apples and oranges, though. In Edmonton, the conditions affected one’s ability to perform (albeit, some more than others). The wind in Chicago will just be another strategic element on the course.

In terms of pack dynamics on the unique course, I think it’s going to be an aggressive ride where there are a few bigger groups. If the wind has Lake Michigan looking like a washing machine, then I think it will be a bit more strung out. This is going to be a strong athlete’s race.

IM 70.3 Cozumel

cody BCody Beals

I didn’t waste any time getting back at it after a flat tire and a disappointing day at my first Ironman 70.3 World Championship. I headed directly to my southern training base in The Woodlands, Texas to prepare for 70.3 Cozumel. I’ve channeled my frustration and fitness after Worlds into a very focused three week training block.

Several other pros are in town putting the finishing touches on their Kona prep, drawn by conditions at least as extreme as Kona or Cozumel. The conditions, team training environment and support from this triathlon-crazy community make The Woodlands a great training camp destination. Swim practices with Magnolia Masters are always a highlight. There is a certain mystique surrounding “Lane One” at these practices, since an uncanny number of visiting athletes training in that lane have gone on to spectacular performances.

I’ve had some great workouts with Matt Hanson and Balazs Csoke, who share my coach David Tilbury-Davis and swim coach Tim Floyd. We’ve spent several weeks training together in the past and there’s a nice symmetry to the arrangement. We each bring a different strength to the training group: Matt is one of the most dominant runners in Ironman, Balazs can lead any swim pack, and I can make them both suffer on the bike. We’ve all benefited from our friendly rivalry in training (we rarely race each other), open knowledge sharing and mutual support.

Good performances at 70.3 Eagleman, 70.3 New Orleans and 70.3 Texas earlier this season suggest that a hot, flat and windy course like Cozumel suits me. I’m hoping for high winds and brutal heat on Sunday!

After Cozumel, I’m racing 70.3 Silverman two weeks later, which will likely cap off my season.

Lauren BarLauren Barnett

A top 10 performance at 70.3 Worlds is definitely something to celebrate! I expected to be on that stage, but at the same time, it was also very surreal. Being challenged by the best in the world in the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen, on a such a unique course that was lined with spectators the entire time – it was all something I’ll remember and cherish for a very long time. It was a blessing to be there racing fit, healthy, and injury free. I was not feeling my best out there though on that day. Some days it comes easy; some days you just have to work a whole lot harder for the same effort. The jet lag really affected me and in the future I’ll give myself much more time to adjust. So yes, I’m celebrating a great result on a day that I wasn’t at my best, but that doesn’t mean I’m satisfied either. And that’s not a bad thing. It keeps me working hard and fighting for the next success. It’s not just about the result for me either, it’s about doing what I know I’m capable of doing. Whether that would have resulted in a better placing or not – I am happiest about my race when I know I execute to the very best of my abilities.

My lead up to the race has been eventful. I spent time vacationing in Europe after the 70.3. World Championship with my husband and a group of friends and returned to the States feeling refreshed. I most definitely got my fix of pasta, pizza, gelato, and wine! The past two weeks have been a blend of recuperating from jet lag and major “kankle” syndrome (after all the walking we did in Europe) as well as focused training sessions and intense recovery to make sure I’m absorbing it all in a shorter time period. It’s still been really hot, humid, and windy in Texas which mirrors the course conditions in Cozumel particularly well.

As I head into fall and winter, I’ll be racing again at least once before I shift back to more base training. That’ll likely be Austin 70.3 in November. Brandon and I are approaching a major life transition in the very near future (stay tuned…No I’m not pregnant!), so we’ll be really busy with that. But I’ll also be more focused than ever on the sport and getting the most out of my performances.

LeonLeon Griffin

Really looking for a bit of redemption on a couple parts this weekend at Cozumel 70.3. I had a pretty sub-par day at 70.3 World Champs so was disappointed in that result, and the one time I made it down to Cozumel to race in the past I had a DNF. Those two reasons alone are providing plenty of motivation, not to mention I need to earn a few bucks to keep the season rolling!

TriPreviewShow (1)

The Triathlon Preview Show

This weekly podcast is your source for all information related to upcoming races in the world of Professional Triathlon. We will bring you analysis on how the races could play out, start list updates and input from the Professional athletes themselves. Hosted by Zach Miller, age group athlete and triathlon enthusiast and featuring input from Emily Cocks, a professional triathlete herself.

Episode 8 features previews for IM 70.3 Cozumel, Korea, Lanzorate and Beijing Triathlon. Matt Chrabot joins Emily for a WTS Chicago discussion

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About the Authors

Zach Miller
Zach Miller is a sports enthusiast and age group triathlete living in the The Woodlands, TX. He is the Host of The Triathlon Preview Show. The Triathlon Preview Show: iTunes Podcast
Emily is a professional triathlete and swim coach living in Napa, CA. Emily swam for the University of Michigan and completed her first tri in 2004 at the Chicago Triathlon. She worked for seven years as a paralegal, followed by three years as an Assistant Swim Coach for the University of Illinois-Chicago. Presently, she lives and trains in Napa, California while working for the Napa Valley Swim Team and coaching several age group triathletes.