Mimi Boyle caught up with Jordan Rapp after his record breaking bike and 3rd place finish at the November edition of Ironman Arizona. Scroll down to read the interview...
Did being at the Olympics this summer cheering on your favorite athletes inspire your training throughout October?
It did. The Olympics really drove home why it is that I do what I do. It's all about the competition. Truthfully, I've always enjoyed training more than racing. But I think the Olympics made me realize how special competing truly is. Especially to watch someone that you train with all the time put it together on the race course. I knew what Simon (Whitfield) had put into the preparation for Beijing, so to see how he then used that in the race was incredible. So really more than anything, I think Beijing inspired my racing. It made me see the race as a reward for training in a way that I never had before. Knowing that I'd get that reward also inspired my training, since I did more visualization of racing while I was training than I had in the past. I imagined winning. I imagined leading. And a lot of that imagination was inspired by what I saw in Beijing, with the men's triathlon really being the thing that stuck with me during all those miles, almost all of which I logged alone, as opposed to in our group, as I had done up until Beijing, since the Olympics were, obviously, the culmination of their season.
what made you switch to running shorts and top in t2 this time?
I prefer to ride in a one-piece, because it doesn't pinch at all around your waist. But I prefer to run in a separate top and bottom, because it doesn't pull at all on your shoulders. If I had it to do again, I think I might have stayed in my one piece, since the fabric of that suit is so light. But I also liked the freedom of the short and top. I went with a t-shirt because I find that over a marathon, any sort of seam close to my body bothers me. I'm always pulling on it. So the shirt was very free. The shorts were okay, but as always, when you are soaked with salt, sweat, gatorade, coke, and gel, nothing is great. To a certain extent, though I'd never do it, I can see why guys raced in speedos. It's nice to run "free." The only way to know what feels best is to try it. Nothing can really prepare you for what it will feel like after seven hours of racing. But now, after three races, I think I've got a better handle on what I like. I'm definitely set through T2, and hopefully I'll be set for the marathon as well next time, though I'm sure I'll overthink that decision plenty of times before the next one.
How did it feel to be LEADING an Ironman?
Depends on when you were asking. There were stretches where it was incredible, where I kept telling myself that not only could I win, that I was going to win. Then there were the low points where I knew I was going to get caught, when my legs just started to go. Mostly I would say it was lonely, but in a sort of strange way. You have, at times, cameras and motorcycles following you, but there is no one up ahead to chase. You know that everyone is chasing you. You can't see someone up ahead and feel like you are closing on them. There are no splits, except someone occasionally telling you how far behind someone chasing you is. It was a bit different as well on a loop course, since while I was leading, I was also passing people, which is sort of odd. I imagine that it'd be different in a single-loop race where you are all alone. I'm glad I did it, because it was so different than any other race I've done, even races where I've led or won. A marathon is daunting enough without also being a target, so that was something that I could never have prepared for. It was definitely memorable. I'd love to do it again, only without the whole "getting passed" part.
Do you feel you've earned the respect of other Pro's and are considered a serious threat?
Ha. I dunno. I suppose when you start thinking that way is about the time you get yourself into trouble. Honestly, when you count up the number of guys who been on an Ironman podium, it's a lot. When you count up the number of guys who have won one, it's a smaller number. For me, I think you have to win one, at least one, to really earn respect. That being said, I was pretty nervous to be racing with Andreas Raelert, regardless of the fact that it was his first Ironman. Some guys have instant credibility. I am keeping my fingers crossed, for example, that Simon Whitfield never decides to do Ironman. Personally, I think Ironman will be my proving ground, but until I win one, I wouldn't even consider myself a threat. Even then, I'm not sure I'd want to be known as a threat. I'd like to be known as a guy who races smart, races hard, and races with integrity. Whatever I get beyond that is a bonus. Sometimes people tell me that I'm not goal-oriented enough in that sense, but I guess that's who I am. I used to set a lot of goals like that when I was rowing, and most of them I didn't meet. But even as I didn't achieve one thing, I often achieved another totally different thing. I wrote on my blog that my journey to triathlon has been a journey of failures. Every decision I've made has been because I failed at something, at least it was a failure if you look at a specific goal. But I wouldn't give up that journey for anything. So I think that's helped me become more process oriented. Simon (Whitfield) talks about that a lot. He's won two medals racing that way and came 11th when he raced only to win, so that's colored my perspective a great deal. Do I want to win? Of course. But I want to win being myself. I'd never trade who I am for a win. So maybe that means I'll never be a threat in the minds of other athletes, and I'm okay with that.
Will there be a 3rd visit to Arizona next spring?
I think it'll actually be next fall. No more spring Ironmans from NASports. The new November date for Arizona is a permanent change. But yes, I'm currently planning to go back. I like the course, and, more importantly, I feel very confident racing in Tempe. I know where to stay, flying in and out is easy, I know where to eat, where to buy groceries, where to swim, bike, and run, how to get around. All those little things that make it easier to focus on racing. I don't know that I'd ever want to live in Tempe, but I do think of it as a very comfortable place to race, which I think is probably much more of an advantage than any "experience" I might have with the actual race course.
How much time off will you take?
I took one week totally off. I didn't do anything except for walking on the treadmill reading a newspaper. I was that guy in workout gear walking at 2.5mph with his face in the NYTimes. I felt like the ultimate poseur. But it was good. The second week, I swam three times and ran four times for 30 minutes. This week, week three, I'm back to training everyday, though nothing of serious substance. I'm in the weight room four days a week, which is a good change. I hadn't done weights in a while, and I think I got a bit unbalanced this year with the bigger mileage, so I'm back trying to make sure I'm all connected. I'm also running and swimming regularly, but just short workouts, mostly 30min runs and 2,000-3,000m in the pool. I got my mountain bike tuned up and today I'll take that out for a spin. I'll only ride what I refer to as my "dirty wheels" until January. I love my MTB, but I'm also afraid of it during the season. It's a hardtail, which keeps me off the really technical stuff, but I enjoy the style of riding a lot. It's so different, but I think it makes you a better cyclist. Training is such a huge part of my life and my routine. After a week, I really needed to do something, and after two weeks, I really needed to be on a routine.
What is your hands-down favorite Christmas movie?
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Isn't that everyone's?
American Zofingen…Best Race EVER! I have been thinking about this race since it’s debut 3 years ago. I entered that year, but mother nature got the best of me, and I dropped out due to hypothermia. It was a brutally cold day, yet the weather was nothing compared the difficulty of the course, and I vowed to be back someday and seek revenge! That day was this past Sunday, October 12th…it was time to face my demons, and just “finish” this race.
On a simply perfect day (temps in the mid 50’s to low 60’s) with the sun shining and leaves appearing to be peaking to perfection, the 2008 American Zofingen was set off in Old-School style “On Your Mark…Get Set…Go!” Like wild horses fighting for ground in the Kentucky Derby, we all took off for what would be a very, very, very long day. The race distance is made up of a 5 mile run, an 84 mile bike, and a 15 mile run. This in itself shouldn’t be too taxing for me…that’s shorter than the Ironman and there’s no swimming…always a PLUS in my book! Ahhh..but as I found out, jumping to such hasty conclusions is foolish. The course is DIABOLICAL. Sissy’s need not apply for this race…you will go home with your tail between your legs and probably searching for answers in some therapist’s office. This race takes every bit of physical, mental and emotional strength you’ve got inside you and then stares you in the face and asks “Is that all you got lard ass!?” I know I definitely answered “Yes!” a few times, but something inside me would not let me give up. I might be a lard-ass, but I am not quitting!
But I digress…the reason why the race is so challenging is the terrain itself. The 5-Mile trail run (which you do FOUR times btw) is quite possibly, the most difficult 5 miles you’ll ever run in your life – unless of course you’re running on the moon without a spacesuit. You run up what I figure are four, 12-15% grade hills on each loop. These are covered with slabs of granite rock and thick, narly tree roots. The groomed parts of the trail are seldom flat. There are some drastic switchback downhills that ignite your quads to scream as if they are being stabbed with finely sharpened Ginsu knives. Total Elevation gain in 20 miles is 2900 ft! The bike consists of a 27 mile loop (which you do three times) that leaves the Mohonk Preserve (I want to retire on that preserve btw…freaking awesome!) and travels west through the New Paltz mountain lake area. Breathtaking does not even describe what you see for roughly 26 out of the 27 miles. I found myself forgetting about the pain of each climb as I was gazing at the slabs of granite projecting itself off the Shwagunk Mountain range. Rolling streams and waterfalls, all thriving due to the rain we had in September, and the brightest reds, yellow and orange leaves I have ever seen. But…back to the race. The bike course is crazy-hard. There’s no other way to describe it. And for me (I am lazy and have barely been on my bike since the Lake Placid Ironman in July), it was a game of mind over matter. I wanted to finish…that was it. With a total gain of 8800 ft in 84 miles, my time of 5:47 was…well…respectable I guess.
Finishing the last section (a measly 15 mile run!) was icing on the cake. The finish line was actually inside a beautiful Pavilion where a big crowd was waiting to meet you with cheers, a medal, and a life-saving ice-cold keg of beer. It was truly magical.
Despite taking August off and loafing around for most of September, I hung on to finish 1st overall woman, and took home a gargantuan authentic German beer Stein, as well as some cash. The memories of the suffering soon faded as I sat in the Pavilion, cheering on other finishers, eating a hearty bowl of chili and drinking a cold, delicious beer from my (let’s just stretch the truth) “Made In Munich” Stein! I am already dreaming about AZ 2009!
Jordan Rapp sure has been busy since we’ve last spoken. In that time, he’s gone to China for the Olympics (to cheer THIS TIME, but who knows what the future holds!), raced the US open Triathlon in Dallas, and saw his very own Felt bike become the center of attention in Triathlete Mag’s October edition. All that AND deal with the pressure of being True-Motion’s professional spokesman??? It’s a rough life, but somebody’s gotta do it. Here’s the skinny from Jordan in his own words (while wearing his super-cool True-Motion polo of course!) on how he’s fit training for this November’s Ironman Arizona in, and how he plans on moving up 2 places from last April’s 3rd place finish:
1. You decided to pass on Hawaii b/c you traveled over to Beijing to watch the summer olympics. How was that experience? Do you have a newfound respect for Olympic distance athletes after watching the triathlon?
Honestly, after watching the Olympics I wanted to do nothing but swim until I either got fast enough to race in the ITU or until my arms fell off. Coach Joel managed to talk me out that plan, but I still hope I can at least race a World Cup at some point. The one Continental Cup I've done was awesome. The race in Beijing was actually the second high-level ITU event I'd seen live, as I also watched the Vancouver World Championships. But this race was infinitely more special. It's a rare thing to get to see two of your best friends - Simon Whitfield and Colin Jenkins - compete in such a momentous event, and it's even more rare to get to see one of them succeed in such spectacular fashion. It was an amazing thing to be a part of that group. Simon obviously earned and won the medal, but we all felt like we had a part in that. I train with those guys every day, so I have the utmost respect for Olympic distance athletes. I'm not sure I could really have any more, but it certainly gave me a newfound respect for the idea of the Olympics and for what it means to have triathlon included as a sport. Kona, deservedly, gets a lot of press, but I think regardless of what happens this year on the Big Island, the Olympic triathlon is certainly the most important race that will happen in 2008.
Jordan with Simon Whitfield and that coveted Silver Medal
2. How was the food in China?
Varied. And cheap. We had some incredible meals for less than what you'd pay at McDonald's. And then there were some pretty blah ones. My mother came equipped with several good guidebooks, and we were taken to some restaurants by locals or people that knew the right folks to ask, so there were no disastrous meals. We ate a lot of local yogurt, which apparently helps your stomach acclimate, so I made it through basically unscathed. Best food was the deep fried bamboo worms [photo attached] from the Yunan province. There a lots of different varieties of bamboo worms; I enjoyed them all. Worst food was the beef lung. The most spectacular meal was at Made In China, which some people consider the best restaurant in China. We had Peking Duck, apparently the best in the city, which is saying something considering it is the "house specialty," as it were, of Beijing (aka "Peking").
3. Ironman Arizona is next on the list for you. Will you do any short races from now until then to test your top speed?
I'll actually do two. I just got back from the Toyota US Open in Dallas, which was okay considering it was my first race in two months. Then I go to Jamaica to go head-to-head with Greg Bennett at the Rosehall Triathlon. I'm planning to slash his tires en route to the swim. Or to get some sort of lasso to make sure I stay on his feet. Should be fun though. It's a new race, so I'm excited to be a part of it.
4. We've seen your tri bike in the recent Triathlete magazine, how much of your training is done on this bike or do you use a road bike in training?
I usually ride that bike once a week, maybe twice, during a normal training week, and always for hard workouts. I do probably 80% of my riding on my road bike. I've done enough work on getting my position really dialed in that I don't feel like I need to make sure I'm going to be comfortable. I know I'm going to be comfortable. But it's good to keep in touch with riding hard at a steep seat angle, handling in the aerobars, etc.
5. You had an outstanding performance in IMAZ in April, what parts of the race do you think you can improve on this time around to take your performance one step further?
I'd like to swim a lot better, which I think I can. I'm not looking for much more on the bike, just a small improvement reflective of my fitness and also a slightly more consistent effort. And on the run, I'd like to run pretty similarly, just with a small uptick in speed across the board. If I could shave two minutes off each lap of the run, or roughly 15 seconds per mile, I'd be happy. Weather of course will be a big factor in all of that, both in terms of the race itself and how it compares to April, so I'm not going to try to recreate the race in terms of splits or anything. The similarity will come from approach. My plan is to race the same way that I did last time, and hopefully the improvement in fitness between April and November will make the difference. Of course, the race, especially on the run, could unfold quite differently, and I'm certainly not going to shy away from a gunfight at the O.K. Corral if that's what it comes down to on the run. But until the run, I'm racing my race.
6. How early will you arrive in Tempe for the race to acclimate to the warm weather?
I'll arrive in Tempe on Thursday before the race. Until then, I'll just stay consistent with a place I know works for me. If the weather is consistently hot through early November, or just if Coach Joel decides it is appropriate, I will do the standard heat adaptation training that I did before the April version and also this summer before I raced Lifetime Fitness and New York City. Generally the weather is pretty nice that time of year, but it also can't hurt to be prepared, as much I'm dreading have to acclimatize myself again.
7. I know this is a tough one, but if you are awarded a slot for Hawaii in Arizona, will you take it?
I think probably, though I'm not in a rush to get to the Big Island. I'd like to go when I feel like I can do well. I don't want to for the experience or anything like that. When I go, it will be because Joel thinks I'm ready to go. I'd be 29 in Kona next year, which is already older than when Faris won it and still younger than Chris McCormack was the first time he ever raced. So I see that it's about being prepared for yourself, not about abiding by the timeline that other people might try to impose on you.
8. Do you believe in Santa Claus? (sorry, I'm playing Christmas music already in my office at work...it's almost time!)
I believe in Santa Claus in the sense that I believe Christmas is about giving things away, not receiving. I believe that we all ought to believe in being a Santa Claus to someone else, not hoping that Santa exists for each of us. If Santa does exist, I'm pretty sure he works for the Heifer Project - heifer.org.
Mimi Boyle had the race of her life last week at Ironman USA in Lake Placid. Here is the rundown of her day in her words.....
Lake Placid Ironman 2008
It’s taken me 8 years, but I finally figured out how to train for one of these. I found the perfect mix of life/work/training and finished the Lake Placid Ironman in my fastest time for the 140.6 mile distance to date. More importantly, I hardly made any sacrifices in my personal life that compromised my friends and family. That is something I have always struggled with being an endurance athlete. How to find time for personal relationships and fun while still having enough hours allotted for all 3 disciplines. I decided to take advice from my friend and business partner, Paul, to embrace the “less is more” methodology. Less long, slow workouts. More mid-distance, fast ones. It works. I still did enough long, steady miles to remind the legs what it will feel like at mile 95 on the bike and 22 on the run, but not nearly as many as years past. Throwing in 2 week-long cycling efforts (Tucson and Colorado) topped me off and made my weekly efforts back at home less stressful because I had built up solid strength and fitness. IF (and that’s a real “if”) I race long distance again, I will have the key to what works best for me. Just wish I’d found it years ago!
As far as my race in Lake Placid…I finished 10:33:57. I was 2nd in my age group, and 9th woman overall including Pro’s. Not bad for a procrastinator who was more interested in drinking wine with friends on week nights and voting for our next American Idol Superstar back in March!
My race was fairly smooth from start to finish. The weather was lousy (rained all day long, heavy at times), but we were all in the same boat, so who cares.
1:09 is a decent swim time for me considering I am too wimpy to fight the crowds and usually give up a little on the first loop until the scrum clears out. Exiting the water, I felt very calm and had my 2 good friends, Tom & Stacey, rip off my wetsuit. That was hilarious and gave me a real rush of adrenaline.
Loop 1 of the bike was very fast for me. I was on pace to bike a 5:20. Wow. Pinch me and tell me I’m not seeing the numbers wrong! Somewhere along the way between mile 65-70, I lost the use of my small chain ring. Oh well. Get over it. I managed to ride back up to town without much damage and finished holding just under a 20mph avg for the 112 mile ride for a 5:40 bike. I lost 20 min on that 2nd loop, but I was banking on losing 10min w/out mechanical issues, so I wasn’t overwhelmingly disappointed.
Onto the run, (my favorite part!!!) I felt good. I knew from mile 1 if I kept drinking and didn’t try to start speeding up too quickly, my run would be solid. I finished strong with a 3:34 marathon, and best of all, I was without pain the entire day!
Best race execution I’ve ever put together. I’m a slow learner obviously, but as the saying goes…better late than never.
Mimi on the bike (this was only the 2nd time riding the bike! She took it for a brief first spin to make sure it was working ok only 2 days beofre the race!)
Paul raced in the 2nd in a series of 3 Sprint Races in Key Biscayne, Florida on July 20th. An unusually strong swim (with help from the Xterra speedsuit?? :) ) placed him towards the front of his age group for the start of the bike but a lack of aggression over the hills cost him a few places during the bike split. However, a strong 2nd best run split in his age group clawed back some of the deficit and he managed to finish up 4th out of 69 in the M35-39 Age group.
True-Motion is pleased to announce we'll be teaming up with The Inaugural WESTCHESTER TOUGHMAN Half Ironman as a headlining sponsor. The event, which will take place on Sept 21st at Croton Point Park in Croton, NY, will be the first 1/2 Ironman in Westchester County. The race course features a beautiful one loop 1.2m swim in a protected cove of the Hudson river , a scenic 56m loop through upper Westchester, and a rolling 13.1m run around Croton Point Park with a scenic run through Croton on Hudson and an out/back section over the Croton Dam. Awards to include a sizable race purse of $3500 to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, overall men and women. For more information and to register go to www.WESTCHESTERTOUGHMAN.com The Boomer Esiason Foundation has been selected as sole charity recipient for this event. BEF is former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason's Foundation which raises awareness and funding to beat Cystic Fibrosis, a disease that Boomer's son, Gunnar, was diagnosed with over 15 years ago . Along with raising awareness, BEF has developed a way for people to contribute through their athletic support by joining "Team Boomer", a competitive USATF registered club that helps fund the "Exercise For Life Scholarship Program" while emphasizing the importance of daily exercise especially in the lives of CF patients. The Westchester Toughman will be selling charity spots to the event through Team Boomer . For more information on how you can donate to BEF or learn more about Cystic Fibrosis, please visit www.esiason.org
Jordan Rapp had a great performance in the NYC Triathlon on sunday July 20th. Despite a few Jelly fish stings en route to T2 Jordan blasted a very fast bike split second noly to Race winner Greg Bennett. He then reeled off a Personal Best 10k to round off a solid race and place 6th Overall in a very competitive field.
Read about Jordan's Race in his own words on his blog