Thursday, December 11, 2008

Jordan Rapp breaks Bike course record and places 3rd at Ironman Arizona

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?

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