Pro Triathlete Laurel Wassner's First Time Racing Kona

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ACTIVE: How would your describe your season so far?

LW: It has been a whirlwind and incredibly exciting. In my quest to qualify for the IRONMAN World Champs in Kona, I traveled to Knoxville, Tenn., San Juan, Puerto Rico, Central Calif., Florianopolis, Brazil, Whistler, Canada and Bintan Island, Indonesia.

There were some highs, like running a 3:07 to finish fifth at the Latin American Championships, but also some lows, like battling cold and rain in Canada and finishing in ninth place.

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ACTIVE: How is training for Kona different than training for other races? Are you on track?

LW: This was the first year I've focused on long-distance training. Previously, I raced primarily Olympic-distance non-drafting races. So, yes, my training has changed. I do a lot more long bike rides (up to 5 hours) and even did my first 18-mile training run leading into Kona. I have also done a lot more rehearsals of my race day nutrition. Due to the expense of travel, I usually make my trips very short. I went to Indonesia for three days! I was very fortunate to get to Kona early to train on the course thanks to winning a prize from Smashfest Queen. They raised funds for the final qualifier into the race (which was me!), with the idea being that that person had to spend a lot in the qualification process and to raise awareness to the inequality in that process--50 men qualify and only 35 women. I am really thankful to the people who stood up for equality in triathlon and who bought the shirts and hats Smash sold to raise the money to get me here.

ACTIVE: What are a few staples in your training diet? Any favorite meals?

LW: One thing that I've focused on over the last few years is my diet, and it's made a big improvement. This is mainly due to Athlete Food, the food blog I started with my sister, Bec, and our mutual friend Melissa Lasher. I follow the Athlete Food way of eating (healthy food that tastes good) and regularly eat the recipes that Bec and Melissa have created and published on the site. My favorites are: The Athlete Food Power Bowl, the Race 2 Rebuild Smoothie Bowl and pasta with homemade turkey meatballs.

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ACTIVE: What are you most excited about in Kona? What are you most nervous about?

LW: I am most excited about being part of the big show. I love when races are hard, conditions are tough and the field is strong. It's a chance to be on triathlon's world stage. I'm also excited that on being here I am inspiring so many people to keep pursuing their dreams. I went through a lot over the years to get to this race: Beating cancer, switching careers, overcoming injury and other obstacles that could have stopped me. But, I have always believed I belong in this race and didn't let anyone or anything get in my way. I'm nervous for my family tracking me! Do you know how hard it is to spectate an IRONMAN? I have three sisters and they basically can't function while I'm racing.

ACTIVE: What is your nutrition plan on the course?

LW: I will be using Osmo Nutrition to keep me hydrated and XRCEL, a new energy supplement that is unique because it is time released. So, I should be ON all day!

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ACTIVE: What is your strength--swim, bike or run? Your weakness?

LW: I won't be happy until I'm equally fast at all three! My run and swim stand out for now and consistency on the bike is something I work on relentlessly.

ACTIVE: Who will be your biggest competition?

LW: The starting line on Saturday will be made up of 35 of the fittest women you'll ever see. I have raced nearly everyone before in various distances and they are all a threat, but my biggest competition will be the race itself. I've never experienced Kona and the heat and other challenging elements.

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ACTIVE: What will be your first post-race meal? Any fun post-race Kona plans?

LW: It will probably be lunch the next day. I never feel like eating a meal after racing an IRONMAN, which sounds crazy, but after ingesting calories all day, my body doesn't want any more! Lunch the next day will probably be sushi. Post-Kona, I'll have some training downtime and I plan to focus on taking pictures for our Athlete Food book project, lining up sponsors for next year and I'll be doing some reality TV (but I can't talk about it!). Also, I am looking forward to teaching my two-year-old niece, Amy, and her friends how to swim. Then it's on to preparing for next season!