ACTIVE: You were obviously successful in Coeur d'Alene and Oceanside, but how would you describe your season so far?
HJ: Thanks so much! It's amazing to take the win at any race and I was stoked when Oceanside and Coeur d'Alene came together for me. On the whole though, I would describe this race season as a transitional year for me. This year has been focused around making it to the start line of the IRONMAN World Championship. I wasn't able to race my normal schedule of primarily 70.3 distance races and even some shorter races that I like to do, like Escape from Alcatraz. It took me a few tries at the full distance (IRONMAN Arizona in November of 2014 and IRONMAN Texas in May) before I was able to put together a successful day at IRONMAN Coeur d'Alene. After solidifying my Kona starting spot with the win at CDA, my entire focus has been on taking my experience at Coeur d'Alene--what worked and what didn't, and trying to learn even more about the full distance and using that to prepare as best I can for Kona. This, unfortunately, meant I passed on traveling to Austria for the 70.3 World Championship, my favorite race distance, but I just really wanted to have all my focus on having a good race in Kona.
ACTIVE: How is training for Kona different than training for other races? Are you on track?
HJ: Kona is the IRONMAN World Championship; it's the biggest race for long-distance triathletes of the year. The training itself is no different than any other IRONMAN race in the season, but I think with it being the World Championship, there is an extra layer of focus and discipline that accompanies that training. Early in the season, you can be a little more relaxed with different things because if something doesn't work for a race, there's usually another one right around the corner. Don't get me wrong, you want to try and win every race you enter (at least I do), but some of the early season races you can use to see if new or different methods work better for you. Or you can be a little more relaxed with things like trying a new bike or run routes or maybe you don't spend time and money to get out to a race super early so you can acclimate to its climate and spend time learning the course. With Kona, you leave no stone unturned. No detail is too small. I feel that I am on track and I've taken care of all those little details as best I can.
ACTIVE: What are a few staples in your training diet? Any favorite meals?
HJ: When I get in a very focused block, my diet is pretty similar every single day. Oatmeal for breakfast, whatever I can manage to get in for lunch in between training, and either steak, chicken or salmon grilled with salad and a sweet potato for dinner. Lots of Herbalife24 Hydrate in between training sessions and a Herbalife24 Rebuild recovery shake after every hard workout. I'm pretty boring. My favorite meal is probably a medium-rare ribeye with a grilled sweet potato and a big kale salad.
ACTIVE: What are you most excited about in Kona? What are you most nervous about?
HJ: I am most excited about competing on the biggest stage out there--the World Championship. This race crowns the World Champ, the best IRONMAN distance athlete in the world. I absolutely love that kind of pressure. I also just love the entire event here on the Big Island. I've been here as a spectator the last three or four years and I just love the build up and the energy in the air. I am most nervous about the start of the race and the first ten minutes of the swim. Once I get past that, I'm usually good to go.
ACTIVE: What is your nutrition plan on the course?
HJ: In the days leading up to the race and race morning, I will be drinking lots of Herbalife24 Hydrate in order to top off electrolyte levels. My nutrition plan on the bike is about three bottles of Herbalife24 CR7 Drive an hour, aiming for 13-14 bottles total. Some of those bottles might also have an added packet of Herbalife24 Hydrate for an even higher sodium/electrolyte levels. I have a really high sweat rate, so I need to be very conscious on the bike that I'm getting enough in prior to the run. On the run, I'll have to rely a lot on what's on course, but will have a bottle of Herbalife24 CR7 Drive available at the special needs table to grab midway through.
ACTIVE: What is your strength--swim, bike or run? Your weakness?
HJ: I think my strength is my bike-run combo. It is definitely not my swim. I just have to manage my energy output on the bike to be able to run a decent marathon.
ACTIVE: Who will be your biggest competition?
HJ: Everyone at this race is my biggest competition! All of the best girls in the world will be on the start line and as it is the World Championship, everyone will be battling all the way to the finish line to see where they rank in the world.
ACTIVE: What will be your first post-race meal? Any fun post-race Kona plans?
HJ: I will probably head straight for Kona Brewing for a big pizza and beer. I haven't had a beer in probably six weeks! I live in Bend, OR and my brother is a brewer--so let me just say that it has been tough. Actually, I just got married in August and so my husband, Sean "Wattie" Watkins, and I are working our honeymoon into the trip with five days on Oahu after the race. We will do a few days in Waikiki and a few days up on the North Shore, so that should be really fun!