Monday, December 12, 2011

3Go Magazine Article - The Full Story

In a few days / weeks / I'm not really sure, an article will be coming out on a website called 3Go that chronicles five us of ladies of the 30-34 making the move to the professional ranks in 2012. I felt incredible privileged to even get the opportunity to participate in the article among such a talented group. As I read the final article draft (which was pretty awesome by the way! Great job Jordan!), one thing seems to be consistent, these ladies are not only smart and talented, but relentlessly driven and at the same time, humble and realistic about this next step. Not one of us have some idea of grandeur or that we'll be running down the unbelievable Miss Wellington any time soon. However, don't doubt it for one minute, these girls are ready to put it on the line and race their hearts out.. for all the right reasons.

Since only a very small portion of my comments are actually shared in the article, I decided that I would share the rest of my answers here so that you could see some of the thoughts behind my decision etc. It was a little strange and scary to put all of it down on paper (or on computer I guess), but I was so glad this article actually forced me to write it down and really give all of my answers some real thought. It was fun, but it was really hard at the same time. The questions were tough and thought provoking and the answers weren't cut and dry.

Hopefully, you can find a few things you relate to in here and most of all, just get a little laugh. I can't help who I am.. I'm me.. and that's that.

Thanks for reading & let me know what you think!

Going Pro” article – questionnaire for new pros

Name: Kim Schwabenbauer

Age: 32

Occupation: Registered Dietitian, USA Triathlon Coach, Owner of Fuel Your Passion, LLC Sports Nutrition Counseling & Endurance Coaching

Where do you live?: Pittsburgh, PA

  1. How did you get your start in triathlon?

I started in triathlon as a result of being a runner for many years and wanting to take on another challenge. Beth Shutt, a good friend and fellow Penn State Cross-Country teammate, had shared with me that she had begun doing triathlons the previous year and really enjoyed the three sport disciplines vs. just being a runner (which we did all through college). On a work trip to the Big Island, I saw the sign for the Ironman World Championship starting line and I said to my husband, “I’m going to do that race one day!” He suggested that maybe I should start with a shorter triathlon first. From breast-stroking my first triathlon swim to three years later standing at start of the Ironman World Championships in 2008 grinning from ear to ear, my first dream in triathlon had come true.

  1. What’s your athletic background?

I came from strictly a running background. A cross-county / track athlete in high school and college, I loved running and it was almost born and bred in our family to be runners. My Mother, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, at one point or another, all of us have been runners and taken on local races up to the marathon distance. After marginal success in high-school, I never thought I could run at the college level, especially after being accepted to Penn State University, a division one program. After completing my freshman year, I called the coach of the cross-country team and asked about walking onto the team. I tried out, and spent the next four years having some of the best experiences of my life with those girls, including Beth. I graduated as a team captain and top scorer for the traveling team. After doing the Boston Marathon in 2005, it was time for a new gig. The rest is history.

  1. What’s your strongest discipline?

I would definitely say running. It’s my background and my passion. I’m learning to love the other two slowly, and biking has brought a whole new world of spending time with friends and acquaintances out on 6 hour rides seeing the countryside. I love the freedom biking provides to see so much ground and really get to know people. Swimming, well, we have our days where we are friends, and then our days where we are not.

  1. Which discipline do you think needs most improvement now that you’re joining the pro field? How do you plan to tackle this?

Oh, that's easy swim definitely needs the most work. I’ve had Ironman swims under an hour (IM Cozumel 2010, which I’m pretty sure was with a big current!), but I don’t seem to be consistent and when the water gets rough I really seem to lose focus and not swim nearly as well. I have a feeling it will be a very lonely experience on the bike if I don’t improve this area and talk about racing from behind! It’s much more fun and more motivating to be in the mix. I plan to swim 4 to 5 times a week at a minimum to really improve on this discipline next year. I’m also doing some video analysis with my coach next month in Colorado Springs, hoping to figure out where some of the issues may be in my technique. Hopefully, that will bring about a better and more consistent swim.

  1. What made you decide to “go pro”?

I decided to turn pro for many different reasons. Just a few of those reasons relate to my drive and determination to compete at the highest level possible. After winning two amateur titles at the IM distance, I had a feeling with some more training I may be able to improve my times, and although it might be a tough process to get on the pro podium, I’m willing to put in the time and take the risk. I believe progress takes risks and I’m willing to take those risks as long as I keep the right prospective on my life, what’s important and why I am making this move. Our strongest athletic years are in our 30’s and I’m 32, so I’m not getting any younger. If I would ever like to have a family (and I would), now is the time to take this chance and see what these next few years bring.

  1. Will racing as a pro change how you plan your season? If so, how?

Certainly, the flexibility that pro’s have in terms of planning their race season is a nice part of this process. You’re able to plan an “A” schedule and then also a “B” or even “C” possible schedule if things don’t go as planned or there are certain goals that aren’t being met. The new point system that the WTC has put into place certainly may be a driving factor in subsequent years. For now, I’m choosing races that will suit my particular strengths, are economically feasible, and that will give me some good experience next year as I learn about the different nuances of racing in a pro field vs. an amateur field. I’m taking a very hard look at the Rev 3 races as well because of some of the great experiences I’ve had with them as an amateur. I’ll race more, I’ll race often and I hope that my body will adjust to the heavier training and racing load this upcoming year that being a pro requires.

  1. What do you expect to be the challenges of competing in the pro field?

I’ve done my homework on some of the challenges of competing in the pro field and I feel a bit more prepared mentally to face those than I would be otherwise. Some of my friends and mentors in this sport have talked about the challenges of racing alone for much of the race and still pushing yourself to your own potential limits. I know that when I get on the bike it can be a challenge coming from the back if you don’t have a good swim. I’m hoping to see my swim times improve, but until then, I think it will be a bit of an adjustment! At the amateur level I was used to being around other competitors and had the confidence that I could, and would, possibly catch them if I raced my race and did my best. In the pro race, there certainly will be competitors out of reach of my current ability and I’ll have to adjust to that as well. I think this race strategy will be more about focusing on what I can improve about my race for a year or so and hopefully at that point, be more competitive / put the pieces together to have “that dream race” again as a pro. I’m sure there will be plenty of races that will not come together and you have to keep your expectations / goals and reasons for doing the sport in check so that you can continue to improve throughout the process. I feel pretty darn honored just to have the option to make the choice and to line up against some of those people whom I feel are incredible athletes, but more importantly incredible women, well, that’s a huge bonus. I don’t think I’ll ever regret taking this chance and learning more about myself and the other amazing women in this sport.

  1. What will you not miss about being an amateur?

I will not miss the mass swim starts that were required to compete at the Ironman as an amateur. Really! I won’t miss them one bit. However, I’ve heard there is plenty of beating around that goes on during the pro race as well and I’m sure I’ll still come out bumped and bruised just like I did as an amateur! Of course, I will also not miss having to sign up an entire year in advance for races that I want to attend as an amateur either. It’s so very hard to plan out your life for an entire year around one event. We’ve all been doing it for years so we know that’s what it takes, but it will be nice to have a bit more flexibility and adjust for injury, training blocks, goals and life in general.

  1. What concerns you most about your decision to race as a pro?

What concerns me most about my decision to race as a pro is having the time to train to put myself at a level where I have the opportunity to be competitive at this level of the sport without sacrificing the time with my family, friends and having the stable income needed to still pay bills, money for groceries, travel, etc. This is the major issue as I see it with all of the professionals in our sport. This is not professional golf people. You don’t win one title and have enough to live on for a year. At most, if you place top five in our sport you have enough to cover your trip costs and a bit left over to live. Since triathlon isn’t a main stream sport, we have to come up with those ideas for being innovative and be willing to take calculated risks to have the funds needed to be in the sport while still having the time required to train 25+ hours per week. I’m willing to make personal sacrifices on some fronts, such as living a little leaner etc., but not on others like spending time with my family etc. Keeping this balance is what worries me the most and making sure I maintain it while being happy with the lifestyle this change will require.

  1. How will your training change in the coming year as you prepare for your first season as a pro?

Training for my first pro season definitely is exciting and will require some additional time spent on all three disciplines. I also am really trying to identify some underlying strength issues such as imbalances etc. because as the volume increases, those little imbalances have the potential to become big problems. I’m working with someone to address those BEFORE the season really gets started and will spend the next few months doing a bit more strength training than I would have in years past. In addition, my power on the bike is something I struggle with being a smaller athlete, so I’m doing some cross-fit and other supplemental training to address those issues and hopefully, improve my power on the bike. Lastly, I’m sure my weekly volume will increase and if things work out the way I am hoping they do, I’ll have a bit more time to focus on training vs. balancing 40 hours per week of working + training + life. We’ll see – that’s TBD still!

  1. What has been your favorite/most memorable triathlon experience to date?

Well, this is a tough one, it might be a tie. One of most memorable triathlon experience to date was having a breakthrough race at Ironman Cozumel in 2010 after breaking my collarbone into pieces exactly one year before at the Half Ironman World Championships and spending the first part of 2010 in a sling not able to do much training. It had been a really tough process and I found myself rather depressed and unsure of myself, my ability or even my next steps in the sport (if any) at times during that recovery. However, as I regained my confidence slowly, I started to believe a good race in Cozumel was possible, but it would take having a day. I was blessed to have that day and it all came together. It was bitter sweet to say the least.

The other was probably finishing Ironman Lake Placid this year. It had been a really challenging month, I was filming for MTV for their show “MADE, I want to be a triathlete” and I was running low on sleep, training and sanity prior to the race. Branden, the 16 yr old athlete I was working with to do the Pittsburgh Triathlon in a 3 week period, was coming from Pittsburgh to Lake Placid to see the race as his first triathlon. There were so many logistics to work out with the film crew and producers that I barely even got to think about the race. I was pretty worried based on my lack of training consistency leading up to the race that I would even have a decent race, let alone do well. At some point, I let it all go and just decided to pray about it and see what happened. As the day unfolded I went from 45th in the swim, to 4th off the bike to 1st female amateur at the finish. Just knowing that Branden, my family, my team members from Ballou Skies, our charity team and Kyle, my husband, were at the finish and they knew how trying it had all been just made it so sweet to cross that finish line. Kyle and his Mom were right there to hug me, as was Branden and the whole film crew. It was surreal to have them there in the finish and I was happy beyond words. It felt like a dream. I was so thankful everything worked out – sometimes you have to let it go and just trust and I know that was a lesson I will not soon forget.

  1. What question(s) do you wish I had asked you? And what is your response?

Question: What has the response been among your family / friends / others / other athletes to this decision?

The response has been mixed, mostly supportive, but also not quite what I expected. As always, going against what people consider a “main stream” type of life has its challenges. I think it’s difficult for some people to accept that your goals and dreams aren’t the same as theirs, or maybe aren’t the same as theirs right now anyway. Of course, there are those in my life who know me well and are 110% supportive in every way possible and I’m thankful beyond words for those people. Others, well, they don’t even acknowledge the difference between competing at this new level which is fine too. It certainly never stopped me before :)


beth said...

Love it! Its awesome to see how much we think alike in our responses... glad i'm not alone :)

Christi said...

Great Q and A! Thanks so much for sharing. I am pulling for you every day! And if you need a reminder, please email me!

Jamie said...

Awesome post! I'm glad you shared it all. Not an easy thing to do.

I can definitely see how it can be a little (okay, maybe a LOT) terrifying to jump up to the pro level. It completely changes your standards of what you consider a good performance. Not only time-wise, but you have to think "Did I do enough to be able to keep my refrigerator full for another few weeks?"

It takes major cojones to step up your game like you are. It will obviously be a big adjustment, but it sounds like you've got the right perspective to tackle it all.

It will be so exciting to follow your transition to the big leagues this year! I can't wait.

Hopefully I'll see you at some rev3 races! I'll definitely be at Quassy and Maine. Hopefully Florida too.

Dr. TriRunner said...

What an insight! One question I have for you: Do you think you'll ever do any ITU races?

Hahah I'll BET you won't miss the shark-feed of the mass start swims! I would certainly not miss that oneeee bit. ;)

jc said...

It seems like it was a cathartic process for you to write out the answers... I think the article will be out in January online and in print.

Alison said...

Congrats, I'm looking forward to following your new career!

GoBigGreen said...

You are going to do great!! Super excited for you Kim:)

Damie said...

I like!!! I can't wait to read the article!