Alex Mroszczyk-McDonald was the top amateur at the 2007 Ford Ironman Word Championships in Kona and we wanted to know a bit more about this athlete and med student from Vermont.
ST: Alex, you had a great season in 2007 and capped it with an amazing race in Kona. Were you surprised to end up as the top amateur there?
Alex: Honestly, yes! Last year as my first year racing Kona I was truly humbled by the amazing athletes that are ubiquitous at the world championship. I knew that if I raced intelligently and pushed my comfort zone all day I had the ability to finish in the top 10 amateur and maybe top 50 overall.
ST: What have you actually done this year to get ready for Kona?
Alex: I have trained steadily and consistently making sure that I don’t over extend myself. More importantly because I am busy with med school and training I concentrate on the daily details to recover (proper nutrition, adequate sleep, yoga/stretching) and being able to go out and train again day after day. I also spent the month of September in Durham, NC where it was nice and hot!
ST: What is your athletic background?
Alex: Growing up I did gymnastics for 13 years, which I think was a great background for my other sport adventures down the road. I was involved in a number of sports in high school, most notably I competed on the summer swim team as well as played lacrosse. In college I played water polo and ran recreationally but was never very dedicated. In fact Ashley used to drag me to the gym with her in college.
ST: What do you do to recover from an Ironman versus a shorter distance?
Alex: To recover from an Ironman I take 10-14 days off, as in completely off no training just relaxing and taking very good care of my body, stretching, perfect nutrition and mentally resting. To recover from a shorter race I usually take a few days of light training load usually involving swimming and biking, and then incorporating running by the 3rd or 4th day after a race. Usually the better rested I am going into a race, the less time it takes to recover afterward. I recover faster with each successive year I have been involved in the sport and, as with many triathletes, I recover faster toward the end of the season when my fitness is the highest.
ST: You actually had a very memorable event a couple days after Kona. Can you tell us about that?
Alex: I did! I got married three days after the Ironman at a beautiful beach just outside of Kona. It was great to have my family and Ashley’s family there to not only attend our wedding, but be able to see me race. As amazing as my race was getting married to Ashley was even more incredible! She has always been amazingly supportive of my triathlon career and I could not race at any level without her support. She understands my taper moods and why I need to get up at 5 in the morning to train and definitely keeps me well nourished! So I decided I better hurry up and marry her before I turn pro!! ☺
ST: In addition to racing you are also following a non athletic career path. Can you tell us about that?
Alex: I am a 4th year medical student at the University Of Vermont College Of Medicine. I have wanted to be a doctor since I was in middle school, perhaps even earlier and I know that I will eventually return to medicine. I began medical school right after college and a buddy of mine expressed his desire to race in a triathlon. He convinced me to train and race with him. We did a sprint distance triathlon together and I was hooked. Being able to take my medical knowledge and apply it to my triathlon career as both an athlete and a coach is really enjoyable. I have decided that after I graduate in May of ’08 I will take a few years to train and race as a pro triathlete. I am only young once and I really want to see how far I can go in the sport of triathlon. Ultimately I will return to medicine and work as a sports medicine doctor in the future.
ST: What are your racing plans for 2008?
Alex: Honestly, I’m not really sure yet. It is nice to have to luxury as a pro to sign up last minute and my wife is currently applying to residency programs, so we won’t know where we will be living after May until March! Where we end up could effect which racings I end up doing. Right now, I’m pretty sure California 70.3, Ironman Lake Placid are on the schedule and definitely Kona (if I qualify), but other than that…we shall see. I think I will race in a number of the 70.3 series, some local races and perhaps one other Ironman.
ST: What is your favorite race event anywhere and why?
Alex: Although it may be a little cliché I have to say Kona. There is a level of intensity and excitement in the air that is unlike any other race I have ever been to. Although getting to HI from the east coast it quite a trek, it’s well worth it!
ST: Do you have any favorite workouts?
Alex: There is no single workout which I would call my favorite, but I really enjoy sub-threshold sets on the bike, especially when they are over! ☺ Although they really hurt I love knowing and feeling how my body is able to respond to that kind of training stimuli.
ST: What foods do you like?
Alex: Now that is a tough question! I really love a lot of different foods, but I think that any kind of fruit, Oatmeal, almond butter, sweet potatoes and dark chocolate covered ginger top the list.
ST: Any music you particularly favor?
Alex: Although I might get made fun of for it, I must admit I love 80’s hair bands, Bon Jovi, Guns & Roses, etc. They really get me pumped for a hard set or before a race. That being said my music tastes are very eclectic ranging from Rascal Flats to Outkast.
ST: What do you like about the sport of triathlon or the people in it?
Alex: I never get bored training for triathlon, the simple fact that there are three sports keeps training interesting. In addition because there are three sports, there is always something new to improve upon. In terms of people in the sport, for the most part, many are very dedicated and driven, but at the same time approachable and down to earth. This predominant personality type in the triathlon world makes participating in a race a great social event as well as great physical challenge.
ST: What is your biggest pet peeve about triathlon or the people in it?
Alex: Drafting and doping!! I really have no respect for those that think they are above the rules and aren’t willing to put in the hard work to succeed on a level playing field.
ST: Do you have any special tips for other age group athletes?
Alex: I think that racing as an amateur in triathlon is a really great experience. It always encourages you to push yourself and see how far you can go. But at the same time, there are other responsibilities in life and it’s important not to let triathlon totally take over but to allow it to augment the other parts of your life, not detract. Of course, I have made the choice to let triathlon totally take over as of this May so, really, what do I know!? ☺
Some highlights of Alex's 2007 season:
1st overall amateur athlete, Ford Ironman Hawaii, 9:00:09
1st overall, Duke Liver Center Half, 4:13:34
1st overall, Ironman Lake Placid, 9:16:02
1st overall, Tinman Triathlon, 4:05:03
1st overall, Mooseman Triathlon, 4:06:11