A chat with Tim Reed post Kona 2016

Aussie Tim Reed had a superb 2016 season highlighted by a win at the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships in Mooloolaba, Australia. Reed then went on to Kona where unfortunately the wheels came off.

ST: Thanks for your time Tim.

Tim: My pleasure. I feel a little embarrassed doing an interview after Kona given there was so many pros that did brilliantly or pushed through it on a tough day when I aborted mission but hey, I guess any publicity is good publicity right?

ST: You do not need to feel embarrassed, I wanted to interview you whether you placed high in the race or not. Plus in my view only dopers etc do not deserve interviews.

Tim: I like that view a lot.

ST: Regarding Kona, how is the recovery going both mentally and physically?

Tim: Physically there wasn’t a lot to recovery from in regards to the race although I was pretty wiped out in general from the whole lead up so I’ve had a very restful week and am starting to feel good again. Mentally, I’m trying to channel my disappointment into motivation for next year.

ST: Talk about your preparation for Kona.

Tim: It’s a tricky mix as Matt [Dixon] and I were trying to balance my aspirations for a podium at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships as well as a solid day in Kona. The preparation prior to 70.3 Worlds was very mixed which strangely tends to work out well for me. Having sickness and other issues get in the way of the very fatiguing training needed for Kona might have been a blessing for Sunshine Coast but meant we were a little light on what we had planned for Kona. Because of that we took a very light week after Sunshine Coast and then I hit the training pretty hard. All in all, I think we did a very sound preparation given the circumstances. I think my biggest mistake was simply overdoing the taper once I got to Kona 10 days out.

ST: That last week before the race how did you feel and what were you up to?

Tim: Matt allows a lot of flexibility within my program because he respects that having a young family can mean some days you’re tired and other days you feel great, so he let’s me adjust accordingly within reason. Once I got to Kona I didn’t have my family with me until the day before the race so I really pushed the training relishing in all the extra recovery time. I did a more than prescribed and felt really good for 4-5 days and then from there I felt really tired. A very amateur mistake but the Kona nerves seems to have got in the way of my common sense. Tapering is truly an art form. I did pretty much the same taper as the 70.3 World Champs but it had a totally different effect because the weeks leading into the taper and the environmental conditions in which I was completing the taper were very different.

The day before the race, I picked up my family and took them to our new accommodation. Walked up the short stairs to our room and felt exhausted from the effort of getting up the steps. I had an inkling then that I was in trouble.

ST: As someone who seems to really have dialed the 70.3 distance and came to Kona as the 70.3 World Champion, how much pressure did you feel to race the big show in Kona?

Tim: Matt and others thought that I would have very little pressure as I had ticked off a great year including a regional championship, an Ironman win and a world title but that’s not how I operate. I put enormous pressure on myself every time I stand on the start line regardless of the event. It was certainly nice though that it was purely the pressure I was putting on myself. I didn’t feel financial or sponsorship pressure that I could have been there if I had not raced well prior to Kona.

ST: Do you still get nervous on race morning?

Tim: Race morning is rarely an issue for me. I tend to feel really calm and I’m just glad the night is over and finally we can get the show on the road. I hate the night before races though! It’s probably the thing I dislike most about triathlon and I won’t miss it at all once I’m retired.

ST: Talk about the swim.

Tim: It was hard. When you’re a front pack ‘hanger on’ so much of your swim is about your start. Get tangled next to a swimmer of lesser or equal ability and you can spend the first km fighting it out for space. Get a good start and have feet early with nobody either side of you fighting for those feet and it leaves so much more in the tank for later. I made the front group but only just after some threshold solo time when the group split on a few occasions.

ST: Who was around you when you started the bike?

Tim: Great athletes everywhere. I was probably 20 seconds down after transition but that didn’t stress me out at all as normally I can shut down early gaps quite easily.

ST: When on the bike did you realize that you were in trouble?

Tim: From the moment I started pedaling. I was stuck at about 110-115 HR from the get go. I could barely hold high zone 2 power. It was really frustrating as normally I spend the first 50kms of an Ironman trying to hold back because of the adrenalin and freshness it’s easy to creep up to 70.3 power but it was the total opposite experience. The annoying thing is that I could take 6 weeks off cycling and get on a bike and hold Ironman power for at least 100-120kms before I would explode magnificently from lack of training and yet when you’re a little over trained you’re actually worse off then when you’ve done almost no training.

ST: So did you basically just get passed through - back? Does this mean front to back?

Tim: Ha yep. It wouldn’t have been long until the 65-70 year old age group were coming past.

ST: Where did you pull out?

Tim: I started asking cars if they could fit me in the car very early on. At the turnaround point Andreas Raelert’s brother and coach were kind enough to fit me in their car. I then fell asleep most of the way back to Kona which is very unusual for me.

ST: Did you feel regret after?

Tim: I felt a lot of regret about the 10 days leading in but no regret about pulling out so early. It would have been a very long day and getting through it likely would have ended my season and there are a few more races I really want to do this year. In saying that, I was so impressed with the pros that finished it off despite having rough days themselves. I made a commitment when watching them that I would never DNF this race again.

ST: But looking back at the whole season you ought to be pretty happy.

Tim: Yep for sure, it’s been a really great year. Kona would have been the icing on the cake but perhaps I was being too greedy.

ST: Do you kiss that 70.3 Worlds trophy before you go to bed, or have made more space next to it for more such trophies?

Tim: Haha, my trophies all live in my garage and there is plenty of room for more. On a weekly basis I make sure I take the time to photograph the trophy from a different angle and email it to Lionel Sanders. I feel it is my personal duty to keep his motivation up for next year. I don’t enjoy it but it’s a burden I have to bear.

ST: The 70.3 World Champs in Chattanooga should benefit a weaker swimmer.

Tim: I’m pretty sure Chattanooga will be made an out and back course for World Champs. Regardless I’m reasonably confident that when I’m fit I’ll make the front pack especially over 1.9kms so I don’t consider myself a ‘weak’ swimmer, just not a pace setter.

ST: Hey, I was talking about Lionel, not you.

Tim: Ha gotchya. My swimming self consciousness jumping to conclusions.

ST: So what is next?

Tim: I’m off to Island House Tri. I’m really looking forward to racing most of the best guys across ITU, 70.3 and Ironman in a super exciting format. Then I’ll finish off the year at Ironman 70.3 Thailand.

ST: Anything else we should know?

Tim: Not that I can think of. Cheers!