Hanging out with Beth Walsh
Written by: Herbert Krabel
Date: Thu Oct 04 2012
Slowtwitch: Thank you for your time Beth.
Beth Walsh: And I appreciate you taking time to talk to me!
ST: And of course a big congrats on your win at Superfrog.
ST: This is your maiden Pro year, right?
Beth: Yes, sir. I did my first pro race in April 2012 at Oceanside 70.3
ST: How has your season been prior to this event?
Beth: Not to sound like I didnít believe in myself, but Iíve actually been pretty surprised about my rookie pro season. When I took the jump from racing as an amateur, I tried not to put too much pressure on myself, as Iíve seen lots of first year pros explode or implode. I tried to enjoy the process this year and work on establishing a balance between triathlon and my job as a school psychologist. I have a very long way to go, but have been really happy with my results and progress this year.
Three weeks ago, I placed 2nd at Ironman Wisconsin with a 2:59 marathon and a time of 9:38. I was pretty proud of that. Other 2012 highlights were 3rd at Hawaii 70.3, 4th at Timberman 70.3, 6th at Ironman France, 1st at the Orange County International Triathlon and a few other 70.3 Top 10 finishes.
ST: So where does the runner-up spot in Wisconsin rank compared to the win at Superfrog?
Beth: Runner up (first loser?) at Ironman Wisconsin was honestly much more hard fought and representative of my performance when Iím fresh than Superfrog was. I was battling girls all day long and ran my way from 6th place off the bike to 2nd place at the finish. I ran 14 miles stride for stride with Charisa Wernick who races for Zoot/Cannondale with me and is a local friend & training partner. We pushed each other to new levels and both PRd our Ironman marathons.
Donít get me wrong, Superfrog was not easy, and itís always nice to win, but Wisconsin was pretty special to me because I put so much into that race in my preparation and was able to follow through on race day.
Beth: Well, first I waited to see if I could move my legs after Ironman Wisconsin - which was on September 9th. I knew I wouldnít be recovered fully for Superfrog, but I am good friends with the race director, Mitch Hall, and Iíve always wanted to race Superfrog and heard great things about it. In prior years I had competed in Kona as an amateur, so the timing was always poor as the events are just 2 weeks apart. Also, I live just outside San Diego so the prospect of sleeping in my own bed and just putting in a solid training day hopefully for some cash seemed like a smart idea. I signed up the Tuesday before the race.
ST: How well did you know the competition or does that not really matter?
Beth: I hadnít heard of any of the other girls who were racing. It didnít seem as though any of the other local pros were racing - which was somewhat surprising since there was a pretty big prize purse for a local race. Normally I show up to race and inevitably a local 'ringer' like Lesley Paterson or my Zoot/Cannondale teammate Heather Jackson shows up. So, at Superfrog, I thought my chances of winning were pretty good and I never say that.
ST: Why do you think the Pro field was reasonably light?
Beth: Itís hard to say, but I think a half Ironman, especially one where youíre digging through sand on the run, is not to be taken lightly. Although there was prize money, pros also have to weigh in recovery time from a race and opportunities for sponsor bonuses. Many sponsors donít offer bonuses for local races, so a pro may be financially better off traveling to a 70.3 or Rev3 event to earn that cash. Also, Iím not sure if even a lot of locals were aware of the prize money at Superfrog. I think they found out this year thoughÖsecretís out.
ST: Take us through your race if you could.
Beth: Honestly, it felt like a very uncomfortable training day as I was still feeling some heavy legs from Wisconsin. The swim was harsh with some pretty big surf, and with 2 loops, you had to make it out past the overhead waves 2 times. Not my fave, but I kept reminding myself to be professional and do my job. I must admit, I went into survival mode trying to navigate the waves and the current. The bike is flat and pretty fast. So flat that I ran a Zipp disc (which I hardly ever do) on my Slice. I didnít have too much sparkle but I tried to keep my feet on the gas and make it to the run. The run is one of the hardest 13.1 miles Iíve ever done and the times reflect that. About 6 miles of the Superfrog run was in soft sand along the beach at high tide. It was not normal! I knew during the run that I was the lead woman and I didnít see any girls chasing me down. I ran comfortably hard and told myself that if anyone happened to run up, I would take Ďem on. It was nice to be able to cheer on the service men out there representing our Armed forces and thank the volunteers.
Beth: Yeah, you would think that, huh? I actually have a pretty significant fear of waves that gives me anxiety even talking about it. So much that my only ever race DNF was at Carlsbad Sprint Triathlon in 2011 where I panicked and didnít make it past the overhead breaks. Funny that I couldnít finish a sprint but have never, knock on wood, considered dropping out of a half or full IM. After Carlsbad, I didnít sign up for a single surf-entry race and yes, I live in a town with boatloads of Ďem, until Superfrog over a year later. My Superfrog swim time this year was my slowest half Ironman swim of all time (33 minutes) and my only swim this year over 30 minutes.
ST: So if you had to do either that swim or that run again right now, which one would it be?
Beth: Run. I would do the run twice before I would repeat one loop of the swim. But thatís just me. Most folks were just fine in the swim and the surf in Coronado is not typically that big.
ST: Did the kids at the elementary school where you work give you a nice welcome when you came back on Monday?
Beth: I try to keep my triathlon life on the down low at my ďotherĒ job. When Iím at work as a school psychologist, I focus on the kids, families and teachers. Some of the teachers had heard I raced with a famous guy though and since I was in the same sentence as him they thought that was kind of a big deal.
ST: So what is next?
Beth: Well, my ďAĒ race is next Thursday - the Kona underpants run, where Iíll be helping the organizers raise money for Hawaiian charities. Then Iíll scale things back and race Austin 70.3 on 10/28 and Ironman Cozumel on 11/25. I want to qualify for Kona & Vegas in 2013 year so Iím getting an early start on the points situation with some fall races.
Beth: Betty Designs & Wattie Ink have outfits for our ďteamĒ dialed. Iíve seen pictures and can tell you there will be glitter involved.
ST: Why Cozumel versus any other late season race?
Beth: It was really a choice between Cozumel & Ironman Arizona, which are both P2000 races. I thought the conditions in Coz suited me more. Iím a fan of the heat and I feel as though I donít slow down as much as others when itís hot. Basically, I can play the race of attrition better there. Also, my mom, who just completed her 2nd 70.3 at age 61, is a fan of triathlon and was game for a nice warm Thanksgiving vacation. She lives in New Hampshire.
ST: Anything else we should know?
Beth: Iím shocked we got this far and you didnít ask me about Lance.
ST: Who is that?
Beth: I think he was a bicycle racer back in the day.
ST: Anything else about you?
Beth: I forgot it was school picture day today and should have skipped that last 400 in the pool to dry my hair. Sorry, mom.
Oh, and I started a blog 5 years ago before I had ever done a triathlon called ďCalifornia TrainingĒ. Itís been a chronicle of going from a complete newbie to where I am now and I try to keep it real. You can click on it from my website: bethwalshracing.com
The 34th Superfrog Triathlon attracted 800 entries to the Coronado peninsula south of the Navy SEALS training center and Lance Armstrong and Beth Walsh grabbed the wins at this long running Half Ironman event. 10.01.12
The Superfrog Triathlon is the longest continuously running half Ironman distance event and here is a photo gallery by Timothy Carlson. 10.01.12