Hanging with Dan Hedgecock
Written by: Herbert Krabel
Date: Tue Mar 26 2013
ST: Thank you for your time Dan.
Dan: Thank you for the interview, I love Slowtwitch and am excited to be a part of it.
ST: Are you more of a home page reader or a forum lurker?
Dan: Mostly a home page reader, but I love to stir the pot and get people riled up when I can. I laugh at how aggressive a lot of the people on the forums are. I think a lot of people take themselves and this sport way too seriously.
ST: Well, on a more serious note then how is the 2013 season preparation going?
Dan: Very good. I spent the winter training in Clermont FL. I live in Minnesota, so the winters are challenging. I just got home today and there is still enough snow on the ground to go cross-country skiing tomorrow. My main goal pre season was to get my swim to at least passably decent. Iíve still got work to do, but when I drove down to Florida I couldnít even swim workouts on a 1:20 base. Now on most days I can semi-comfortably swim on a 1:15 base. Weíll see how that work pays off in open water this summer. For me, until I can move my swim from 20 minutes to mid 18s it doesnít even feel like Iím in the race.
ST: Is anyone helping you with your swim?
Dan: I don't have a single swim coach that I work with on a consistent basis. I read everything I can find on swimming and watch a lot of videos online. While I was in Clermont Sara McLarty and Nate Korteum both helped me identify technique flaws.
ST: Did they think those flaws would be reasonably simple to correct?
Dan: Yeah, standard runner turned swimmer flaws: tight upper body, dropping elbow, kick timing. All things that require attention and patience.
Dan: Yes, I try to do my hard workouts with people and my easy days alone. When I swim with faster people I always swim faster and swimming alone on easy days lets me recover at my pace without getting caught up in being competitive.
ST: Did the Clermont race go as planned?
Dan: Yes, I came out of the water right on the tail end of the first pack, which put me in good position coming off the bike to run up front. Iíve been able to get in good running this winter and was glad to see that pay off in a race. I love the draft legal style and wish I was a fast enough swimmer to seriously consider it, but those guys are just swimming so fast. On paper it looks really fast, but when you get into the water with 75 guys swimming on top of each other you realize itís on another level.
ST: How much time did you spend there?
Dan: I drove down the first week of December and I just returned to Minneapolis today.
ST: How did you work that out with your job at Gear West?
Dan: It actually worked out well for both of us. I only work part time and there are a number of full time employees. Because the winter season is much slower than the summer the full time employees have the shop pretty much covered and they don't really need me.
ST: We assume you are content with your 2012 season.
Dan: Absolutely. I made a lot of progress on the bike and in the water and saw those gains in my races. Sometimes you find yourself training at one level but racing at a slower level and that can be frustrating. But I found the right mix of training and racing last year and was very happy with winning Elite Du Nationals and the Hy-Vee amateur championship.
ST: Why do you think duathlon gets so little respect?
Dan: I donít understand it. I think many people donít think itís as challenging as triathlon, which is true in the sense that you only have two sports to train for. But on the other hand, the hardest multi-sport races I have done are hands down duathlons. After the Powerman in Alabama last year I had to walk down hills for a week because my legs were so sore. Iíve never felt like that after any other race. Same story after Duathlon Worlds.
Dan: Thereís nothing sexier than being encased in 5mm of neoprene from neck to ankle.
ST: What was your highlight of that year?
Dan: Winning the amateur race at Hy-Vee. Iíve never had a payday anywhere close to that and it was a bit of a dream come true. In college I won one cross country race and got a duffel bag for a prize. Winning a car and a new bike let me think to myself that maybe this is all actually going to work out.
ST: Do you have to return that MINI Cooper?
Dan: Luckily it wasnít a lease, which is good because Iíve already driven it 10k miles.
ST: What color is it and have you given it the stick?
Dan: It's blue with a white roof. It is a stick, I love driving manual.
ST: I actually meant, have you driven it hard?
Dan: In that case... not really. I honestly wouldn't know how to do it right. Although I did just get the first speeding ticket of my life while in Florida, which was just great.
ST: You work at Gear West with Kevin O'Connor and David Thompson. Do they challenge you at work and outside?
Dan: Kevin and David are both relentless workers. Itís exhausting. Whenever Iím with them I feel like Iím dragging ass. Those guys can train hard in the morning, put in 8 hours of non-stop work on their feet at the shop and then go train hard again afterwards. They have really challenged my concept of what "working hard" is.
ST: If you ride or run too fast for them, do they make you work longer hours to keep you in check?
Dan: David has dropped me while riding on back roads in the middle of nowhere with no idea how to get home, but he came back. And everyone at the shop has a really ruthless sense of humor, so no oneís head ever gets too big for their own good. We jokingly say that no one ever leaves work feeling good about themselves.
Dan: Currently undecided. I had thought to remain amateur through the summer to try and win another big pay day at Hy-Vee before going pro this fall, but I recently found out there wonít be a car for the amateurs this year. So, Iíll probably try to race St. Anthonyís as my first pro race, unless theyíve already given out all their racks to all the superstars that will be there this year.
ST: Should you get in, what will be the goal?
Dan: I always set process focused goals instead of outcome focused goals. On race day I want to race to my utmost ability and see how that compares rather than saying 'I want to be top ten'. So my goal would be: Get out strong in the swim and try to get on a pack, keep my elbows up during the swim and keep my arms and legs connected, don't go out too fast on the bike and drive my knees to pedal in circles, run tall, keep my tempo high and drive my stride with my arms. If I do all of those things the entire race the results will take care of themselves.
ST: That sounds reasonable. Is there anything else we should know?
Dan: I have a Bachelor of Arts in English and Philosophy from Mizzou and I wore a suit and tie and shaved every day for a year working in a cubicle as a baby care business analyst at Target headquarters and if Iím not training Iím hopefully backpacking in the mountains.
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