Rachel Ross is juggling her 3 children, a part time job and getting ready to defend her Kona age group title from last year. We caught up with the Slowtwitcher known in our forum as "Runlikeamother".
ST: Rachel, you won your age group in Kona last year, are you ready to defend your title?
Rachel: I was blessed with a serious case of beginner’s luck last year. It was my first Ironman and I just wanted to finish smiling. The AG win was not at all on my mind. It’s a little more intense this year going in with something to live up to. I’m healthy and feeling much fitter than last year. That said, there are some very talented 30-34 year old women racing and I know that anything can happen on race day. The plan is just to go out and enjoy the day again and hope the performance follows.
ST: You actually have 3 kids and a part time job, how do you juggle training, work and family?
Rachel: My husband Ramsey is a rock star. The kids are 3, 5 & 7 now, so they go to school, and I can usually fit work & a short workout in and still pick them up mid-afternoon in time to start running around doing the ballet/swimming lesson/baseball rounds. I almost always get a pre-dawn workout in, and my husband and I trade off on the evening workouts. He’s training for his first marathon in December, so the weekends take lots of planning, but we make it work.
ST: What does your family think about your activities?
Rachel: The kids enjoy the races, and my husband is quite supportive. Certainly there are times they would prefer I didn’t spandex-up and disappear with my bike for hours every Sunday, but we still have time for fun in addition to the training time. My parents are coming out to Kona this year, and are the reason I went and raced the Chicago Accenture Tri in their town this year. I’m the oldest of five kids and now that we’re all through college I think they thought the long boring days of spectatorship were over. But then I found triathlon.
ST: What is your athletic background?
Rachel: Growing up I ran a little, played all the tall girl sports (badly – zero coordination) and surfed some, but my primary sport was paddling outrigger canoes, which I did for 10 years. I tried rowing at Cal, but didn’t fall in love with it and just ran recreationally to keep in shape. I did my first race after Sky was born in 2004. I was immediately hooked. I’ve always been comfortable running, but the cycling took a while. I still haven’t quite learned how to swim. Maybe next year.
ST: Do you feel it is an advantage for you that you live, work and train in Honolulu, Hawaii?
Rachel: For Kona, sure, it’s an advantage. I’m acclimated. I can take advantage of fare wars and hop over to Kona for a two-day training trip. It does limit the number of mainland races I can do due to travel expenses and time, so I don’t know if I could call it an advantage to an attempt at being a well-rounded triathlete. It’s certainly nice to be able to go out and break up the monotony of swimming with a little dose of shark fear in the gorgeous ocean here. But our roads are not cyclist-friendly, and I often opt for the trainer for the shorter stuff just to stay out of traffic. I suppose it has its pros and cons like every place people train.
ST: What have you done this year to get ready for Kona?
Rachel: I raced my second long distance race in April – Strongman Japan in Miyakojima. Then I relaxed a little and did some shorter races, like USAT Nationals, the Hawaii 70.3, and Chicago. I’ve spent much more time on my bike this year, and also upgraded to a Trek TTX courtesy of my friends at Timex. The combination has me riding a great deal stronger than last year. For Kona 2006 I rode 100+ four times prior to race day. This year my coach, Raul Boca, had me get twice as many 100+ rides under my belt. Fortunately two of my best girlfriends are racing as well, so I had company. I’ve packed on a few pounds since last year too, but I like to lie to myself and say its all muscle. We’ll see if that has any effect.
ST: You had the 5th fastest run among age group women last year in 3:27:52, barely a minute behind the fastest time. Do you think you can run even faster?
Rachel: I ran 3:23 at Strongman, with a serious bonk to start. I spent the first 10K there recovering and eating everything in sight, so I’m hoping that if I do better with my nutrition, I can improve on that this year. I ran very conservatively in Kona because I was afraid of the distance since it was my first time racing an Ironman. I fell into my training pace and just stayed there. This year I intend to push the pace a little, maybe gab a little less along the way.
ST: Do you have any thoughts on who will win the Pro women’s race in Kona?
There are too many incredible athletes to choose from. I like Sam McGlone, she’s a great athlete and I think she’s a contender. I’d also love to see Lisa Bentley win it. I saw her training out at the energy lab a couple of weeks ago and her pace was incredible. And she had the energy to smile and cheer us on.
ST: What is your favorite race event anywhere and why?
Rachel: At this very moment, I would have to say Kona. I have never had more fun in an event than I did during the 2006 race. I loved the camaraderie and enjoyed every minute of my day. My face hurt at the finish line from the 10 hours of smiling. OK, nine. I don’t smile while swimming, I’m too focused on not drowning.
ST: What is your favorite food?
Rachel: Peanut butter M&Ms are the splurge of choice around here lately. If I don’t bring home a bag, my husband does.
ST: Do you have any special tips for other age group athletes?
Rachel: Hmm… Just keep on juggling & having a good time out there.
You can catch up with Rachel regularly on her Team Timex blog