Jodie Stimpson is glad that 2016 is over (despite big wins in Abu Dhabi and Mooloolaba) and this gritty Brit has her focus now set on 2017 and beyond. She started her season in Abu Dhabi and was narrowly beaten by Andrea Hewitt. But there are no regrets.
Slowtwitch: Thank you for your time Jodie.
Jodie Stimpson: Thank you for the interview
ST: What are you currently up to before you leave for the Gold Coast event?
Jodie: I got back from Abu Dhabi on Sunday night and had an easy day on Monday, then straight back into the normal training on the Tuesday. So it was straight back to the routine to try and get ready for leaving for the Gold Coast.
ST: After the fine start in Abu Dhabi I assume that you will be going into Gold Coast with a positive mindset.
Jodie: Well kind of. The positive mindset that things are going in the right direction is there, but there is still a lot of improvement I need to make and it is still very early season but of course happy with how things have started.
ST: Abu Dhabi was your first race of 2017, but typically you are doing some other events before you start a WTS race. What was different this year?
Jodie: There were a lot of changes for me this year. I changed coaches and that meant a massive training change, and also location being UK based which I haven't been in 8 years. Racing wise Abu Dhabi was my first triathlon of 2017 and that is not normal, as I usually would have done some sort of triathlon before then.
ST: Did that impact your confidence or attitude?
Jodie: The first race of the year is always very nerve wrecking with everyone in the total unknown. No one really knows how their winter training has gone until you have done that first race. Thus confidence is totally unknown, attitude wise I was excited to just get out there and race – which I am going into every race. It is what we all train for!
ST: I believe you like the challenging course in Abu Dhabi and word has it that you wished that there would be more tricky ones.
Jodie: Yes, I have always loved doing technical bike courses but over this winter I have had the chance to work with power on the bike. It is the first time I have used it as a training tool and that has really helped get me stronger on the bike. So over the winter I have been riding my bike a lot more. Coming back from a running injury last year gave me the opportunity to do so, but with my knew program I am cycling a lot more than I have done, so its given me more strength to enjoy the technically bike course like in Abu Dhabi.
ST: How about that 2013 Kitzbühl race?
Jodie: Of course I loved this race and it gives me great memories to look back on. Training in the Alps in Morzine where I was based at the time really helped this race.
ST: Do you think that race was just logistically too much for the ITU?
Jodie: I haven't heard that but to be honest I don't know. Loads of people, athletes and people who watched it want it to happen again including me of course, but honestly I don't know.
ST: Do you miss Morzine?
Jodie: I spent the last 3 years in Morzine during the European section of the WTS series and it is an amazing place filled with stunning cycling hills and valleys. The running is amazing and there is an indoor 25m and an outdoor 50m swimming pool. They have a lovely group out there called BUZZ triathlon and that is a triathlon company ran by a lovely couple. Every week they had a different group of triathletes come out to train so there was always the pleasure of seeing [different] triathletes out there. So yes I definitely miss it.
ST: One would think that the High Performance Loughborough Centre would have great facilities.
Jodie: It has amazing facilities but I have never been in the UK long enough to use them. They have a 50m swimming pool, a gym and the labs are amazing and the cycling and running is great here.
ST: What comes to your mind when you think about the 2016 season?
ST: No other thoughts, or nothing positive?
Jodie: Sorry, that was a negative response wasn't it? So the year started of amazing with the 2 wins in Abu Dhabi and Mooloolaba but then soon got smacked in the face with not getting the spot in Rio. I spent the rest of the year an emotion wreck really. I had a few great races for my German team EJOT and still had some good WTS races for example Hamburg [4th], but they were short lived highs and didn't last. All I wanted was Rio, and then I got hit with the 5cm tear in the Achilles. Thus missing out on the battles for the WTS series and the Island House Triathlon. So yes there were some good moments in 2016, but it is a year I was glad was over.
ST: Were you able to watch the Olympic triathlon or did you occupy yourself otherwise?
Jodie: I did. Yes it was hard to watch of course but had a great group of friends around me at the time. Cam and Lisa were there with me in Boulder and I was also lucky enough to join the Siri Lindley training group with Rebecca Keat, and they really helped me get through a tough period.
ST: Are you healthy now?
Jodie: Yes I'm happy to say I am healthy and training has not been interrupted. So I am happy to say it has been consistent over the winter. It was a slower build up than I am use to and I am still building in my new program.
ST: Who is your new coach?
Jodie: My new coach is Adam Elliott who is the head coach of the high performance center at Loughborough University.
ST: Back to the recent Abu Dhabi race. Talk about the swim.
Jodie: This is the main thing I have been focusing on and even though I was still 40 seconds behind the leader I felt like I had an ok swim. Of course this needs to get better, but as much as I want everything to happen know I have got to trust the process which believe me is tough
ST: Where you surprised about the 40 seconds gap?
Jodie: I hoped for a smaller one but thought there would for sure be a gap with a small field there is no where to hide. No string of athletes to try and hold on to and there was a big bunch of strong swimmers in the field.
ST: I believe you and Andrea Hewitt were fully on the throttle to close the gap during the bike segment.
Jodie: Going into the race I was always going to bike hard no matter where I came out of the swim so yes it was in the plan to be aggressive
ST: When other athletes just “take a free ride” does that bother you in any shape or form?
Jodie: Yes of course, especially when the race is up the road! I'm not happy to race for 30th. Why save for the run when your not going to be in the race anyway.
ST: I think you are riding a new Specialized S-Works Amira. Have you had much time on it prior to the race?
Jodie: I have been riding the Specialized Amira Comp all winter and have loved the new bike. So when I switched over to the race bike I didn't have to change anything and that was great. I only rode the new bike a few times, but I didn't need to [more often] with me just coming of the Comp.
ST: What about that run?
Jodie: The run is the race was a very bizarre thing. I went out and it was in the plan to just find my way a little for 5k but non of the girls wanted to take the lead and that was just bizarre to me. My run training hasn't been where I wanted it to be due to coming back from injury, so I wanted to just see where I was at and to be honest how long I could hold on for. But then the pace was just, well lets call it tactical, so I just moved through and when I got to the hill I was trying to put pressure on as the other girls seemed to be suffering at this point of the run. But coming into the later section Andrea was the strongest. Going onto the last lap and with 3 of us left I tried to push on up the hill and they were both suffering, but I didn't commit enough. Lack of confidence and the unknown and then the final section of the run my coach shouted 200 on the track so I went. I thought I had it and was at full throttle and then Andrea comes whizzing past in the final meters. I had nothing left. If I had to lose to anyone I'm glad it was her.
ST: Did your confidence increase during the run?
Jodie: I felt that I was running in good form as the race went on, but just trying to focus on every minute really as it was my first 10k.
ST: Initially it looked like you were going to win, but Andrea Hewitt found another gear. When you charged towards that finish did you notice where she was in space?
Jodie: I thought I had her and had no idea where she was. Sara was still there and possibly Racheal had come back. As you can see I'm still working on my sprint, but going up against Andrea in a sprint its going to be tough. I was at full throttle when she came powering through.
ST: You were super gracious in defeat.
Jodie: Andrea and I had been working together all day on the bike and then on the run. She didn't just sit behind me. It was a great battle and I was beaten by the better woman on the day, but I gave 100%. What more can you do? I have got to be happy with that.
ST: Obviously you would have preferred to win.
Jodie: I didn't think I would be so happy with 2nd but where I have come from and how the race panned out I was!
ST: Is there anything else we should know?
Jodie: Just that the Abu Dhabi new course was brilliant and I had so much fun racing round the F1 circuit. I look forward to returning. Thank you to everyone who has supported me, and all the messages I have received since Abu Dhabi have been great. Thank you!