A few words with Matt Chrabot

A win at Miami International and the runner-up spot at Lifetime Fitness Triathlon were quite nice, but qualifying for the 2012 Olympic Games in London is on the mind of Matt Chrabot and thus the ITU Dextro Energy WCS events really matter. Chrabot had a few words with slowtwitch before leaving for Europe.

Slowtwitch: Matt, are you already getting your gear ready for the next Europe trip?

Matt: Yes and no. Yes - because I just received some new pieces of luggage in the mail and I’m halfway packed. No - because I’m only halfway packed because I never fully unpacked from the last trip.

ST: Is being half unpacked part of the life of a Pro triathlete?

Matt: Well I guess it really depends on how much you're racing. Half unpacked in the middle of a busy season is one thing; half unpacked in the middle of the off-season is another. I've been in both situations...regularly

ST: The WCS event in Kitzbühel is just around the corner. Do you feel ready?

Matt: You know when you’re racing at the highest level everyone shows up “feeling” ready. Feeling fast, strong, and ready could be much different that “being.” We’ll only find out who was really ready and those faking it on race day. My body doesn’t exactly feel ready right now, but isn’t race day the only day that matters?

ST: How does the venue in Kitzbühel suit you?

Matt: This is the third time I’m headed to the Austrian Alps to race there. Having been there before, I somewhat know what to expect. The bike course has changed a bit…more technical, less than the usual 8 laps, and a bit more climbing…never enough climbing for my taste though. It’ll be a cold one. The nightly lows seem like they are a few degrees above freezing. I don’t go to a race hoping the venue will suit me. Either I must adapt to the course and conditions, or the venue will get the best of me before my competitors do.

ST: But is there any other event/location you particularly like?

Matt: I’ve always had better races in Mexico. Hot, humid, and hilly is what I typically look for. Big bonus if there’s an ocean swim. The travel isn’t too far from the US either. I have the tendency to indulge myself in the Mexican culture when I’m there, so that might have something to do with it. Must be the beans and rice…or tequila…

ST: Do you actually get to enjoy tequila?

Matt: Sometimes. Depending on where I am in the season & how the race goes. I still always enjoy responsibly in more ways than one.

ST: After Kitzbuehl you are apparently staying in Paris until after the finals in Budapest. Where do you stay while in Paris and how does the life in France become you?

Matt: I’ll be staying in Poissy with fellow Americans, Jarrod Shoemaker and his wife Alicia; a small town just west of Paris. Jarrod and I race for the French Grand Prix team, Poissy Triathlon, and they have taken us in like family. Great places to swim, bike, and run. It’s a bit cooler than the south of France, but at least we won’t have to travel back and forth from the US. This late in the year, the long flights tend to eat away at you…

ST: Outside of training and being close to other events, do you enjoy the French lifestyle?

Matt: I haven't had much time to get the full experience of the French culture yet. I like my 12oz American coffee, but drinking 4 espressos a day is new to me.

ST: So for this season are you happier with the win at Miami or the second place at Lifetime Fitness?

Matt: If the swim in 2008 was slower, I would have the new course record in Miami. Going a 1:46 is a big deal early in the year. I haven’t been training on the bike as much most people might think in 2010, so both Lifetime and Miami’s results almost came as a surprise. Lifetime Fitness has a lot of history in our sport. All the great short course guys in the past 10 years have raced there. To come in runner up a few seconds from Matt Reed was a big honor. I would say Miami, mainly because it was more of a surprise to me!

ST: At this time you are the top ranked American in the Dextro Energy World Championship Series in 19th place. What will it take to move up more and secure that top American position?

Matt: Well actually Jarrod has moved up to the top spot. He is always consistent. Very tough to beat when he’s on form. As far as taking the top spot, I’m not so concerned with that as I am with performing consistently well myself.

ST: The new Olympic qualification process info just came out and we would love to hear your thoughts about it.

Matt: I haven’t seen any of the official criteria; just what was on the Twitter feeds. Some top 9 finishes I believe. Very tough. But when is qualifying for any US Olympic team in any sport easy? I’ve had one top 9 finish all year, 9th in Sydney to be exact. The qualification process is much different than in 2009. We are shooting for "top place" finishes rather than racing against fellow Americans. Might even see some guys strategically team up.

ST:  How is it possible that you only learned about the new qualification rules via Twitter?  

Matt: I could easily go look at the official document. As long as I understood the general gist of it for now, I won't lose any sleep over it. The bottom line is that whether knowing exactly what qualifications are or aren't won't affect my preparation in races the rest of 2010. I still have to take one race at a time & give it everything I've got.

ST: London 2012 is two years out but that’ll be here quite fast. Is that the big target on the horizon?

Matt: Oh man, that’s a huge target! It hurts knowing I could excel a little better in non-drafting races. Chasing the Olympic dream is one of the hardest things to do in all of sport. Lots of hard work, sacrifices, and persistence brings out the best and sometimes the worst in all of us.

ST: Still short stuff after London 2012?

Matt: I wouldn’t mind going after the Toyota Cup or some 70.3s. I probably would have raced Boulder 70.3 Sunday had I had better results in Madrid and London. I’m very curious about the longer stuff. The Ironman distances are a whole different beast though. I have the tendency to be aggressive when I train and race. I don’t have the kind of patience for that yet. In two years? I could be ready…

ST: How are things going for you in terms of sponsorship?

Matt: Racing on Blue Bicycles is the only thing set in stone. Otherwise I’m up for grabs at the end of the year!

ST: Do you have time to follow other sports?

Matt: I love to follow cycling. It’s a mainstream sport I can relate to and I admire their tenacity. Can’t fake it either. I watched the UFC matches last night. Pretty exciting.

ST: You said you like to be aggressive and you like the UFC. Is that another possible career?

Matt: Those guys are hardcore. I have a lot of respect for them. Every now and then a UFC guy will come here to the Olympic Training Center & train with the wrestlers.

ST: What about your diet?

Matt: For the past year, I experimented with a gluten free diet. After the race in London a few weeks ago, I had to look into other aspects of my diet when racing late in the afternoon….like how much fiber food has in it…

ST: Do we want to know more about the fiber food story?

Matt: Well, just know that too much or too little is time sensitive & could destroy your race.

ST: Any particular music you care for?

Matt: I’ve been listening to the Black Keys, Buddy Guy, and James Brown a lot lately. I mostly prefer to listen to anything I can jam along to. I don’t train with head phones unless I’m training indoors, but bands like the Offspring, Rise Against, and Them Crooked Vultures get me in the mood to haul ass.

ST: How well do you play the guitar?

Matt: I can play a handful of songs well. Not great or anything. Used to be in a high school garage band. Quit because of afternoon swim practices. For the guitar players with a keen eye, I own a Jackson SLS. I'm not a shredder, just like a smaller faster feeling fret board.

ST: What was the last book you read?

Matt: It’s been a few months since I’ve finished a book. Outside of Triathlon related news I read a lot of magazines like National Geographic, Time, and Newsweek on a regular basis. I enjoyed “Outliers” and “We Might as Well Win.”

ST: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Matt: That’s 2015! A year before the Olympics in Rio. I really don’t know. Racing towards Olympic Glory becomes addicting. Maybe I’ll be deep in the chess match of qualifying for the games. If the race organizers can come up with an exciting racecourse and forget about big city feel and pretty background scenery (hint, hint), I’ll definitely be in the hunt.
I like the non-drafting scene too, so you never know.

ST: Is there anything else we should know about you?

Matt: Yes, it’s “Matt Shär-bòt.”