Boulder resident Colin Laughery earned a pro card with his 4:06 effort at 70.3 New Orleans and now has to make a few decisions, and that includes if he actually will pull that trigger. But family matters most for this Speedo wearing age grouper.
Slowtwitch: How are you?
Colin Laughery: I am doing great. Spring is my favorite time of the year and weather has been good in Boulder, so things are looking up. How about you?
ST: Not too bad, but I did not earn a pro card in New Orleans.
Colin: Yeah, that was a surprising race. I didn’t expect it to happen so early in the season. I always wanted to see if I could actually do it, and whether I was actually going to take it was another thing. I accomplished it and that was a nice surprise, and New Orleans is a fun town.
ST: For those folks not familiar, what does it actually take to earn a pro card?
Colin: It is top 3 overall [age group] in a race with a prize purse of at least $20,000.
ST: Were you third?
Colin: There was a guy in my age group who went like 4:01, and then it was confusing for a while and I thought I was third, but the other guy in front of me was part of a relay team. So I think I was second and Ryan Giuliano was third.
ST: Well I guess for that scenario it did not really matter.
Colin: Secretly I wanted to win the amateur race to prove that I could win something, but second or third was ultimately what I was shooting for.
ST: Did you know the guys in your age group, or do you not pay attention to that?
Colin: Yeah, I actually have slowtwitch to thank because this is all sort of a DIY for me. I coached myself and learned pretty much anything through your website. You meet all these guys and know all the names through people who post, and on top of that I got to know people through Facebook. I knew Ryan Giuliano and he is a 2:20 marathoner, and I was scared of him going into that day. And I know you did something on Chris Borden, and I knew him, but he is an age group up. So those are the 2 guys I spotted
ST: But you did not know that Canadian guy who went 4:01 and won the age group overall.
Colin: No, and we could not really figure out who he was. I looked up some of his results and I think he was a runner at Wisconsin I think, basically a Division 1 runner about 10 years ago.
ST: He had a very nice bike split.
Colin: I did not really dig into it that much, but I think he went under 2:10.
ST: He went 2:08:14
Colin: Yeah that was surprising, because it got windy towards the end.
ST: He outswam you by about 1 minute, but you outran him by roughly 1.5 minutes. So he did get you mostly on the bike.
Colin: After races I typically go on Facebook, look up the competitors and tell them “nice race” etc, but I have not really done that here yet. I think he might be new, and if he is new to the sport - he has got a future.
ST: Tell us more about that decision to go pro.
Colin: I need to go back a bit for this. There is a girl named Korrie Kristick from Texas who I knew very well growing up, and Katy Blakemore, who I think was third in New Orleans, and I was friends with her through high school, and then there is Cam Dye who I swam with since I was about 12, and I watched them all do the professional thing and always wondered if I could do that. I then set that as a goal in 2012 after Ironman Louisville, which was my second Ironman. And I said if I can achieve that, that would be pretty cool. Now I am sitting here wondering if I should do Kona one more time, because that is the greatest race ever. Maybe do that one more time as an age grouper, or see where I could get if I pulled that pro card right now.
ST: Oh, so you have not applied for it yet.
Colin: I haven’t printed out the paper, but I am about 5 minutes away from clicking on it and doing it right then.
ST: Qualifying as an age grouper is certainly easier than a pro. Would you agree?
Colin: Absolutely. I look up to guys like Thomas Gerlach, the way he pulled it off by racing a whole lot. That would be the only way for me to do it. I would have to find another level and learn to recover well. I think my own realistic chance in the next 5 years to go back to Kona would be as an age grouper.
ST: Since we are talking about Kona, what is your view about the equal 50 women to Kona?
Colin: My view is that it is a no brainer. There is a number difference in participants, but I just don’t see an argument for it not being equal. I think it needs to be equal men and women.
ST: But what is the magic number in your view? Is it 50/50, is it 30/30 or some other number?
Colin: For the equality at Kona I would go as low as 25/25 or 30/30. I think that would make it a true world championship race and would make it more spectator-friendly. As an age grouper racing Kona, it was sometimes hard to pick out who was a pro and who an age grouper on the Queen K coming back to town during the run. If the numbers were 25/25 or 30/30, then 19th place would carry more significance in my opinion. Either way you look at it, there should be a lower number of men, and there is no excuse for not having an equal number of women.
ST: If you decide to pull that trigger on the pro card, will you give up you day job?
Colin: You need to understand, I don’t train that much right now. I train maybe 1 hour to 1.5 hours maximum a day, and that is all I can fit in. The longest swim workout I have done over the last 2 years is maybe 1,700 yards. I never have the time put in the quality long stuff, and thus bike rides usually are not longer than 2 hours 45 minutes, at least not in over a year. I know I have another level in me to get faster and better, but the most important thing to me is family and balance and stuff like that. The great thing is that I have summer vacation coming up here and our schools let out in about 3 weeks, so I think I will throw down as much training as I can, and then see if I see some immediate gains from that. Maybe that then will cause me to take a year off from work. But I am not going to quit my day job, I like being in education, and mostly I just wanted to see if I could qualify and could get a top 3 in a big race. But I am interested in seeing where I could go.
ST: What does your wife think about that?
Colin: My wife is the reason why I am able to do this, because she is amazingly supportive. She honestly would be fine with me saying that I quit my day job to see where I can go in triathlon. She is a dream triathlete’s wife and it has been great to have her.
ST: Talk about the race in New Orleans.
Colin: The last few years I have picked a race around my birthday and then celebrate the weekend before, do the race and then head home. So I just went down there on a family trip and did not really expect to be top three overall. I did not really rest for it and didn’t do anything special for it, but had fun with my kid leading up to the race. Showed up to the race and said whatever happens, happens. I actually felt ok and for the first time I really felt the huge advantage coming from altitude.
ST: But you have lived in Boulder all your life.
Colin: Yes, except for going to school in upstate New York for 2 years.
ST: So unless you are racing in Boulder, most events you are likely to do you would be coming down from altitude.
ST: How did you feel during the race? Was everything falling in place?
Colin: The race felt okay, but not great from the start. I did four full Ironman distance races last year, thus the 70.3 distance feels very quick. The swim was definitely a bit short, but went by without an issue. I really need to focus on open water skills and swimming in general as I feel I do not swim efficiently in a wetsuit. On the bike, I just wanted to push as hard as I could while feeling comfortable. I have only been using a power meter for a little over a year and a half, so I was using this as a benchmark on what kind of power I could hold for the 56 miles. I ended up holding close to 270w NP and was happy with that. I went into the race thinking that I would be at 255w. This extra power must come from the sea level advantage. The run felt great. I never pushed it too hard in fear of blowing up. I aimed to hold 6:15’s to 6:25’s throughout the run and was able to do so. Next time I race a half, I will aim to start closer to 6:05’s and hold that as long as I can.
ST: You were competing in Speedos?
Colin: Yes, it kind of has become a running joke that I am the age group guy who runs in speedos. I have done it since I started the sport and I now wear Speedos to the beach too, just for laughs. I will keep doing.
ST: Does it have a logo on it?
Colin: No, it is just a plain black Speedo.
ST: What about your race bike? What is it and how have you set it up?
Colin: I am currently riding a Cervelo P3 (new model) with Zipp Firecrest 808 wheels/Super 9 CC Disc. The only modifications I have made are the TriRig Omega breaks on both the front and back. I am a big fan of Dimond bikes and a huge fan of what they are doing in the sport. I think I will be investing in one sooner rather than later.
ST: And which wetsuit and swimskin do you currently use?
Colin: I am currently using an older used Blue Seventy wetsuit and a TYR Torque swim skin.
ST: Running shoes?
Colin: I have been training and racing in the Hoka Clifton since the day they came out.
ST: Since it was a family trip I assume your wife and kid also came with you to New Orleans.
Colin: Yes, and my parents too. To do some cheerleading and hang out with my kid. They are retired and they have become fans of the sport. So they tag along to every event they can and we all have kind of gotten into it as a family.
ST: Earlier you mentioned getting a lot of info from slowtwitch, but you live in Boulder and know Cam Dye, and are surrounded by pros. Surely you have gotten assistance or advice from them.
Colin: I am more of an introvert, so I spend more time at home and reading the forums. But yeah, people like Cam and Matt [Reed] would offer advice.
ST: And you swam with Cam?
Colin: I met him when I was 12 years old, and I have pictures of us on the podium at the State Junior Olympics when he was 11 and I was 12. I need to find those and throw them on the internet for some laughs. He was about just under 5 feet, a tiny little guy and he has been an inspiration for sure.
ST: As a former swimmer I guess it does not matter too much that you have not been swimming much recently.
Colin: It doesn’t, but if I do take a pro license, which I am leaning towards, swimming will have to become more of a priority as in the pro race it matters much more where you come out of the water. So I will make it a priority this summer.
ST: Rumor has it that you would like to own a dog kennel down the road. Would that be one to raise a specific breed or more so a boarding one?
Colin: It would be a boarding kennel, a retreat for dogs. There is no shortage of dogs in Boulder. We have always liked dogs and I see that maybe 10 years down the road. My pipe dream for that would actually be in upcountry Maui, and this is my idea and not the one of my wife. She is not that keen on moving to Hawaii, but my parents lived in Hawaii for half a year.
ST: That would be a long commute for all those dogs in Boulder.
Colin: Well, there are a lot of people who go to the mainland from Hawaii. We still have to do our research, but from what we have heard, people told us that we ought to open one in Maui. And we could probably trade our place here for a place there.
ST: Well, good luck with all those decisions.
Colin: Thank you Herbert and to all of the Slowtwitch community. It is no exaggeration that I have learned virtually all of my training and racing techniques from this site and the forum members. It has made me the athlete I am, and helped me accomplish a big goal. I also want to thank my wife Beth, mother Mary Beth, father Ron, and sister Erin for getting into this sport as a family. It was an honor talking with you.
ST: You are very welcome.