Jeff Symonds certainly had shown signs of athletic prowess but the Canadian flew somewhat under the radar until he finished 3rd at the 2011 Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas. He had a few words with slowtwitch about what was and what is yet to come.
Slowtwitch: Have you made it back to Penticton already?
Jeff: I haven't made it back yet, I am actually in the backseat of a car typing this. I am super excited to get back and catch up with the guys at the Bike Barn.
ST: Whenever we saw you in Vegas you had a big smile on your face. Is that because of that 3rd place at 70.3 Worlds, the people in Las Vegas or is that just how you are in general?
Jeff: I think it was the fact that at both at the race and Interbike I was surround by a ton of people that were just as passionate about triathlon as I am. I really enjoy meeting people that share that passion and hearing their story. I think I also had a bit of the small town boy syndrome. Growing up in Penticton are tallest building was the Lakeside resort at stories and I was in constant awe of the magnitude of things in Las Vegas. Getting on the podium just made things extra special. Felt like a dream come true.
ST: Have you actually had much rest since the race?
Jeff: Hardly, I have been super busy emailing who helped me get here and believe me, it's a lot of people. Interbike was hectic and then I spent the weekend in Vancouver celebrating my Grandmas 80th birthday. I also was fortunate enough to make it out to a long run with my alma mater the University of British Columbia X-Country team as well as a swim with the UBC tri club. I am looking forward to a chill day tomorrow and then it's back to selling bikes on Tuesday.
ST: You told us it was your first time at Interbike. What were your impressions?
Jeff: The first day was overwhelming - totally blew my mind. A couple of my friends, fellow Canadian pro Jordan Bryden, and Brian McCoy of Podium Imports, showed me around and introduced me to a lot people. I majored in marketing at university and if I wasn't blessed with my athletic talent I would definitely be racing as an age grouper and working for a company in the industry. I really enjoyed seeing that side of things and look forward to being more involved with that once my racing career is over. It was a great to see not only a lot of former elite athletes working in the industry but also just the general over representation of triathletes at Interbike. I think this speaks a lot about how passionate triathletes are about the sport.
ST: Going into the race in Las Vegas, what kind of expectations did you have?
Jeff: Honestly not very good and that may have helped me. Initially I was excited coming off a great race in Lake Stevens but then the Ironman Canada circus rolled into town. The town really gets behind the race and the excitement is huge, It was even more exciting this year because my girlfriend was participating for the first time. I felt more pumped to come out and train hard to do the race next year than I did for the World Championships coming up in two weeks. Also I had to put in a lot of extra hours at work and standing in the expo for 8 hours talking to people isn't the best preparation. I felt so worn out and burnt out by the end of it all I was looking into option for cancelling the trip. I thought how can I possibly compete with the other guys who are at home sleeping lots and training well, when I am bagged and skipping workouts. I ended writing up a list of all the reason to race and reasons not to race. Ultimately I decided to go and just race my race and see what happens. I think all of this relieved me of any pressure going into the race and I could focus purely on what I needed to do putting me in the perfect mental state.
ST: Your run time of 1:13:33 was quite fast on that not so easy course and only beaten by Craig Alexander.
Jeff: Running has always been my strength. I heard Brad Culp in a podcast refer to my run saying 'Where did that come from?' but I had the fastest run split in Oceanside last year with the likes of Matt Reed, Michael Raelert, Rasmus Henning, Richie Cunningham, Tim O'Donnell all in the race. I always knew I could run, it was just a matter of me working hard and putting in time at the other two discipline and nailing my nutrition so that I could put myself in a position to use that run. I have had my running on the back burner for the last 4 years as I brought the other two up to speed, so I am excited to see how fast I can go with a bit more of a run focus.
ST: Moving forward do you think you'll have different expectations of yourself?
Jeff: For sure. However, I think it is important for me to remember what got here and the mindset I was able to take into my racing and training. There are no miracles in this sport, its a tough sport and hard work is what gets you results. It may seem like I had a miracle of a race to a lot people but everything I did out there was a calculated based on how I feel and how training and previous races have been. I hear a lot of people talk about racers having the courage to really go for it, but sometimes it takes more courage to hold back. I am a firm believer that you can't get caught up worrying about what the other guys are doing, you have to focus solely on getting to the finish line as fast as possible. Where the expectations will come into play will be more expecting things of myself with regards to the process of getting faster. I have already raised my expectations for what I need to do in terms of nutrition, sleep, recovery and preparation.
ST: What is next?
Jeff: Austin 70.3. I have raced Austin the past couple of years and absolutely love the race and the city. Michael Raelert said he was going to be there, and Ritchie Cunningham is always there, so I am very excited for a hard battle. Also I took up Jack Mott's offer on an Austin home stay that he posted on Slowtwitch and had a awesome time. He's a super guy and I look forward to catching up with him this time around. It was cool
ST: What is going on for you in terms of sponsors and did you already feel some new love in Las Vegas along those lines?
Jeff: Right now I am still taking my time to investigate my options but I’ll just say that the response has been absolutely incredible. I was totally blown away by the response in Vegas. Two local sponsors that I will definitely continue with are my coach Kevin Cutjar of EndurancePlanner.com and my work The Bike Barn. I am working really hard to see if I can secure enough sponsorship to train full time and really see what I can do in the sport.
ST: We noticed you and several other Pro triathletes at the CrossVegas event. Is that maybe something you would dabble in too, or was that pure entertainment?
Jeff: Definitely!! That was an awesome event. I am not a very explosive guy, so I think I would get killed but I am totally stoked to try it out. I spent a lot of time on an old mountain bike last winter. I didn't have the money to go down south to train and during January and February it gets too cold and icy in Canada to go out and ride a road bike at high speeds. I found I could bundle up and ride on the snow covered railroad grade trail put out a lot power and not get the slippage or wind chill factor of road riding. It was awesome, totally beat riding the trainer for long rides and definitely got me stoked to try more off road style racing.
ST: Talk about your favorite foods.
Jeff: I eat a lot of Vector Cereal, that stuff is amazing. The guys at work rag on me all the time for eating what they call "bread sandwiches" which just means two plain pieces of bread. However after Vegas, I got an email form one of them saying he is going to start eating bread sandwiches as well. I'll admit I like the plain taste but its more out of convenience than anything else.
ST: What was the last book you read?
Jeff: The Bro Code by Barney Stinson. It has change my life. Completely!
ST: Is there anything else we should know about you?
Jeff: I think everything about me got "exposed" on the Austin tri Club blog last year, except that contrary to popular belief my last name rhymes with Diamonds. I doesn't bother me but if my Grandpa were still around, he would want me to make sure everyone got it right.