At age 27, South Carolina born Lauren Goss established an impressive list of wins in Olympic distance, non-drafting races in the U.S. including 5i50s at New Orleans, Mt. Tremblant, and Kansas City, Olympic distance events at Rev3 Knoxville, Maine and Wisconsin. Recently she has won a few half distance races such as Syracuse 70.3 – and the historic St. Croix 70.3 on May 3. With the recent demise of the Life Time Fitness series and most Rev3 Olympic distance races, she has been moving up to the half Ironman distance with increasing success under the guidance of her coach, Dave Scott.
Personally, she is thriving in a relationship with fellow professional Drew Scott, son of her coach. And the couple had double reason to celebrate at St. Croix – Lauren won and Drew joined her on the combined podium with a 3rd place finish.
Slowtwitch: Was St. Croix your greatest race? Or simply your favorite?
Lauren Goss: St. Croix was hands down my favorite race. The locals were so supportive of the event and the entire island practically shuts down to support the triathlon. It is a shame that the age group field was lower than previous years because it is such a well-organized race in a beautiful location.
So, my greatest race, no. I would say it was my smartest race though.
ST: So was your greatest race one of your top finishes at prominent races – 4th at 2014 Hy-Vee 5i50 Championship, 2nd at 2013 Life Time Fitness Minneapolis, or 3rd at the 2012 US Open Dallas Toyota Cup?
Lauren: I have yet to string together a great race unfortunately. I am strong in 2 of the 3 legs usually but still trying to figure out the puzzle. I would say my 2nd place at Miami 70.3 last year was probably my best race so far.
ST: After illness forced a rare DNF at Monterrey 70.3 and you took a 4th at New Orleans 70.3, what was your mindset going into St. Croix?
Lauren: I was very disappointed after Monterrey obviously because I had been thinking about that race the entire off season and using it to motivate me in training when snow was on the ground. However, there was nothing I could do about being sick. I had a great personal swim so I did walk away with something positive at least. As for New Orleans, I had a good swim, a good enough bike, and a terrible run. The frustrating part about that was my running in training leading up to the race was the best it has ever been. Therefore, I needed to change something going into St. Croix.
ST: What adjustments did you and your coach Dave Scott make going into St. Croix?
Lauren: I first consulted with Robert Kunz at First Endurance. Together, with Dave, we came up with a nutrition plan that would eliminate any possible irritants or variables. I then met with Ryan Ignatz here in Boulder and he changed my bike position so that I would not be so quad dominant and hopefully run a little better off of the bike.
ST: Take us through your race. You got out of the water just two seconds behind super swimmer Amanda Stevens and only Jeanni Seymour was in sight behind you two.
Lauren: Yes. I was happy to swim behind Amanda as she set the fast pace. Over the winter, I stepped back from going hard in swim training to concentrating more on my technique. I would say the technique changes and also gym work have helped me become a stronger and more consistent swimmer. Dave is a genius when it comes to swim technique; although, if you watched him swim you wouldn’t know that! Ha.
ST: Then you and Stevens virtually matched bike splits – 2:43:32 for you and 2:43:27 for Amanda. What strategy did you have competing against Amanda? What part did The Beast play in your race?
Lauren: Amanda and I both went fairly conservative on the bike. The course is relentless - hot, humid, hilly, and a massive head wind on the back half. The race doesn’t really start until you have come down The Beast (mile 21). We both knew that if we rode too hard then we would pay for it on the run with the conditions.
ST: On the run, only Kirsty Jahn was close to your women's-best 1:29:04 and Stevens gave up 12 minutes to fall to 3rd. How would you rate that run against your best days – given the heat?
Lauren: Once again, the run was more of a pacing game. I had talked to Julie Dibens and Joanna Zeiger (both past winners of St. Croix and coaches based in Boulder) and they told me that the race is won on the second loop of the bike. The run is hilly (surprise!) and very hot. So I just started the run at a pace that I knew I could build into. It felt nice to actually have some energy for the finish line unlike in New Orleans where I was practically crawling my way to the line.
ST: How did it feel to win such an historic race?
Lauren: Winning any race is always a great feeling and something I certainly do not take for granted. However, winning St. Croix is so, so cool. I had dinner with a bunch of locals who host the athletes every year. They were telling stories about past winners and how most of them went on to have fantastic careers. It is pretty cool to see how much the race means to the community.
ST: Looking back a few years, winning times and splits at St. Croix vary wildly. Your 4:40:31 overall time compares nicely with Catriona Morrison’s 4:38:56 in 2013 but falls well back of Angela Naeth’s 4:28:12 in 2012. Your 1:29:04 run was better than Catriona Morrison’s 1:29:56 in 2013, but was well off Radka Vodickova’s 1:24:08 last year. What were the conditions like this year?
Lauren: I am pretty sure St. Croix is always hot and humid. The conditions were hard as I am sure they are every year. To be honest, a win is a win to me and I don’t compare it to other years. St. Croix is a slow race and the smartest racer on the day wins.
ST: It must have been worth a celebration that you won and the person you are dating, Drew Scott, finished 3rd? How did you celebrate?
Lauren: Ha, well we had burgers with some friends of mine who actually live in St. Croix, my homestay, Vicki, and Sir Richie Cunningham [who finished 2nd to Matt Chrabot]. The awards ceremony was at a resort on the beach. Some of the others went to the casino but I was lame and decided to go to sleep!
ST: What is it like being in a relationship with another pro triathlete? What are the pluses? Any minuses?
Lauren: It is easy to date another athlete if you both understand each other. I am very moody and impulsive whereas Drew is calm and level headed. I get a flat tire and I think the world is over and after New Orleans Drew’s bike was completely broken on the flight home and he was calm about it. I really don’t understand how he does it but I am very fortunate to have him in my life. The pluses are we get to travel to awesome places together and we also get to spend a lot of time together at home training or resting. The minus is that we are both always tired and neither of us want to cook or clean.
ST: You have been coached by the successful Cliff English and now Dave Scott - a legend. How has Dave helped your game? What is it like to train with Dave?
Lauren: Dave has very high expectations for his athletes. I am pretty sure that he was unbreakable when he trained and then he coached Chrissie Wellington who I also assume was unbreakable. When I first started I was shocked with how much more volume and intensity he had in my weekly sessions. I couldn’t do it and it drained me physically and mentally trying to hit the numbers every day and failing. By the end of the year I was able to completely do the sessions and really surprised myself in what I was able to achieve in training. Dave teaches you to listen to your body though and take time off when you need it. NEVER will he schedule a day off. It is up to the athlete to back off when the body says no. I have really enjoyed learning from him. He is extremely knowledgeable and has a really good heart.
ST: A while back your weakest link was your swim. Now you are coming out of the water with super swimmer Amanda Stevens. How did you go about making improvements?
Lauren: Like I said, I have to credit Dave and Jane (Dave’s sister who coaches two of my swim sessions a week). They took time to help me with my technique and stopped me every single time I was doing it wrong until the correct form was ingrained in my mind. Also, I think all it takes is 1 or 2 good swims to give you confidence that you can swim with the front group. Of course you need to be talented and have good technique but a lot of swimming open water is mental.
ST: I understand you are an accomplished cook and favor exotic dishes like beet nut brownies. How do your menus mesh with the very picky nutritionist Dave Scott?
Lauren: I have a pretty balanced diet. I try to include a little of everything. Dave would like me to include more protein and fat into my diet and fewer carbs but I haven’t really been convinced . I like to eat things that make me feel good in training and that make me feel good about myself. I eat oatmeal and almond butter every morning for breakfast along with a can of Beet Performer beet juice. I snack on goat milk yogurt, gluten-free toast with avocado, and nuts during the day. I recover with First Endurance Ultragen smoothies after hard sessions. For dinner we have a combo of grain+meat+veggies, red wine and dark chocolate.
ST: How did the loss of the Life Time, Rev 3 and 5i50 series Olympic distance non-drafting races affect you?
Lauren: I was never really in contention for the Lifetime series title. Alicia Kaye and Sarah Haskins pretty much swept those! As for the Rev3 title I was pretty upset. The finale was in 2014 for the 2013 season. It did not really work to my advantage because I had plantar fasciitis from January-August last year pretty bad and I wasn’t in form for a while. But, hey, that is racing and I am sure it will happen again.
ST: Did that impel you to tackle more half Ironman distance races?
Lauren: I started 70.3 because I could see the direction triathlon was going. Olympic distance racing was dying and sponsors really like the 70.3 races as they bring more to the products. Therefore, I decided to do some to start getting a feel for what I was in store for.
ST: Do you think you might eventually be better at the 70.3 distance?
Lauren: I sure hope so! If not, then I might as well retire. I don’t have a desire to do an Ironman anytime soon and there are almost no Olympic races left. I am enjoying the challenge though and I am not scared of failing a few times until I get it right.
ST: Might you find a way to continue focus on Olympic-distance races?
Lauren: I don’t think so. It is sad and bad timing for me as I was finally figuring out how to put together a complete Olympic race. But as I mentioned earlier, that is racing and that is life. I will now focus on learning the 70.3 distance.
ST: You have been based in several places including Clermont, Tucson and Boulder. Why did you pick Boulder to buy a condo?
Lauren: I moved to Boulder because Dave suggested that I should be here if we were going to work together. I bought a condo because it was a good investment and I saw myself settling down here until I am done racing triathlon. I miss my family so much though and I would like to live wherever they are when triathlon is over.
ST: What was it like growing up in South Carolina? And where did you go to college and what did you study?
Lauren: I went to Clemson University and graduated with a B.S. in Biology. I did not do any sports in college. Instead, I was in a sorority and went to the football tailgates. I miss the southern hospitality and the delicious unhealthy foods that are most likely banned in Boulder.
Photos 2 and 3 courtesy of Lauren Goss