We were lucky enough to get some of Paula Findlay's time after her huge win this weekend at the PTO Championships. As a side note, this winter was the first time I have ever had a chance to meet her and boyfriend Eric Lagerstrom. What I can say about them both is their passion for life and the sport is about as genuine as it comes. It's been fun to get to know them more over the last year and hopefully this interview can give people more insight on who she is off the race course. Although if you subscribe to their YouTube Channel (which you should) you have probably learned a lot already.
Got a question we didn't ask? Ask yourself! Paula's doing an AMA in our forum Friday, December 11th.
Slowtwitch.com: Tell us a little bit about yourself?
Paula: My name is Paula Findlay, I was born & raised in Edmonton Canada. My mom (Sheila) is the competition manager for the ITU WTS in Edmonton and my dad (Max) is a neurosurgeon, both super very good athletes and passed on some good running genes. I have a younger brother (Colin) and younger sister (Adrienne) and a 9-month old puppy child (Flynn).
My favorite place to train & live is Canmore AB in the Canadian rockies. My hobbies in 2020 have been being a dog mom, since Flynn requires 98.9% of my attention when I’m not training.
Slowtwitch.com: What was the most challenging part of 2020 for you?
Paula: 2020 actually had many silver linings for me. I ended up enjoying the forced break from racing and it gave me the opportunity to train consistently with no stress all year. The most difficult part of the year was not seeing my family for 10 months. With travel restrictions and quarantines, Eric and I decided to stay in the US for most of the year. I’m really close to my family so not being able to fly home to visit was tough (especially when they couldn’t meet our new puppy in March).
Slowtwitch.com: We have seen you on Zwift this year. Tell us: love or hate?
Paula: Love and hate! Haha. Zwift has been a life saver for me while training in the middle of winter in Canada, making long rides and hard sessions 100 times more interesting. It’s also fun to be able to link up with friends (or Eric) for a ride. The “hate” part comes from racing the Zwift Pro Tri series, which was honestly the hardest racing I’ve ever done. Way harder than the race in Daytona. I think ultimately it helped my fitness leading into Daytona, but they were insanely hard and miserable. I had my highest 10 minute power numbers ever in these races. I don’t even know why I try so hard. I get completely sucked in!
Slowtwitch.com: Favorite sport: swim, bike, or run?
Paula: Skiing! Just kidding… Run - Bike - Swim, in that order. Going for a run can completely change my mood around and is the most satisfying & efficient of the three. I grew up competitive swimming as a kid, so after 20+ years of swimming laps, it’s definitely my least favorite and the most frustrating since I’ll never be as fast as I was as a 12-year-old.
Slowtwitch.com: Tell us about the triathlon apparel company you two just started?
Paula: Eric and I have been putting out a vlog, “That Triathlon Life”, every Sunday since last September. It was never our intention to turn the brand into an apparel company, we mostly wanted a cool icon/ logo to identify ourselves and to use as a graphic at the start of our videos. With the help of our friend Ralph Dunning, it slowly blossomed into the idea of putting the logo on some casual wear, coffee mugs, etc. Our intention is not to create YouTube “merch”, but quality stuff that people want to wear and that we are proud of. I’m not totally sure what direction the company will head, but I think the possibilities are endless and we’re excited to have this side project that is quickly becoming our biggest source of income.
Slowtwitch.com: Do you ever get sick of filming every week for your YouTube? Do you ever hold the camera for Eric? And who really crashed the drone?
Paula: There are definitely some days that I don’t want the camera on me, especially during hard sessions or when we are particularly tired, but Eric is pretty respectful and aware of that. He can read a situation pretty well and if it isn’t an appropriate time to film, he puts the camera away. We usually sit down on Monday and come up with an idea for the Vlog for that week, so we have some direction and aren’t just constantly filming our entire days. Occasionally I’ll pick up the camera and film, and although I’m not nearly as skilled as Eric, it’s important that he gets in some of the shots. Eric crashed the drone! I’ve never attempted to fly that thing and have no interest.
Slowtwitch.com: Clearly you are in a much better place these days. What's the biggest thing that has changed to help that since the sad moment of the Olympics?
Paula: The Olympic experience was 8 years ago now and the short answer is that I’ve grown up a lot, and have much more experience & knowledge under my belt. I was a 21 year old in London with fairly limited experience being at the top of the sport, I just wanted to forge ahead regardless of how injured or tired I was in order to get faster. It doesn’t work that way of course, and I’ve learned since then to be patient & kind to myself. Meeting Eric and doing this whole triathlon thing with him has helped enormously, in fact I probably wouldn’t still be racing if it weren’t for him.
Slowtwitch.com: What’s your favorite "cheat" meal?
Paula: Chocolate, if you can consider that a meal. I eat a ridiculous amount of chocolate every night and I’ll drive to the store after dinner if we’re out of stock. In terms of actual meals, I’d say pizza, however I don’t like to consider it “cheating” since fuel and calories are good when you’re training lots.
Slowtwitch.com: Coffee or wine?
Paula: Coffee, every day, 100%.
Slowtwitch.com: How’s van life? While on the road do you prefer the van or a hotel?
Paula: I love the van! Although we don’t live in it, it’s the perfect vehicle for getting us to training camps and races, since we can fit 5 bikes under the bed and have room for all of our gear. The bonus is that Flynn also loves it, and is a great traveling dog. We also love using it between sessions on long training days. We can finish a ride, shower off, take a nap, have lunch, and go for a run 3 hours later. I definitely prefer a hotel anytime we are at a race, since there is very limited personal space in the van.
Slowtwitch.com: You just won the biggest race of your career and the biggest race of 2020. What are you doing next?
Paula: I suppose I’m taking a bit of an off season. I actually feel super motivated and not tired at all right now, so I wish there were more races in the near future, but this is naturally a good time to take a break (since it’s Christmas and -10 celsius in Canada). It’s really nice to finish the year on a high after such a strange and uncertain 2020, and I’m hopeful that we can have a more normal race season next year.
All Photos: @that.triathlonlife