Talking with Tomas Rodriguez Hernandez

Everything is bigger in Texas - and that held true for this year’s edition of Ironman Texas, with the Lone Star State packing gusty winds, its usual heat and humidity - and a new course record set by Tomas Rodriguez Hernandez, the first-ever Mexican to win an Ironman.

Rodriguez Hernandez’s win may have seemed to come out of nowhere, but the 25-year-old has been wowing with his next-level run for years, with wins at 2023 70.3 Cozumel and 2024 70.3 Campeche.

As American Matthew Marquardt’s run lead started to fade, Rodriguez Hernandez, who was 11th out of the swim and moved up to eighth on the bike, capitalized with a blistering 2:34:14 marathon - that’s 5:51 per mile pace - to cross the finish line just about 90 seconds ahead of second place Patrick Lange.

We chatted with Rodriguez Hernandez to learn more about his post-race interview controversy - was he really saying f*ck you to Lange?! - and what his mindset was as a dark horse for this race.

We’ve provided the interview in both English and Spanish. Tomas provided his answers to Kristin’s imperfectly phrased Spanish questions in Spanish - and we’ve translated his answers to provide insight for our English-only readers.

ST: You had mixed results this year with a win in Campeche and a tough day at Oceanside. What was your mindset heading into Ironman Texas?

TRH: I always want to win, I prepare to win and realistically my data makes me feel confident that I can win. Campeche was a race that from the moment I saw the start list I knew I would win and I did. I wanted to win in Oceanside - I trained for it and once out of the water I thought I the win was entirely possible, but I made a mistake with the bike course directional signage, which made me want to turn in my timing chip and not even run. I no longer cared whether I was 10th place or 60th place - I still wanted to finish. In the end, I took the rest of the day somewhat easy - it was a bad day all in all - and when I got home I continued with my preparation for Ironman Texas, which was my “A” race for this year so far.

Also, after Oceanside I took a break from social media and told my friends that when I returned to social media, it would be with a post showing me winning Ironman Texas - and that’s exactly what played out. Heading into Ironman Texas there were two phrases in my head - the two phrases I always go to in a race: “F*ck your tired body” and, when I am hunting athletes down in front of me, I think, “one more, one more.”

Spanish: Siempre quiero ganar, me preparo para ganar y siendo realista mis números me hacen sentirme seguro que puedo hacerlo. Campeche fue una carrera que desde que vi el start list supe que la ganaría y así fue. Quería ganar en Oceanside, entrené para ello y una vez fuera del agua creía tener la carrera hecha, tuve una equivocación en el curso de ciclismo y eso me hizo cambiar mi chip inmediatamente a ya no quiero correr. Ya no me importaba ser 10 o 60 yo quería estar peleando un podio. Lo tomé con calma, un día malo a fin de cuentas y continué con mi preparación para TX, el cual era mi evento principal del primer semestre. Después de Oceanside me tomé un respiro de redes sociales y hablaba con amigos que me regreso a los medios sería con un post compartido con IM ganando Tx y así fue. En mi cabeza siempre hay dos frases, a la mierda tu cuerpo cansado y cuando me toca cazar atletas enfrente de mi pienso uno más, uno más.

ST: Tell me about your day at Ironman Texas. What was each leg of the race like for you?

TRH: I am a great pool swimmer - one of the best pool swimmers in triathlon, I would say - but replicating my speed in the pool in open water has always been difficult for me. At Ironman Texas, I had a very good swim, and then I dedicated myself to being consistent and within my numbers on the bike while at the same time trying to stay in the main group - but always paying attention to the Race Ranger to make sure I was not drafting. The last hour of cycling my watts started to go down and at that moment the group I was with was caught by Joe Skipper and Chris Leiferman. I thought they would set a harder pace but that wasn't the case, so I tried to go to the front of the group for the last 10 minutes with the tailwind.

However, when I arrived at the bike turnaround I realized that Skipper and Leiferman were not after me - I don't know if I didn't create enough danger for them or if they were getting tired. One thing I’ve been working on in training is pushing watts with a tailwind and taking advantage of my smaller front panel, so I took advantage of the entire return on the bike course with a tailwind to ride as fast as possible and I managed to open up a minute with respect to the group.

As for the run, on the one hand, I didn't want to be running with Patrick Lange because his experience makes you feel insecure, so I preferred to run by feel and race my race, I never looked at my pace, I only used my Garmin to time my nutrition. I dedicated myself to catching up with all the competitors and once I was in the lead, I was able to relax… until the final 10km when even with a relaxed mind, my body began to feel tired, and I really had to push until the end.

Spanish: Soy un gran nadador en la alberca, de los mejores diría yo pero hacerlo en aguas abiertas y con gente siempre me ha costado. Tuve una natación muy buena, la bicicleta me dediqué a regular y al vez tratar de estar en el grupo siempre al pendiente de la luz del race ranger. La última hr de ciclismo mis watts empezaron a bajar y en ese momento fuimos alcanzados por Joe Skipper y Chris Leiferman, yo creí que pondrían un ritmo más duro pero no fue así, me sentía demasiado bien y probé pasar al frente los últimos 10min con viento en contra, al llegar al retorno me di cuenta que no estaban tras de mí, no se si, no les genere peligro o si no podían más. He estado trabajando empujar watts con viento a favor y aprovechando mi reducido panel frontal aproveché todo el regreso con viento a favor para rodar lo más rápido posible y logré abrir un minuto con respecto al grupo. La carrera por una parte no quería estar corriendo junto a Patrick porque su experiencia te genera inseguridad entonces preferí correr adelante a sensaciones, nunca vi el pace solo veía mi garmin para alimentarme, me dediqué a alcanzar a todos los competidores y una vez adelante pude relajar, eso me costó porque como relaje mi mente mi cuerpo empezó a sentir cansancio entonces los últimos 10km los pasé fatal.

ST: What was your mindset for that incredible run? What was going through your mind as you took the lead?

TRH: My mindset before reaching the lead of the run was, “One more, one more,” (a phrase from the movie Hacksaw Ridge as they rescued soldiers) and as I got tired I just said, “One more, one more.” Once I had the lead, when I started to feel fatigue I just thought, “F*ck your tired body.”

Spanish: Mi mindset antes de llegar a la punta era uno más, uno más (frase de la película hacksaw ridge cuando rescataba soldados) y si estaba cansado solo decía uno más, uno más. Una vez adelante, cuando comencé a sentir la fatiga solo pensaba f*ck your tired body.

ST: There was some confusion and controversy in your post-race interview. Many people thought you said “F*ck your titles, boy” in reference to Patrick Lange. Can you clear that up for us?

TRH: What I meant was “F*ck your tired body,” which is what I said to myself on the run to fight my own fatigue. I have nothing but respect for Patrick Lange - I admire and respect him.

Spanish: Por supuesto, lo que quise decir era f*ck your tired body, no tengo nada en contra de Patrick al contrario lo admiro y respeto.

ST: Where is “home base” for you and who is your coach?

TRH: I train in León Guanajuato in México - it is about 6,000 feet above sea level, but I also train at altitudes of up to 8,500 feet - the altitude is key for me and my training. I have been working with my coach Jesús Rivera for four years at the Aquiles MD clinic in León.

Spanish: Entreno en León Guanajuato, está a 1800 metros sobre el nivel del mar pero puedo estar haciendo entrenamientos hasta los 2600, la altura es clave. Mi coach Jesús Rivera tengo 4 años trabajando con el en la clínica Aquiles MD en León.

ST: Who are your sponsors this year?

Universidad Tres Culturas
Precision Hydration and Nutrition
Varlo Apparel
Grupo Gaviota
Giant Bikes
Bike & Roller Shop

ST: What are your upcoming races?

TRH: 70.3 Boulder and 70.3 Mt. Tremblant

ST: Ok, time for some fun questions… Dog or cat?

TRH: Cats

ST: Of the three - swim, bike, and run, which is your favorite?

TRH: Biking, 100%.

ST: What is your favorite pump up song?

TRH: Más Altas Que Bajadas - Natanael Cano

ST: What is your favorite post-race meal?

TRH: A hamburger and a few beers!