Skye Moench is currently mostly listening to her mind and body and we had a chat with the fast Salt Lake City resident about last year and what is next.
Slowtwitch: Thank you for your time Skye.
Skye Moench: Thank you for thinking of me!
ST: Are you still in the off season or are you already getting ready for the first race in 2023?
Skye: I guess that depends on the definition of off season. I’m not doing nothing, but I don’t have my first race planned and I’m not back into a super intense training program yet. I really needed a good break after last year, so I’ve just been listening to my mind and body and doing what feels right. I know that being mentally prepared to get back to hardcore training and racing is the most important thing for me, so I’m not rushing things right now. I’ll be ready when it’s time!
ST: What feels right to you at this time, what does that roughly look like?
Skye: I’ve been doing 2-3 sessions day. Swimming about 25k a week, and then doing run and bike sessions as I feel. If I really want to embrace winter, then I’ll go snowshoe or skate ski. Also getting in a little sauna session most days. [laughs]
ST: You finished the 2022 season with a runner-up spot in Arizona. How do feel about your performance on that day.
Skye: My race in Arizona was overall solid swim, bike, and run, and I feel good about it given the context of the entire season. I was really proud of myself for staying so mentally engaged the whole race and especially the entire marathon. Pushing hard to the end, despite having a generous gap on third place, and with Sarah True putting time into me up the road, definitely took some mental fortitude. The last half of the season was not ideal for me mentally, for various reasons, so to be able to stay positive and mentally engaged for my fourth and final Ironman of the 2022 season was the real win for me. As a bonus, I got my Kona slot for 2023 and ran my fastest marathon of the year, which were nice micro wins for me.
ST: Which sports did you do when you were younger?
Skye: Sport wasn’t my life when I was younger, but I loved running and would participate in school running events, track, cross country, etc. when and where I could.
ST: Can you also talk about moving to the USA from Canada and how that came about?
Skye: I moved to the USA with my mom and sisters after my parents got divorced. We really needed to move away from our situation but needed family support, so we moved to be close to some of my mom’s extended family.
ST: Take us back to when you got started in triathlon, and who or what got you inspired?
Skye: I first learned about triathlon when I was in high school. I honestly don’t know who introduced me to the sport, but somewhere along the way I learned swim bike run was a thing. I already loved distance running, generally knew how to swim, and always enjoyed riding a bike, so I was naturally intrigued by triathlon. I wrote my senior paper in high school about preparing for a triathlon and I interviewed a few local triathletes, so I guess the fire was burning pretty early on. That was in 2006, and I would do my first ever mini sprint triathlon in 2009 on my friend’s borrowed TT bike. I saved and bought my own road bike, wetsuit, everything I needed for triathlon in 2010. The rest is kind of history. I did local races and eventually went part-time at my accounting job to do professional triathlon full-time - though I wasn’t even pro yet!.
ST: I think it was in 2015 when you quit your accounting job to race triathlon full time. Was there a specific moment, person or was that a storm that was brewing already?
Skye: I went part-time at Ernst & Young in 2015, and then quit about a year later. I continued to do contract accounting jobs on and off through 2020.
The storm of dissatisfaction and the craving for a bigger challenge and more passion for what I was doing was brewing in me as I sat at my desk. I would read triathlon articles, watch Kona on NBC, and I started becoming more familiar with the pros, and I just felt like I could do it too. I’ve always had a lot of self-confidence, and this was another instance where I simply believed I could do something, despite having zero idea what it would actually take to be a pro, let alone a competitive pro who could make a living at being a triathlete.
I guess to properly answer your question ha, I think the moment was when I realized that no one was going to make a change for me. I could stay at my desk forever and keep moving up the corporate ladder, and that would be a perfectly acceptable route to take in life, and arguably the easier route! But I knew that I could also go ask my boss to go part-time, hire a coach, and give this triathlon thing a real go, and I would never regret trying it. I had nothing to lose, and worst case, I would go back to accounting. It was a really exciting time for me because putting my time and resources into triathlon was something that I really wanted to do for myself, even if it seemed crazy to everyone else.
ST: In those first few years were you patient with your development or did at times doubts creep in about that decision?
Skye: I think I was patient for a couple years. Again, I had no idea what I was getting into and I knew there was a lot to learn. I raced 2015 as an age-grouper and won pretty much everything overall. My claim to fame that year was coming 2nd overall to Taylor Knibb in the Age Group Nationals Sprint race. [laughs] My one year of age group results really affirmed my decision to do triathlon, and then I did Oceanside in 2016 as a pro. I got crushed from a results standpoint, but it was extremely motivating for me as a new pro. I knew there was a lot of work to do to be competitive, and I was up for it. I trained away and felt like I was doing everything I could for a couple years, but I didn’t feel like I was improving or performing where I should be, so at that point I did briefly question if I was good enough, but I just knew I had more in me and knew I wasn’t reaching my potential yet. At that time, I started to look at what further changes I needed to make in order to get the best out of myself.
ST: In 2019 you crashed very hard at the end of a training ride. What do you recall from that day?
Skye: I remember swimming in the morning and seeing my friend Jacob at the pool. I remember the weather was nice and sunny, and pretty warm for end of September. My training partner at the time was Els Visser, she was staying at my house, and we planned a double canyon training ride. We rode Little Cottonwood Canyon first, then stopped and had some lunch at a cafe, then we went on to ride Millcreek Canyon. I just remember being so happy and really enjoying the beautiful scenery and the ride altogether. We got to the top of Millcreek Canyon, I put my arm warmers on while Els got a head start on the descent, and then the next thing I remember is being in and out of consciousness of sorts in a random (but very kind!!) man’s truck.
I was thinking I was in a dream, I was asking him over and over if this was real life, and he kept telling me this was real I life and that I was going to be okay. I really came to once I was lying in the ER and my mom, and my husband were there and doctors were taking care of me. I was planning how I was going to get through Kona, etc. and my husband was trying to explain to me why I would not be going to Kona (I eventually understood. Then I spent the night in the ICU. I also remember begging my nurse to let me eat that night. [laughs] They didn’t want to feed me because they were planning to get me into surgery for my injuries. I was eventually given some juice.
Skye: Has that crash impacted where and how you train?
Skye: Not really. I still ride and descend all the canyons around here in Salt Lake City, Utah, and I found it very healing to ride up and down Millcreek Canyon after my crash. I wanted to make peace with it and gain confidence that I wasn’t going to crash every time I rode it. I definitely did ride my brakes hard when I got back to riding outside after my crash, but that has since passed. I guess the only thing is that if I ever feel any anxiety about riding outside, then I ride on the trainer and don’t question my feelings. Some days it’s just better knowing you’ll get through your ride safely. [laughs] Whether it’s a freak accident or getting hit by a car, etc. there are always risks to riding outside.
ST: What is your trainer setup like at home?
Skye: I like to have everything I need right at home! My stuff is all set up in the basement. I bought a commercial grade treadmill in 2020, and then of course I have a Tacx Neo2T smart trainer for riding my bike on. I also have a fair bit of strength and conditioning equipment at home for when that is part of my program.
ST: In mid-season, what does your weekly training volume look like?
Skye: I would say around 25 hours a week.
ST: Talk about your swim training, and maybe share one of your harder swim sets.
Skye: Swim training is something I really enjoy, maybe because swimming is the never ending puzzle for a lot of triathletes, myself included. [laughs] I typically swim around 25k a week, most swims are 5k+, so I’m in the pool 5-6 days a week. I don’t think I can pick just one hard swim set, but a favorite main set is 3x800 best effort on 20 minutes. You obviously get a lot of rest on this, and you choose how to spend that rest time (on the wall, kicking, swimming, whatever). It’s fun to challenge yourself and see if you can get even slightly faster over the three 800’s, even though they’re all your best effort! I guess in true long-distance triathlete fashion, I tend to get going faster by the third one.
ST: On Instagram you describe yourself as purple lover, is that mostly about your bike and race kit, or is that also what your car and home decor looks like?
Skye: Haha, purple power! I have to admit, I have a lot of purple things. My training gear and racing gear is the most purple, but I also have a purple phone, purple water bottles, purple chair, purple scissors, purple backpack, purple nail polish, purple toothbrush, etc. A lot of random stuff. Basically, if purple is an option, I will probably choose it or someone will choose it for me. It really is my favorite color. With that said, my normal wardrobe is mostly black, grey, white, etc. and my car is white, but my car’s avatar is purple. The furniture in my home is mostly white, grey, navy blue, and natural wood tones.
ST: Let us talk about food, and your diet.
Skye: I love food and I love baking and trying new recipes! I also really enjoy learning about food. My diet I would say is pretty normal, as in, I wouldn’t have any special limitations or requests if I were going to a dinner party or something - not that I’m going to dinner parties all the time. [laughs] I definitely had to learn a lot about fueling and nutrition as I’ve progressed as an athlete. I have a master’s degree in tax accounting, not sports nutrition! There’s no food that is off limits or that I’m not allowed to have, but I do mostly try to eat healthy, nutritious, real food. I love making my own training snacks and preparing food, but I also appreciate balance and enjoy eating out and trying new restaurants.
ST: Is there anything else we should know?
Skye: I’m about to go bake something, and I’m wearing a purple sweatshirt and purple slippers right now. Thank you for having me!
You can follow Skye Moench on Instagram via @skyemoench