If her performance last weekend was any indication, Tyler Stewart will be a serious threat at the Ironman World Championships in Kona. Tyler won the Lake Stevens 70.3 on August 14, finishing with the fastest bike and run splits, a victory made sweeter by the fact that a year ago at Lake Stevens, she came in second by just 20 seconds. Here, she tells us what her training looks like these days, her hopes for Kona and her race plans for next year.
It’s hard to believe that the Ironman World Championships in Kona are now less than two months away. I spent the first half of the season doing a lot more racing than usual in order to secure my spot at the “big dance” racing in events from Cozumel, Mexico to Texas (twice!) to Maryland to New York. After all that racing, I’ve recently spent a lot of time recovering and letting my body get “out of shape” before I ask it for one more push towards Kona on October 8.
I’m currently in the final push for Kona and working as hard as I can ever remember. This has meant some long open water swims, long rides (my first ever double century or 200 miles on the bike!) and some short hilly runs. I’ve also put a greater emphasis on my TRX work and added in some Bikram yoga to help me prepare for the lava fields in Kona. I try to do my TRX exercises at least two to three times a week to keep my core strong and can really notice a difference in my functional strength if I don’t keep up that schedule.
The greater volume of racing and training has definitely made it sometimes hard to fit in my full-time job, hanging out with friends and family and everything else that makes up my life outside of triathlon. My husband Johnny has been an amazing partner and picked up a lot of slack for me when I’ve needed him most.
At times, it can be hard to stay motivated and to keep your focus, particularly since we normally have long gaps between races. My coach, Craig Upton, structures my training so it’s always varied, and I’m rarely bored, which helps. A few weeks of hard training are always followed by a few recovery days that allow you to get a hold of the rest of your life, reorganize and get ready to ace the next block of training.
I have raced Kona six times and have yet to have the race of my dreams on the Big Island. What I want for Kona this year is to cross the finish line knowing I’ve given it everything I have while being smart about the heat and not needing to be carted off to the medical tent for hours like I have in past years.
I haven’t started planning out my 2012 triathlon season yet, but I’m hoping to do quite a bit of trail running races both to continue to improve my marathon for Ironman but also in hopes of qualifying for the Western States 100 Endurance Run. Of course, triathlon will be my primary focus, but I like to have a new goal each year and as Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Do one thing a day that scares you.” Running 100 miles definitely scares me!
People often ask me what drives me to keep racing. I compete as a way of keeping myself sharp. While I think a lot of people race to compete against others, I race more to compete against myself. Each race I do I learn something -- whether it’s a weakness, a fear or a strength I didn’t know I had, what I learn in each race gives me a better understanding of who I am and helps me to become a better person off the race course.
It’s also really important to me to be a role model for people. So many times people say and think they can’t do something. That drives me crazy! I never thought I would be doing what I am now, career wise or athletically. I want to show people you can do anything you put your mind to!
Well said, Tyler. Congrats on your Lake Stevens win, and good luck at Kona!