Saturday, January 16, 2010

JP Interviews Heather Wurtele!

After three short years as a pro, Heather Wurtele is an Ironman Champion (IM Coeur d’Alene 2008), the Canadian Long Course Champion, and all around axe of a triathlete. 2009 was her first year as a full time pro and with her pro triathlete husband, Trevor, Team Wurtele has taken their show on the road. Let’s find out how things are back at the ranch.

JP: Heather, how would you describe your first year as a full time athlete? How have things changed for you?

HW: It has been a fantastic year. It is hard to believe that we were both still at our full-time jobs in Victoria until the end of January last year. When we got on the ferry in our new home - a 22 ft RV - and headed towards the border for our training grounds in California, our smiles reached to the broadening horizon! We have learned a lot about ourselves and what it takes to be happy in general - not much. Training has been incredible and challenging, as it should be. The biggest bonus has been having proper time to recover (way more sleep), so we have been able to absorb the workload better. Ironman training is a long term process, though, and we still have a lot of room to improve over the next several years.

JP: What is it like being married to another pro Triathlete (Husband Trevor Wurtele) and do you train together?

HW: Other than when we both have low blood sugar, it is fantastic! We understand the peaks and valleys that come with training and racing, and we both are so passionate about the sport that we motivate each other on a daily basis. We usually train together in the pool and do a fair bit of riding together as well - Trevor is a great carrot. For higher intensity efforts, we may head out at the same time, to the same area, but do our own workouts.

JP: I know your 2009 season had a bit of a rough ending. Could you walk us through your season and exactly what happened with your injury?

HW: I was actually pretty happy with my season overall. 5th at Wildflower, 3rd at Ironman Coeur d'Alene (a bit disappointing that I didn't manage to win again, but still improved my time, which counts for something!). I also won the Canadian Long Course Championships at the Osyoos Half Iron, as you mentioned. The highlight for me was when I finally found my run legs and placed a close second at the Lake Stevens 70.3, ahead of some pretty speedy and famous women! I was feeling the the best I ever had fitness wise heading into Kona, but I managed to seriously sprain my adductor magnus insertion (basically deep in my butt) and my leg hurt so much on race day I couldn't even turn the peddles over after Hawi. I had to stop and get a ride back in the medical van.

JP: How is your rehab going?

HW: I am close to 100% again, though I need to be careful with my long runs. The injury helped me identify some muscle imbalances, and I have a great lateral stability/core routine now that will hopefully help me prevent this sort of thing in the future.

JP: What are your plans for the offseason / holidays or are you back into the swing of training already?

HW: We stayed in California for the holidays this year because we were enjoying the warmth so much. We actually trained a fair bit, but it was an un-structured, do what you feel like sort of training. Since skiing wasn't an option we usually felt like swimming, riding and running!

JP: Walk us through your plan for 2010.

HW: Our race season will start with the Oceanside 70.3 as an early season, no pressure warm up then it looks like we will both be doing the inaugural St. George Ironman in May. After that, depending on how that race goes we may do Ironman Coeur d'Alene, some 70.3's Ironman Canada and then the World Championships. I really love Ironman Canada, and it is a course that suits my strengths, so I'd like to do it again, even though the timing is bad for Kona.

JP: Any off season tips for the age groupers out there?

HW: If you are building a good solid aerobic base with a lot of low HR training (which is generally a good idea) then keep your ego in check, especially on group rides! Yes it may be annoying when people pass you that you know you can beat - damn commuters with Panniers - you have a long term plan. It does you no good to train in the red zone all the time.

JP: Time for the lightning round…
Favorite training session-

  • River swimming in the Suswap, cycling hill repeats on the back side of Mt. Figeroa, and a long uphill run to Broadcast Peak
Favorite food-
  • Pomegranates
Favorite place to train-
  • The Okanagan Valley in BC, in the summer, for all the open-water lake and river swimming. The Santa Ynez valley in CA, in the winter, for the amazing riding.
Favorite book-
  • I read a lot so this is hard... probably Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Favorite movie-
  • The Station Agent (also the surfing documentary Riding Giants)

JP: Anything else we should know about you or Team Wurtele?

HW: Yes, I am 6'2" inches tall. Trevor is 6'3"
A travel tip: When driving through LA traffic, in your RV, on your way to a race, pretend you're a retired couple and that you own the center lane. Own it, my friend, own it! This will allow merging traffic on the right to do their thing, and allow the Porches, Ferraries and family vans to blow by you on the left. Make sure you've done all the necessary bathroom and stretch breaks before entering the mayhem that is Intersate 405. Stopping is not an option.