• Xtri Chats With Amanda Lovato


    One of the few January races, Pucon 70.3 is a classic event that’s become a destination race for many pros to test their (very) early season fitness. This year, Amanda Lovato broke all the rules and came up with a surprise win over tough competition that included Tereza Macel and 2x Pucon Champ Heather Gollnick. We chatted with Amanda about her trip to Chile, what it’s like being married and training with fellow pro Michael Lovato, and what’s ahead this season…

    Hi Amanda, congrats on your fantastic race in Pucon! How is your body adjusting/recovering from the racing and the long travel?

    Thank you, Betsy. My win at Pucon was a surprise to many, including myself.

    My body has adjusted and recovered quite well since arriving home. The travel from Austin to Pucon was actually much harder on me than the trip home.

    In your race report, you mention that you tried a number of different things for this race. Can you briefly go over this list? And why did you decide to change so many things up? Did you use Pucon as an experiment?

    The day before the race, Michael and I joked about how I had done just about everything different for this race. I am a creature of habit and I don’t “change” easily. However, 2010 is different.

    To name a few things: This year I ditched the pink. For the past several years, I have incorporated pink into my race kit, but for 2010, I needed a fresh look. I have worked with Kristin from Brand Betty for years, and this time around she helped create my new look and it is fabulous!

    I have a new bike! I am really excited about signing with Kestrel. For Pucon, I had a brand new Airfoil and a brand new bike position. I had only been riding this position for a couple weeks. I only tried using the ADAMO racing saddle two weeks prior to leaving for Pucon.

    On top of that significant change, I stayed up very late every night; I slept in each morning; I ate dinner quite late every night, and I ate a lot of items that I typically don’t eat; I ate way too much dessert; I chose to race without a Jetstream for the first time ever; I chose not to wear socks with my running shoes; I hit snooze for one whole hour on race morning; I barely thought about the race ahead of time, as my focus was more on enjoying my visit to Chile.

    In some ways, I did think of Pucon as an experiment, because I knew there was very little pressure to do well this early in the season. I had no pre-race media attention; I had been sick for part of November and most of December, so my training was not too consistent; and I felt like the race director only thought of me as Michael’s wife. All of that added up to pretty low expectations going into the race. In many ways, it was the perfect experiment, and the best way to see how my body would handle the changes.

    You’re also coached by Cliff English. How did you choose him, and why does his coaching style appeal to you?

    I have been coached by Cliff since November, 2008.

    I have been lucky enough to have some amazing coaches during my 13 years of racing. And I did not take the decision to hire Cliff lightly. One of the things that I like about Cliff most is our relationship. Cliff does not have a big ego. He really listens to me when I talk to him. He is open to new ideas. He recognizes some aspects of my ability that other coaches have not seen, which is why I feel that I excelled in the first half of the 2009 race season, and why I will excel in 2010.

    You must have gotten a boost when you passed 2-time Pucon 70.3 champ Heather Gollnick on the run. How did you handle it mentally, knowing that Tereza Macel was still up ahead?

    Heather is one of the toughest competitors that I have ever raced. Mentally she is ruthless.

    Last year, Heather was in a heated battle on the run, and she won it! I fully anticipated her coming with me as I made the pass, and I was ready for it. One of my favorite tactics when racing is to run side by side with a competitor. I love it, I embrace it, I even practice it in training…! But when she did not attempt to come with me, I chose to focus on something else: how lucky I was…

    Being in Pucon and racing on that amazing course was enough of a boost for me. Spectators cheering for me at every inch of the course inspired me to go faster. The entire time that I was racing, I was thinking of how lucky I was to travel to and to race in a country as beautiful as Chile.

    When I received the 3:40 split from Tereza, I didn’t know how much real estate I had left. I knew I was running well, but I chose to remain in the moment. I embraced every cheer, I sought out something different to notice on each run lap, I got to know my junior triathlete lead bikers, and I continued to cheer on other competitors, including Tereza and Heather, as I raced.

    Having treated your trip to Pucon as a vacation, what were your favorite experiences there (besides winning the race!). Did you and Michael hike up to the top of the volcano? Any favorite meals?

    I believe that Michael and I slept the first two days that we were there. The trip from Austin to Pucon was a bit hard on us. We were under a lot of stress with moving into our new apartment in Austin, getting our dogs sorted, and packing for this trip. However, as soon as I got off of the plane in Santiago, I became extremely excited about being in CHILE! I made myself stay awake during the 1.5 hr drive from Temuco to Pucon. I did not want to miss any part of our adventure. I love that Michael speaks fluent Spanish. We had a few inside tips from locals. Michael and I fell into their customs easily. Sadly we did not have enough time to hike the VOLCANO (next year…). However, we did eat at some of the local restaurants, meet some amazing new friends, and embrace the Chilean way of life.

    And now you’re back in Austin! How long do you and Michael train here each year? What are your favorite workouts in Austin? Do you ever see Lance? ;)

    Michael and I have been coming to Austin during the winter months for the past three years. We love Austin. This year Michael and I plan on being in Austin for 5 months.

    Besides Austin having very mild winters, Barton Springs, Lady Bird Lake Trail, etc., there are some amazing rides, runs, and swimming facilities that rival the best triathlon cities!

    As I will touch on in my next question, I do not love to swim. However, swimming with Whitney Hedgepeth at the University of Texas swim center makes it more enjoyable. I really love running with my training partner Cassie on Lady Bird lake Trail. We absolutely kill each other! LOL! Lastly, I have a great group of age group men that I ride with every week.

    Have I seen Lance? Yes, a few times. However, it’s his former teammate, Kevin Livingston, who really inspires me. I take his computrainer classes once a week at Pedal Hard. He is a great instructor, extremely low key, motivating, and overall a really cool dude…

    Which of the three disciplines would you say is your strength? Weakness? And how do you train for the sport that’s your weakest?

    I come from a running background. I am built to run. And I love to run. I would say it is the purest of all 3 disciplines. All you need for a run is a pair of good sneakers. It is my strength. I know all the little mind tricks that go with run racing, and I revel in them.

    My absolute weakness is swimming. When I first started triathlon, the only swim stroke that I knew was the doggie paddle. I knew enough to save myself from drowning…barely. It wasn’t until I was coached by Dave Scott in 2004 that he taught me how to really swim. He was on me 5 days a week, working with me, getting my stroke decent enough to be able to compete at a professional level. I cannot say that I love swimming. It’s hard for me to get excited for a masters workout at 5:30 in the morning, which is in sharp contrast to my love for running a hard track workout. During the off season, I try to at least swim 10k a week, so that it won’t take me 4 months to get back into swim shape. I hear about other pros that are also weak swimmers swimming upwards of 40-50k a week in the winter. If I did that, I would feel like I didn’t have an off season. I need an off season in order to feel fresh when it is time to get race ready. During the season I really need to swim 6 days a week (about 20-25k a week) to swim well.

    What are the pros and cons to being married to another pro triathlete? Do you and Michael ever train together?

    Michael and I have been together for over ten years. We met as age group triathletes. We have been lucky enough to share the same goals through our relationship and we have grown together as a team. While triathlon is important to us, training and racing is not the number one priority in either of our lives. Michael is my number one priority and I am Michael’s number one priority, every single day.

    A “con” that I can think of is that we really get nervous for each other when we are racing the same race. I think Michael gets more nervous for me though. Another “con” that I think of is that mid season our house and laundry seem to get REALLY out of control. I really hate it when the house feels “untidy”. Sometimes we both get so tired that the thought of folding the laundry is daunting.

    For Michael and I there are MANY pros to being married while pursuing our professional careers. One is that we know what each other is going through emotionally and physically. Michael knows exactly how I am feeling after a poor race performance. I can tell when Michael is getting a little over cooked from training. We don’t take each other’s being tired personally. I can list twenty more things. But I’m not sure if these things are actually “pros of being married to a pro” or the pros of being married to the love of your life.

    Michael and I do train together….sometimes. I train a lot with Michael when I am in shape and he is not in shape (Usually in January). I really enjoy the times when we train together. It is the ONLY time I can get the upper hand on him. While I NEVER have the upper hand when we ride together, I love giving him the one-two punch when we are running together. I practice my jedi mind tricks on him and try to make him whine…:) Seriously, I love training with Michael. Two weeks out from Pucon Michael did my key bike workouts and key runs with me. In fact Michael was the only person who was not surprised that I won.

    OK – let’s get to know you a little outside of the realm of triathlon! Name your favorite:

    a. Book: The Glass Castle

    b. Movie: I really enjoyed The Blindside…

    c. TV Show: This is a bit embarrassing, but I love reality television…lol! I love Survivor and I am really excited about the Heroes vs. the Villians. One of my other favorites is The Jersey Shore (It reminds me of my college summer days…lol. Can I get a fist pump?!?

    d. Music: I love Guns and Roses. Their music is timeless. But nothing gets my booty grooving better than Pitbull.

    e. Food: I love Mexican food, although it does not love me back…

    f. Guilty Pleasure: The Jersey Shore

    What’s the rest of 2010 look like for you? Any goals of the season you can share with us?

    The rest of the season is going to be full of racing some of my favorite events (like St. Croix, which I’ve done eight times!), as well as a few new ones (like Rev3 in Knoxville). I plan to keep going in the positive direction I started in Pucon. But above all I want to enjoy being out there training for and racing triathlons with my best friend, ML!

    view the original on XTRI.com

    By Betsy Delcour