Interview by: Nicole Pisani
I caught up with Coach Olivia Lord post IMAZ to ask her a few questions about her second Ironman. She tells us about her race experience, and what life was like for her leading up to race day.

What brought you to IM Arizona?

OL:  To be honest – it was the timing! As a mom it can be a struggle to balance training, kids, work etc. My youngest Poppy started full day kindergarten in September, so it seemed like the perfect time to jump back into IM training!

What expectations did you have going in?
OL:   When I sat down and planned out my year, my races and what I wanted out of my season I set myself some pretty aggressive goals for this race. I designated it as my one and only A race for the season – a risky move because it puts a lot of pressure on that one day, but I knew that given my busy life there was no room for another important race so I put all my eggs in the IMAZ basket. I wanted to take an hour off my IMLP time (yup – an HOUR). I was looking for improvement across the board and I assumed that I could gain some time from the flatter course.

Are you happy with your race result?
OL:   YES!!! Can you see my smile from here??

Tell us about your day.
OL:   Get comfortable – this could take a while!!
My day started at 4:00 a.m. with more food than anyone should eat at 4:00 a.m.!
It was chilly and dark once we arrived at the Iron Village got my bike packed with nutrition and computer and a quick tire check. By the time I was lined up to get in the water (with 2800 of my closest buddies) the sun was starting to come up and the excitement, fear and nausea in the air was palpable!
My swim was not awesome – Tempe Town Mud Pond, err Lake, is so murky that you’re swimming blind. I took some good knocks including a double dunking, goggle removal resulting in a calf cramp that took my breath away! But here’s the thing about Ironman, rough things are guaranteed to occur at some point during your day – you have to deal to with efficiently and move on – physically and mentally! I glanced at my watch as I rounded the last buoy and realized I better hustle to beat last year’s time – so I did!

Into T1 - I was able to stay outside the tent (always my preference) and quickly got myself ready to ride.
I love the bike – and this course, though crowded, is really fun! It takes about 5 turns over 4-5 miles to get out of town and then you hit the Beeline Highway – straight shot out into the desert – cacti, rocks, the real deal! IMAZ is flat – I knew I could make up time on the bike, of course when I looked down at my Cycle-Ops Joule to see where my watts were – BLANK. Foolish me had let it ’charge’ on an unplugged computer. I had my Garmin but it wasn’t reading power either – so it was me and my average speed! Yep – another opportunity for changing the plan on the fly and rolling with it. I was enjoying the bike, happy with my pace, loving the 3 loops where I got to see my awesome family 3 times!! My nutrition was spot on. The last loop was very windy – a solid headwind all the way back into town – and a lot of drafting, which I steadfastly avoided (and caught most of them when their pack disbanded – Ha!).

Off the bike – VERY happy, I came in about 15 minutes faster than I had anticipated – yeah!
Quick T2, loo stop (couldn’t pee on the bike – too many people!!!) and off on the strange triple figure 8 run course. The run is never my strength; I struggled mentally and had a hard time getting my head back in the game. I knew my pace was off, even though my Garmin died (not a great day for technology!). I actually thought I was getting faster as the race went on, not so! It just seemed that way because by the time I was on my 3rd loop most of the folks I was passing were walking – making my slow jog feel like a zippy run!

I drank water and coke, sucked on oranges and forced down my GU and salt caps – no tummy issues. I had no idea what time it was until the last 2 miles when I heard a guy ahead of me say to his buddy – we can break 11:30 if we keep this pace. Great! Seeing 11:19 on the clock as I finally ran toward that finish line was a huge surprise – I was one enormous blubbering smile! I found Matt and Kelly and John and my saint-like handler held me up as I cried and grinned!!!

You mentioned wanting to really make gains with your running. How did you feel during the AZ run?
OL:   During the run I felt like ok, steady, not great – BUT in retrospect I think it was my mental state not my physical one that held me back. I did not  *believe* that I had the run in me that I wanted, all kinds of excuses – too hard on the bike,  not a natural runner… all kinds of negativity that I listened to and allowed to rule my run. I know I have a better run in me – I believe it now and I will conquer that!

How much training do you manage in one week?
OL:   In a high volume week, 15-18 hrs. In a typical week, 10-15.

Of the three disciplines of triathlon, which one do you consider your strength?
OL:   BIKE  :)

Talk about a typical day in your life, if you can.
OL:   In a word - busy! Now that the kiddos are in school I sleep in – till 6, then up for coffee J Making lunches, waking kids, making breakfast, dressing kids, packing backpacks, finding homework, yelling upstairs a lot for everyone to hurry up, waiting for the bus, waving goodbye – then I get to train! That workout changes depending on what day it is, on my long bike day I would wave goodbye to the bus, get on my bike and make it home just in time to meet the bus again! But typically I’m out for a run from the house, to the pool or on the trainer. Then off to work, home for the same routine as breakfast (just backwards – getting them back into bed!!) and working on my coaching clients workouts. I try to keep my evenings free of workouts – I’ll get up 3 hrs earlier if I have to. I really appreciate the downtime, blobbing out for a bit in front of the telly, allowing myself to be a bit lazy!

You did an Ironman in 2009 and then AZ. What should we expect to see you sign up for next?
OL:   I’m working on that…. don’t be surprised to see 2012 include another IM (despite what I said all year!!)
So which of these two Ironman's did you enjoy more and why?
 OL:  Hands down IMAZ – The first time you do anything you learn so much, and you suffer so much! I felt like with AZ I was able to utilize the lessons learned, and I felt that way all through the training (thanks Nicole!) – Stronger and more aware of my capabilities. 

Anything else we should know?
OL:   For me IMAZ was a breakthrough race, yeah it was faster, but that’s not why. I finally started to believe in myself during IMAZ. I am so excited for the future, I can’t wait to start training again, to push myself further and harder and see what happens.