MS: Julie didn’t trip her?
SL: No! It was so awesome, you know? Rinny was like: Great job Julie! And I love Julie, too. It was just awesome. Anyway, at that point it was getting down to the wire. Rinny will laugh about this, but she’s having this amazing race and she takes the lead, and I start thinking: OK, we want to go for the course record. Getting her to run what we hoped she could run. And that’s always the hard part, because here they are killing themselves, but you can kind of tell when your athlete still has a little bit more. At that point I had to make that choice. This athlete is going to have her first ironman world championship win, and she needs to know not only that, but also she can make it even that much better with a course run record. At that point I had to make the decision that was where I needed to be. So I remember I drove way down the road and when Rinny got to where I was l said, “OK, you’re doing awesome. But you know what? Let’s friggin’ go for the course record!” She looked at me like: God! What?? And that always happens to us, where it’s like: What more do you want from me? But she knew. That lit her fire, and she started picking up the pace. There was no way in the world I was going to miss her crossing the finish line. And I remember I was jumping fences, because I wasn’t allowed into where I wanted to be. I broke every rule. I always seem to almost get arrested everywhere, jumping fences trying to get to the finish. But I wanted to be there for her, and that was incredible. She broke the course run record and that was awesome. And then I was able to still be there when Leanda came in and then Kate [Major] came in and that was awesome too. So I guess you just have to see what’s happening and make the best decision that you can. Do everything that you can for each athlete. Because the thing is, you know as a coach that you’re preparing each athlete to the best of your ability, and you never know what’s going to happen on race day.
MS: It’s out of your hands in a way. I don’t do a lot of: Hey, good job! Because they’re hearing that from everyone. But you’re out there, giving them accurate time splits of you’re able to, and almost technique advice and mental cues that work for them. I’m less of a cheerleader out there. Everyone out there says they’re looking great, but I’m not going to blow that to them. Julie and Craig are much more separated out there, but I just try to get out and give them information as best I can. I kind of did the opposite in Coeur D’Alene. It’s not as big of a race – it’s not Hawaii – so while Craig was having a great race, I didn’t feel so much of a need to see him cross the finish line. I felt more that I needed to stay out there and support Julie, who was having kind of a rough time, which would encourage her and help her. In Kona last year, both my athletes had good days, but they didn’t win. And when you’re that competitive, you don’t want anything other than a victory. So Julie was having a really tough time. Both Julie and Craig respond a little bit to – I don’t want to say anger, but you’re able to fire them up kind of like a football coach would yell at his team during half time. Not yell at them to downgrade them, but like: We’re going to battle! Just to inspire them a little bit more. With Julie [in Kona 2010], Rinny had passed her and I was getting reports she was walking. When she came out of the Energy Lab I said, “ Get your shit together at this next aid station and run. You’re a tough bitch.” I just kept on her, saying, “You’re a tough bitch!” And she can take herself to that level where she thinks: Yeah, I am! And she keeps moving. I myself would have just given up and walked it in, but if you can just get into these athletes, they can take their bodies to places we can’t. Well, you used to be able to, but I never could! And I think that’s our job in part. They’re looking for a face out there they can trust. People out there might be giving them bad splits, but they know that they can get something from us. I’ll even lie to them. Someone like Craig – and Rinny’s probably the same way – you want to give them accurate splits early on so they can calculate what they’re doing. But then toward the end of the race I’ll lie to them. Say they didn’t take another 15 seconds out of the person in front of them – I’ll tell them they did. It keeps them motivated, thinking they’re taking time out of the person. It keeps them motivated, because that back half of the marathon, that last 10k, if you’re still having to dig you need that motivation.