SL: I think this year will be really interesting because a lot of people have done early ironman races or they’re doing a mid-season ironman just because they have to qualify for Kona. That was something really different for Rinny and me because we were starting our season with an ironman in early March. We went into it underdone. The whole thing took us totally out of our comfort zone. She was like: Oh my god, I feel underdone. I’m going into this and it’s only my third ironman. I had to say, “The season started in a totally different way. We have to make adjustments according to what the start of the season looked like.” That inevitably leads to a lot of changes along the way. That creates a difficulty, but I see it more as a great opportunity to do things differently and to realize that everything’s going to be totally fine. Because that’s probably the most common thing you hear, people just say, “OK, this is what I did before that time when I was racing great.” But you’ve got to have experiences where, while you’re still following the same philosophies and principles, you’re doing things differently. And you have to believe it’s going to work that way, too.
MS: Yeah, most of the Kona contenders are not the kind of athletes that are going to race three ironman’s a year. I mean they’re very well rounded athletes that might do some Olympic distance and half ironman’s. But the new Kona qualification system kind of takes that away from some of them now. I mean I don’t want to get into the whole politics of the qualifying thing, but, for example, Julie did Rev3 and then Coeur D’Alene. We were almost like: Let’s get in decent enough shape to do Coeur D’Alene, but Rev3 is the goal. So we were doing some things leading into Rev3 we probably wouldn’t normally do. And she raced awesome at Rev3, but you know in an athlete’s mind, once that goal is checked off, they’re onto the next one. All of a sudden that next race is very important to them. Then maybe they don’t have such a good race, and you have to bring it into perspective that Coeur D’Alene wasn’t really the goal – she just had to get it out of the way. And I think it was kind of the same thing with Rinny at New Zealand this year. I spent some time with her and Julie riding before that race and she was stressed. She had to do so much travel after winning Kona. It seemed to me in that race, she could have just cruised it. But these girls are very competitive, so they don’t care what kind of shape they’re in, they’re going to lay it all on the line. I think she took off running and was just like: I am eating time up! And she just went for it. And I think it probably impacted her somewhat in the early season. Julie was the same way. She did Coeur D’Alene and she went for it and made a few errors on the bike with nutrition. Then she had a good first part of the run and then bonked and had to walk. But because she’s so competitive, she just gobbled up a bunch of food at an aid station and got her energy back and then ran the last seven miles really well. And then afterwards, she was sore and couldn’t get back into the training like she wanted to. So throwing another ironman in there, it just seems for some of these athletes it takes them out of their comfort zone. But then it also gives them another chance to practice. Julie and Rinny haven’t raced very many ironman’s. Even Craig – Coeur D’Alene this year was only his sixth ironman. And here he’s got a second and two firsts in Kona. But it gave him a chance to try a different thing. In Kona, in a way it’s like you have to be safe. You’ve got to go for it, but you can’t be too risky. In Coeur D’Alene or New Zealand you can try out different things. So it gives the athlete more practice to work on nutrition and that sort of thing. So you can look at it as a bad thing, but you can also look at it as a new way to practice.