It’s been eight years since American Sarah True (née Groff) has dipped her toes in Ironman 70.3 racing, but the two-time Olympian will return to long-course at Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga this Sunday. True previously competed at Ironman 70.3 Oceanside and the 70.3 World Championship in 2009, but has been focusing solely on ITU racing since then. We caught up with True just a few days before her re-introduction to long-course racing.
Triathlete.com: Are you focused on Ironman 70.3 for this season, or will we still see you at some ITU events?
True: I’m pretty much going to do the rest of the ITU [WTS] season and then I’ll transition over to non-drafting after that. This is just to get my feet wet, because I haven’t done a half-Ironman since 2009. This will be a good little gauge for the second part of the season—September, October and November. I have an idea of what I need to be working on, but this will be a good litmus test for me. [Ironman 70.3] racing has changed since I last raced—and I’ve changed since then—so this is a way to see where I fit in.
Triathlete.com: Did you choose Chattanooga because 70.3 Worlds will be there in September?
True: Not really. Originally I was hoping to do a half a few weeks ago, but I crashed about five weeks ago and coming back from that took a little longer than I would’ve liked. So this one just fit into the schedule well and it’s fairly easy travel from New Hampshire.
Triathlete.com: Did you take some downtime after Rio and have you made any significant changes to your training since then?
True: I realized about two months ago that my bike wasn’t where it needed to be, so I’ve been playing a little bit of catch-up. I’ve been focusing a lot more on the bike because you have to at this distance. Right now I’m writing my own training program, but I have a couple of people advising me on what to do. Really nothing has changed too much from what I was doing before—I’m just spending a lot more time on my TT bike.
Triathlete.com: So is Ironman 70.3 Worlds in September on your radar?
True: It all depends on whether or not I feel I can be competitive. I don’t want to go unless I feel I’m ready to race at the front for a 70.3.
Triathlete.com: Have you given any thought into going even longer in the future?
True: There’s a part of me that definitely wants to do an Ironman. Maybe it’ll happen sometime next year. It’s a bucket-list thing for so many of us. I just have to decide whether I’m just going to be an Ironman fan or if it’s something I can actually race well in. I wouldn’t want to do it as a pro just to finish. I’m competitive. I only want to do it if I can do a good job. So we’ll see.
Triathlete.com: People always say that finishing fourth at the Olympics is one of the toughest things that can happen to an athlete. But was it even tougher not to be able to finish in Rio versus finishing fourth in London?
True: Oh man. Those were tough in very different ways. In Rio it was kind of a freak thing—almost like getting a flat. It was hard to process. In 2012 it was tough because there was the thought of “what could I have done differently in training to be just a little faster?” That leads you down a very different path of thinking than something like not finishing. 2012 was bittersweet. 2016 was devastating in a very different way. I’m lucky I had the experience to be able to process it in a healthy way.