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Many of you may remember an interview I did earlier this year with fledgling pro Alyssa Godesky on making the leap of faith to pursue a career in triathlon. On Sunday, Godesky raced to her first professional victory at the Beach2Battleship iron-distance triathlon–incidentally her fifth iron-distance race this season. On the heels of her win, it seemed a fitting time to check in with Godesky to learn how her rookie pro season has progressed.
Triathlete.com: Congratulations on your win! The big breakthrough for you with this race–aside from earning the victory–was going under 10 hours. [Godesky finished in 9:22:57 with a 42:53 swim, 5:07:08 bike and 3:26:17 run.] Why do you think it all came together for you on Sunday?
AG: Thank you, thank you! Well, I think the swim current definitely helped! But, even if we put my swim at its typical range (+ 20 minutes or so), I’m super excited that my time is still well under that 10-hour mark. I’ll always remember one of the first lessons that Hillary taught me about sport [Godesky is coached by Ultraman world champion Hillary Biscay and is a member of Biscay’s TeamHPB]. “It’s like banging on a rock,” she said. If you’re confused, well, join the club! I had to ask for an explanation as well. The theory goes that with endurance sports you put in the work–hour after hour, day after day, week after week. Just as if you were trying to bang a rock in half, you keep hammering away. Some small chips fall off here and there along the way to give you assurance on your progress, but nothing too big. But then, finally, sometimes after years of hammering, the rock splits and a huge chunk falls off. This race was just that–the result of years of hammering on that rock.
Triathlete.com: Let’s look at your iron-distance record this season:
Ironman Los Cabos–13th
Challenge Atlantic City–4th
That’s five iron-distances in eight months–certainly more than most pros care to race. Why on earth did you do so many?
AG: Just as if I was starting out again in the corporate world, I’m willing to pay my dues and work some long hours! It’s not the easiest way to go about it, but I’ve known for a long time that the more practice I have at something, the better I get. I wasn’t going to be in the podium mix from the get-go–but I’m getting there! As the year went on I continued learning more and feeling stronger, so all systems continued forward. I also love the training aspect of iron-distance racing. I thrive in the high volume days, and so racing more allows me to train more, which means I’m a happy camper!
Triathlete.com: Your race schedule reflects a real balance across the board, with two WTC events, two Challenge Family races and Beach2Battleship (not to mention a few half-distance events you also raced). Why did you choose such variety?
AG: I planned the season from a business perspective first this year. There are not many early season races to choose from, and I loved racing in Cabo as an age grouper, so I wanted to return there. I opted to buy the WTC license, which then meant I also wanted to race enough WTC races to make that worthwhile, and hopefully offset the cost of that. But once I had that done, the Challenge series coming to North America this year was music to my ears! They do a great job supporting the professionals, and with 10-deep prize purses they are always an attractive option for up and coming athletes who need to hustle around and race a bit more while looking to break even on the racing.
Long course triathlon is something that several companies out there other than WTC are supporting and trying to develop. If I can help bring some light to their races by racing them, I’m happy to return the support that they offer the professionals.
Triathlete.com: You rely on part-time income (from contract marketing for race production company Bad To The Bone Endurance Sports, coaching TeamHPB athletes, supplemental income from a rental property and prize money and sponsor incentives) as well as savings to support your triathlon dream. To give readers an accurate picture of the “glamorous” life of an up-and-coming pro, are you willing to share how much money you earned from the sport this year?
AG: Sure. From racing itself, I earned $7,150. With some sponsor incentives and bonuses I’ve been able to add another $1,000 or so (not including the cash value of product). While this has definitely been more than what I budgeted on making this year, you can see that it’s certainly not enough to live off of quite yet!
Triathlete.com: When we spoke earlier this year, you described the challenge of justifying to your parents your decision to quit a more lucrative job in order to give it a go as a pro triathlete. How do your parents feel about your decision now that you have a full season under your belt?
AG: They are loving it! I think they see how happy it’s making me to be working hard at something I am truly passionate about. I’m pretty sure my mom knows more about the competition that I am racing against before each race than I do. And my Dad is always sending me articles about marketing and the business side of things. They’re a crucial part of Team Alyssa.
Triathlete.com: Has anything else changed since we last spoke? For example, are you still living in a basement?
AG: Ha! My first basement lease was up in May, and so I spent the summer living with friends both in Charlottesville and in Frisco, Colo. (Bad to the Bone put on two running events at Copper Mountain in the summer). Now that I’m back in Charlottesville full-time, I am in my own one-bedroom apartment, which allows for me to really get back into my own rhythm and routine with training. It is, technically, a basement, but it’s much brighter and more spacious than the last one! I have recently ended the part-time babysitting gig I was also juggling, since coaching and racing have picked up and paid off this year!
Triathlete.com: What has been the single most surprising thing that you’ve experienced this season?
AG: How truly welcoming and amazing the triathlon community is. I have really embraced the opportunities for homestays–at first because, yes, it helps the bottom line financially, but now that some of these homestays have become good friends and second families, I can’t imagine traveling any other way. I also had several pros reach out to me throughout the year only to say, “Hey, I know this life can be tough. Let me know if you ever need to chat.” From homestays to fellow pros, people have gone from strangers to close friends in a matter of days, and that’s pretty special.
Triathlete.com: What are the top three lessons learned from your first year as a pro–in 140-character-or-less format each?
AG: 1) Have some fun out there. Smile! At the end of the day, it’s only triathlon, and there’s always going to be another race.
2) Be patient! In racing, training and life, the results are rarely instantaneous. Patience pays off.
3) Be picky with sponsors. Having fewer companies–but ones that truly believe in you–is more important than a kit full of logos.
Triathlete.com: What’s next for you?
AG: Some rest! For the first time I’ve been able to race as much as I really hoped to, but I definitely noticed that has increased my desire for a solid bit of an off-season. In the past, with two or three iron-distance races, I’ve felt like I was just gearing up when it was time to end the season. A big off-season project that I have coming up is traveling to Kona over Thanksgiving to crew for fellow TeamHPB athlete–and Ultraman Florida champion–Julie Shelley at the Ultraman World Championships. It’s been inspiring to watch Julie train for this event and I’m excited to see it firsthand!