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After storming onto the 70.3 scene in 2011 and nabbing the Ironman 70.3 World Championship crown, Melissa Hauschildt (née Rollison) fell off the radar in the U.S. as she struggled with injury and managed a fourth-place finish in Vegas in 2012. Now Hauschildt captured our attention once again with a dominant Ironman 70.3 Boulder victory (she beat runner-up Leanda Cave by almost 13 minutes) followed by her win at Ironman 70.3 Timberman two weeks later. Earlier this season, she won the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon and the ITU Long Distance World Championship in France (which was turned to a duathlon this year due to weather conditions). Now Hauschildt is gearing up for a burst of speed for a load of cash at the Hy-Vee 5150 U.S. Championship Elite Cup (the winners each take home $100,000), and will try to regain her crown in Vegas the next weekend. We caught up with Hauschildt to find out about her Vegas preparation, how she structured her season and when we might see her in a full Ironman.
Triathlete.com: Congrats on your 70.3 Boulder and Timberman wins—what did you take away from those two races? And how do you feel they prepared you for Vegas?
Hauschildt: Both races were great for my confidence leading into Vegas. I felt really fit and strong in both. I was originally just racing Boulder 70.3 and Hy-Vee before Vegas, but then I felt I needed (and wanted) another hit out over the distance and at sea level to see what pace I felt comfortable with on the run.
Triathlete.com: How are you using Hy-Vee in your preparation for Vegas?
Hauschildt: Hy-Vee is a championship race in itself, so I’m tapering and going into to it fresh and ready to go. I won’t be thinking about Vegas while on the start line in Des Moines.
Triathlete.com: I noticed you were racing some odd distances like Abu Dhabi and ITU Long Course Worlds, and I know you mentioned breaking your season into two parts and taking some time off. Can you talk about how you set your season up this year, and how that might give you an advantage heading into Vegas?
Hauschildt: As I race the Asia-Pacific season and also the U.S. season, I don’t get a full off-season, so I need to plan regular breaks throughout the year. I have a few key races—this year that was Abu Dhabi, ITU [Long Distance] world champs and 70.3 world champs. So after Abu Dhabi in March I took a little break. I took another break in June after ITU. And after Vegas training will be a lot lighter. I still have two races after Vegas—Cozumel 70.3 two weeks later and then Augusta 70.3 another week after that. Training won’t be real serious leading into these races because when I get home (to Australia) the Asia-Pacific season is ready to start, but I’ll still keep ticking things over so I should be fresh and fit to race. This year I also had a forced break in January after crashing out in Auckland, the Asia-Pacific champs. My June break extended way past a week off due to a niggle I got in my knee after whacking it in the race. So I don’t feel like I’ve overtrained or it’s been a really long season. I think starting my U.S. season later this year is really going to pay off.
Triathlete.com: What do you think of some of the ITU competition that will be jumping up to 70.3 worlds this year?
Hauschildt: I don’t actually follow my competitors’ progress or what they’ve been up too. I just focus on what I’m doing. So I’m not sure who the stand-out girls will be. I guess with the ITU girls coming over to long course it’s going to increase the pace of the swim. Hopefully the field gets sorted out on the bike though and we don’t have girls working together. The run could also be faster. I know it’s double the distance, but ITU racing is all about the swim and run. Those girls are definitely capable of running a good half-marathon.
Triathlete.com: What do you think of the decision to move 70.3 worlds to different locations starting next year?
Hauschildt: I think it’s a great idea. Vegas is awesome in that it’s always scorching hot. It’s hilly. It’s tough. It’s a true world championship course, right? But I think it’s only fair it moves around. Every continent gets a turn and it’s raced over a different course each time. Everyone says Vegas is perfect because it’s hard, mainly because of the heat, but that’s not the case for everyone. I think France, ITU worlds, was harder being so cold. I’ve never raced in temperatures that low. That was a real test for me. After descending for 14K straight at below zero degrees Celsius I was almost unable to turn my pedals after it. The final run leg was brutal. Also, hills are hard, yes! Everyone would agree. But a lightweight is going to go much better over the hills. A pancake-flat course requires strength. You need to be able to hit high speeds and be able to stay on your aerobars for 90K straight. That is also tough in a different way.
Triathlete.com: You made it clear earlier this year that an Ironman wasn’t in the cards for 2013. Do you plan to jump up to that distance anytime soon?
Hauschildt: I’m still undecided as to when I’ll do an Ironman. I enjoyed doing some longer races this year—Abu Dhabi with a 200K bike leg and Koh Samui and ITU worlds with 30K of running. I’ll see how the rest of the year pans out. It’s not out of the question, but I’m definitely not signing up for one now.
What would it mean for you to regain the 70.3 world championship crown?
Hauschildt: You can win every other race but nothing beats winning the world championship. It’s the one race that everyone wants to win more than anything else. Being crowned world champion—you can’t beat that. It’s the one race where anything can happen though. I think it really comes down to who is mentally the toughest, who wants it the most and who can deal with the pressure that comes with a world championship.
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