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The former short-course specialist not intimidated by depth of 70.3 field in St. George.
Alicia Kaye may be the new kid on the 70.3 block, but she’s no stranger to competition. The short course star and 2013 Toyota Triple Crown winner transitioned to long-course racing in 2014 for “new challenges,” and has quickly made a name for herself on the half-Iron circuit. Her first attempt at the 70.3 North American Pro Championships in St. George, Utah promises to be her biggest challenge yet. What she had to say in the days leading up to the race:
Triathlete.com: This will be your first time taking on Ironman 70.3 St. George. The pro start list is a “who’s who” of long-course triathlon—does that intimidate or excite you?
Kaye: I don’s seek out start lists. If I see them, I see them, if I don’t, I don’t. Regardless of who is coming, it doesn’t affect my race strategy. I’ve selected half distance races that are highly competitive; I see racing the best girls at this distance as an excellent opportunity to steepen my learning curve at this distance. It excites me to race the best girls in the sport.
Triathlete.com: With the severe cuts to short-course opportunities for pro athletes, it seems your hand was forced to move up to the 70.3 distance; however, you’ve planned this transition for quite some time, correct?
Kaye: After my 2014 season, I knew I wanted to seek out new challenges. Initially, my plan was just do the Challenge Triple Crown and some key North American 70.3’s, but with the Life Time Series and Hy-Vee being cancelled, it made the most sense to be completely focused on racing long course.
Triathlete.com: Your first attempt at the distance (in 2012) did not go well. You did not finish. What happened there, and did that make you gun-shy about taking on long course again?
Kaye: When a hurricane hit the Bahamas in the fall of 2012, a race I was planning on doing was delayed by one week. It meant that the Rev3 Half in Venice, Fla. was just down the road. I wasn’t in shape at all to race the distance, I raced the first 40k of the bike far too aggressively, and was way too lean on my calories. I made every mistake possible and I was simply unprepared. I ate a ham and cheese sandwich in T2 and ran one loop of the run fully understanding that I would have a lot of work to do before I attempted another half distance race.
Triathlete.com: In Muskoka last year, during your second attempt (and first finish) at the 70.3 distance, you won the women’s title. Going in to that race, did you feel the win was possible?
Kaye: I did Muskoka because I wanted to do Bahrain, and my coach wouldn’t allow me to race Bahrain without racing a half-distance race first. Muskoka was a great learning experience and it fit the best in my race schedule; however, just the two previous weekends I had raced Chicago and Hy-Vee so I was not thinking about winning at all, just race execution. Unfortunately, I was too tired after a long race season to continue my race season into Bahrain.
Triathlete.com: What have been some of the adjustments you’ve had to make in stepping up from short-course to long-course racing?
Kaye: Learning to eat while going hard and pacing. I’m so used to an Olympic-distance effort, that it’s taking me some time to learn the pacing for a half.