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Linsey Corbin is among the favorite female pros vying for the title of Challenge Aruba Champion on Sunday. We caught up with Corbin to hear about her recent Kona performance (she finished 13th), her reasons for closing out the season in the Caribbean and her top tips for tackling a windy bike course.
Triathlete.com: In your post-Kona blog you said that some aspects of your Kona race went to plan, while others left you feeling disappointed. In your self-analysis, what were your number one personal victory and your number one disappointment?
Linsey Corbin: My number one personal victory was something that I wanted to change from past Kona performances where I sort of let the race dictate me mentally. If I was down coming out of the swim, I would kind of write myself off already. This year I thought I did a really good job of being mentally stable across the board all day. I didn’t have a great swim, but it didn’t bother me. I knew it was a long race, and I felt like I did a really good job of racing my own race. Ultimately, you’re out to get the best performance that you’re capable of personally. I mean obviously we all want to win, but sometimes when you think about wanting to win, then that pressure affects you. I want to win Kona, I want to be top 10, I want to be top five—but race day was really about, “Am I going as fast as I possibly can?” and racing within myself.
As for the disappointment, the swim was a disappointment, but my run was disappointing as well. I rode a bit more conservative thinking that I would be able to run a sub-three hour or low-three hour marathon, and I was not even in that zip code. I did not feel good at all in the marathon, and after mile 18 or 19 I started walking a few aid stations and the wheels fell off.
Triathlete.com: Now here you are at Challenge Aruba just two weeks later. What are your goals for the race and—honestly—how bad do you think it will hurt after that monumental effort just two weeks ago?
Corbin: Number one, my goal is just to have fun. This is my last race of the year and I thought that Aruba would be a perfect place for a race-cation. But at the same time, I’m a super competitive person, so I know that even though I’m saying I’m not taking it that serious, I am taking it serious. And actually, when you don’t race super fast in Ironman, you pull up pretty good. I feel like I recovered pretty quickly. I haven’t done a ton since Kona but I actually feel pretty decent. I’ve never raced this close to an Ironman before, so I don’t know what to expect. Part of me thinks I could be pleasantly surprised, and part of me thinks it could be a long day. But we’re in Aruba, and it’s beautiful and I know we’re going to have a lot of fun. And I know Yvonne [Van Vlerken] well, I know Heather [Jackson] well, and so also it will be like a good training day with my friends!
Triathlete.com: While you’ve had a number of great successes in your career, you’ve also had some tough times—for example, having to sit out most of 2015 with injury. You take pride in your resilience and mental toughness—so where does that resilience and strength comes from?
Corbin: I think that a lot of people that know me very well would describe me as stubborn [laughing]. Which can be good or bad. Sometimes it gets me into trouble, like being injured, but sometimes it works to my benefit. Kona’s a perfect example. Was I having my dream day? No. But I’m not going to quit. To me, quitting just isn’t an option, unless it’s a health issue. I think you learn something from the bad days just as much as you learn from the good days. Genetically, my mom is also pretty iron-willed. She puts her feet down and you’re not getting past them! I definitely see, as I’m getting older, traits of my parents that come out in me. I’m just set in my ways sometimes, which is not always a good thing, but has also worked really well.
Triathlete.com: Can we talk about wind? You’ve raced Kona 10 times, where the wind is legendary. Aruba is also quite windy, so what are your tips for staying confident and safe and crushing it in each type of wind on the bike: head, tail and cross?
Linsey Corbin: I think it’s kind of the same for all of them. First of all, you don’t want to panic when there’s wind. I think of it as similar to swimming in the ocean when there are waves or chop. You just want to have fun with it. If the wind wants to blow you around, you have to let it blow you around. Fighting the wind doesn’t really get you anywhere. I try to be one with the wind, rather than fight it. Just accept it. Second, always try to have constant tension on the chain. You don’t really want to ride at a high cadence through wind. You don’t want to muscle your way through it either, because that’s kind of fighting it, but just do the best you can. And try to stay as aerodynamic as possible. If you ride up big and large you’re like a sail in the wind, so I have a visual image of riding almost underneath the wind. So, don’t fight it, keep constant tension on the chain and get little!
Triathlete.com: Team Corbin includes your husband Chris, who accompanies you around the world on your racing adventures and seeks out fly-fishing and other outdoorsy pursuits wherever you go. What’s on his agenda during your time in Aruba?
Linsey Corbin: Chris is already booked for a fly-fishing trip! And Chris loves his beers, so he’ll definitely be checking out the local Balashi. We have a motto of “work hard, play hard,” so both of us will be doing both of those this weekend. We leave Tuesday afternoon, so I’m going to drain the tank on Sunday and then Monday we’ll start the fun post-race off-seasoning.
Triathlete.com: Picture this: You’re lounging on the beach on Sunday afternoon after the race. Chris shows up with your favorite meal and ice cold drink to kick off the celebration. What does he bring?
Linsey Corbin: You can’t go wrong with a burger, fries and an ice-cold beer post-race. But the fruity tropical drinks when you’re in a place like this are also pretty nice!