Skye Moench wasn’t planning on racing Ironman Chattanooga. In fact, the 33-year-old had her sights set on Kona, but, like so many other triathletes, had to pivot when the World Championship was postponed from October to February. So she threw her name on the Chattanooga start list and decided to give it a shot. And 8 hours, 34 minutes and six seconds after the gun went off, Moench not only clinched the win, with a staggering 26-minute lead over runner-up Gurutze Frades Larralde of Spain, but she snagged a new course record and an epic finish line hug with an oatmeal creme pie mascot, too.
Even more impressive? Moench did it on legs that had carried her to a breakthrough sixth-place finish at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships just eight days before. Her performance in St. George, Utah, was the second best among all American women and a surprise to many who hadn’t taken note of Moench’s recent ascent in the sport. After all, she has been competing as a pro for just five years after working fulltime as a CPA, and, after starting out as a 70.3 specialist, only has seven Ironmans under her belt (her one prior Ironman win came in 2019 in Frankfurt, after Sarah True, who had a seven minute lead on Moench, collapsed with 800 meters to go). While Moench said she came to Chattanooga confident in her abilities, she was elated with the result, calling it a “dream day.”
A COVID Silver Lining
Moench credits her win in Chattanooga to the training plans provided by her coach, Cam Watt. But she revealed that she had a bit of an extra unexpected boost with a 10-day quarantine in Slovakia following the Collins Cup competition last month. After testing positive for COVID-19 (but remaining asymptomatic), she spent her hotel lockdown doing some light training and catching up on sleep. “That only benefited me,” she said. “Once I got home, I was really motivated because I didn’t want my fitness to go to waste. I got in a good 10-day block before St. George. It was super intense and high volume, but I felt great doing it.”
Recovering Right Between Races
The thought of back-to-back racing didn’t intimidate Moench, who knew she could handle it if she recovered wisely. That meant plenty of rest (including over ten hours of sleep each night), a great massage (“crucial to loosening up between races,” she said), and some light workouts. “We took things very easy the week between the races,” Monech said. “My longest ride was two hours easy and my longest run was 30 minutes straight. We added just a bit of intensity two days before the race, just to get things moving again.”
Some of that intensity came in the pool, although Moench is quick to point out that her workouts (like the ones below) between races are “nothing super flashy,” and she does these very basic tune-ups as easy or hard as she feels, without set intervals on the swim or paces on the bike.
Session 1: Skye Moench’s Tune Up Swim
10 x 400m as:
(#1 pull buoy + band
#2 pull buoy + paddles)
Session 2: Skye Moench’s Tune Up Bike
6 x 5min. best effort / 5min. easy