Country of Origin: New Zealand
Career highlight to date: ITU World Cup Champion 2008 - Ranked No.1 in World at end of 2008 Season.
Favorite race: Mexico ITU World Cup 2008 (1st and secured World Cup for 2008), Salford 2006 ITU World Cup (1st - won in front of my family in the UK), Commonwealth Games 2006 (Silver Medal - First race as a 'full-time athlete' after giving away my teaching career the previous year).
Best leg: At the moment the bike is going really well for me, but historically at ITU I was known as a runner.
Sponsors: Thompson's Nutrition, Asics Shoes, The NZ Refining Company,
Adidas Sunglasses, Trek Bicycles (as of tomorrow!), Sidi Cycling Shoes,
Rudy Project Helmets, Fuel belt, Blue Seventy Wetsuits, Sweat7 Coaching.
Favorite TV show: Coronation Street closely followed by Glee!!
TT: Sam, thanks for your time. Congrats on your third place at Lake Stevens 70.3 last weekend. Talk us through the race?
SW: I had a poor swim I just could not get my cadence going and therefore could not get away from the pack I was with, that was a little frustrating to be honest. The bike leg was strong but I made a mistake around mile 5 - I had just caught Melanie Mc Quaid who was riding very strong. I went to pass her and got my wheel in front but then she accelerated (as she called it afterward 'a mountain bike maneuver'!!). A draft buster went by and shook his head so I dropped back all in a panic! I've been penalized for drafting earlier this year and did not want to have that happen again. This is the first year I've really committed to this distance so I'm still learning really. After this had happened I then thought 'now just hold the drafting gap Sam’, but I decided to take a Gu and that change of focus cost me as before I knew it the gap opened up and Melanie was away - she's super strong on the bike and I've now learnt you just can't give her an inch!
I came off the bike two minutes down but didn’t panic - I just thought be patient. I got a great turnover going and started to chase Melanie down. By mile 8 I had run 90 seconds into her lead and could see on some of the straights, however at mile 10 I blew big time! I was gutted. It's the feeling every athlete dreads. When the strength just drains out of your legs and your heart is pounding. So then it was a case of trying to hold it together and keep a spot on the podium.
TT: Were you happy with the result?
SW: No, I did not think it reflected how well training has been going - but that’s racing. I had come off a big block of training at camp so may be I was a little fatigued from all the volume but that's no excuse to crumble how I did.
There were a lot of positives I've taken from the event, I've been working on my cadence on the hills as I have a tendency to over gear myself- I felt I got this right at Lake Stevens. Also, my run form felt great for the first 10 miles and that is one area I have been working on a lot - so another positive. It was jus that I was so focused on running form and nutrition I forgot about the temperature rising - it was very warm - so I think I over heated a little which didn't help. But I have no excuses - Melanie and Tyler had great races. For me it is never a failure unless you don't learn from it.
TT: What is on the agenda from here until worlds?
SW: I am doing the Rev 3 Ironman on September 12th at Cedar Point.
Apparently I'm receiving my new Trek Speed Concept tomorrow morning, so I have just less than 3 weeks to get used to it! I am doing well in the series with second place in the Olympic distance and third at the Half. I've always wanted to do an Ironman so it seemed an ideal opportunity. I then pop home to see my husband for 4 weeks and then head back to the USA for Dallas and Austin 70.3. Then depending on how I am feeling it will either be a big block of training or Miami before the World 70.3 Championships.
TT: In terms of race strategy what are your thoughts on what will be required in order to podium at worlds?
SW: I will just focus on myself and race my whole race going as hard as I can from start to finish. Obviously I would like to be as close as possible to the stronger swimmers. Then it will be a case of getting my head down on the bike, chasing them and catching them on the run. But at the end of the day, the only thing you can guarantee is it is going to hurt and I will give it 100%.
TT: Will there be some hard training patches/camps between now and worlds?
SW: Definitely, I am in the middle of one right now! Learning how to train and race an Ironman is a challenge in itself. The distance and stories people tell me - they scare me to be honest! I love blocks of hard training leading into races. It always amazes me how the body reacts to hard sessions; I just love getting through something I previously thought I couldn't do. It seems every time your body will surprise you - in a positive way!
TT: You have been on the world scene for a while now. Are you still enjoying the traveling? Does it get any easier or do you just miss home more?
SW: Yes it is hard and I do miss my husband (Stephen) and home. Stephen understands that this is my passion and what makes me happy. I am lucky that he supports me so much and believes in me as much as he does. It is harder on him than me as he is at home in a half built house and goes to work everyday, we began building our house last year and it just seems more and more gets done every time I return home. We certainly don’t live a normal life. We got married this past December and in 8 months we have been together for 3 of them!
My goal has always been to be the best I can be and for now this is where I need to be. I am lucky that I go home every 2-3 months for a few weeks. For me this brings back the balance that I need in my life to be happy - I can get very narrow minded at times but going back home brings me back to earth!
I love triathlon and when I’m at camp I give it every thing but then when I go home my husband and friends give me the reality I need to help get that balance back in my life. I also know that this is my dream to live the life of a professional athlete, ever since I was a kid. I never had it in my 20's so I appreciate how lucky I am that training and racing is my job now.
You only get one opportunity in life and in sport it can be a short one at that, so I am making the most of this opportunity right now.
My husband Stephen knows that when my time is up I will put the same passion and dedication into our family. I know people think I am mad because I am not a normal 39 year old, but I still enjoy the training and pushing myself - So it really isn’t an issue for me.
TT: What is the hardest training session that you have ever done?
SW: I’ll tell you when I retire – and not before. I’m currently putting together a team of 7 women to train for the NZ National Champs next March – they’ll be called The Sweat7, and you can follow their progress on my website
www.sweat7.com My sponsors have been great and offered the lucky girls free clothing, shoes, nutritional supplements. The lot! I’m currently taking applications for the team – all coaching is by me and free – they’ll be doing some tough sessions if they want to make my team.
TT: To leave us with. If you could be any super hero, who would it be?
SW: Superwoman because she could be normal then just spin around and be a woman with super powers. I definitely can do the normal balanced part but just wish when I spun I could have those super powers too – and the boobs would be an added advantage!