>There’s no denying that professional triathletes invest themselves significantly in their craft. This fact has been evidenced in no small measure by comments from some of the prior athletes interviewed in this series. What is refreshing, however, is to see – and tangibly relate – to the joy that some of these world class athletes take in participating in their trade.
Linsey Corbin seems to totally enjoy triathlon. Every time she’s photographed, she has a huge smile on her face. She finishes every race wearing a cowboy hat, a testament to her roots in Montana. She embodies the fun that we age groupers feel each time we compete. She’s FUN.
Recently, Tri Madness had the chance to interview Linsey about her 2010 season, her triumphs, the joy of winning an Ironman, and how she’s changed her training routine this year.
And now, this week’s version of “Ten Questions With…Professional Triathlete Linsey Corbin:
TM: First of all, congrats on a really successful season so far. Three podium finishes at 70.3, including a win in New Orleans, and the big victory at IM Coeur D’Alene. How does this year stack up against your prior years in terms of your level of satisfaction, expected results, and goals?
LC: Thanks! It has been a great year for me. I have had some great high points (winning IMCDA in a new course record, 2nd at IMAZ, putting down the fastest IM by a US woman for 2010). I have also had some races where I was wishing for a bit more – so this is what drives me – always looking to improve. My big goals for the year were to win IMCDA in a new course record, to race fit & fresh, remain healthy & injury free. Mission accomplished. There were also a few things I desired to accomplish that will now be goals for 2011 such as a top-5 performance in Kona, to break a 3 hour marathon, and to break 9 hours at IMAZ.
TM: You took your first IM distance win at Coeur D’Alene. When did you know you had the race in the bag?
LC: Winning IMCDA was a dream come true. It was my big goal for the year – so to have it happen was surreal. I don’t think I really ever thought I “had it in the bag” until the final stretch on Sherman Avenue. Anything can happen in an Ironman. I knew my training partner and good friend, Meredith was hot on my heals. I took the lead at mile 18 of the marathon. At that point, I was also getting time splits to my goal finish time of 9 hours and 15 minutes. I knew I couldn’t let off the gas as I was really shooting for that time.
TM: Your finish line photos at IMCDA were awesome, with the look of utter joy on your face. What emotions were going through your mind as you finished the last couple of miles?
LC: I thought that finishing an Ironman was an adrenaline rush – well let me tell you, winning one is something else! I was just so pumped. I can’t describe it any other way. Everyday since January 1, 2010 I was focused on winning in CDA in a new record time. So many people sacrificed so much to help me out along the way. To achieve the win was so much more than something about myself. That joy was so authentic and a moment in my life that will be hard to replicate. a I want to do it again and again, I can tell you that!
TM: You had an amazing race in Tempe this year. Your time broke the previous course record, and you set a new personal best in an Ironman. Could you walk us through the day? What went well, what worked, what you’d like to have a chance to do over?
LC: Thanks, IMAZ was for sure a highlight of my year. I guess the first thing was having Chrissie, Leanda, Rachel, Meredith, Heather, and so many other talented women in the field. I knew if I wanted to make it into the top-3 I would have to take some big risks in the race and elevate my game. I really tried to focus on myself. The swim was the swim. Always a work in progress. I hit it hard on the first few loops of the bike, trying to limit my damage and see where I ended up. My legs opened up throughout the ride and I was happy to break 5 hours – a new personal best for me. Onto the run, I was determined to give my best effort and try and break 3 hours. The course at Arizona is awesome for this, 3 loops, a lot of spectator support, and relatively flat. I was on track for the first 2 loops and felt really great. Things got pretty tough with about an hour to go, and I really had to fight mentally to keep my head in the game. I was spent by the time I reached the finish line, so it was a satisfying race for me. I finished 2nd and it was the fastest a US woman has gone in an IM for 2010.
TM: I’ve read that you don’t do the run part of races with a GPS or pace watch – that you run “on feel”. That may seem a little unusual to many triathletes in this day and age of technology aids. Could you elaborate on this a little? Do you train with technology at all?
LC: I grew up a runner in Bend, Oregon. We always ran just to run. Everything was off of feel. To me, running symbolizes freedom. I feel that in Ironman you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit. You never know how you are going to feel in the marathon – so I just go with what I got. I have been so close to breaking a 3 hour marathon, that I may switch it up and start paying attention to my pacing a bit more to make that happen. I train with a GPS, on a treadmill and I do pay attention to pacing when I have to. But a lot of the time I run with out a ceiling, just for the fun of it.
TM: You’ve spoken openly in other interviews about how in 2009 you were overtrained and how your coaching relationship with Matt Dixon fundamentally changed your approach to training. What are the biggest differences in how you approach training today versus 18 months ago?
LC: The biggest difference is that I am fit & fresh. My training has taken on a well-rounded athlete approach. Its not about swim, bike and run – I also focus on strength & stability, core & mobility, nutrition, mental stamina, along proper rest & recovery. With training, each session has a purpose – sometimes the intensity is very high. I feel I focus more now on quality than quantity and making each set count. When it is time to work hard, we work hard. When it is time to rest, we really rest. I feel the best I have in my career and I am so thankful to have connected with Matt Dixon – purplepatch: its a feeling not a color!
TM: It’s well publicized that you love to live in Montana. Part of that includes massive climbing and training at altitude. To what extent do you think that has benefitted you in your training and racing?
LC: Living in Montana provides me a perfect training platform. We are blessed with great trail runs, a nice 50m outdoor pool, rivers to swim in, open roads for riding, and mountains to climb. While the training is epic in Montana, the most important thing I get out of living in Missoula is happiness. We – my husband Chris and our dog Madison – have found a perfect balance and way of life in Missoula. I am surrounded by some of the greatest friends and training partners ever. I think having a happy heart is the first step to competing well. I come to Kona with little stress, injury-free, well-prepared, and I have trained hard, all in Missoula. You can’t beat that!
TM: I live in Florida, and I’ve got to admit that when I think of Montana, I envision 10-month long winters. Sure that’s an over-statement, but how do you cope with winter and weather as you train?
LC: The winter provides the perfect opportunity to enjoy an off-season. While I won’t truly take a ton of time “off” as I am an active individual I enjoy spending December skiing, working on strength with TRX at the gym, hiking in the snow with my dog, building up my cycling stamina with focused indoor trainer sessions, and spending time outdoors. I look forward to the change of seasons and adapt my training accordingly.
TM: So what’s the backstory to finishing every race with a cowboy hat?
LC: I started racing triathlon with our local triathlon club, Team Stampede. Tradition was that we finished each race with a trademark cowboy hat. This group was so supportive of me (and still is). I took the cowboy hat tradition with me as I started racing all over and climbing the professional ranks. The cowboy hat is like my carrot – always waiting at the finishing stretch for me. Just get to the finish and grab the hat! I think it also symbolizes why I do this sport – for fun. It doesn’t matter if I win, am 5th or dead last – seeing the hat makes me smile and reminds me that this is a profession I have chosen, and I like to keep it fun and positive no matter what.
TM: Do you have any non-triathlon guilty pleasures?
LC: Drinking espresso, enjoying a nice beer, red wine, peanut butter, pretzels, cuddling up with a good book, shopping, traveling, and being social. My family is the most important thing to me and I have a wonderful golden-retriever, Madison. Life is good!
TM: Here’s a bonus question: I read somewhere that you said one of your fav post race indulgences is a beer from Big Sky Brewing (a local Missoula brewery). I think the quote inferred that there was a beer named after you? I checked out Big Sky’s website….your beer isn’t called “Old Bluehair” is it?
LC: Ha – yes, Big Sky Brewing is one of my few Montana based sponsors. They have rallied behind my profession since early in my career. The companies values are similar to mine: have fun & enjoy all that you do. Each year for Kona they come up with a specialty beer for me to bring out to the island. If you ask nicely, I will give you some next year :).
To learn more about Linsey, check out her webpage at http://www.linseycorbin.com/. You can also follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/linseycorbin.