>Many of my recent interviews with professional triathletes have been with some of the most famous athletes in our sport. Athletes that we read about in magazines each and every month. Athletes who are in so many advertisements that it would be difficult to not recognize them at a race.
The reality is, though, that the vast majority of professional triathletes are not the poster-boys of our sport. Only a select few garner the marjority of the press at each race. The average age grouper may not have ever heard of a good number of pros who toe the line at any given event. This week’s interview is with a professional athlete who may not yet have the same name recognition as Hillary Biscay or Chrissie Wellington – but she will. She’s an up-and-comer. A future force in our sport.
I’m really excited to introduce you to professional triathlete Uli Bromme. Uli turned pro in 2009, and has solid success so far. She lives & trains in the tri-mecca of Boulder, Colorado. Uli is a prolific racer – it seems as if there’s not a race she won’t enter. In 2010, she competed in everything from sprint triathlon to Ironman, 5k runs to 10 mile races. Local events to big national events.
So, without further pause, allow me to share with you “Ten Questions With…Professional Triathlete Uli Bromme.”
|Uli racing at the 2010 Ironman Arizona – where she placed 9th overall|
TM: You’ve had a really strong year racing in 2010 – top 10 finishes in almost every IM or 70.3 race you entered, and a ton of wins at smaller races. What stands out as the big highlight of the year?
UB: The highlights of the year for me in 2010 were probably my last two races, Clearwater and IMAZ. Clearwater was extra special as my mom was racing too! (she had a great day out there and I’m glad I got to share the experience with her) It was my first Clearwater ever and finished 11th there with a new run PR and overall PR for the distance. I wasn’t sure how my body would recover and handle another event twice as long just 8 days later, so finishing in 9:31 with another PR, and in 9th place overall in a field where 6 of the top 10 women were previous IM champs, was a nice way to end the season and it certainly leaves me excited and hungry for next year!
TM: You raced everything in 2010 from sprint triathlons to Ironman, local races to big, national races. What are your favorite races and why?
UB: Yes, I try to mix it up and believe that doing a good amount of shorter distance races prior to longer events helps with speed and is just good practice. Each event is fun and challenging in a different way, but I’d have to say that my true calling are the longer events. I am finding that Ironman is probably what is most dear to my heart and I would love to go back to race on the Big Island someday soon! Favorite races include the Boulder 70.3 (formerly 5430 Half Ironman) because I can ride my bike there, I know every inch of the course and I got my start in triathlon there. I also enjoy racing IMAZ (’09 and ’10) and IM Canada is just a classic you can’t miss.
TM: 2010 was your second year as a pro. Could you compare/contrast racing as a pro versus racing as an Elite or Age-Grouper?
UB: Racing pro is a whole different ball game 🙂 Racing age group is kind of like a race against yourself and the clock, but racing pro has me pushing my limits to stay in the mix because when the race goes up the road, you have to able to respond. Each race is pretty much an all out effort, sometimes it seems like Olympic distance and Half Ironman pace are almost the same! What I have learned as well is that you have to believe in yourself out there and you have to believe in your ability to race the best. It can be a little intimidating when you’re a new pro racing big names 🙂
TM: What has it been like as a relatively new pro to line up and race against some of our sport’s best athletes (Wellington, Corbin, et al)?
UB: It has been pretty fun to race them and see where I stack up. In Arizona last month I was pretty much in the mix all race, coming out of the water right behind Linsey and with Erika Csomor, then trading off spots on the bike with Erika, and starting the run with Heleen BijdeVaate. It certainly helped my confidence to be racing with these girls!
TM: You grew up in East Germany (back before unification). When did you come to the America? How did you adapt to life in the states?
UB: I left Germany after 4th grade when I was 10, so I pretty much have had all my formal education here in the US. It was a little rough at first as a new kid who couldn’t speak the language, but by now I have spent nearly 2/3 of my life here so I am pretty well adjusted and only go back to Germany every once in a while to visit Family there.
TM: You’ve got a ton of history as a runner (including a sub 3-hour marathon debut), but you actually started out your athletic career as a swimmer. Could you share the story of how you got into swimming & then ultimately made the switch to running & then triathlon?
UB: I started swimming in first grade at age 6 (in the GDR) and continued through childhood, doing two a days by 4th grade. That burned me out a little I think. In high school I joined the swim team, but it wasn’t any super serious training, just after- school practices and some meets on the weekends. I moved to a new town as a senior and that high school didn’t have a pool or team so I decided to give Cross Country a try. I really enjoyed that and ended up doing Track as well. My coach advised me to continue running in college and so I walked on to my College team, where I became their most valuable distance runner. Upon graduating I signed up for the NYC marathon and ran a 2:56 in my first try at the distance. Then I became a little too excited about getting faster and ran myself into some trouble with injuries that plagued me for a few years. It was kind of a coincidence that after moving to Boulder (originally to use the altitude to become a faster runner) and getting hurt again, some friends suggested I give triathlon a go. I didn’t really know at the time how big of a tri mecca Boulder was. And so in 2006 I did my first race.
TM: You live in Boulder – which is a triathlon hotbed and has tons of top level pros living & training there. So what makes Boulder such a good tri-town?
UB: Well now that I have been in the sport for a few years and know quite alot of other athletes, amateurs and pros alike, I can see what makes Boulder so appealing. We have a plethora of dirt trails here that are usually runnable 95% of the year as it is so dry here. We have all kinds of inclines on those trails, which, along with the altitude, make for some pretty good workouts 🙂 Then we have roads that are in pretty nice shape and good for riding, with wide shoulders. Motorists are mostly aware of cyclists on the roads as there are so many here, so the mutual respect is there. We have the mountains nearby for great riding straight from Boulder and of course we have 3 outdoor pools which are open year round. All that, plus the knowledge base of elites and former elites of all sorts of distance sports make Boulder a pretty neat place to live and train!
TM: Do you do the majority of your training solo, or do you train with a group of folks?
UB: I do alot of running and riding solo, which I enjoy. I also do workouts with my boyfriend, who got into tris after seeing me suffer in Kona in 2008 (haha). Every once in a while I’ll join up with a friend or fellow pro for a ride or run, but I don’t lack the motivation to just get out there and get it done by myself. I do swim with a master’s group, coached by Wolfgang Dittrich at Flatirons Athletic Club a few days a week, and then do some longer swim sets by myself.
|Uli looking cool and composed just prior to the 2008 Ironman World Championships. This shot was used as a Blue Seventy advertisement.|
TM: Tell us about the “nervous look” Blue Seventy ad from Kona 2008. How did that happen? Did you know in advance that you might be in their ad?
UB: Ha, the nervous look was a mix of ” ‘I am doing my first Ironman!’ and ‘Oh man I am so scared’ and ‘I can’t believe I am about to do Ironman Hawaii’ and I was totally unaware that this pic was taken. I found out later through friends that told me they saw me in the magazine ad. So yeah, blueseventy later told me they really liked the expression on my face so they zoomed in on me 🙂
TM: Have you started shaping your race calendar for 2011 yet?
UB: Yea I have a rough outline of the races I want to do next year. I am excited to try out some of the Rev3 races as I have heard nothing but great things about them. I’ll also be doing some WTC races in hopes of chasing down some more Kona points. Kona is a place I most definitely want to go back to, and I hope that next year I’ll be racing there again! I have some unfinished business on the Big Island after my barely survival of a race in 2008 🙂