LAVA: A few months after Slowtwitch dubbed you the Susan Lucci of triathlon, you finally had your breakthrough race in Boulder last weekend. How do you feel about your performance, and what did you learn?

ANGELA NAETH: The whole bridesmaid/Susan Lucci thing was getting to be an old joke, that’s for sure! I knew I could win sooner or later, but it turned out later! Obviously I’m very ecstatic with my performance and the timing couldn’t be any better, in terms of the 70.3 Worlds. As far as lessons, I didn’t really learn anything I didn’t already know in that race, but that maybe I’m well-suited for the heat, whether they are any hills on the course or not. Being based at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, Boulder is either a hilly or a very flat area, and the race stuck to flat terrain. I was worried about this heading into the race, but I learned that a strong cyclist doesn’t only need hills to gain an advantage.

How did you feel going into the race? Did you and your coach structure the rest of your season in a particular way to position you so well for Boulder?

I felt good. Maybe a little under-prepared, but he [Naeth’s coach, Chuckie “V”] said all along I’d be fit enough when the time was right and I trusted him. The funny thing is I still don’t feel super fit, but I guess feeling it and displaying it are two different things. The design of the season is definitely built around this time of year, but we were both pleased with the way I raced straight out of the blocks this season. I am only now starting the race-like training; the rest of this year’s training has been preparation for this point. 

Did you feel “yourself” in this race? Overall, was it a good day for you or a hard one?

I felt as strong as usual. No stronger, but certainly no weaker. My coach constantly assures me that race day won’t elicit anything special if the training hasn’t been special. Well, I know my training certainly hasn’t been all that special! We’d seen my numbers improve throughout the year, but it’s slow going improvement, that’s for sure. Race day turned out a little better than my training has been, because I finally got to rest some before going in. That was definitely worth some improvement right there. 

Take us through each leg.

I swam as expected, but a little closer to Kelly Williamson than I have in the past. It seems I’m making some gains because last year she was light years ahead of me and this year I got a little closer. I swam the same time behind her at the Lubbock 70.3 in June as I did in Boulder, but then cramped heavily soon after on the bike. She won that race and I DNF’d. Here I held it together and rode well and backed it up with a solid run. I pushed hard the first lap of the run but my coach told me to ease back a little during the second one, assuring me I would recover quicker if I took it the last mile or two easy. I’ve never had that luxury before! 

What will you take from your experience in Boulder to the World Championships in Vegas?

Mainly that I seem to compete well in heat. Strange for a Canadian! 

What was the high point of the day for you? Winning your first 70.3, or something else less obvious?

Running as well as I did. My half-marathon time [01:25:11] may not reflect that, but the effort certainly did, especially the second lap. I felt in control without killing myself. And sure enough, as my coach promised, I was recovered enough to actually run the following day. That’s a first.

How did you celebrate?

The same way I celebrate everyday: I went home, took a nap, went for a walk and then swam again in the afternoon. Boring, eh?

Did you try anything new at this race, or just race like you always do?

If there’s one thing my coach repeats over and over (and trust me, there’s not just one thing!) it’s that we try nothing new during a race. Only this time we rested a little more beforehand. That was new. 

What particulars of the course or the day suited your strengths?

The course, I hate to say, is pretty boring. It doesn’t showcase Boulder’s greatness in the least. I think I would fare better in the surrounding hills, but we mix up our training terrain all the time, so I was well-suited to the flats as well. But there was nothing on the course that stood out as an advantage for me. I guess I felt like I had a home court advantage, but then so did almost the entire pro field!

Besides winning, what were some of the biggest personal gains for you this time around?

Really just the feeling of finally winning one. I was a bit overly emotional at the finish, but it’s been a long time coming. I think I’ll carry a little more confidence into my next race, but it didn’t really occur during this one, at least not until after the finish line!