AG Athlete Spotlight - Shannon Pope - IRONMAN TEXAS

Ironman Texas tomorrow! How long have you been in town!? Yep! This is my hometown race.  I live right off of the bike course and work a block from the run course! 

What other races have you done this season to build up to this one? How did they turn out? : started the season with the Houston Marathon coming off of 2014 which was focused on my 'short game' (really worked on the shorter distance triathlons to get faster leading up Age Group Nationals last August). Prior to triathlons I ran marathons and the Boston Marathon is something we all chase. The last time I ran it was 2009 and had a dream of being able to run a sub 3:30:00 marathon.  I've always been a 'one pace' person and the training I did last year with my coach Heather Jorris from OutRival Racing really helped me cut a good 30 seconds off of my 'comfortable' pace so I felt that the time was right!  I achieved just under a 3:30:00 (3:27 and some change) which was almost 18 minutes faster than my BQ time. The first triathlon for me of the season was IMTX 70.3.  I was just shy of my sub 5:00:00 goal (5:01:03), but this was still a PR by over 30 minutes and a Worlds qualifier.

Why did you choose IMTX? How does this race play into your goals for the rest of the year? : After IMTX 2013, I said I would never do this race again (it was the 'hot' year and my first triathlon) so this was not in the original plan for 2015! IMTX 70.3 was supposed to be my Spring A race. Basically, the seed was planted over happy hour I think with some of my friends who were doing the race and thought it would be fun to all train together. Since I was training for the 70.3 already, I talked to my coach and we just increased the volume (that way if I felt good after Galveston, I could do it). Since I work full time and only have hour blocks of training time during the weekday, that pretty much meant just adjusting my long rides on Saturdays (I already had the run base coming off of the marathon). Our team is doing IMFL in November (which was my original 140.6 focus) so I am hoping that I'll just be able to build on the base built for IMTX and do even better in FL.

Tell us a little about your race build up! How has your training been? Do you feel ready to roll?: I'mfeeling good! Much better than 2013 (less injuries). Over the past year, I've been swimming pretty consistently 3-5 days a week with Magnolia Masters and, prior to this build, biking approximately 3 days a week with a longer bike on the weekend. As I stated previously, because of my work/travel schedule, we had to focus on quality over quantity in my sessions and my peak training weeks only maxed out at 15-17 hours (with most of it on the Saturday/Sundays). Suprisingly, I feel much more prepared than I did last time around when I was training 20+ hours a week at my peak. In addition to my swim/bike/run training, Ihave been more diligent about getting massages with Specialized Bodyworks here in The Woodlands in order to keep the muscles loose!

Have you ridden the course? Tell us about it if so. How do you feel about the heat?: Almost every weekend! OutRival has a scheduled ride on Saturdays with routes that span different sections of the course (or the full course) depending on what the athletes prescribed workout is.  I love the course especially the section through the National Forest (it can be fast!).  I'm not going to lie, there are some sections I could do without or wish the pavement was smoother, but all in all it's a good course to ride.  Ihaven't found the heat on the bike course to be unbearable because of the breeze we get from the Gulf (even up here!). The run? That can be a different story... ;-)

What's next after this? : After this raceI am turning around and running the San Diego marathon with my brother and sister for my brother's first marathon (against my coach's advice! she reminded me of that yesterday ;) ). Once that is done, I will go back to speed work this summer to prepare for the Sprint World Championships with Team USA and jump in some local Sprint/Oly races. Then onto IMFL in November. After that, getting ready for Boston 2016!!!