On Saturday, July 12, Z3 athlete Tamara Gorman will race in her first Elite World Triathlon Series race in Hamburg, Germany. We had a chance to sit down with Tamara and Coach Jenny Weber to discuss Tamara’s preparation for Hamburg and her future as an elite athlete!
Z3: Jenny, how long have you been coaching Tamara and how did the coaching relationship begin?
Jenny Weber: I have been working with Tamara since early 2010. She became interested in the team hearing about it from another Z3 athlete in Rapid City at the time – Tony Smoragiewicz. She and her brother, Brian, made Z3 in 2010 together.
Z3: When did Tamara become elite?
JW: Tamara earned her elite card by winning Junior Worlds in London last September, 2013.
Z3: Will Tamara race any other elite events this year?
JW: That is to be determined. Right now our plans include her first debut WTS race in Hamburg. She was successful at her first elite race earlier this year in Sarasota, placing 3rd. Right now we’re focused on the Junior World Championships in late August, and we will see about extending her triathlon season into the fall to include more elite racing to earn points.
Z3: Tamara has been very successful in the junior elite ranks, but racing elite is a whole new level. How did you decide that you were ready to make this jump?
Tamara Gorman: Success at 2013 Junior Worlds has given me the opportunity to race at the elite level and has also started opened up many new doors. I still have two more years of eligibility to compete at the junior level, which puts me in the perfect spot. It enables me to compete at my current race distance as a junior, at the most elite level against the very best women in the world.
JW: If you wait to be ready for something like this, it might be too late. You have to go race the best to be your best. Tamara is a top level junior but certainly has room to grow at the elite ranks. Her bike tactics will improve over time and her run times will get faster in time as well. In addition, we have to graduate to the full Olympic distance. Hamburg is a Sprint, which gives us the opportunity to race the junior distance at the world-class elite level.
Z3: Have you made any changes to Tamara’s training program to prepare her for Hamburg?
JW: We didn’t know Tamara had made the start list until about 6 weeks prior. We had been preparing for Junior Worlds in Edmonton, Canada – which still remains the main focus. That said, knowing Hamburg was a critical race to be prepared for, we have done everything we could to ensure her readiness. This has included a very dialed in bike fit during her visit at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista to ensure she is getting maximum power from her bike. The elites race much faster on the bike than juniors, and the Hamburg course will require her to be technically savvy as well. Therefore, we have spent several hours practicing cornering and doing workouts where the power is both under threshold and over threshold in the same interval set.
TG: We have been capitalizing on everything to the maximum level. Jenny has been making sure that my diet is on point and that my training is specific to the race in Hamburg. Thanks Jenny!
JW: Absolutely! Recovery and nutrition have been a main focus. All of Tamara’s evening meals were thought out with purpose and planned ahead of time. She really has eaten very clean and mindful these past several weeks allowing her optimal recovery and body composition. We still have work to do but she is ready to race in Hamburg and will be even more ready to race in Edmonton.
Z3:Tamara is usually leading the pack, but now that she is racing against some of the top elite athletes in the world, this may not be the case. Have you altered her race strategy to prepare her for this Jenny?
JW: We have discussed several outcomes and strategies that may or may not play out during the race. In addition, we have watched the Hamburg course and WTS race from previous years on www.triathlonlive.org over and over again to get a handle on where the athletes seem to be cautious, where they might attack and what kind of swim, bike and run she may expect. At the end of the day, Tamara and I both know that there is only so much we can control and what we cannot, we don’t worry about. She just has to get in the race, do her best, and see what happens. She is a strong athlete in all 3 of the disciplines, however elite racing brings specialists to the table. This means there will be women who will lead out the swim so fast but you will never see them again. Same goes for the bike and same goes for the run. Elite racing also brings about team tactics that could change the dynamic of the event too. Should be fun and exciting and no doubt a learning opportunity.
Z3: Tamara, what are your goals for this race?
TG: With Hamburg being my first WTS race it is all about experience. I am going to be lining up with the very best women in the world. Even the 2012 Olympic Champion! I will dig deep and believe that I was invited to race with them because I belong racing at this level. I am going to take it all in and enjoy the great experience!
Z3: What is the biggest hurdle facing Tamara during this race and how have you prepared her to overcome it?
JW: Tamara has been in awe of many of the women she now will be racing. So over the past weeks, especially in Chicago, we have worked on mentally preparing for these women to now be her peers as well as mentors. The morning after Chicago last weekend, we went on a short jog with Gwen Jorgensen who had just dominated the field the day prior. Gwen has been a great mentor, and is now a peer to Tamara. Tamara just has to decide that she can race with them and against them – regardless.
TG: I will have to keep my nerves in check, but I have prepared and I whole-heartedly believe that I am ready to race!
Z3: Jenny, as a dietitian, you know that nutrition is key for athletic performance. How are you using nutrition and hydration to help Tamara be successful?
JW: With limited time to prep for any race, nutrition and hydration play a key role in health and recovery. We have ensured that her meals are well thought out in prep but not difficult either. What I do for Tamara is what I encourage all of my athletes.
See video for more on athlete nutrition!
Z3:While Tamara is racing in Hamburg, you’ll be coaching in Iowa. How will you ensure she is adequately prepared from across the ocean?
JW: This will be Tamara’s first International trip without my husband Craig or myself. We cannot go because of our home race – Flatlands. I have written out Tamara’s day-to-day schedule and shared that with the staff in Hamburg to ensure she has what she needs. Her parents are also going to be in Hamburg, but this is really Tamara’s time to bond with the other USA athletes and to gain confidence that she can do this on her own with the tools we have given her all these years together. I am so proud of the elite athlete she has become and know there is so much more room to grown as an athlete and a person – it’s very exciting.
Z3: Tamara, how do you feel your preparation for this race has been as compared to other races? Are you ready for the next level?
TG: I have been training for this race since I started triathlon! I knew when I started at the age of 14 years old that I wanted to be racing at this level, I just didn’t know exactly when the time would come! I know I am prepared to show that I am capable and ready. I have heard that I will be the youngest one on the line, by a fair amount, but it does not mean I am not as strong!
Z3: What is each of your ultimate goals for Tamara?
TG: My all time ultimate goal is to make it all the way! For me that means to make the Olympics some day!
JW: I want Tamara to be happy and healthy and have access to the tools she needs to achieve her goals. Her main objective is to make the Olympic Triathlon team in 2020. I will help in whatever way I can, ensuring that her whole self comes first and foremost.