We were lucky enough to catch up with Z3 athlete and coach Alex Libin in the midst of his preparation for the ITU World Triathlon Series in Chicago to get his thoughts on all things WTS!
Alex Libin: I found out I was doing WTS Chicago a week before the race. I nominated myself for the race, knowing it would it be a bit of a long shot for me to get in. But somehow it worked out and now I’m going!
How did the short notice affect your training?
It basically meant that I would immediately go into a taper week. My training for this race probably isn’t ideal because it hasn’t been something that I’ve been working towards or focusing on for the last several weeks. But that’s the way ITU racing is sometimes and when you get the call you just have to step up and be ready to compete with the best that you can bring.
What will be your biggest challenge in this race?
The logistics of the race are a bit tricky. I also have no USAT funding for this race so while most of the athletes will be at hotels right on the race venue, I will be at a homestay 30 minutes outside of the city, so there will be a lot of driving to and from the race site in the days leading up to the event. Really, I just don’t want to miss a meeting or get my homestay’s car towed for not parking correctly in downtown Chicago!
Hopefully you’ll remain ticket-free! Do you have any personal goals with regards to placing or goal times?
The goal is to gain experience and see what it’s like to perform at the top level of triathlon. Getting a sneak peak at the 2015 World Championship course, which will also be the USA Olympic Trials’ course, is a major perk too. However, my biggest goal is to come away from this race with some extra points added onto my ranking.
Any changes to your usual strategy considering you’ll be racing against some of the top triathletes in the world?
Race hard and stay smart. The course is very tactical with 6 U-turns and many more 90-degree turns per lap, there’s no straight away longer than 300 meters on the bike course. Staying aggressive and towards the front of the group will be key to staying out of trouble on the bike.
Can you give us a peek at what your schedule will look like this week?
I arrived in Chicago yesterday afternoon. Today, I got in a good day of training, then rolled over to the pre-race meeting and to help me figure out what exactly I’m in for this weekend. Tomorrow is course familiarization, and then Saturday I’ll watch the women’s race online to see if I can pick up any tips on how to handle the race myself. Sunday will be all about maintaining my energy flow for a 4 pm race start time!
How are you preparing for the cold waters of Lake Michigan?
I just got a new HUUB wetsuit that will meet me in Chicago. Depending on how cold the water temperature actually is, I may end up rubbing some Vaseline on my face to keep it warm and to keep me from going into shock. A solid warm up will be key to start the swim already heated and of course, peeing in my wetsuit before the start will be a good way to keep the water in the suit warmish.
Not trying to psych you out, but 75,000 people are expected to watch this event, do you this will come into play?
I think that will be incredible! I always get jealous of other stadium-based sports because of all the screaming fans they get, so I can’t wait to be a part of that atmosphere. Home turf with USA on my suit; it’s going to be an amazing experience.
I’m sure you’ll be starving after such an intense race! What are your favorite pre and post race meals?
Pre race is just dry cereal with some hard-boiled eggs or white rice and plain grilled chicken, depending on what time of day the race start is. Post race is really just about anything; crazy how killing yourself in a race can make any food taste amazing!
Be sure to check back tomorrow for an update on Alex’s preparation leading up to the ITU WTS Chicago!