We caught up with a few of the big hitters ahead of this weekend’s Ironman 70.3 Wiesbaden, the European Championship. Here we speak to Annabel Luxford,a former ITU star who made the successful transition across to 70.3 racing just late last year, winning in her first attempt at the distance at Ironman 70.3 Canberra. Luxford went on to back up this win with another victory at the Ironman 70.3 Asia Pacific Championship in Auckland, and then was forced to the sideline with an acute knee injury. Prior to commencing her longer course racing Luxford was a short course star, having raced International Triathlon Union races for over a decade; she was ranked number one in the world, and was an under 23 World Champion and an Elite World Championship silver medallist. Annabel fills us in on her expectations for this weekend’s race in Wiesbaden, the upcoming Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas, and offers some advice to our readers that are racing or wish to race over the longer distances.
Trizone: Annabel you exploded onto the long course scene in Auckland earlier this year, claiming the Asia Pacific 70.3 title (after having won 70.3 Canberra in your first attempt at the distance a month earlier), and then faced some issues with injury. Would you mind sharing a little about this injury and how it surfaced? Has this affected your immediate lead into this weekend’s race?
Annabel Luxford: I hurt my knee late February in training doing a bounding exercise. I tore my meniscus and had arthroscopic surgery a few days later to fix the problem. It was a very simple fix, well as simple as you can get for surgery. I took about two weeks out of pool, 4 weeks off riding and 6 weeks off running. Although it took me till May to get back to full training. I’ve sinced raced – St George 70.3 (4th) Rev 3 Quassy (3rd). My knee has been really good over the last couple of months. It’s never 100%, but it certainly hasn’t hampered my recent preparation for this weekend.
TZ: Any specific goals for the weekend? Will this be your final hit out before the 70.3 World Champs in Vegas?
Annabel: Having not raced since June, as I wanted to come home and spend time in Australia, I’m not entirely sure about my race form. I had a chest/sinus infection when I was home that took a long time clear and feel I haven’t done as much of the top end work I need. This race, as well as the Chicago Triathlon on August 25th, will be important hit outs for me before Vegas.
TZ: Why the switch to long course racing? It appears to be a growing trend amongst both men and women.
Annabel: I was done with ITU from a mental and physical perspective. I’d had a string of lower leg injuries and couldn’t do the run work in training to run as fast I would need to be able to run to be as competitive as I would have liked. I was also dissatisfied with how ITU racing had largely turned into a foot race. When I compare my bike power profiles from ITU racing to long course racing, it’s not even comparable. Whilst ITU has stepped up with some challenging courses such as Kitzbuhel this year, much of the time the racing, provided you are tactically and technically smart, is soft pedaling.
TZ: Any advice for women reading this that may be racing their first 70.3 in Wiesbaden (or somewhere else in the world) this weekend?
Annabel: I’m still so inexperienced at the half IM distance that I’m learning all the time as well. My advice to a anyone new to this racing whether it be at Wiesbaden or some place else, would be to build into it and focus on one thing at a time.
Never underestimate or be complacent about nutrition, and knowing your course is key. For example Wiesbaden bike course is super hilly. Make sure you have the appropriate wheels and gearing selection. You wouldn’t wear a jumper on a hot day as well as a cold day, so why would you use the same gearing and wheels on a flat course as a hilly course. If in doubt, always ask!!! I’m never 100 percent sure and would much rather ask an expert than ruin my race due to ignorance. A course reconnaissance is helpful if possible. The familiar is always less daunting than the unfamiliar.
Thanks Annabel, we wish you the best for this weekend and look forward to catching up ahead of your race in Vegas next month.