Monday, October 28, 2013

Ironman AG World Champion Amos Gollach

Aussie Amos Gollach went into the Ironman World Championships this month with a men's 18-24 age group victory on his mind. Many in his AG probably felt the same way, but only one brought home the title. Amos swam 2.4mi (3.9km) in 1:02, biked 112mi (180km) in 4:46, and ran a 3:06 marathon to become his AG's World Champion in 9:01:15, two minutes ahead of second. That was good enough for 51st overall, including professionals. Oh, and by the way, as I sat down to post our interview I grabbed a few of these, given to me just yesterday... coincidence?? I think not.  

What’s your background and how/when did you get into triathlon?

I actually grew up in Zimbabwe, my family immigrated to Australia when I was 16. I grew up dreaming of playing cricket for Australia. When I realized that that was not going to happen I decided I need something else to fill my time. I’m still not sure why, I just wanted to do an Ironman. I actually thought it was a two day race. Who could do all that in 24 hours? So just after turning 19 I decided to see if I could run a marathon. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I managed to get through that, but injured my ITB and couldn’t run again for 6 months. After getting over that I raced a half Ironman and I was away.

Where did you qualify and what other races did you do in 2013?

I haven’t raced much this year actually. I have been fortunate enough to race pretty well when I have though. After Hawaii last year I raced IM Busselton hoping to make the most of the fitness I had and get an early ticket back to the big island. That backfired totally when 22 year old Justin Brewer, racing his first ever Ironman, went 8:52 tearing the race apart. So I then raced IM Cairns in June and was fortunate to have a good day there and got a ticket back to Kona.

I know Aussie pros often come to the US or Europe during our summer months, which is your cool/rainy season. Is it an even greater challenge to build up for Kona (not just distance but also heat & humidity) living in the southern hemisphere?

Certainly it is an added challenge training for Hawaii through winter. Winter in Australia is not all that bad relative to the US and Europe but the days are still short and most of the training happens before and after work in the dark and is wet and cold. A lot of it is not all that much fun. It’s for that reason I got to Hawaii nice and early this year to help acclimate to the weather. It’s a shock to the system for a few days.

I did a little homework and learned that you placed 7th in your AG last year (9:47) in what appears to be your only previous trip to Kona. What were your expectations going in to this year, and how did your experience from last year help you?

I went to Hawaii to win this year. I didn’t tell anyone but my family and coach that this was my goal, but it was. I learnt a lot in Hawaii last year. It’s a really intimidating place, especially your first time there - it’s easy to get swept away mentally during race week. This year I did my best to stay away from it all. We stayed down on the far end of Alii and only went into town when I really needed to.

On that note, compared to last year you were ~5 min, 31 min, and 8 min faster on the
swim, bike, and run respectively. What were the “secrets” to your improvement year over year?

Haha secrets? I think in hindsight getting beaten in Busselton was possibly the best thing that happened to me. It cut me deep but also made me really hungry. I realized I needed to improve a lot and that meant things needed to change. So I started working with Jarrod Evans from Endurance Team. I had a coach previously who was great, but he mainly just wrote my programs. Whereas with Jarrod I speak to him most days and he analyzes all my Garmin files. The fact that he reviews everything means that I’m accountable to him and I know sessions need to get done and done how he wants them. It’s just a really good system. The results Jarrod has been able to achieve over the years speak for themselves.

with coach Jarrod Evans
Did you go through any rough patches, and if so what were the toughest parts of the day? How bad was the contact in the water?

There are always going to be lulls in every Ironman. I hit a big dead patch coming down from Hawi. It was probably the hottest part of the day and my legs went dead. So I took some caffeine which really helped. I was really happy with my last 50kms home on the Queen K, it kept me in the race and gave me a chance on the run. My swimming is not the strongest so I’m always going to get bashed in Hawaii. Having said that it was a lot better than last year, last year was bad!

Did you have a strategy going in? On a scale from 1-10 how hard would you say you pushed on the swim and the bike?

I actually had a few niggles leading in to the race; six weeks out I developed a stress reaction in the medial sessamoid bone in my left foot. As result I wasn’t able run much. In the last six weeks leading into the race I think I ran 10 times. It obviously wasn’t great for the running but it meant that my cycling and swimming training was really good just because I didn’t have the run fatigue in the legs. It was by far the best I have swam/biked in an Ironman. But having said that my coach wanted me to push the swim and ride harder than I have in the past, knowing that the run might not be where we wanted it - so I’m not sure on a scale of 1-10, maybe a 7 mindful of the fact there is still a marathon to go.

Can you share what you did on race day in terms of nutrition?

I try to keep nutrition as simple as possible. For me that’s two gels and a bidden of sports drink every hour on the bike, if it’s hot I’ll drink water on top of that. On the run it’s as simple as sucking on chews and in aid stations I just grab whatever I feel I need. I also use caffeine in the back end of the bike and some salt tablets throughout the race. While there is very little/no research showing a correlation between salt and cramping, it has other important uses in absorption, such as stimulating thirst. So it’s essentially fool proof, if I drop gels or whatever, I just use whatever is being handed out at aid stations.

Looking at the results, you were 25th in your AG after the swim, then moved through the field to 3rd starting the run (~5 min down from 2nd and ~10 min from 1st). You took the lead somewhere between miles 19-22 (30-35km). Were you aware of your position throughout the day? How deep did you have to dig in the final 10k, and at what point did it sink in that you were going to be an AG World Champ?

You don’t get too many looks at where you are at during the day. I saw in T2 that there was one other under 24 bike racked. I then saw my parents on Alii who told me I was in second place. I think I took the lead at the exit of the energy lab. I didn’t realize it at the time, I thought there was a guy in front of me I was still chasing. My girlfriend had cycled down the Queen K to support me but this year they stopped supporters going all the way down on the run. When I saw her again it was with 5 miles to go and she said I was leading, I didn’t believe her. I then saw my coach who had also cycled down and he confirmed it. I think I knew at the top of Palani that it was going to happen, it took a while for me to believe though. Even in the medical tent after the race I asked one of the volunteers to check on her iPhone so I could see it myself. The run home from the energy lab really hurt. I was a mess in the medical tent afterwards.

What’s a typical training week for you? What swim/bike/run volumes do you usually get in?

I don’t do the bigger miles. Sure I have some big weekends, but as a total week I don’t think I have done more than 25 hours. I’m slightly different from most in that I don’t have a full rest day every week; I usually have one day off a month or so. For me judging training is not about counting the hours. If you are counting hours as a means of judging a training week you are doing something very wrong. Quality over quantity.

Like most 18-24 year olds, your occupation was listed as "student." What are you
studying, and do you have any aspirations to be a professional triathlete in the future?

Haha I think most young triathletes are trying to stay in university for as long as possible and avoiding the dreaded 9-5. I’m doing a Masters of Economics at the University of Western Australia. As for being a pro triathlete, I’m not ready yet. Maybe one day, but not in the immediate future. I would be out of the race after 200m into the swim. It’s a hard way to make a living, and there are not many mid twenty long course triathletes making a living. So I’ll be patient and see where I am in a few years’ time.

Following this huge win, what’s next for you? Will you be back to defend your title?

Hopefully next year goes to plan and I’ll be back on the Big Island. I’m too old to defend the under 24 title so I’ll be racing 25-29. I’ll have to improve in order to be competitive in that age group. So fingers crossed the year goes to plan and I can have another good race over there.

I’d like to thank my family and girlfriend, my coach Jarrod Evans of Endurance Team and former coach Andrew Budge of Trysport. Also thanks to Finbar Ingram and Rick Twine, my training partners on the Big Island, as well as Xavier Coppock and my swimming squad coach Ross Pedlow of Exceed tri club. 

Check out more on Amos:

Twitter @Amosgollach

No comments:

Post a Comment