Monday, June 23, 2014

Triple Threat Profile: Amy Fletcher - Indiana

After twice conquering Ironman Louisville, Amy Fletcher is currently training for her next challenge, the inaugural Ironman Chattanooga in September. Amy raced her first triathlon in 2006, and has developed arguably the most unique heat acclimation strategy for hot/humid races I've ever heard (hint: involves chasing children on hot blacktop).

What's your background and how did you get into triathlon?

I grew up swimming and water skiing but actually did zero sports in school. Instead, I was in marching band and then marched 5 years in drum corps (Star of Indiana and the Garfield Cadets - DCI 1987 World Champs!). I frequently used the weight room at Ball State University and one day, on a whim, jumped on a treadmill... short version is that led to starting to run. Then, since I still swam every day, I did a sprint tri in 2006. Think I was next to last in my AG and about 8th from last overall!

How would you sum up your 2013 season, and what was the highlight/lowlight?

In 2013, I was again blessed to have wonderful support from my husband to train for and complete IMLOU (Ironman Louisville). I honestly do not think you can adequately train for an IM if your spouse is not totally behind you. I can't really think of a "low light"... we are all very fortunate we have found this life style!

In your application you talked about your love of accomplishing goals. What past accomplishment are you most proud of, and what are your goals for this year?

The biggest goal was, by far, crossing the finish line of IMLOU 2012 before they turned the lights off and went home! All major goals are the sum of a billion smaller goals. My goal this year is to start IMChoo (Chattanooga) healthy and happy and finish healthy and happy (if I can take some time off the duration, of COURSE, that is always a bonus)!

For people unaware of Ironman Louisville, can you give a brief summary of the course/race? Would you recommend it?

IMLOU is "the best finish line there is other than Kona". The finish area is a downtown bar / shops area and it is absolutely electric. The swim gets a bad reputation for being “nasty," but I grew up swimming in lakes in Indiana and the river is not any worse. People are melodramatic. It is a pier, time trial start (every 3 seconds or so). I have had no problems with congestion on the swim.

You need to get to the swim start early if you want the full 17 hours to finish, but I think everyone is in the water within 25 minutes or so. You swim about 0.8 miles upstream, then the rest is downstream. Current (if any) is manageable. Volunteers are the best ANYWHERE! The bike course is deceiving because we do not have mountains, but it is TOUGH. The hills do not stop. There is one out and back at mile 18 that is very dangerous if you are not totally alert and if Ricky Racer comes by with his panties in a wad. There is always a bloody crash at the bottom of the huge descent because Ricky crossed the yellow line and caused a crash. After the out and back, you start the 30 mile loop. Crowd support is great and the landscape is gorgeous and there are million dollar horses watching you ride past. Deceiving how difficult this course is. The run is in a lot of ways more difficult because it is just so so boring....flat as the table I am typing on, but extremely boring (and dark on the second loop). Then the FINISH line is like Heaven....lights, music, people....awesome!

Have you felt prepared for the heat and humidity that IM Louisville is known for? Did it impact your nutrition plan?

I have been so totally prepared for the heat for a few reasons… it has been wonderful. 1) I am cold until the temp is 80 degrees F. 2) I teach marching band all day on the blacktop and chase kids around the field correcting their mistakes. 3) My nutritionist made my plan and I practiced it frequently (drink a lot and take salt). In 2012, we (Indiana) broke heat records that had stood for 35 years. On the bike course and the run course, there literally were bodies strewn about on the side of the road everywhere. These were 25 year old guys in the peak of their fitness who were zapped, passed out and loaded into ambulances. The heat (and humidity) is very, very real. I trained in the hottest parts of the day, I (as I said) work outside all day, and I stuck to my drinking plan. I did not finish FAST, but I was faster than everyone who ended up in the ER. If you are going to do IMLOU and you do NOT have a plan, you will very likely have a very tough day.

the beautiful rolling hills of the Kentucky countrysi-- wait a minute, is that Kenny G?!?

Similarly, how is the IM 70.3 Muncie course/venue? How far are you from the course, and do you train on it often?

Muncie 70.3 is the perfect training race for IMLOU as far as heat and humidity. It is almost never wetsuit legal. The bike course is a totally closed state highway that is flat. The run course is rollers...lots of walking going on during the run course. I train on the course frequently except the bike course, I do NOT ride on the highway... we have a Cardinal Greenway that is 52 miles of paved bike path that runs parallel to the state highway. We can ride 104 miles and never be on a road! Also, we have a tri series at the same venue (May, June, Aug, Sept, Oct duathlon). Our local Tri club is called Muncie Area Fun Squad and is for anyone who wants to swim, bike, run, roller blade, walk, yoga, anything as long as you have a good positive attitude. We also have central Indiana's only 50 meter outside pool. We stage Splash and Dash races from there on Thursdays for fun.

What led you to choose the inaugural IM Chattanooga for your next Ironman?

I chose IMChoo because it is gorgeous in Chattanooga and because I GOT IN! It is the next closest IM.... 8 hour drive (Wisconsin is about the same but can be COLD). My plan is to train the bike a few times on the IMLOU course as the IMLOU bike course is more difficult than the IMChoo bike course....I have ridden IMChoo three times now.

Rank the 3 disciplines from your personal strength to weakness. What is some gear you use for each?

Swimming - my first love. I learned however that spending training time on the swim is not my best use of time. Without swimming a whole lot, I can finish (2.4) in 75 minutes or so.

Running - Did the Flying Pig 26.2 in May to get in some hill running.
(Wear Saucony Ride and Injinji socks)

Biking - Started biking after my first Sprint. My bike is named Blue and we work, but since training for IM, we have gotten SLOWER rather than faster. Blue is a Cervelo P2 with Reynolds carbon wheels.

Can you tell us a bit about your day job, and what hobbies do you have outside of work and triathlon?

My husband and I are band directors (different schools). Four years ago, we shuffled our schools and students and I was asked to start teaching computer applications, so now, I teach 4th, 5th, 6th grade computer applications then after school teach my husband's marching band. I also write drill / shows for other bands and we both judge most Saturday's in the Fall. On a free Saturday, I either train or I work races for area race companies. 

As a side note, Amy can neither confirm nor deny that she led this infamous band scene (0:31)

I myself am an Indiana native (moved away when I was 16), but I'm not really sure about this... what's triathlon like in the Hoosier state?

We have pockets of very active and very competitive triathletes. Kona AG winner Sue Aquila lives in Bloomington (home of Indiana University), and the Fishers/Carmel area is fierce with competition. Our little Mecca here in Muncie is an awesome group of people!

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