Earlier this year, Smash-Dimond team member Jan Lohman tackled three full Ironmans in six weeks: Ironman Texas, Ironman Santa Rosa, and Ironman Boulder. She sat down with teammate and coach Mary Knott to answer some questions about the endeavor.
- Of the three races, which was your favorite and why? Santa Rosa, despite the road surface on the bike. The course was beautiful, the swim was probably my most favorite swim to date, and the run course was partially shaded and had lots of crowd support.
- Of the three races, which one are you most proud of and why? I would have to say Texas, because I do not have a great record with humidity and so I was afraid of literally melting on the course. I may have partially melted, but I also had a great race and I learned that when I put my mind over matter I can really do anything.
- Did you feel prepared for this challenge?Absolutely! I did so many things in training that pushed me far beyond my comfort zone physically and mentally; I was very prepared.
- Did this challenge build you up or break you down physically? Mentally?I feel like it built me up on both fronts. I had really struggled mentally in the past and progressing through the training and this three race challenge really changed things for me. Not because I had some good results, but because I have a better understanding of what I am capable of, that I don’t need to be afraid, and that I shouldn’t limit myself in how hard or far I can push. It’s really exciting.
And a few rapid fire questions (one word answers only!):
1: Would you recommend this to a friend? Yes
- Best venue: Woodlands, Santa Rosa, or Boulder? Woodlands
- Race with the best post race food? Santa Rosa
- Best spectators? Texas
- Would you do it again? Yes
Questions from Team SFQ!
So I heard that you're doing ALL of the North America Ironman races this year. Is that true??!? And if so, you're just f*$%ing crazy right??!? Ha! I have also heard this rumor and I am so glad we get to address it. No, I am not racing all the Ironmans in North America this year, but maybe I should shoot for this some year?!?
OK let's start with the obvious question...WHY? Was this a specific challenge to do three IMs in six weeks, or did you want to do these specific races and it was a coincidence? Why did you decide to do this?
It wasn’t a specific challenge, the original plan was to race Texas and Boulder, which are six weeks apart. Santa Rosa had been on my radar because I had friends and teammates racing but it became official at brunch on New Year’s Day. I literally signed up on my phone at the restaurant. I am one of those people who often acts before thinking, so that may have been at play here, but ultimately I think I needed to do this. 2017 was kind of rough—I had back to back DNFs due to some health/nutrition issues and I seriously struggled with my confidence. After trouble-shooting the health/nutrition issues, I really wanted to race a lot and often to get back on the horse, so to speak. I also struggle with pre-race nerves and anxiety, like it’s not unusual for me to be in tears at the start having just thrown up my breakfast. I have even had a mild panic attack race morning. So my thinking was I’d get a bunch of races under my belt to build my confidence. I was either going to learn or it was going to be an epic fail.
What keeps you motivated? Goals and me. Having goals is a huge motivation for me. I am also pretty self motivated which is good and bad at times. At an early age I had to be self-motivated, and it was more for survival then, but that has stuck with me and I find it works for triathlon too.
Give us an idea of your daily life and your thoughts on time management. Sometimes my time management kills it and sometimes it kills me. My daily commute is 40-45 minutes one way, but this often turns into an hour. Depending on the day, I try and do workouts near my office in the morning or evenings so I can avoid major traffic either before work or after. I also have some flexibility in my job, so I can swim during my lunch, go for a run, or sneak in a strength session at the gym.
What does your training schedule look like? I usually have workouts seven days/week, every once in a while a rest day is thrown in and that’s usually because it’s necessary! During the week my swim/bike/run workouts are usually 1-2.5 hours, sometimes I have double days when I work from home, and the weekends have longer rides and runs generally followed by a swim on Sunday afternoon for a little recovery.
How much training is done solo vs. with training partners? I probably do 90% of my training solo. I don’t mind it. We also have an amazing triathlon community here in Phoenix so I almost always see someone I know out on the road, on the trails, or at the pool. The weekends are easier to coordinate longer workouts with friends and training partners, so when it works that’s fun.
How do you stay injury free? Mary is masterful when it comes to recovery. I do a lot of active recovery, long swims, easy spins, and easy runs. I really like this format, as opposed to a day totally off. I mean don’t get me wrong, a day off is nice, but I have certainly seen the benefits of active recovery. I also get stretched regularly, which also helps.
How much sleep do you get? I try to get 7-8 hours/night. It makes me a bit boring in the evenings, but I really fall apart when I don’t get enough sleep. The summer months in Phoenix mean early workouts, but if I feel like I need an extra hour of sleep I will take it and deal with the heat.
How do you and the hubs make time for each other? Or did you just tell him you'd see him after Boulder? We probably could have done better here, but we did the best we could. He is starting a new business and I was training and racing, so we were both pretty busy. We did make time for us though, and we made that time count. It was a little stressful at times with so much going on, but he was extremely supportive. We really looked forward to Boulder because we were driving up and taking some time to spend together.
How do you recover and keep up with training between races? I was a little nervous about how the Texas Santa Rosa would work out, mostly because it was my first time racing that close together. Per usual, Mary had the perfect plan and had prepared me so that I would recover and be ready to race again. Between Texas and Santa Rosa, we had nine days before I left for Santa Rosa, so there were a few recovery days, then the weekend had some harder efforts, then it was time to recover a little and get ready to race again. I felt like I didn’t really have time to feel that true post-IM fatigue that you get about two weeks after a race. Between Santa Rosa and Boulder was different—with four weeks there was plenty of time for fatigue set in and it was REAL. I think it was easier to race two weeks apart rather than four. Yes, I know that sounds crazy.
What are your favorite training sessions leading into races? I definitely have a few special sessions that I like to see on my plan before race day. I won’t get too specific but some of my teammates may recognize these sessions. There’s a bike interval workout, a certain track workout, a swim workout that I must use the ladder to exit after. They are all sessions that give me a boost of confidence once I’m done, because they’re not just physically challenging but mentally challenging. When you nail them, it’s the greatest feeling; and when you fail them miserably, but finish and survive, it’s a similar feeling, knowing that you fought for every inch of that workout. That’s how I know I am ready to race.
Do you love your Dimond bike? And why/ why not? I love my bike! My first triathlon bike was way too big for me, so I made a promise to myself that my next bike would not only fit me perfectly but also feel perfect, and my Dimond checks both of those boxes. As a smaller rider, I think finding a bike that fits you is challenging and being able to work directly with Dimond made that process easier. I also love the personal connection to the company. I have been to the Dimond Mine and seen where my bike was made and who made it, which is really really special. My bike comes a close third behind my husband and my cat.
What does your fueling look like in those six weeks? EAT EVERYTHING! Well not everything, but I do give myself 24-48ish hours after each IM to eat whatever I want, then I dial it back to my normal routine. In general, I try to eat pretty clean and gluten-free—I don’t have an allergy, but my husband does, so when he made the change a few years ago it made sense for me too and I have actually liked the results. During those six weeks, I really tried to be ready to eat anytime anywhere, because the post-race hunger would hit me out of nowhere. Purse snacks and nightstand snacks became essential.
What do you eat and how often? I eat a little bit of everything and pretty continuous throughout the day. I eat probably 5-6 times/day. Pre-workout meal can be a Picky bar, banana with peanut butter, or a Honeystinger waffle. Breakfast is usually some or all of the following: hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, Picky bars, granola, fruit, COFFEE. Lunch is almost always a huge salad or I sometimes grab sushi. Dinner does depend a little on how planned out I have been when it come to meals. Sometimes it’s an awesome meal with something from the grill, veggies and rice…and sometimes it’s pizza. I also snack on things like nuts, hummus with veggies, string cheese, and hard-boiled eggs during the day.
Do you food prep? Pack for work? I would love to say that I food prep every week, but I don’t. I try, and when it happens it’s awesome. When it doesn’t happen, my husband and I both pitch in and make meals. I have a grocery store around the corner from me, so I do actually go there once per week and grab food for snacks, breakfasts, and some lunch stuff, and just leave it in my work refrigerator, which makes things a lot easier. I find myself kind of living out my office at times, because I always have a spare set of workout clothes and sometimes my bike hangs out there too!
What's next on the agenda? Remember when I said earlier that I was going to race a lot in 2018…..well, right now I am in the final build-up for Ironman Arizona and I’m going to follow that up with Indian Wells 70.3 three weeks later in December.
Jan Lohman is a SMASH-Dimond Team Member based in Phoenix. Look for her to smash her home ironman, Ironman Arizona, next week!