Continuing our series profiling each one of our age group team members racing in this year's Ironman World Championships, we are thrilled to chat with Amy Hite. Team SFQ'er Amy earned her Hawaii Ironman qualification by finishing 4th in the 40-44 age group at Ironman Wisconsin last fall.
This will be your second time racing in Kona after earning a spot via the legacy program two years ago. You are one of the most persistent athletes we’ve seen in your quest to qualify and had many near-misses before finally punching your ticket at your 8th Ironman Wisconsin last fall! Can you tell us how you maintained your motivation and what finally helped you to break through?
I did not get serious about Ironman training until two years ago after I qualified for and raced Kona through the legacy program. Up until then I would describe myself as a “slacker Ironman trainer”. I did not have a coach, nor did I follow any sort of structured training plan. I would do long bike rides and a decent number of open water swims (as was needed as an adult onset swimmer), but my longest runs would generally be the runs in the local half iron distance races I would do. I was confident and content in being able to complete the distance in a respectable time, but I never really pushed myself.
Kona 2016 was my 16th Ironman and, honestly, I had grown a bit bored with the monotony of swim, bike, run. I knew that if I were going to continue to race Ironmans I needed a change. I was still in Kona touring the Big Island after the race when I reached out to Hillary Biscay about the prospect of being coached. That’s when I dared to believe that I just might have what it takes to qualify for a return trip to Kona.
Enjoying the Queen K in 2016
In the first half of 2017 I had a couple close calls just missing a KQ slot. Given there are general only one or two Kona slots for women’s age groups, qualifying often requires a fair amount of luck with who shows up for any given race. But with Hillary’s skilled guidance, I was getting stronger and I was certainly NOT bored with training anymore. It was rewarding just to put all the training to the test during races. Patience finally paid off when I got that coveted slot at Ironman Wisconsin last year.
Punching my ticket back to Kona at Ironman Wisconsin 2017
What were the biggest lessons you took away from your first Kona experience?
First and foremost, soak in the spirit of the Island and be truly grateful for the opportunity to race at the World Championships. Never take for granted being able to do the crazy things we choose to do. Take part in some of the many Ironman festivities, but also know when enough is enough and take an extra nap. Also, try not to be overwhelmed by the deluge the extremely fit athletes you encounter the week before the race… you will find many of them walking on the Queen K come race day.
SUPER excited to see the Smashfest Queen contingent at Kona 2016
You and your husband Dave are an Ironman power couple, racing Kona together both times and smashing tons of ironmans + epic workouts together on the regular. Did you meet through triathlon or is this something you fell in love with together? Can you talk a bit about the challenges and highlights of being married to another super accomplished iron-machine?
I met Dave through mutual triathlon friends at Lifetime Woodbury. At the time I just dabbled in Sprint and Olympic length races, as I was more focused on rock and ice climbing and gymnastics. The first Ironman experience I had was watching Dave at 2009 Ironman Wisconsin. After that long, stressful day of spectating, I told him it was fine if he wanted to keep doing Ironmans… but that I was going to just do them as well. (To this day I maintain that it is way easier to race an Ironman than it is to spectate!).
The best part of having an endurance partner in crime is the adventures we have together. For our honeymoon, I made Dave climb Aconcagua, the highest peak in the Western hemisphere at 22,841’. To quote our guide, the climb would “be rewarding, but it wouldn’t be pleasant”. So very true, but our reward of a safe and successful summit was worth the hypoxic suffering through constant high winds and cold.
Aconcagua Summit – Amy and Dave are on the far right
There are definitely more than a few challenges with both of us training for Ironmans, but the highlights include many long days in the saddle together. Cycling is a strength for both of us, so we are always excited when 120+ mile rides appear on my training schedule.
Dave’s Birthday Smashfest
We also spend most of our vacation days traveling to and racing Ironmans. Our Ironman race-cations have included: Boulder, Texas, Cozumel, Los Cabos, Santa Rosa, Wisconsin (always!), Arizona, and now for the second time we are fortunate to have both qualified for Kona. It’s truly special to be able to share triathlon’s biggest stage with your spouse. Looking forward to next year, we are already planning a trip to race Ironman New Zealand on my birthday. (If only I can figure out how to work in some climbing while we are there…)
You are a prolific Ironman racer and Kona will be the middle of three ironmans in three months for you, between Ironman Wisconsin and Ironman Arizona. As you know, we love your smashfest style, but many would read that schedule and think you are bananas:) Can you tell us why this kind of line up is the norm for you?
I think Dave and I might have a little bit of an Ironman problem. We fell into this habit a few years ago and it just seems normal to us. I feel a bit antsy if I have too many weeks between races. Vacation time generally is the limiting factor, so we typically only do four Ironmans per year. Race days are the reward, so why not have a few back to back to back?!
2018 Ironman Wisconsin Finish
What are you most looking forward to about your Hawaii Ironman race week this year?
I’m most looking forward to sharing the experience with so many of my SFQ and Team HPB teammates both on and off the race course! It’s awesome to be able to share some of the final tune-up workouts with teammates and I’m thrilled to be able to meet several new teammates from around the world in person.
Team HPB 2018 Kona Squad
What are your goals for this year’s race?
In Kona 2016 I raced with a calf strain and had to bike and run very conservatively, so I’m excited to see how much I can improve on my time this year given a mostly healthy body and two years of focused training. But mainly I simply appreciate the opportunity to race in Kona and will do everything in my power to make it to the finish line with a smile on my face.