Linsey Corbin...Professional TriathleteOkay, Okay, so you know that going from an amateur to a professional triathlete is a change. It's a change that many triathletes only dream of. I wanted to know for myself just what it is like being a professional...SO...I was lucky enough to get some answers from Linsey Corbin. Linsey just finished up her first season as a professional triathlete and has some answers for those of us that want to know what pro life is like, her pro life:
How/when did you know you were ready to make the jump from amateur to pro?
I actually swore I was never going to race professional because I was having too much fun as an age grouper! I started winning my age group in races and was looking for a new challenge, so I started to put racing professionally on the radar. My next race, Wildflower, I raced as an age grouper and would have finished 3rd overall. I decided go big or go home and to take some risks, so I got my pro license in June of 2006. I have no regrets either!
What was the most challenging part of racing pro compared to amateur? What was the most exciting part?
There have been two challenging parts. Initially, getting used to racing alone and without tons of age groupers around was tough. Pro fields are pretty small with 10-50 people (except for Kona/Clearwater), and since we generally get head start often you don't see many people for alot of the race; that was really bizarre my first few races, and almost lonely. Also, I have come to realize how improtant it is to be a top-notch swimmer. If you don't come out of the water in the first pack, you race alone, and that can be tough. The most exciting thing was racing pro! I looked (and still do) up to so many pros and to be on the starting line next to them was pretty cool. In the end though, age grouper or pro, we are all the same with the same goals: to do the best that we can. Other exciting things include not having to pay for race entries, getting all-star treatment at races like Wildflower, traveling to new places and meeting new people. I really live a dream!
What was your first race as a pro and what thoughts were going through your head leading up to the race and during it?
My first pro race was Ironman Coeur D'Alene in 2006. This was also my first Ironman. I think I was more jazzed about doing an Ironman for the first time than racing as a pro. Throughout the race it would hit me that I was doing two things I had once dreamed of, and that was a great feeling.
Any great training or racing tips you can share? ...but NOT your "top secret" ones.
Training tips: I am a big fan of staying injury free (ha! who isn't?) so I include core work and weights this time of year to prepare me for a full race schedule. I think biking up big hills helps build strength and toughness, and I think it is fun, so that is a big part of my training regimen. I ride the trainer a lot, too... I think it builds mental fortitude and allows a controlled training environment. I also think riding with people that are a bit faster than you causes you to train outside of your comfort zone, which is great. I love to run, I think varying the pace is key. I see a lot of people that run different distances but always the same pace. I am not afraid to run on the track hard, run hills repeats fast, or do tempo work on long runs.
Confidence in your racing abilities is something learned over time. What parts of your racing are you confident in? How can athletes gain more confidence?
Confidence in racing is huge. If you don't believe in yourself, then when the going gets tough (on race or training days) it is going to be hard to keep going. I feel confident in all three events + my transitions... I try as hard as I can in training and when I get to the start line I generally feel as if I am as prepared as I am going to be to race to the best of my abilities on that given day. According to the stats, I usually run and bike pretty darn fast. I think you can build confidence in training. By setting small attainable goals (even if it is getting to the top of the hill as fast as possible) you will begin to believe in yourself. I think this then carries over to racing, and when I race, I like to set mini goals throughout the race. One of my favorites is worrying about the here and now, riding as hard as possible for 5 minutes then re-evaluating and setting a new goal. I also like to say something positive each time a goal is attained.
Heading to Hawaii you were ready to have a break through performance. Unfortunately an injury took you out at mile 12 of the run. What is your best advice for handling a setback and moving forward?
I think it is important to take a look at what went wrong and caused the setback so you can learn from your mistake. My mistake in Kona was that I was so busy training I forgot to take care of myself (stretching, yoga, strength work) and ended up injured. However, I think it is important to not keep the pity party going for too long and move on. I dealt with Kona, and within 24 hours of the race was in vacation mode and enjoying my off season, albeit pretty sore!
Any "behind the scenes" pro moments you can share with us?
I went to one of my first pro meetings, and I am a pretty outgoing person. Every other pro had on there game face and it felt as if nobody would look or talk to me. I was so scared!!! It was so bizarre to not be talking to one another and be so serious. However, after the race everyone was laughing and reminiscing about there day. In the end, I have come to learn that 90% of the pro triathletes out there are just like me: hard working, friendly yet competitive, and looking to have a good time.
What is your fuel of choice for training, racing, recovery?
Training- I like to eat Clif Bars: lemon poppy seed, peanut toffee buzz, and Carmel Brownie Luna bars Racing- gels and gatorade, cola after mile 16 of the marathon in the Ironman Recovery- Smoothies with yogurt, bananas, fruit and protein powder. Chocolate milk/hot coco. Tuna salad.
Can you leave us with any final advice, opinions, or thoughts on being a professional triathlete?
When deciding if I should "make the leap" I figured that I am only 26 years old, and that I could work a real job when I was 40 years old. About a year ago I quit my job and decided to race full time. I think that was a big risk. I look back at some of the great/successful races I had, and all of them involved taking some risks. I think if you don't take a risk, you will never really know. Yes, not attaining goals is tough, but you will never know unless you try!
I also think I under-estimated how hard you have to work to be a successful professional triathlete... I worked pretty hard last year, but I don't think I worked hard enough. I have met some pretty successful athletes this past year and all of them are extremely disciplined and work VERY hard. I am not surprised they are winners.
Last, can you make up a question and answer it. Something you think is worth asking a first year pro that will help us picture your year more vividly.
What was your favorite part of your year?
I look back on 2007, and winning a few races was great. I think my favorite past though has been the memories, I met some great people (Bree Wee!!) and got to see some great places. I think these memories will last much longer than any medal or trophy I have in my house. I now know people from all over (Hawaii, Australia, New York) and to have those connections and new places to train and people to cheer for is great.
Awesome Linsey Corbin- YOU ROCK! Best of luck in your 2008 season and we will be rooting for you! Just in case you have never met Linsey Corbin in real life, she truly is one-of-a-kind! At the start of the Vancouver Triathlon I was crying because I was far from home and missed my Kainoa- she gave me a hug and loads of encouragement... even let the freezing Hawaii girl borrow her toe warmers!
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