D3 Athlete of the Month: Curt Chesney
Coach Curt had an amazing race in this year’s Ironman World Championships. He won the 40-44 age group with a time of 9:07:12, an incredible effort under tough conditions. Like many athletes he balances his training with work and family. We asked the Curt some questions about his training, juggling his responsibilities and what it feels like to reach the pinnacle of the sport.
D3: You started out as a cyclist and raced in Europe, can you tell us a bit about that experience?
Curt: I started out racing bikes at age 14. My last three racing seasons were spent in Europe. During that time I really learned how to push my physical limits and suffer like an animal. I also learned how to take a disciplined and focused approach to endurance training.
D3: What got you started in triathlon?
Curt: I was a bit of a workaholic in my 20’s and when I turned 30 a lifestyle change was needed. My dad had been competing in triathlons for a while so I thought I’d give them a try. I was a slow swimmer and runner but was hooked right away.
D3: Obviously your bike is your weapon, but how do you balance it with running and swimming?
Curt: In the last ten years I have done a lot of swim and run focus to boost my speed there. Some races I’ll push the bike to build a nice cushion for the run and others I’ll bike conservative to help out my run. It depends on how I am feeling and which race. At Kona this year I biked conservative to keep my core temperature down and start the run hydrated. On a different course I would push the bike a lot more.
D3: Going into Kona your goal was to win your AG. Can you tell us a bit of what your big training weeks looked like?
Curt: January 1st thru May was 20 hours every week, don’t think I did one week over 20hr. This summer my fitness was slow to come around, probably not until August. My biggest weeks in the summer were 3-5hrs of swimming, 18-20hrs of biking and 4-5hrs of running. I would normally run a bit more but had some hip issues.
D3: What was race day like for you and what did it feel like to stand on the top of podium?
Curt: I had really bad sleep issues starting 3 weeks out. Only about four to five hours per night. I felt exhausted race week but got in six to seven hours for a few nights leading up to the race. Race night I got less than three hours. At 1:00 A.M. I was so frustrated and tired that I lost my desire to race yet alone go for the win. I got up at 4 A.M. and was just not motivated. I was just in cruise mode until four miles into the run when Lisa told me I was in the lead. That’s when I got fired up. I decided to run as fast as I could until someone caught me. I really didn’t want 2nd so I figured I would win or blow up trying. I didn’t celebrate too much when I crossed the line because I really couldn’t believe it. I don’t think it settled in until the awards ceremony. Being called up on stage as IM world champion was a once in a life time experience.
D3: What’s next for you? Will you defend your title next year?
Curt: My next race is 70.3 World Championship in November. The 1/2 IM is my best distance so I am hoping it goes well. The trick will be to recover by then. I may go back to Hawaii in 2011 to defend. Racing in the heat has always been my weakness and I worked on that for the past year. If I can work on another weakness for 2011 maybe I can break nine hours there.