Athlete of the Month, September 2014 – Amanda McNulty
Athlete of the Month
Amanda McNulty broke through this season stepping up to full-distance racing with not one, but two Ironmans ‚Äî Texas and Boulder. Her winter training was challenged by two address changes (with two varied climates). Lots of synergy with the number two for Amanda! She and her husband Tim ended up in Scottsdale, Arizona. Through the upheaval, she stuck with her training plan and went into Texas with lots of quality, but a bit short on endurance fitness. The race wasn‚Äôt her ideal day but was still an excellent first-time IM result ‚Äì 32nd AG in 12:34. She came through hungry and ready to train for IM Boulder where she PR‚Äôd by nearly 50 minutes. Boulder was a very challenging course at altitude, but she finished 13th AG in 11:45!
Amanda was nominated as athlete of the month, not because of her results (which are quite impressive!). She was nominated because she epitomizes the 3 Ds of D3 Multisport. Her long training days started with a 3 am alarm to get out the door before 4 am in order to get her workouts in when the Arizona temps were ‚Äúonly‚Äù in the 90‚Ä≤s. In Scottsdale, it‚Äôs simply impossible to go for a long brick and leave at a more normal hour. The temperatures quickly get dangerously hot once the sun comes up. In addition to this kind of schedule discipline, Amanda did not miss a workout all summer, and she made huge positive changes to her daily and racing diets (thanks to help from Coach Brad who is a sports nutritionist in addition to being a D3 coach), and she arrived in Boulder fit and strong.
From a coach‚Äôs perspective, she is a model athlete. She works with Coach Dave, executing her plan to a T, and is always inquisitive. She thinks beyond the next race. She sets big but realistic goals for herself. She is always looking to improve. It‚Äôs with pleasure and excitement that Coach Dave nominated Amanda for Athlete of the Month.
Enjoy the Q&A below.
1. How did you arrive at the decision to race two Ironman races in one year? Why Texas? Why Boulder?
We were living in Boulder at the time the race got announced, so I thought it would be great to have my first IM be local with less stress of travel, familiarity with the area, etc. We then went to Kona for my husband‚Äôs work the week of the IM World Championships and that‚Äôs when my husband decided he would sign up for Texas since it would be in the closer future and at sea level. I then realized he would finish two IM‚Äôs before I got to do my first (he did IMCDA in 2010 and I broke my elbow 5 weeks out), so I decided to also do Texas so I wouldn‚Äôt have to watch him do another one without me! So, I guess that answers question #2. However, we then moved to Arizona in December 2013 so Boulder was not going to be local any longer ‚Äì there goes my planning out the door. And now I was signed up for two ‚Äì both required travel and now one would be at altitude! Plus, I‚Äôd have to train through the AZ summer for Boulder. I was definitely questioning if I would do Boulder or not earlier in the year prior to completing Texas.
2. What adjustments did you have to make in your life/work/personal to be able to commit to training for two Ironmans?
The biggest adjustment for training for two IM‚Äôs is that it has to become your lifestyle. If you train for one IM, you then are done for the year after that one, but when you decide to do more than one, it has to become part of what you plan for each day and each week – with work events, personal obligations and all of the training it takes. If you make your training part of your day, every day, it is easier to make it part of your life. Also, a big adjustment for me has been to set people‚Äôs expectations about my schedule at work. People know I‚Äôm not going to be happy with them if they schedule me for an 8 am meeting because I‚Äôm just getting done with a ride and rushing to jump into the shower. I even block my Outlook calendar in the morning as ‚Äòbusy‚Äô from 7-9am just to make sure people know I‚Äôm not free then, and if it is really important they‚Äôll e-mail me to see if they can fit into my schedule. This has alleviated a lot of work stress for me.
3. What surprised you the most about the training that‚Äôs needed to be able to race Ironman and be in the top of your age group?
The biggest surprise for me about the what it takes is that you can‚Äôt just be good at one thing and that even what you thought was your strength might not necessarily be your strength on race day. For me this was running. Running has always been my thing and out of the 3 disciplines, the one I held onto and felt secure about, but when it comes to an IM, you can‚Äôt rely on that so you need to be strong in all three disciplines. To be on top in your age group, there is also not a lot of room for error ‚Äì I have a ton of room for improvement which also continues to make this appealing to me.
4. What was your biggest take away from Texas that you applied to Boulder?
The biggest take away from Texas that I applied to Boulder was nutrition strategy. I learned that more solid foods were not the way to go and I needed to switch back to more liquid calories. The second biggest takeaway was confidence on the bike. The wind in Texas really threw me off (because I‚Äôm a scaredy cat in the wind). So, I really worked hard on becoming more confident onAmanda Boulder IM finish the bike and also getting in hydration on a regular basis. Bike handling skills have been a huge weakness for me and still is. But, the bike in Boulder was a great improvement from Texas as well as my nutrition.
6. What were two key changes you made in your nutrition that you believe made a difference in your training and racing?
Switching to almost all liquid calories on the bike during the race. This made a big difference for Boulder and opposite of what I did in Texas. Felt MUCH better on the bike. During training, the biggest switch for me is fueling properly not just during workouts, but afterward, so I can recover faster.
7. What was one thing your biggest fan (tell us who that was), did for you during your training?
My husband is awesome and always will be my biggest fan. He believes in me when I don‚Äôt believe in myself. I would say the biggest thing he did for me during training was providing encouragement instead of telling me I was crazy for waking up at 3:30 in the morning to go for a ride. He also pushed me when I didn‚Äôt feel like doing a workout..he kicked my butt out the door and told me to just go do it and I‚Äôll feel better when it is over.
8. What was one top nugget of advice Coach Dave gave you?
A top nugget that Coach Dave gave me was for my swim for IMTX. This would be my first IM and it was going to be a mass start. Although my swimming confidence was pretty good, I still didn‚Äôt Amanda with Coach Dave like swimming near or around too many other people. He told me to just focus on looking forward and finding the next open spot and swimming to that open spot. This gave me something to focus on in the swim other than how many people were around me. It helped tremendously and the swim was really the highlight of that day!
9. If you could swim, bike, or run (but only one) anywhere in the world, which would it be and where would you go?
I think I‚Äôd like to take my bike to Australia ‚Äì seems like a great place to train (and vacation) and that way I could explore more. Next, on the list would be running the Big Sur Marathon (one day when I feel like running just a marathon again).
10. What‚Äôs next for you?
We are doing the SOMA Tri in Tempe, AZ (local to where we live). I think that‚Äôs it for this year ‚Äì maybe some 5ks and a bike only race. Next year I plan on doing 2 Ironman‚Äôs again (IMCDA and IMAZ), Alcatraz (if I get in) and Augusta 70.3. That‚Äôs the plan for now!