For Jeanni Seymour, a 9×70.3 IRONMAN champion, 2019 has been a year of transitions. It’s her first year on a Ventum and she recently completed her first full-distance IRONMAN. We sat down with her to discuss why she made the attempt at the full-distance, how it happened, and all the details in between.
Ventum: Hi, Jeanni. Thank you for taking the time to sit down with us. You managed to secure a podium spot in your first ever full distance IRONMAN attempt (and a Kona slot), congratulations! What prompted the change in race format?
Jeanni: IRONMAN has been a dream of mine since I first started triathlon, it is an incredible journey of self discovery and pushing your own boundaries. I also have a deep respect for the distance and my competitors so I really wanted to be prepared physically, mentally and emotionally before towing the line. My coach Jesse Kropelnicki and I decided to give it go after 70.3 Worlds last year and so I dedicated the entire off season to prepare for IM Texas. I really wanted to challenge myself, the obstacles I have had to overcome both in training and racing have allowed me to become a become athlete and a better person come which is why the long distance races is so fulfilling.
Ventum: How did the race unfold?
Jeanni: I swam in the front group with Daniela and Jocelyn and with a quick transition was able to exit T1 first. Although it was tempting to go with the leading ladies, I had a detailed power plan that I was not interested in breaking away from in my first IRONMAN attempt. From a mental perspective, it would have been easier to ride with those girls but it would have potentially come at the cost of my best marathon so I wanted to take a more conservative approach this first time. I came off the bike in 4th place and my legs felt ready to take on my first ever marathon (in a triathlon, or otherwise!). I felt good for the first 6 miles but held back and stuck to my pacing plan similar to how I did for the bike ride. I picked up the pace from mile 6 -14 but then hit a bit of a rough patch around mile 15. I slowed down at an aid station to grab more calories and had to dig deep just to keep my legs moving forward. It took me up until mile 17 to catch and pass Kimberly Morrison and was able to hold her off to get onto the podium in 3rd place. It was so special to cross the finish line and have Mike Riley tell me I was officially an IRONMAN, a dream I have had since I was a little kid. Icing on the cake was a ticket to the Ironman World Championship in Kona this October.
Ventum: How different was the reality of a full IRONMAN compared to your expectations?
Jeanni: I expected this race to be hard and IM delivered, I had to dig deep and push myself all the way to finish line. I love pushing my body to the absolute limit and getting the most out of myself on the given day. I learnt that IRONMAN is all about being patient and knowing yourself more than anything. Finding that place where you want to quit but you somehow find the strength to ask your body for more is a special place that I seek to find in every race. When I can get there, I have my most fulfilling performances. There is something so special and fulfilling about the IRONMAN and I cannot wait to take everything I have learnt, get back to work and be better. I would also like to thank my incredible team and sponsors for making it all possible.
Ventum: When switching to the 110 mile course, what technical adjustments did you make to your bike? What mental techniques do you have for such a long ride?
Jeanni: I broke the bike up into 4 x 28 mile chunks which broke things up mentally. My goal was to increase each 28 mile segment and have the last 28 miles be my strongest/highest power which I was able to do in Texas. It is such a long race and it takes a lot of mental energy to stay patient and sick to your plan. I find that if you break things up into shorter segments it is easier to stay present in the moment. Fueling and hydration is key during an IRONMAN and it sets you up for the marathon. The Ventum has the integrated hydration system and I added a rear bottle cage to my bike setup to ensure that I was well hydrated on course. I was thoroughly impressed with the Ventum in both of the two races I have done this year on the new bike. It was the first time in my career where I felt like I had a leg up on my competitors simply because I was on the fastest equipment. It handled amazingly in the crosswind sections and was super fast on some of the flat and straight roads. This is by far the fastest bike I’ve ever ridden and I can’t wait to put it to the test on all different courses in my lead up to Kona in October.
Ventum: Having won nine 70.3’s already, did you train in a way to ensure you can have continued success at the 70.3 distance?
Jeanni: I firmly believe that the training I have done for the Ironman will only aid my 70.3 distance racing. As mentioned, I always have done a significant amount of over-distance training which has shown to be successful for the half distance while also preparing me for the full Ironman races. Durability and strength are big themes we focus on and I find them to be the most important aspects of any long course triathlon race.
Despite focusing on half distance racing for many years, my coach and I always had Ironman in the back of our minds. Long rides and runs have always been a staple of my program so although there were a few key sessions that were specific to the Ironman, the theme was similar to what I have done for many years. I don’t think there was anything “special” in the build up. It was just 12 weeks of very solid and consistent work that allowed me to show up on race day healthy, fresh and motivated.
Ventum: You have a ticket to the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona. Was this a calculated result? If so, talk about what you did to make this happen, mentally and research wise.
Jeanni: I knew I slot to Kona was on the line but going into the race it was not my goal. My goal for my first IRONMAN was to execute MY plan and give MY of my best on the given day. I was focused on myself the entire day which meant leaving my ego behind and executing what was in my control. I did a great job of staying patient and I felt consistent for most of the day.
Ventum: Is there anything else you want to add?
Jeanni: I am proud that I had the courage to challenge myself at the full distance and proud that I didn’t give up especially when my body was not responding during the latter parts of the marathon. I am humbled to have learnt so much about the distance and even more about myself which I will download with my team and use going forward as I prepare for my first Kona later in October.
With her eyes set on the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, Jeanni’s schedule for the remainder of the 2019 season is the following:
- 6/30 Coeur d’ Alene 70.3
- 8/3 Boulder 70.3
- 9/8 Santa Cruz 70.3
- 10/12 Kona