Emma Pooley smashed the previous course record by sixteen minutes to win the ITU Powerman Long Distance Duathlon world title in Zofingen at the weekend.
The former world champion cyclist and Olympic medal winner hopes to make strides in long distance triathlon. With a marathon best time of 2hours 44minutes you can expect to hear more from her in the coming months and years.
We caught up with her to reflect on the duathon world title and find out more about her future plans and, importantly, how well she can swim.
How did your performance in Zofingen compare with expectations?
I wasn't sure what to expect in terms of results, but I was hoping to be able to run ok on that hilly course. I think I actually run better off the bike (at least relatively) and the bike course is hilly too, so I thought the race should suit me.
What were you thinking as you crossed the finishing line?
It was just an amazing experience in the finishing straight - so much noise from the stands and spectators, I could barely think at all! But my main thought was that I wanted a drink of water - it was a hot day.
Did you expect to have such a lead (sixteen minutes) after the bike?
To be honest, not really. It will sound funny, but I was most worried about pacing on the bike because a 150km TT is really nothing like the kind of cycling you mostly do in a road race. I only took the lead halfway through the second bike lap (of three) and I knew that if the Swiss athlete, Hrebec, kept up her speed from the first lap, she would only have been two-three minutes behind after the bike. I hadn't seen any of the other pro female athletes since T1 so had no idea how far back they were, but I suspected they were hot on my heels!
How much running have you done recently and in the past when you were cycling?
I used to race cross-country at school and university, but once I got into cycling more seriously I had to cut back so as to be able to train for the pace change needed in a road race. I love running so it was always quite sad for me, not being able to run in the race season. This year I was doing quite a lot of running in the first half of the year up to Rapperswil 70.3 - still not many kilometres though. From the start of June I've hardly run at all because I picked up an injury at Rapperswil, and I was focussing on the Commonwealth Games. Once I'd raced in Glasgow and officially retired from cycling, I had just a month to nail some run sessions for Zofingen. I haven't done a run over 25km in 11 months!
Have you ever run a marathon?
Yes - first marathon was Luzern 2012, 2nd in 2:55. Then last year Jungfrau (mountain marathon) 6th in 3:34, and Lausanne marathon 1st in 2:44:29.
What's next for you?
I am going to try to race Jungfrau marathon again this Saturday, but it's so close to Zofingen that I'm not sure I'll be recovered. Then end of season holiday - it's been a busy year! Then back into training from October, hopefully for Challenge Laguna Phuket at the end of November.
What are your aspirations in triathlon?
I would like to see how I can do in long-course triathlon... Maybe Kona one day, if I can get good enough. I'm not aiming for Kona in 2015 though, because qualifying is difficult and requires you to focus your season on it very specifically. Next year I'd just like to gain a bit of race experience, and target events that suit me.
How's your swimming?
Definitely my weakest link at the moment, but improving! I'm very lucky to have coaching support from Micky Tronczik when I'm at home in Zürich, and Paul Newsome of SwimSmooth when I'm training in Perth, Australia. I've already improved a lot. And I do enjoy swimming, which helps!
What else are you doing now work/study wise?
I finished my PhD in geotechnical engineering at the end of 2013. This year I've ‘just’ been training and racing full time - it has actually been very difficult trying to juggle triathlon and cycling though, I haven't had much time at home. Cycling is a sport where you have to be away a lot racing. I am considering trying to find a suitable part-time job over the winter in Perth or next season, both for financial security and some mental stimulation! But I do want to have a proper try at triathlon, and for that it really helps to be a full-time athlete. I'm well aware that it's a great privilege though and I feel very lucky to be able to contemplate that.
10 September 2014
Photographs via www.powerman.ch