Once ranked No. 1 in the world on the ITU scene, Aussie Annabel Luxford has switched over to non-draft-legal racing, having raced mainly on the 5150 and Life Time circuits in 2012. She splits her year between the U.S. and Australia, and for 2013, she has a new coach and a new goal of racing 70.3 worlds. She’s off to a strong start to her 70.3 season, with a dominant win at Ironman 70.3 Auckland Asia-Pacific Championship two weeks ago over the likes of Caroline Steffen and Meredith Kessler. We caught up with her to find out more about racing in Auckland, her new coach and how she’s achieved a life balance.
First off, congratulations on your win! How did it feel?
Thank you. It was really exciting to win Auckland. It’s a nice feeling when you go into races with no expectations and come out the other end surprising yourself.
What did you think of the Auckland course?
The Auckland course was much more challenging than it looked on paper. Wind combined with the undulations in the first half of the race and then the technical aspects and the rain in the second half ensured it was testing.
You’re newer to the non-drafting scene—how many 70.3s have you done now?
Auckland was my third start and second finish. I sustained a puncture in the first 3K of my first attempt at the distance and was unable to finish.
How do you think your career in ITU racing has helped you have success in this format of racing?
While the distance is new, I’ve been racing triathlons at an elite international level since I was 20. I think my years in ITU have given me good transitions and an ability to change pace. Generally, most ITU bike courses are more technically challenging, so hopefully that will help.
Have you sought out any advice from Mirinda Carfrae as you jump up to these longer distances?
Rinny is one of my closest friends, and the nice thing about that is that we don’t talk too much about triathlon. She did tell me “not to be scared of the longer racing.” I think that’s why Rin is so successful—she has a healthy balance of respect for the sport and her competitors as well as faith in her own ability.
You’ve been a part of the sport for a long time. How do you keep the motivation high and keep it interesting? What are the keys to not getting burned out?
I love the sport of triathlon. Even if I were not racing competitively I would be out swimming, riding and running. Secondly I still don’t think I have got the best out of myself and that is my No. 1 goal. Respecting your body and listening to even the littlest of niggles or problems will go a long way in keeping you healthy and competitive. I haven’t always done this. But if you don’t have a healthy body ready to go, it doesn’t matter how willing the mind is. Balance has also been a key for me. Triathlon is an important part of my life but not my whole life.
You blogged about your diagnosis of severe anemia—has that been resolved? How are you feeling now?
Yes, I was severely anemic at the end of the 2012 season, but I have it all sorted out now. Regular monitoring and a maintenance plan are essential for me, as I have a tendency to be iron deficient.
You also mentioned on your blog working with Darren Smith—have you started working with him yet? If so, how’s it going to so far?
I started working with Darren Smith in Canberra at the beginning of the year. Darren’s coaching method involves great attention to detail, and his success has been remarkable. I’m really looking to him to help me improve my running. As with any new coaching relationship there is always an adjustment period. I won’t spend all year in camp with Darren but will be guided by him when I’m training in the U.S. or back in Brisbane, Australia.
What other races are on your schedule for 2013? What are your 2013 goals?
I’ll race some more 70.3 races with the ultimate aim of qualifying for Vegas 70.3 worlds. I also combine this with a couple of 5150 races and Hy-Vee. My next race is Escape from Alcatraz.