GEORGE WHITE’SStL – Peter, we’re thrilled you’ve taken the time to answer a few questions for us. We’ll try to keep them down to a thousand or so. The first thing many of our readers want to know, if you can put it into words, is what it must feel like to come down Alii Drive knowing you’ve got the World Championship in your grasp.
PR – “The first time I did it – it was a dream come true. A friend of mine watched me and said I looked over my shoulder more than a dozen times in the last mile. I had an 8 minute lead and I couldn’t believe that no one was going to pass me and that my dream was finally going to come true. It was a very magical experience.”
GEORGE WHITE’SStL – This year Kona was an emotional race for you as well as an inspirational one for all of us following it. Will it serve as a springboard for 2003 or where do you typically find your motivation for those winter months?
PR – “I love to train. I love doing long rides with buddies and doing long runs with some buddies as well. Most of 2001 and 2002 were tough in terms of racing but I rediscovered my formula of training for Ironman. I am really looking forward to 2003.”
GEORGE WHITE’SStL – It seems many of the pros gravitate towards significant others who are similarly involved in the sport. With the blending of some pretty impressive gene pools, it makes one wonder what kind of times the next generation of triathletes will be capable of producing.
PR – “Lori and I’s kid when we have one is going to be scary fast!!”
GEORGE WHITE’SStL – “How do you successfully balance quantity vs. quality when training?”
PR – “I hardly ever do high heart rate sessions. I am a mileage guy who goes steady, not too hard and not too easy. The goal is to start at a medium pace and finish strong.”
GEORGE WHITE’SStL – Pete, you have a killer website. Can you talk about it how it came to be? Has writing become a release valve of sorts for you?”
PR – “Shawn, my friend and web guy, offered to do a web site for me. I said okay and it has looked awesome ever since. I like to keep people in the loop at certain periods of the year like Hawaii this past year. Other times I like to keep my distance which makes it challenging for Shawn to keep things new on the site. Shawn did an absolutely amazing job race day in Kona.”
GEORGE WHITE’SStL – Growing up in Canada, I imagine you might have harbored dreams of scoring the winning goal in the Stanley Cup Finals, but now you have a successful career as a pro triathlete. How did you discover this sport?
PR – “I was actually a downhill alpine ski racer for most of my pre-teen and teenage years. I got into cycling to help my skiing. In University a friend persuaded me to enter a local triathlon. I didn’t really know how to do the front crawl or run; but, I was hooked onto the sport after my first race!”
GEORGE WHITE’SStL – A lot of age-groupers in St Louis will be reading this that go half and/or full iron distance. Could you talk to them a bit about mental toughness?
PR – “I do a lot of training solo. I truly believe that you need to do some of your longest runs and rides solo – it creates mental strength for race day. I also break the race day into several parts to make the day into many segments, for example, swim start, swim turn around, swim finish, bike start, etc.”
GEORGE WHITE’SStL – I think you have won the “Double,” lowest aggregate time for IM Hawaii and Xterra World Championship in Maui, twice now. Can you comment on the explosive growth of off-road triathlon?
PR – “Actually I have won the Double 3 times. I find the Xterra scene a lot more friendly and relaxed which is the reason it is attracting so many new athletes to the sport.”
GEORGE WHITE’SStL – Okay, now the question we always find time to ask. Favorite workout?
PR – “7 hour ride with Roland Green, 2 time World Mountain Bike Champ, and Ryder Hesjedal, World Cup Mountain Finals Champ, then a 40 minute transition run.”
GEORGE WHITE’SStL – This question is just to give hope to we mere mortal triathletes with steep learning curves. What was the dumbest thing you’ve done in a race?
PR – “Drop out! The race is never over until you get to the finish line. Anything can happen.”
GEORGE WHITE’SStL– We watched your performance first-hand in Kona last October on a day when you prevailed against a stellar field and survived some transition-bag confusion. But through it all, the overwhelming impression we got from you was one of great composure. Is that simply an extension of your personality, something you work at, or what?
PR- “I worked quite a bit with Lance Watson, Canada’s National Team coach, on mental training to get ready for race day. I was in a total zone when the gun went off.”
GEORGE WHITE’SStL– We’re certain you would have loved to race with Tim to the finish last year, but unfortunately with his health issue there was no way he could go on. He’ll get a rematch but this time you’ll be wearing the “1.” You’re going to be a marked man in ’04.
PR- “Tim will be very hard to beat this year. He is very strong physically and mentally. I will have to prepare even better than I did last year. I will go into this year’s race the same way I did for 2003: I will think of it as my first time going to Hawaii. As if I have never won the race. No stress.”
GEORGE WHITE’SStL– One of the things we admire about you is the fact that you were so open and honest about some training mistakes you made in the past. When we age-groupers screw up, the whole world doesn’t see it. For someone on the world stage, it’s gotta be tough to bare your soul. Have the last three years changed you much?
PR- “The last three years were extremely tough; but it helped me learn that I am in the sport because I love the lifestyle, I love training and I love racing. It is really just about battling your competitors on race day. Racing the boys! First one to the line gets bragging rights.”
GEORGE WHITE’SStL– You rode Specialized bikes at IM and Xterra, capturing your fourth double with a 7th overall in Maui. They’ve got to be doing cartwheels over your success. Will you be riding much the same set-up this year?
PR- “First of all, I have won 9 Ironmans on a Specialized bike. The company is extremely supportive of me and they listen when I have suggestions about product. My race set-up will be very similar to 2003 except for Hawaii. Mike Signard, the founder of Specialized, has told the design department to build me something really special for Ironman. How cool is that? I love Specialized: the company and the products they create.”
GEORGE WHITE’SStL– We know how much you love training, but have you managed to make time for some skiing?
PR- “I took an intensive one week cross country ski camp at the end of November. I use to ski 8 years ago and wanted to learn proper technique. I am so hooked on XC skiing. My plan is to train 3 weeks triathlon then head to the mountains for 4-5 days during that 4th week. I have been doing this since November. I am off to the mountains tomorrow. I love it. I want to do a couple of 30 km loppets this winter.”
GEORGE WHITE’SStL– What’s a typical “day in the life” like for you these days?
PR- “I try and really hold back with my training this time of year. The most important race of the year is in October so I must pace myself. I do my normal weekly routine but at a much lower intensity and volume.”
GEORGE WHITE’SStL– One curious phenomenon we wondered about is how the so-called “cold climate” Canadian triathletes do so well in the heat?
PR- “I still don’t get it; but, yes we do.”
GEORGE WHITE’SStL– Speaking of warm weather, you’ll be headed to Tucson in March for a Spring Training Camp. Can you tell us about that arrangement?
PR- “I use to be part of Paula’s multisport training camps and I loved doing them; so, I decided to get into the camp business this year. I hooked up with an old triathlon team mate and we started the company. Our first camp is this March. Tucson is a great place to train in March.”
GEORGE WHITE’S – I think the casual triathlon fan sometimes simply views the world’s elite triathletes as training machines and as a result dehumanizes you guys somewhat. You experienced an unfortunate reminder of our humanity this year. We offer our condolences for the loss of your father. We’re thinking that he was probably your number one fan.
PR – August was a pretty rough month; but, I managed to get through it. Every month gets better.
GEORGE WHITE’S – Not many people were aware of just how close you came to withdrawing from the World Championship this year. After all the injuries and emotional loss, and to run your way to second place the way that you did, has to feel as much or even more gratifying than a win.
PR – I was really happy with my final result. I really dug deep during the marathon when a ton of other guys quit. I never gave up and fought all the way to the finish line. I was quite proud of my mental strength on race day. Although, I was disappointed in my bike split. I rode 30 minutes slower than my personal best in Kona. Ouch!
GEORGE WHITE’S – All athletes at the top to their sport have a great deal of intestinal fortitude, and whether by choice or by need, you pushed yourself to even greater mental toughness this year. How big a role did Mark Allen play in that psychological growth?
PR – First of all, having Mark Allen believe in you does something special to your confidence. I couldn’t have done the past two years without Mark’s help. I raced this year with my least amount of fitness but stronger mentally than ever before which has everything to do with Mark’s guidance.
GEORGE WHITE’S – The World Championship, and indeed the sport itself, took a hit this year with the EPO revelations. We don’t want to put you on the spot, but it was very eerie reading your race-week report. You saw Nina at the pre-race NBC interviews and picked up on how much her body had changed.
PR – Yeah, she looked different. She screwed up and now she is dealing with it. I am sure she is going through hell. She is a nice person; but made some bad decisions.
GEORGE WHITE’S – One more question, and we’ll leave the subject behind us. I assume, and maybe naively so, that the vast majority of world class triathletes race clean. You can’t control what the other guy does, but it would drive us nuts knowing we were trying to recover naturally while another guy is taking injections.
PR – When you race clean you can still beat the cheaters; but, you can only do it once a year. The cheaters can do it all year long.
GEORGE WHITE’S – Let’s switch gears and talk about your training camps. Of course they are supposed to generate revenue, but they also provide you an opportunity to connect with the age-group triathletes. What does that do for you?
PR – I don’t make very much money at the camps. The number one thing I am concerned about is to keep the cost fairly low. I really enjoy doing the camps. I get so much energy from the people who attend the camps. Plus, I love showing people around Tucson – there are some amazing training rides and runs to do.
GEORGE WHITE’S – We gotta get in one whimsical question. What kind of coffee bean are you grinding these mornings?
PR – I am a huge coffee lover. I have some amazing beans in my machine that I received from my friend Tim Cotter in Kona. Tim owns a coffee farm above Keahou Bay. His coffee beans rule!
GEORGE WHITE’S – After seeing your T-1 split time at Kona this year, we’re talking to the right guy on this one. What are some of your keys to fast, efficient Ironman transitioning?
PR – I give a lot of thought to my transitions. How do I make them as smooth as possible. A good transition is free time. You can make up some time on fast swimmers with a good T1 split. The most important thing is to study the transition zone and then do some mental imagery prior to race, race morning and the end of the swim.
GEORGE WHITE’S – A number of folks relatively new to triathlon will be reading this. If you look back from the time you first got involved in triathlon, all the way to the present, is there any simple advice you could provide to help them get the most from what the sport has to offer?
PR – Be patient with your training and race results. Some people try to rush their improvements which usually leads to injury or burn out. You want to avoid both because they slow your yearly progression.
GEORGE WHITE’S – As always, all the best. You rock.