Amateur "King of Kona” Interview
2007 Amateur “Queen of Kona” Bree Wee was kind enough to share her thoughts on triathlon several months back. We’re proud to report that we’ve now completed our Kona amateur royalty circuit by getting time with the 2007 amateur male “King of Kona” Alex Mroszczyk McDonald. Alex is not only the reigning amateur Ironman world champion, but a budding doctor and husband. Read more about this newly minted professional triathlete…
As a high performing amateur, how often do you find yourself asking 'what if' in terms of committing fully and going pro?
This has been a question in the back of my mind since I first had a little success at the local sprint triathlons in Vermont. As a med student it was really hard for me to even consider taking time off from my medical training to try to race as a professional. However, I knew that if I was going to commit myself to being a pro triathlete I wanted it to be full time and 110%. In the summer of 2006, I really began considering it with tentative plans to race as a pro in 2008 after I graduated from med school and had the time to devote myself fully to triathlon. After my 2007 season, I really had no choice but to see where I end up playing with the big boys!
With so much of your base training time spent in a cold weather climate, how do you manage to put in the necessary long miles/time?
Layers…lots and lots of layers. There’s been several times where I have ended up having to stop to buy extra clothing and/or a steaming cup of coffee to stay warm. I also know that it takes consistency to develop as an athlete and I know that my competition it out there training at any given moment and I cannot use the weather as an excuse. There have been a lot of sloppy rides and runs, but I honestly think it helps to build mental fortitude, which comes in handy on race day.
If there was one change you could make in the sport, from any vantage point, what would it be and why?
Good question. I honestly love the sport in many different ways, however, there are two major issues which I think hurt the sport and in some ways they are connected. First, I think that a lot of the politics that goes on between North America Sport, World Triathlon Corporation, and USATriathlon is very frustrating. It is a business and everyone is trying to survive, but I think on many levels in boils down to petty details and ultimately the athletes are the ones who lose. In many ways, this detracts from the sport and the passion that triathletes bring to the table. My second frustration with the sport is the draft legal format of the ITU races. I really think that draft legal races are not triathlons, they are running events with a 40.9k warm-up. Not to detract from the ITU athletes, they are truly amazing and I am in awe of their power and speed, but in my mind triathlon is a totally individual event. As a result I feel there is a draft legal versus a non-drafting split beginning to form in the triathlon community. Unfortunately, a lot of the Olympic Committee and financial resources are obviously being utilized to support the draft legal events. This only makes sense and maybe I have a tainted perspective coming from the non-drafting side of the issue, but it can be frustrating at times.
What weaknesses did you have to overcome to ensure the level of success you've enjoyed?
I had never ridden a road bike before I became a triathlete. I remember one of my first bike rides where I hit 30 mph going down a hill and I thought I was going to die…now I need to hit 50 mph before I feel that way! So, I would say that I really had to remember to be consistent and patient while learning and focusing on biking. A lot of the physiological adaptations that are required to become efficient or excel at a sport take a long time and there is no way around that. I obviously want to get faster in all three sports, but I know that consistent training and patience are the keys to overcoming my weaknesses as an athlete.
How much time do you spend training with experts in each of the three disciplines vs. triathletes?
Because of where I live and my crazy schedule, I train 95% of the time alone. I like to make the most of every workout and as a result every workout has a specific goal. Be it intervals or a certain pace or power. Often when other people get involved, I tend to forget those goals and get caught up and go too hard or too easy for my goals on that particular day. That being said, when I do train with others, I train mostly with triathletes. There is a certain attitude and demeanor that I love about multi-sport athletes which are often lacking if you train with a single sport athlete. I have also had some pretty bad experiences as some, not all, single sport athletes look down on triathletes as lesser and nobody needs to deal with that.
If you could go back to any race in your career and do it all over again, what race would it be and why?
Honestly, none. I have had some amazing races and some horrific races, but each has motivated me and or encouraged me to become the athlete I am today. A particularly good example was my first Ironman in 2005. I singed up for Ironman Florida with four buddies of mine a year earlier. I had spent so much time, money and energy getting to that race that a week before race day, when I came down with the flu and pneumonia, I was devastated! I decided to race anyway finishing far slower that I knew I was able. I was so mad that it really "lit a fire in my belly," so to speak, and encouraged me to train even harder and my next Ironman I finished 5th overall!
With such an incredible amateur win at Kona, I'm sure there has been a storm of sponsor interest in you. Who will you be sponsored by in 2008?
No, not a storm of sponsors at all…the triathlon sponsorship scene is really tough, even for some of the bigger name pros. That being said I have some great sponsors in 2008 and they are very supportive. I couldn't race without their support. In 2008, I will be back with the Timex Multisport Team (www.timex.com) as my title sponsor including many of their cosponsors as well as; PowerBar (www.powerbar.com), Fuel Belt (www.fuelbelt.com), MAP/Biobuilde (www.bodyhealth.com/html/bioBuilde/), Rudy Project (www.e-rudy.com), Northwave (www.northwave.com/usa/), Dedicated Athlete (www.dedicatedathlete.com), Brooks (www.brooksrunning.com), Smokejacks Resturant (www.smokejacks.com) as well as a few others still in the works.
What does a peak week of training look like for you?
Generally, a big peak week (3-4 weeks before an Ironman) includes about 50 miles of running (6x per week) most of which at Ironman pace with some tempo work incorporated, including a 2:30hr run. Lots of biking (4-5x per week), ~300 miles with a lot of Half Ironman and Ironman power work incorporated into both the short and long rides. Swimming is usually about the same with a total of 20,000-25,000 yds (4-5x per week. Generally a peak week is pretty tough mentally, but knowing that a race is right around the corner makes it easier to get thru.
Last one...vanilla city...Favorite race and favorite performance of your entire career and why?
Kona in 2007! It was my favorite because it was just an incredible day with results that I could not have imagined. Also, my wife and I got married 3 days afterward and both of our families were there to experience and enjoy the day with me!
Born: March 4, 1981,
First Triathlon: UVM sprint in the spring of 2004
Family: Wife -
Ashley; Dog - Zoey
Currently - Burlington, Vermont; Moving to Durham, North Carolina at the end of May
Career at a glance
- 2007 Amateur Ironman World Champion
- 2007 Ironman Lake Placid Champion
- 2007 Mooseman Champion
- 2006 Ironman Wisconsin 5th Overall, first Amateur
- 2007 Duke Liver 1/2 Champion
Thanks, Alex! We wish you all the best in your new move to a warmer climate and all the success in the world as you take on the world’s best professionals!
Interview by Max Wunderle
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