An Interview with Triathlete Reilly Smith
Reilly was introduced to triathlon through a TT series at work, and soon after found himself lining up at Escape From Alcatraz. Reilly found almost immediate success once he began training seriously, and now learns from some of the best - Gerry Rodriguez and Matt Dixon - as he prepares for his 3rd go in Vegas.
PowerTap: You did your first tri - Escape from Alcatraz - in 2010. What's the story behind that?
Reilly: I was teaching spin classes at Equinox Gym in LA, and they held an indoor time trial to send employees and members to the race. I qualified, rented a bike - which I thought was defective because I couldn't figure out how to change gears on it; I had no clue. Then come race day, I got on a boat, jumped off, rode and ran through and around Golden Gate Park and was hooked. A month later while traveling and working I raced the Bali International Triathlon on a kid's bike and tennis shoes. I'm not sure it's fair to say I was a triathlete 2010, but I was doing triathlons. People I've kept in touch with from those pockets of the world later confessed they thought I was a "clown" upon arrival - something I'm very proud of.
PowerTap: You've had a really great season so far. Tell us a bit about it.
Reilly: Things started early with a trip to Abu Dhabi in March, where I decided to "work on" my mental toughness and resolve by taking a wrong turn on the bike course and adding 7 miles to the prescribed 120. I went from leading my AG to falling somewhere into the 30's before eventually crawling back to #3, which stung because winners this year took home HUGE prizes. Still, it was a great experience. After that, I raced Oceanside, Galveston, St. George, Honu, Boise, and Vineman 70.3 with AG results of 2,1,5,2,5,1. Two weeks after Vineman, I raced Ironman Switzerland. You know those special days where everything comes together in a dynamic, poetic, profound blend of strength and speed, pacing and grace? My day was the opposite of that. I've raced a lot this year and I'm learning.
PowerTap: Train solo or with a group?
Reilly: Solo bike and run; I'm a bit of an introvert when it comes to my work and I tend to do my own thing. For the swim, I'm lucky enough to live in Santa Monica and have access to swim guru Gerry Rodrigues and Tower 26. It's just such a brilliant, hard working, good set of people. I feel very fortunate in their company and Gerry is the man. The other part of my equation is Matt Dixon. He coaches me through his Purplepatch virtual training squad - which sets the bar for affordable, thoughtful, accessible, world-class guidance. When I can, I also try to crash Dixon's camps and bother everyone involved.
PowerTap: You're relatively new to power - what's that been like to incorporate into your training?
Reilly: This is all very new and exciting for me. When PowerTap agreed to take me on through grassroots, I knew it would begin the process of evolving my ride. I've only been rolling with power for about 2 months now and it's already changing the way I'm riding. Now that I'm in Ironman training, I've been obsessed with watts through long intervals - avg, max, per kg, on hill grades. Having power has been so valuable in determining my strongest, most efficient riding position. Just this past weekend, I was able to test small position changes against repeated 45 minute intervals with inspiring results. Not to sound too...whatever this may sound like, but working with PowerTap is absolutely putting me in touch with my bike and body. I am beginning to understand the process of what it takes to become a great rider.
PowerTap: How has Vegas 70.3 gone for you previously?
Reilly: This will be my third year in Vegas - I opened it up and will be closing it down! Vegas is carnage, there is no other way to put it. My first year was my first year. Last year, I had some bike issues that took me out of contention. This year, I am "training through" the race...whatever that means. Of course I still expect a good performance.
PowerTap: What are you hoping to do differently in Vegas this year?
Reilly: I need to come off the bike in amateur contention. My run hasn't been great in the past, but I'm feeling good. I also have the confidence and experience to be patient with this race, and that is key. If I can have a solid day across all three disciplines, I'll be in good shape. This course tends to break a lot of people down and makes them question why they ever began triathlon - sort of like "The Nothing" from The Neverending Story turning fine athletes into Artax in the Swamp of Sadness. So sad. My biggest advice to first timers is to treat the distance like it's a 105.45, or ¾ of an Ironman.
PowerTap: And speaking of Ironman, you have Kona 5 weeks after Vegas. Will that be your final race of 2013?
Reilly: Kona. Maybe Miami 70.3, maybe Cozumel. Maybe I call it a season...but that's not likely.
PowerTap: It's been a long and full year for you. What's your plan for the off-season?
Reilly: I am always looking ahead - time is short when ambition runs high. I didn't take a very big break after last season, so this one deserves a couple good months. Oceanside 70.3 is the first major thing on my calendar for 2014 because it's a big, exciting race right down the road from Santa Monica. After that, I don't know yet - maybe I should start thinking about it.
PowerTap: You race with a pretty sweet Specialized Shiv now, but tell us about your first ‘serious' bike.
Reilly: Metallic purple 21 speed Gary Fisher mountain bike with front shocks. I was 13 or so and it was absolutely the coolest thing on the planet.
PowerTap: If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Reilly: There are no mistakes as long as you follow your heart.
PowerTap: We know the playlist is constantly changing, but what will be your songs going into Vegas?
Reilly: I just got back from seeing MGMT in concert. They'll fit the scene of a hot, dry, alien course. Also, when I go to Vegas, I can't resist The Killers. They're what makes that town magic for me.