Reed is Ready to Rumble
Tim Reed, defending pro champion of the Century Tuna IM 70.3, blazes in to Subic Bay prepared for his rivals and the heat. Find out what he’s been training hard for, why he loves racing in the Philippines, and his top tip to sustain the rigors of endurance sports.
Interview by Sarah Moran | Photos courtesy of Sunrise Events, Inc.
“WHILE I FEEL THERE ARE DEFINITELY SOME GUYS WHO CAN RIDE WITH ME, I DON’T THINK THERE ARE ANY WHO CAN RIDE AWAY FROM ME IF MY BIKE LEGS ARE FIRING.”
As the Male Pro champion of the inaugural Century Tuna IM70.3 last year, how do you intend to defend your title?
If I tell you that, then I won’t have any tactical advantage over my competitors! I have different strengths and weaknesses to this time last year because I’m in a different phase of training. Last year, I came into the race very confident in my run form because that had been my training focus and I had the fastest runs in two major races leading into Subic Bay 70.3. For the first part of this year the plan was to focus on my cycling and with that comes a little less run speed in the tank.
Your finish time was 3:51:59 last year in Subic’s hot and windy conditions. How are you preparing to beat this finish, and your rivals?
I don’t take too much notice of times because they are so dependent on the conditions. I do however, take a lot of interest in beating my rivals. The heat is a major factor in this event but fortunately where I live, Byron Bay in Australia, February is a very hot time of the year so I should be well acclimatized. Some of my main rivals have not raced on this course before. Having course knowledge plays a huge part in knowing how to pace yourself over the distance and terrain. While I feel there are definitely some guys who can ride with me, I don’t think there are any who can ride away from me if my bike legs are firing. This puts me in a fortunate position where I can decide, depending on how I’m feeling on the day, whether I really push the bike or hold back and wait to duke it out on the run.
Who do you think will be your toughest competitor in this year’s race?
Tim Berkel or Craig Alexander. Berkel is not overly consistent at the distance but when he gets it right, very tough to race. Crowie was the very best at this distance and is still one of the best at this distance. He’s great in the heat and seems to just love hurting himself in races.
You consider Craig “Crowie” Alexander as one of your triathlon idols. He was sidelined in last year’s Century Tuna 70.3, but will be back this year. How does it feel to be racing alongside one of your triathlon idols?
The irony is that this year, I’m the one with the bad back after doing some damage changing sheets on a bed! Something about lifting your kids a lot must leave you susceptible to back injuries. I’ve had a lot of athletic idols over the years and in most cases when I’ve got to meet them, their personality doesn’t impress me like their athletic feats and they drift out my idol list. Not so with Crowie. I’ve gained more respect for him just hanging out than I have from his ability to swim, bike, and run insanely fast. A memory that sticks in my mind was when I raced Honu 70.3 as an age group competitor in 2009 while working full-time. Crowie was winning the Pro race but still took the time to yell support to me while I was racing despite not knowing me at all. I was pretty chuffed at the time.
What do you like best about racing the Century Tuna IM 70.3?
I love racing in the Philippines. The local support is electric. There are few endurance races in the world that could rival the atmosphere the Philippines provides.
What color of Budgy Smuggler swimwear will you be racing in at the Century Tuna IM 70.3 this year?
It’s always a struggle to get race kits made in time early in the season. I’ve organized a temporary one-off race kit that will hopefully be ready. Smuggler color to be decided.
Subic Bay is training ground for many Filipinos wishing to do a half-Ironman distance.
What are your tips for first-timers?
Try to have as much fun the first half of the race and don’t go too hard because it can become a very long half-marathon if you’ve overcooked the swim and bike.
You mentioned once in an interview that one reason you got into triathlon was that you were tired of being the smallest guy on the rugby field and basketball court. What’s one particular experience in the past that made you feel others underestimated your skills?
I’ve been very passionate about sports my whole life. Unfortunately, the sports I was most passionate about simply didn’t suit my stature. So regardless of skill, once you get to a certain level, body size becomes more important. You reach an age where reality starts to take over your childhood dreams. Thankfully enough people saw some talent in my aerobic capacity and pointed me in the direction of endurance sports. I still pinch myself that I’m a professional triathlete.
What was that turning point in your life in which you decided that triathlon is THE sport for you?
My first Pro race, I finished 3rd just behind Pete Jacobs at the Canberra half-Ironman. I was really shocked as I thought I was going to get embarrassed by the Pro field. After that race, I decided to take 12 months off from ‘real’ work and have a proper crack at triathlon. That 12 months has now turned into five years!
One of your tips for newbie-triathletes is: Learn and understand the Power of the Present. Can you elaborate on this?
The distance to be covered in a triathlon can be overwhelming. Hey, even the distance to be covered in a training session can be a lot for the brain to grapple with. ‘Staying in the moment’ refers to not overthinking too far ahead or in the past but really concentrating on what needs to be done right here and now and letting everything else fade into the background. I wish I was a guru at this but I’m not. I work on improving it every training session and race. When I do get it right my races tend to go well.
You’re turning 31 the day after the Century Tuna IM 70.3 race. What milestones are you aiming for in triathlon and in your personal life this year?
In triathlon, I would love to be on the podium at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships and establish a good record at the Ironman distance to start to pave the way to Kona success for years down the track. In my personal life, there is always so much to work on but the number one is that I never let anything, definitely including my triathlon goals, get in the way of being a good dad to my toddler son Oscar, and a grateful, loving husband to my wife Monica.
How would you assess your triathlon performance in 2015?
I still had some races amongst world-class fields I was very pleased with. In 2015, I think I overcomplicated and overthought the 70.3 World Championships. Sometimes wanting to win a race so incredibly much can do you a disservice because you ignore symptoms of overtraining leading in.
There are a handful of triathlon professionals like yourself who have combined their triathlon experience with coaching. What makes the Reed Performance Group stand out from the others?
I’ve taken a major step back from coaching until my Pro racing is finished. I still coach a few age-group athletes and coach at training camps because I genuinely love it and feel that I’m still always learning from the athletes I work with. My longtime training partner Luke Martin is now the main coach at Reed Performance Group. Luke and I are 100% aligned in our coaching philosophy and there is quite a range of coaching options available depending on what level of coaching an athlete requires. How do we stand out? We are not trying to build a coaching empire. We simply want to work closely with the athletes we feel we are a good fit for and gain the satisfaction of seeing athletes reach their goals.
Would you consider yourself a better triathlete or a better coach?
I guess I’ve achieved more measurable outcomes as an athlete. It’s quite hard to define a coach’s success particularly given that 10 years of my coaching was committed to beginner and age-group athletes, not professionals chasing world titles. I think I’ve got a lot to learn in the coaching sphere and once I’m done with racing I plan on spending a good period of time working alongside some of the world’s top coaches of the various formats to learn as much as I can.