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How Jen Annett achieved her best season yet

Podium finishes at Ironman 70.3 Victoria, Coeur d'Alene, Ironman Canada and now Ironman Arizona this year have made Penticton's Jen Annett one of the best long course females in Canada right now.

Congratulations on your third place finish and breaking the bike course record at Ironman Arizona. It’s been a long season for you and you’ve had great results from start to finish. Did you surprise yourself with this result?

Thank you! In all honesty, this race was a gamble. I really didn’t know how my body was going to react on race day. I had some super solid key training sessions going into this race, so I was pretty optimistic that I would have a good day. Unfortunately I came down with strep throat five days before the race, and was put on antibiotics. With this thrown in the mix, I really didn’t know what would happen. I knew my fitness was there, and if I had a good day that I could be up there. Biking has always been my strength, and I actually didn’t know what the bike course record was before the race. I had no “goal” of breaking any records, just to have a solid day. Of course I wanted to go sub-nine hours as this is a fast course, so I am super stoked I was able to do that! At the end of the day, I was definitely shocked about the bike course record, and was a little surprised with the women I was able to come out ahead of.

You have really worked on your swim over the last few years, and it shows in your recent swim times. How has this been reflected in your training — more volume, different sets?

Yes, swimming is my biggest weakest link. I have had a lot of frustrations with this discipline. Unfortunately Sunday’s swim was not a true reflection of what I am capable of doing, as it was much slower than predicted. Over the last few months, we have really found that I have made the most gains from longer steady sets. I am in the pool four time per week, which I know will be at least five over the “off season”.

How you and your coach planned your season and how you were able to peak so well for two different Ironman races?

Ironman Canada was my “A” race this year. The goal at the beginning of the season was to win an Ironman, which I did come very close to doing. So all races pretty much revolved around that race. The ITU worlds was not good timing in regards to recovering from IM Canada, and it showed on race day. Going to the 70.3 worlds in Chattanooga was even worse timing, being two weeks later, so its probably safe to say that I went for the experience, and not to place. Arizona is an excellent race to carry the season’s fitness through and get a head start on points for Kona. I honestly wouldn’t say that I “peaked” for this race, and I didn’t actually confirm that I would be racing until three weeks out, as I wanted to see how my body bounced back from a busy season. While I felt very fit going into this race, I really didn’t know how race day would go.

The bike is undoubtably your strength right now. What’s a key session you do to become a stronger cyclist?

When we can ride outside, definitely time trials up Carmi (its an 8-km steady climb that most of us Pentictonites use as a training tool), as well as riding the old Ironman Canada course here in Penticton at higher than race day pace. Biking has always been my strength, it just came naturally to me. I have always been known for this, and my old race day tactic would always be to “get as far ahead on the bike as possible so I couldn’t get caught on the run”. Now, we have worked on holding that back a bit so that I can execute a killer bike/run combo.

How do you train over the winter in Penticton? What’s the ratio of indoor to outdoor workouts?

Well, honestly, I hate training indoors. Obviously in the winter all riding is done inside, and as long as its not super snowy and icy, I do try to run outside all winter. I did invest in a treadmill last year though so I could make sure I got those key running sessions in

How do you balance pro triathlon training with raising a family? Is your son active in sports and does he take an interest in what you’re doing?

My son, Nixon, is five now. He started kindergarten this year, so that has helped free up some time so I don’t have to be getting up every day at 4 AM. It is really a team effort between my husband, Jason, and myself. We have come up with ideas to make my training sessions work while still being able to enjoy life as a family. I have spent a lot of time camping and riding a trainer in our campground this year. While I don’t have the “ideal” pro triathlete life, I wouldn’t trade our crazy life for anything! My son plays soccer, loves riding his bike, swimming and loves to do any fun runs that are going on.

Goals for the next year – Kona? What other races do you have your eye on?

My ultimate goal is Kona, so first race of the season will be Ironman Texas in April. Ironman 70.3 Victoria is also on the list, but the remainder of the season is going to revolve around how Texas goes.