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Rachel McBride: ready for her best season ever

Credit: Wattie Ink
Credit: Wattie Ink

Rachel McBride is faster and fitter than ever and set to tackle Challenge Knoxville this weekend. The Vancouver-based pro gave TMC the low down on what she’s been up to.

TMC: Knoxville is a notoriously hilly course which is a great one for your cycling power—how are you feeling about the race this weekend?

Rachel McBride: I feel like anything is going to feel easier than the epic hills of Wildflower a few weeks ago, but it’ll be great to test my strength on the challenging Knoxville course. I have an excellent track record of racing two weeks in a row, like my podium at Vineman 70.3 last year and then subsequent win at Calgary 70.3 few weeks later. I’m excited to continue the momentum into this race, and I’ll have a big cheering squad of cousins on the sidelines as well as one in the race! Randomly I have a bunch of family in Knoxville. I’ve spent a bunch of time in the area as a kid and have been excited to do this race for years. It’s finally worked out!

TMC: What is your goal race for 2015?

RM: A solid race at 70.3 World Championships is my main goal in 2015. My second main goal is to rock my first full iron distance race in Arizona this November.

TMC: What are your thoughts about the recent decision by Challenge to cut prize money for a number of races?

RM: Oh boy, I was really disappointed to hear about the prize money cut. It was like déjà vu after the loss of the pro prize purses from Rev3 races two years ago. Knoxville is my first Challenge race, and I had a few other Challenge races lined up including Quassy in a few weeks, so it’s been a scramble to fill in the holes in my race schedule. I’ve been in conversation with Challenge though to brainstorm and give feedback on some ideas of how to get the Challenge Americas series back up and running as I think it’s really valuable to the sport. I’ll be first in line to register once these races are back online as pro races!

TMC: You had a great race at Wildflower in April with the bike and run prime and a podium finish close on the heals of Wattie Ink teammate Heather Jackson and Liz Lyles. How did that unfold?

RM: Well when Bob Babbitt tweets it was an exciting women’s race, you know it’s gotta be a good one! I actually just posted my race report on my blog that gives a good play-by-play. Basically Heather and I duked it out for most of the race. I completely imploded on the hills and heat and got caught with 2 miles to go. Super-runner Liz then came from behind to literally out sprint Heather to the line in the last few 100 meters. Heather and I both ended up in the med tent afterwards. Pretty epic to race until you literally have nothing left. I felt pretty honoured to have such strong athletes in the mix – we really pushed each other to the limit and our coach Cliff English really helps get us this strong!

TMC: You’ve been working with coach Cliff English since January of this year. How do you feel you’ve developed as an athlete under him?

RM: This year started out very differently for me in a lot of ways, including starting to work with Cliff. I have completely revamped how I’m taking care of myself and my approach to training and recovery. Along with a new coach, I have an incredible medical team – sport doc, RMT, physio, and pedorthist – who works together to keep my body running as smoothly as possible and identify any red flags before they turn into injury. So there are a lot of variables that have changed in the past few months! That being said, in the short time I’ve been training under Cliff I feel like we are approaching training in a different manner. I’ve seen some quick improvements in a short period of time with pretty simple, straight forward workouts. I’m really excited for the build up through the rest of the season.

TMC: How do you balance your work as a sexual health counsellor with your training and racing?

RM: I would say my work in sexual health is what helps balance my training and racing! It’s incredibly rewarding work that gets my brain thinking about something other than sport. I’m super lucky to have a very flexible schedule at Options for Sexual Health. During the off-season I’ll work maybe one or two shifts a week max, but during race season I can pair it down to about twice a month. It’s pretty easy to work my athletics around that.

TMC: You are also an accomplished cellist. Do you still play and perform?

RM: Thankfully I have a very supportive partner who nags me to get my beautiful ax out as much as possible. Without his encouragement, I probably would play a lot less just because I let life get away from me! I have some awesome musician friends here in Vancouver who keep me inspired as well. Again, during the off-season when I’m a little less focused on triathlon I definitely get to play more frequently. I had the good fortune this winter to record on a friend’s album, but otherwise I have only performed a handful of times in the past several years and have had to turn down some pretty cool opportunities. Cello is definitely a past life I’ve had to give up for my triathlon career, but it’s like riding a bike – I’ve been playing most of my life, so just a bit of practice and the muscle memory comes back pretty quickly.

TMC wishes you the best of luck this weekend!