This coming weekend, ASICS FrontRunner Mariella Sawyer lines up for her first IRONMAN 70.3 race in the pro category. It's not a step up to be taken lightly (especially if that race is abroad), we spoke to her shortly after she touched down in Japan.
This is your first race as a pro. Talk us through how you adjust your mindset to step it up and attack a race as a pro rather than age-group amateur?
If I’m being honest I’m going into the race with the same mindset as always: Give it the best I have and leave it all out there. Yes it is my first race as a professional but at the end of the day it is one of many and I just want to deliver my best possible performance on the day, which is what I try to do at every race. Looking at it this way also helps with the nerves and prevents unnecessary nervous breakdowns!
You’re racing in Japan, what made you decide on that event?
I looked at races where the field is generally a bit smaller to hopefully increase my chances of a good result with which I can then approach sponsors.
And, tell us a bit about the course?
It looks like it’ll be a non-wetsuit swim. The bike is quite flat for the first 60kms with a lot of hairpin turns in it and the last 30km are a bit hillier. The run is quite hilly for the first half and then flattens out but the wind tends to pick up quite a lot. It’s also quite hot here so we should be in for a good day!
How has the adjustment been so far in terms of travel/jetlag etc?
I’ve been very lucky. The second half of travel were exhausting (27 hours door-to-door) but luckily I arrived in the late afternoon, unpacked, went for a shake-down run and then it was dinner time already, so I made sure to eat well and get a good night's rest. 10 hours of sleep later and I felt like a different person and the body seems to be waking up nicely.
Then, you are a dietician by trade, Japan is notorious for rather strange foods, how have you made sure you fuel correctly and give your body what it is used to?
There’s a lot of restaurants around - also western ones - but all Japanese restaurants always have their menu displayed outside with plastic food, which helps to see what everything is. I’ve been eating a lot of rice, sushi etc, which I’m used to at home too. So luckily that hasn’t been too bad. For breakfast I brought along oats-so-easy to make life easier. But generally in the build-up I make sure I eat regularly and I generally eat what I crave and listen to what my body wants - in taper week that’s usually a lot of calorie dense food!
Follow Mariella's journey as a pro, here.