Ben Hoffman had a podium finish at Ironman St. George in 2010 and is now back to compete in it this year. Inside Triathlon senior editor Jennifer Purdie chatted with him about his training and what he thinks of the competition. He also offers up a few tips to age-groupers racing in one of the most challenging Ironmans in existence.
Triathlete.com: How has the training been going for your first Ironman of the season, Ironman St. George?
Hoffman: Training has been going really well recently. I had a little bit of time in California where my training pattern was interrupted, but was able to get back to a quality schedule and really hammer out the hard work here in Tucson over the last month. I feel fit and hungry for battle in St. George!
Triathlete.com: You placed second last year. How are you feeling about the competition this year?
Hoffman: Well, it’s clear that I can only control my race, but depth of the field has certainly grown. Last year there were only a handful of guys battling for top spots, but this year it will be five or six guys that could legitimately win. I am happy to see this race attract a quality field because aside from the challenging course, having top-notch athletes vying for the win will bring out the best in everyone.
Triathlete.com: Do you have any tips for age-groupers doing this race for the first time? What should they be prepared for on such a hilly course?
Hoffman: I think the big thing with Ironman is just to keep perspective. Things will inevitably go wrong at some point, and are more likely to go wrong when the course is really hard. Whether it’s just a moment of feeling particularly fatigued, some nutrition that gets dropped or anything else, remember that it is temporary, and there is plenty of time to make good on it. As far as the hills go, take one at a time, and trust your training. Don’t get overexcited or into a gun show with another athlete, but instead stay focused on your race and keeping the energy output even and sustainable. Just try and enjoy the day, reap the benefits of all your training, and look around from time to time…it’s a beautiful venue.
Triathlete.com: Do you still train in Durango, Colo. and Tucson, Ariz.? If so, how do you split your time between the two and what do you like about those locations?
Hoffman: I have been doing the Durango/Tucson bit for a few years now, and this spring I was able to spend the most time yet in the desert sun. The weather has been too difficult in Durango during the past few winters, so I have to get away, and Tucson has all the resources I need for good training, most of all consistent weather. The cycling community and the ever-growing triathlon crowd make it an easy place to do my winter and spring builds. On top of all that, I have grown to like the feel of the city and enjoy its cultural offerings. Although I am looking to make a move away from Durango this summer, it has been very good to me over the past four years. Altitude, strong cycling, beautiful scenery, great people and plenty of sun make it a great community for athletes. I will likely head up to Boulder for the summer and see how it treats me. I’m looking forward to a change of scenery and some new training partners to help me reach the next level.
Triathlete.com: You race different distances and terrain. Which do you prefer? Xterra, 70.3, duathlon, 140.6?
Hoffman: I am still deciding what my favorite race distances and styles are. To be honest, the most fun I have had recently was in an Xterra. I was still going hard for the win, but had time to really enjoy the process, see my surroundings, and even consciously think, “hey, this is fun!” I do love racing the half distance because it’s just right for going long, but recovering quickly enough to do several in a year. I like to race Ironman because it is the ultimate test, and it has so many elements that I am still figuring out. Every time I finish one, I am eager to race another to improve. For now, I would say that I don’t really have a favorite distance or style, but just like to race and be as complete an athlete as I can be in any circumstance.
Triathlete.com: Your most recent race was Oceanside. How did that day treat you?
Hoffman: I never really felt like I got things going at Oceanside until the second half of the run. I felt flat during the swim, and couldn’t match the other athletes on the bike at the critical time. My race wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t much more than a good training day, either. The field is always deep there, and you have to be absolutely ready to go to be competitive, and I wasn’t. I’m honestly not assigning a ton of value to it, as I feel quite fit and ready for my early season goal of St. George.
Triathlete.com: Anything else you’d like to add?
Hoffman: I feel really blessed to be well supported this year with a host of great companies. Just want to say a massive thanks to Zoot, Specialized, Clif, Zipp/SRAM, TriBike Transport, FuelBelt, and Wattie Ink for stepping up and making my dream a reality. Good luck to everyone racing St. George and see you on the course!