Siri Lindley & Mat Steinmetz: The Coaches

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  • Published Aug 21, 2011
  • Updated Sep 21, 2011 at 7:19 PM UTC

SL: I think you’re so right. Fortunately in Kona there are tons of people out there cheering them on, but in a race like that, they are looking for that face that they trust and that they know. Technical stuff comes into play in a huge way at the end. Reminding them of those little things they need to do to maintain their pace and to keep feeling as good as possible. But also – and I love the way you just said all that stuff, because that’s how I roll – I’m really intense and passionate. When I use bad words it’s all in a positive way. I’ll never use them in a bad way. So I love that you do that, because that’s my approach as well. We know them so well and we know the things that fire them up and the things that can bring them back in the game again. And it’s so important to not just be out there saying, “Great job!” I’m saying, “Hey! You know you can do this! What are you thinking about? Get yourself back to what you know. You know you can do this!” Kind of bringing them back to who they are and how we know them. That’s so important. So the technical stuff, the splits, the reminders, that stuff that fires them up in training – it’s so important. So that’s where, having to leave one to go to the other – like in Kona, Leanda was in 6th place, but she‘d fall to 10th every time unfortunately she had to use the bathroom, then she’d get back and catch back up again – you want to be everywhere and doing everything you can. At that point it was like: OK, what can I say if this is going to be the last time I’m going to see her? What is going to last and stick and help her get through these last six miles? So I said, “Great, you’re lighter now! Get back up there again. You know you can do this!” But it’s hard – you want to be everywhere. I wish there were three of me. But it is so incredible to be out there. I mean how do you feel? I know we kind of have to be the strong ones when an athlete is struggling and suffering and having a bad day. First of all, how does that make you feel inside, but also how much do you have to ignore your own feelings about it and just deal with it?

MS: We’re human, so we definitely have feelings about it. I went through an emotional roller coaster in Coeur D’Alene. Craig was doing well, so I was on a high. Julie had like a half hour lead heading into the run. But on the second lap she came by and she hadn’t taken enough calories on the bike and she was kind of done. She had cut her foot so you saw blood coming through her shoe. She came by and said, “I’m dizzy. I think I’m just going to have to walk it in.” Part of me was like: Just keep running! Just keep moving forward! Then the other part of me said, “Take care of you, though!” My first instinct was to tell her to keep running, and my second instinct was to think of her safety. I told her to take care of herself, stop at the aid stations and get what she needed. Then she was gone and out of my sight. I had stayed out on the course, knowing she needed support. I was just sitting on the grass, and I was with a few other people – they even got a few photos of me – and I looked down in the dumps. I mean you just feel for them. They work so hard and then when things don’t go how they want them to, you feel it. But then I was on my phone and I saw a twitter update that said Julie still had a 15-minute lead and she was running in the closing miles. I had this big mood swing. I was ecstatic! I was pumped. Her manager Franko Vatterott and I were walking back into town – we were about 2 miles out – we were just walking in the sun and we were so excited. We went and grabbed some beers. You’re kind of going through it with the athlete. If they’re having a good day, you’re having a good day. If they’re having a bad day, you feel for them. You don’t think about yourself. You think about all they put in and how it just didn’t go their way. And once that’s worn off, you start to think: What did I do wrong? Did they just have a bad day? What can we change? I mean as a guy, I’m always one to want to fix the problem.

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