“Dispatch” is an online column from Triathlete Editor-at-Large Holly Bennett that will feature pro updates, industry news, happenings afield and otherwise random reports related to multi-sport. Look for “Dispatch” every Thursday on Triathlete.com.
Before she even had time to settle into a rhythm on the bike at the 2012 Ironman 70.3 World Championships, Linsey Corbin’s day came to an abrupt halt. The third place finisher from 2011 suffered a flat tire, and without a spare and with technical support nowhere in sight, she pulled the plug on her barely begun race. Some have called her a quitter, but Corbin explains why the decision was the right one for her – and how she quickly transitioned into positive-thinking mode rather than remain fraught with frustration (i.e., no F-bombs were dropped from Corbin’s mouth!). She also fills us in on her plans for the next several weeks, pre and post-Kona.
Triathlete.com: You went into the Vegas race as one of the top contenders, and straight away on the bike you got a flat tire. You didn’t carry the equipment to change a flat, and there was no immediate tech support, which meant you were no longer in the mix. What does it feel like to go through that sort of on-the-spot 180-degree shift?
LC: Well, before the race, if you don’t put flat tire stuff on your bike, you’re consciously making a big decision – you know there’s a possibility you’ll get a flat. I didn’t take it partly because since I’ve started working with Trek this year I like keeping the bike uncluttered. I want it looking good! And the truth of the matter is, even if I had the stuff with me and had been right on top of changing the flat, it still would have cost me five minutes. In a world championship event like that, I don’t know that I would have been able to make that up. I really don’t think you can do that anymore. And I’m also such a fate-driven person. I think things happen for a reason. I made the first left turn after you enter the park at mile six and I ran over something. It wasn’t a giant rock, it was just a needle or something. When I looked at my tire afterward I saw two little slashes in it. Jimmy Ricitello was there and he said, “You’re not going to cuss?” But I was like, “What can I do?” There’s really nothing you can do. I think I was actually more bummed the day after than the day of. I was just like: OK, I have a flat tire. I mean you can cry, or you can throw your bike in the lava field, but that’s not going to accomplish anything. So I cheered on the other pro women as they came by, and when the last of them went by I looked at my watch. By the time the tech support got there with a tire and a wheel it had been eight minutes since the last women had passed. Matt Dixon always says, “You have to use logic, not emotion.” Of course part of me thought: OK, I can put a new wheel on and get out there and have a training day, and I’ll get to cheer for everyone on the course. But I also thought that with Kona coming up, the best bet was to shut it down and start my focused training again for Kona the next day. If I was a 70.3 specialist, I would have finished. If it was Kona, I totally would have finished. But the priority of the two races for me has always been Kona, so I decided to save it for the island! Plus, I’m a huge fan of the sport, and it’s not very often that I get to watch. So I was totally excited to go cheer everyone on. You forget how many people you know out there. I’ve had races where I’ve seen other pro athletes out there cheering, and they always have the right thing to say. So I went back and cheered like crazy! The day of the race I was really fine, but I think I suffered more the next day. You can’t help but think: Oh man, I totally would have been there! It was a really hot day and I do well in the heat! I was bummed because I felt I went into the race really fit, so I would have loved to be in on the action, but that’s not what happened.
Photos: Linsey Corbin Gets Fit To Her Speed Concept At Retul
Triathlete.com: As a fate-driven person, do you think you’ve gotten the bad luck out of the way heading into Kona?
LC: Hopefully! I always carry flat stuff for an Ironman. To me an Ironman is a bigger investment than a half Ironman. So for Ironman Austria I carried flat stuff – I wasn’t going to travel all the way to Europe and flat out and not finish. For Kona I’ll of course have it, and then maybe next year I’ll reevaluate carrying it for shorter events. But I don’t really regret any of my decisions, and luckily it’s not the Olympics and I don’t have to wait another four years to go back! Things just happen for a reason and work out the way they should. I think you can handle it one of two ways – you can be really emotional and cry and throw a fit or you can be level headed and make the best of the situation. I definitely got some flack from people, but in this situation I was making a decision looking toward Kona. Matt and I kind of talked about it beforehand in my pre-race plan, that if disaster strikes I shouldn’t soldier through and finish. The main goal was always to get me through and back to training for Kona.
Triathlete.com: What will you be up to these next few weeks?
LC: I’ll be in Bend, Oregon for three weeks. My parents live here, so we’ve been staying with them, and soon Chris and I will get our own place for a few weeks. It’s been nice to have my parents cook for us, though! I love being home in Montana, but I do think for certain parts of the year it’s good to go away where I have zero distractions. I’m here to swim, bike, run, stretch, take care of myself and go into hunker down mode. You can’t do that year-round. I’m a social person at home in Montana and I get distracted easily! So when we’re here in Bend I’m focused on getting the job done. Matt Lieto offered to help me with my training, and it’s always motivating to have a guy to push you and help you out. And we like Bend. The fishing’s really good so Chris is excited about the steelhead. Montana had gotten really smoky with the wildfires, so this is a good place to be until Kona.
Triathlete.com: What are you looking forward to in Kona besides the race?
LC: We’re going to do something different this year. In the past I’ve always gone to Hawaii about four or five weeks before the race, and then by the time the race is over I’m over it and ready to go home! But this year, when I went to Honu 70.3 I went closer to race day and I acclimatized pretty quickly and handled the heat well. That was a good test, so I’ll go to Kona closer to race day as well. Then we’ll get to stay after and stay on vacation. I just partnered with the Mauna Lani this year, which is awesome! Post-race we’ll go out there, sleep in the hammocks and go paddle boarding. They have a great breakfast buffet and Chris likes their happy hour! The last few years I haven’t raced that well in Kona, so we’re trying a couple things differently this year and hopefully it works out for the better!