In 2011 Australia’s Melissa Hauschildt (then Rollison) burst onto the triathlon scene and won the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in her first attempt. Since then, she’s battled injuries and has seen her share of ups and downs. Hauschildt had originally intended to compete in her first Ironman in Cairns in June of 2012 with the goal of validating for Kona, but didn’t start due to an injury. Fresh off of a win at the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon, Hauschildt is now taking a break before gearing up for the back half of the U.S. racing season. We caught up with Hauschildt about the Abu Dhabi victory, her progress on the swim and why Ironman is going to have to wait for now.
Triathlete.com: Congratulations on the Abu Dhabi win! Can you tell me a little bit out your tactics on the bike? What was your goal heading onto the run?
Hauschildt: My tactics were to ride as hard as I could and catch the leader (Caroline Steffen) as fast as I could. I wanted to get off the bike first or with the leaders.
Triathlete.com: You said after the race that this was an “A” event for you. Why the decision to go after an event so early in the season?
Hauschildt: It isn’t early in the season for me. It’s the end of one of my two racing seasons. Living in Australia I do the Asia-Pacific season and then midway through the year I head to the U.S. to do that season. So I will start a lot later in the U.S. than most people. My first race over there will probably be in July.
Triathlete.com: You have been racing non-stop since Hy-Vee and 70.3 Worlds. Will you take some time off before the build up to championship season again?
Hauschildt: I am taking a break now. My first year (2011) I only did the U.S. season. I was fresh, fit and won all my races. I started in July. Last year I tried to do both Asia-Pacific and U.S. seasons without taking any decent break. By June I came tumbling down. I got injured and then I didn’t have the time to get fit for the U.S. season. My training was very up and down, trying to get some in while trying to race while trying to avoid serious injury. I had a lingering injury the entire season, which didn’t put me out of any race but really affected my performance in all my races. I don’t want to do that again.
Triathlete.com: Is the goal for 2013 to race in Kona for the first time? Do you have plans to compete in an Ironman in the near future?
Hauschildt: I won’t be attempting an IM this year. While on my break I am seeing my doctor and an ankle specialist and we will try to fix my dodgy ankle so that I can run more. At the moment I cannot run that much and I have to take breaks more often and carefully monitor it. This really restricts me on building up a good running base to do a marathon.
Triathlete.com: Is improving the swim still a big focus for you? What do you recommend to age groupers who are also trying to improve on the swim?
Hauschildt: I am always working on my swim. Only just recently has it clicked with me what I need to do to improve. The next step is teaching myself to do that. Some days now I can “feel” the water. Whereas in the past I never knew what that meant. Each swim session I pick one thing that I need to work on instead of overloading myself with the many things I need to work on. This way I can try to master each thing one at a time.
I’d recommend to anyone that is struggling with swimming, who is not a natural swimmer to seek out a good technique coach. Write down all the things that need improving and only work on one at a time. I have a great swim squad lead by Zane King and he is always pointing out technique, but in a squad you can’t get direct one-on-one treatment. Brett Jackson has been helping me with some one-on-one now and that has really helped. I’m now able to put what he has taught me into practice at squad.
Triathlete.com: You spent time in Boulder last year. Will you be headed back this summer?
Hauschildt: Yep. I’ll head back to Boulder probably around mid June.
Triathlete.com: What kind of recovery techniques do you use to overcome all of the travel and avoid injury?
Hauschildt: Compression is one of the best methods of recovery I use. Compressport take good care of me here. I also have Normatec boots, which are a great way of flushing out fatigue in the legs. My husband is a physio at Metro West Physiotherapy so he also makes sure my body is in tip-top shape and then there’s my massage therapist, Bruno Rizzo, who I see every week without fail when I’m in Aus. When I’m in the U.S. I see Josh Shadle at Fuelary in Boulder.
Triathlete.com: You’ve competed across a variety of distances in triathlon, which is your favorite?
Triathlete.com: When you first toed the line at 70.3 Vegas in 2011 you said you didn’t know anything about your competition. Has that changed? Are you aware of your competitors’ strengths (like Caroline Steffen on the bike in Abu Dhabi, for example)?
Hauschildt: Yeah, of course. It’s hard to keep hiding under a rock. I don’t do my research on my competitors, but after racing them a lot you soon find out their strengths and weaknesses. This can help sometimes, but also hinder other times. It’s great not knowing anything about them. It’s makes you focus on only what you can do. But In Abu Dhabi maybe it helped. I knew I didn’t want to let Caroline get away from me.
Triathlete.com: Your husband competed in Kona last year. Is he a consistent training partner for you? Will we see him in any other triathlons soon?
Hauschildt: Jared is a runner who said “since we are going to Kona to watch I may as well race.” This made “watching Kona” even more enjoyable for me. He raced his first-ever triathlon in June at Cairns IM and qualified for Kona. He is obviously naturally talented, has a huge engine and after competing at a high level for many years in running, he knows how to hurt. I have to say, he hasn’t been back on his bike yet. He’s all set up on his own Specialized Shiv and it sits in our bike room looking pretty now. He still runs and occasionally we run together (mainly just on the weekend). I’m sure he will do another triathlon some day.
Triathlete.com: Any big sponsor changes for 2013?
Hauschildt: I’m still with many of the same awesome sponsors I had last year: Specialized, Scody, Blue Seventy, Connectel, Rudy Project, Compressport, Computrainer and Adidas. But I’ve now also teamed with Garmin for the best bike and run computers around, GU for their awesome nutrition, Megaburn for protein bars and Hive for seriously cool swimwear. I still work closely with Nick Formosa from Cadence Cycling who fits me up on my bikes. Ifeelgood24/4 is my gym sponsor and my trusty cycling club WRCC are still my biggest supporters. My manger Phil Stoneman from M5 management has made all of this possible.
PHOTOS: 2013 Abu Dhabi International Triathlon