After deciding only three weeks before Ironman Australia to “give it a go”—her first Ironman ever—two-time Ironman 70.3 world champ Melissa Hauschildt not only finished (and therefore validated her spot for Kona this year), but decided she might as well win the race. “It was still a race, and I’d be crazy if I said I didn’t want to win it,” she wrote on her blog. On a particularly windy day in Port Macquarie, she took the lead from fellow Aussie Lisa Marangon about halfway through her 3:13:57 marathon (a marathon “shuffle,” she called it), after starting the bike eight minutes down, on her way to a 9:28:43 finish. We caught up with her after the race to find out more about her 2014 season and future in Ironman.
Triathlete.com: So you just decided three weeks before doing IMOZ to “give it a go”—had you planned to do an Ironman this year, or did you decide on a whim?
Melissa Hauschildt: I had decided against doing Ironman this year as my run prep was very limited due to a niggle I was carrying. I had a break after Abu Dhabi to get it all right then started jogging and all was fine. Three weeks out [coach and husband] Jared had this great idea that I travel just down the road to validate for Kona, just in case come August or September I’d want to race it. He must have got me when I was half asleep or something because I said, “Yeah OK, let’s see what all the fuss is about.”
Triathlete.com: What was the biggest thing you learned from this race that you’ll take to other Ironmans?
Hauschlidt: When you think you’re tired and can’t keep going, you actually can. You’re mentally exhausted, but physically you’re fine.
Triathlete.com: What was your longest training run leading up to this race?
Hauschildt: I did one 30km run (a bit over two hours). That’s when I knew I was ready—not ready to break records, but ready to race an Ironman.
Triathlete.com: How fast do you think you can run an Ironman marathon?
Hauschildt: That would depend on who I’m running down or who is running me down.
Triathlete.com: How did it feel to get your first Ironman victory in front of your home crowd?
Hauschildt: It’s always nice racing at home—hearing all the Aussies cheer you on. I’m glad I got to do my first Ironman at home. Many Australians have never seen me race in person since I race mainly in the States, so the other competitors and spectators were super excited as well, and that helps keep you going.
Triathlete.com: What’s the status of your injury?
Hauschildt: No injuries! Fighting fit. I’m actually taking it easy at the moment as I have no idea how long it takes to recover from an Ironman. Physically I feel fine, but I’m told the mental side is what takes time to recover.
Triathlete.com: There’s a lot of talk of you winning Kona in the next few years—how do you feel that affects you, if it does at all?
Hauschildt: That’s nice to know people have that confidence in me. I’m going to try and not put too much pressure on myself for the first one. I know there is so much more to an Ironman than training alone. It’s a long day, nutrition is a huge part and mental toughness comes into play like no other race. I’m still learning.
Triathlete.com: How important is continued 70.3 success to you versus breaking through in Ironman?
Hauschildt: I have plenty of years to focus on Ironman. I still want to be successful at 70.3 at the moment. I love racing, and with the 70.3 distance I can race a lot. When my whole focus is on Kona I will cut back my racing schedule.
Triathlete.com: What will be your focus for 2014?
Hauschildt: Winning Ironman 70.3 world champs. After that, my focus, if I choose to race it, will be doing the best I can at Kona.