Melissa Hauschildt is a 2 X Ironman 70.3 World Champion.
This year in Las Vegas, Melissa not only won the World Championship, but took out the title in a blistering 4:20:07 course record. As a former Australian steeplechase champion and bronze medallist at the IAAF Cross Country Championships in Japan & Scotland, Mel’s athletic pedigree is without question.
The year 2013 has been a phenomenal season, with Mel winning countless Ironman 70.3 events, including the Australian Long Course Championships, the ITU Long Distance World Championships in France and more recently in the USA she won the 70.3 in Boulder, Timberman, Vegas and Augusta.
After recently finishing third in the Olympic distance Noosa Triathlon, Melissa takes five minutes out of her hectic training program to answer a few questions from pedaltorque.
Pedaltorque: Melissa, congratulations on all your successes past, present and future. What are you training for now?
Mel: I just raced in Mandurah, WA in our Aussie pro 70.3 Championships. Next up, I head to Phuket to race the Laguna Phuket Triathlon and the following weekend Challenge Phuket.
PT: Where is your training base?
Mel: When in Australia my husband and I live in Brisbane, but soon to be the Sunshine Coast. When we are in the states (anywhere from late May to early July through to October) we base in Boulder, CO.
PT: How did you make a transition from athletics to long distance Ironman competitions?
Mel: In 2009 I bought myself a road bike to keep fit while injured from running. I really enjoyed cycling and finally in late 2010 I got persuaded to do a triathlon – Gold Coast Half Ironman. I won it and my manager managed to score me a bike sponsorship. I didn’t want to do another triathlon immediately after crossing the line but it’s grown on me.
PT: What is one of your proudest sporting achievements?
Mel: Placing second at the Commonwealth Games for steeplechase in 2006 and helping the Aussie team to two bronze medals at the world cross country in 2006 and 2008 were major highlights in my running career. In triathlon winning the world 70.3 champs is probably my proudest sporting achievement. Also winning the prestigious Abu Dhabi international triathlon and the ITU world long course tri are right up there as well.
PT: What can race organisers and sponsors do to encourage more women into triathlons?
Mel: I think it is really growing. Just look at the Noosa tri. The women’s field was a lot stronger than the men’s. The top 4 are all world champions and the 5th placegetter just came off a 3rd at Kona. You can’t get much better than that. Same prize money, same TV coverage, same media exposure for men and women would really help grow the sport for women.
PT: What is it like racing in Europe and the USA?
Mel: Racing in the states is awesome. Long course triathlon is so much bigger over there. The size of the field is huge and the quality of the field every time you step on the start line is awesome. They also do such an amazing job over there. I have not raced much in Europe yet – just the world long course champs in France. It was a great race but the language barrier can sometimes be tough.
PT: How does it feel to be crowned Ironman 70.3 World Champion?
Mel: I think that is every athletes dream – to be the best in the world. Words cannot describe… Sometimes you need to step back and say to yourself… “I did it, I won the world champs”. There is always another race coming up and so much happening so sometimes I need to remind myself of what I’ve done. All that hard work has really paid off. It’s an amazing feeling!
PT: Which is your favourite Triathlon course?
Mel: Phuket! It’s amazing. The swim starts off in the beautiful clear warm ocean. You then run out of the beach, up and over a hill and then dive into the lagoon and swim across to the other side. The bike course winds through the streets of Phuket, along the coast line and up and over a highway – where you actually have to dismount and run your bike over the bridge. It also incorporates some crazy steep climbs where many of the slower athletes will have to get off their bike and walk it up the hills. The run is then a bit of everything. Cross country, road, sand. And if your lucky enough to win it you get to run down the finish chute with the baby elephant.
PT: What makes you race better? Food? Rest? Training? Goal Setting?
Mel: All of the above. You need a goal to perform at your best. Something to aim for. Obviously we all need to train. You just need to work out what works for you… how much and what intensity. And then just as important as the training is the rest/recovery side. I will get a massage once a week. I also get regular physio by my husband/coach/physio Jared. And nutrition is also a major part of having a great performance. Your food is your fuel. You need to fuel your body right.
PT: What are more important, the training/preparation or the bike and equipment?
Mel: Definitely the training and prep. Good equipment helps but if you haven’t done the hard work no fancy equipment is going to help you. I won my first triathlon on an aluminium framed road bike that was two sizes too big. I was in a borrowed wetsuit that was ginormous. But I’d done the work and I wanted the win. Training your mental strength is just as important as physical. If you think you cannot win, you will never succeed.
PT: What are you planning on doing when you finish racing?
Mel: I’ve only just started this sport so I haven’t thought about that yet but I’d love to stay involved in triathlon – maybe do some stuff with the media side of the sport. I love watching a triathlon as much as I enjoy racing it myself so I hope I can still be involved in some way after I finish competing.
PT: Any tips for pedaltorque readers who want to ride better?
Mel: Firstly get a good base. Clock up the long miles. These don’t have to be fast or intense. Just time on the bike. Once you have a good base, your aerobically fit, you can add in the intense workouts. Race pace efforts on the flat or hill repeats are a good way of building strength and speed.
PT: Finally, what do you hope to achieve in 2014?
Mel: I hope to hold onto my world champion title!
Melissa thanks so much for your time. Congratulations on a terrific 2013 season. From all the team at pedaltorque, we wish you all the very best for 2014 and the up and coming season.
Haydn Thomas: firstname.lastname@example.org