When you talk to Chrissie Wellington you have to be on your game. She is considered and articulate and gives measured responses to the questions asked. You get the feeling that Chrissie is more comfortable in the heat of battle than answering interview requests from the media. But she does and does so with a refreshing honesty. The 2009 version of Chrissie Wellington has been modified and version 2.0 of the best Ironman athlete in the world is ready to take on the world again.

Chrissie Wellington

How has your training been different since you moved coaches at the end of last season?

I’m being coached by Simon (Lessing) and it’s a big change. I’ve moved to Boulder where Simon is based. I’m also being coached by a guy called Darren. Simon and Darren work in partnership. Darren is a running coach and is married to a 3 time Olympic marathon runner. He is my run coach and Simon does the overall program. Obviously the training program has changed but not significantly. I had a formula that seemed to work for me and Simon was prepared to take a lot of what I said on board but I also had to be open to change. I was willing to try new things to see if I could get even faster and stronger. The fundamentals of the training have remained the same but some of the sessions are different.

Do you have to change your program in order to keep yourself interested?

What I enjoy about the training I do now, not that I didn’t enjoy it under Brett (Sutton former coach), is that the program and the training are a lot more varied. I get the consistency, week in week out, but there’s so much more variation. And I have to say I enjoy that. There’s variation with the people I train with and there’s variation in the sessions and I like that.

What’s it like to live in Boulder?

I really enjoy it actually. Everyone was saying that you’ll be like a goldfish, everyone will be watching you and poking their noses into your business. But I eat, train and sleep. I do exactly what I did before. My training time is sacred time. You know when I’m training I’m 100% focused whether that’s on the bike or in the swimming pool or running. I like to chat to people before and after but when I’m training I do really really focus. But I enjoy Boulder and I enjoying being a bit more settled, not moving around every 2 or 3 months. Being able to accumulate a few possessions (laughs) and just put down some roots.

I’ve got some good training partners there. I do most of my training with Simon. Obviously he’s incredibly strong and pushes me to the limit. I’m also doing a lot of training with Julie Dibbens, the British Xterra World Champion, who is an incredibly strong swim biker. We do a lot of our biking together and that’s fantastic. I swim with a Masters squad so it’s great. It’s very interesting and I’m enjoying it.

Is the 2009 version of Chrissie Wellington better than previous incarnations?

In terms of my overall life I feel a lot happier. A lot more relaxed. If you were just defining me by who I am in regards to athletic ability I don’t know yet. I haven’t raced.

But there has to be some connection between a good home life and good training and maybe this weekend we’ll find out?

I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself. I hope that it translates into a strong performance. I can only control what I can but I’m just really really looking forward to getting out there and smashing it. I just want to give it to myself. I was out there (on course at IMA) and I was thinking I just want this so badly. I just feel like I’m on fire and I hope that translates into a good performance.

What’s your race week like? Peter Reid (former Ironman Hawaii winner) used to say that he wanted to be really bored before he raced so when he got to the start line he was primed and ready to go. Are you like that too or are you a walk around town and drink coffee with some mates kind of gal?

I’m a bit of both. I think it’s important for me to focus and to rest. I don’t totally isolate myself and I enjoy meeting people and chatting to them at the swim start. But ultimately I need to be focused on my race not out having dinners or having lunches or anything like that. I do tend to keep the social interaction to a minimum. I have a lot of contact with my friends outside of triathlon and that’s quite important to me. We talk about things that aren’t related to racing and to the sport.

When you were riding a bike through Argentina how far away were you from thinking about triathlon (Chrissie’s off season was spent in Argentina riding her bike)?

As far as I have been in the past two years. It was incredibly tough. And the thing that crossed my mind was that Ironman is easy compared to this! (laughs). We did a 70km pass and it took us about 3 days. One day we had an average of about 2kmph because we were literally pushing our bikes which weighed about 40kg up glaciers and rocky slopes. There were all these rivers that we couldn’t cycle across and we had to erect these rope and pulley affairs, it was lunacy. So that was fun and being with my non triathlon friends helps keep things into perspective and keep my feet on the ground. It also gives you time away from the sport which is important.

What’s going to be your biggest challenge this season?

Coping again with the expectation and the pressure. There’s no one race that presents a bigger challenge than the other but coping with the weight of expectations is always a challenge.

Are you keeping a close eye on MJ (Michellie Jones) this Sunday or do you do your own thing?

I’m going to go out there and smash myself and go as hard as I can for as long as I can. People are building it up to be the Michellie versus Chrissie showdown. I think they say that at their own peril. Bek Keat is going to be strong. She’s being coached by Brett (Sutton) and Abigail Bayley is extremely strong on the bike. Kate Bevilaqua will also be strong. I don’t think it’s going to be myself and Michellie in the race and I hope the girls give me a run for my money and push me. It would be good to be pushed to bring out the best in me hopefully.

Good Luck on Sunday