• Chatting with Sam Baxter, Team Freespeed, previous top amateur at IRONMAN UK

    Sam Baxter1thetrilife are one of the official coaching partners to IRONMAN and we thought that we’d have a chat with Sam Baxter, a Team Freespeed athlete, who came fourth overall (top amateur) at IRONMAN UK in 2012. Sam can give the Age Group athletes an insight into how top performing Age Groupers would tackle the race.

    So, Sam, most age group athletes will be reading this either on the Friday or the Saturday of race weekend – how would you spend your Saturday?

    Saturday is always stressful with racking and last minute nerves so after a quick swim, bike, run loosener I like to remove myself from all the race hype and head to the cinema or 10 pin bowling!

    What time would you get up on race day and when would you aim to be in transition?

    I get up 3 hours before the start of a race. Generally it’s cereal and a Clif bar then I’m ready to go. I keep it simple and just eat what I eat every Saturday morning before an early ride. I always get to transition nice and early, pump up my tyres, walk through transition so I know where I’m going then hang out with friends before the start.

    Where would you start in the swim and what would be your strategy to the first buoy?

    It’s always better to be swimming through people than to be swam over. I always ask people what time they think they will swim and position myself accordingly. Don’t be scared to talk to your fellow athletes as you’re all in it together!

    How would you personally set up your bike for this course?   i.e. gearing

    With the change of course it’s flatter and faster, however it’s also more technical with twists and turns so I don’t think times will be much faster. There are still two big climbs so I’d plan to have an extra gear that you’d never use just in case. You’ll appreciate it if you do need it.

    What do you like to eat on the bike and how often would you eat or drink?

    Clif bar, blocks and espresso gels. I’ve heard of pizza slices folded in half which sound great but I’ve never tried! I eat as much as I can but I’ve always practiced my nutrition in training. I eat every 20-25 minutes but it takes practice.

    How do you monitor your pace on the bike?  How do you know that you are not going too hard?

    I train with power but race on feel. It’s just what I do and how I like to race. If I feel like I’m pushing then I back off. If I feel good at half way I push harder, and if I still feel good at 100miles then I look forward to the run. There is nothing worse than walking past your supporters on the run!

    Do you use any mental strategies to help you through the run?

    Yes, loads, but the big one is to think about everyone else who has given up their time for me, friends and family. It then becomes less about my pain and more about not letting them down.

    Is there anything else that you think would be really useful to those taking part this weekend?

    Enjoy it and smile. When you smile it hurts less! Arrive early, don’t panic and enjoy the finish shoot!

    That’s all great advice, thanks Sam. You’re not doing Bolton, so what’s next for you this year?

    No, Stuart Anderson is the only Team Freespeed athlete planning to race this year and this will be his first time at Bolton, so I’ll be there supporting him. However next up for me is Hawaii…. I have a couple of middle distances in the interim but nothing too serious before the big one!