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7SYSTEMS Star Lauren Groves- Slowtwitch Interview

The humble Lauren Groves new

Written by: Herbert Krabel
Date: Mon Jul 06 2009

Lauren Groves earned her biggest paycheck to date when she finished a very close third at the recent Hy-Vee triathlon. She also helped her Canadian team win a bronze medal at the ITU Team Triathlon Championships a day later. Lauren was kind enough to share some of her thoughts with us.

Slowtwitch: Congrats on that big weekend you had in Des Moines. Finishing 3rd at Hy-Vee and 3rd at the ITU Team World Championships will be a nice addition to your resume.

Lauren: Yes, it will definitely be nice to add to the resume! It feels like it has been a couple of years since I’ve had some solid results, mostly because of injury. It was back in 2006 that I had my breakthrough season with a 4th place at ITU World Champs and a World Cup best of 4th place. I was beginning to wonder if I would ever crack that podium so to do it twice in one weekend, with both a World Cup and a World Championship is more than I expected at this point in the season.

ST: So you were surprised about the podium finish at Hy-Vee?

Lauren: I have to admit that although I knew I had the fitness to finish on the podium, I didn’t expect it. With that much money on the line, the field was stacked and I knew everyone would be fighting for every possible spot and fighting hard. There aren’t many races out there that have a difference of tens of thousands of dollars between finishing places! I was confident with my running as training had been going well and I had the third fastest run split the weekend prior in Washington, DC, just behind the two Emmas (Snowsill & Moffatt). I have known for a while that I am capable of a podium, but I had not put it together yet. So, to finally get that monkey off my back is a huge relief.

ST: Talk about the race.

Lauren: I went into this race probably more relaxed and excited than ever. I was literally jumping off the walls in my hotel room the day before, dancing to Michael Jackson and counting down the hours until race time. I carried this energy into the swim, determined to make that front group. I fought hard from the start, positioned myself well with the quicker swimmers and exited in the thick of the chase pack. We were about 20 seconds behind the lead group of eight at this point, so still within striking distance. However, that front group was extremely motivated and full of strong riders and although we rode hard, we couldn’t seem to put a dent into their lead. I didn’t know how my legs would be feeling after such an effort on the bike in the hot conditions, so I told myself when I got off the bike, “just run.” I did my best to stay patient but this was hard as I started to move into the top -10, then the top-5….then I could see third place just up the road! I was beyond tired at this point and doing everything I could just to get to the finish line, but somehow when I passed third place, I found a little spring in my step, a little “poodle-power.” I ended up finishing only 12 seconds behind Snowsill, grabbing my first World Cup podium and an unexpected paycheck!

ST: Rumor has it that you have some shopping plans with that purse you won at Hy-Vee.

Lauren: Are you referring to the poodle rumor, or just the word on the street that I enjoy a little retail therapy now-and-then?

As far as the poodle goes, I had a deal with my long-time partner, Adam that if I get on the podium at a World Cup then I could get a poodle (I have to point out that this would be quite a sacrifice on his part because not only would he need to care for it while I am away, but he also absolutely hates this breed). Adam and I made this deal a few years back and I came close to earning my poodle in 2006. But close doesn’t cut it for Adam. I needed that top-3. We haven’t spoken much about this deal lately but it was one of the first things I thought of when I crossed that finish line! Lucky for Adam we live in an apartment right now that doesn’t allow pets, but this deal will not be forgotten!

As for the shopping, I don’t have one big-ticket item that I’ve been eying, but I can guarantee you I will be hitting up the shops this summer.

ST: Sunday’s team event must have brought on a different pressure because now you are no longer just responsible for yourself.

Lauren: I definitely felt the pressure for this event, more so than my own race the day before. Canada wanted a medal and with such a short, fast event, there was not room for mistakes. I wasn’t sure how much fatigue I was carrying and with the leading leg of the race, I had to perform. I was most nervous about the swim because I noticed most of the countries had put their best swimmers first. Thankfully it was only a 300m swim, with the first turn at 100m so I knew if I could suffer some fighting and get myself in the mix, I would be right with them. Thankfully my worst fear didn’t’ come true and I was able to keep our team up near the leaders by the end of the run. But, wow, did this HURT! My teammate Brent McMahon described this effort as “bleeding from the ears” and I think he is spot on!

ST: What is next for Lauren Groves?

Lauren: Most of the Canadian National Team is off to Europe this weekend to prepare for the next two World Championship Series events in Kitzbuhel, Austria and Hamburg, Germany. We will be based in the mountain village of Kitzbuhel, one of my favorite places I have visited. I love the European culture and way of life so this is one trip that I have been looking forward to all year. I think I may spend a little bit of my Hy-Vee purse on a couple new pairs of Birkenstocks from this great shop in Hamburg (I have a slight “Birk” addiction!). After Europe, we return home to Victoria, BC to prepare for the World Championship Grand Final in Australia in September.

ST: Talk about your athletic background and who or what inspired you to race triathlons.

Lauren: I swam competitively as a kid in Vancouver and started running for fun when in high school. I remember entering 10km and half marathons without training and being so sore that I couldn’t walk properly for days. There weren’t many junior women racing these events, so I would always finish on the podium and being the super competitive person that I am, it kept me coming back for more! It wasn’t until I was 20 years old and in second year of university in Kingston, Ontario that I started triathlon. I first learned of the sport when I watched Simon win in Sydney. Shortly after the Games I heard he was coming to meet the university tri club. I thought he was pretty cute so I signed up for the club. I was too nervous to actually speak or look at him when he joined us for a swim, but I enjoyed this new sport and loved the challenge of putting three disciplines together.

ST: What does your training look like?

Lauren: I have recently started working with our new National Team coach, Philippe Bertrand and find his program to be a good fit for me. We swim 6 days a week, with two of those days being in the lake. I am on the bike 5-6 times per week and running anywhere from 5-7 times. What I love about Phil’s training is that there aren’t any monster sessions, allowing for quality and consistency on a daily basis. I find recovery to be just as important as the training itself, so I make sure to schedule in time for chiro, massage, icing in the ocean, and NormaTech (an incredible compression machine).

ST: How are things going for you in terms of sponsorship?

Lauren: The last couple of years have been a bit of a roller coaster with results and injuries so finding new sponsors has been challenging, and has also taken the back-burner with my focus on rehab and getting healthy. But, I have been fortunate with very understanding and supportive sponsors that have stuck with me through the rough patches (Shimano, Ryders Eyewear, PowerBar, 7systems, and Triathlon Canada). I went through a lot of changes this year with my coaching, living and training situations and made the decision that if I was to start with a clean slate, I would make sure I had the best product out there. I was fortunate to have a positive response from some fantastic companies that allow me to race without any doubts as to the quality of my equipment (Trek Bikes, Pro City Cycles, Blue Seventy, Kiwami, Brooks, NormaTech, lululemon).

ST: What do you do in the off-season?

Lauren: I usually take a few weeks completely off of training. I never seem to have any trouble filling my time as I seem to end each season with a list of things I’ve missed doing during the year. Last year I spent most of my off-season quilting. Honestly, I spent countless hours in front of a sewing machine and I loved every minute of it. I took a beginner’s course when I broke my elbow after Beijing last summer and knew I had found another passion the moment I walked into the quilt shop. I loved browsing through the fabrics, selecting patterns and watching each block and quilt unfold (do I sound like a total nerd yet?!). I had to let this hobby go though when the training ramped up over the winter. I don’t work well with “on the side” or part-time hobbies. For me, it’s all or nothing. I guess kind of like how I approach the sport. I would spend up to 7 hours quilting at once, sometimes forgetting to eat or drink, so that definitely is not conducive to high performance training!

ST: Do you follow any other sports?

Lauren: To be honest, I’m not a huge sports buff. I love the artistic sports such as gymnastics and figure skating (I think I secretly wish I could do these sports but with my lack of flexibility and coordination I need to stay far, far away from a beam or an ice rink). I am still on a high as I got to see one of my gymnastic idols, Shawn Johnson in Des Moines. She was signing autographs for the kids triathlon and I spotted her during my pre-race warm-up. If I hadn’t had to toe the line in the near future, I would have been sneaking into the line-up with the kiddies! I also have a soft spot for Andy Roddick, Rodger Federer and Michael Phelps, so I suppose tennis and swimming are other sports I “follow.” Paula Radcliffe is one of my sporting role models so I like to keep up to date on women’s distance running.

ST: Talk to us about your diet and your food likes and dislikes.

Lauren: I am very passionate about healthy food and cooking in general, so I have many favorite foods. Overall, my diet is very simple and “clean,” based around plenty of fresh fruits and veggies. As far as healthy foods go, my favorites would have to be salmon, eggs, avocados and apples. I do have a massive sweet tooth, so if we are talking about treats, a definite favorite would be peanut M&M’s. As far as dislikes, I think the only food I absolutely will never eat is garlic.

ST: What music do you like?

Lauren: I enjoy a mixed bag of music. I actually don’t listen to much outside of what’s on my ipod or when I am driving. I think most people would be surprised to hear what is blasting on my radio when I’m in the car alone. Soft rock, any kind of love song, Celine Dion, top-40 hits, etc. Yes, this is embarrassing, but everyone has guilty pleasures! When relaxing at home, Adam puts on Iron and Wine, Bon Iver, or random news podcasts.

ST: What was the last book you read?

Lauren: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.

ST: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Lauren: Hopefully being a mom! With so many friends having kids these days it’s hard not to be bit by the motherly bug! I haven’t set sporting goals beyond the London Olympics, but I would love to try being a pure runner for a while, maybe tackling a marathon on two.

ST: Is there anything else we should know about you?

Lauren: Thank you for the interview. I think Adam now feels like I have “made it” as a triathlete with a Slowtwitch interview. Also, please feel free to check out my blog:


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