After Ralph’s Half Ironman in Oceanside I had the rare chance to catch up to Katya Meyers and talk triathlon. I say rare, because no amateurs caught Katya at Ralph’s. She dominated the women’s amateur race and only 8 of the pro women finished ahead of her. Katya also had a podium appearance last year in Kona finishing 3rd in the women’s 18-24 category with a time of 11:05:20. Here’s some of that conversation:
CZ: Tell me what your race day at Ralph’s was like.
KM: I didn't have a great swim, but I think it helped to push me on the bike and run. I came out of the water knowing that I had to make up some time if I wanted to earn a slot for Hawaii, which was my goal going into the race. I had a solid bike; I tried to balance pushing hard enough and saving my legs for the run. I felt great starting off the run, and just focused on keeping a steady pace most of the way, and then tried to pick it up the last 3 miles, or so. Overall, I felt solid and enjoyed the day.
CZ: How did you celebrate your victory?
KM: I was fortunate to have my brother and sister visiting from Illinois for their spring break; it was cool to have them at the race. I also had some friends visiting from out of town, so we all went out to dinner. Nothing exceptional; it's just always great to relax with friends and family post-race.
CZ: What is the motivation in your racing this season?
KM: I love the challenge and excitement of racing, so enjoyment is my primary motivation. I had a great time at Hawaii last year, so I am excited to be going back, and I definitely think I can better my performance. I was encouraged by my race at Ralph's, but I also know I have to continue to improve in order to race pro at a level where I would be satisfied. It is very early in the season, so I'd like to just keep training and racing and see how things unfold.
CZ: Does that motivation change now that you had such a good performance early in the season?
KM: No, not really. I just plan to enjoy the rest of the season, and race as well as I can.
CZ: What are your other goals this season?
KM: To have fun, enjoy myself, and give 100% at every race. Also, to improve my swim, and stay healthy. Race wise, I'd like to have a great race in Hawaii.
CZ: How about your goals beyond this season?
KM: Not sure yet. I think this will be somewhat of a pivotal year. Ultimately, I would like to race pro, but we'll see how the rest of the season goes.
CZ: What is your athletic background and how did you get introduced to triathlon?
KM: I was a competitive gymnast for 10 years. I decided not to compete in college, but I knew that I would miss being part of a team and competing. I tried rowing crew for a bit, but I didn't love it. When I heard that Stanford was starting a triathlon team, I thought it sounded interesting and decided to give it a try. I went to one running practice, got talked into doing a race that weekend. One of the girls on the team let me borrow her bike, bike shoes, helmet; another friend lent me her surfing spring suit. I had never been on a road bike--I didn't really know how the gears worked and definitely wasn't proficient with the clipless petals--and I certainly hadn't done much swimming. Basically, I had no idea what I was getting into, but that was probably for the best. Somehow, I managed to finish an olympic distance race and loved it.
CZ: Tell me about your life – are you still a student?
KM: I graduated from Stanford in 2002. I decided to take some time off before applying to medical school. Currently, I am working as a tutor and taking classes at UCSD, although I would like to find something more healthcare related.
CZ: Do you ever think how you may influence others with your racing?
KM: I hope to have a positive infuence on others, especially kids, in terms of promoting an active lifestyle. Truthfully, though, I am inspired by the athleticism and dedication of so many older athletes, particularly in San Diego. It's amazing. I hope that I am able to be as active as so many of the older athletes we're surrounded by.
CZ: I remember meeting you while we were biking on Del Dios Hwy during a rainy down pour. In my eyes it will always seem like there’s some “Lance Armstrong” in you. Lance is known for beating his competition with meticulous preparation under even the worst circumstances like bad weather. What is it about you that gives you an advantage over your competitors?
KM: In a race situation, I would say that I'm pretty competitive. Like probably almost everyone reading this, I like to challenge myself, and I really love both training and racing, so it makes it easy to put in the effort.
CZ: Katya, thank you very much for letting myself and the TCSD get to know you a little bit better. We’ll all be cheering for you in Kona. I have the feeling you will be moving up on that podium and having a great time during your journey to the top.