Coach Jim nominated Carla Laukka for our Featured Athlete Spotlight and we are glad to recognize her for three reasons (and so many more): her achievements this season (shaving 29 minutes off her 70.3 time!), her consistency and commitment to her training, and the communication she shared on the path toward reaching her goals. It all adds up to a stellar season and we excited to introduce you all to Carla. Coach Jim shared that he is very proud of how Carla was able to bring all of your training elements together for the Maine 70.3, nail her targets and finish top 10 AG.
Enjoy the Q&A with Carla.
1. Based on some race highlights that Coach Jim, shared, it looks like racing 70.3s are a favorite distance. Why do you like the half IM distance?
This year I focused on 70.3’s because I felt it would give me the foundation to build up to doing a full IM. I tried to think of this year as a prep year for a future full IM race. That being said, I wanted to try new courses and see if I could go harder and be faster at that distance. I really do enjoy racing 70.3’s and the challenges that are presented.
2. You were able to take 11 minutes off your time between the Boulder 70.3 and Cour de Alene 70.3 and had another big jump shaving 18 minutes off your time between CDA and Maine; that's 29 minutes between Boulder and Maine! What are some of the elements (or factors) that contributed to your improvement? What changed in your training, attitude, nutrition, etc.?
I am newer to endurance racing as this is my 3rd season. 2018 was my first year with 1:1 coaching (Coach Jim is fantastic!) and he put together plans that challenged me to really push myself outside my comfort zone. We talked after CDA and I said I was ‘all in’ for Maine and with his guidance I was able to build a high level of fitness for Maine by following his plan consistently and really working to hit the targets that he had set every single workout. He told me that I was going to learn to love my bike and he was so right!
I had some concerns in February about subpar performance in my races so he recommended I get bloodwork done. Based on the results I was able to add the correct supplements. Without those changes, I don’t think this season would have been as successful as it was. He has definitely steered me in the right direction throughout this season.
I really tried to focus on doing the easy intervals/workouts easy so that I could recover for the next interval/session. Coach Jim recommended going to the D3 morning workouts and working with the team. What an amazing group of athletes who are so inspiring and fun. Being at those workouts really pushed me and made a huge impact on the quality of those sessions.
The other big thing I tried to focus on was being grateful and having fun. Grateful for being able to train, to race, for having the desire to train and race, people to share these experiences with, the opportunity to learn and to share what I’ve learned.
3. Jim appreciates that you are a strong communicator and provide feedback in your log after workouts. Please expand on your coach-athlete communication style?
I try to make a note after each workout. How I felt, what I did, what worked or didn’t work. I want him to know what happened during the workout and I also want to be able to look back down the road to see what was working. I try to note my nutrition and what happens on longer sessions so that I can try to simulate on race day. I also do my best to put social plans on the calendar so he knows when I needed time off - in hopes of avoiding the dreaded red on my TP calendar! Sometimes I just said I like the workout so I would see it again (fingers crossed) or tried to put something funny down. I think I’m going to try my hand at putting jokes in the notes to see if I can get him to laugh!
4. Jim is very proud of your ability to push your limits and race to your full potential and he saw that play out at Maine 70.3. You reached your goals and you were top 10 AG.
a. Describe how you prepared yourself the week of that race.
Race prep is always a big deal to me just like everyone else (routes, water temp, tide, weather, nutrition, attire, cutoffs, etc) so I try to do my homework before race week so I can just try to move from step to step during that week and not stress about the details. I like to know as much as I can, see as much of the course as I can prior to race day and have everything ready way in advance so if I have to change my mind I already know what my options are just in case. Traveling makes it even more important. Planning for what if’s. I like to visualize the race from start to finish. The perfect race, the mechanical issue race and then the epic blowup one. Then figure out what I’m going to do in those situations. Of course, the perfect race is fun to sit through. The other ones not so much!
b. Describe your thoughts on the race now, afterward.
I was happy with Maine because I hit all my targets, felt great during the whole race and really had fun with the race. I found myself smiling throughout, being so grateful to be on that course, on that day and just enjoyed the experience. Are there things I would do differently? Of course! But I felt like I executed my plan and accomplished what I set out to do.
5. Where is your favorite place to swim, to bike and to run?
My favorite place to swim is any open water. I know I need the pool time, but being outside is my favorite place to be. My favorite bike routes are up to Jamestown or to Carter Lake (near Boulder, CO). Favorite place to run? Hall Ranch, Button Rock or Pictured Rock (near Boulder, CO). I don’t make enough of an effort to get out there as much as I should - so when I do it’s a treat and I really enjoy those runs.
6. Dream piece of equipment ... if there was nothing holding you back, what would you add to your gear (for training, racing, recovery, doesn't matter!)?
I really love my bike, but I would like to get a TT one of these days!
The entire D3 Coaching Team is pleased to celebrate Carla, her commitment and consistency with her training, and her fantastic 29-minute improvement this season! With only 3 seasons under her belt, we are excited to see what she can do with her talent.