trust the process

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April 19, 2024

Ali O'Donnell's Story of Becoming a Professional Xterra Triathlete

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show notes


  • Ali O'Donnell is a professional triathlete who specializes in XTERRA races.
  • The qualification process for the XTERRA World Championships involves participating in the World Cup schedule and submitting race results to XTERRA.
  • Ali transitioned from being a soccer player to a runner in high school and eventually joined the triathlon team at CU Boulder.
  • She faced challenges with body image issues and the pressure to perform in college running.
  • Ali won the national championship with the CU Boulder triathlon team in 2017. Transitioning from collegiate triathlon to professional Xterra racing
  • The excitement and challenges of racing in different locations
  • Overcoming illness and pushing through challenging race experiences
  • The importance of having a strong why and the growth that comes from facing challenges


00:00 Introduction and First Professional Race

06:02 Transitioning from Soccer to Running in High School

11:39 Challenges with Body Image and Pressure to Perform

24:17 Winning the National Championship with CU Boulder

27:36 Transitioning to Professional Racing

31:07 Favorite Trails and Preparing for Xterra Courses

36:58 Taking the Leap of Faith to Become a Professional Athlete

42:13 The Challenges and Rewards of Professional Racing

49:53 The Importance of Having a Strong Why and Embracing Challenges


Mike (00:01.966)
All right, welcome to the D3 Podcast. And today I have professional triathlete Xterra specialist, Ali O'Donnell. Ali, how are you?

Ali O (00:10.574)
Hi Mike, I'm good, how are you? Thanks for having me.

Mike (00:12.462)
Good. You got your first professional race coming up.

Ali O (00:15.662)
I do a little under, I think this morning on our run, like we said, like 12 days, 11 days. So yeah, I hop on a plane on Monday and fly to Athens, Greece.

Mike (00:22.062)
11 days, yeah, all right.

Mike (00:27.438)
How cool is that for our first professional race?

Ali O (00:29.838)
It's, oh, I don't know, lots of, lots of excitement, lots of nerves. Um, I've traveled internationally before, but it's always been for like world championship races. And so for this to just kind of be like a, it's one of the world cup stops for ex Tara. So they have like a world cup schedule. Um, so it's the second stop for us. And to pick this one as my first race was something that was decided on only like four weeks ago. So it's still kind of like, whoa, but, um, I'm excited. It'll, it'll be good. Yeah.

Mike (00:57.23)
Yeah, that's awesome. So are there so many races you have to do to qualify for a prize per? So how does that work?

Ali O (01:02.734)
Um, so it's kind of confusing and honestly, I'm still trying to figure out how it works. Um, XTERRA kind of changed their whole system this year a little bit, but they have a World Cup schedule. So there's seven stops on it. Um, the first race was in March in Taiwan, and then it goes to Greece. Then we come back to America and go to Alabama, which will be nice kind of home turf more or less. Then it goes to Belgium and then Canada, Quebec.

And then the Czech Republic, and then the final stop is in Italy for the world championships. And what I've picked up on, there's prize prices at every race. I think it's usually like the top eight or 10 can get prize money. And then you have to submit your results to Exterra in order to qualify for world. So I don't think it's just like, oh, you race, you go. It sounds like they want race results and kind of like a two way street. Like if you want to be here, we need to know you want to be here is what I've picked up on.

Mike (01:35.054)
Yeah. Awesome.

Mike (01:57.358)
That's awesome. Yeah, I like that. I like that.

Ali O (01:58.254)
I'm sure I'll learn a lot more in the next few weeks once I actually dip my toes in the water, but yeah.

Mike (02:02.478)
Yeah, that's great. That's great. So I know you started out as a road triathlete and I'm interested to hear about how you kind of transitioned to exterra, but let's, let's even back up further. So I know you probably, you live in Boulder, you grew up swimming, played some soccer for a bit too. Is that right?

Ali O (02:19.214)
Yeah, so soccer was honestly my entire athletic life until about my junior year of high school. So I started playing when I. Oh gosh, I think I was in elementary school. My dad and a good friend, family friend of ours coached like a little rec league for us. And it was, I mean, I'm sure I don't really remember it very well, but I'm sure we were, you know, like they say a bunch of little like bumblebees swarming around the soccer ball like didn't know what you're doing. So I played from.

elementary school through high school. Um, and I swam as well. And then I kind of got to a point in high school where I was like, you know, I would love to be a college athlete and I'm not really good enough at soccer to do this in college. And I grew up, my parents are both incredible athletes. Um, thank you, mom and dad for the good genes. And they, you know, immersed my sister and I into a lot of sports when we were little, but, um, they were both triathletes back in the day. So I grew up around the sport. Um, but even prior to that, you know, my mom.

has always been a really good runner. My dad was back in the day too before his knees got the best of him. But we would do races together all the time. Me and my mom like turkey trots, boulder, boulder, all sorts of stuff. And I knew I was good at running, but I never really like raced. So end of high school soccer career, my junior year, I was like, you know, I don't really know if I still like this. And it was like, I should just try out for the high school cross country team. And I did. And I ended up finishing second.

in our time trial and making the varsity team with like really no training under my belt. I don't think I think I just like had the soccer running in me and joined the cross country team and just kind of evolved after that. But yeah, soccer prior to that was really all I knew. So my running career was pretty short and sweet in high school and then for a little bit in college. But yeah.

Mike (04:04.558)
It's awesome.

Yeah, and Boulder High has always had a good women's program, right? So it's not like you're beating a bunch of kids who can't run. Like you beat some, probably some pretty talented kids.

Ali O (04:14.67)

Ali O (04:18.734)
Yeah. And it was a lot of girls who, um, had spent their entire high school careers up to that point running. Uh, the one girl that finished out of me, she went on to run at Cornell. She finished, I think. Like I can't remember exactly, but like top five at state our junior year, um, incredible runner. And so it was, you know, a shock to me that I could run like that. Um, and so, yeah, I mean, it was, it was cool to come from a sport where, you know, I was kind of not subpar, but I wasn't.

obviously, like I said, gonna go off and change the world and be a professional or be a college athlete. I had to kind of find my niche finally where I was thriving and really having fun with it. And then continue to swim too, which was nice.

Mike (05:00.782)
So were you swimming while you were playing soccer, but then did you continue swimming all the way through high school?

Ali O (05:04.846)
Yeah, so swimming for us, my parents, I think, checked my sister and I in the pool before I could even walk. And then I started doing summer swim team at a local pool here in Boulder called Rally Sport. They had a summer league Rally Sport Mannerys. And I did that probably from when I was like an eight and under all the way through like middle school. And then I was like, you know, I don't really like this anymore. I just want to play soccer. So I stopped. And then when I got into high school, I joined the high school team.

And did that in the winter. So it was kind of like my cross training because soccer for us was for girls club was in the fall and high school was in the spring. And so it kind of worked really nicely for me to just swim in the winters. And then I actually picked up club swimming my junior year, I think. So rally sport had a year round team. So I added club swimming into the mix. My junior, senior year and just got a little bit more serious about it as I wanted to try to maybe do that in college. And, you know, make the state team.

things like that, so.

Mike (06:02.382)
Right, so your two years of running in high school transforms into your freshman year going to CSU Pueblo to run, right?

Ali O (06:24.014)
It did. Yeah. Um, which is still kind of crazy. Yeah. Yeah. So I, and it was less than two years actually, um, kind of a weird transition into it. So I ran cross country my junior year in the fall. I played soccer actually that spring, my junior year spring. I wasn't quite ready to let it go yet. Um, I think part of it was my sister was a freshman that year. And so we got the opportunity for like the first time since we were teeny tiny little kids to get to play soccer together.

Mike (06:26.062)
And that's wild to me. I mean, you just don't pick up running and you're good at it.

Ali O (06:53.134)
And then ran cross country again in the fall and was like, I can be done with soccer. I don't need to do this anymore. And so I ran track my senior year for about three weeks before I severely had a stress fracture in one of my femurs that just like knocked me out for, I think it was like a 12 week in total recovery from that. But yeah, I got picked up by a college team. I signed the fall of my senior year. So they really only had one season of cross country results to look at.

And it was a coach who just happened to be at State my senior year and caught eyes with me and we chatted and the rest was history. So yeah.

Mike (07:31.534)
That's cool. That's cool. And then you ended up, you know, hurt a little bit in college and then ended up coming to CU and that's kind of when things really started to change. When you left running at CSU Pueblo, did you think you were going to run at CU or did you think that was a little bit above, you know, what you could possibly do and decided to join the Trathlon team?

Ali O (07:47.662)
Mm -mm.

Ali O (07:52.974)
Yeah, so when I left Pueblo, it was on, at least in my little 18 year old head, pretty traumatic terms for lack of a better term, I guess. I went into my freshman year there recovering from a stress fracture that I had, like I previously mentioned, my senior year of high school, suffered another stress fracture winter break of my freshman year. And then again,

the summer before I was supposed to go back for my sophomore year, I had a stress reaction to my other femur. And it got to the point where, you know, I remember talking to my parents, I was like, running's not fun anymore. This feels like a job every day, I'm miserable. And unfortunately, like a lot of female college runners, I kind of fell into the trap of some, you know, disordered eating, body image issues, you know, the things you hear about and you think like, I'll never be susceptible to that. But unfortunately I was and...

Mike (08:40.046)
Thank you.

Ali O (08:46.03)
It was a conversation I had with my parents and my doctor at the time. And he was like, do you want to still be running when you're 50 or 60 years old, or do you want to be done when you're 30? And, you know, he was like, you kind of have to decide, but if you keep running at this level, like your body's telling you it can't do it. Um, and like I said, there were other things going on, you know, diet issues, stuff like that. But the root of it was that, you know, I couldn't handle the 67, 60 to 70 mile weeks that were being asked of me. So I made the decision, I think.

three weeks before I was supposed to go back for my sophomore year. I went on a walk with my dad down our road, called my college coach and was like, I'm not going to come back. And at that point, my parents and I, it was more just like, where am I going to be able to get into school in three weeks? And obviously Boulder was home. And so, you know, I applied to see you, which is funny because in high school I was like, I'll never go there. Like I look at that school every day. I'm not going to apply. I don't want to tour. Like I'm never going to land there. And then, you know, a year and a half later there I was.

Um, but yeah, when I transferred, I mean, I remember in like my first conversation with Brad and Dave, the coaches at CU for the triathlon team, I was like, I hate running and they were like, oh, well, why? And I told them that I was coming, you know, from a collegiate running program that I hadn't really clicked with and had kind of left a sour taste in my mouth for the sport. Um, and I was just kind of looking for a new home. So.

The reason I kind of found the team was I had friends from high school who were doing it and they were like, Ali, you swim, you run, you have all the tools. My parents race, so I grew up around the sport, so it wasn't unfamiliar to me. And they were like, just try it. Like, it's so much fun. It's a club sport. You can take it as seriously as you want, or you can like not take it seriously at all. And so it just kind of felt natural. And having grown up as a competitive athlete, I needed some kind of home, I think, to land in when I got to a big school. And...

Transferring is hard. You come in and you don't know anybody. I was kind of like a year behind in school. So I was a sophomore taking classes with freshmen. And the team gave me a friend group before school even started, which was awesome. And it let me kind of release all the competitive juices that had built up the last year when I spent my entire freshman year kind of cross -training by myself, not getting to be the athlete I'd hoped to be when I signed on to run.

Ali O (11:10.062)
And it, yeah, the rest is history. It was, you know, I look back and I'm like, that was the best decision I ever could have made for myself. Obviously at the time it didn't feel like that. I think I felt like I was quitting, which was hard. Um, and I remember telling my dad that as I, you know, walked, I remember this conversation, I'm walking down our road with him and he's like, just call, you know, your coach and tell him everything you're telling me right now. And I was like, dad, I'm a failure. I'm quitting at a sport. Like, you know, and when I had quit soccer for running, it was like,

a positive thing, it felt like this felt very negative. And I was like, you know, I'm a failure. You guys aren't proud of me. I'm giving up a scholarship. Like kids dream to be collegiate athletes. Like, why am I letting this go? And my little, you know, 18, 19 year old brain like could not comprehend it. And it was like, you're such a failure, Ali. And then to come to see you and be picked up by coaches who were like, you're not a failure. Like we see who you are as a person and let's take that and run with it. Um,

was so good for me. And I'm, you know, as a 27 year old now looking back on that, like eternally grateful that I had my parents there to help me make that decision. But then I fell into the arms of coaches who, you know, took me as I was. So.

Mike (12:21.582)
Yeah, that's awesome. I think that, you know, that is a big part of it, right? Just the coaches being there, like you said, provide that safety net and they're probably telling you, Ali, we're not going to run 60 miles a week. We're probably going to run 20 to 25, maybe 30. And yeah, that's a tough situation. I walked on in college to run cross country and I had never run, but they needed a seventh runner. So I walked on, division two program, not super fast, you know, times, but.

Ali O (12:39.15)

Mike (12:50.414)
First weeks were in 50, 60 miles and my knees are killing me. Like my knees are just destroyed. And I'm just this big muscular quad guy who does triathlons, you know, solid bike or decent runner, but just always breaking down because of the stupid, you know, the mileage. And I totally get it. Once I cut the mileage back to like 30 miles a week, like life changed. I got so much faster because I didn't need all that stress.

Ali O (13:10.35)
100%. And I think for me to, I was like still such a novice runner, you know, obviously I played soccer and I was an active kid growing up, but to go from, you know, running up and down a soccer field to being like, Hey, go run 50, 60 miles a week, which is, you know, it is not every college program is the same, but more or less like, unfortunately, unless you find some amazing cross training plan, that's what you have to do to be able to compete with the best of the best. And

My poor little body was like, what are you doing to me? Like you, we've never run like this before and it just couldn't handle it. And, you know, mentally to always have been an athlete who was, you know, varsity letters, front of the pack, you know, like winning race is doing really well to suddenly be like in the back cross -training by myself injured was such like an alarm to me. I, like I said, I didn't know what to do. And then I fell into the arms of two coaches who were like, we could care less about any of that. Like.

you know, and Dave's like, I still remember that first conversation with you and just being like, this kid is like just a great human being, not to like toot my own horn, but he still reminds me of that every day. Um, I think, which is awesome is he was like, Brad and I both still remember having that conversation with you and being like, okay, she's being very open and honest about who she is as an athlete. And I think what was really important for me was I came from a college program where we did, you know, it's tough and I don't want to, you know,

talk poorly about the NCAA world, but at the end of the day, it's like, if an athlete doesn't produce results, a coach can lose their job. And so every program is different, but I think there's this expectation and this pressure put on these athletes to constantly reproducing really good results versus falling into a club program where like, yeah, winning national titles is great, but that's it. There's not really any money behind it and the coaches are there out of the good of their heart.

they love doing it. And Brad and Dave reminded me multiple times throughout my career, like, hey, you are a person first and then you're a student and then you're an athlete. Like we care about your wellbeing as a person more than we ever care about the results you're producing for us on the race course. And, you know, I came from a coach who said the opposite things and yeah, grateful for that for sure.

Mike (15:25.934)
Yeah, I think you're right. And I think it's every sport, right? It's swimming and it's baseball and football and hockey. I mean, the coaches have to perform and if not, they lose their jobs. And that's true. That's a big part of it. And at the end of every basketball season, we see coaches changing programs. We see it with swimming. We see it with running. And it just happens. And you're right. You're putting a lot of pressure on an 18 -year -old kid to say, you need to run x time. And to do that, you have to run x miles. And

You know, you've been running two years barely and, you know, they're pushing you into this program that girls have been running since they were, you know, probably in fifth, sixth grade. So big difference, big difference. And, um.

Ali O (16:00.782)
For sure. And I too was not, it's a funny thing. Like if anybody that knows me, it's not like I'm a big person, but I'm not built like a little runner. You know, I don't weigh 120 pounds. I'm not like this little stick figure. Having grown up as a swimmer, I definitely was a little bit more of a built upper body kind of girl. And to then come into a college program where these girls are like teeny tiny, it's hard. And again, I think that's when you see those body image issues come through.

Mike (16:29.934)
Yeah, you know, when ITU started becoming popular and I've, you know, I grew up lifting weights and all that stuff and I've always thought it's important. I was probably one of the first triathlon coaches to say, look, you need to lift weights. And this was back in like 94, 95. And then when I started my business in 2001, it was a big, big part of the program. And people are like, oh, I'm going to bulk up. I'm going to do this. I'm like, do you know how hard it is to put on four pounds of muscle? It is incredibly hard. And then you started seeing, what's it, Spirig, right? Nicole Spirig, Nicole Spirig.

Ali O (16:51.406)

Mike (16:58.894)
You see her running and she's got massive biceps and she's got these quads and she's got these calves. And I'm like, those are the women winning the races now. It's not the skinny little girls anymore that are 110 pounds. It's these women that 130, 135 pounds that are just so powerful. Can probably out squat you out, deadlift you, everything. I mean, just amazing, really strong women. So I'm glad the perception has changed, right? So I think that the eating disorder thing, it's always going to be around because there's always me coaches that think the skinnier, the better, the faster, blah, blah, blah. But.

Long -term running, that's not gonna happen for those people, unfortunately, right? They're gonna have all kinds of long -term health issues, which is terrible, right? It's terrible that we put.

Ali O (17:34.222)
For sure. And I mean, my poor body, like I, you know, I was the opposite. I didn't, I kind of, my weight like fluctuated so much. And that was, you know, for me with my eating issues was like, just constant up and down. And my body was like, I like, what are you doing? And I definitely paid the price for a few years afterwards. Um, you know, I had hormone levels were all at whack and you know, it's unfortunate. You look, and again, it's a two way street. You have coaches putting things on you, but.

It's tough for an 18 year old to be mentally tough enough to be like, no, because we don't know, you know, we've, we're going from being in a, of an environment, hopefully for me, luckily with parents who didn't ever shelter me and my sister, but we're always there for us and helped us make sure that we were making the right decisions. And they were a voice for us and we couldn't find our own. And for me then to go into a place where I have to a hundred percent be my own voice and say no to habits that are being pushed on me was like so hard. Um,

Mike (18:06.51)
You don't know.

Ali O (18:30.574)
And it created bad habits that I paid the price for. And luckily, that's all in the past. But yeah, you hate to see it. And I'm glad that the times have changed. And it doesn't seem to be as, it's still prevalent for sure. And I'd.

Mike (18:42.606)
Right. If there's any positive that came out of it, you know, just from listening to you, and I know you have a physiology degree now too, from CU, I think that you're the voice now, right? You can say to these younger girls, like, you don't have to do this. You don't have to ever go through it again. Or if you see yourself slipping, you know the signs, right? Or you see friends and you can say, look, I've been through this and I went through A, B, C, D, E, F, G. Like, this is how you get yourself out of it. And it's up to you, right? You got to be your own voice, just like you said. So, I mean, that's amazing story. And it's...

Ali O (18:48.622)

Ali O (18:56.43)
No. Yeah.

Mike (19:12.43)
You know, it's really more prevalent than we think. That's really the issue. And, you know, I look around at my daughter 16, she's playing high school lacrosse and same thing. I look at what her and her friends eat and I'm like, man, that is not going to work in college. Like you need to learn how to eat right. And we're always talking about it and they're sick of it. My kids are sick of it, but at some point they're going to go, it's important, right? So.

Ali O (19:14.702)
you know.

Ali O (19:30.19)
It's important, you know? Yeah, and that's, I've had to learn that too, even just more so in the last, you know, eight months since I decided to become a pro. But yeah.

Mike (19:40.942)
Right. So let's, so you get to see you, you got a little swim background, you're not in love with running anymore. Tell me about the bike. How did that all, yeah, cause that must've been a new shock to the system, right?

Ali O (19:51.47)
Yeah, uh -

It was, and it's funny because I was looking back on old race results just prior to us having this conversation a few days ago. And my first race was fall of 20, let's see, it was 2016, um, Oktoberfest. So a little sprint out in Longmont. Um, and I think I probably came in, I don't really remember with a little bit of a big ego of like, you know, I'm a ex college athlete. I was a swimmer. I was a runner and.

I was still coming back from injury, so I didn't have a lot of running in me, but I think I had this thought in my head of like, oh, I ran in college for a year. Like I'm bombproof. Like I'm going to go crush this race today. And oh my gosh, Mike, it was the exact opposite. And I was looking at the results the other day and I swam, it's a sprint. I swam like a 1253, which for a swimmer like me is like the most degrading time in the world you could possibly spend. Oh my gosh. Yeah.

Mike (20:45.582)
Yeah, you could do that breaststroke in high school, I'm sure.

Ali O (20:50.606)
I was on the bike for 55 minutes. That is 12 .8. Yeah, so I did the math the other day because I was just like kind of laughing at myself, which I shouldn't laugh because we all start somewhere. But I think it's good I can look back now and laugh. In the moment, I definitely wasn't laughing. But I did the math and that's like 13 .9 mile an hour average. And I was like, oh, you ride your mountain bike faster than that now. But yeah, I was on the bike for 55 minutes. My mom got so worried.

Mike (20:53.038)
Yeah, yeah. 12 mile ride, right? 12 and a half miles. Yeah.

Ali O (21:19.918)
that something had happened to me that she asked the ambulance and the medics if they'd picked anybody up off the course. Because she was like, where is she? Like, this bike is 12 miles long. Like, she should be long done by now. And I had some heat stroke issues in high school. And so I think she was just like wigging out. And she's like, where's my daughter? She's probably dead on the side of the road out there. And then I ran like a 24, which for a kid that signed to run college and who ran a sub -19 5K in high school. Oh yeah, it was.

Mike (21:45.422)
It's slower than your warm -up pace.

Ali O (21:49.102)
terrible. And I got home that day and I was in my little college apartment and I called my mom and luckily my parents like I said were triathletes so they get it and I was in tears and I was like, Mom, I'm never doing that again. I was like, I'm done. I'm never doing another triathlon. That was like the worst experience of my life. And she was like, take a deep breath, do another one, see how it goes. And I was like, no, because it's gonna suck just as much like that was not fun. And I wish I had given myself more grace. But again, I was coming in as a kid who

always thrived in sports and suddenly I'm like, I went from being like the top of the little triangle to the bottom. And I'm like looking at these girls who I think before I had sized up in practice and been like, they're fine, I'll like beat them. And I was like, I don't think I was dead last but I was pretty freaking close. So yeah, it's funny to look back on that. But you know, like I said, in the moment I was not laughing for sure.

Mike (22:35.342)

Mike (22:42.062)
Did you do a race, another race that fall? Did you go to Vegas and do that race or did you have to wait till the spring?

Ali O (22:50.574)
Sorry, you broke up again. Might be the wind.

Mike (22:51.629)
Well, did you have to do another race that fall or did you have to wait till the spring to do something?

Ali O (22:58.702)
No, I did another one. I did, um, Oh gosh, what was the pumpkin man? So I went out to, yeah, Vegas for pumpkin man. And, um, Gosh, yeah. Which like you said, going back to biking. So the swimming and the running, you know, started to come back around the biking. You know, I had to learn is not, not something you get good at overnight. Um, and I'm, you know, eight years into my triathlon career and like, I'm still not the strongest biker on the course by any means. Like it just takes time.

Mike (23:01.134)
Vegas, pumpkin man.

That big long up -haul on the bike.

Ali O (23:27.502)
to build those muscles and that muscle memory. And I think if I recall, that race went pretty well. I think I, compared to the first one at least, so compared to Oktoberfest, I think I was like ecstatic afterwards. And I was like, that was so much fun. Like, I don't think I produced any results that are like beautiful and frame worthy to like hang up and, you know, super applaud. But I think for me, I was like, okay, this is fun. I want to keep doing it. So yeah.

Mike (23:54.83)
And then where did you, so that was, how many years did you race? Three years at CU? Three and a half, okay.

Ali O (23:59.278)
Three and a half, yeah. Well, yeah, because so COVID, so I took a fifth year, which unfortunately meant that my senior year was 2020 during COVID. So we did not get nationals my senior year, which is such a bummer because I think it would have been a team that was capable of producing another national title. But yeah.

Mike (24:17.678)
Yeah, yeah. But yeah, okay. And then, so, but you did race on the 2017 team, right? That won the nationals, okay.

Ali O (24:24.622)
I did. And so that was my first year on the team too. And I remember, I think coming in again, it was like club sport, make it as serious as you want. And I was like, this is like all or nothing. Like I'm going to give it 110%. And you know, you coached the triathlon team at CU. You take some athletes to nationals based on speed spots and others based on just their dedication to the team. I was definitely not a speed spot that year. I was pretty...

far down the list in terms of speed with the girls, but I made the spot just out of dedication for the Nationals team. So I got to go to Nationals my first year, which was probably my favorite Nationals of all the three that I went to. Because yeah, it was the year we won and it was a bizarre year. I'm not sure if you heard the story of it, but they forgot to score our female DL athlete. And so we were at awards in these silly, where's Waldo costumes.

We were sitting behind Navy, who was probably our biggest rival at the time. And they announced that Navy had won and Brad and Dave were like, there's no way. Like there's literally no way. Yeah.

Mike (25:28.398)
Dave was texting me, he was texting me during this saying, can you check to see if this girl, like, yeah, that you need those points, right? So I remember that whole thing.

Ali O (25:36.91)
Yeah. Um, and it was crazy. They were just like, there's absolutely no way. And so everybody left this auditorium. We were in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, you know, all the teams left Navy's like, cool. We won. I think everybody else was, it was, we were prior to that, the team had won seven straight national titles. And so I think every other team was finally like, it's over. Like we can celebrate another team winning.

And we sat there for probably like an hour. And I remember when we found out we were sitting in the circle playing ducked up goose and these like stupid, ridiculous little costumes. And they're up there with somebody from USAT, like crunching the numbers. And they came over to us and they were like, okay guys, yeah, we did the math wrong. Like you guys actually won. And we just, there's nobody there. Most of the parents are gone. This auditorium is empty. We're running around screaming our heads off, freaking out, taking pictures, taking selfies, cause the camera people are all gone.

Um, and later that night, I think, don't tell Brad and Dave this, we went out to like a party with some of the other kids and they were like, Oh, you guys are such a bummer. You didn't win. Like, how do you feel? And we all, we were told by us at like, you cannot tell anybody until we do an official like press release. So we were almost like sworn to secrecy and we couldn't tell our teammates back home because we didn't want it to leak the wrong way, just out of respect for Navy and other teams too, because unfortunately then it trickles down like.

Everybody essentially like loses a trophy. And so we're at this party and I think it was some kids from ASU, Arizona state. And they're like, you guys are like, that's such a bummer. And then some tweet came out and was like, Oh, they scored wrong. And these ASU kids were like, you liars. Like you didn't tell us. Um, but just there, I remember the whole weekend was just like so funny and Brad and Dave, like we couldn't tell anybody until we got back to Boulder and Dave like had a, like a banner rush printed.

for us to like take photos with. And I have it actually hung up in my bedroom. It's a picture of all the girls with like the 2017 national championship banner. But yeah, it was cool. Again, like I didn't really contribute that year to scoring, but to just get to be there. Yeah.

Ali O (28:44.014)
Yeah, it's, it's, yeah, it was cool. And I think a couple of years we were like second and third, but either way it was, it's just like a memory I'm so fond of. So.

Mike (28:52.878)
It's a great experience, right? It's a great community of people. Awesome. So, okay. So then you left CU and you started racing a little bit, 21, 22, 23. But you just started dabbling in Xterra, right? Like you've been racing basically as an age grouper, right? Going to like 70 .3 worlds and things like that. But it's mostly been road, right? It's just this past summer, 2023, you started doing Xterra, right?

Ali O (29:18.286)
Yeah, so I did my first one in, it was 2022. Actually, so I did two in 2022, which is funny because after I graduated, Mike, I was like, I'm done. I'm burnt out. I'm never doing the sport again. And I actually think it was good that COVID happened because it gave me a breather to do some other things. But back to your question, I did my first one at Beaver Creek in 2022. More as a joke than anything else. My friend.

Mike (29:23.822)

Ali O (29:44.878)
my good friend and I that raced together at 70 point three worlds in 2021. Coming back in the car, I had a pretty traumatic experience there. And it's a funny story I can share maybe a little later, but I remember in the car, he was like, you ever gonna do a half again? And I was like, no, never again. Like that you couldn't pay me. I'm not doing this like distance ever again. And he was like, what if we did next Tara? And I was like, I'd heard of it. And I was like, oh, I had a mountain bike, but I had just started riding mountain bikes. I was like, I don't know, maybe.

And then 2022 rolled around and we kind of shared schedules and he was like, I'm doing it. And I was like, Oh, I guess I have to do it now. And so we both did it. I qualified for worlds that year as an age grouper. And then last year signed up again for Beaver Creek again and Xterra Lori, which is a local one here, um, which got canceled. Unfortunately, we had a really wet spring and they weren't able to host it. So I just ended up last year doing Beaver Creek and then.

Beaver Creek was like all or nothing for me because I was trying to get a world spot, which was six weeks later that year. So it was a very quick turnaround. Um, so just like gassed it at that race, um, which ended up being the race that earned me my pro card, which I didn't realize until like three months later. Um, but just that, and then Italy. So I've actually only ever raised four Xterras, which is kind of crazy to think that I'm about to embark on a journey as a professional with kind of not much experience under my belt. Um,

besides a lot of road racing. So yeah.

Mike (31:07.47)
That's awesome. What are your favorite trails to ride around here to kind of prep you for those courses? And I know they're all different, right? Some are really rooted, some are really rocky, some are steep, some are, you know, flat.

Ali O (31:19.182)
Yeah, it's crazy. The courses you see. The link trail here. So there's a trail that takes you from the Tosso preserve back down to the canyon. It's short. It's only like ride time. It's like less than 10 minutes. But that is a really, really good course or a really good trail to, you know, steeply challenge you. It was actually one of the first trails that some coworkers of mine from Full Cycle took me up it in 2021. And I remember getting to the top.

And I looked at one of them and they were like, oh, yeah, how are you doing? And I was like, I'm straight up not having a good time. And I remember the first time they took me down it and I was like terrified. And it's funny because I wrote it on Sunday and it's a trail now that I can ride it from start to finish without stopping. Um, that's one of my favorites Hall Ranch out in Lyons is also a blast. The TASA is really good. Um, the actually the Xterra course up in Beaver Creek in the summer when you can go ride it is an awesome trail. Cause it kind of gives you everything from like flowy.

Mike (32:17.454)
little bit of everything, right? You got the climb, you got the downhill, the traverse, that steep downhill at the end, right? That's...

Ali O (32:18.638)
Chunky and s -

Yep. Oh man, it's yeah, it's like a black diamond on the mountain bike scale, which is gnarly. I mean, they toss you into that. You're like kind of the whole course up to that point is pretty mellow. And then the last like 10 minutes are, you know, black diamond level single track. So yeah.

Mike (32:36.366)
Right, right, right, right. So do you know who owns the record coming down the pipeline? I always call it the pipeline of Batasso. No, do you know who owns the record?

Ali O (32:45.774)
Do I own it? Well, I was like, I definitely don't. No, who? Oh, Ryan. Oh yeah, Ryan. Ryan has been.

Mike (32:51.374)
You work with him. Yeah. So he's like five, last time I looked, it was like five 50 or six 10 or some crazy time from top to bottom. And I think I went like nine minutes once and I was like so excited. And I'm like, wow, I'm within four minutes of Ryan. Like that's, that's pretty cool. I'm like, does he not even use his brakes? I mean, how do you get through that that fast? It's just.

Ali O (33:09.07)
Yeah, me too.

Ali O (33:14.382)
I don't know. I mean, I don't know what my time is on that trail. Definitely not five minutes, but yeah, it's because it's just you get everything with it. It starts out pretty mellow and but it's like these sharp turns and there's rocks and roots and there's some uphill.

Mike (33:20.334)
Right, I mean it's crazy, it's crazy.

Mike (33:29.07)
Yeah, you just got to trust your bike that you can get through it and still be standing. Yeah.

Ali O (33:31.886)
Oh, that's been, yeah, the big thing. Yeah. But yeah, Ryan's been super, super cool because he's a, you know, an ex pro in this sport. So getting to work with him every day has been cool. Just learning from him. Um, you know, we ride a little bit here and there. I'm sure he's got a lot he can teach me, but also just, you know, mentally and emotionally being able to talk to him about it has been really good for me in the last couple of months. So.

Mike (33:37.358)

Mike (33:54.35)
Right. I mean, I think the big thing, and I'm sure you'll talk to Brad about this, is that no matter what happens on race day, it may end up like your first collegiate triathlon where you're like, that this sucks, right? But now you're, you know, nine years wiser, eight years wiser, right? And you can say, you know what, so what? There's another race coming up, but I'm going to go do it and I'm going to crush it. So, you know, yeah.

Ali O (34:03.118)
Yes. Yeah.

Ali O (34:12.366)
For sure. Yeah. We, and that was a conversation. So when I decided to take my pro card in the fall, I remember, like I said, I kind of stumbled upon it. I didn't really know. It was a conversation I had in Italy with, um, my good friend that I was there with the same one who I made the joke with about doing an ex Tara. And it was the night before our race and we were sitting in the kitchen, just kind of talking about, you know, goals and aspirations and one year plan, five year plans. And I kind of was like,

I know I'm really good at this sport, not to toot my own horn. And I was like, but, and it's fun to win. It's fun to be on the podium, but I was like, how much further could I go? And he's like, you just have to commit to it. And he was like, just try to go get your pro card. And so we had, this ended up being like a two hour conversation of just, you know, talking to each other about the goals and stuff. And I came home and I was building out my race schedule for this year in hopes of trying to land myself at a race where I could earn my on -road license because if with an on -road license.

You can race professionally on an off road. And I stumbled upon the off road criteria and I was like, I think I did that one. And it was like finish, um, top five overall. And within X percent, I don't remember of the winning amateur time. Yeah. 8 % of the winning amateur time at the USA championships, which happened to be Beaver Creek. And I finished fifth by, I have a picture of it, Mike, like the hair on my chinny chin chin. I out leaned this girl at the line.

Mike (35:25.646)
It might be like 8 % or something.

Ali O (35:40.494)
And I remember I cooked my last mile was probably like a 545 mile, like ripping down the ski slope of Beaver Creek trying to catch this girl because I had no idea where I was. And I just had a goal going in. Like I want to be top five. I didn't know about the pro card criteria. And I was like, I don't know where I am, but like, I'm going to catch her. And I out leaned her at the line largely because my mom yelled at me. She was like, take the inside line. And I took this inside tangent on the last turn and like out lean this girl. And then finished with an 8 % of the time. So when I found figured it out.

Mike (35:53.102)

Ali O (36:09.774)
I remember calling Brad and I was like, so I did this thing. He was like, so you're going to do it. And my point is with all of this, you know, we've had a lot of conversations over the last six to eight months as I made this decision. And a big one we had, he was like, you've always been the pointy end of the triangle, at least for the last like four years, not so much for the beginning of my career. And he was like, it's going to feel like the beginning of your career all over again. You're not going to be at the top. You're a very little fish in a really big pond. And.

I think especially cause it's off road racing, like on road racing is a beast in of itself. And I'm sure it'd also be the bottom of the totem pole, but you factor in like mountain bike and handling skills, trail running, swimming is swimming and luckily ex Tara athletes are not the best swimmers. So I have a leg up there, but the rest of the race is like, it's crazy. It's very different from anything I've ever done. So yeah.

Mike (36:58.99)
Yeah, it's fun. That's fun. So I did last time I did XTERRA, Beaver Creek was 2013 and I think Conrad Stoltz won and he was amazing. And my only goal on that run was not to walk. And that's a hard run, right? It starts out really steep and then just goes up for like three and a half miles and it comes down for like a mile and a half. You're just ripping it coming down, just like you said, but the way up, you're just like, oh my God, like your legs are on fire. You're at 8 ,000 feet, the whole thing.

Ali O (37:20.622)


Mike (37:25.774)
And so I finished, I didn't walk. I felt really good about it. I forgot where I got my injury, but it was good. And he got up to get his award and he's, you know, doing this little speech and he's like, you know, I only walked three times on the run. And I was like, well, here's the world champion who walked three times on this course. And, uh, you know, for him to walk and for me to not walk, I was like, that's pretty good day. Like, you know, he walked a little bit, so that's great. But, um, that's a really tough one. I mean, that is one of the toughest runs I've ever done in an Xterra. Um, but the old, um, the old, uh,

Ali O (37:50.03)
It's -

Yeah, it's tough.

Mike (37:55.31)
Colorado race used to be Xterra Keystone. It used to go up to the top of the mountain. And that was the old Norba National Championship. So it was actually the off -road national championship and they made an Xterra course. And that was just brutal coming down that thing. It was just like five foot drops and the whole thing. It was really like a real mountain bike race, which was like way out of my skill level. So what are you looking forward to this year? I mean, what's that?

Ali O (38:19.086)
Yeah, the course initially.

Ali O (38:24.366)
Oh no, nothing that important, continue.

Mike (38:26.158)
Yeah. So what are you looking forward to this year? The most just gained some experience, travel a bit, race.

Ali O (38:30.926)
Yeah, kind of all of it. So when I remember Brad and I had a phone call back in, I think it was like October when I called him and was like, Hey, so, you know, I think I want to do this thing. You know, take my pro card. And he's always been very good at like, if you have a goal, like it's my goal to like, let's figure it out. And so for the big question he asked me, and I'm very grateful he asked me this, he was like, why do you want to do it? And I was kind of like, what do you mean?

And he was like, well, why do you want to do it? Because it can't just be like, Oh, because I get to go be a pro athlete. Because when you have hard days training and you wake up and you're like, I don't want to do this. If you don't have a solid why you're not going to get out of bed. And if that why is strictly because you want the little title on your USAT card that says pro like let's come back and talk about this another time. Um, and so I think it was good. He challenged me, um, in that conversation and.

It helped me kind of like you asked, make a list of the things I'm most excited about and let those be my wise. Obviously the travel is really cool. I'm going to get the opportunity to go to places of the world that I might never get to go to otherwise. And I think I'm most excited and obviously intimidated, but excited about the challenge of all of it. You know, challenge leads to growth. And I think I was kind of getting to the point in my triathlon careers and age group where I was not really challenging myself anymore.

You know, it was fun to, you know, win races and be at the top of the podium and be out there, you know, at the front on a run course and have somebody be like, oh, you have a five minute lead. Like you could jog and still win this race, but it doesn't make you a better athlete. Um, challenging yourself does. So it makes you a better person too. Um, and aside from just the athlete part, this is, you know, a big leap of faith and it's kind of, it's very scary and intimidating. Um, you know, these girls I'm going to race against are.

you know, top notch athletes. Like they're people that I watched the last two years in Italy and was just like, you like look up to them and you're like, oh my gosh, they like walk on water. And, you know, now I get to go beyond the start line with them and race against them and maybe lose to them, but also learn from them. Um, so, you know, I'm really looking forward to the challenge of it. Um, and growing again, more as an athlete, I think, but also as an individual, I have never really been a person to.

Ali O (40:56.59)
take like giant leaps of faith like this, I'm pretty, I'm very like decisive. So if I'm going to make a big decision, I spend a lot of time thinking about it before I decide. And this was kind of, while I did spend some time thinking about it and it's kind of always been a thought in the back of my mind, like, oh, what would it be like to race the sport professionally? This was, this still felt like a leap of faith. And it has kind of been a, an experience of like, you can't wait for the confidence. And I had a good friend that,

you know, continues to remind me that he's like, if you wait until you're confident, you might be dead by the time you make that decision. Like sometimes the confidence a hundred percent just like never comes. Um, and you know, something he's also told me to, he was like the alley, the train doesn't stop twice in this train, you know, might not stop twice for you. And, you know, take that opportunity to go be a professional athlete and just, I think, enjoy the experience. Like it's exciting. I don't know. Like I'm still trying to wrap my head around it and I don't really know what it's going to be like, cause I actually haven't.

Mike (41:29.902)
You'll never do anything.

Ali O (41:56.046)
really done it yet. You know, there's been a lot of build up and talk and I've seen it being done, but I haven't actually, you know, ever sat in like a pro meeting and had pro headshots done and, you know, got to hang out with the big dogs and stuff like that. Um, so it's just a very new experience for me that I'm, yeah, very excited about. So. Yeah.

Mike (42:13.294)
It'll be fun. You'll do great. You'll do great. You're well prepared. You got, you know, you're good mentally. Like you said, you're burning the sport your whole life. I mean, you've got so much on your side and, you know, I think number one, just go have fun. I mean, if you're ahead in the swim by five minutes or down by five minutes, it doesn't matter, right? Chances are you're going to be up front and people are going to go by you on the bike. And then, you know, it's up to you to get, you know, get them back on the run. And that's it. You just got to play your strengths and, you know, you just got to keep working on the bike and until it becomes comfortable enough that you can.

Ali O (42:20.782)
Mm -hmm.

Ali O (42:25.55)
For sure.

Mike (42:41.838)
get over some of those tougher obstacles, but you're going to do great. So I'm excited to watch it and see how you do. Yeah, totally. Totally. I remember when I was coaching CEO, I remember giving them a set one time. I think I gave them six 100s on one 10. And they're like, we can't make that. We can't make that. And I said, well, you grow by failure. If you make two of them, that's great. Maybe we make three of them next week. Maybe we make four the week after.

Ali O (42:44.302)
Yeah. Thanks. Yeah. It's a, it'll be good. A lot of mental toughness that's been prepared for this for sure.

Mike (43:09.006)
And, you know, they really enjoyed those kinds of things. And no matter what the sendoff was for what lane, right, they all enjoyed that fact of I'm going to get six this week or I'm going to get five or whatever it is. But that's, you know, that's a big part of it. Speaking of that, give me, give me one of your experiences racing that was super challenging or something you had to like mentally really dig deep for to get through or finish or something.

Ali O (43:31.374)
Mm hmm. So 2070 .3 worlds in 2021. I think you were there. It was in St. George, Utah. You might have heard the story, the rainstorm, the weather was crazy that that race got kind of weird. So they originally had it separated two days, like women were going to waste one day then men the next and they combined us all together. And the weather was like super funky the whole week leading in the day before was like blisteringly hot.

Mike (43:39.182)
Oh yeah, yeah, the massive rainstorm here.


Ali O (43:58.638)
Like to the point where like people's tires were blowing in transition. And then the storm rolled in the night before and it was like torrential downpour. They pulled girls out of the water, the wave behind me. Um, it was pouring rain at the start of the bike for me. The sun, like it cleared up as I was climbing up snow Canyon. And then you're like, great. I'm done with this like stupid bike course. And I get to cruise into town and it started pouring rain again. Um, Wendy.

Mike (43:58.83)

Mike (44:23.662)
Yeah. And you're holding on for dear life coming down that thing, right? Yeah.

Ali O (44:26.606)
Yeah, cause you're like ripping at like 40 miles an hour. You're spinning out. Um, and then we get on the run. Of course the sun comes out and it's blazing hot. But what happened to me the night before that race, I went to bed at like, I don't know, nine 30. I woke up like two hours later and spent my entire night on the bathroom floor throwing up. Um, I don't know if it was food poisoning or like a 24 hour stomach bug. Um, hardly slept that night. And I.

Mike (44:44.174)
Oh, oh.

Ali O (44:54.094)
I woke up in the morning and I remember texting Brad and I was like, I don't know what's wrong with me. Like I can't eat. I've been throwing up all night. And he was like, he had a lot of good things to say. He was like, I know you and I knew if you didn't start, you'd be really disappointed in yourself. Like he's like, I've had athletes in the past too. It's just maybe let's chalk it up to nerves. Like tell yourself in your head that it's just a nervous stomach. Like try to get some food in, try to do your warmup. And if you feel that bad that you don't want to start, like he wasn't there.

He was in Boulder, but he was like, just call me and we'll make a decision. So, but I remember sitting there in the little kitchen of our Airbnb, just deflated. Cause you know, you put so much work in and it was my second half. I had qualified six weeks earlier at my first half at Boulder. And qualifying for Worlds had kind of been like a pipe dream. It was like my first half Ironman. And I was like, it'd be cool, but you know, like, I don't know if I will. And so when I did, you put in months and months and months of work and you get to your A race and then.

your body and the universe like decides it has other plans for you. And I remember, yeah, I did my warmup. I tried to eat food. My parents were there, thank goodness, which was really nice to have them. And I was sitting at the start, like the swim start, and it was already getting pretty warm. This is before that giant storm rolled in. And my mom thinks this is the funniest thing in the world. And I started to get really nauseous again. And I was like, this is not nerves. Like I definitely have some kind of stomach bug. And...

I don't know why she thinks it's so funny. I threw up all over the Iron Man banner at the start line and she thinks it's the funniest thing in the world. And these ladies are like, this poor girl, she's so nervous. And I'm sitting there and I'm like, I'm not nervous, leave me alone. I'm like sick as a dog. And I think my mom had my phone and we texted Brad again and he was like, you know, she doesn't want to start, she doesn't have to, but he was like, you can always start the swim and get out and quit and call it a day. And...

The thing is I knew if I started, I was like, I'm going to get to the finish line. That's just the competitive nature in me. And I swam. And like I said, it was just like monsoon force winds at the start of the bike for us. Um, I couldn't keep any of my food down. It was like, eat a goo, throw it up, try to drink my, you know, electrolytes, throw it up. The only thing that was good was water. And so every aid station, I just like grabbed a bottle on the bike and chugged water. And so then when I got to the run, my stomach had no food in it except for water. And it was just like.

Ali O (47:18.734)
sloshing and I felt awful and I'm thinking about this run course I have ahead of me that's not easy by any means. It's a two loop course that's got some pretty insane elevation gain in it. And yeah, and my dad was like, if you have to walk every uphill, just walk it. Like you, you've gotten two thirds of the way there. Like this is, you rode, you just rode 56 miles. Like 13 mile run is nothing. And Sam Long is a good family friend of ours. And I think he was sitting with my parents and.

Mike (47:24.046)
Right, super hilly, that big downhill, crazy.

Ali O (47:44.622)
I don't know. I don't know what he said to me, but I'm sure he said something that just kind of like kicked me into gear. And so it became a game of like run when you can. And if you have to walk, walk and at aid stations, like get down the things that don't make your stomach upset, which was no solid food. I just drank Coke and water. Um, so my system at that point was in like complete carb calorie deficit. Um, I think I threw up halfway through the first lap and was just like, this is so terrible. I'm going to be out here forever.

Um, I think I did like a right around five hour time at Boulder. And I think I was on the course for almost seven hours in St. George. Um, and people who didn't know what was going on were probably like, Oh, she's just having a bad day. And I remember getting to that finish line and my mom's in tears and she's like, I'm so proud of you. I can't believe you finished this race. And I, you know, you go through this little expo and they have all this amazing food and my dad, you know, who'd been Mr.

Sherpa all day was like, go get me all the good food. And I walk out with nothing. So I was like, I don't want any food. I just really down. Like, I don't feel good. Um, but anyway, you know, I look back on that race and I, I'm it's of all the accomplishments I've had as an athlete that definitely on paper was not beautiful by any means, but it's probably the one I'm the most proud of because. You know, I literally from start to finish just kind of had to put my head down and just gut it out. Cause I, like I said, you know, you had built up all year for it and.

it sucked to get there on race day and not get to produce the results I knew I was capable of. But when it gets hard now and I'm in these like tough races and tough workouts, I'm like, oh, you finished a half iron man with a stomach flu. Like you can accomplish just about anything. And unfortunately, and funnily enough, a year later when I was at my first Xterra Worlds, the same thing happened to me again. And so it's kind of a funny running joke that I have actually with Dave.

He texted me before Xterra Worlds this year and he was like, make sure you're eating like McDonald's tonight for dinner and not upsetting your stomach. But who knows, there was some weird stomach thing that happened to me twice. Just happened to happen before too, World Championship races. But yeah, kind of a crazy story.

Mike (49:53.102)
Yeah, I think you've overcome a lot in a short career for sure. Okay, so I got three final questions for you.

Mike (50:46.094)
All right, I can give you another question. It's all right. Favorite exercise in the weight room.

Ali O (50:53.198)

Ali O (50:57.39)
I love deadlifts, yeah.

Mike (50:58.734)
Awesome. That's a great one. That's my favorite as well. Favorite interval workout.

Ali O (51:05.326)
Running, I love like mile repeats on the track or like anything like longer tempo kind of stuff. Bike workouts.

Mike (51:10.094)
And if you're in the pool because you're in the pool the longest, what is the one workout in the pool you don't want to do?

Ali O (51:19.726)
Oh, I used to, we used to do this in college, the eight by 100 benchmarker set that we do once a semester. It's like eight 100s all out on like three minutes. Used to just like crush my soul. Nowadays I'm swimming with BAM and sometimes everything fluctuates, but definitely in college that was the workout I just loathed the most. And I think it's funny because now I probably would enjoy it a little bit more, but I used to hate it.

Mike (51:45.774)
So that 8 by 100 I got from a friend of mine and went to the University of Maryland. And these two that once a week and that was their, one of their benchmark sets. Just.

Ali O (51:53.23)
Oh gosh. We in high school swimming, every Monday we did, I think it was like eight, 100 starting out on 110. And this was back when I was a little high school swimmer who could like, you know, cook out sub one minute hundreds pretty easily. But yeah, something crazy like that. So.

Mike (52:05.486)
Yeah, yeah. That's pretty wild. All right, well, thanks for coming on. And let's check in after the race. I want to hear how it all goes and be good to catch up. All right, well, thanks so much for being on. All right, you bet, Ali.

Ali O (52:14.702)
Sure, sounds good.

Awesome. Thanks Mike for having me.

Coach Mike Ricci is the Founder and Head Coach for D3 Multisport.  His coaching style is ‘process-focused’ vs. ‘results-focused.’ When working with an athlete, their understanding of how and why they are improving is always going to take precedence over any race result. Yes, there is an end goal, but in over 2 decades of coaching, experience has shown him that if you do the right work, and for the right reasons, the results will follow.

Coach Mike is a USAT Level III Elite Certified Coach, Ironman University Certified Coach, and Training Peaks Level II Certified Coach. He was honored as the USAT Coach of the Year.

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