En route to Ironman Florida, pro triathlete and Scottsdale resident Jozsef Major picked up a win in his fourth Life Time Tri Soma effort.
You have spent your season racing around North America. Other than getting to sleep in your own bed, what’s the best thing about coming back to race in Tempe?
There are a lot of great things about racing in Tempe! I first raced here in April 2007 at Ironman Arizona. Since then I compete here two or three times every year. I’m so familiar with the course by now, and that gives me a little advantage. There’s always amazing race support out there and I really appreciate all the cheering!
As far as Life Time Tri Soma, I have a little history. My first Soma was in 2008. I was 4th. Then in 2009 I raced one and a half months after a bike accident and was 2nd. I raced again in 2010 after a very busy season when I was very tired and came in 10th. So I was very excited about racing it again.
Tell us about Sunday’s race – How did you feel, and how did the race unfold?
This year I planned to do the race as a good training/tune up for Ironman Florida. I was very happy that it was organized two weeks before the Ironman. In the morning we didn’t have too much time to warm up in the water before the pro start. In the first half of the swim I felt a little weak. But in the second half I was able to hold a nice and steady pace and finished the swim 20 seconds back to the leader trio. After a quick transition (it was quick compared to my previous transition times) I started to chase down the leader trio, who were riding separately from each other. I passed the third, then the second place rider and rode comfortably in second place. As a preparation for Ironman Florida I’d had some important workouts this week. My legs weren’t too fresh and I just focused on keeping a steady pace behind Lewis Elliot. He was on fire! He rode really strong. In the second loop the gap between us increased to more than a minute. I knew I couldn’t let him go. I pushed harder and was able to catch up with him by the end of the bike.
When I started to run I was in the lead but I realized that the second and third were very close behind me. Because of the two-loop run course I couldn’t see how far they were behind me. I just knew that the one guy behind me was running fast. (Later I found out that he was Kyle Hummel.). I didn’t want him to catch me so I ran harder. I held a 5:50 minutes-per-mile pace until the 11-mile mark when I saw that I was several minutes ahead of him. On the last few miles I just ran to finish. It was very cool to run across the finish line in first place! It was the first time I won Soma.
You shaved 20+ minutes off your previous time at Soma. What’s your best advice or training tip for a triathlete who wants to get faster?
The best advice I can give is to be consistent. You can always have a bad day (like me in 2010) but keep going and look at it as a good training day or learning experience.
In order to get faster, high intensity workouts are important but you have to be very careful that after every intensive workout the recovery time is longer. Recovery is always a key factor.
You specialize in the full Ironman distance, but compete in 1/2-Ironmans like Soma fairly frequently. What’s your favorite thing about the 1/2-Iron distance?
What I like best is that it takes half the time as a full Ironman distance! But honestly, I prefer the longer distances. If you want to be competitive in the half-iron distance, a good swim is very important. If you look at the elite races, the faster swimmers have great advantage over the slower swimmers. A couple minutes can make a big difference. But you can see that if you want to place in the top, you have to be pretty darn fast in the other two disciplines too. I specialize in Ironman-distance races where the experience, the routine, and the well planned, systematic nutrition intake plays a very important role too. I’d say during an Ironman race you have time for everything!
However, it’s true that half-Iron distance races are more manageable for everyone who wants to do a triathlon. And it’s also the best first step if you’re aiming for a full Ironman finish.
What’s the most important thing that you’ve learned this season about racing and what it takes to race to your potential?
I think the most important thing that I learned this year is that you always have to define your goal well. No matter in what level are you racing, you have to find the joy and enthusiasm beside the hard work and dedication. As a professional I’m very lucky that I can do what I like best for a living. However I have the same duties; I have bills to pay just like everyone else. But this kind of pressure can’t affect my racing and performance in a negative way. You always have to find a positive motivation that helps you the best to reach your goal.
What’s your favorite pre-race breakfast?
I wish I could say something like a big portion of pancakes or bacon! Both of them give lots of energy before a race. But my stomach is really sensitive so I always have to be very careful what I’m eating. For a long time I used to eat a slice of bread with ham and butter, and another slice with jam or honey. But I changed my routine recently because sometimes I found even this hard to digest. So now I start every morning with an Ignite Natural Extreme Energy protein drink (including race morning). And I found it easier if I have an energy bar and a banana 2-2.5 hours before each race.
It’s important to find what works the best for you. Everyone is different. And it’s also important that your race morning breakfast can’t be completely different from your daily routine. Just eat something that you’re used to.
What’s next for you this season? Any race goals yet for 2014?
My race season is not over yet! Next week I’m heading to Panama City Beach to race at Ironman Florida on November 2. I’ve had a good 10 weeks of training and I feel in great shape! So my goal is to finish in the top three. And if I feel good and my recovery goes well, I will race Ironman Arizona too. I’m really excited about the next couple weeks.
As for next year: I live full time here in Scottsdale, Arizona. So I’m planning to race mostly in North America but my race schedule is very flexible right now. I’m really thankful for all the local support, especially to my sponsors and coaches: Southwest Realty and Property Management — Arizona, DC Ranch Village Health Club and Spa, Sergio Borges X Training and Sole Swim Solutions. I’m proud to represent worldwide-known brands: Zoot, SwiftCarbon, 3T, Spiuk, ISM, Xterra Wetsuits, Continental, Ignite Naturals. And I’m looking forward to future partnerships with more companies in the metro Phoenix area too.