Photos by Arnold Bjornsson
Justin Metzler took his first win as a professional triathlete in commanding fashion at Challenge Iceland, a Half Ironman distance race on July 23, 2017. We got to ask Justin a few questions about his preparation, his performance, and his nutrition. Read below for more!
This is your first win as a pro, how many years have you been racing professionally and what does it mean to finally get a win?
This is my fourth season as a professional athlete but I have been racing triathlon competitively for over 10 years. My single focus and dream this entire time was to win a race and on Sunday, that dream came true. I've spent thousands of hours in the pool and on the roads, doing the work that I knew would be required to be prepared for a result like this. To see all of that time, money and energy that I invested finally pay off was a very gratifying feeling not only for me but also for the unwavering support team that has been by my side throughout the process.
Can you talk about your nutrition in the 48 hours before the race, and what you took in out on course?
While in normal training, I follow the “Core Diet” (http://www.thecorediet.com) which focuses on fruits and vegetable dense in nutrients and lean proteins in order to achieve optimal body composition. But during the 48 hours leading into a race, I significantly alter my diet in order to give my body the power it needs to execute on race day. On the Friday evening before the race I had a meal that was very high in carbohydrates (typically pizza or pasta, this time I went with pasta). The day before the race I am continuously consuming high carbohydrate foods with the majority of that coming from a large breakfast. For that meal I had a whole bunch of local sourdough bread with some eggs and a muffin. I taper off my consumption throughout the day and finish the evening feeling topped off but not stuffed.
Then, race morning I have apple sauce, 1 scoop of whey protein, a bottle of EFS from First Endurance and 1 banana. 45 minutes before the start I have 5 pre-race capsules from First Endurance and 1 can of Beet Performer. Over the course of the race I consumed 2 bottles of EFS sports drink, 8 caffeinated gels and 2 pre-race tablets. Immediately after the race I had 2 scoops of EFS Ultragen and 1 hour after the finish I had a Field Work Nutrition Primo Smoothie with berries and banana.
What did you do after the race to celebrate? More importantly, what did your nutrition look like after the race, ha?
We had a whole lot to celebrate after this race with both myself and my girlfriend, Jeanni Seymour, taking the top steps of the podium. All of that sugar and caffeine typically upsets my stomach after the race but a Primo smoothie with banana generally makes me feel better. Jeanni and I both have races coming up quickly after this one so we didn’t go crazy on the junk food but we did enjoy a bottle of wine (maybe it was two?).
How do you typically use Primo Smoothie?
I use Primo on a daily basis as a perfect snack while in between training sessions. It tastes great, has a lot of the nutrients, vitamins and minerals that I aim to get in my diet, and most important, it is easy. Throw it in the blender with some fruit and almond or coconut milk and it is perfect.
Briefly, can you walk us through how the race unfolded for you? Were there any particularly high or low moments? Generally how did you feel out on course?
The day started off on an unpredicted note with a modified swim course due to high winds and choppy waters in the crystal clear glacier fed lake. When racing in Iceland, one can expect cold water and this year was no different with the temperatures ranging between 8-12 degrees celsius (46-54 degrees f).
Despite the chill, I had a strong swim coming out of the water in 3rd position right behind First Endurance athlete Kevin Collington. As an experienced athlete and the defending champion, coming out of the water with Kevin was a perfect place to be. I was able to make up some time in T1 and got onto the bike in 2nd position. Riding together, Kevin and I quickly realized the biggest challenge of the day would come from the powerful crosswinds blowing at 30-40 mph on the screaming descents around the fjord roads. Kevin unfortunately suffered a crash and had to abandon the race (but he is is OK!).
After seeing Kevin go down, I rode very carefully for the next 30 minutes ensuring I did not do the same. I lost a bit of time but was able to keep the bike on the road which at that point was priority #1. Some of the main contenders caught up to me around the halfway point on the bike (also FE athletes- Trevor Wurtele and Jordan Rapp). I was unable to hold Trevor’s pace but my legs started to feel good on the back half and I was able to ride the final 40km with Jordan back into the transition zone.
I felt great on the final 1 hour of the bike ride which I knew would set me up for a fast run. Again, I made up some critical seconds in T2 and got out onto the run course where I hold the course record. I knew if I was able to execute a similar performance, very few athletes would be able to match my speed. I passed the early breakaway leader within the first 5km of the run but Trevor and I seemed to be running nearly identical paces with trevor about 200m up the road. I would reel him in a little bit and then he would dig deep to extend his lead back out. We played this cat and mouse game for nearly 15k of the run and there were multiple times where I thought the win was his.
But I never gave up and pushed all the way through this race. Around the 18km mark, I was able to pick up the pace as Trevor faded a bit. I never looked back and took my first ever Half Ironman distance victory. A moment and feeling I will never forget.
What's next for you for 2017?
6.) Next up is a “hometown” race at 70.3 Boulder on 8/5 and then a race I am very much looking forward to at 70.3 Qujing (Central China) on 8/27.
Thanks, Justin, and huge congrats again!