Emily thanks for doing this interview! You have been on fire the past few years so I thought you would be a great first interview for this site. First off, tell me where you are from.
I am an original Nashvillian. Graduated from Brentwood High School then ran away to college at UT Martin for a few years.
How did you get into the sport?
I ran my first 5K back in 2001 and built my race distance through the years. I ran my first marathon in 2004. After checking off a few Boston marathons, I set a goal to run all 50 states. My core group of running friends got in to triathlons and started running so much faster…so I changed my plans and traded in an old diamond (yep, the wedding ring) for a road bike and signed up for my first triathlon. Fall Creek Falls triathlon was just enough torture that I had to keep at it! Olympic, to 70.3, to IM Wisconsin in 2011 and I was hooked. I’ll never forget showing up to my first group ride with Vicki Updike and crew. I was in tears, scared to death to ride with the big dogs. Now my favorite Saturday mornings are filled with the girls (vicki and me) trying to keep up with the boys (Bruce, Marshall, and Brad).
So this is where you met your husband, Brad?
I actually met Brad in Panama City at the Gulf Coast triathlon after party. We were introduced to each other by mutual friends. In January of 2013, I started the “Coach Brad” vs. “Boyfriend Brad” relationship. We learned pretty quick that it was good to define those two-especially during IM training meltdowns (which were few and far between, but actually quite funny stories). Many coaching moments out on the road with me “I can’t keep up” and Coach Brad “Quit whining and suck a wheel!” And so “Bramily” decided Chattanooga would be the first IM we would race together. If you can make it through that as a couple and a coach…then you are golden for marriage! =) Since we met, we’ve raced a combined 11 Ironman races… with 2 more right around the corner. Many hours of sweating on the trainer together, swimming in the same lap lane, and chasing each other down the road…Brad is much faster with the swimming and biking but he will always loop back during a rest interval to check on me and I’ve learned to hang on to his wheel when I can. I try to hold my own running with him. He is the push that made the Kona dream come true. I did the work, but he is the mastermind behind it all physically, mentally, and emotionally!
What a great relationship! So what does a typical training week look like?
A typical workout week for me is a swim or run in the morning and bike workouts or some runs in the evening. I’m a morning person-Brad’s an evening person so we try to make the most of it. I sleep in occasionally…and I drag him out of the bed as much as I can! We do our long run mid week, and ride longer both weekend days. Rest day = an easy swim. Brad started a new job back in May and is traveling a lot, so workouts are lonely these days. We also got a new puppy…and I just hate leaving her at home all day. It’s made training a little more difficult too. (Brad would say very difficult!)
|Emily and 2 of her Timex teammates, Bruce Gennari and Bo Parrish, after the Music City Triathlon|
Last year was a huge year for me with placing first in my age group at IM CDA, Kona, and getting on Team Timex. My favorite triathlon memories are from CDA and Kona- Brad had been sick leading up to CDA. I knew on the run when I didn’t see him on the out and back that something was wrong. Our good friend Daniel kept telling me Brad was fine. When I got to the turn-around…I called him out on it. Brad had gotten sick on the bike and dropped out at the half way point. As I ran back in to town, Brad was with our family at the 12/13 mile turn around. On the way in to the turn, they told me I was gaining on the 1st place girl….on the way out of the turn, Brad was the one who got to tell me I had just passed her for first. I was sad to see he was not able to complete the race, but it was so special for “Coach/Husband” to be able to share that moment-in the moment. I just had to hang on and the dream would come true. The sweat heart that I made on his shirt from hugging him after the race says it all. Oh…did I mention it was 106 degrees race day and the TN heat and humidity helped me run down all those northwestern girls??
I knew this Tennessee heat was good for something. How was Kona?
Kona was every bit of what you would think and more. Training was hard because the goal had been for the Rollins to race together. It felt like it should be his race. The week leading up to the race was filled with race activities and training. Morning swims to the coffee boat, rides on the Queen K, and runs up and down Alli’i Drive. The whole town is full of race energy. The pros are out everywhere. Every company that has anything to do with triathlon is out and about handing out freebies and selling new products. Favorite pre-race moment-watching Brad meet Bob Babbitt and spending the morning with him at Breakfast with Bob. Bike check in was high security with a paparazzi type feel. No one could get on the pier without a personal escort through all of transition. To get to the escort, you had to roll your bike in a single file line. Have you seen the Kona count on slow twitch? This is where it happens. About 50 men and women line the gates with clipboards in hand, staring down every racer. What wheels, what power, what bike, all of it…VERY overwhelming!! Race day was just as crazy. Favorite moments-mile 38 of the bike when the pro men started coming towards me on their way back in, and coming out on the run to follow Tim O’Donnell for a few steps as he was racing in for a 3rd place finish. The race brought it all…waves, wind, rain, burning sun, an upset stomach…the challenge was real! The course is much harder than it looks on TV and the road to the energy lab goes on and on and on and on.
Tell me a little bit about Team Timex.
Team Timex was a surprise! I honestly filled out the application for fun while doing persuasive writing with my 3rd graders. I really didn’t think I was good enough to stand a chance! I met everyone on the team back in March at Timex Team Camp in Arizona. Timex is more than just a race team, it really is a family. Family style meals from Allen Lim’s Skratch food truck- that will do it for the team bonding! Food and triathletes-what more do you need? From motivation at races, to long rides in the Colorado mountains, to chatting about life, job changes, and bringing out the best in each other, in just a few months, I’ve made friends I know I will have for a lifetime.
So what has 2016 looked like so far?
In regards to training and racing this year, we should have known the spring break “raincation” not “traincation” was a sign of things of things to come. We were definitely prepared for the Texas rain. New Orleans 70.3 was a rough swim and windy bike/run. Not by best, but good enough for 2nd in my age group. I did Ironman Texas about a month later. Next up was Chattanooga Oly with a 2nd place finish. I was thrilled! I’m lucky to have a cousin who lives in Denver so I spent the first 2 ½ weeks of July living the dream in CO. Training morning and evenings around babysitting the little cousins, I did every open water swim and crazy week day or weekend event I could find. I came home and had a great Music City race-3rd overall. I’m currently in the car heading to Steelhead as I type. Hoping to ride some more of the altitude training benefits! And of course, Kona is right around the corner!
update: Emily finished 8th overall and 4th in her AG at Steelhead 70.3 on August 14th and qualified for the 70.3 World Championship 2017 in Chattanooga.
So tell me a little bit more about your Ironman in Texas. I know that was a crazy race.
Texas. A bit of a nightmare leading up to the race with the shortened bike and then a complete swim change. (and Brad’s new job and a new puppy the month before the race!!). Swim went great. The bike course was MUCH better than expected from our pre race drive. Lots of turns, but overall not bad and 18 miles short! Then there was the run. It started out pretty normal-me trying to keep my pace, but find a friend to also keep my pace so that I could talk the whole time and forget the hurt. I dropped my BASE salt tube just after passing the BASE tent (by the way-they did tell me the day before the race to ALWAYS carry 2 tubes. Oops). 3 loop course. Family on one side keeping up with splits, friends on the other side of the course for encouragement. Mile 21ish…we see the clouds coming. Mile 22ish. I see the lightning streaking for 2 different storms coming from 2 directions. Mile 23ish…pouring rain, wind that could knock you down, thunder, lightning, puddles covering your shoes…and now hail. It was honestly pretty funny. What else could you do but laugh. Mile 24.5ish…policemen in the middle of the path stopping everyone and putting us in a parking garage. For 12 minutes I watched everyone behind me catch up with me. I knew I had run down several girls in my age group and now they were standing with me in a parking garage. I also knew what was going to happen. IF they let us start again they didn’t know what order we were stopped in. It was going to be mass chaos down the small path…and I was going to have to run 5k pace for the last 1.5 miles of an Ironman. I found Daniel Kirby, we formed a plan, and the race started back. Look out for Daniels elbows people. He was clearing the path for me. Once I got through the crowd, I ran for my life. The finish line had been torn down from the storm so it was very uneventful-and then we waited for results. They originally kept the extra time in everyone’s finish time. I don’t know how they figured it out, but once the adjusted my time, I was pretty spot on without the stopped time. Others weren’t so lucky. Ironman did tell us at the awards ceremony that they would look at individual times if you were in question of a Kona slot (you were running someone down and you could prove your pace was faster if we hadn’t been stopped). I finished 5th in my age group and took the one roll down spot to Kona. (Only to find out the next day that 4th was disqualified after awards so I was a legit qualifier!)
Wow! that is crazy. I couldn't imagine trying to figure out a mess like that but it sounds like it worked out just fine. Congrats on qualifying for your 2nd Kona and the 70.3 World Champs in Chattanooga for 2017. Good luck with the rest of the season. Thank you for the interview!!