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Gwen Jorgensen on the bike en route to a runner-up finish in Auckland. (Delly Carr/ITU)

Q&A: Gwen Jorgensen


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USA Triathlon National Team member Gwen Jorgensen wrapped up her Olympic year in impressive fashion with a runner-up finish last weekend at the ITU World Triathlon Series Grand Final in Auckland, New Zealand. Jorgensen came from more than a minute down off the bike to run her way onto the podium with a blazing 34:10 10k run split. With her second-place finish in Auckland, Jorgensen finished the year ranked ninth in the series rankings. USA Triathlon recently caught up with Jorgensen when she returned to the U.S. earlier this week.

USA Triathlon: Congrats on your finish in Auckland. Can you walk us through your performance on the run and describe what it took to finish second thanks to such a fantastic run effort?
Gwen Jorgensen: It was a tough course for everyone. No one can hide on the hills, so everyone was tired when they got off the bike. Going into the race, we knew it was going to be a tough course, and I just told myself I had to suffer. I knew everyone was hurting, and the person who won was going to be the one who was willing to suffer the most. Anne Haug was incredible; she bridged up on the bike, and had a great run. She deserved to win that race.

Does a performance like that give you a boost of confidence or extra motivation going into the offseason?
GJ: I know that I still have work to do, which is exciting and motivating. I am fully committed to working hard, suffering and doing things I don’t want to do to improve. I'm excited to see what the upcoming years will bring.  

USAT: What do you have planned for the next few weeks?
GJ: I have a few travel plans … I’m going to ride the Hincapie Gran Fondo, which will be fun. I will also be helping out at a USA Triathlon Camp in Colorado Springs for a few days before heading to San Fran for a real vacation with no bike, no running, no swimming. My boyfriend and I are excited to go to San Fran because it's a foodie town and we love food … any suggestions of places to go?

USAT: When do you turn your focus to preparing for 2013?
GJ: I am taking a few weeks/month of no training which will be as much needed physically, as it will be mentally. After that I will start to focus on 2013 and beyond.

USAT: What did you learn this season that will make you a better triathlete in 2013 and beyond?
GJ: The thing I love about triathlon is that every race I learn something new. I did a lot of things that were out of my comfort zone this year: tried cyclocross races, road single track on my mountain bike and went to the cycling track, just to name a few things. A lot of these things scare me, but I know that everyone gets scared, and we have to test the limits in order to progress.

USAT: What did you do after the Olympics that enabled you to have such a strong finish to the season?
GJ: I took a break after the Olympics, which allowed me to regain focus and energy to finish the season.  

USAT: What are you most proud of about your 2012 season?
GJ: Getting second at the Grand Final after being more than a minute down off the bike. I really suffered that day and gave it everything I had.

How excited were you to see your coach Cindi Bannink win an age-group medal in Auckland?
GJ: It was super fun to see Cindi in action in Auckland. Pat and I went to her race and cheered her on. She looked strong the whole way and would always smile and wave when she heard us cheering. It’s awesome to watch the age group athletes test their limits. They always have so much fun doing it!

USAT: I know you are big on going to farmer’s markets and buying local ingredients. What’s your favorite recent farmer’s market purchase?
GJ: I went yesterday to the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market and got a box of tomatoes (it must be 20 pounds) for about $18. I’m looking forward to making homemade tomato sauce. I also bought Honey Crisp Apples, which were actually invented in Minnesota. Yesterday I made a homemade apple pie with some of the apples — so delicious!

USAT: Lastly, what does an Olympic triathlete go as for Halloween and what was your favorite Halloween costume as a kid?
GJ: Haha, I was just discussing Halloween options and decided I didn’t want to dress up. My ideal night is cooking dinner with good friends, so we decided we are going to have friends over and cook a delicious meal.

The only thing I remember about Halloween as a kid is going trick-or-treating with my Dad, and it was down-pouring, cold and wet. My poor parents — I’ve put them through so much. I remember my Dad that day was all smiles and encouraging me to go to more houses. I think I wanted to go back home before him!