Runner's Web

September 13, 2002

Runner's Web Athlete Profile

This is a monthly feature in which we profile athletes from the sports of track and field, road running, triathlon and duathlon.

This month we profile triathlete Jill Savege.

Name: Jill Savege
Jill being interviewed
Sport: Triathlon
Born (City): Toronto
Current Hometown: Penticton BC
Age: 28
Coach: Cal Zaryski,
Club(s): Penticton Triathlon Club
Sponsors: Nike, Trek Bikes, Ray's Sports Den, Bike Barn, Clif Bar
Web Site: coming soon

Runner's Web: When and where did you start competing and in what sports?

Jill Savege (JS): I started competing at the age of 9 in running and swimming. My parents exposed me to many sports such as figure skating, gymnastics, dance, soccer, softball all at a young age. My first triathlon was at the age of 14. I went with some swimming friends and had a terrible bike but had a good time at the event.

Runner's Web: At what age do you consider you became a "serious" athlete and in what sport?

(JS): I became a serious athlete at the age of 12 in competitive swimming. That is when I started swimming 7 or 8 times a week and had to give up other sports.

Runner's Web: Are you currently a full-time athlete? If so how do you support your full-time participation?

(JS): I am currently a full-time athlete, this is the first year that I will not work at all. The previous years I have worked part time or full time in the winter. My husband also supported us so I could train. This year I am a carded athlete so the government helps me financially on a monthly basis. The rest of my support comes from prize money from races and Triathlon Canada kicks in limited financial support. Every little bit helps. The local sponsors such as Ray's Sports Den and The Bike Barn have helped out a ton by supplying equipment and service.

Runner's Web: Who has had the greatest influence on your athletic career to date?

(JS): I am influenced by so many great athletes and great people I don't even know where to begin. I know my first sports hero was Alex Baumann, when I initially became interested in the competitive world of sport. I remember watching the 1984 Olympics where he won two gold medals. Ever since then I love watching lots of amateur sporting events and seeing people perform to the best of there ability. That always inspires me.

Runner's Web: Could you discuss your training in terms of an average week's workouts prior to racing season? Also could you review, at a high level, your macro program for a year? Do you do most of your training alone or as part of a group or does it vary by discipline?

(JS): I work with a coach, Cal Zaryski, who helps me organize my training schedule. I definitely work best on a schedule that is two weeks building and one week recovery. I take a long break in the winter mid Nov until the end of Jan and just do some cross country skiing. In Penticton, I swim with the masters group and recruit a couple of good swimmers to train with me. In cycling I do a lot with local roadies and triathletes and I do all my running on my own or with my dog.

Runner's Web: What are your short-term (rest of the year) and long-term goals?

(JS): I want to finish the season ranked in the top 10 in the World on the ITU circuit. I would like to improve on my 10th place finish at Ironman Hawaii in 2001. I would like to finish in the top 8 at World Championships in Cancun.

Runner's Web: What do you consider your best race to-date and why?

(JS): I consider my best race to date the Hamburg World Cup. It was the first race that even given some difficulty such as a rough swim and people not working together on the bike, I was able to stay focused and perform to the best of my ability on that day. During the running leg of the event I also was able to change pace and surge which normally I only have one speed for the whole 10 km. It was also very special as it was my first win on the World Cup circuit.

Runner's Web: What do you consider your strongest leg of the triathlon?

(JS): I use to consider the swim my strongest leg but as of late I think my running has been stronger. Maybe it is time to start concentrating on strengthening my swimming.

Photo: Jill at the Hamburg Triathlon (Photo - ITU)

Jill on the bike at Hamburg

Runner's Web: Do you have any interest in coaching or other involvement in sport after you stop competing?

(JS): I would definitely like to be a part of sport after I stop competing in triathlons. I have already had some experience coaching young kids in swimming and triathlon and enjoyed it. I am not sure at what capacity I would be involved in sport down the road but I believe that one good thing (professional triathlon career) leads to another.

Runner's Web: Drafting in ITU races is seen by non-pro duathletes/triathletes as changing the sport. What are your feelings regarding drafting?

(JS): I think drafting ITU races are almost a different sport than non- drafting races. I think it is great for triathlon to have such a variety of types of races. Each type of race still requires you to be a great athlete to be able to win but a different set of skills is required to be successful.

Runner's Web: What do you consider your favourite race and why?

(JS): I really enjoy a couple races. First of all Ironman Canada in my hometown of Penticton is awesome both to watch and race; the locals are so supportive. I really enjoyed the Hawaii Ironman last year, I love the environment, hot and windy and my whole family comes for a holiday so it is a lot of fun. This year I had an opportunity to race in Corner Brook, Newfoundland at the ITU World Cup and I was so impressed by the race organization. The week leading up to the race there was lots of fun events to participate in and the people were so friendly.

Runner's Web: What do you consider your greatest achievement in the sport?

(JS): Being able to compete with and against the best in the World and loving every minute of it.

Jill Wins at Hamburg! (Photo - ITU)
Jill wins at Hamburg!

Runner's Web: The Ironman Triathlon gets more profile than the ITU circuit. What do you think of the Ironman event as compared to the Olympic distance and have you done any (if so, how many) or would you consider doing one?

(JS): I started my competitive triathlon career in 1999 doing Ironman events. I have completed 5 Ironmans: 2 Ironman Canada in 1999 and 2000, Ironman Florida in 2000, Ironman California in 2001 and Ironman Hawaii 2001. Presently I am preparing to compete in Ironman Hawaii on October 19th, 2002. I think that Ironman events are fun because they are such a personal challenge. You must stick to your game plan with regards to pace and nutrition whereas in an ITU event you race against others and react to other people in the race and race tactics. I find this type of racing very exciting as well. Both

types of races require a lot of fitness and training and even though the Olympic distance races are only 2 hours in length the training is just as difficult because you must do a lot more high intensity training and still maintain the volume. I enjoy both types of races because they are different types of challenges and there are great people involved in each style of race.

Runner's Web: If you could design your own Olympic distance triathlon course what features would it have?

(JS): The swim would be in a lake with no wetsuit, the bike 6 laps with a good hill to climb each time to separate the weak from the strong. The run would be in a park like setting with rolling hills and changing terrain, 3 loops is nice.

Runner's Web: Do you feel that Canada provides sufficient support for athletes and for potential Olympic team members in general?

(JS): Triathlon is such a young Olympic sport, that we are just starting to see some financial support and funding directed towards our sport. I think Canada is lagging behind other top sporting countries in developing a system to best support potential Olympic medal winners. I guess further development in sport funding and support depends on how much we as taxpayers and the government value having great athletes represent our country and be ambassadors throughout the world.

Runner's Web: What activities do you do away from sport to relax?

(JS): I love to watch movies, socialize with friends, take my dog for a run. In the winter my husband and I do a lot of cross country skiing.

Runner's Web: What is your racing schedule for the remainder of 2002?

(JS): Oct. 6th ITU Makuhari World Cup (Possibility)
Oct. 19 Hawaii Ironman
Nov. 3rd World Aquathlon Championships
Nov. 10th ITU World Championships, Cancun

Runner's Web: Who would you consider the top Olympic distance triathlete in the world right now?

(JS): I think I would consider Siri Lindley and Barb Lindquist the top two Olympic distance triathletes. Barb is so versatile and strong that she wins World Cups and non-drafting Olympic distance races. Siri is dominating the ITU World Cup circuit winning numerous World Cup events and even running from the second pack to win.

Runner's Web: How long do you intend to compete at the top level?

(JS): I haven't put any limits on myself right now I feel like I could compete for many years. As long as I am having fun and enjoying the training, racing and traveling I will keep at it.

Runner's Web: You did not qualify for the Canadian team for the Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England. I understand you had some technical problems on the bike. Could you describe what happened and how did you deal with the disappointment? Also, the issue of qualifying based on one race versus multiple races and/or seasonal performances is one that pops in many sports. What are your thoughts about this?

(JS): At the Commonwealth Games qualifying race this year, I made a major error and dropped my chain on a sharp corner on the bike portion of the course. This cost me a spot on the Canadian Commonwealth Games team. I was riding in the front pack with Tereza Macel and Sharon Donnelly, we were approaching a corner coming down a long hill and after we turned the corner we would be biking up hill. I was in the middle of changing gears from my big chain ring to my small chain ring when the chain just dropped. By the time I got my chain back on the two girls had dropped me. I tried my best to close the gap and almost made it but unfortunately didn't quite have enough strength to catch back on. I tried time trialling on my own but after working so hard to catch up I had already gone anaerobic and was feeling the results. The second pack eventually caught me on the bike and I gave it my best on the run and still managed to place 3rd but unfortunately only the top 2 got spots.

This was very disappointing as it was one on my main goals this season to represent Canada at the Commonwealth Games and race for a medal. I always believe things happen for a reason and that being said I just moved on with the rest of my season and focussed on other goals I had set for myself such as winning a World Cup this year.

I think the qualifying criteria for a major games should use a format that relies on multiple races rather than a single event. Ideally, selection would be based on two or three World Cup events early in the season. This type of format would leave out some room for chance ie(mechanical, sickness, injury), it would spread performance over a number of events that would accurately represent the quality of the field of the upcoming international event. It would also allow selection of the Canadian team to take place far enough in advance to allow the chosen athletes to train specifically for the “major” event.

Runner's Web: Your current performance level positions you very well to have an excellent chance at making our Olympic team for Athens. Could you talk about your Olympic aspirations?

(JS): That is my number one goal - to represent Canada at the Olympic Games in Athens Greece 2004. I have aspirations to not only be there but race my best and be on the podium.

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