by Brad Culp
Today we launch the Cody Beals ION-Retrowave LTD Collection, right on the heels of Wattie Pro Cody Beals nabbing second pace (just behind another Wattie athlete, Andy Potts) at Challenge Cancun two weekends past. Chief Storyteller Brad Culp spoke with the speedy (and smart) Canadian earlier this spring when Beals signed with Wattie Ink. and reported back with the story below. Beals has this to say about his new kit:
Every elite triathlete has that one season they can point to as their breakthrough year. When Cody Beals’ professional career is behind him—and he’s moved on to putting his physics degree to work as perhaps the world’s next great aerodynamics guru—he’ll look back on 2018 and think: “That was one hell of a year.”
The problem with a breakthrough season is that it’s a tough act to follow. Beals won five races last year, including his first two attempts at Ironman. His maiden 140.6-mile journey at Mont-Tremblant was one of the best Ironman debuts in history; topping the likes of Lionel Sanders to take the win in a record-breaking time of 8:10:36. He backed that up with a win at a swim-less Ironman Chattanooga, making him one of the first athletes to punch his ticket to Kona 2019 under the new qualification system.
It was a dream season. All the stars aligned. It no doubt made for a peaceful off-season, where there was nothing to do but relax and look with optimism toward what lies ahead—right?
Not so much.
“I’ve actually been having a lot of anxiety during the off-season,” Beals says. “There’s this increasing burden of expectation. I’ve won six of my last eight races and finished last year on a four-race winning streak, with one of the best Ironman debuts—some people are saying—ever. It’s a lot of pressure.”
It’s more pressure than most experience after only four seasons of professional racing. Beals is only 28 and was a bit of a late-comer to the sport, relative to many of his peers. When he jumped up from the sprints to Olympics as an amateur, he realized he was pretty good. When he moved onto the 70.3 distance (and the pro ranks) he learned he could win races and perhaps even make a living in the sport. Now that he’s leapt up to Ironman with such aplomb, there’s a chance he could be really good. Like world-class good. Hello, pressure.
What’s helped Beals navigate the pressure of suddenly becoming one of Canada’s best (and most popular) triathletes is a belief in his physiological talents, which he’s tried his best to deny for years. It’s something of a deflection technique for keeping the pressure at bay. He spent his first years as a pro telling himself that he only had a fraction of the talent of super-humans like Sanders or Matt Hansen. The only way he belonged on the same start line as such genetic freaks was by doing all the little things right. He would mine through training data to train smarter, not harder. He’d do more to optimize aerodynamics than any athlete on Earth. He’d study races so that he wouldn’t make the same mistakes that have sabotaged more talented athletes. That’s how David would compete with such Goliaths.
Turns out David (and Cody) are plenty talented. “Really the two Ironman wins made me realize that, yeah, I’m meticulous, but I’m fortunate to have some physiological gifts too. I have a number of things in my skillset that bode well for Kona.”
For starters, he can handle a ton of on-course calories without making himself sick, helping him get stronger as the race wears on. And his body thrives in the heat—seemingly odd for someone from Ontario who eschews training camps to stay at home as much as possible. Perhaps, most importantly, he’s really smart. That doesn’t make him unique among the 50 men he’ll be lining up alongside in Kona, but Beals—who graduated at the top of his class at Queen’s University—plans on attacking his first world championship like a meticulous scientist instead of a reckless warrior.
“That’s the big variable of a world championship,” he says. “You have 50 really fast guys and a lot of them race in a pretty reckless fashion. You see guys throw their race plans out the window two miles onto the Queen K and behave like crazy people. It’s the variable I least understand and it’ll probably end up being the most humbling.”
As much thought as he’s already put into a race that’s still eight months away, don’t expect Beals to do an early season Big Island camp to get a preview of the heat and wind, or to head to Hawaii a month before race day to get acclimated. Kona will be his third full-distance race of the year, as he’ll defend his title at Mont-Tremblant and has another, yet-to-be-announced-but-big 140.6-mile test on his summer calendar.
“I’m trying not to put all of my eggs in one basket and write off four months of the year for one race. There’s an opportunity cost that comes with only focusing on Kona. But I’m not just going there to chalk it up as a learning experience either.”
Beals is perhaps the most transparent pro in the world. From the financial details of how he makes it work, to balancing, family, friends and mental health, he doesn’t hide anything on his blog. You can follow along at http://www.codybeals.com/