Meet Fezzari Triathlete Malaika Homo

 

Where are you from originally?  What brought you to Utah?

I grew up in a little town in northern Indiana called Elkhart, which is 25 miles east of another little but more famous town called South Bend.  Northern Indiana is not exactly an outdoor recreation mecca, so I moved away from there to Utah in 2005 to help feed my appetite for playing in the great outdoors.

 

What got you into biking and triathlon?

I guess I had always been training for triathlon from a young age but didn’t know it at the time.  I grew up swimming and was exposed to running literally before I was born because my dad was a track and cross-country coach.  My brother and sister and I were always messing around on bikes as kids.  I first heard of triathlon when my brother did a few races in the summertime when he was in college to stay in shape for his swimming and running seasons.  Several years later it was my turn; I was dating a guy who was in the Purdue Tri Club and he encouraged me to come to one of the club meetings, and somehow I found myself going on a spring break training trip to Florida and South Carolina to do my first duathlon & triathlon.  I won the duathlon and placed 4th in the triathlon and was hooked!  My first couple of seasons I rode my brother’s old bike: a way-too-big-for-me red Raleigh road bike with flat pedals and shifters on the top tube behind the stem.  Every time I stood up to climb (which luckily isn’t too often in Indiana) my knees would clip the shifters and the bike would unexpectedly shift mid-stroke.  I made a lot of what seemed to me at the time to be big improvements to that bike, including putting aerobars and spd pedals on it and replacing the old black foam covering on the handlebars with red, white, and blue bar tape.  I believe that bike is now sitting on a trainer in my brother’s basement, so I guess we’ve come full circle.

What has been the highlight of your triathlon career so far?

Winning the REV3 Cedar Point Full on September 11, 2011 has definitely been the highlight of my triathlon career so far.  It was only my second full-distance triathlon and I knocked 48 minutes off my previous time; having that huge of a breakthrough at a race only a couple of hours away from where I grew up, with my family and friends on hand to witness it, was truly an incredible experience.

 

How many miles did you ride last week?

160-ish

 

What is your favorite race?

Escape From Alcatraz for it’s unique-ness, REV3 Quassy for the challenge.

 

When did you start biking?

I have a picture somewhere of me as a little kid sitting on a bike in the driveway with the kickstand down; right after that picture was taken I actually rode the bike unassisted for the first time.  I’d have to ask my mom for sure, but I don’t think I was more than 3 or 4 years old.  The bike was a red Schwinn with a banana seat and coaster brakes that was a hand-me-down from my brother and sister (sound familiar?).  We all learned to ride on it and none of us ever used training wheels.  I always had a bike growing up, but I first started “biking for real” when I began dabbling in triathlons at the tail end of my college days at Purdue.

 

What was your first bike?

My bikes (in chronological order) from when I was a kid have been: red Schwinn, peach Schwinn, purple Schwinn 10-speed, cheap black mountain bike, ancient red Raleigh road bike, Cannondale “Purple People Eater” (can’t recall what model it was), Trek 5200 road bike, Orbea Orca, Marin mtb, Fezzari T5.

 

What bike setup do you ride now?

My new speed machine is a Fezzari T5 with Shimano Dura Ace components and FSA Vision carbon bars and crankset.  It is RIDICULOUS, and I’m so excited to break it out this weekend at REV3 Knoxville!

Why do you bike?

I love the freedom and the feeling of really GOING somewhere under your own power.  Biking is a great way to see the countryside; some of my fondest memories of places I’ve been are from the bike rides I’ve taken there.  On a more practical level, biking is my preferred mode of transportation.  I live in Ogden but work 5 days a week as a personal trainer in Salt Lake, and I commute to work via a combination of biking and the Frontrunner train.  I usually ride between 20-40 miles per day on my commute, depending on the time of year, the weather, and where I am in my training.  It’s a great way to rack up a lot of base miles.

 

What is your favorite ride or route?

I love riding in Ogden Valley and then going up and over Trappers Loop, over through Morgan to East Canyon and back.  Emigration Canyon was always one of my favorite training rides when I lived in Salt Lake, and I still like to ride it whenever I get the chance.

 

What is your favorite time of day to ride?

I like early morning starts just for the feeling of accomplishment later in the day when you’re done, but I think I honestly prefer the angle of the sunlight later in the day.  The world just seems to glow more in the afternoons.

 

What is your biggest goal with cycling, triathlon, and running?

Oh boy!  I like this question.  The general answer is that I’m trying to be the best, most well-balanced triathlete that I can be.  The specific answer is that I’m aiming to break 9 hours in a full ironman distance triathlon, to qualify for Kona as a professional next year and place in the top-10, and to someday run in the US Olympic Marathon Trials.

 

What does an average training week look like for you? Training hours? Type? Where?

Training hours/type change drastically depending on the time of year and what I’m training for, but a current sample week would consist of 4-5 swims, 5-6 bikes, 4-5 runs, 2 strength workouts, plus foam rolling and quality time in the Recovery Pump boots every day.  Total hours might range from 10-25 hours (not counting recovery work).  I swim at Ben Lomond High School, at 24 Hour Fitness in Sugarhouse, and sometimes in Pineview or Causey Reservoirs.  I get most of my weekday bike miles commuting sections between Salt Lake and Ogden, then do longer weekend rides either in Ogden Valley or in the direction of the Great Salt Lake.  Most of my running is done in North Ogden and on the Shoreline Trail, with occasional forays into the Ogden Valley.

What do you do for training during the winter?

I ride my mountain bike to work and cross-country ski.  This is also when I focus on strength training and corrective exercises.

 

What do you do for nutrition on long rides?

I use Power Gels and PowerBar Gel Blasts, and until recently I used PowerBar Energy Bites—I’m so sad that those are being discontinued!  I also like to eat boiled potatoes.  I typically drink water and PowerBar Perform.

 

What races do you have planned for this year?

Feb.    Striders Winter Running Circuit 5K

Striders Winter Running Circuit 10K

Mar.    Striders Winter Running Circuit 10 Miler

REV3 Costa Rica Olympic Triathlon

Apr.     Striders Winter Running Circuit Half Marathon

Salt Lake Half Marathon

Striders Winter Running Circuit 30K

May.    REV3 Knoxville Olympic Triathlon

Jun.     REV3 Quassy Half Rev Triathlon

Dino Tri Olympic Triathlon

Jul.      REV3 Portland Half Rev Triathlon

Scofield Escape Triathlon

Aug.    REV3 Wisconsin Half Rev Triathlon

Sep.    REV3 Cedar Point Full Rev Triathlon

Oct.     REV3 South Carolina Half Rev Triathlon

REV3 Florida Half Rev Triathlon

Nov.    Ironman Arizona

 

What are your goals for 2012?

∙ Win the overall 2012 REV3 Pro Series

Defend my REV3 Cedar Point Full Rev title

Break 9 hours in a full iron-distance triathlon

Run a sub-1:25 half marathon

Break 3 hours in a marathon

Qualify for the 2013 Ironman World Championship

Top-10 finish at the Ironman World Championship

What’s on your ipod?

I am soooooo uncool, I don’t even own an ipod.  But I do like music!  I’m sort of a throw-back, I really like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Simon & Garfunkel, folk music in general, ’80s music (how could I not, I grew up in that decade!), classic rock…and yes, I am a big classical music fan too.  Like Mozart and Beethoven and Bach, those guys.

 

What’s your favorite recovery meal?

Chocolate milk first, then a nice big fat juicy steak with grilled veggies and yams.

 

Do you have a pre-race routine? If so, what?

I like to be organized, so I make sure I have all my gear laid out the night before.  On race day I eat breakfast 3 hours before the start, and I like to arrive in transition to set up my gear about 90 minutes before the gun goes off.  After setting up my transition spot I like to go off by myself to warm-up—usually a little jog and a swim.  I always “christen” the water during my warm-up swim (I think any triathlete who says they have never done this is a liar!).