Ed. Note—CBCG athlete Erin Ray, who is coached by Ivan Dominguez, went to Texas two weekends ago and came away 3rd Amateur overall, qualifying for her pro card in the process. Read on to hear how Ivan works with Erin to optimize her abilities, and what their plans are for the future!
Ivan gives me all the tools I need to succeed. He makes my training tough, but manageable. It goes beyond just giving me a training plan. Anyone can do that! If I need to learn something (technique in the pool, what equipment to use, what bag to ship your bike in, how to take my bike apart & put it back together, what to do with obstacles in a race situation and the list goes on and on) he teaches it to me. He is there to answer my questions whenever (even when he is on vacation) & he often checks on me to make sure I am ok with training or race preparation. Also, he calls me after my races to see how it went & talks me through what we can do better the next time.
My goal has always been to get my professional license. Ivan never doubted me, which when I came to him with the swim I had he probably should have! Since he is an experienced athlete himself he knew how to help get me in the right races to give me the best chance possible—that’s really what is about. I was lucky enough to be in the right race and had a better day than enough girls out there to qualify me for the license. It’s really a dream come true for me, and Ivan helped make it possible! He told me I should do this race and pushed me to go (even when I almost cancelled it a week before). I am thankful for him believing in me, even when I doubt myself. Yes, I want to race as a Professional. I mean those fast pro ladies are intimidating but as Ivan said, “If not now, then when?" The only way to get better is to level up! I also am interested in getting my professional license in Xterra & want to do Worlds in Maui!
The race was an awesome experience! Honestly because it taught me I am capable. I really had no idea I got put all three sports together and to give them a good push. I actually held back on the bike and am excited to race this distance again to try push the bike. The swim was my best time yet and Ivan has been working with me on my technique, which definitely paid off. I did get back-kicked by a dude in the swim, but other than that it felt great. Actually in my race pics you can see I came out of the water smiling due to my time. I bypassed the wetsuit strippers because it was jammed up and I didn’t want that to slow me down. T1 went well and same with the first 25 miles of the bike. Guys kept telling me nice pace as I past them which made me nervous, “should I slow it down more”? Ivan taught me just to focus on my race so that’s what I did. Then the hurricane hit! Ok, it was a small storm, but it was rainy, windy, and cold as hell! This is where the mental strength set in and I could hear Ivan telling me, “all the athletes are dealing with the same thing." As I approached the turn-a-round, I knew I needed water but my hands were frozen, so as Ivan has taught me, I figured it would be best to stop and make sure I get the water rather than not in a failed hand off. Even stopped the first water bottle slipped out of my hands, but I got the second one in. I planned on doing the three loops at a negative split effort. As I headed out I felt great but I did as I was taught and went out at a steady pace and not full-on. At about mile two my feet thawed and it was kind of nice to feel they were still down there. Then I settled into a steady pace I felt I could sustain through the finish line. My run has been coming along well, but the last mile and half were a real struggle to hold pace. I am excited because I know if we keep run training headed in the same direction I will be able to push the run even more and finish even stronger.
While I wasn’t sure I was ready (being able to do this distance with a good effort) I am thankful Ivan pushed me to go. I was nervous before I left, but the second I left for the race I actually felt really calm. I don’t know if it was because Ivan is right every time and he was confident about it or if it was because I was so busy working and race prepping that I didn’t have time to worry. Whatever the case: I loved this race! This distance needs some work still because I want to give it an even bigger push, but I am excited about working towards that goal. Thankful for all the help and support to make this a fun experience! Can’t wait to put in the work and do better in the future!
We asked Ivan some questions about how he works with Erin, and here is what he had to say.
How have you adjusted your approach to fit Erin as an athlete?
Well, she loves sports and specifically triathlon, so that makes things a lot easier for me. When a person is athletic, then approaching and explaining things to them is easy; they understand quickly everything that I’m trying to teach them. Athletically they "get it," you know?
What do you see as Erin's biggest strength as an athlete? What's the area in which she had to develop the most?
The bike and running are the biggest strengths for her but the dedication and time that she puts on every day training are the main factors in her successes. Definitely we have to work a lot on her swimming, but I believe that she can be a super great long-course triathlete with the way she bikes and runs.
How do you prepare athletes for a big race mentally? What do you say to them in the final days before the race?
Mental training is something that worked a lot for me while I raced as a professional cyclist, so I try to transfer the same principals to my athletes or to anyone in need. One thing that I always say is “Don’t think about the race too much.” Just relax and do your normal life things—the less you think about the race the better. And don’t forget your bike at the hotel on race day 😁.
Sound like something you're interested in? Head on over to our sign-up page to inquire about Ivan's availability.