Fast mom Sandra Wallenhorst
Written by: Herbert Krabel
Date: Tue Apr 07 2009
ST: Are you ready for the 2009 season?
Sandra: On my way. I just came back from my 3rd training camp on the beautiful Spanish island of Mallorca. Since we had awful weather conditions in Germany all winter long I had to escape. Now Iím waiting anxiously for my first race.
ST: You had a great year in 2008 with your big win and fast time in Austria and the 3rd place in Hawaii. Will it be hard to have a better year?
Sandra: It was hard last year and it will be even harder this year since there is more pressure now than I had the year before. There are many eyes watching me now and there is that (my) human will not to stand still but to hopefully become better, faster and stronger. On the other hand I have the base from last years training and racing and put another load on top, which may mean that I can realize some more improvement...
ST: Before Ironman Austria, many folks outside Germany most likely did not know you at all. That has all changed I would guess.
Sandra: Yes, it did. But thatís how it works. One day you have your breakthrough. And for me it was that day in July last year at Ironman Austria. All of us are hoping for that one day where everything comes together. You need to have done a lot of things right in training, no injuries or diseases, you need to be lucky that day and you need to have just good legs, no nutrition problems. Many things need to come together.
After about one and a half years of hard training (after I gave birth to my baby boy) I think I just deserved it. I was working a lot for that race and everything else worked out that day. So now people know my name and Iím proud when Iím recognized by people in public and when Iím reading my name in sports magazines. Yes, youíre right, that has all changed.
Sandra: Unfortunately, they do. Companies are not that likely to give money away like they were before. You feel the thoughts of them if economy could become even worse and they try to hold money together. But I donít want to complain. We as professionals are part of that economy and times will become better again. I have some good sponsors and Iím grateful for that. It could be better and more it also could be worse and less.
ST: Tell me about your thoughts on doping and what needs to be done about it?
Sandra: Doping in sports is cheating against yourself and even worse against other athletes. But it is there and we all know that and read about it. So it needs to be talked about. I think doping is a fraud and it needs to be penalized hard. How can you be happy about a good result and how can you be model for young athletes when there is always the thought in your mind you just got the good results because of performance enhancing drugs? But I still believe that the majority of athletes especially in triathlon are fair and most wins are achieved with no drugs. What needs to be done? Difficult. First of all more clarification for athletes about risks and side effects of drugs needs to be done to work in the minds of athletes. Beside that it is necessary to test as intelligent as possible. Speaking on my behalf, I am in two different test-pools, where we can be tested every day without notification. We have to tell the German NADA 3 months in advance about our whereabouts and have to declare where we are 24h a day.
ST: What about drafting in races. Do you see it as an issue?
Sandra: It is. Iím not a fan of drafting races. Thatís why I switched to long distance. And there is that one rule that tells us not to ride closer than 10 meters behind the athlete ahead. It is a rule like there is the no doping rule. If there is someone sitting on my back wheel I tell him or her off. It is cheating. But there are always athletes seen that are drafting. Iíve heard about athletes who were accused to have brought someone else in the race just to ride behind this fellow athlete. If that were true Iíd really condemn it.
Sandra: It was about 5 month after I gave birth that I finished a local half Ironman in 4th place only some minutes behind three top international women. I was still breastfeeding, 6 kg overweight, not much training, suffered during the run and wanted just to try if I could come back in triathlon soon. And there I was. Crossing that finish line pushed me towards my goals last year. But the most important result was definitely my 3rd place in Kona in 2008. Kona is the race with just the best of the best racing there and even a good place in another Ironman race is not as high in ranking as in the world champs. And there is that feeling, coming towards the finish line on Alii drive in 3rd positionÖ
ST: What is your athletic background and who or what inspired you to race triathlons?
Sandra: In my youth I was mainly a track and cross-country runner. I actually did a lot of sports, tried everything, spend all day outdoors and on track fields. My parents were athletes and so I got this love to the sport real early in my childhood. During my time at law school I met some crazy people, they did three sports in one, called it triathlon. Did that mean they couldnít do one thing properly? I decided to find out. Once done, I was infected. Couldnít get rid off that triathlon again and started serious training for short distance racing. After a few years I was quite successful and did some world ranking points races where I finished top ten. Since I never was a good swimmer I decided one day to leave the drafting circuit and switch to Ironman. And this was the best decision of my life.
ST: Training hard or training smart? What helps more?
Sandra: Hard but smart. Plus for me, size matters. Which means big training volume brings a lot, but of course recovery is important too. Training has to be hard, which really doesnít mean it always has to be fast. Itís hard because of the huge aerobic load of training input you need to become a good long distance athlete. But you also need to be smart and listen to your body to find out when you cross the line to over train too much or putting yourself in danger of injuries or sickness. In the end every one of us has to find his or her own way. My training doesnít necessary works for others and I canít just copy someone elseís training schedule.
Sandra: You mean the three weeks off after Kona? Before I started to prepare for this year? ďOff-seasonĒ sounds long, but it actually wasnít. It was just those three weeks I promised totally to my little sun (heís 2 ľ years now). He was the one that had to sacrifice the most and I badly wanted to give him some of that back. We spent another week in Kona, two hard days in the plane and had another few days back home where we went to the zoo, playing, reading books, just hanging around together. The next week he started kindergarten and I started training again.
ST: Do you follow any other sports?
Sandra: Iím training in the peaks up to 40 hours a week with not counting the stretching and stability workouts. If the lord would give me some more hours a day, I would love to follow sports like karate or other fighting sports which fascinate me.
ST: Can you share with us some of your food likes and dislikes?
Sandra: Iím vegetarian, loving all kinds of fruits and vegetables. Iím eating fish and so I love sushi. And like my son I could eat from a jar of peanut butter just with a spoon right into my mouth. The fresh made oneÖ
And there is also the chocolate, which I like but unfortunately have to reduce to a very low level. For drinks I like coffee very much. Itís just because of the milk I put in. Milk is healthy, rightÖ ;-)
ST: What music do you like?
Sandra: I listen to the music thatís on the radio while Iím driving my car. But there is nothing special. I prefer to sing myself, which no one else likes other than my baby.
ST: What was the last book you read?
Sandra: It was the ďultramarathon manĒ by Dean Karnazes. I love sports literature. It inspires me for my own training.
ST: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Sandra: Iíd love to know myself. May be still on the course, otherwise it could be in the law office or preferably Iíd love to work in or with sports and athletes. Iíve done a few co-commentating gigs in television, which I really loved to do.
ST: Is there anything else we should know about you?
Sandra: There is lots. I may tell you in our next interviewÖ
Sandra's website is sandrawallenhorst.de
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Reviewed by: Jeff, Jul 5 2009 9:19PM