Leanda Cave, fast and focused

In 2002 Leanda Cave surprised many folks when she won the ITU World Championships in Cancun, Mexico. Not content with ITU racing, Leanda started to race longer distance events a few years later and now really is a force to be reckoned with on all distances.

ST: Leanda, you started your 2008 season with a 3rd place at 70.3 in Oceanside, CA. Did it go as you had planned?

Leanda: It went better than planned. In the past, I have been caught in the final stages of the bike leg, however, I came into transition with only Michellie Jones. I felt amazing running (well at least for the first 8 miles), but then the wheels fell off. So it was a great start of a great year for me.

ST: Looking back at 2007, what do you consider the highlight of the season?

Leanda: There were quite a few highlights. To start with, I won my 2nd World Championship….this time over the ITU Long Distance. Then I embarked on my first Ironman, which also happened to be the Ford Ironman World Champs. I didn't have the best day, but in the end, I had to be happy with 8th place. Then I competed in my third world championship event for the year, the Ford Ironman 70.3 World Champs in Clearwater. I finished 3rd in that, which was totally unexpected under the circumstances, and a great result for me.

ST: What are you currently getting ready for, and what does the rest of the season look like?

Leanda: This year is all about Kona. I have a relatively small race schedule compared with the 20 or so races I did last year. I'm racing three more half Ironmans and I'm going to defend my title at Escape from Alcatraz (which I won last year). I will be doing one Ironman distance event, the Roth Challenge in Germany. But all these races are a build up in order to prepare best for Kona in October.

ST: Can you describe a mid season training week?

Leanda: My coach, Torsten Abel could tell you that. I have no idea what’s in store for me!! But in general, I do about 30 hours a week. I spend most of that on the bike (about 15 to 18 hours). The remainder of the week is made up of about 6 to 7 hours of running, 6 hours of swimming and 2 to 3 one hour drill/strength/core workouts.

ST: What is your favorite workout and can you tell us more about it?

Leanda: I love the feeling of going as hard as I can to the point where there is nothing left in the tank. So running short, flat out 1minute hill repeats do it for me. By the time I get home, my legs are shaking and my heart rate is still elevated, but I can't move. There is nothing more satisfying.

ST: Have you been helped with your bike fit?

Leanda: Last year David Greenfield set me up, which worked really well. So this year, I consulted Craig Upton (coach of the US Women’s Cycling Team) to see if we could tweak it a little bit to get more aero. I now have a very strong position that feels comfortable, yet is much more aero than last year. I teamed up with Pinarello this year and the bikes are incredibly aero and fit me perfect. I also need to give credit and a big thanks to my friend and sponsor Chad Nordwall at Above Category Bike Shop in Mill Valley. Chad is an absolute genius when it comes to bike technology and fit. When it comes to making me faster on the bike, I really couldn’t ask for a better group of people to work with.

ST: How do you typically spend the off-season?

Leanda: In the past I went to Australia to visit my parents and I would surf and hang out with friends at cafes. However this year, I went to Europe to see relatives and friends in the UK and my boyfriend’s family in Germany. I had plans on skiing for the first time, but I ended up getting 4 colds within 6 weeks, preventing me doing a lot of fun stuff. However, I still managed to drink lots of wine and eat my favorite foods, like cheese, chips and chocolate.

ST: What is your favorite race and why?

Leanda: I have to break this down into distances. Coming from a short distance background, I have raced in so many awesome places, however, Schliersee in Germany would be my favorite. It's in the German Alps and you get to experience a real taste for the culture and country you race in. Eagleman 70.3 would be my favorite Half Iroman distance as it was the friendliest, warm town in a beautiful all American place. Then, there is only one Ironman distance I can comment on, and that would be Kona. I'm in love with the place and the race, and I have only done it once!!

ST: What is going on for you in terms of sponsorships?

Leanda: Lots! I started working with Chris McCrary at Katalyst Multisport Management prior to Kona last year. Chris has made an incredible difference for me and has established long term relationships for me that hopefully will be with me for the remainder of my career. I have THE best sponsorship support ever. K-Swiss is my title sponsor. They launched last year in Kona, and I am so excited to be working with them. I have seen first hand the great workmanship that goes into the footwear they make. K-Swiss is all about quality while looking great at the same time. Pinarello is the bike I will be winning on this year with Reynolds wheels. I will be swimming once again in Blue Seventy, while being fueled by Powerbar, hydrated by Nuun, and supplemented with Elagen Sport. All my bike mechanics and components are supplied by Above Category in Mill Valley. I'm also fortunate to receive products from Giro Helmets, Oakley Eyewear and Nathan Hydration.

ST: Do you follow any other sports?

Leanda: I love all sports (ok, not cricket). Tennis is a game that gets me hooked on TV.

ST: What sports did you take part when you grew up?

Leanda: Swimming, cross country running and surf lifesaving. To a lesser extent I played squash, dabbled with tennis, and sucked at gymnastics!

ST: What is your favorite and least favorite food?

Leanda: I'm a big fan of European cheeses and chocolate. If I dine out, I'd never say no to Indian. If I'm getting take out, Pizza! Least favorite would be oysters.

ST: What about music, what do you like?

Leanda: There is quite a variety on my MP3. Killers, Guns and Roses, The Cure, Tool, Sheryl Crow, Cindy Lauper, Johnny Cash, U2, Van Morrison…………..the list goes on, but generally quality tunes (nothing like Pop).

ST: What was the last book you read?

Leanda: The last book I read was trash, and I can't even remember the name of it, but it is kind of like a race……….if I start it, I've gotta finish it!! But right now I'm reading a book by one of my inspirations: Paula Radcliffe – "My Story So Far."

ST: Where do you think you'll be in 5 years?

Leanda: Still here doing interviews with Slowtwitch with at least one Ford Ironman World Championship win under my belt!

ST: Is there anything else we should know about you?

Leanda: I work with the Blazeman Foundation to help raise funds and awareness for ALS. So if any readers out there would like to make a contribution, it is for a great cause.