The Return of the Czech Chick

Jana Richtrova last crossed a triathlon finish line at the IRONMAN World Championships in Kona in 2019. On that day, she used a 1:16:02 swim, a day’s best 4:58:41 bike and a 3:33:52 closing marathon to win the Female 35-39 Age Group title in 9:55:45, nearly 8 minutes ahead of runner-up Maggie Walsh.

Said Richtrova, “If you told me Kona 2019 would be my last race for nearly two years I would have laughed at you. But here we are. I must say I have been incredibly lucky and fortunate to continue to swim, bike, run and strength train pretty much without any changes throughout 2020 as I have had access to a pool, indoor bike trainer, treadmill and a good amount of strength equipment.”

Widely known as one of the most data-driven athletes, we were eager to shadow Richtrova as she went through her final preparations before driving out to Tulsa, Oklahoma for the North American IRONMAN Championships at IRONMAN Tulsa.

With the exception of trying out a local SwimRun event last Fall, Richtrova hasn’t swam in open water since competing in Kona in 2019. However, she’s been remarkably consistent in the pool, swimming 5x’s per week with Gemma Hollis’ PushGlideKick squad.

With the swim leg in Keystone Lake at Ironman Tulsa likely to be wetsuit legal, Richtrova wore her blueseventy Helix the entire session.

Richtrova loves the challenge of racing in strong championship caliber fields but in the past her swim has handicapped her, requiring her to put up exceptional bike and run legs. She’s hoping the consistency in 2020 in which she averaged 15,800 yards per week and so far in 2021 around 15,000 yards per week will pay off with a faster swim leg.

But even if she has the swim of her life, when you ride a bike like she can, it is likely only one mantra repeats in your head, “Where’s my bike”.

After the mid morning PushGlideKick swim squad, Richtrova had a weekly strength and rehab session at Mobility Chiro Therapy in The Woodlands. Her bike and run gear also made the trip for a final race week test with Coach Jorge Martinez of E3TS who operates his FreeSpeed Lab in the same office.

Richtrova used the stretch bands to run through a series of strength exercises. Following Kona 2019, she had a lingering running injury when another one developed mid way through 2020. She stayed patient and didn’t feel the need to rush back and instead fully focused on rehab and swim, bike and strength sessions.

As it turned out, Brazilian pro Pamella Oliveira was in front of Richtrova in line to see the physical therapist. The fast swimming Olympian used The Woodlands as her base while racing at 70.3 Texas and 70.3 St George in preparation for IRONMAN Tulsa and the two had gotten out for a few long training rides together.

Physical Therapist Kyle Suchma has been working with Richtrova for the past few years since she moved from Boston to The Woodlands and has an excellent track record of getting her to the starting line injury free.

Mobility Chiro also offers cupping therapy which Richtrova takes advantage of…

.as well as E-STIM, dry needling with stim and ART (Active Release Technique).

Despite likely feeling relaxed after her therapy treatments, Richtrova changed into her IRONMAN Tulsa race day kit and hopped on her Quintana Roo PR Six Ultegra Di2 machine to dial in her race day plan with Martinez.

Before a race Martinez puts his coached athletes, including Richtrova, through a session with efforts at race pace to help them determine their bike position depending on the course and race day weather conditions, their power targets for both bike and run, and their fueling needs.

Martinez uses a series of tools, including the Leomo Type S for motion analysis to help determine an athlete’s bike fit. But together with the 3D aero virtual simulator he has worked with Richtrova to optimize her bike-fit and aerodynamics. By using the simulator pre-race they can estimate her latest Coefficient of Drag taking into consideration the equipment she’ll use.

For IRONMAN Tulsa, which will be a relentlessly hilly bike course, they tested various positions from sitting up and having her head exposed to the wind as well as her head super tucked in an aero position. The goal is to get an average coefficient of drag since she won’t keep the same position during the entire race.

Taking that information, Martinez uses Best Bike Split to model out an estimated time and performance she can expect given the weather forecast. He also uses it to determine how Richtrova should pace the race depending on the weather forecast and the terrain. In this way she will have guidelines when she may be able to push more or less power. Since their plan is more of a guide, Richtrova can make adjustments on race day if the weather forecast changes.

Martinez tests Richtrova’s blood lactate concentration throughout the year to help her set her training zones, target specific adaptations and develop fueling plans. This race week test is to fine tune her power targets for race day and make any necessary adjustments to her fueling strategy.

Following the bike session, Richtrova pulled on her running shoes and hopped on the treadmill to review her stride. Richtrova trains with the Stryd and Martinez sets most of her runs by power or heart rate instead of pace.

Coupled with the metabolic testing Martinez does, they have identified which run dynamics result in a lower energy cost of running at Ironman race power and heart rate.

Following a very full few hours of training, body work and lab testing, Richtrova was famished and ready for lunch.

Richtrova, Martinez and Hollis met up for a few pizzas to celebrate the end of her training. Sitting patiently underneath the table in anticipation of some dropped crumbs were Hollis’ two dogs, Trifle and Figgy, who Richtrova is extremely fond of and dog sits for at every opportunity.

Hollis is one of Richtrova’s training partners when not running her PushGlideKick swim squad and will be racing in St. George at 70.3 Worlds later in the year.

Also known as Czech Chick, you can follow Richtrova's pursuits on Instagram at @CzechChick15.

All photos by David Reynolds of Digital Knight Productions.