this is our lab: Leanda Cave
bs: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us Leanda- The Commonwealth Games start shortly here, what actually happened with the Games selection in the end, we know you weren't selected but once Non Stanford was withdrawn was there an option for you to be reconsidered?
LC: The Welsh Selectors outlined the available position on the individual/relay team last November. This is what I was racing for: a support role to Non and Helen in the individual event and a place on the team relay. 2 weeks before the selection period ended, an email was sent out saying that the rules had changed and no longer did the relay team have to consist of athletes from the individual event. I was asked if I would put Ironman training aside and just train and race for the super sprint team relay. This is not what I was trying to qualify for. My talents are in the longer events and I could not stop training for Ironman as this is where I earn my money as I am not funded by the Welsh Federation. So essentially the Welsh Selectors chose a relay team and left the 3rd position on the individual team vacant. When Non withdrew from both the individual and relay team, the selectors only sort to replace her in the team event saying that this was their best chance of a medal. I feel I had an outside chance of a medal in the individual event and therefore it has been a very disappointing experience to not have been able be given that opportunity to try.
bs: Who do you think will win the Commonwealth titles, and who do you admire amongst the current crop of ITU athletes?
LC: It's going to be a cooler race, so the winning athlete will have to be good at racing in these conditions. I feel the British girls have very good odds. I think it will be hard to establish a break away due to the course, so it will come down to a running race. Helen Jenkins, Jodie Stimpson and Kristen Sweetland are my picks.
bs: British female athletes seem to have a habit of getting onto the Kona podium in recent years, why do you think that is?
LC: I would like to say it is because we have a superior gene pool :-) But honestly, I think it comes down to talent breeding talent. If you are exposed to athletes of a higher caliber throughout your development years, you learn what you need to do and what it takes to do it. I feel all the British women have a very hard work ethic and they do all the little things that count.
bs: Take us through what you felt in Kona last year being defending Ironman world champion?
LC: It really sucked. All year I was battling a torn hamstring which was diagnosed too late in the season to pull out of Kona. So I knew my fitness was far from what it was the prior year when I won the year before. I knew the race was going to be a painful struggle both physically and mentally and it didn't fall short of my expectations. There is nothing worse than getting to the start line knowing that you are not 100% and in my whole career, I have only had to do this a few times. But I felt I had a duty to race as defending champion and I had my family who had travelled thousands of miles to watch me perform.
bs: Last few years, lots of action: switched coaches, won Kona, injuries, worked to be considered for CWG and now Kona 2014 is clearly on the Horizon- what are you doing "right now" and thinking now to prepare?
LC: Im in the middle of a VERY long training block. Probably the longest I have ever done......12 weeks! In the past I feel I have prioritized racing too much and I have not established a very solid base to perform well in Kona. Im itching to race and I have still yet to validate my Kona slot. But I have a few more weeks to grind away before I do that in Ironman Sweden.
bs: Anything new/innovative in your training that has you excited?
I like the new approach that Cliff English delivers. It was a hard road back to fitness after injury and he has a great track record of doing that with his athletes. Cliff is very strategical about selecting races and doing the necessary blocks of training. We have had a few heated discussions about me racing too much, but at the end of the day, I trust him and I am following his judgement. Cliff knows his stuff and I like that feeling.
bs: Having won in Kona, (expert experience!) what is your advice to Age-Group athletes who have qualified to be there this year?
LC: On paper, Kona does not appear to have the hardest course profile, but the heat and humidity take it to the next level. I think the one thing every age grouper (and professional) needs to take into account is the details in their nutrition and hydration. This is where I feel Kona is won or lost.
bs: What do you plan to do in the future? (Post triathlon.)
LC: I think I have such a broad knowledge of triathlon having won World Championship medals in every distance. I feel I want to share this and the obvious path is coaching, training camps/clinics and writing a book. I have always wanted to explore my talents in the fashion industry, so that is also on the cards.
bs: Furthermore- What is on your personal/ professional bucket list?
LC: I don't really have a bucket list as I don't want to limit myself in opportunities or experiences. When I try something new, I give it 100%. That has led me to be a professional triathlete. I also gave playing tennis 100% as kid, but I sucked at it. So I will try many things. In some I will succeed and in others I will fail. But either way, for me its all about the journey.
bs: Which of your world titles meant the most to you, and why? If you could win one more, which would it be?
LC: I think Kona. The Ironman is such a hard distance and it has been such a struggle over the years to find what makes me the best Ironman athletes. So when I finally won that world title, it was a feeling of relief and euphoria. I'd like to win Kona again and get that feeling once more.
bs: You have been based in Tucson for many years- where are you living / training most often these days?
LC: I have spent the last few summers in Boulder, Colorado which is where I am now. Tucson is a place I call home in the winter. But now that I am looking at having a home base somewhere as opposed to a training base, I call Miami home.
bs: Now for the really tough questions: favorite color?
bs: Favorite City?
LC: Sydney and San Francisco
bs: Anything else you want us to know about Leanda Cave?
LC: I love chocolate!
Leanda Cave Favorites: Helix wetsuit, Nero Race + Element goggles, CORE shorts & Loop Dot swimsuits.