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The Czech Republic’s Radka Vodickova has made her mark in half iron-distance triathlon, with wins at Challenge Bateman’s Bay, Ironman 70.3 Putrajaya, Ironman 70.3 St. Croix and Ironman 70.3 Port Macquarie, as well as numerous podium finishes, in 2014 alone, making her one of the women’s favorites for Saturday’s inaugural Challenge Bahrain. I caught up with Vodickova in Phuket, Thailand, where she was preparing to race Challenge Laguna Phuket (where she finished third) just six days prior to the Bahrain event in keeping with her penchant for frequent racing.
Triathlete.com: You’re racing both Challenge Laguna Phuket and then Challenge Bahrain, two half-distance races barely one week apart. I’m curious how you will recover in between the two events?
RV: I’m curious as well! I already did this combination once this year. I did Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Canada, and then I traveled like crazy all the way to Australia and did half iron-distance Mooloolaba. And I didn’t feel very bad. I think I recovered OK. So maybe I’ll have just one or two glasses of wine after Challenge Laguna Phuket, then do a recovery dance!
Triathlete.com: To rehydrate and flush your muscles!
RV: Exactly, yes. And then I‘ll have a big breakfast at the Banyan Tree to refuel, swim in the ocean and then travel to Bahrain. And I’ll see Sticksy there [fellow pro Brad Kahlefeldt, Vodickova’s boyfriend], so I hope he will help me to recover!
Triathlete.com: So a lot of relaxation and fun and very little training in between?
RV: Yeah. Actually I packed just stuff for racing. I won’t need anything for training.
Triathlete.com: That week in between the races will include 12 hours of travel from Phuket to Bahrain. What are your tricks and tips to stay comfy and healthy when you travel?
RV: I try to hydrate a lot and take some Vitamin C. And I try as much as possible to sleep anywhere I can. So if it’s a longer flight and even if there’s a lot of fun on board like watching movies or anything, I try to just sleep. I’m really good at it–when I decide to sleep I usually just sleep. I use earplugs and if I have a cover for my eyes I use that, or sometimes I just put the whole jacket over my head and make like my own little room! I think sleeping as much as possible is helpful, and of course I use compression socks on the flight.
Triathlete.com: Just curious–how fast can you take apart and put back together your bike? Because obviously you have to do it fairly often!
RV: If I’m nervous and want to do it fast, then I’m slow. And if I’m relaxed and just concentrate it can be pretty quick. And also it depends what kind of bike bag you have, but I have to take a lot of things apart on my bike. I’m not really fast because I really take care and wrap everything to make it very secure. So I think 20 minutes and the bike will be ready.
Triathlete.com: Have you been to the Middle East before?
RV: No, only at the airport. So I’m really looking forward, and it’s also why after Bahrain we will stay another three nights in Dubai to have a look around. I think it’s going to be a good experience–something different really.
Triathlete.com: With the crazy deep field at Bahrain–including many of the top talents from Ironman, Ironman 70.3 and ITU–do you have any guesses as to how the race might play out and where it will be decided for the women?
RV: In my head I’m just hoping that everyone that did Kona will be really tired. And all the ITU athletes, they should have had a break so they’ll just be coming back and they shouldn’t be really in good form. So it should be a fun race! I have a dark horse–it would be Nikki Butterfield. That’s my thought. But there are so many strong girls. And it depends also who is really strong in the mind, because you have to stay focused in training until December, which is long–really long. I would say many athletes are going because it’s going to be a really interesting race but maybe they are not in great shape. But of course there is a lot of money in the game. So it will be a big fight! But with this 20-meter draft zone it’s going to be so different [professional athletes racing Challenge Bahrain will adhere to a strictly enforced 20-meter draft zone, while age group athletes will use a standard 12-meter draft zone]. I would say it’s going to suit really strong cyclists.
Triathlete.com: How do you feel about that rule? Because with the usual 12 meters, while you’re not drafting illegally you do still get some benefit.
RV: Exactly. With 12 meters you are not alone, you are mentally with someone, which I prefer actually. I think 20 meters will be very empty! I was thinking it’s almost like a whole 25-meter pool, it’s so long and so far. But I’m not sure; I’ve never had a race like this so we will see. Maybe this race will change all the rules and now every race will be 20 meters. It really will be no drafting, so it will be interesting.