Frankie Sanjana earned her first professional title this weekend when she won Ironman 70.3 Les Sables d’Olonne in Vendee, France. The Brit, who lives in Amsterdam, has been racing professionally since 2015, so this maiden victory was particularly special. She finished in a time of 4:32.26, with Anne Reischmann, of Germany, in second place, and Jeanne Collonge, of France, in third. Triathlete.com caught up with Sanjana as she traveled home from the race.
Triathlete: How were you feeling going into this race? What were your goals/aspirations?
Frankie: Very nervous as I had DNF’ed my last race two weeks beforehand with a calf cramp in the swim. My hope was simply to execute the race I know I am capable of without having any similar problems.
T: Best part of the race for you?
F: The run. This used to be my weakness so it was great to have the fastest run split and, of course, to take the lead on the run.
T: Worst part?
F: The bike – usually my strongest leg, but I could feel my calves stiffening up, and trying to make sure I didn’t cramp again, I had to dial down the power quite a bit.
T: How were the conditions, anything you struggled with?
F: The conditions were great, although it was very warm by the time we were out on the run course.
T: At what point did you realize you were going to win?
F: I was fairly certain of it heading back towards the finish line on the last loop with two miles to go, but I didn’t know if athletes behind me might be gaining on me so I only relaxed and soaked it up as I was reaching for the tape at the finish line!
T: Which part of the race did you execute best?
F: The bike. I had to modify my original plans and power goals, and I (incorrectly) thought I was in last place but managed not to give up on myself mentally and just kept focusing on what I needed to do to keep moving forward as quickly as possible.
T: Anything you wish you’d done better?
F: When I went to my bike on race morning I had a front flat and replaced the tube, but using a valve extender I was worried it wouldn’t hold for the race. I actually stopped during the bike on a particularly rough section of road to check the front tire because I thought I could be flatting again. Of course, it was perfectly fine so I probably wasted a good few seconds there!
T: Post-race food? Any beer/cookies/favorite foods? Tell us all of your secrets!
F: I like a chocolate milkshake if I can find one. Having been in France I’d been enjoying fantastic food all week (it turns out baguettes are excellent race fuel) but had a very rare-cooked steak burger, a couple of mojitos, and a huge chocolate ice cream after the race!
T: First words your coach Steve Trew said to you?
F: His first words came via email: “Oh man, that was totally awesome!” He always knows what to say to make me feel better, even in a difficult situation, but this was a pretty easy one!
T: How sore are you post-race, on a scale of 1-10?
F: Well, I pretty much had to crawl onto the top step of the podium, put it that way!
T: Any blisters, any chafing?
F: My feet are currently, quoting word for word, “the most disgusting thing” my boyfriend has ever seen. I felt one of my blisters go around mile 10 on the run and sure enough when I looked at my shoes after the race the blood had soaked right through.
T: First thoughts when you hit the finish chute?
F: Yesssssssssssssssssss I did it!
T: Mantra or words that got you through the race?
F: Be grateful that you are healthy and able to race!
T: Pre-race brekkie?
F: Baguette, two bananas, and a yoghurt, all washed down with a big mug of black coffee.
T: What (and when) will your first workout be post-race?
F: I went for a spin on the bike and had a big stretch Monday morning after the race.
T: What does your training look like this week?
F: My coach and I will adjust it day by day based on my recovery.
T: What’s next on your racing calendar?
T: What does the rest of your racing schedule look like this year?
F: Also TBD! I’d already qualified for 70.3 Worlds in Nice this year, so that’s definitely on my radar. I would love to qualify for 70.3 Worlds in 2020 so I will look at races that might be a good opportunity for a slot, and I am also keen to race a full Ironman again at some point soon (my last iron distance finish was in 2016, after two years dealing with some fairly limiting injuries).
T: Tell us who all of your sponsors are…
F: Simple, I don’t have any!
T: Best post-race recovery tip for age-groupers?
F: Go out and have all the filthy food and drink you want for 24 hours only, you’ve earned it! And sleep as much as you can.