Welcome to the fourth interview in the summer Spark Series, this week with Lectie Altman – one of Hawaii’s top triathletes. Fresh off the heels of a 70.3 Ironman win, Lectie shares insights with us from her background in swimming to the world of triathlon, which she has only been competing in since 2011! Balancing a full-time job with the demands of training for the ‘run-bike-swim’ is no easy task, and it’s great to hear what Lectie recognises as important to achieving long-term goals. With more races on the immediate calendar, and plenty more on the horizon, I think you’ll agree that it’s going to be exciting to see what Lectie does next!
LRY: Congrats on your recent race results! 1st woman at the Honu 70.3 Ironman and then, just a week later a strong finish in the first event of the North Shore Summer Swim Series. From reading your blog, it seems as though swimming was your first passion. What then inspired you to take up triathlon, and was it an easy or difficult ‘transition’ (excuse the pun!)?
LA: I started swimming competitively when I was 6 years old (I did synchronized swimming for a year prior to that) and have been swimming basically my entire life. After swimming in college I needed a break from anything athletic and pretty much stopped doing anything active whatsoever. About two years after grad school in 2010, I decided enough was enough and I wanted to get back into shape. By then I was living in Hawaii and ‘wasting’ my time sitting around being lazy. I re-connected with my old college swim coach and we trained for the 2010 Honolulu marathon. He had always been putting the bug in my ear to ‘tri’ a triathlon, but I wasn’t interested! HA! After the marathon in 2010, I decided, why not, I’m living in this beautiful place and have the opportunity to train outside all year-long so I signed up for Honu in 2011, did my first Ironman in 2012 in Coeur d’Alene, found my BOCA triathlon family and here we are now!
LRY: Aside from being a triathlete you have a background in counselling. Have you been able to apply anything from the study of counselling to your training and triathlon lifestyle?
LA: YES – PATIENCE! An Ironman is a long day! And the fact that you never know what the day is going to have in store for you (both in sport and in life). Prepare and put in the work ahead of time and you’ll be able to handle any situation that you might find yourself in on race day.
LRY: When a big race is approaching do you have any rituals that you like to put in place to help you prepare?
LA: When I was swimming competitively, I would always have the same exact dinner the night before big meets. If you ask my college coach he would say, “I would know that Lectie was ready to race because when she stood behind the starting blocks she had this routine she would go through and you could just tell by the look on her face that it was game time.” Now, I think once I get into the water or line up on the beach, I get that same ‘fire in my eyes’ but don’t have a specific routine per se. I do like to spend the last few minutes before the gun goes off just getting myself ready, my head clear and thoughts together for the day! I mostly just like to relax and spend time with the people I love and care about, when I’m happy and in a good mental state, I tend to race well!
LRY: Which was your first long distance triathlon? What did you learn from the experience?
LA: Honu 2011 was my first Half-Ironman distance… it’s kind of silly, but I learned that it’s important to have a good bike saddle that you are comfortable sitting on! I struggled that whole year with being comfortable on the bike and it was mostly due to poor saddle choice! I also learned that it’s important to have a race plan, but you also need to be flexible because you never know what’s going to happen out there on the course.
LRY: Which other triathletes inspire you in long-distance racing and why?
LA: I love the positivity and perseverance that Meredith Kessler puts out there. She never gives up and is genuinely encouraging to everyone – the other pro women on the race course as well as all the amateurs. Meredith is friendly, approachable and seems down-to-earth. She also never hesitates to respond to questions asked of her, even when her schedule is crazy with the full-time job of being a pro triathlete. Meredith has stick-to-it-ness, and a ‘never give up’ attitude that anyone could learn from! I would love to have lunch with her someday!
LRY: Hawaii seems like the perfect place to train and compete as a triathlete? Where is your favourite place to race and why?
LA: I would have to say KONA is my favorite place to race! Not just because it’s the home of the Ironman World Championship, but Hawaii is where Ironman was born. Technically it was born on Oahu, but racing in Kona is something special; the atmosphere is like nothing I’ve ever experienced, you can feel it in the air as soon as you step foot off the plane in October on the Big Island.
When it comes to training, we are definitely ‘lucky we live Hawaii’! Riding bikes is amazing on Maui from climbing up Haleakala, to the west Maui mountains, and over to cool, upcountry Kula. I love it there. Swimming wise: Waimea Bay on Oahu in the summer; Hapuna beach on the Big Island; and with the dolphins from the pier in Kona town are some pretty special swim venues.
LRY: If you could list three things that have helped you stay on the path towards your long-term goals and dreams as an athlete what would they be?
- Support system – I couldn’t do this without the love and support of my boyfriend, family, friends and coach. As selfish a sport as triathlon is, without these people in my corner always supporting me 100%, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do.
- Possibilities – Triathlon is relatively new to me, there is a whole world of racing and life experiences available out there and the sky is the limit.
- Desire – Being a competitive person, I am always looking forward and wanting to see how much further or harder I can push myself. Sometimes to a fault. But the desire to do whatever it takes to make myself a better person in both sport and life keeps me going.
LRY: Endurance athletes working hard week after week often develop injuries. Are there any injuries that have been tough for you to recover from? If so – how did you make a return to being ‘in race-shape’?
LA: Ha! Well, I’m not going to bore you with all the details, but I’ll give you some highlights. In 2015 I was struggling with some pretty gnarly knee issues. It caused me to not be able to compete in Honu 2015, which was a huge bummer for me. I had an Ironman on the calendar last July, ended up finishing it, but was in a whole lot of pain. I needed to have knee surgery (August 2016). We thought I had a torn meniscus, but there was a piece of bone floating around in my knee that was causing all the pain. The doctor removed the bone and cleaned up some old scar tissue. That was a few months of recovery and when the new year began I was back at it and ready to go. Fingers crossed, everything has been so far so good. Nothing major since.
LRY: Do you have time for any strength or conditioning work aside from the swim, bike, and run?!
LA: I am not as good about this as I should be. But I *try* to incorporate some sort of core/strength at least once a week.
LRY: What is the best piece of advice you’ve received from another athlete?
LA: I can’t remember who told me this, but I seem to hear it quite often lately… I’m not sure if it’s advice or more of a mantra… but “relentless forward progress.”
LRY: As a member of the BOCA triathlon team, what would you say are the benefits of training with a group?
LA: There are a number of major benefits: accountability, relationships, support and always having someone there to push you to that next level when you might not believe you can.
LRY: You can invite your ‘dream team’ for a long Saturday bike ride – who would be included (past or present people)?
LA: I’m gonna keep this sport related… a swimmer (Natalie Coughlin and/or Summer Sanders), a runner (Shalane Flanagan and/or Amy Cragg) and a triathlete (Meredith Kessler and/or Jesse Thomas).
LRY: We’re already half way through 2016! What’s the next event on your racing calendar?
LA: I’m racing the inaugural Kauai Police Activities League (KPAL) sprint triathlon on Kauai July 17th, followed by the Tinman triathlon on July 24th and then my big race of the year so far – Ironman Boulder August 7th!
LRY: Many athletes have ‘dream race’ bucket lists. Which race or event, or maybe a training destination would be on the top of your list?
LA: I’ll give you a few: Challenge Roth, an Ironman in Australia or New Zealand – really any racing abroad that lets me travel and see the world.
LRY: Where do you turn for motivation on days when you’re tried and not quite feeling like heading out of the door?
LA: That’s a great question… I had one of those mornings today actually! I didn’t want to get up to go swim at UH (University of Hawaii), I was tired, I stayed up too late… I thought to myself, I can swim another day, go back to bed and sleep a little bit more, but… then I thought, how will I feel when I get out of bed and could have been done with my swim for the day and how would I feel when August 7 comes around. I want to be as prepared as I can to be the best that I can be on the day, and so I got myself out of bed and down to the pool, and you know what? I felt so much better afterwards (which is usually what happens right?)!
LRY: Final question – what’s your number one ‘go-to’ food or meal for refuelling after a tough workout in the pool or on the road?
LA: When I’ve finished swimming, I’m ravenous, more so than after another type of workout. I’m not super picky about what I eat, but I like to try to get something in my system within the first 20 minutes after a workout. I’m actually glad you asked this question because I used to keep protein powder in my car (and I’m going to restock again today!) so I can have an easy, fast something to refuel ASAP after a workout (which also helps to prevent overeating post workout). BioAstin, Nutrex Hawaii makes this really good protein powder/shake called “Hawaiian Spirulina Protein Shake.” There are tons of different protein powders out there and having them handy is a super good post workout snack.
LRY: Thanks Lectie! Awesome advice – adequate nutrition is often underestimated and such a key part of performance! Wishing you all the best for the rest of your 2016 triathlon season!
When it comes to creating a little longrunergy in life, we all need the 3 things that Lectie listed as helping her towards meeting triathlon goals and dreams: a support system, believing in the possibilities of life and having a strong desire to keep moving forward, sometimes relentlessly. What else would you add to the list?
Thanks for reading the Spark Series! Watch this space for the next interview!