Multiview 5: Alessandra de M Castanho

19 Mar

Ale is a Brazilian, ex-competitive volleyball player. And yes, she looks exactly like the picture your mind just created. She’s got the legs of a gazelle and the speed of a cheetah. I tried to pace with her during the ING half and realized very quickly that it would be wise to let her go. After that race, I started tailing her on training runs because I figured if I could stay like five feet behind her at all times, I’d end up getting faster. Ale is a great coach: motivating, knowledgeable and tough when she needs to be. Also, everywhere she goes in this town, there’s a biker or a runner calling out her name and screaming at her Portuguese. She’s got an awesome accent and a very cool speech rhythm, both of which were magically present in her original written response to these questions. I’ve edited this very little in the hopes that you’ll get a sense of what it’s like to have a conversation with the writer. Here is Ale’s story:

Name: Alessandra de M Castanho (Ale, to those who know her)
Hometown: São Paulo, Brazil
Current Town: Miami, FL
Sport(s) of Choice: Triathlon
Longest Distance Covered and on what (feet/bike/skis/snowshoes/etc…):
Running: 26.2 miles-Nike Women’s Marathon, San Francisco, 2007
Bike: Bike Across Florida, 150 miles, 2007
Triathlon: Half-Ironman-Miami Man 2008 and 2010
Occupation: Content Planning Sr. Manager

Gimme a brief history of Ale in sports. What did you do as a kid? Have you always been athletic? How did you get into triathlon?

Yes, I’ve always been very athletic; I played volleyball in school, started when I was 13 and later on I became part of a team (on a local athletic club in Sao Paulo). Two years later, I was part of a Municipal Team, even receiving a “symbolic” payment (they gave us lunch, the complete uniform, including the tennis shoes and paid for our transportation). I had to quit because I wanted to become a journalist and in Brazil there was no such a thing as a University promoting sports.

Triathlon came to my life seven years ago: I decided to fund raise for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and in return, they prepared me for my first race. Little did I know it would become a lifestyle. To make a long story short, on June 12, 2005, I crossed the finish line in Maui, Hawaii and completed my first Olympic distance triathlon. I was 5th in my age group and 13th overall female. Since then, I’ve completed many sprints (always on the podium in 3rd, 2nd and 1st places), Olympic distances (also making to the podium) and two half-Ironman races. I’ve also finished a couple of half marathons (my PR was 1h40min) and a full marathon in San Francisco (in 4h16min). In 2010 I was invited to be part of the Power Bar Elite group, because of my achievements as an athlete and I qualified twice for the USAT National Championship in Burlington, Vermont.

Speaking of which, you’re headed to USAT Nationals this year as an age grouper! Will this be your first time attending? And what are you doing to prepare yourself mentally and physically?

YES! I’m very excited about it 🙂 Last year I was not able to attend and I was very happy (and surprised!!) to have qualified again during Miami Man. I’ve started training for the Nationals but it’s one week prior to the Ironman race [in Canada], so I’m just very excited to be part of the event, and I’m training hard to be fit, strong and in my best shape. I’ve been reading more about nutrition and I wanna become truly an expert on the subject, not only for me, but to help the group! I have also been very good with my strength training (another must!!). I just need to be more attentive to my sleeping hours; I haven’t had much of a rest!

Describe a typical training day.

Wake up around 5am, have my morning “ritual” that consists of eating something light and allowing my body to “wake up”. Leave my house for whatever is in my schedule and most of the time, come back for a shower, stretch and breakfast!!! If not possible, I’ll shower at the gym and will have my breakfast ready in my lunchbox, so I can eat it right away! I’m usually very hungry in the morning!

What do you normally eat?

Prior to training: almond butter and half of a fruit or if the training is too intense will add a gluten-free waffle to the mix. For breakfast, I’ll have the other half of the fruit with cinnamon, glutamine and a spoon of granola (for crunchy!). Plus a toast with very little “buttery spread” (made with vegetable oil) and 1/4 cup of egg whites (that sometimes can be replaced with a slice of cheese). I’ll usually have a snack at 11-11:30am, which is a short latte with 2% and half of a protein bar (my snacks vary, could be a fruit with cheese or almond butter, pretzels etc). Lunch varies too. The salad bar in Whole Foods is my best friend! I try to go there as much as I can. Dinner: I prepare something at home. I love chicken and roasted potatoes (sweet ones!!) and I like sushi, etc…

Now that I’ve bla bla bla about this subject, I’ve realized that you might wanna know about training only. Sorry. So, during a workout I try to be as “natural” as possible, so I like the Honey Stinger products; I love the Heed from Hammer Nutrition for my long rides and the Elixir for electrolytes (which I always have in my bottles).

You recently started coaching for Alien Endurance. How do you balance the demands of your own training with your new coaching obligations? What do you like about coaching?

Although we train in a group, triathlon is very individual. I can be out there and guide you on a bike ride, or a brick workout but at the end of the day, you will be at your pace and I’ll be at mine, otherwise neither of us will be really training. So, I guess the sport itself allows you to balance coaching and your own training. One of the greatest things about this sport is the people you meet. They are usually very enthusiastic and eager to learn about the disciplines. When I like something you’ll have to ask me to stop talking about it: I can go on and on! Being a coach allows me to speak about it and to help the athletes that are just beginning.

You’re in the process of training for Ironman Canada. Have you competed in a full Ironman before or will this be your first? How are you prepping for it and do you have any expectations about the race?

(Big sigh) Yes! I’m in! This will be my first one and I’m scared! I don’t know if scared but for sure, anxious! I’ve been focusing on strength, swim and nutrition!! They are my main concerns and my goal: I wanna be the strongest, most efficient in the water and a JEDI when it comes to fuel. I will cross that finish line tired, but strong! Not sick, but happy to have conquered such an accomplishment along side Andy, Frank, Hans and Magui!

Can you recall a particularly challenging moment in training or racing? How did you deal with it?

It was during my first half-Ironman in 2008 at the Miami Man race. At the run, mile 10, I didn’t have anything else to give, and my body was asking me to stop. I was sick of my stomach and dehydrated. I kept on going, and this is why nutrition has become such an important subject to me (and this is why I want to help more with this matter).

Any interesting/funny/inspiring stories you want to share from training or racing?

Funny, yes! It was during a trilogy race. At the swim, I got caught up in the middle of the “turmoil” and one of the girls hit my leg and took my chip off my ankle!! So, I decided to swim back to the shore and call it off. It was when the lifeguard scream at me asking if I was ok. I screamed back saying: “I’m good, just lost my chip.” And he said, “ I found one! What’s your number?”…753… “I have it, wait on!” Then he swam with his board towards me and play the prince charming saying, “Give me your foot!”  Oh well, 12 minutes later, I was leaving my slowest sprint swim to cross the finish line 9th in my age group!

Talk to me about equipment/product. What do you wear? What do you ride? What gels do you like?

I love trisuits, but I’ve been racing in two pieces because of the longer distances; I do have to pee in a half-Ironman and I do stop and go to the bathroom (sorry!). My favorite brands are 2XU, Louis Garneau and Orca.

Shoes: Newtons for run and Adidas on the bike. I ride a beautiful Maserati, also known as the Kestrel 4000 Pro SL. The chewy Honey Stingers are delish! Not a big fan of gels, but lately found the Ignite quite good and they’re gluten free (which for me, during training or racing it’s a must!).

Any advice for the “noobs” out there? Just have fun and listen to your body!

Race and train within your own limits. We are not up for the Olympics anymore and we have to be smart about it, and not get hurt!


5 Responses to “Multiview 5: Alessandra de M Castanho”

  1. iwanttobeatriathlete March 19, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

    I want to have the mental focus Ale has. I have my moments of inspiration and then I just drift away. Plus I think I’m moving in with her… it looks like her breakfast menu is the best!


  1. Multiview 8: Frank DiPadova « mymultipersonality - March 24, 2012

    […] as I changed very little about Ale’s profile because I felt that her writing revealed who she is, I’ve done very little tweaking […]

  2. A Classic Day (Nautical South Beach Triathlon: 4/1/12) « mymultipersonality - April 2, 2012

    […] With my fellow Aliens, Frank and Ale. […]

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