This is an interview I did with Sika Henry of our Elite Racing Team for Endurance Magazine. Just a little teaser! For the full article stay tuned for her article upcoming…
Sika, please tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in New York, but grew up in Northern New Jersey (right outside of New York City). My parents named me Sika (pronounced See-ka) which means ‘gold’ … no pressure right?! They found it in a book. I grew up playing every sport you can think of, from gymnastics to softball to swimming. I learned to swim at a very young age. I grew up with a large inground pool in my backyard and I spent a lot of time at the beach during the summer months and traveling the world with my family (South America, Central America, the Caribbean Islands, Greece, Egypt… you name it, I’ve probably been there). In fact, I still travel with my family every year. I’m extremely close with my Mom, Dad, and younger brother. They usually come out to all of my big races.
Please tell us a bit about your athletic background.
I swam all four years of high school. It was a seasonal sport (fall/winter). I was never exceptional and by my senior year I wanted to try something new. During gym class one day the track coach spotted me and asked if could jump and touch the basketball net. I actually hit the rim so he invited me to try out for the track and field team that spring after my swim season ended. I fell in love with the sport, contacted the Head Track & Field Coach at Tufts University, and walked onto the team as a high jumper / short sprinter my freshman year of college. I actually have the Tufts University Collegiate Record in the Indoor and Outdoor 4 x 400m relay. I also have the 3rd highest jump in school history (Indoor Track & Field). After college I started running longer distances just to stay in shape. I did my first marathon in 2007 and absolutely hated every minute of it (I think I ran around 3:57). During this time I was working in the financial district in NYC and didn’t have much of a life. Eventually I moved to Hampton Roads, VA, and began working for Ferguson Enterprises. I began to have more of a work life balance so I started running more and enjoying it.
How did you get involved with triathlons?
By 2013 I was going through a rough period in my personal life and needed a distraction – participating in a triathlon was always on my bucket list and I saw that there was a local sprint (Tidewater Triathlon). I only had 2 weeks to prepare so I bought a mountain bike, got membership to my local pool, and internet searched triathlon-specific workouts. I probably came in last place but I had so much fun. I was on a high! I did a few more sprints that summer and moved up to the Olympic distance in 2014. I also noticed that my run times improved dramatically from all of the swim/bike training. I literally went from struggling to break 20 minutes in a 5K, to running in the 18s. I also won my first half marathon. This gave me the confidence to try another marathon – the inaugural Newport News One City Marathon – 7 years after my first one. And I won! I went from 3:57 to 3:11. I won the race again in 3:07, and in 2017 I ran a 3:00:06. But my heart was in triathlon and I wanted that to be my focus.
How has your triathlon training evolved?
I started working with my first triathlon coach in 2016. I learned about nutrition, pacing, training blocks, etc. She helped get me through my first half ironman (IRONMAN 70.3 Eagleman). I also qualified and raced at the 2017 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships. I had quite a bit of success working with her, but I felt like I needed a change in the 2018 season. I wanted to train at an elite level with someone I thought could help me qualify for my pro card, so I started working with my current coach (Jonathan Caron). 2018 was a great year (I included my achievements in the previous email).
Favorite post race binge food?
Wine hahaha. A really good red wine! This is usually how I celebrate.
Favorite track workout?
An hour tempo run, where the first 15-20 minutes are a warm up and then it’s right into threshold pace for the next 30 minutes. It’s not necessarily my favorite, but I seem to get the most benefit from it. I think this workout is what helped me break 1:30 in the run portion of the half ironman.
Favorite swim set?
Oh geez. Nothing! They all feel hard. Probably 10 X 150s. 100s feel so fast, like I never get enough recovery, and 200s feel a little too long. 150s usually feel sustainable. I also like pull / paddle sets. I like repeats that make me focus on my form.
What is your dream race?
My dream race … lining up as a pro, at any race! I’ve done IRONMAN 70.3 Eagleman for the past 3 years. It was also my first half iron. So my dream would be to race there as a pro!
What do you eat/drink when you train & race?
For fluids I use First Endurance EFS Pro as well as Gatorade Endurance because that it what they service on the race course. I also eat Clif Bars during long bike rides and use Sports In Science gels and Clif Bloks.
Favorite time of day for a workout?
My lunch break. It helps break up the work day. It also gives me time to think about projects I’m working on and how to best execute them.
How do you fit in full time triathlon training with a full time job?
Well, I’m lucky enough to have been with my company for 10 years. They know that I always get my work done, so no one is breathing down my neck. I’m extremely blessed to have an understanding boss who allows me to train on my lunch break. I also work remotely a few days a week. The combination of those two is probably the only reason why I’m able to train at this level. But it’s definitely hard. I wake up at 4:30 am every Wednesday and Friday to go to Master’s Swim Practice and there are days when I feel like a zombie. Training twice a day, almost everyday during the summer is grueling so I try my best to eat quality homemade meals and get to bed early.
How many hours weekly training?
17 hours during the season; this does not include stretching, etc.
Stay tuned to our website and social media for updates on Sika and the rest of our amazing Racing Team! In and Out is here when you need to feel better fast.