As many know, in early September I moved to Qatar, started a new job, and had not been training all that much for a 226 KM race.
To say the least, I was not prepared...I tried my best, to downplay, and rationalize a possible slow race in Kona, well before the fact. I had not done any long swims in months, rode my bike only once above 3h00 and only managed to get in a few long runs over 90 min.
I honestly considered not going...It was just bad timing, and would be a big expense...However, I had 3 athletes racing, and for years I had been asked, a few times per year...have you done Kona?
This was also to be my only triathlon this season.
I simply focused on short, frequent, and intense sessions. I knew I would be able to handle the heat pretty well. I also had to rely heavily on my past training, as well to my experience and knowledge.
Simply put, I took my own advice, and practiced what I preach!
Just before I left Qatar, I started to get sick...Flying from Doha to Kona, via Heathrow, LAX and Honolulu...was a 48-hours door-to-door journey...Literally halfway around the world...We could have just flown the other direction as well!
|Qatar Airways for the win - QUINOA.|
|I usually take my coffee black - unless there's a milk stick ;)|
How-ever, my bike arrived ~40 hours after I did...
After catching up with Jong, I started to "get ready" for Kona, by doing as much training as I could on the race course, without overdoing it. On race week, I was doing long double runs & long double bikes...And swam every day!
|With coach Cam and his FAST athletes.|
To make matters worst, was poor internet connections, which made it difficult to do my online coaching...As I still maintain the same online commitment to all my athletes, regardless of where I am in the world.
I got to see faces I had not seen in over a decade. I also got to meet Martin, one of my KQ'ers - a Dane living in Switzerland. We have been working together for 18 months, and this would be our first time meeting!
Then Andy & company eventually showed up - making for fun and entertaining conversations!
Last but not least, Joyette decided to come and see me race :)
Anyway - THE RACE!
I stayed as relaxed as possible on race morning. I was a bit surprised at how disorganized, non-logical, and chaotic some stuff was at the pier...It's been what? 30 years doing this!
Anyway, I did a good warm-up and then waited in the deep sea, for what seemed like an eternity, before the cannon finally blew.
I bullshit none of you when I say this was my first proper "washing machine" experience...My plan was just to cruise the swim, cruise the bike, and cruise the run. I could not afford to push, or take chances.
Eventually, the field thinned out, I found some clear water and came out of the water in 56 min.
|Which one is mine?|
Quick T1 and on my Ceepo Katana!
Once on the bike, it was pretty crowded...it was literally impossible to not draft...Guys would come from the back, blow by me like Lance Armstrong on his best juice, then slow down...The group went from like 10, to over 50!
I must admit, I thought it was pretty funny...I was riding quickly, and not working hard at all. Some draft marshals came along, and stared at us...That's about it - either theu did not care or are smart enough to figure out it was impossible to not be riding in a group.
It eventually thinned out after 40 KM on the Queen K, and I focused on fueling, hydrating, and staying relaxed up to Hawi. I still felt good, and at this point, I was starting to think I would be able to smash the race!
|Like a boy scout - I wore gloves and socks.|
But the last 40 KM of the bike, the infamous big island crosswinds showed up...My lower back and left knee started to get real tight...I was not having a good time anymore...I got passed my 100's of athletes in a short period of time...how demoralizing!
Approaching T2 - I was excited to get off my bike - who knew what the run would hold?
Once running, I felt pretty good, and maintain a good moderate pace. I fueled, did nose breathing, and maintain a short/quick stride. As well to not loosing too much time at the aid stations...
|Running with the top overall female age grouper.|
So my good sensations continued well into the energy lab...I was looking at my watch every so often, I knew I had to keep going for a sub 10. I was still passing people regularly.
However, with around 6 KM to go, I started to go sideways...my body or "frame" started to fall apart...My neck, back, knees, feet, ankles, etc. all started to get really painful...I still had the energy and determination to keep ticking my legs over.
As I slowed down, I skipped aid stations, to make up the time...I powered up the last hill while being cheered by total strangers!
Going down Palani hill, I was in a world of pain but could hear Mike Reilly...I kept the pressure on and came in 10h04...Not that bad eh?
|YOU ARE AN IRONMAN|
I was totally smashed after the race...And then had another 48-hour travel towards Doha, via a quick overnight in Honolulu...I need to come back to Hawaii so I can enjoy the place more...I really did not do or see much while here...
It's almost 4 weeks on, and I'm FINALLY recovered from the race. I moved into a new home a few days ago, and back into a good routine. All the while shedding athletes for their offseason, and picking up new ones locally in Qatar!
Anyway, my major takeaways are:
-Trust your overall base - not what you did recently.
-Good execution with poor fitness is better than bad execution with good fitness.
-Always start a little slower than you want - it will bite!
Last but not least, I would not return to Kona to race as an AG. It's just a huge all-around expense...I would only come back, to race pro, or to coach athletes - then spend a few weeks touring the island afterwards!
Below are some random pics, of primarily american food!
|The house burger - somewhere I can't remember...|
|44$ canned horse anybody?|
|Hawaii - the biggest SPAM consumer IN THE WORLD|
|Acai bowl - ummmmmmm|
|Middle East appetizer|
|Papaya + mango + avocado = YUM|
|MUD CAKE ;)|
|IHOP feast post-race.|
|Another burger I can't remember where...|
|Low carb yo!|
|Pina colada =)|
|Swimming paddles anybody?|
|If you look closely - you can see that this is a cop car.|