Friday, October 16, 2015

Kona Take 6

Fave Kona spot
I can't believe that this past Saturday marked my 6th finish along Alii Drive.  But at the same time, I can't imagine being anywhere else on the 2nd Saturday in October.  Along the way, Kona has become an incredibly special place to me and a time of year that I look forward to for so many reasons...I get to see friends that I only see on the island and I get to race my fave race of the year.  I keep thinking my excitement and love for this race will die down and it seemingly won't stop!

I got to Kona two weeks before race day so that I could do my entire taper there and have even more time to acclimatize.  It was awesome to be there early when the island was still a bit sleepy.  I stepped off the plane and knew I had landed in my happy spot with that first BIG breath of hot, wet, full fat air! The heat and humidity were high this year, I'm not a big sweater, but I would come back from a 30min run and Mark once asked if I had gone into the pool...the answer was, no.  It was just that hot. Thankfully, I was not feeling the heat and was getting ready for race day.  Once I landed, I immediately started using pee strips (TMI?!) to test my hydration levels on a daily basis.  I think many of us focus on hydration the day before and maybe even days before a race, but in talking with Stacy from Osmo, she says that it should be an area of focus for the entire taper.  That's right, for the ENTIRE time, you need to be making sure you're getting enough electrolytes.  Which, on an island in the Pacific can be a challenge! I think this really paid off and know had I not been as focused on it, I would have had "enough" water, but would not have been hydrated.
Nothing beats an ocaen swim

After a week by myself, Mark finally arrived and then the rest of the Coeur crew and Kayla arrived and I knew race day was near!  We had fun swimming at the pier, getting coffee and just laying low. Argon18 hosted a great dinner early in the week and showed off the can't wait to get my hands on one new line of tri bikes.  They were incredible at making sure our entire fleet of Coeur Argon's were ready to roll FAST on Saturday,  Enve also released a new wheel Tuesday night which was awesome. Knowing that the Enve's are so stable in the Kona mumuku's makes me much less nervous about race day and wind conditions.   The rest of the race week prep went smoothly, Mark put on new tires, washed my bike and I got bags ready, food prepped and bottles ready.

Thank you Erin and Mark!
Throughout the time in Kona, I was trying to think of the race as "just another race".  Nothing special, as I wasn't going to change anything on race day that would be different from how I normally race, this just happened to be the last race of the season...and the World Championships ;) I think this really helped and I was much calmer Thursday/Friday than I normally am and I also slept better Friday night.  I spent a lot of time visualizing- I was on the massage table and spent the entire hour going through the race- from eating breakfast to crossing the finish line, and everything in-between.  I also threw in getting a flat tire, terrible winds, choppy water and tried to imagine how I would just keep eating and drinking.  My goal was to not be outcome oriented but process oriented.  I wanted to do the BEST that I could, in each possible moment and trust in my training, and my ability to execute.

With all of that, here we go!

Nutrition Pre Swim: 2 eggs, rice, triple shot espresso, banana, peanut butter, bottle of pre-load, bottle of active ~800kcals

Swim: 1:04:37, 3rd AG and I believe top 10 Amateur. Garmin had 2.6 miles, so I will take this as a WIN for time :)
Race Day Hugs!

Pre-swim with KK
After the pros went off, that was my cue to start getting ready.  I went out of the athlete area and did my usual go talk to Mark, apply Body Glide, drink a few more sips of water and get my last pre-race hug.  We meet at the same place each year so there is no stress over where I'm going to find him. Then it was back into the athlete area and after the men went off, we still had a few minutes before we needed to get into the water.  I couldn't find Kayla but found a few Coeur teammies to hang with before we got in.  After we were in the water, the sun was BRIGHT and I knew it was going to be a good day, no matter the outcome.  I chose the Roka F1 dark gray/silver mirror goggle and was so pleased I did as there was truly no cloud cover for the start of the race. I went out hard as I always do to try and get clear water and away from the pack behind.  It was a really great swim, I didn't have too much contact and women, on the whole, are SO MUCH MORE POLITE in a mass swim.  I found feet immediately and thought that we were swimming really well.  Soon enough we hit the turn around and I stayed with the two women I had found for the rest o the swim.  One of them lead the entire way back and the other gal and I traded turns at her hip and then ended up single file as we navigated through the slower AG men.  I was blown away by the fact that we went through so many men, I don't recall it being like that LY and it seems that 15 minutes really isn't enough time between the men/women AG'ers.  As we approached the pier, I started thinking about going through transition, the order I would put things on and getting out of there lickity split. I didn't know where I was yet, but felt like I had swum comfortably and that I had swum well.  Thank you Stanford Masters and Roka!

Bike Nutrition: 5 Bonk Breaker bars (LOVE the salted caramel with electrolytes!), 8 bottles of Osmo Active, 1 full bottle of coke. ~2100kcals or about 371/hour. #eatlikeachamp

Photo: J. Blanco
Bike: 5:41:12- 13th in the AG :(

Photo: E. Klegstad
I went into the bike in the top 3 in the AG and top 10 overall and came off in 9th/10th in the AG and 34th overall.  It certainly wasn't my pony was the best there is available and I rolled the best wheels...I just didn't pedal fast enough or hard enough.  The first thing Mark said to me was "you've got work to do".  This part is hard for me. I thought that I was biking well and my watts say I had "best watts ever" during an ironman...and not by 1-2, but by a lot! When the gals came by me, I may have been too good at staying focused on my own race and not focused on THE race for the win.  Who knows what would have  happened had I tried to go with the top gals...maybe I could have, maybe not- but I have never biked slower in Kona (OK- the 1st year I went, but not counting that one).  The winds were not bad on the way out, but on the way to Hawi, I thought, wait, is that a sprinkle?  That quickly turned into "holy shit it's chucking it down sideways with wind", to "man I have to take off my glasses and OWWIE that huts my eyes it's raining so hard!".  I got to the turn around and thought to myself that there was NO way I was going to bomb down that hill and risk riding aggressively with hundreds of other triathletes- people who don't handle bikes well on dry land, let alone in the rain (myself included).  I wanted to keep my skin in tact.  Thankfully for me, right after special needs the sun came out, the rain stopped and the roads were immediately dry- that happens when it's 90 out ;) Back to the game plan of getting down from Hawi and back onto the Queen K.  I knew that I had been passed by some OK a lot of gals and the first 10 miles along the Queen K are typically pretty rough.  You know you have a long way to go still.  Pretty much right after we made the turn, you could tell it was going to be a rough and slow return to town, no favors today.  It was a lift to see friends at Puako cheering for me and then it was pretty much quality me time for the rest of the ride. I felt good for most of the ride, but had been nervous going into the race as I crashed at a race in August and had had some shooting hip pain that didn't allow me to get into aero.  Thankfully on race day, it did not flare up.  I could talk about the drafting for days and how bothersome it is, but I think everyone knows about the drafting and telling more stories and getting mad about it just doesn't help....although I did ask some gal how another gals's chamois smelled ;)

Run nutrition: 2 packs of energy chews and endless amounts of coke water and ice, glucose tabs over the last 10k.  Let's say you get 20kcals/cup of coke.  ~880 or 251kcals/hour

Run: 3:32:03, 8:05's and 3rd best AG run

Happy Finish! Photo by E. Klegstad
Magic on Alii
I think the run is the part of the race that I am most proud of.  Not because I ran quickly, but because I could have so easily given up and said "it's just not my day" and run slowly and given up and accepted 10th place.  But I didn't do that, and Mark told me to just keep running.  Doing my tortoise and the hare thing, eating, drinking and keeping as cool as possible.  That none of the pro women managed to break 3 hours on the marathon speaks to the toughness of the day and the heat. I mentally struggled along Alii which you would think wouldn't happen with all of the amazing spectators, but it did.  I got passed at least one more time on Alii before heading up Palani.  But as soon as I got onto the Queen K, I found my rhythm and began to see gals up ahead and could tell that I was running faster. I always enter the energy lab with the goal to find at least one woman to pass.  I started passing them around mile 18 (going into the energy lab I think I was still 9th).  By the time I came out of the energy lab, I had moved into 6th place and found 5th around mile 21.  Here I told myself that I had less than 2 laps around the neighborhood left and that I needed to run for Kayla (she qualified for Kona but got a stress fracture a few weeks out so was only able to swim/bike). The headwind that was present on the return ride home on the bike was still going strong and I tried to tuck in behind as many folks as I could along the way,  Just before mile 24, Mark let me know that 4th place was just up ahead and that she wasn't running as fast as I was.  Some amazing dude racing told me to tuck in behind him and he would try to bridge the gap.  He took off a bit too quickly and I had to tell him I'm the tortoise, not the hare!  I passed 4th around mile 24 and tried to make it look like I meant business so that she wouldn't try to come with me.  I feel a bit woozy from the effort and thought, oh man, I hope this isn't it!  Only two miles to can do two miles.  I made the turn onto Alii and saw friends and family and made sure to SAVOR the moment. I was going to successfully cross my 6th Kona finish line as 4th in the AG and on the podium.

Photo: Trijuice
Now that it's over and the soreness has almost worn off, I am happy with the result.  You can always do more, and yes, I would have loved to have biked better...just 3.5 minutes better to be exact and I would have gotten 2nd.  But I didn't and I can't be upset with 4th place.  I'm usually incredibly ready for the of-season and I'm not yet, but after mentioning that to coach, he ensured me I will be taking an off season!  The awards ceremony was awesome and the after party in the pouring rain was even better. A few coffees later and it was time to go home on Monday and head back to reality.  Soon enough we'll start to get the build to try to do it all again!
  35-39 Podium

Thanks for all of the cheers and support and see you in the off season!