Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Big Island Time

Super Supporter
It's already been almost two weeks (how is that possible?) since Kona #7 and we've been home for almost a week.  We flew back home after a week of relaxing with friends post race and arrived home to....rain!  Oh man, not at all what I wanted to see.  Yes, CA is still in a massive drought so we def need the rain, but after a month of sunshiney paradise, it wasn't a beautiful sight.  I know, you can play the worlds smallest violin for me...a MONTH in Hawaii and you are complaining about coming home to California?  I know, terrible, how about we blame the post race blues? do you have post race anything after a month in Hawaii and the opportunity to race your 16th Ironman and 7th Kona?  Now you have a bit of insight into how I feel after each race.  Particularly post Kona is  really hard for me.  Not doing much training, still tired from the race and worst of all?  Friends that you normally see for almost the entire weekend between 6 hour rides, 2+ hour long runs, swims and strength, are also in their off season, so friend time goes down to a lot less (yes, we will work on some dinner/wine dates, but not at all the same as all weekend sun friend time!).  Queue your sad panda face here.  Does this happen to anyone else?  It must, right?

Friends make Kona even better
The race?  Ah yes, the purpose here is to talk about the race.  It's hard to be so Type-A, this was a really hard race for me (what about it was so hard?  I can't put my finger on that yet).  I got back to work and colleagues asked if I had a great race.  I had a GOOD race, it was solid and consistent with my performances over the season.  For that, I am incredibly grateful.  You see the carnage that Kona creates and all along the course, you see dreams crushed.  When I see that, I put any ego in check and tell myself it ain't over until I cross that line, shorts unsoiled ;) I am incredibly aware that I have been gifted 7 solid races in Kona and for that, I am so thankful.  Did I want to do better?  ALWAYS!  Who doesn't?  Was I happy with 5th place and a 3rd umeke bowl?  To use meaning from the umeke, yes, I know what it feels like to feel full to the brim with happiness and gratitude.  The women in front of me, were stellar, all running a few minutes faster than me and a few biking faster.  In order to have done better, I would have had to have one of those, ON FIRE, feeling FAB races.  And I just didn't have that day, and that is A-OK...those races are so few and far between, that you have to mostly do the best with a GOOD day that you can.  And that's what I did.  Below are some thoughts on each leg...

Coeur and Betty Undies!
Race week was so much fun as always, the underpants run is a great fundraiser and a chance to be silly pre-race, and bike check in is like the red carpet for triathletes.   Argon18 had a great dinner on Wednesday for their athletes and getting to see the crew from Roka often was just awesome. 

Pre race food: rice, two eggs, avocado, cold brew coffee, bottle of BT hydration.  30min pre race, 1 bottle pre-load and a banana.  Total kcals ~750

Roka Swim: 1:01:38 (EXACT same time as 2013 aka the FAST year when I went sub-10) ties for my PB in Kona
pretending to swim like a dolphin
I lined up pretty much in the center of the front line.  I planned to go out hard and then hold on as best I could for the swim.  It honestly wasn't that bad, I am such a fan of the separate start for women.  It did get crowded and a bit pushy right before the gun went off, but that's 700+ nerves just WAITING to be released, that is not avoidable.  I hit it hard and at one point was thinking it would be nice to slow down..then reminded myself if I did, I would promptly be run the eff over by the women not slowing down on their dreams.  So I pressed on.  I messed up my garmin at the start so didn't have swim time, but only actual time of day so I saw at the turn around it had been 29 minutes, which I have seen way too often en route to a 1:04/1:05 swim split here.  Finally, we got a bit of assistance on the way back and pretty evenly split the swim.  We started going through the men before the turn around, but I and by I, I mean the gal I was drafting off of for the ENTIRE race seem to have found a better path through them this year and didn't have too many issues.  I was happy that I kept on it and was able to stay focused the entire swim, thinking about good cadence and finishing strong.  As with this entire day, the swim was over before I knew it and it's time to RIDE!

Bike Nutriton: Half recipe of salty balls, two Gu stroopwafels (SO GOOD), 7 bottles of BT Hydration, loads of water, and two bottles of coke (can I get an amen for coke on the bike?) For a total kcal count of about 1700 or roughly 310/hour which is LOW for me, I am typically around 350-375

Argon18 and Enve Bike: 5:39:56
Mile 111 and smiles
Pre-race, for the past few months (er, 6+) I'd been having some pretty rough back pain and had been doing everything I could to quash it....mobility daily, massage, chiro, acupuncture, anything I thought would help it, I was doing!  Thankfully, the rest from the taper made things much better and I was able to ride pain-free which was awesome...I normally start to get really tight in my lower back around mile 90?...maybe an indicator I could have gone harder if nothing was hurting?  I want my 2013 time back please of 5:16!  I've not had amazing bikes here over the past three years and need to get some of my biking prowess back.  This is where I was out split pretty significantly by 4th and 1st place...there is always work to do right?  And that is what keeps us coming back for more, and more and more....The bike this year was very different, I was riding closely to a few women who I know to be very solid performers so thought I was having a pretty good bike if I could stick with them.  It's fun to see how differently people ride, I tend to be strong on flatter sections and will get passed on hills and then re-pass on the flatter to down section.  Being around these women I know personally was great, we were able to encourage each other, exchange a few words about how drafting sucks, etc.  But again, having them in my sights was a great motivator.   There was a head wind in both directions (how does that happen every single year?!), and thankfully the cross winds coming down from Hawi were pretty tame.  Mark was out on the Kuakini, and at Kawaihae along with two other friends so seeing them and getting encouragement is just awesome.  Mark has the spectating game NAILED.  The aid stations were also one point I was giving too many fist bumps to "Let me take another Selfie" and missed a bottle...whoops!  I had also been having some MAJOR stomach issues race week (hello stress and too many acai bowls) so was not able to eat as much as I normally would have and started to crave water only around mile 90 but forced myself to keep drinking the hydration mix as I know how critical electrolytes are.

Run kcals: 5 gels, 2 glucose tabs, coke!  Total about 322/hour estimating 2oz of coke/mile

Smith and Coeur Run: 3:33:00 pretty standard...I ran a 3:32 LY and a 3:30:59 the year before...where is the 3:25 that I KNOW is in there?!!

Anyone behind me?!!
I knew that as I headed into the run, I was a bit low on calories so as I headed out of transition, I immediately had a gel, my 5hour energy, and a top up of pre-load so that I didn't have to drink any gatorade. I carried 4 Gu's with me and had one more in special needs (anyone else find that the Clif gels on course are like bricks and you actually have to bite into them?) and planned to have one every 30min so that combined with coke, I would be able to hit a pretty good kcal intake for the run.  I know that we got lucky this year on the run as cloud cover came in just after I left Alii and headed up onto the Queen K.  So again, it was a hard year for me and really with cloud cover, I'm not so sure why, but MAN did the run hurt.  The first few miles for me are always pretty hard, you've already gone a long way, you've got a long way to go and I haven't yet really found my rhythm.  I immediately start my, ice in the bra/hat, coke, water at every aid station and am oh so thankful for those cold sponges.  I came off of the bike in 6th place and just had my plan of running as I could and hopefully I would find gals as the day wore on.  Going into the energy lab, Mark told me 4th was JUST ahead of me and I made my pass to overtake her on the downhill into the lab.  Unfortunately, Mark had miscounted and he let me know as I came out of the energy lab, that I was actually in 5th.  WAH,wah...6ish miles to go and I had to hang on for 5th as 4th was 7 minutes up the road, there was not likely to be a 4th place finish in my future.  The gal in 6th was about 2 minutes back and stayed there, but the 7th place gal was moving fast and overtook for 6th and ended up only a minute back from me, so the end of the run wasn't super enjoyable as I was feeling the pressure to keep up the pace and wasn't really able to enjoy the end of the run on Alii as much as possible.  Thank you to Michelle for taking the best panic pic of me and telling me there was no one behind me! As I went under the Banyan tree, I tried to smile and enjoy it and as I crossed the finish line, I just had nothing...couldn't even do my normal arms in the air as I cross the line in celebration.  The tank was empty! I had an awesome catcher at the finish line who had to hand deliver me to Mark as I needed a bit of support!

Waterfall landing
It really was one of the most awesome trips ever.  I got to swim with dolphins for the first time ever, hung out with good friends who I only get to see in Kona, and took a helicopter trip of the island that BLEW my socks off. To see lava flowing is just powerful and awesome.  

Jana & I share another podium
There really is no finish line like the Hawaii finish line, the spectators along Alii are just awesome, all of the chalk messages from friends and family, the smell of the Banyan tree, it's just magical and I'm grateful for the opportunity to have crossed another finish line.  It's now time for a bit of rest and to see what the next year will bring! 

I couldn't get to the start line without the help of my immediate and extended family including sponsors and friends.  Many mahalos to all of you!