So here I am on my way back to the mother land. Overall, I have to say, travelling to Kona was a great experience that I think will pay dividends in the future. I feel like I’ve learned a great deal about the idiosyncrasies of the island and the race. And now that I have a decent understanding of what I can expect in Kona, I think I will be better able to recreate the conditions and lessen the shock on race day.
My last post ended with my workout on Thursday October 9th. That day I did a moderate length brick workout (180k to 10 mile run). The next day I decided to give my bike legs a break and did only an hour spin at 230w. This was good as it allowed me to put a bit more focus on my run for the day. Initially I had intended on doing a 21.5 mile run workout (34km). But, I was still feeling very good around 18 miles, so I decided to tack on a couple more intervals and run a marathon. Once I got to the marathon, I was still feeling good and decided to run 28.1 miles (approximately 45k). What’s funny is that I was still feeling good then, and the thought of running 50 kilometers actually popped into my head. I was running on a different treadmill than I am used to though, and decided to err on the side of caution. If I have a similar experience this week (when I am back running on my treadmill) I will likely go for it. I think it’s important to note, that just three weeks ago I was finding 35 kilometers of running a bit of a stretch. I am a bit shocked at how quickly the body can adapt. Here is the details of the workout that I did:
- 4km w/u to 1km@3:06/km with 0.43kmR@6:10/km to 2km@3:23/km with 0.25kmR@5:20/km to 4km@3:33/km with 0.8kmR@5:20/km to 8km@3:40/km with 0.96kmR@5:20/km to 1km@3:06/km with 0.43kmR@6:10/km to 2km@3:23/km with 0.25kmR@5:20/km to 4km@3:33/km with 0.8kmR@5:20/km to 4k@3:40/km with 0.25kmR@5:20/km to 4k@3:40/km with 0.25kmR@5:20/km to 2.9km@3:40/km to 3km c/d. Total distance: 45km. Total time: 2:55:11 (through the marathon in 2:41:46).
I capped off Friday with a swim workout. Saturday was the Ironman World Championship. I had been advised that it is virtually impossible to get a good spot at the swim start without a VIP or special pass. I decided to sleep in and watch the start of the race on the computer. I could tell the athletes were going to have a decently challenging swim, by how big the waves crashing by my condo were. About a half hour before the swim was over I hopped on my moped and attempted to drive down to watch the athletes coming out onto the bike course. Unfortunately, I did not realize that they literally shut the entire town down for the race, and the police would not let me drive through to where I could see the bikers. This meant I had to drive back home and grab my pedal bike. By the time I was able to get across town, the leaders had already passed by on the bike. Fortunately, I was able to see the 54 minute plus swimmers as they passed by.
Afterwards, I went home and did a 1.5 hour ride on the CompuTrainer at around 240w. I am very grateful that the good folks at CompuTrainer were able to ship me a CompuTrainer to use while I was on the Big Island. It was a huge help. I rode until the leader (Sebastien Kienle) was getting off his bike. I was fortunate in that my condo was at exactly kilometer 5 of the run course; this meant I could hop off the bike, have a quick shower, then walk out the front door and watch how the race was unfolding. First to come by was Sebastien Kienle. My first thought when he passed by was “wow, he looks good!” I then saw the next twenty or so athletes pass by and was able to listen to their breathing, see their facial expressions etc. I had a very good feeling that Kienle was going to win the race. He looked and sounded better than everyone else! But, that was only kilometer 5. The athletes then passed me again (it was an out and back section on Alii Dr.) at kilometer 10, and once again, Kienle looked and sounded the best. He was my pick to win the race prior to acquiring this knowledge. One can only imagine what it must have felt like to be the two-time reigning champion at 70.3 Worlds, and then finish 18th…especially without any excuses for the performance. I finished 18th at St. George 70.3 at the beginning of the year, and that was probably the most motivating race I have ever had (once I finished sulking and feeling sorry for myself). It is no surprise to me that Kienle rebounded as he did.
Once they ran by me for the second time I hopped on my pedal bike and rode out to mile 13/22 on the Queen K highway. Unfortunately, I missed the top 5 guys or so as they were passing through 13 miles, but I did see many of the others. It was a very interesting sight. Many great athletes were really beginning to unravel. Some were walking. Others were puking. These were Ironman champions, Ironman 70.3 champions, and Olympians, walking and puking! If that doesn’t give you some perspective on how hard and cruel this race can be, I don’t know what will! I am glad I saw this, as I will keep these images very close by in my mind while training, so that I do not forget to give the race my utmost respect. When Kienle came by me at mile 22, he still looked good. It was an awesome sight to see. You could tell the dude was totally engulfed and focused on the task at hand. I bet a bomb could have gone off next to him and he wouldn’t have heard it. Next up was Ben Hoffman followed by Jan Frodeno. This was where the “race” was really taking place, so I decided to follow fairly closely on the bike. I rode about 10 meters back and to the right, behind Frodeno. You could tell he was working hard, but the way he was running I thought for sure he was going to catch Hoffman.
Once Frodo turned onto Kuakini off of Palani (about 500 meters to go), I quickly hopped across the run course and rode to the finish. I didn’t get to see Kienle finish, but I got to see everyone else. It was pretty intense. I had a few shivers and a few tears streaming down my face by the end. It was amazing to be at the race I have been dreaming about seeing in real life, and seeing so many great athletes all at once. It left me feeling massively inspired.
One thing I did find interesting about this race is that it is not necessarily the biggest or highest energy race ever. The finish line and transition area is set up in a very small space, so it is difficult for the race to have a “massive” feel to it. To be honest, I thought the energy at 70.3 Worlds was more electric (it should be noted that I did not stay until midnight to watch the final finishers as I had my own training to do bright and early the next morning; thus, my perspective may change a little once I experience this as well). What I think makes this race very special is the athletes; not so much the venue, the course, the conditions, etc. Just about every athlete at the race considers this to be the pinnacle of long distance triathlon. Everyone who shows up to the race, shows up in their absolute best form. I think the shivers and tears came from realizing that I had just witnessed the strongest, fastest, toughest long course triathletes in the world at the moment, all tapered and giving it everything they had.
Sunday morning I started off with a 45 minute ocean swim. My intention was to then bike the course and then run a half-marathon off the bike. Unfortunately though, these last three weeks of training started to catch up with me. By the time I got to Hawi (the bike course turnaround) I was already struggling to push my desired wattage. I decided at the turnaround that it was time for some recovery. So I biked down to the base of Hawi and then put my bike in the trunk of my coach’s car. Of course, this is always difficult. Doubts start running through your head. “Am I being a wimp?” “Am I just trying to get out of training today?” But over several years I have come to find that when I say it’s time for a break, it’s actually time for a break…I’m not wimping out.
When I got home I uploaded my ride. 112.5k in 2:59 at a 270w average. Once the data was uploaded I saw that I was sitting at 700k for the week. This tied my highest weekly mileage ever. After some lunch and refocusing, I decided that I was going to go for a leisure bike ride and make it 800k. Once out on the bike, I felt significantly better than the first ride. I ended up biking 102.5k in 2:47, with an average power of 260w. This left me feeling satisfied, and so afterwards I truly decided to allow my bike legs some time to recover.
On Monday I planned on doing another long run workout. I wasn’t entirely sure how my legs would feel after biking 215k the day prior, but I went into it with the intention of running at least 20 miles (32km). In the end I ended up running 27 miles (43.2km). Once again, I had the desire to keep going! What I love about long course triathlon is that there is just so much potential to push the limits of the body. In short course you tend to be a slave to your physiology (in my opinion anyways). If you don’t have a massively high Vo2Max, then you certainly won’t be running off the bike with the Brownlees and Gomez (this of course can be improved through training, but your initial set point will dictate just how far you will be able to push it). As I mentioned before, Ironman is very submaximal, so as long as 2:35-2:40 for the marathon is submaximal for you, you’ve at least got a shot at being a good Ironman runner. Anyways, here is the workout I ended up doing:
- 4km w/u to 3x(6k@3:33/km with 0.8kmR@5:20/km) to 4x(3.2km@3:33/km with 0.4kmR@5:20/km) to 3.2km@3:40/km to 1.25km c/d. Total volume: 43.2km (27 miles). Total time: 2:45:45 (through the marathon in 2:39:48).
After the run workout I went to the pool and did a hard swim workout. The entire time I focused on trying to speed up my breath when I breathe to the right. It has come to my attention that when I breathe to the right I spend a lot of time on my side and my legs start to sink. To counteract this I do a big scissor kick, which ultimately is like putting the brakes on. I don’t do this though when I breathe to the left; I would imagine because breathing to the left is a bit foreign to me and so I don’t spend an unnecessary amount of time on my side.
Tuesday was my last day in Kona so I decided to take it as a leisure day. In the morning I did an easy 1.5 hour bike (165w average). Then in the early afternoon I did an easy swim. The rest of the time I just relaxed and enjoyed the warm weather. Right before I left for the airport I took one last dip in the ocean.
So that was my trip to Kona. I had an awesome time. I am so grateful for all the people who have come together and allowed me to have this experience. You guys are the best. I have no words to describe my gratitude. The only thing that could have made the trip better was having my family there. Next year I will work to make this a reality.
So now I am headed back to Hamilton for one last hard block before I head to Florida. I am forced to take Wednesday completely off of training as I am travelling all day. But, Thursday I hope to start a short but hard 7-8 day block, before doing a 7 day taper leading into the race. I will try and do a post in the next couple of days on how the final block goes, as well as my head space leading into my first professional Ironman race.
While in Kona, Louis Garneau did a photoshoot for the new Gennix TR1. Here are two of my favourite pictures from the shoot (they were taken coming down from Hawi):
Thanks for reading!