Thursday, October 13, 2011
Kona 2011 Race Report (9:35)
Kona 2011 Race reportAfter many requests I will write a race report the best I can. I also have talked about my experience on our new TrainingBible Podcast on Itunes.
The night before is pretty much where everything started for me. I was hanging out with Justin Hand and Scott Iott. We all stayed together in ths same house which helped tons with the pre race anxiety. Scott and I train together all the time, but Justin is a guy I just met that week and lives in South Africa. What an awesome guy and definitely a highlight of the week getting to know him. He has a running store there, has run the Comrades Marathon (which is 56 miles) 7 times! Very cool stories all week.
We headed up to our rooms for bed while everyone else in the house was out at the parties that people who aren’t racing were attending and I made the mistake of readining blogs and internet sites…. After getting a bit worked up over some of the comments I decided it was all just crazy to worry about. I told myself “ Self, you’re here for you, enjoy the day. Whatever happens, happens. I have worked way too hard to get wrapped p in anything other then the fact I have had an awesome season no matter how the day unfolds”. That clarity was a huge relief and helped me sleep great all night which is rare for me.
Come on, it’s pre race… Not much going on here hopefully and there wasn’t. Sat around with the guys and just waited to get going. Decided to go find my spot in the swim and be ready to roll. I decided to line up right next to the pier and see what happened. I was going back and forth with this but then thought “f-it” why not. So I did.
I had a goal of making a front ack so this is one of the reasons I went on the fastest line. I went very hard to keep up with the draft of a guy I found early and decided no matter what the time was, I had swam as hard as I could. I was a bit disappointed with the 57 time but then learned everyone was a couple min off so I was cool with that. The swim spot was brutal for about a min, then was pretty Ok for most of the swim. If I went back I think I would choose the same spot. There isn’t ever an IM swim that I am not looking forward to being done with about 15 min of swimming and this was the case here as well.
I did so much better this year in Transition and was about 2 min faster then last year. On to the bike.
The Bike –
I was in the top 30 starting the bike and this was a perfect spot I thought. I was about 3 min +/- from the leaders and was feeling good. This race I definitely wanted to be more aggressive then I had ever been before, and really race for a podium spot. I felt in shape to do 445 on the bike without too much trouble and wanted to do that. The goal was to keep a 24mph average for as long as possible and see how easily I could do that. Unlike last year I feel the way out on the Queen K was fast, but harder then last year. At least it was taking a bit more effort then normal. I was slightly concerned but told myself this is just going to be flipped and I need to be aggressive in the harder part of the course, just like last year.
At mile 40 I started the climb up to Hawi and this is when I decided to push the pace a bit. I rode through about 20 guys, caught a good friend of mine Tim Hola and he said the lead group was just 30 seconds up. I went up to that group and started to ride through them. I was 1:20 down from the lead of the race at the turnaround at mile 60 and thought I was doing OK.
Right after that I stopped for Special needs and they couldn’t find my bag!!. UGH. I thought about rolling but I decided to wait a min and get my nutrition like I would tell my athletes. It took just over a min, but it felt like an ETERNITY. I saw guys passing me that I had just worked to pass, and tried not to get too worked up. Once I got the bottles, they were frozen… SOLID… are you kidding me??? So they were basically worthless. The next aid station was only water and I could feel my attitude slipping which told me I was low on calories. I had to back off and conserve. To do anything else would be foolish.
At mile 70 I was finally getting calories in and decided to just regroup. I wasn’t feeling good, the day wasn’t feeling “on” more like one of the training days we all have that for whatever reason just feel harder then it should. In stead of fighting it I decided to just chill and ride conservative. This was of course disappointing, but I tried to tell myself to save it for the run and not completely ruin the day.
In conclusion last year I rode 4:52 @ 236 watts. This year I was 4:55 @ 239. So was this an “easier” day? I don’t think so. Did I go out too hard, probably a touch, but I should have been able to handle it and I wanted to get to the front and roll the dice. I was excited to just be fit enough to be even playing with the top of the field and wouldn’t have been satisfied this race just playing it conservatively. I knew I could do that. I do want to get a plan that doesn’t NEED special needs.
I tried to relax and just get myself situated. It was clear to me that a speedy transition wouldn’t decide my day. On to the run.
Two words: Wasn’t Happening.
I knew straight away it wasn’t a “magical” day. So within 2 miles I decided to play defense. I told myself what I tell my athletes which is we all want the perfect day. Anyone can race well on those days however it’s more likely you’re going to have some issue(s), then what? I tried to not let my ego dictate and all I thought about was form, cadence, forward lean, and rhythm for as long as I could.
I made an early choice to walk the aid stations, let HR come down and do the best I could. When I was running I was still running between 7:15-7:40 pace which told me I was fit, just wasn’t getting the calories. My stomach wasn’t upset, just wasn’t absorbing very quickly. This caused me to slow down the calorie intake which drove my sustained energy down I think.
I walked most of Palani hill, drank a coke and tried to re group. I was shocked that I went through the half way in 1:40 and was encouraged that my “Defensive” strategy was doing its job. With 4 miles left I could still potentially break 9:30 which was my new goal. I knew it was a long shot, but it was what I focused on. I reminded myself of just last year I never broke 10 hours and how pumped I would be with the time.
I ended up encouraging a couple other guys to finish up strong with me and I went 9:35. (3:34 marathon).
The Finish Finally!!
I got to the finish line and was getting teary. I felt this was a hard fought victory in years past I would have lost. This year I went 9:35 on a terrible feeling day at Kona! I felt so proud of myself for battling through the way that I did. I know it is only because of my fitness and all that I have learned as a coach. Sure I wanted to be faster, there is no doubt I will have faster times, but this one was more satisfying in some ways then last year’s 9:16. I felt that this one truly legitimized me as a 9:30 or better Ironman guy because I did it in adverse conditions on a hard day.
I want to say thank you to everyone who helped me.
I going to do Ironman Florida for a PR and see what happens, but then not sure exactly yet what next year will bring.
MAD PROPS to Steve Johnson and of course Tim Hola. You guys raced awesome. We did battle all summer. I definitely won some, but so did you guys including this one and I want to say thanks to you both for being a lot of my inspiration for training hard. You guys are studs, and my hat is off to both of you.