Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Ironman Kona 2016 Race Report

After spending 2.5 weeks on the island, I was beyond excited for race day, and I was feeling the butterflies! I was what I call confidently nervous. Whether racing here for the 1st time or 4th time, the combination of excitement and nervousness is the norm, which makes race morning breakfast quite hard to get down. (This is no doubt my least favorite meal). I think this year I was nervous the most even though I was probably prepared the best! I had very high expectations of myself which isn’t anything new, but I also knew just how hard it will be to top last year’s performance. I really wanted to improve upon it, and I was afraid of letting so many people down if I didn’t. Self-pressure is real!

I woke up at 3:45 so that I could be done with my usual breakfast (bagel with peanut butter/jelly, banana and “Beet It” powder mixed in with apple juice) by 4:15 as I like to finish my breakfast 3 hours before race start to ensure it’s properly digested by race start (7:10am for all female amateur athletes). Shortly after breakfast, I was on my way to the transition area, and in a long line of athletes waiting to just get in. I really felt like the security at this year’s event had been stepped up - they even had sniffer dogs! (Sadly this is now the world we now live in and I would rather be safe than sorry).

Once in the body marking/transition area, I picked up my tri tats number (I picked up my number from the very same guy that guided me through transition the day before! Out of the thousands of volunteers I ran into the same person two days in a row – that surely must mean good luck, I thought). I then had another awesome volunteer apply my race numbers and finally got weighed in. This is not to make you feel bad about yourself, but rather for medical purposes and for your own good. It allows the med tent personnel to easily determine just how dehydrated or overhydrated you may be post race in case you do earn a trip there. They really don’t mess around here!

Then it was finally time to re-unite with my sexy beast; I mean my bike.

Mr. Flash Ready to Go! 

I pumped up my tires, added on my nutrition (Fluids, and 6 PowerBar gels) and then I added a few last minute essentials into my T1 & T2 bags – my race top (Castellli Stealth Top) pre-stuffed with my rice potato cakes (I wouldn’t want to leave those overnight) and PowerBar Perform powder packets into my T1 bag, and completely frozen Nathan handheld thermal water bottle into my T2 bag so that I could start the run with plenty of cold fluids to have whenever I wanted to. That was something I have never done before, but after learning how much I sweat particularly on the run thanks to the great support and work I have done with a company called Levelen, this was going to be important! If you struggle with your nutrition/fueling - you should check them out! The information they can give you is simply invaluable. Here you can also read how coach Jorge developed my fueling plan for race day. 

Click here to check out me entire fueling plan

After that I dropped of my morning clothes bag and went to find coach Jorge. I am quiet and focused race morning so not much gets said, but it’s always awesome to have him there. 

 Nervous but ready smile 

Now enough with the pictures already! 

The sunrise race morning was amazing, and I took a moment to appreciate just how incredible it was to be there!  (I unfortunately don’t have a photo to show you because I shy away from electronics on race morning – I mean business). Before I knew it, it was time to get the party started. For the first time ever, I got in a little swim warm up at the beach behind the King K hotel. I only did a couple hundred yards with some pick-ups but it helped to ease the butterflies and got my heart rate up a bit. I was even a bit chilly but I knew this was going to be the last time I felt like that all day so I didn’t complain. In fact I was trying to figure out how to bottle up that feeling for later.

Shortly after I was walking down the stairs into the water and my feet hit the sand of Kailua Bay. It’s really hard to explain what that feels like, but it is very special. This was my 4th time, and I don’t and never will take it for granted. I had a few words with Madame Pele and swam up to the start line.

I positioned myself about half way between the buoy line and the shore near the Roka floating sign and couple rows back in the hopes of jumping on some fast feet that would carry me to a new swim PR. The 10 minutes of treading water while surrounded by 100s of your closest friends while getting pushed around by the waves and trying not to kick anyone or be the recipient of a pre-race charlie horse feels like eternity!  And then all of a sudden the count down is on 30, 10, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 boom! The butterflies disappear! GO TIME!  

THE SWIM: 1:13:22 (5 min PR)

The “relatively” calm waters of Kailua bay get quickly churned up and the race is on. Everyone goes full speed ahead, yet it feels like there is nowhere to go. I don’t have the starting speed (yet) to get away and find clear water, so I was what felt like completely stuck in the middle of a washing machine.  I was getting pushed, and pulled and the jockeying for position was real! I don’t even know if it was so much jockeying for position as much as it was the fact we all just wanted to make forward progress. I held my own ground and defended my own “mini” space. There were a few times where I suddenly had a bit of clear water, but not for long. I took that as a sign that I was swimming faster since the course seemed much more crowded than ever before. I was keeping the effort in Czech. I felt smooth and strong, and I didn’t have that usual panic of getting lost and swimming off course (I have done that many times before). I swam straight, I sighted well, I drafted at times and I was swimming in a group. I glanced at my watch at the turn around and saw 33 min. I smiled a little on the inside, and even though I knew better to not simply double my time (the way back has historically always been slower), the thoughts of a 1:10 swim began to pop in my head.

This is seriously what I felt like half way through the swim! I do love my BlueSeventy two piece too :) 

I may not have a fast start, but I am “diesel” engine and tend to either speed up or keep whatever speed I have during the 2nd half of Ironman swims. As a result, I usually end up swimming in no man’s land but not this time. I really focused on passing whoever was slowing down, and getting on some faster feet for the way back. Mission accomplished! I had a company of a few female swimmers and together we were making our way back to the pier. I found a pair of feet and I stayed on them 90% of the way back. With each stroke my excitement was building. I continued to feel strong and relaxed. We had to weave in and out a lot of men and I eventually lost my feet but at that point I could see the pier, and I was oh ever so close!

The last couple of hundred yards seemed to last forever, but when I finally made it up the stairs and glanced at my watch and saw 1:13 ,I was beyond excited! It wasn’t the 1:10 I wanted, but it was a 5 min PR and probably my best executed Ironman swim to date. I wore the same Garmin as last year and although I know the swim distance may not always be correct I swam 4,399 yards vs. 4,608 in 2015! Progress!

 My BlueSeventy swim skin surely contributed to my improved swim time, and I had ZERO chaffing! 

My brand new pair of Nero Race goggles (I like to wear a new pair for races) was perfect for the conditions! 

T1: 3:13

I sprinted through the showers, grabbed my T1 bag and ran into the changing tent that was beyond packed! I guess that’s what happens when you swim a little faster. There was literally nowhere to sit and all the volunteers were busy! I just stopped in the corner and did what I needed to do on my own. Threw my trusty BlueSeventy swimskin and Nero Race goggles into the bag, put on my Castelli Stealth Top pre-stuffed with all my nutrition, along with my favorite pair of Swiftwick socks and of I went.

THE BIKE: 5:22:05 (Fastest AG, and 4th overall amateur bike split)

It’s always easy to start too hard especially when riding through town! This section of the course is lined with spectators, and even though I really tried to hold my horses back I still rode a bit too hard. It was what I had to do to stay out of the draft zone of others. When I hit the famous Palani hill, I really made sure I wasn’t burning too many matches. My power was still up there, yet I was getting passed left and right by people just hammering away out of their saddles, and rocking side to side willing their bikes up that hill.

Thumps Up going up Palani and feeling good! 

Once on the Queen K, I just put my head down and settled into my race pace! I was focusing on my effort, fueling, and cooling!  I felt strong and was riding well. I would slow down at every single aid station to grab extra water to cool myself of and I always kept 2 bottles of water on my bike in addition to my Profile Design bottle between my aero bars. I know it’s not exactly very aero and I may have lost some time there as a result, but in favor of not overheating and having the ability to have extra fluids for not just drinking but also cooling in between the aid stations, it was well worth it and I would do it again. I also decided against the rear hydration set up for ease of access.

2 bottles on the frame; profile design aero bottle on the front and one sexy bike! 

Of course the head wind picked up about 20 miles into the ride and never stopped! Although I love to go fast, and I love a nice tailwind, I know headwinds do play to my advantage due to my aggressive riding position. The windier it was, the more people I began to pick off one by one.  I knew some of the girls I was up against, and I always judge how I am doing based on the spot I catch them on the bike course.

By the time we began the climb to Hawi around mile 42, I had already passed a few competitors that I normally wouldn’t see until much later, so that gave me a nice little extra boost for the 18ish mile climb up to the turnaround at Hawi. Of course we had a headwind most of the time, with an occasional crosswind or two, but it wasn’t the worst I have ever experienced.

Once I got to the turnaround, I saw Gary (husband of one of my favorite 35-39 AG speedy competitors – Michelle Barnes whom I both met at IM Texas), and he told me who was up ahead and how far! I couldn't believe it! I was closer than ever before.  I also happened to see one of my major competitors hanging out at the penalty tent (She went 25 min faster than me last year), so I knew I was racing well! I made sure I started the descent fully loaded on fluids, and took off. The crosswinds were blowing a bit, but I just put my head down and put the power to the pedals.

Flying with the tailwind down from Hawi (You can see the direction of the bushes on the side indicating much needed although momentary tail wind) 

I love to descend, and I love to go fast. The winds at Hawi do scare me no doubt, but I always think the faster I get down, the sooner it will be over – not quite sure that’s the safest logic, but that’s what it is. I averaged nearly 35 mph for little over 6 miles on about 65% effort! Talk about flying! Makes me excited just thinking about it! Mr. Flash is FAST!

It didn’t however last long and the rest of the section my average speed dropped to barely 22mph! Not that that’s not fast, but after going 35, 22 feels like standing! It was on the descend from Hawi that I went by another one of my competitors Hailey, whom I have shared a few IM podiums with before. This was definitely the earliest I have seen her on this course so it gave me yet another little boost.

I knew I had to keep the pedal to the metal if I wanted a chance to get the “W”. The last 30 miles of this course have always gotten to me before, and I still didn’t get it completely right. (I guess I'll have to try again).  I knew my power would most likely drop a bit due to the nature of the course, but I let it drop a lot more than I wanted to. 

The power wasn't quite there at this point, but at least I was staying aero and still moving fast thanks to Mr. Flash! 

I was still cooling like a champ, and for once didn’t overheat, but perhaps the lack of electrolytes I somehow lost about 30 miles into the ride had finally caught up with me. (Had I known I actually lost them, I would stop, but I had no idea I lost them until I went to reach for my container with SaltSticks and it was gone!) Because I not only sweat quiet a bit but my sodium sweat concentration is very high, I needed to be taking anywhere between 1,400 – 1,500 mg of sodium every hour on the bike. When your daily (not hourly) recommended value is 1,500, you get the picture. I get some sodium from the drinks, gels and rice/potato cakes, but the 2 additional salt pills I should have been taking every hour weren't happening. Was that why I was struggling to hold my usual power late into the ride? Maybe, but we will never know, and such is racing. I kept moving along as best as I could ignoring my power meter and at least staying fueled and hydrated all the way into T2.

 Around the corner from T2 - still staying aero and doing my best with what my legs were giving me. 

Feet on top of the shoes - ready for my flying dismount! :) 

T2: 3:20

I may not be able to do the flying mount, but I have perfected the flying dismount. I “flu” of my bike and headed toward the T2 tent. I wore my favorite pair of Swiftwick socks on the bike for one and only reason – NOT burning the bottoms of my feet during the run from the bike to the changing tent (I did last year and lesson learned – never again!). This time the tent was completely empty, and I had about 5 volunteers taking care of me – what a treat! Cycling socks off, fresh pair of Swiftwicks on, Dr. Cool cooling towel and headband on, and with my still semi frozen Nathan handheld I was out of there.

THE RUN: 3:31:38 (Run PR)

I started the run 2nd in Age Group which is the highest I have ever been starting the run. Again – I was trying to hold my horses back and not go out too fast! My running has been going really well, and I was ready to show it. 

Excited at the very start of the run decked out in my Dr. Cool cooling accessories and of course my Castelli Stealth Top! 

I ran by HR the first 10 or so miles and was really trying to keep it in control. The crowds along Alii’ drive make it really easy to go out way faster than one would like. 

Checking the HR early into the run

Focus! 

I have learned the hard way. It’s all fun and games until you shuffle up Palani hill and turn left on the famous Queen K. All of a sudden the crowds disappear and it’s you, your fellow competitors and your brain! The terrain is nothing but flat – it’s either slightly up or slightly down, but it feels much more up and down when running rather than riding. The heat is radiating of the road and the lava.It just seems like the road will never end until you take a 90 degree left hand turn into the famous energy lab.
Energy Lab – the place where air doesn’t move; the place that owned me the last 3 years BUT not this time. (Well at least not as bad as in the years past).

I used my special needs bag for the first time ever and picked up another still nearly frozen Nathan handheld water bottle that I used to cool myself of on the way out of the energy lab! The gigantic Cliff bar sponges while in the energy lab were also life saving. 

Two feet nearly off the ground in the energy lab is always a good sign! 

I was slowing down, but never let my pace drop below 8:30 min/mile which in comparison to my 10 min miles the first time around, 9:30 the next, low 9s the next is another step in the right direction.
I was definitely hurting, but this time not giving in. I was now running from aid station to aid station and just chugging coke and water like it was my job. I didn’t quite get the same boost like I did last year in the closing miles of the race, and ended up getting passed twice around mile 25. It sucked, but I had nothing left to respond. I threw myself down Palani as best as I could (I LOVE downhill running), but I just couldn't close the gap. I really tried going with the girls, but the tank was empty. My brain was telling me to go, but my body had nothing more to give, and THAT is a great feeling. 

 So so close now! 

The best "last" mile of any Ironman! 

Yes – I went from 2nd to 4th in my AG at the end of a 10 hour race, but I gave it my all and cannot be disappointed. I left it all out there, and for the first time ever I was happy with the result even though I didn't reach the top of the podium like I wanted to. 

 The smile says it all 

 This feeling NEVER gets old! 

It hurts SO good! Couple hours later, and a few hours in the med tent and all is good in the world again! The chicken soup in Hawaii is damn GOOD! 

 Did I want to be faster? You know it! Did I win? No! Did I reach my goal? No! But I finished the race having no regrets, with a new Swim PR, run PR AND overall Ironman Kona PR of 10h13min, and with more fire in my belly then ever to come back and try again. I will win! ;)  

 The 35-39 podium on the best stage ever! 

Coach Jorge (the mastermind) and me! 

 The World Champion - Lisbeth Kenyon and me

 My "Umeke" at the beach! 

Celebrating at one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever been too! "Umeke" came along :)

Till next time :)! 

As always Thank You to my sponsors and supporters without whom I wouldn't be where I am today. E3 Triathlon Coaching and coach Jorge was his constant guidance, Quintana Roo for one speedy ride and the constant support at all races, BlueSeventy for the super comfy swim suits, skins, wetsuits and goggles, Levelen for all the sweat rate testing and help with dialing in my fueling/nutrition, Dr.Cool providing me with all the cooling products anyone could ever need especially in Kona like conditions, and of course Castelli Triathlon for the super speedy/comfy & cooling kits and training apparel, CycleOps for durable enough trainers that withstand all my sweat, and Beet Boost and Elevated Legs to keep me going strong for as long as possible while feeling fresh! 

I am one lucky girl, and can't wait for 2017! The plan to come back and climb to that top of the podium is in full effect! :) 


Sunday, November 20, 2016

2 Keys to becoming a stronger cyclist this winter

You want to ride your bike, but winter is fast approaching. The snow will be here before you know it, and day light is hard to find. You can either bundle up and head out the door to battle the elements OR you can invest in a bike trainer, and enjoy riding your bike indoors where safety nor lack of daylight is an issue!  

You may be thinking: “But riding indoors is boring and my trainer sucks!”

I beg to differ and here are a few suggestions and recommendations on how to make your indoor riding a positive experience. 

1.       Get a good, quality bike trainer!

I am a big fan of the CycleOps brand of trainers for many reasons such as high quality, ease of use, outstanding customer service and finally a wide variety of trainers to choose from! Not sure what trainer may be best for you? Check out their website! They will even help you to pick the right trainer for you based on your specific needs and your budget. Their product line up is extensive. Check it out by clicking here!
  
My suggestion would be to invest in at least a progressive magnetic resistance or fluid resistance type trainer for more of a quiet and smooth/road feel like ride. My personal favorite is the “Supermagneto ProTrainer”, and I have had mine forever! It’s super easy to use, and pretty much indestructible. This thing has seen a lot of sweat puddles, trips across the country so that I could ride my bike in a hotel room during long work functions, as well as trips to a local indoor track yet it’s still like new!

Pool of sweat after a short 45 min workout!

Fun on the track! Bike/run/bike/run/bike/run anyone?

It’s however about to take a back seat (except for those occasional trips to the track or road trips) to its new brother (an addition to the CycleOps family)  – “The Hammer”. I am very excited to get my hands on it, I mean my bike on it and hammer out some watts! See what I did there? ;)  Czech it out for yourself – this trainer will take your indoor riding yet to another level and really provide you with an ultimate indoor riding experience. Love to ride hills all year long, but your favorite mountain passes are under few feet of snow? You now can do just that from the comfort of your own living room or if you are lucky enough dedicated pain cave while feeling that 20% incline!

For details on this awesome new trainer click here.

Seriously can’t wait!

2.       Your trainer arrived – now what!
It’s time to ride! Indoor riding doesn’t need to be boring. Chances are you probably hop on an indoor trainer, put a movie on, and pedal away for as long as you can stand it for. Yes – that can definitely get old very quickly even for the extremely motivated individuals! Unless you are signed up for a very early season race, there is no need to do that. Winter (for most of us triathletes) is the time to address our limiters, and develop important non-specific fitness. So, if you are racing an Ironman next summer, there is no need to spend hours upon hours on the trainer now – that time will come. Instead I like to use the first few weeks of offseason to have fun, enjoy the ride, and not stress about heart rate or power. After a few weeks of unstructured rides, I start to focus on short but quality sessions geared toward improving Anaerobic capacity and VO2 max for 6-8 weeks.  These sessions are short, fun, very effective and perfect for the trainer! There is no need to worry about cars, stop signs, potholes or lack of daylight. I can just focus on putting my head down and getting the work done!

Getting it done in the comfort of my own living room!

Here are a couple of my winter personal favorites:

The “Lung Buster”
These anaerobic sessions are geared at improving your maximal power and “jump-starting” your fitness. By doing some short maximal efforts, you’ll give your legs and body a good dose of intensity without the sessions being overly long or aggressive.
·       Warm Up: 15 min @ 55-65% FTP (z1-z2 for those using HR) followed by 5 min as 30 sec @95% FTP (z4) & 30 sec @ 65% FTP (z1) to get the legs ready for the main set with 5 to 15 min @ 70 – 75% (z2-z3)
·       Main Set: 3 to 5 sets of the following: 3 x 20 sec ALL OUT with 40 sec @ 55% (z1) for recovery while each set of 3 intervals is followed by 3 min @ 60-70% (z2)
·       Cool Down: 5 – 10 min @ 55-65% FTP (z1 -z2)
·       Total Time: 45 min – 1 hour
1st week you start with 3 sets, and week after week you can increase the number of sets. This workout looks easy on paper, but give it a shot, and let me know how it goes! Sometimes I wonder how 20 seconds can feel so long.

The “Feel the Burn”
These VO2 Max sessions are geared toward improving your maximal aerobic power and lay down a great foundation so you can later work on your sustainable power (aka race pace - half- ironman/ironman pace etc.)
·       Warm Up: 15 min @ 55-65% FTP (z1-z2 for those using HR) followed by 5 min as 30 sec @95% FTP (z4) & 30 sec @ 65% FTP (z1) to get the legs ready for the main set with 5 to 15 min @ 70 – 75% (z2-z3)
·       Main Set: 5 to 20 sets of 10 x 30 sec @110-120% FTP (z5) with 30 sec @ 55% (z1) for recovery followed by 10-15 min @70-75% (z2-z3)
·       Cool Down: 5 – 10 min @ 55-65% FTP (z1 -z2)
·       Total Time: 50 min to 1h15min
Depending on your fitness level, the 1st week you can start with 5 sets, and week after week you can increase the number of sets to as many as 20. This workout again doesn’t look too intimidating on paper either, but give it a shot, and again let me know how it goes! It doesn’t take long before the 30 seconds of work feel twice as long as the 30-sec rest.

If you are still not convinced that indoor riding can be just as fun riding outdoors, you must check out the CycleOps “Virtual Training” app because this app literally lets you get outside (while staying in) and ride your bike on the same real routes you are used to during the summer months. You can even ride with your friends if you all start the ride the same time. Or maybe you can just pretend like you are riding through the lava fields – I can’t say I haven’t done that! Talk about specificity!

So here you have it – the combination of a great/quality trainer, fun/focused interval workouts, virtual training app of your choice, and you too can become a stronger cyclist over the winter months. Don’t wait – the time is now!

And If you are still reading, and are in the market for a trainer, CycleOps is offering 20% discount on selected trainers this week! Don’t miss out!

Personal Disclosure: I do actually ride my trainer all year long, and complete majority of my sessions during the week on it. Once the weather warms up, I do try get most of my 2-3+ hour rides outdoors if I can. I definitely wouldn't be the athlete I am now if it wasn't for the convenience if indoor riding. 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Kona Diaries – Day #17 (1 day)

I woke up feeling slightly off for 2nd day in a row. You know when you have that feeling like something is trying to get you! Not now, not today. There is no way I was getting sick now! I have felt so good the last few weeks that I just didn’t even allow myself to think that I could be getting sick. Power of the mind! And of course, let’s race already! And so I kept inhaling airborne and zicam to hopefully keep whatever it was trying to get me at bay. I focused on plenty of rest, and honestly didn’t even let my mind go there.

As soon as I woke up, I went to the pool and did a short 10 min swim with Jan Frodeno and Terenzo Bozone. (They also did a 10 min swim although they probably swam double the distance that I did!)

Then I then did a quick 30 min ride.

Ready to roll! 

 My legs for the first time on this island felt blah! Noooooooo!  Mantra of the day - positive thoughts, positive thoughts! I had plenty of power and umph, it just felt harder to sustain than usual. I ran into or rode into Mr. Cal  himself on the Queen K, but he again didn’t have any cupcakes with him! We rode into town together, wished each other luck, and I stopped by the BlueSeventy booth to pick up my race day goggles (I love my Neros and do like to race with new goggles every race) Thank you BlueSeventy – as always you guys rock and take care of your athletes!

Then it was time to pig out on breakfast – my favorite breakfast of the year! I actually try to stay in and make all the food at home rather then going out, waiting to be seated, and risk eating something that may not sit well with me. I had the usual pancakes, eggs, ham, toast and of course side of beet juice I mean apple juice with beet boost powder. (I inhaled it before I took a picture but I think you all saw enough food already) 

The rest of the day was spent relaxing, napping, visualizing AND positive thoughts!

I essentially lived in these bad boys the last few weeks & I have a discount code to share! If interested, shoot me a message. 

I checked and re-checked my transitions bags, and went to drop those along with my bike right around 3pm. 

All the powerbar nutrition fits into my "bento" box on my top tube, and into my extra storage (boobs) See the tube of salt? That will prove to be important tomorrow! Drink mix AND rice/potato cakes are missing from the photo as I brought those with me on race morning and added them into the T1 bag. 

Love me Dr.Cool cooling scarf and headband (must for all my hot races), Kinvara 7s, swiftwick socks, all the PowerBar gels & saltstick chews (super sweat machine over here), and new addition - Nathan handheld that I added into my T2 bag race morning and was still frozen  when I got to it! Score! 

Before the bike/bag drop off I squeezed in lunch (turkey/ham sandwich with some chips and side of papaya), and I also added a bottle of levelen for extra sodium. I already mentioned in my previous blogs that I do sweat quite a bit and I do lose a ton of sodium which is impossible to replenish all during the race and hence I have to preload and Levelen is great for that! Here is a link to my actual fueling plan if you are interested that my coach Jorge has done. If you struggle with fueling/nutrition don’t hesitate to reach out to me, and we at E3 can help!

The bike/bag drop off itself is a show! 

About to enter the red carpet

From bike companies lined up right next to each other along the narrow path  supporting their athletes to a ton of industry people just checking out your bike (not you) for all the different components so that all of you can then read who was the #1 bike brand, helmet brand, powermeter brand and the list goes on. For the first time this year (Trek doesn’t show up to Kona as probably one of the only big brands) I also received lots of love from the folks at QuintanaRoo. It sure does make you feel special, and I really am proud to represent such a great company!

On the red carpet with the QR team (I mean black carpet with red Mdots) 

Few more steps, and then you get your picture taken – I mean your bike gets your picture taken – and then you get to enter the pier that has now been transformed into an amazing T1 & T2 sight.

Each athlete gets their own volunteer (Thank you volunteers) that walk with you to your bike spot, and then to hang your T2 and T1 bags, and just like that the “Bike Check In” show is over.

"Flash" is ready for his 1st overnight on THE pier! 

See of T2 bags but they are actually very easy to find this way. I always like to take a picture of the set up so that I really remember where my bag is. 

Same exact set up in T1 as in T2

And that's it. "Park" your bike, drop of your T1 & T2 bags and say goodbye to your volunteer! 

As I was exiting the pier I took this shot of the finish line area being set up. They really do wait until the last absolute possible minute to build it up and boy oh boy is it special! Just seeing it somewhat completed gives me chills every single time and I know it will NEVER get old! 

At this point it was mid to late afternoon and time to do nothing but rest, he race from the very beginning to the very end including transitions (especially now that I know where exactly my T1  & T2 bags along with my bike were) and eat - I can always do that! 

My go to is spaghetti (angel hair) with grilled chicken and tomato sauce, white bread and of course more beet juice every single time. 

Nothing fancy here. Just topping off the engine! 

Post dinner, I made sure I had all my bottles ready for the morning, and I think I was in bed by 9 with my alarm set for 3:45 so that I can eat my breakfast by 4 (I eat my breakfast 3 hours before race start so that I have enough time to fully digest it). 

I finally fell asleep around 10pm but not for long. I am usually a good sleeper even the night before a race, but I was hot and sweating and just generally worried I’ll wake up feeling off! Thankfully, even though I was up every hour, I woke up ready to go!


Monday, October 17, 2016

Kona Diaries – Day #16 (2 days till the big day)

Today I started the day with running around in my underwear with hundreds of my closest friends. Well first I walked into a shut screen door trying to check out someone else walking around in theirs! Oops! Good thing it wasn’t glass – that’s all I have to say!

The UPR – Underpants run or rather jog/walk or "parade" takes place every Thursday morning before the race, and it’s a blast. It definitely lightens the mood a bit and anyone whether you are racing or not can participate.

Kids & adults 

The entry fee does go to a local charities, so it’s for a good cause! Fun AND for good cause = winning! 

The only shark I ever want to see here! 

Underwear run was followed by breakfast put on by one of our sponsors Castelli. The food was delicious and so was the company. With 48 hours to go, I usually start upping the carb intake a bit, so nice big(er) breakfast was just what I needed.

I cleaned up the eggs and first round of bacon too fast. With 2 days out, can't forget the beet juice! ;) 

The view didn’t suck either. 

Post breakfast it was back to the condo for bit of a down time, before heading back to the expo.
This time to get my 2nd edition “Cupcakes with Cal” hat!

Got one! Cal said next time he will bring me a cupcake too 

Post expo, I squeezed in a nap followed by a short run in the late afternoon to avoid the hottest part of the day. There is no need to stress the body anymore, and now it’s just about staying sharp, and as rested as possible. I was also able to test out my new handheld waterbottle (Thank you Max and Nathan for sending me one) that I will be using on race day.

Time flies when you are having fun, and before I knew it was time to get ready for the opening banquet. I don’t usually go to these, but the one here in Kona is awesome, and although the food isn’t exactly the best, and it can get quite long, I highly recommend everyone to go at least once! It’s a great showcase of local culture, the Aloha spirit, and the 140.6 mile journey we are about to embark on. If you are in need of extra inspiration for race day, you will find it here.

The awesome stage I hope to stand on again in a couple days! 

The banquet was followed up by athletes briefing in which race director for each leg of the race gets up on stage and takes athletes through all the rules. This is the long part, and I actually didn’t stay the entire time as I already know the drill. No pass zone on the bike going down Palani, absolutely NO drafting (ya, right!), and chicken soup on the run course by certain time. I usually try to get mine from the med tent instead ;).

Post banquet, nothing left to do but rest, rest, and rest! Just 2 more sleeps! 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Kona Diaries – Day #15 (3 days till the big day)

This morning I slept in a little bit, had light breakfast and then headed out to my TV gig! Just like last year, the folks from Czech wanted a quick pre-race interview at the Ironman Championship wall, and this time they also wanted to film me doing my thing on the bike. I had a short 40ish min spin so they tagged a long for a little bit, and then we went our separate ways.  

I don’t get to speak Czech that often, so speaking on camera is a bit nerve wracking to me but it’s fun! In the end, they’ll pick what to use and what not to use as part of 1 hour or 90 min Ironman World Championships coverage on Czech TV (Think the NBC coverage here in the U.S. but just in my home country). I’ll probably get like 30 seconds of fame, but something is better than nothing, right? 

This photo is from last year, but we essentially did the same thing except I wore my E3 cycling kit as I was heading out for a ride afterwards with the camera guy in tow, and I probably had  helmet hair because I had to ride my bike to this spot. I am not quite THE celebrity that would warrant a whole make up team ;) (yet) 

The place was also quite a bit crowded as this was going on so I had quite the audience as I was blocking the wall for those who wanted to take a pic by their name. The whole interview was about my goals for the race, and what if anything have I done differently since last year. 

The rest of the day was spent chilling, and eating, and relaxing and of course another trip to Lava Java for a treat or two and the expo. I always think I can get everything done in one day, but it never works out like that.

Lava Java front lawn. You know it is packed when this is what it looks like in front of the café. Perhaps we all need to add a kickstand to our tri bikes?

Now meet just a couple of members of the awesome QR team that made the trip to Kona to take care of their athletes! Thank you guys for making me feel so special,and I do apologize for sweating right through my shirt (it is hot here in Kona!) 

 One of the QR mechanics who made sure my bike was race ready! 

Bryanna who keeps the show running all year long! Thank you for all you do! (Just keep sweating, just keep sweating) 

I had also spent some time visualizing my race day! I always do that from the very beginning to the end including my race strategy, fueling/nutrition and even transitions. It’s getting close now, and the excitement as well as the nerves are really starting to kick in.Setting a bit of time aside each day to visualize my race day routine helps me feel confident and ready to go! 

Quiet spot to visualize, reflect and focus! 

Without workout #2 on my schedule for the first time in a very long time (Yeah taper),we headed to the TrainingPeaks/Best Bike Split party which was a ton of fun! I got to meet a lot of people, and eat poke! Party catered by “Da Poke Shack”? Hell yes! It was a great time, followed by early bed time.

The excietement is building day by day and so is the craziness! Can we just race already?