Kona Race Report: Coach Patrick, 9:52, New PR!

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Finish: 9:52 — Swim: 1:06 // Bike: 5:01 // Run: 3:36 — A New IM PR!
The quick version is that I had a good race on a great day for racing in Kona. The race unfolded pretty much as I had expected, only I forgot just how dang hot the run could be. I suffered for sure, but was able to stay in control. Even managed to enjoy the final mile and a half, which was really special as I reflected on all that has taken place since the last time I raced here. This was another PR for me, after a 9:56 in Placid…and my fourth PR out of five races this year. I am so fortunate, and am really looking forward to hanging up the racing flats until 2012!

Note: I did a quick crucible of my bike/run files here.

I landed on Tuesday, and spend the next few days getting acclimated to the heat and conditions. It was simultaneously not long enough, and too long to be away from the family. The conditions were crazy all week, with the waves being 10 to 12 feet high and the winds just flying along. To give you perspective, I rode 20 miles on Wednesday and averaged 78 watts for the first 30 minutes…at 22+ mph. You can see the picture below.

Overall, I felt pretty good. It was great to relax with my EN peeps and just soak in the event. I saw a few of the Pros and was pretty mellow about it all. The only stress I had was around pre-race logistics of bag/bike drop, etc.

Race morning was uneventful. I don’t do the night time feed cycle, so I was up at 3:45 on my own  to eat, have coffee, etc.

The Swim — 1:06 (previous kona best 1:12)
After years of ending up on the inside of the buoy line, I was resolved to being further left at the start. I never quite made it as far as I wanted, however, as Mike Reilly just kinda said, “See you at the finish” and the start cannon went off.

I was blocked in at the first few buoys by traffic, but in general I was able to take some good strokes. It took forever for the turnaround to come but I was in a good place. I knew the current on the return trip is worse, so I really worked to stay on some feet. The swells were also coming in on my breathing side making it a bit hard to get in enough air.

I was able to find a bit of room here and got back into my higher cadence rhythm. I rolled right into the pier and felt great. I had a twinge in my left adductor when I stood up — more on that later. I had nothing in my T1 bag, so I took of my speedsuit and was off. T1 time was 2:30.

The Bike — 5:01 (previous kona best 5:14)
Things started off a little inauspiciously, as i dropped my chain just outside of transition. I was half way up a hill, so I hopped off and jogged it up…tried to pedal….no good…got off again and got it right…and was finally riding. I probably lost two minutes there, but was calm and collected. Quickly worked to get the arm coolers on and then focused on safely getting up and down the Kuakini climb.

Once I was out on the Queen K, I could tell that the tailwinds were in full effect. What I didn’t expect was for them to last until almost 35 miles later (at turn in Kuwaihae). As a result, I was just zipping along. Every time I dropped into the aerobats, I would scream past everyone on the descents and flats…very encouraging. The climb to Hawi was tough, but I knew enough from previous trips not to get discouraged or fixated on the turnaround. The winds were really gusting up here, so I tried to stay smooth and prepare for Special Needs.

The road was bunched up with folks, which is typical here. However there were TONS of folks in the penalty tents…like 20 doodes trying to fit under a 10×10 tent to stay out of the sun. Kudos to the refs!

On the return trip I was ready to really stay on the power; I wanted no drop in my watts due to the hills or the headwind that was to come. The wind did pick up after we turned back on the Queen K, but again my aero position was so bulletproof that I had minimal issues with my speed. I did have trouble with my Joule, as it was dropping my race hub for a few miles, but I had a good idea of how hard to ride at that point. I was pumped as I could see my normalized was 223, and my TSS was almost 30 points lower than at Placid…couldn’t be in a better place!

As I neared the end of the bike, I was all set nutritionally and aside from having to pee I felt really good. I hit T2, hit the portapotty and then got suited up for the run.

Here’s the data…note that I did lose about 3 miles so the TSS values are off, etc.

Entire workout (213 watts):
Duration:  4:52:58 (5:01:46)
Work:      3740 kJ
TSS:       237 (intensity factor 0.701)
Norm Power: 228
VI:        1.07
Pw:HR:      3.23%
Pa:HR:      4.28%
Distance:  108.959 mi

Min Max Avg
Power:       0 428 213 watts
Heart Rate:  0 149 133 bpm
Cadence:     31 177 79 rpm
Speed:       0 42.8 22.3 mph
Pace         1:24 0:00 2:41 min/mi
Hub Torque:  0 343 63 lb-in
Crank Torque: 0 762 228 lb-in

The Run — 3:36 (previous kona best 3:30)
Given how well I rode the bike, I was concerned about the run. Well, I was concerned about the run long before I got on the bike…I had really worked through the event in my mind knowing that the run was critical and that how I handled the heat over the first 10 miles would really make a difference. My goals were to run about 8:00 per mile over the first 10 miles, then bring it down on the Queen K.

Of course, race day had other plans. First, I couldn’t run slower than like 7:30…I tried everything, and was still passing people. There were multiple times where I found myself in a good stride and very comfortable, but had to force myself to slow down. I was really mindful of the effect of the heat on early fast miles, so I watched my HR and tried to be good.

By the time I got back to the climb at Palani, just having seen Craig Alexander head in, I could tell that the heat was in full effect. My HR was around 150, having started the run around 143…and so I made the executive call to walk up the hill. It wasn’t easy to do it, but having died on the Queen K in 3 previous attempts I was keen not to do it again. At this point I near the pavement in the Energy Lab has been clocked at 131 degrees…and I believe it.

Once back on the Queen K, the winds were blowing and I felt pretty good. I was slowing down with the climbs and the winds, but I felt alert and was doing well. Down in the energy lab I could see where folks were, and there were quite a few coming for me but nothing I could do about it. I continued to get salt in and take my nutrition, and adjusted my pace/stride a bit to make sure that my adductor and/or calf (both on the left) wouldn’t cramp.

I wanted to stop plenty of times in the last 5 miles, but had no reason. I wasn’t puking. Wasn’t cramping. I just…plain…hurt. Saw an athlete laying on the road with ice on them and medical support, so clearly it was hot out there.

The final 1.5 miles was very emotional for me, the real culmination of an incredible journey over the last year and a half. Had to choke back a few tears, but managed to still float down Alii drive and hit the finish with a smile and a gang sign!

Post Race
I felt pretty bad right after I left the finishing area. After standing around for about 15 minutes, I decided to puke all over the transition area. Five wonderful heaves made me feel a ton better (sorry volunteers!), and I was enroute to get two bags of fluids. I chilled next to Natascha Badmann on her own cot, and just got my head together. Saw Tom Glynn and then it was time to eat and get back on track. The whole new PR time thing hadn’t settled in yet, but i was pumped with my ability to get the race done given my constraints. Now that’s it’s a few days later, with me sleeping 10-11 hours a night, I am realizing just how “hard” the event was…I feel sick, tired, but very proud of my performance and of the performances of my friends and teammates.

Time to rest up and start thinking about 2012!!!


Coach P

All stories by: Coach P

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