The Short Version: 10:02, good enough for 60th AG (new personal best!) and my third best time here on the Big Island — but my most complete race (finally, in my 7th attempt here)! Thanks to all of you for your support, well-wishes and more…no way I could ever do this on my own. Biggest props goes to my amazing wife and daughters who were everywhere on race day with smiles, high-fives and more!
This was the first year of our Kona Race Camp, which had me on the Big Island more than a week prior to race day. I was really excited to acclimate here and spend some time getting my bearings as I prepared for race day.
We swam in the Ho’ala Open Water Practice swim and completed multile rides, run, and brick workouts on critical sections of the course. By the time race day was looming, I had put in several hours of good training in the heat and was feeling very relaxed and acclimated. Bonus that it was fun hanging out with the camp crew and enjoying the Big Island vibe. We’ll be back next year with more amenities at the same incredible location…we’d love to have you join us an we’ll take all the logistical pain out of your Kona experience! Learn More Here.
Day Before the Race
We were here long before the crowds, and stayed far from the madness…but when you drop off your bike and get to walk around transition, there’s no denying the energy just radiating from the pier next to the King Kam hotel.
My logistics were great, thanks to AnnieB saving my butt more than once with her incredible resourcefulness. Can’t say enough about how awesome it is to get dropped off / picked up and not have to find parking, etc.
Another great Team breakfast was held at Denny’s the completely unofficial pre-race breakfast sponsor of Endurance Nation. In addition to carbing up and sharing a few laughs, we got to meet Debbie and Seton from TriSports, one of our newest Team Endurance Nation sponsors…thanks to their schwag, I hit my goal of getting 8 free trucker hats, 10 shirts and uncountable bottles! No more gear shopping for some time!
I was in bed, and passed out, just after 9pm for my 3:15am wake up call…trying not to think about the High Surf Advisory that was issued for our side of the island.
The Swim — 1:09:xx
I had done much swimming this go around, both in the pool and open water. I was really hoping I could go under 1:05 for the first time.
I lined up about 50 feet to the left of the buoy line, and when the gun went off it was hammer time — literally. My goal was to count 500 fast strokes before settling, but honestly I gave that up after 100 because I wasn’t really taking strokes…I was just slapping backs, legs and feet. I swore I was going to stay with the crowd all day, and my focus was making me pay…
The water seemed good and I swam faily straight on the outbound section (a first!) except for pulling inside the buoys once. Note to self — bilateral breathing helps you swim straight. I never really found a smooth, strong stroke, however…just wasn’t in my rhythm.
The return trip is where the water turned ugly. If the water carried us outbound, it was trying to stop us on the way back. Swells and clearly a wind was chopping up the surface of the water. I was in my group, but could tell by looking at how folks were swimming next to me that it wasn’t a fast group. Regardless, I hung in there and just…kept…swimming.
Big Shout out to the SUP volunteers who kept us on course. I couldn’t see all the buoys but their flourescent orange shirts helped keep me on the right path.
Turns out it was a rougher swim than usual, with pro times being about 3 minutes slower than typical. That would put me at my best time here (a 1:06, adjusted)…so no complaints and overall a good swim from a line up and draft execution perspective.
The Bike — 4:59:xx
If I was serious about anything here this year, it was the bike. My plan was to ride hard, at about 78% of my FTP for you geeks out there, through Mile 80, then dial it back to my usual Ironman watts for the final leg. The reasoning here is that the winds get worse the later you are out there (both to Hawi / Turnaround and heading back to Kona).
I got my bike in T1, mounted and was pedalling away. A momentary panic of no Powermeter signal was solved by restarting my Garmin, hence losing a mile. I was solid through the first 10 miles and was drinking and eating ahead of schedule…even snuck in a few family high fives too!!!
Out on the Queen K it was time to get to work. I got aero and made the most of the early AM tailwind (soon to be a headwind on the way back!) by pushing the pace. I rode well and stuck with almost anyone who passed me. By the time we got to mile 30, the folks around me were riding close to the same speed and I had passed a ton of people.
Turning up to Hawi, the winds usually start but I was going so well (and weather cooperating) that literally I felt no wind until I got to the “Hawi in 7 Miles” sign…at which point it was game on. The winds were blowing and with three miles left to Hawi we rode into a rain storm up there! Crazy how diverse the weather is here on the Big Island, but no one was complaining about cooler temps!
I rolled through Special Needs (thanks volunteers!) which was made easier by it not being crowded. I got my salt pills out — really wanted the tylenol! — and got to pedalling. By the time I got to mile 75, the climb to Kawaihae, the heat was back on and I was feeling the early work I had done. Despite some wind I sat up to climb and saw more than a few folks pass me.
By Mile 80, however, I was pumped to “drop” my effort, truth be told it was already low enough by then. Interestingly over the final push I was passing quite a few folks even at my lower watts thanks to my TTBikeFit, my Rudy Project Wing57 helmet, and our custom Castelli T1: Stealth Top. Not to mention my borrowed 808 PowerTap from Team Withrow…thanks man!
My heart rate had dropped all day and by the end of the bike was around 140 where I wanted it to be for the run. Power numbers below but I never really focused on them all day. Biggest issue for me was just lower back fatigue and stomach unhappiness…I drank SO MUCH all day, and it wasn’t enough…I really couldn’t pee on the bike (tried 3x) and it was just not feeling too good.
Here they are…not has high as I would have liked, especially outbound, but I rode just about as well as possible given the fueling needs and fatigue. I rate this ride a 7.5 out of a possible 10.
Work 3957 kJ
NP 232 W
Avg HR: 137
Distance: 59.1 mi
Work 2191 kJ
NP 240 W
Avg HR: 140
Distance: 52.6 mi
Work 1766 kJ
NP 222 W
The Run — 3:42:xx
The story of this run was the heat. It was so hot out there that I was hot on the inside. Like it felt like my stomach was hot…probably my hottest run here ever. Off the bike I took a nice pee in T2 and then ran out. I could tell the heat was on and I locked in my HR to the happiest place…about 135. This was lower than my bike HR of 140, but honestly it was the effort I knew I could sustain.
My history here is a solid first 10 miles and then a fade over the final 16 miles as my stomach and/or mojo are shot. This year’s goal was to have a solid run, especially out on the Queen K. With that in mind, I was in no mood to get competitive on Ali’i with the heat. I ran aid station to aid station and took ice for the shirt, shorts, hat and to go. Not to mention fluids and food…Power Gels early, then Clif Bloks later on. A conservative estimate here is that 300 guys passed me (ladies started 15′ after us) in this section. Crazy that only 9 men in my AG passed me on the run and that I improved 10 spots overall…never would have imagined that! Highlight was more family smiles and seeing my friends out there on the run!
I had decided on three sections where I needed to be mindful of my Heart Rate — Mile 7 to prepare for the Mile 8 climb, Palani Hill (Mile 10), and then the top of the Energy Lab (Mile 19.5) to recover for the final push home. This paid off from a mental focus perspective, but I never really felt like I was running out there on Ali’i.
When I hit Palani, I ran until my HR hit 145, then I walked…but a minute later checked the HR was 131 and so it was time to start running! I was moving but not running really, as folks continued to pass me. There was a tailwind up on the Queen K as we ran against the bike course…which made it hot even up there…UGH!
I continued to eat, drink and move forward. Plenty more walkers now, and by the time I headed into the Energy Lab (Miles 16 to almost 20), I was feeling pretty good as compared to other folks. No one was passing me anymore and I was on the move.
Returning to town, the headwind felt AWESOME! It was cooling and helped refocus me. I wanted to pick up the pace, but was still worried I might bonk…the sun went behind some clouds here, so it took the edge off the final hour of my day.
By Mile 23 I saw a huge line of athletes and decided it was my time to go and crush some dreams. I ran the aid stations and opened up my stride. I was amazed at how much better “really running” felt (video doesn’t make it look like I was running!) and next time I will try to find that stride and then check my HR vs just playing defense.
A very strong push over the final miles had me flying through the chute, high fiving my family and crossing in 10:02:02.
Run Stats —
Distance: 26.2 mi
NGP 08:25 min/mi
Avg HR: 133
The Final Word
While I missed that elusive sub-10 mark, I never looked at my watch. I just ran as well as I could (or jogged or whatever) all day. I am incredibly pleased with the whole race from an execution perspective, especially my run performance. The time doesn’t show it, but the graphs don’t lie…a great run for me.
It was also epic to spend the week with my Endurance Nation teammates, having fun and getting ready. What a week and what a race. Congrats to each and everyone of you rockstars!!!!!!
Now it’s time to recharge, eat a ton, have fun…and starting thinking about 2016!
Thanks for reading!