Kona Race Report: Al Truscott — 5x AG Ironman Winner Returns to Kona!

150 150 Rich Strauss

Al Truscott at Ironmanยฎ Arizona

My longest race, I’ll try to make this my shortest report.

First, a note on how I race. I make goals for most races a long time in advance, and then think about that goal periodically over time. Come race day, I really don’t pay conscious attention to motivation; I allow the deeply ingrained goal to run the show. E.g., I can think of at least ten times in the past 7-8 years when I have announced long before race day, to myself and anyone I can get to listen (my wife, the cleaning lady, this forum, etc), “I’m going to win *that* race”, and the majority of the time, I pull it off. I think there is a limit to the number of times one can haul out an all out effort, so other races get different goals.

Here’s what I said in a Jan, 2012 journal entry on the coming year’s goals, about *this* race:

“October 1, Iโ€™m on the Big Island, the capstone of my year. My goal there is to have fun on race day. Fun means I feel strong, ride well, and donโ€™t walk outside of the aid stations on the marathon. Iโ€™d like to see the sun set while Iโ€™m in the energy lab, then soak it all up the final 1/4 mile of Aliโ€™i Drive under the lights, me beaming right back at them.”

I said nothing to myself about speed, time place, etc in the 9+ month long build up. Deep down, I felt that my being back at the IM World Championships ย was a miracle, so I wanted to honor that above all else.ย My race here was *all* about getting BACK here and FINISHING. Iย was not racing, simply participating with grace and gratitude.The conditions make the “grace” part a little hard though.

So I didn’t start my watch when the cannon went off, and never looked at my time or speed. Things I remember from my race:

  • Feeling as fit as I ever have in my life in the 2-3 days leading up to race day
  • A pleasant, but very slow swim.
  • Epic riding the last five miles into Hawi, into a 24 mph headwind and biting rainstorm. The wind never left my face from that point on, it seemed.
  • Chrissie Wellington walking her bike back to her condo about mile 9 of the run, giving me a huge personal smile and high five as I went by.
  • Watching the sun set as I ran the final mile into the E lab – not quite meeting my target.
  • At mile 18, the turnaround in the Energy Lab, someone shouted out my name and number, then as I started going the other way, added “Remember where you were two years ago!” That did get to me a little. Actually, more than a little; I lost it for a couple of minutes at that point. Turns out that was Lynn Johnson, an ENer who lives in HI, volunteering at the turnaround.
  • Suffering a nutritional breakdown (i.e., throwing up twice – just like @ IM Canada 7 weeks earlier) and going the last 7 miles on only 6 sips of water, making a few of those aid stations a bit “longer” than anticipated. (I will be switching back to my tried and true IM nutrition plan next time, instead of the new one I adopted this year, which clearly doesn’t work).
  • Hugging my wife, Cheryl (who worked as a finish line catcher) for about two minutes just after I came across.

From 2004-2012, I’ve trained for 16 IMs, started 14 and finished 13. In those 8 years, I was more or less focused full time from a triathlon and sporting standpoint on getting to and finishing at Kona. On the way, I ย won my AG 5 times @ IM CDA and AZ, qualified for Kona 7 times, getting to go 4 times, with one DNF and one DNS.ย I sense that this race is the closing of a major segment in my triathlon career.

One of the songs on my pre-race playlist since 2001 has been U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” I don’t know what it is that I’ve actually *found*, but I’m more at peace now than at any time during that whole adventure.

I also know that I am chomping at the bit to get going on the OS on October 29th, and have at least 3 races in mind for next year: St George, American Zofingen, and IM Tahoe. I haven’t yet decided which one is going to get the full on race to the hilt treatment, but I guarantee at least one will.

ย Listen to Al’s race report interview with Coach Patrick here.


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