Sunday, September 27, 2009

Kona Week 3

Freshly finished with the last long, hard work in my Ironman build, and preparing now to get the taper underway. I'll still have some shorter and faster workouts to hone my speed before Oct. 10th, but it feels good to know that the hardest stuff is now in the bank and I can really let the body rest and recuperate now. Kona is turning into the zoo everyone told me it would, with hundreds of athletes and spectators rolling in for some acclimation and course review. The energy is building along with the anticipation, but I already miss the peaceful days from earlier this month!

I had some easier days during the middle of the week, still logging miles but not going too big or fast. It allowed me some time to explore new rides, including a good, hilly ride with the group from Bike Works down to Captain Cook. It was necessary rest after the biggest week of training all year, and I made some trips to local beaches (Kua bay was the highlight), put my feet up, did some body boarding, and even watched some junk T.V. Of course the active recovery was all in preparation for another big weekend, and it was a good thing I got it.

Saturday morning was my final long run, and I was able to round up Chris McCormack and Terenzo Bozzone to help with the sufferfest. We hit out early, but not early enough to avoid some warm conditions on the Queen K and Energy Lab. No surprise here, as it's been 88 degrees nearly every day I've been here. Some days are more cloudy with the vog, but not for our run. We threw in some very solid tempo efforts, and ended our session at Jamba Juice for some instant respite from the heat, and much needed calories. I topped the day off with a moderate, hilly ride on the upper highway (coffee road) and then a solid swim with Linsey at Kona Aquatic.
Sunday was another early morning, and with Chris, Terenzo, Marky V, and Mark, we rolled steady hard for 100 miles of the course, only turning back a few miles before Hawi due to rain. The ride back down was some of the most intense wind I have experienced out here, so it was perfect practice for that possibility on race day. We also managed a double headwind for a good portion, so another day of becoming one with the gales is locked away. After finishing the ride, it was a quick transition and 5 miles of tempo off the bike. I nailed it, so I feel like all the pieces are in place. Less than two weeks until the big showdown, and I'm getting more excited each day.

For a bit of recovery, I am planning to do a tour of the island tomorrow with a friend, making the full loop in a car and seeing some new sights. I have to scope out some new areas in anticipation of the family coming out in a little over a week. Time for a nap!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Kona Week 2

It's hard to believe, but I'm already over 2 weeks into my Kona training. I've finally gotten well acclimated to the heat and humidity here, most noticeable through the amount of fluid I need to do sections of the course on the bike. When I started out, the floodgates would open within minutes of exercise, and I would be drinking two bottles in an hour. Now I'm half that and the sweat rate is much more balanced with my intake. It's hard to believe, but I've gotten used to that blanket of humidity, and now it seems completely normal.

The past week has been the biggest week of training during my whole year, even including base training in Tucson back in February. Throw in the fact that I had a lot of intensity, and it's obvious that my legs are a bit heavy right now. Even so, I'm happy to say that I survived and passed the test with flying colors. Of course it hasn't been easy, but with nothing to do but train, eat, sleep, and occasionally hang with some new friends, it makes everything a little more manageable. I love the training out here, and getting a feel for different sections of the swim, bike, and run courses has been invaluable. Even when the going gets tough, you can't beat a swim with the dolphins and a bike ride up to Waimea where the grass is green and the air is considerably cooler. I will say that I prefer the surface of my track in Durango to the high school crushed cinder at Kealakehe, but otherwise the environment has been ideal for building my best fitness to date.

In other news, I have made some good local friends who have been kind enough to have me over to dinner on numerous occasions, and as part of my win at Lavaman I was invited on a sunset cruise with the race staff. We had a perfect evening of dinner, dolphins swimming on our bow, and first mate Jason even caught a marlin, which is an extremely rare occurrence. To top everything off, I found out earlier in the week that I qualified as the top American and was selected to represent the USA at the ITU Long Course World Championships in Perth, Australia, so I will be headed down under two weeks after Kona to cap off the year. It won't be a long trip, as I will be away from Colorado for around two months when I finally get done traveling, but I'm looking forward to my first visit to Australia.

Next up is the beginning of the taper, where I focus on staying sharp and healthy. I've put in a ton of hard work, and I'm feeling confident and ready for the biggest race of the year. Keep an eye out for my interview on TriCenter next week, and I'll be back with more photos and an update soon. Off to the beach!

1st Place Lavaman Keaohou Triathlon

Yesterday was the inaugural Lavaman Keaohou olympic distance triathlon just south of Kailua-Kona. I wasn't originally planning on this race when I came to the big island, but after discussing it with my coach, it seemed like a good plan to get a hard effort in the heat and some more speed training to get ready for Ironman. It's only a month now until the biggest race of my life, so it was nice to coordinate one more event to keep me sharp.

The race took place just south on Alii drive at the Keaohou Outrigger resort, with a nice ocean swim, a bike that covers a section of the Ironman course, and a run that drops into the "Pit," where the old Ironman run used to go. My mental prep was good for this one because I had zero expectations outside of going my hardest for a good workout. I always race hard, and I always try to win, but I had tired legs coming in with significant volume since arriving on Sept. 4th. It was nice to do a local race without major pressure, and just focus on staying strong in the heat.

I had been doing some swim sets with the Masters group at Kona Aquatics, so I knew I would be good to hang near Bree Wee on the swim. We took it out chasing the swim leader Nick Garrett, coming in with a little gap on some of the other contenders. I felt comfortable and in control most of the way, with the exception being a slight miscalculation we made after rounding the boat halfway through. My trusty steed laid in waiting for me as I exited the water, and I got right to work powering up the steep 1.5 mile hill out of T1 on the S-Works Transition. On the fast descent I did my best to hold watts, and near the turnaround at the Energy Lab I was in the lead and building a good gap to the other racers. I stayed at my goal power the rest of the way in on Alii, had a bit of a junkshow in T2, and then fired out to the run with a comfortable cushion to second, riding 57 minutes for the 40k.
Out on the run, volunteers were scrambling to get to their positions, and I blew through the first turn area going the wrong way out on the golf course. After a couple minutes of running, I was turned around and set straight, thinking "this can't be happening again after Lake Stevens!" Fortunately I had built a strong enough lead on the bike leg to remain in first place, and after motoring for a few miles, I coasted in the last bit for a course record and a good win on the island.

Thanks to all the race staff, volunteers, and other athletes. Post race food was excellent, with rocking music and great awards, and the crowd support was truly amazing. It's nice to be an out of towner and still get the royal treatment at a race like this. It was a classy event that I will be sure to race again next time I am in Kona.

Next up are the hardest weeks of training so far to top off the Ironman build, and then it's mostly resting until the big day. Legs feel good and the mind is in a good space. Time to make it all happen.... after a little bit of surfing today. Aloha!

Monday, September 7, 2009


It's nearing the end of my first full week in Kona, so I thought I would give an update on the training and the conditions out here on the Big Island.

I arrived on Friday, stepping off the plane to a nice warm blanket of humid pacific sea air being wrapped around my body. First stop? The restroom to remove my compression socks and jeans, donning the shorts and flip flops that are requisite for island life. Next up was a stop at the Costco with Linsey Corbin and her mother, Betty. This was no ordinary stop, as we needed to get our shelves stocked for Ironman training. I won't give specifics on cost, but it was the most I have ever spent in one stop at a grocery.

After getting settled in my condo on Alii drive, I splashed around for a bit to stretch the body out, and crashed hard for a good night's rest. Next day was a full taste of Kona, with some open water swimming on the course from the pier. We were lucky to have a group of dolphins swim past, a sea turtle show itself briefly, and schools of tropical fish with every color under the sun drifting in the currents. This place is truly magical, an island paradise with phenomenal scenery. Did a moderate ride of about 53 miles to Waikoloa and back, and a short run on the early stages of the run course near town.

The rest of the week was more hard training, with highlights of riding a 124 mile loop in the Kohala hills and running out in the energy lab with Specialized teammates Terenzo Bozzone and Chris McCormack. These guys are going well right now, so it's perfect training for me. The body is acclimating well, and with the occasional sushi dinner for fuel, I'm getting stronger and better each day. I'll be posting more pictures and updates from the island as the training continues.... Mahalo!