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Steve Guy, Hawaii

Kona 2015 race report

Steve Guy

So sitting around waiting for my start time for my next race is a great time to write a race report from 2 months ago! Feels like Kona was only a couple of weeks back. This was my third race at Kona, and a race I was looking forward to immensely after another winter of training in Melbourne (I hate cold weather!). Qualification was at Melbourne 2015; shortly afterwards I developed plantar fasciitis which had stuck with me throughout the prep. Only strapping seemed to help – I should have bought shares in Elastoplast.

Training had gone pretty well, considering the number of work weekends that my wife and I worked. In fact, the shorter sessions (run / indoor trainer) were more important this prep than any other prep I have done. 4 weeks before racing I came off my bike – unfortunately that led me into race with a swollen L trachanteric (hip) bursa and persisting pain on extending my left elbow – which was painful to swim with, and very painful if bumped. Alas, my chances at beating Frodo were already looking shaky. 

I went over to Hawaii 2 weeks before the race, and had a fantastic holiday (Honolulu, Maui, then Kona). I stuck reasonably close to Foz’s taper program and combined with a 2 week carb load (mainly achieved with Mai Tais and burgers/fries) had me brimming with sugar come race day. Admittedly I also managed to consume close to 800gm of dextrose powder in the 3 days lead up to the event – It’s old fashioned, but this carb loading works for me – although it makes me feel revolting and I am scared to ever go and see my dentist again. 

So I had a race plan, based on my 2 previous experiences at Kona, and having had a chat to a few people / ex pros / etc around the traps.

My Melbourne race was really uncomfortable since I got way behind on fluid and got very dehydrated (try 10% body weight loss) – so I planned to avoid that. I also took Jason Shortis’ advice and backed the bike power off 5% - racing with a power meter makes a world of difference in being able to judge effort.

I also planned to run better; which would hopefully be easier if I wasn’t totally cooked off the bike.

The swim is memorable for never seeming to end. I don’t have a swim watch, but pretty much everyone with one had 4.2-4.3 Km recorded. Suspect it was a bit long. Kona still has the old washing machine (now just men in a mass brawl) – which was pretty painful with my elbow. Anyways, managed to get through at solid effort without going too hard. 1.06ish. ok.

 Having said that I wanted to wind the bike back a bit, I knew that the first 15-20k of the bike course has some hills, which suits me. So I pushed that bit of the bike, and again made up the better part of 100 places on that bit of the bike (just like 2013). Everyone tells you to treat Kona with respect; I agree – just not too much respect.

After that it was just settle in and ride at pretty steady output for the remainder. I use the inverse approach to most people, with a bit more effort on the uphills, and backing off over the top / downs and flats. Nugget came past in a group.

Wind was picking up a bit towards Hawi (turnaround – about 95km), and then plenty of crosswinds coming out of the Hawi. That’s interesting for me being really light and with decent depth carbon wheels. The funniest bit of the ride was at about 120k mark when I accidentally mixed up a gel with a sunscreen sachet. The sachet was kind of menthol flavoured, and made winners gels taste like a gourmet treat. Also, the sunscreen didn’t work so well mixed with saliva - I ended up pretty badly burnt again. Coming back from Hawi I got a laugh thinking about a conversation with a German athlete I had about 150k into the bike in 2012 – went something like;

Me: “are you having fun?”

German: “This is meant to be fun?”

Me: “yep”

German: “ok. I start now.”

That sort of positive / funny / light stuff is kinda good to into your mind near the end of the IM bike (as long as you can keep concentrating on the race too). Anyways, at the last 70k of the bike it was starting to get hot (I like hot, but this was real hot) and the headwind was predictably blowing up. Garmin says the last 2 hours of the bike was at 42 degrees. Nugget came past for the second time with a nice stripe decorating his race number – probably about 30-40k from the end. I wasn’t really sure I felt like running when I got off the bike, but I figured I would just take it easy. Ride 5.06 @ about 10% less power than I can ride IM distance at. Nutrition all in. Success

Ok, so brain a little scrambled coming through T2 – made a rookie error and forgot to take my race belt with number out of my T2 bag. They then wouldn’t let me exit T2 until I went and got it – which wasn’t easy as my bag was already being taken back to the pegs. Probably a 2-3 minute cost here. 5 mins in T2. Hilarious.

I figured that I had been running ok in training and everyone was going to suffer in the heat. If I could stay comfortable it was going to be a hell of a lot quicker than blowing up. So I used a strategy of running concentrating on good form as much I could manage, smoothly and lightly, and if I felt like I was actually ‘trying’ then I backed off. I had collected some Belgian bloke pretty early in the run and we pretty much ran together until the 25k marker. Not a lot of conversation – his English was better than my Flemish or French, but pretty limited.

I think the poor guy melted after that point. Anyways, the run was really going pretty solidly. I was getting further and further into it and hadn’t been passed once, and was starting to put lots of people away. Frodo went past the other way looking pretty fresh – with a fair gap. I love that about Hawaii – you get to see the world champ to be riding / running on the same course just a bit ahead. I could see I was gaining on gaining on some of the guys I knew (like Danger), and just kept feeling strong all the way through. I resisted the temptation to push the pace right until the last couple of kms. Mandatory kiss the wife and high 5 the kids 300m from the finish, and the day was done.

Run a 3.06hr marathon – 30th run overall / 12th non-pro athlete. Into massage early – 1 masseur available for each limb. Ahh.

Overall time was a touch quicker than 2013 at 9.28.20. but placed much higher at 97th (compared with 220s). Very satisfied, and hadn’t totally emptied the tank due to some sensible running. The usual thank-you’s to family, the training crew, Coach Foz for the coaching and Elastoplast – you really can’t do this sport without significant support. If I do this race again (& I would love to), at least I now jump to a (slightly) slower age group! Ok, just about time to warm up for the next race.