A race in Kona

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A race in Kona

Postby Martin » Thu Aug 18, 2011 11:59 am

Finding myself on the road to Kona I am learning a lot of new ideas and stuff. I want to get them written down someway and see if I share them I will do a better job of making sense!

I have never written a blog before...about anything...so I am not sure how this will go.

Yeah, feel free to add stuff if you want.

Today is 50 days out...

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Postby Martin » Fri Aug 19, 2011 12:22 pm

Deciding to do my first ironman this year was daunting but made easier by: lots of support and a great recovery from an achilles injury more than 18 months ago; having watched many go before hand and watching them return (Stoney, Steve H, Brad, Charles to name a few); and being keen to see if I could get it done.

Busselton IM was the best introduction to IM possible with: family behind me; manager guidance (Wendy); keen training partner (Nev); a new coach (Bruce Thomas), no injury, a flat course, and great weather.

Port IM was a good follow up IM with all of the above except a harder course but a course that I knew well.

My results showed some strengths and many weakenesses and as luck had it all the guys in front of me were not taking up their slots to Kona which left me rushing to decide was Kona something that I was prepared for. No, I wasn't prepared, but put my money down anyway, dizzy at what I had chosen and feeling sick at the commitment. Isn't Kona that race for pro's in all the magazines and great age groupers? We'll see...
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Postby Martin » Mon Aug 22, 2011 4:10 pm

Accomodation in Kona is different. Kona is a town developed with some condo's some years ago with the decoration still some 10-15 years vintage. We tried Tri-Travel but was way over quoted and after lots and lots of trying got a private letting in Royal on Sea on Ali Drive about one mile out of town as recommended. Hotel rooms in town are available but no kitchen. Other places are out of town and you lose the atmosphere I am told. Had to get air-conditioning (not always standard) and a second bedroom to store all the gear. Looks nice enough with ocean views.
Travel was with Jetstar due to a credit we had from a previous cancelled trip, however it would be better with Hawaian since there is minimum transfer requirements when connecting to the Big Island with them (maybe next time). Fortunately car hire was the easiest.
There is an entry form with USD14 to pay as well. I've been warned not to make the carry-on too large since they will stow and charge for the inter island flight.

After my qualifyng race I had to remember to register for the race (not sure why the wait but maybe they have to get your details to the US first or something). The remembering is the hard thing.

The pressure to get all the travel plans done arises since Australian races are early in the qualifying season and despite this many places are booked from year to year. As the qualifying season progresses more athletes are trying to get their bookings in. Rentals/flights etc become more scarce and less inviting.
Last edited by Martin on Fri Sep 09, 2011 5:21 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Martin » Fri Aug 26, 2011 4:51 pm

I read an article by Chris McCormack about his win in Kona in 2010 and the work he had done to get his hydration right. He had been cramping in the stomach during the run and this had limited his 2008 & 2009 performances.
This got me thinking about racing in the heat and humidity and what could be done about it. I looked on the web for details and I was soon finding out about the benefits of acclimatization and acclimation. Most of the stuff was military stuff, some was just simple articles by triathlon sites and a lot were by sports researchers from the universities and elite sports bodies like NSWIS,AIS and the like.
They were saying that acclimation helps with lower body temperatures and lower perceived effort rates when racing in hot conditions and these benefits accrue when you spend time in warmer climates (acclimatization) or in heat chambers (acclimation). Having work deadlines up to 30 September, I fly out on 1 October so any significant stay prior to the race was not on. However, you can get the adaptation required by using a heat chamber and doing some training in temperatures like those to be experienced whilst racing.
Looking for a heat chamber though was difficult and basically only the universities and sports institutes have them....and they do not hire them out. I got an email about a heat study by Sydney University and if I helped them then they offered to make the heat chamber available to me during the period before I fly out. It was 4 visits totalling about 16 hours of sweating in 37oC and them analysing expired air, perceived effort, body temperature and sweat rates so that I lost up to 4% body weight and then did some interval running on a treadmill.
So I was fortunate to get access, but how should I train for the heat. I discussed a training protocol with my coach, physio, pro triathletes and TA and there was no real definitive approach over just jumping into the heat chamber and sweating it out. Finally we worked out that about 1 hr per day for a week and then a couple of 1 hr sessions following up to departure would do the trick. 37oC is a hot summer's day and with some feedback by the researcher I know that:
- my core temperature rises are well short of any concern,
- my core temperature did not rise the same amount in my later visits as in my earlier visits, showing adaptation had already started,
- my sweat rates per half hour varied from the first half hour to subsequent half hours giving me clear guidelines for hydration,
- true full hydration is harder to achieve than you think, and
- I now know my Vo2.

This is all good stuff to know and since I have it from the xperts I believe I can rely on it.

However, and going back to Chris McCormack...he had to test his in-lab results and fine tune them for some time to make the 'facts' work for him on his way to his 2010 Kona win. Being so inexperienced at this level of racing I think it will take me a lot of tuning to make anything like that sort of difference!
Last edited by Martin on Thu Sep 01, 2011 11:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Martin » Mon Aug 29, 2011 6:09 pm

Many of us come to triathlon without much by way of swimming talent and it is a distinct confidence advantage if you have swimming ability when you start. There are more than a few in the club that will attest that my swimming ability needs as much work as possible. I would not be the first to say that swimming is largely technical and with most techniques best learnt when you are young. For most swimming is also large part confidence, particularly to do open water swims in varying water conditions. Both technique and confidence take time to get the fundamentals right.
I have also discovered that swimming is so important to the other training disciplines and to me is essential to both the ride and run legs. Whilst we know about the aerobic and fitness benefits of pushing our bodies through the water, I have largely taken for granted the recovery role that swimming has for ride and run training. Over the last year that I have been preparing to 'go long' in triathlon, I have found that with long ride (Sat) and long run (Sun), for those of us who cannot fit one of them in during the week, that swimming is essential for recovery after the ride and prior to the run. Not necessarily an intense pool squad swim but more the steady pace continuous ocean swim. It must be something to do with elongation and low impact, but the times that I miss the swim opportunity is the time that my legs play up in the following week.
Swimming, and particularly ocean swimming, is one of the real experiences that triathlon has opened up for me but it still has its frustrations as anyone who sees me attempt fly in the pool where both technique and confidence desert me!
Last edited by Martin on Thu Sep 01, 2011 11:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Martin » Wed Aug 31, 2011 6:06 pm

I am a great admirer of professional athletes who are willing and able to communicate their thinking about their approach to racing, and I find that Mitch Anderson is one of the better communicators and also a great athlete. So when he talks about his training I listen pretty carefully and recently he has been talking about the advantages of using power meters and their roll in leading to improvements on the bike. Looking at them there are two basic types - power meters that form part of the crank and power meters that form part of the rear wheel. Prices vary from $1500 for wheel power meters to $4500 crank power meters, so it is not hard for the average Joe to choose the lower end of the scale.
Not knowing what to expect from using one, I looked far and wide at second hand models but the chat sites warned me off these particularly as many wre wired whereas ANT+ was the go. Eventually I stumbled across hiring of a Powertap wheel through a Melbourne company @ $25/week + shipping and insurance with the ability to buy it with the hire fee offset. This seemed a reasonable deal and found a new wheel delivered in a few days. It was simple to fit as any back wheel and whilst you can use it with a head unit like your polar or cateye unit this one tuned into my GPS Garmin and was recognised straight away so that it was ready to use. Fortunately, it can be moved from bike to bike easily.
Power meters generally enable you to understand your riding style in that it shows when your off the power and even when your pedal stroking is not smooth or spinning correctly. This is not immediate but becomes apparent. Power output should be constant irrespective of the riding conditions such as wind etc, so it takes out a lot of variables from your analysis. Understanding the output data takes a longer time especially when you have other data such as heart rate, cadence, and speed. I am still learning about this.
I am uncertain about use in racing which I hear is of increasing popularity. My coach has advised against it due to down sides. This may change in the future.
The power meter is a medium term training tool which I already like very much (I think I will buy it at the end of the hire period) but am still to master in a truly meaningful way.
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Postby Martin » Mon Sep 05, 2011 12:20 pm

Each of the legs at Kona are single lap. To get a another go at one you have to come back. The swim leg is, I am told, in beautiful warm water, over coral reefs with lots of tropical fish and creatures. On race day the access to Dig Me beach is single file and like most things I am advised to do, I must be there early to focus prior to the race. It is about 60m to the deep water start line and whilst the best view is from the wharf unfortunately it is closed on race day except to race officials. The swim course heads out along the bayline in a clockwise direction, one u-turn and then back to the start.
Due to the warmth of the sea, wetties are not an option (never) and so you are looking at bathers or tri gear, however, there is the option of having a speed suit. I had until recently only seen one used by Pete Jacobs at Nepean last year. Until recently, the manufacturers (and there are a few) had started introducing neoprene into the fabric to give some bouyancy, but that has now been banned and you are looking at a woven hydraphobic material that makes you slippery in the water. I am told that the sea is very salty leading to a higher natural bouyancy although I am dubious that this is a story for newbies nervous at being stripped of their wettie.
Having decided that I would need one (see my previous swim self assessment) I found out that the most popular is BlueSeventy but they are rare as hens teeth, even is the USA. It appears that they do a single lot run about August and release limited numbers of them in each country. This sounded all too late in the period for me as there are no assurances that a piece would become available. So I rang Pete Jacobs to get his opinion on the need for one and which brand was he using. Pete is a great guy who is both approachable and upfront. So Wendy found a TYR and it was on its way. Being Autumn, and with the ocean cooling, I tried it on once down at Manly to check out this tight fitting sleeveless one-piece in a fairly choppy sea and all went well. They are definitely not as warm as a wettie! Because they cannot be worn in the pool (chemicals) I haven't had a chance to wear it since and probably won't until I am in Kona. I anticipate that it will stop drag from the pockets in my race gear and generally make the swim faster.
Really, this was a piece of race gear that I did not know was used and its scarcity was a revelation, although I know the owners at Aquashop. They did call me in mid August and offer me one which was really nice.
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Postby Martin » Fri Sep 09, 2011 1:24 pm

I had my first run in the heat chamber today and realised something I have not considered before. We all know about max heart rate (MHR) and Vo2 and so on and when training we look at % MHR to hit a zone for intervals and the like. This has always led me to associate higher heart rates with significant effort particularly when training at the upper aerobic threshhold and onto the anaerobic threshhold. So when doing 80%, 90%, and beyond at the end of the interval you are breathing really heavy and the body is feeling the effort you are putting it through.
This morning my training zone was moderate for a 60 minute run in the heat chamber. After a 10 min @ 10 kph warmup I increased my pace to 13 kph to monitor my heart rate up to 135bpm which was the intensity for the session. Normally, 135bpm equates to about 14 kph or 70% Vo2. Over the next 50 minutes of running at 13 kph my heart rate steadily rose up to 168 bpm with a plateau at just above 160 bpm. At this heart rate I would usually experience fatigue and performance drop, but not so since my effort was well within my capabilities. What was happening?
Hui Yin, the university researcher looking after me, explained that my heart was working hard to pump blood not to those muscles doing the work but rather to my skin to carry heat for heat dissipation for sweating to cool my body down. My thermoregulatory system was kicking in. So a high heart rate is not an unusual thing at the effort level performed given the environmental conditions.
So there are two things I learned:
1. That with progressive acclimation that I can expect my heart rate to drop for the same level of exertion as my body becomes better at cooling itself as the onset of sweating is faster and less blood is necessary for the cooling function. This means more blood is available for physical exertion ie going faster!
2. That during racing I will need a new understanding of what heart rate will support what level of exertion (coined 'cardiac drift' by my coach) and that I will be able to sustain a higher heart rate than that for racing in cooler conditions ie what I understand about my body now. This is particularly relevant if you are monitoring heart rate as one of your performance indicators.

My MHR will not change and so it still acts as a limiter to performance and so it is important to acclimate to reduce the need for such a high heart rate and allow more heart rate for performance and less for body temperature control.

It probably says a bit about perceived effort as a racing plan, but this knowledge will mean that when the going gets tough you can understand whether it is just headspace issues or actual performance issues.
Last edited by Martin on Mon Sep 19, 2011 5:52 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Martin » Sun Sep 11, 2011 7:32 pm

One of the first things you learn about endurance triathlon is hydration. Drinking plenty of water, using salt, reducing caffeine and alcohol make up the usual advice but more specific advice is usually left to 'whatever you work out in training'. One aspect of heat training has been a concentration on hydration, both within and outside the heat chamber. Being fully hydrated has never been established by me and on average I have been light on when it comes to hydration having always run a little dry.
However, tropical weather with 28-40oC temperature and 60%+ humidity are conditions that demand close attention to hydration. Firstly, I learned about dehydration rates (sweat rates per 30 minutes) showing what is necessary to rehydrate. In working this out my state of hydration at the session starts has been monitored which threw up the comment 'you should be better hydrated!'.
Supposedly, full hydration is a score of 1.0000. Readings between 1,01 to 1.02 are ok, with readings beyond 1.02 representing dehydration. After drinking plenty, using soluable salt tablets and sports drink my first reading was 1.0145 which needed improvement. My second reading after a concerted hydration effort improved to 1.009 'which should still be improved upon', I am told.
My understanding of what constitutes hydration is now much better and it is a harder job than I have previously thought. I am now more focused on what constitutes hydration and how to keep hydrated. I can see that starting hydrated is going to be essential but I am still working on keeping hydrated because replacing the fluid loss expected is quite a task in itself particularly for someone who is used to running 'a bit dry'. This will take a bit of experience which will have to sort itself out soon.
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Postby Martin » Mon Sep 12, 2011 12:59 pm

Damn...my hydration reading this morning blew out to 1.0188, worse than before trying heaps to keep hydrated. Tried to drink heaps yesterday with my drink bottle acting like a new limb. I am now having to put myself on a drinking program and measure everything to get this right.
Hydation is proving trickier than I ever thought. Thank goodness this is showing up now. I have heard how some triathletes are so focussed on this. Now I know why!!
Next day.....I have drunk like a fish and got my score down to 1.0064.....wwhhooo
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Postby Martin » Wed Sep 14, 2011 6:04 pm

We have all heard that you train to race not race to train. With the training periods for Ironman distance being long, races are a nice break to the routine of programmed training. Practice races usually provide for a short taper and a trip away for a day or two and if successful a real boost to the headspace that means that the return to programmed training is done with a headspace that is more clear and refocused. Races are an opportunity to get some good experiences under the belt that build upon one another and provide a platform to more training improvements.
In winter there is no triathlon racing, unless you go sport specific like a Striders run or Hills Duathlon. This provides less opportunity to get the race dividend afforded in the summer months. However, I have been blessed with training partners putting themselves out to keep me company on long rides even swims in the cool ocean without which programmed training would be even harder.
There is no doubt that Kona is set up for the northern hemisphere being at the end of their summer. Despite this there are plenty examples of great athletes from the southern hemisphere who kick butt in Kona and maybe because they concentrate on one race 'a race in Kona'.
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Postby Martin » Mon Sep 19, 2011 2:15 pm

Hey....only one more weekend before the great white bird flies away. What happened to all the time I had! Got the bike serviced, but still not right....but I love her when she puts on those light wheels......ggrrrll.
Enough of fantasy.....I must stay focussed and produce lists of all that I want....weigh it all up and then pare it down to what I need. Boxes of this and that have been piling themselves up so as not to forget anything. The sad thing is that it will still be a rush to pack and I will still forget something! Memo to self....get your paperwork together.
The main heat training is now over. I thought that I would wait to run in the afternoon on Sunday to get some heat conditions but a cool breeze sprung up....quite pleasant really. I hope the conditions are kind in a couple of weeks. Back to more normal training this week with hydration, hydration, hydration on my mind.
Find of the build period is effervesent Zero salt tablets that just dissolve. It is a nice taste change to the sweet gels.
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Postby Martin » Fri Sep 23, 2011 6:28 pm

Ironman throws up some really important issues such as commitment to the journey, adoption of new thinking, working with family, financial priorities, work obligations and so on. These take time to rationalise, negotiate, prioritise and organise them. They all have to come together or it just doesn't happen.
Then there are the a myriad of issues that lurk under the surface to challenge your resolve just waiting to waylay you.
There are also the benefits of undertaking the journey including relationships, health, travel and image. It is with this last benefit that I sometimes struggle with the triathlete persona and presentation. Don't get me wrong, triathletes are among the most upbeat, friendly and fantastic people that you meet and this is the hook into the sport.
So, what am I talking about? For all the time that I have been in the sport I have not adopted the 'shave the legs' look of most triathletes. This is a bit of macho maybe but also part ( I must admit) of the Steve Hume legacy that you can be a terrific triathlete and still have hairy legs. I remember when he was interviewed as Australian Age Champion as a 40 year old he was happy to state as such and I thought 'good on him'. Now Steve has had a profound influence on my progress in the sport and he is a great role model, but......and yes there is now a but......I have been told that I may be not one of a few but maybe the only guy at Kona with 'hairy legs'. Now you might think what is all the fuss about? Well not a great lot really, but I have still not made up my mind....soooo.... I am asking you all to help me be responding to a poll and so influence this 'important issue' for me. I am not sure how the poll works but I remember that we can do one on this forum, so I trust you....all my friends..... to help me take the right course of action!
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Postby Martin » Mon Sep 26, 2011 1:42 pm

My last week on home soil and I did not get to pack on the weekend. Long, long ride on Saturday where I saw the north/south/west of Sydney. Advice to all coming back from Windsor along Windsor Road (gee that is a great road now with a bike lane too, nice and fast) do not turn off to Annagrove since it is a third grade road that just climbs, climbs and climbs and leaves you in the Hills District with even more hills - not much fun at the end of a long ride. Waited all Sunday morning for the rain to ease, without luck and had to just get out and get the job done. Not so bad really since it was cool for running except that Hyundai that found the big puddle on the side of the road and copped me sweet with a water spray!
This morning was a heat chamber run with the notable difference that my coach (Bruce Thomas) came along to see me in action. Bruce hung the heat at 35oC @ 60% humidity with me for the hour which I thought was a little boring for him until he got the hang of the control panel and took over......we had programmed some intervals and Bruce took over for the higher paced efforts and kindly praised my running form. I was left breathless, not from the kind observation, but the sting from the intervals after the long run the previous day. No doubt it was all good for my adaptation.
It was really kind of Bruce to catch up with me in this way and is just an example of how he operates. His coaching is based upon sound theory being well implemented. With his own extraodinary racing results and experience in triathlon meshing seamlessly with his long teaching career, he provides professional and friendly support. I hope my efforts fully reflect his input.
Well.....the customs agents are going on strike at Sydney airport this Saturday to make the start of the final stage of the Kona experience all the more exciting. We must allow more time at Sydney Airport which is just fine since it is such an inviting and entertaining place!!
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Postby Martin » Fri Sep 30, 2011 11:18 am

My last day before travelling. It has gone so fast.
Still things to do, and I am lucky that I have an afternoon flight that allows me do a final check and maybe do something if I have overlooked stuff that I need.
I am excited about going and racing, uncertain only about the location and what that will bring, and ready for the big day.
At this stage though that only leaves me to thank everyone for their good wishes and especially to those that have helped me with my training and and especially a big thank you to Nev who has dragged himself out many times during winter when one would say 'but it is the off season'.
Finally, and publically, love to my manager, inspiration, and motivator - Wendy, without whom this would not have happened as my credit card may have remained in my wallet at the Port roll-down.
Aloha
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Postby Martin » Mon Oct 03, 2011 2:49 pm

We've hit the big island after a good flight and island hop. Our apartment, sorry I mean condo, is spacious and has great views of the ocean. Preparing for a short run this morning, I looked out of the window onto Ali'i Drive and noticed about 50 runners in about a minute - knew immediately that they were tri guys by the shaved legs & serious race faces. This race is ON. I ran down to Kona and the transition area near the swim start and there were heaps of athletes in and out of the water. The centre of Kona is very nice with cafes, all the usual holiday shops and the hotels and the gardens and public areas are well maintained with a nice vibe to be around. It is congested since it is a one-way each way road without footpaths so common throughout the Pacific islands. And there is the sound of Regae music everywhere... holidayish but no way the layback vibe of "chill" the name of the game this week - save it for SUNDAY! The main beach is tiny, enclosed by a seawall that acts like a seat to look onto the beach and is postcard perfect. So far not much of the transition infrastructure is in place yet, but the village has all the sponsors signs at shops along the road. Afterwards, I went for a swim in the water which is beautiful and warm about the temperature of a heated swim pool. Oddly, the water entry today was shared by a swimming dog & a fisherman & no one looked surprised? On the swm the coral reflects a busy holiday location being bleached with tropical fish, some black and some yellow and looking forward to going back out to see more. The course seems well marked with the need to keep your wits about you so you down swim head-on into another athlete (that goes for driving as well - already seen 2 casualties off their bikes needing 911 help). While I was swimming Wendy was on the pier and noticed some shady looking locals scoping peoples gear and move closer to the groups of athletes & the information booth. She heard that the swim area is the 'strut it and hook up' or 'BAR' area for the singles (that info from the athletes not the officials in info booth I don't think?). Unamazingly, the official mechandise tent is open and doing a brisk business with people spending a cool thousand dollars at a time (prices for 2XU gear are approx 2 x Wiggle prices).
There are plenty of supermarkets and drug stores to get your day to day shopping done. We're not short of anything after we took our own cereal, vegemite and tea but the bread is the usual island sweet bread & we had to search quite a bit for some 'regular' stuff though we'll know more after the CSI analysis has been done. And a tip - when you buy butter check its not the one with garlic & taragon - seriously gross with vegemite! Oddly our condo does not have a kettle but does have a coffee maker so using the microwave and drinking Kona coffee. And now that I've just had a USA size cup of it it's time for a RUN and use all that caffeine!

Maloha
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Postby Martin » Tue Oct 04, 2011 4:24 pm

The morning greeted us again with her balmy weather. After catching up with some Aussies we hit the water for a swim at 7 am in flat water with a little swell from the open sea. Then into the car along Queen K H'way to Kawaihae to start the bike section out to Hawi and back. This is a gradual climb over about 30 km up to the turnaround point in Hawi. It is not tough, just continuous and fortunately there were some clouds hanging off the mountain with a little bit of light drizzle to cool things down at times (what's the chance of this weather on Saturday?). This section of road is past the lava fields and so is less barren. Hawi is a small pretty town with some craft shops stocked and ready for the tourist $$$$. On the way back you get the benefit of the downhill and certainly get the speed up with a variable cross wind to keep you alert. The ride was all on the shoulder of the road which is narrowed by safety imprints in the tarmac sending vibrations right through you if wandered onto them - so no chance of falling asleep! With the sun out temperatures rose and passing by the road cuttings the exposed lava added to the radiating heat. Obviously this reflected heat will be the biggest issue in the 60 km of the lava fields from Kona out to Kawaihae. On the upside all the roads are good smooth hot mix and can be fast on the flat and downhills - can't wait for them to close the road so we can really experience it. Queen K has long rolling sections with long straights & no vegetation. I'm rethinking my riding gear considering a lightweight long sleeved white riding top to protect from the sun - its brutal.
The swim & ride took all morning and so in the early afternoon we finally hit the much talked about Lava Java in Kialua village for lunch for some welcome respite from the heat - its a pretty tough life sitting back sipping locally grown coffee (which is really a nice brew) overlooking the sea and watching it all go by. Finally, our lesson of today today - if you want to be a local you need a Dodge Ram Big Horn 4WD. These are MONSTER utes with four rear tyres & the drivers often as big as the machines.... just don't mess with them though with the the amount of juice they must guzzle & the gas prices it wouldn't take long to out run them...if they dont squash you first!
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Postby Martin » Wed Oct 05, 2011 7:04 pm

The week is speeding along and the atmosphere is building....the finishing shute is taking form, the flags, bunting and signage is going up, the athletes village...or should that read the 'sponsors' village...took form and the transition tents went up. It was another swim for me this morning - the swell was up but that should settle later in the week. The swimwear award goes to the Italian guys... they seem to think skimpy budgies are cool for swimming and wearing everywhere else ... not so cool for the rest of us.
Registration opened this morning and now the race is on. Wendy was rostered on as the Aussie volunteer (they needed an interpreter) and she did a poll of the shaved vs unshaved legs. Although she kindly told me the result was about 70/30 shaved being the winner, it didn't take her long to spill that in fact out of the 880 athletes through the doors today only 3 had unshaved legs ....4 if you count me.... what to do????
This afternoon brought the parade of nations, led by a band. It was good to see most of the 143 Australians there and follow the Australian flag with plenty of Aussie Aussie Aussie..Oi Oi Oi....it was a lot of fun. It went up Alii Drive finishing at the Athletes Village where the organisers were getting their monies worth out of their Pros...competing & non-competing.... Macca being the star attraction. After checking out the bling it was off to Bubba Gumps (yes, it's based on the movie Forrest Gump) for dinner (Wendy's choice) and although I'm not a fan of the fare, I did like the firey sunset on the bay.
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Postby Martin » Sat Oct 08, 2011 5:04 pm

This Thursdays post since the wifi went down........
Aloha HTCers.....All in Kona is in preparation mode and I have been the same. Alii Drive is now closed off to traffic at the pier end as the finishing area gets constructed. Transition is taking final shape and Ironman Central is in full swing. It has been overcast and rained at times which reflects the serious mood that is around. Wendy observed that everyone is smiling except the athletes.....so I smile a lot. No doubt there is a lot of emotion going into final preparations on a personal level and focus takes over. Our spare room is so set up with my gear that Wendy felt compelled to take a photo....probably to remind me of how neat and organised I can be if I want.
Yesterday was my last ride and I rode the town end of the course and ended up riding with Julie Dibbens and her minders. This included riding out for half an hour out of and half an hour back into town on the long rolling hills, and: experienced the speed that you can build up; noticing the Energy Lab run turnoff, and the names formed from coral pieces placed on the lava on each side of the road. A short half hour run along Alii Drive passing the little beaches with people picnicking finished off the day.
Today was a rest day so we ducked down to the pool before breakfast, hit the shops for supplies and chilled out before heading to the Welcome Dinner. Upfront was a huge stage with warriors, hula dancers, and fire dancers as part of the Ironman welcome. Having eaten, Wendy suggested we move undercover as clouds were rolling in. Within 5 minutes the rain started in earnest and we were glad since the whole event was in the open. The presentation was cut short and race briefing was....brief. As all wound up, so did the rain and we walked back in the balmy evening.
Martin
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Postby Martin » Sat Oct 08, 2011 5:19 pm

Double check...triple check...I think everything is right.
Bike is racked...bags are hung...and the final meal eaten and enjoyed. Roads are closed...swim buoys positioned...aid stations set.
The weather will be warm...with some cloud cover...wind is low...possible rain...this is looking good...anything to keep the temperature down.
The bike racks are very narrow and that is how they cram in 1800 bikes. Even at 439 I am very close to the pro's rack. Arm marking at 4:45 am...pro start at 6:45 and the rest of us at 7:00. AND then the doing starts.
Thanks to everyone for their help and warm wishes.
I'll catch up after the dance.

Mahola
Martin
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Postby Martin » Mon Oct 10, 2011 6:06 pm

Kona is a great race. It is huge, it is challenging, a beautiful location, the uniqueness of which has captivated me. I must come back.

The start was amazing with native drums beating across the water silenced only by the canon shot to start the race. Water conditions were calm but with the swell that has been around all week coming into play on the exposed part of the course. Buoys turned up as expected and the morning sun lit up your sightings on the shoreline. My time was slow, but I didn’t realise till the end. I thought that I just was among really good swimmers and whilst I realised that I was not up front, I didn’t realise how slow I was. Maybe I rely on my wettie too much.

The bike course starts with a section in town to give the crowd a chance to catch up with the riders before the course takes them away on the single lap ride. Once on the Queen K H’way it is 60k of long rolling hills all the way to the Hawi turnoff. I copped a flat with the turnoff in sight and replacing the single was easier than expected. The road to Hawi is a gradual climb of about 30 k and the last 12 k or so is continuous. It was on this last section that the notorious Hawi headwinds came into play. Aero and patience are the only tactic and it is a blessing when the turnaround appears for the return downward section and the opportunity to crank it out. At the bottom of this section you are about 70% home and have the long rolling hills to ride back to the airport and once you see the traffic lights you know that town is near. Again, my time is not good but not knowing what to expect I accept where I am and look forward to the run. T2 was slowed by me leaving my Garmin on the bike and after assuring me that someone has gone to get it, I just go and get it myself.

On the run I set my pace at 4:30/k and settle down on Alii Drive and walk the aid stations as the only way to take on enough drink, ice and to refresh my sponges with ice water. I was determined to use the race protocol I had learned from the heat training to keep my body temperature down. The support of the crowds was only exceeded by the assistance of the volunteers at the aid stations who were so kind and well organised. After 14 k it was onto Queen K H’way and the Energy Lab. This is lonely section except for the competitors and the aid stations, and I was uncertain about the dreaded Energy Lab which seems to loom so large in the Kona legend. Today it was not bad. There was a breeze and the hill is mild and although it saps many, that is because it is at 30 k which is the stumbling block for many of us. Back on to the Queen K H’way and the finish line is just 12 k away. The run has been good to me and I have overtaken many for whom the run is tough. My pace drops off a little but I now make myself pace at 5:00/k. The traffic lights signal that town is near and supporters start to reappear. On the downhill of Palani Drive you know that the last 2 k are approaching and I use the downhill to quicken my pace. The noise increases as the crowd increases and then the finishing shute.

In the chute I scope for Wendy who has been there for me all day, all week, all year and it is so exciting to see her among the crowd. The finishing chute is crazy with noise and Mike Reilly’s voice booms out time and time again, and even once for me. I soak the atmosphere and know that this exciting road to Kona is done.

Thanks to everyone for their messages of support and I look forward to catching up soon.
Martin
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Postby Ann » Tue Oct 11, 2011 7:25 pm

Congratulations Martin, a fantastic effort by the sounds of it.

Thanks so much for your updates throughout the lead up, they were really interesting and hopefully helpful to some

Hope you and Wendy have a great holiday now :)
Ann
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