The lead into this race was exciting and lots of fun! I had an NBC interview on Thursday the week before the race and then a couple of podcast/Facebook live interviews and finished with the professional press conference on Thursday before the race. Sometimes people get annoyed with the amount of commitments, but I honestly was just taking all the fun in! I made sure to do everything well before the race so I could relax the last 1.5 days.
All of my family came in Friday night so it was fun to see some of them before I went to bed. The power of family love is real and strong. It is so strengthening and empowering that I can’t explain it!
I took my 25g of carbs about 20 minutes before the race started then jumped in the water to warm up. With about 10 minutes to go I saw my husband on the pier and swam over to him. He bent down so I could grab his pinky for good luck—something that we do so I can have part of him with me as I race. When I went to reach up, I stuck my knee into a sea urchin. OUCH! I don’t recommend that! I rubbed it and put it out of my mind because what else can you do!
I paid attention to how the men lined up and noticed that they were packed on the line away from the pier. Tim told me to either line up on that side or next to the pier. The women lined up exactly opposite of the men and were clustered over by the pier. From practicing in-water starts in the pool, I learned that when I am tightly surrounded, I have a very slow start. Knowing that, I lined up on the far side and only had one woman to the left of me. I was asked what I think about right before the start that 1-minute count down before the gun goes off. Honestly, I just stay in the moment and focus on what I need to be doing right then: nice kick, skull the water, backend up, get ready to get out hard, deep breaths etc. That minute before the start is probably the most peaceful time of the day for me. All the preparation is done, the race hasn’t started, but I am 100% ready to go and feeling peaceful!
I got through transition a little slower than I wanted due to a couple issues, but worked through them and got on my bike. At least I have a neutron “pink” bike now and it’s VERY easy to spot in the transition area!
We decided to race on power this race even though all my other races have been based on heart rate. We have been planning to “graduate” to racing on power again (I did under my old coach in 2016), but I knew I wasn’t ready for it until this race. I put my big girl pants on and started to race on power. NOTHING was coming to me like it had in training. After about 1-1.5 hours of trying to hit my power numbers, I made the smart decision to go back to focusing on heart rate and redesign my race.
I spent the last 20-30 miles managing cramping and trying to make sure I was still on top of hydration/nutrition. I came into transition in 10th place. That was not where I wanted to be, but it was where I was. One step at a time! I got through transition and tried to cool down as much as possible!
The run down Ali’i and back (first 10 miles) is usually where people have to hold themselves back, but I was feeling pretty awful so it felt like more of a death march. Let’s be honest, the first 18 miles were a death march. My rib cage had completely cramped up and my legs were still cramping too! I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to just quit and pull out of the race. I felt that bad! I had told myself before that I was finishing even if it meant walking the marathon. I really don’t know how I kept running, but I did. I know that strength wasn’t my own. It came from answered prayers, family love, family cheers, friends’ encouraging messages throughout the week, and knowing there were so many people physically there cheering and virtually cheering from afar.
Email to Coach Jesse after the race:
- Realize Kona, out of any race, is going to be surgey in the swim especially on that turn back to the pier
- Transitions, get them faster, practice them
- Bike handling skills!! I am going to try to hook up with some bike people in Boise to help with this in person.
- I want to go to a wind tunnel/velodrome for some testing. I think there are definitely some gains we can make.
- Cramping during all three, horrible on the first ten miles of the run. My whole rib cage had stitches in it EVERYWHERE!- I think getting a place with AC next year will be key. I feel as though when I had AC I was able to handle the heat while exercising better. It was if my cortisol levels were just elevated without AC and so then it was just too much stress on my body. I saw it in some of those rides leading up to the race before I had AC and then the week of the race I didn’t have AC again.
- Those first 5-10 miles off the bike are always a little hard for me. I start to feel the rhythm after that but don’t know what I can do to help establish that rhythm sooner.
- Good swim warm up- 15-20 minutes seems to be the perfect time for me stopping 4-5 minutes to line up before the start
- Focusing on those first 400 strokes and making opportunities
- Stayed on feet for just over half
- When I lost feet I put in a 100-stroke surge to catch back up, couldn’t, so race my own race the rest. Kept a good cadence etc.
- Reevaluated when my power wasn’t coming to me easily
- Kept at it even when it was a pretty terrible day (understatement) the whole day.