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Finishing off the first week in Kona

About to enter the water

It’s hard to believe I’ve been out here a whole week. Time really has flown. I’ve settled into a comfortable routine by and large and everything seems so natural now. Well, natural in a slightly odd triathlon-centric way! I’m really enjoying things though. Kona is a beautiful place to visit and you can add the slowly building excitement as race day looms. Less than a week now!

Day Four – EASY!!

After a few days of doing some pretty solid workouts for a taper (see my last post) finally a break. Of course the morning swim was obligatory so I was down there on the pier around 7am and out into the water. The shorter swim I mostly do is a round trip to the Coastguard Buoy just a little further than the halfway marker. It’s working out at about forty minutes of swimming at a comfortable pace.

I’m still being food obsessed so as usual the swim is occupied with thoughts of where we’ll be going for brekkie and what I’ll have. Lava Java again today, might as well make the most of it whilst the crowds are down. I’m told next week you’ll have to queue for a table and I’m not keen on waiting too long for my brekkie. The usual big omelette stacked with meat was followed up with a bowl of fruit. I’ll admit the food obsession is followed up with concerns I’ve leaned up too well!

It was nice relaxing with the guys over breakfast. No rush to get out on the bike or go for a run we just chilled and chatted.

When we finally dispersed I had a quick run to get in before the single appointment of the day. A massage from Junko based at the nearby gym. You never know what to expect from a new masseuse, but the pictures of her with the likes of Peter Reid or Chris McCormack were encouraging. As it was I had one of the best massages I’ve ever had! She’s incredibly skilled and honed in on my problem areas in no time. The work done on my hamstrings was fantastic! I had no hesitation in booking in a return visit for the Monday.

Then it was a very slow careful walk to the supermarket to stock up on food and buy my lunch of rotisserie chicken. Half a chicken and some fruit is getting to be a standard lunch for me!

Then it was a busy afternoon’s tutoring! Over breakfast I’d arrange to meet Roger Canham to help him out with Training Peaks. Roger is a friend of Steven’s, a very good athlete looking to place well in his age group. Whilst familiar to training with power he was new to WKO+. We killed a good few hours and a few cappuccinos going over all the details. I have to admit it’s a steep learning curve getting to grips with the software. I think another session is planned for sometime next week when we’ve both got more downtime.

Finally and most importantly I finished the day with my first decent night’s sleep. Perhaps the massage helped I certainly didn’t wear myself out through exercise! Either way I got some proper rest at last.

Day Five – Now that’s a headwind

Getting set for the morning swimYou guessed it the day started at seven down by the pier. Once again it was time for the shorter swim out to the Coastguard Buoy and back. All combined with a little bit of celebrity spotting at the start and finish. A big, predominantly Aussie group set off to swim the course. Craig Alexander, Belinda Granger, Luke McKenzie and a few others. Sitting on the beach wall after the swim we got to see how much attention being the current World Champion brings you. Alexander was constantly being photographed.

Before swimming I also made a discovery. Banana nuun. I’d heard Nuun did a banana flavour and having found some the night before decided to give it a go. What can I say it doesn’t taste much of banana really. In fact it doesn’t taste much at all! It’s perfect for me no strong flavour means it’s easy to consume. Not like their attempt at a Kona Cola flavour, ugh.

After brekkie we headed out for a bike to the shop dead on 10am. Martin joined up with us as his bike had finally arrived after a trip back to Heathrow! Things started off pretty normally a little bit of wind in our faces, but nothing to talk of. I was happy to find my legs were starting to feel OK. After the first two days riding I was starting to worry. So along we rode not really pushing things. I’d mentally check off points of note along the Queen K and their distance in kilometres. The miles to kilometre conversion game being one of the strategies to keep me occupied out there!

Somewhere about 20km from the turn around point the wind in our faces became a gale. Now this ride was down as an easy ride and I anticipated some harder sections, but from then on it was work. There were times when my powermeter was easily reading my race wattage, but my speed was barely hitting the 16km/hr mark. That’s hard going! I settled in for a slow grind to the shop, at least it suited my low cadence riding even if it was harder work. Of course a headwind would mean a tailwind on the way back.

In the last 10km things got a little scarier the road turned and the wind started to cut across more from the side. Strong gusts threatened to push me into the road or off my bike. I was glad for the drops as an additional and more secure means of controlling things. I continued the grind with caution not wanting to end up under a truck. The final roll down to the shop had the worst moment when a gust pushed me to the white centre line and a car immediately overtook in the other lane. Close call!

No one rushed to head back into that wind. I was glad this wasn’t the Hawi ride, that would have been a killer! Once we did set off the benefits of a tailwind in that initial 10K were completely offset by the side gusts. I didn’t dare go as fast as I could in case of handling problems. On the other hand the sooner we got past those winds the sooner I’d be safe!

Once we were past them the kilometres flew by. A full on tailwind had me spinning out in my biggest gear, there was nothing I could do to go any faster. Great fun for the subsequent 10km. I realised this probably more than compensated for the harder work earlier and made my bike far easier than planned. It’d potentially be a lot shorter too. Then suddenly with about 25km to go the wind turned and was back in our faces and blowing at a fair rate too!

So a bit of work for the last stage home with a stop off in Bike Works on route. Impressive store and I added their tri kit to my growing collection of Hawaiian cycle kit. Also booked the bike in to see if they could find out what was causing my bottom bracket to routinely click and knock. Hopefully it’ll be quiet come race day!

Once I got back to the room it was time for food again. Yes, the obsession remains, but not the half a chicken in the fridge. I’m growing addicted to them, delicious and nice and paleo. An early dinner was planned over at Bongo Ben’s so as soon as the food had settled it was out for a short run. Heading away from Ali’i Drive so I could enjoy a nice relaxed easy paced run. I have to admit it was getting harder to keep getting on with the workouts. I’m really looking forward to chilling more in the next few days.

Day Six – Hammer Time!

Having had one good night’s sleep I was looking forward to another, enough that I went to bed at 9pm! Resulting in another great night’s sleep, but a real early start to the day. Personally I like it that way and with coffee in the lobby from five I can chill out before my swim. It was one of those mornings where I struggled to get myself going.

I dragged myself to the pier to discover Jo wasn’t at her keenest and Steven had decided to skip the swim. I set myself to the task of swimming to the usual buoy and back and just got on with it. Everyday I seem to be feeling better in the water. Sighting has become less of an issue and I’m feeling a lot more comfortable. Hopefully it bodes well. I don’t want to break the cycle with a day off now!

Afterwards it was a chilled out breakfast at Splashers and some chat before Roger and I agreed plans for a ride. I was going to use Roger to make me work a bit harder on the bike. My goal for the day was a solid session with some race pace and not too much easy. It looks like I made the right choice in ride partner as Roger likes to keep the pace going. What was a relief was on the way out I soon comfortably settled in to things. Faster than our previous rides out here with a slightly higher heart rate and power, but fine. It did make me think about how I could probably ride harder than I do a lot of the time.

With over 36km covered in the first hour and Roger wanting to go all the way to the shop I opted to turn early. My plan didn’t need as long a ride and I suspected with some decent efforts on the return journey I’d easily hit the training stress I wanted. First though I rode easy chatting with an older american guy I met. He was from Chicago and we discussed how tough the winds had been the day before.

The Queen K has handy mile markers on the return leg and I decided to use them to mark my efforts. With twenty miles to go I said goodbye and picked things up to race pace. The return leg had a solid headwind to make things a bit more challenging, but it was all good. The next five miles I hammered out roughly race wattage. Working the cranks, but also being careful not too blow myself on the climbs. It felt pretty good, tough, but with focus manageable.

A break of a couple of miles then I decided to have another session for the few miles leading to the airport. It’s one of my favourite course markers! Eight miles out from the town I know it’s not far to go at that point. So after a pretty strong cyclist blasted past me I set to work. Having someone to keep in sight even for a short while helped and I hammered out another solid effort to the airport.

There’s something about starting a ride at a decent pace that makes it hard to go slower later on. Even though my race efforts were done I kept a steady effort going all the way back into town and the hotel. It was a good ride, just what I need one week out from my race. My legs are feeling better everyday, at least on the bike. I now have some confidence that come race day I’ll be able to give it a good go.

After the half-chicken lunch I basically arsed about until I decided I was going to drop the planned run. My legs have felt sore the past couple of runs so I wanted to rest them and hopefully have a better run tomorrow for it. I said I’d go by feel as much as the numbers.

I wandered through some of the local shops looking for a new vest to wear, but so far no luck. I managed to pick up a new pair of Saucony Fastwitch 3s, but unfortunately not in my favourite bright orange! Discounted so much cheaper than home and with my current pair on the way out it was perfect timing. Also had a chat with the guys from Oomph. They provide kit for Epic Camp and it’s great stuff I just let them know they should do more patterned pieces for the guys! They were really friendly and it was great to meet them and learn that if I could get together an order of big enough size they’d do custom patterned pieces. One for the future perhaps.

After dinner it was back to Kope Lani for coffees. I’m now on first name terms with one of the owners, Gwen! Whilst we sat there chatting Greer, a friend from Oz, walked by. I’d completely forgotten she’d be out here so now I have another date to add to next week’s social calendar! It’s great to keep catching up with so many people I know though. Really this is a social gathering with a race at the end.

Once this post is up it’s an early night for me as the plan is the full course for the swim tomorrow.

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From nutrition to pacing - a collection of CoachCox blog posts focused specifically on Ironman training and racing.

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