Race Week in Kona – Things start hotting up

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If it seemed busy last week then sometime around the weekend things really started to pick up. From what I understand there’s probably more to come too! You’re starting to get crowds of Triathletes forming all over the place. The odd topless runner showing off his physique down Ali’i Drive has now become a regular stream. I have to keep reminding myself I earned my place here and fit in. I could run topless down Ali’i Drive at close to race pace if I really wanted. Sensibly I just choose not to.

Day Seven – Meat Day

My final planned swim of the full course. After today I’ll stick to the daily swim routine, but keep things to the shorter distances. As usual I’m up early. I prefer it this way, come race day it won’t be a shock to the system when I have to get up at four! It proves to be good quiet time to sit, relax and get on with these blog posts.

The swim itself went pretty well. A big reassurance after the tough battle the first time I did it. Calm conditions out there definitely made a big difference. Whilst Steven and Martin stormed off ahead I swam with Roger sticking on his feet for most of the second quarter. I’d like to put that down to his speedsuit and me just in my popular Hawaiian style speedos! To be honest though Roger is going pretty well in the water. We reached the turn around in a surprising and pleasing 33 minutes. My reaction was that it meant we’d be in for the buffet brekkie by eight!

The swim back proved a little tougher. I’m happy because I actually managed to sight the whole route back spot on. No detours to the shoreline hotels for me this time. In fact as I saw Roger go increasingly off to the left of my target I decided it was time to strike out on my own. The return journey becomes a bit of a mental slog after a while, you keep checking and everything still seems so far. But if you want it to end you have to keep going, especially with a large breakfast waiting at the end.

I got out the water a little ahead of Roger thanks to my straight line to the shore versus his detour. Also I think I tend to swim more strongly in the second half of the swim anyway. Something I need to look into is good swim warm-up techniques to help get me going from the gun. Bit of research for the next few days I think.

We headed to Bongo Ben’s for breakfast as it promised an all-you-can-eat buffet. A dangerous thing! It proved to be excellent especially for those on the paleo diet. Plenty of proteins to choose from. I stuffed myself on about two and a half plates of meat and eggs! Admittedly this decision would come back to haunt me later in the day, but I didn’t need another meal till the evening.

Paleo Breakfast

Loaded down by meat I returned to the hotel to digest and recover in time for a planned ‘long’ run with Roger. Fortunately the definition of long shortens as the race gets nearer. What was more important was the direction. We were going to run out a little on the Queen K to experience that prior to the race.

Now whilst I had managed to mostly digest my brekkie by the middle of the day my stomach was still a little unsettled. However a 45 minute run should be in its capacity. I was glad Roger didn’t want to run up Palani Road and was happy to take the slightly easier route to the Queen K. I’ve yet to run up that hill, but it’s on the to-do list for the next two days. Good to have some idea of how things will feel before race day I think. However painful that may be!

It was hot out there, really hot. Having run Ali’i Drive the Queen K is a different experience. You’ll be a little over 10 miles (16km) into the run when you reach it and there’s no shelter. It just seems to trap the heat and sun so you slowly bake. Despite the short time out there I caught the sun on my shoulders surprisingly quickly. I’m glad I headed out there and for my last run over twenty minutes that’s where I’ll be heading once more.

Roger runs at a solid pace and proved good motivation to keep me going well. This was despite having incredibly sore legs whenever I ran of late. Towards the end stomach cramps started to slow me down a little and I was greatly relieved when he proposed turning round! I was more relieved a little later when he allowed a walk break for my stomach to settle! I resolved no more buffet breakfasts till after the race at that point.

I was most relieved to get back to the hotel though. The heat and the stomach issues had left me in a fair state. If I couldn’t pin it on the breakfast I’d be a lot more concerned. As it was whilst I’m happy to believe I just had a lot going on in my stomach I want to get back on the Queen K again. Hopefully with legs feeling fresher and ready to go.

With the scheduled workouts in the bag the rest of the day was mine. I chilled out meeting up with a friend, Greer. I met her when I trained with Toby down in Geelong. She’s good fun and a great athlete whatever she may claim in person! We relaxed and chatted over coffees at Kope Lani. Even did a little bit of shopping that afternoon, picking up a couple of excellent shark based designs at Crazy Shirts. Got given a points card I have no hope of ever completing!

Sunset from the Canoe Club

The usual early dinner was the only other time I ate that day. I could still feel the effects of breakfast lingering in my stomach. Take my advice and set yourself a two plate limit at the breakfast buffets! A salad at the Canoe Club with the guys, watching the sun set…

Day Eight – Merchandise, Michellie and Massage

There’s no doubt today that the race is in town (if the sponsors banners on every tree hadn’t given it away). Gatorade had a bag drop off point setup for the expected hoards of swimmers. I’d recommend getting to the swim early. It’s much quieter at 6:30 than at 7:00 and at least you can start with some clear water.

Whilst Roger had plans to go with how he felt I was determined to have an easy swim. I was going for 30 minutes exactly, nothing more. I let him head off with Jo on his heals. After loitering on the beach for a while I splashed off out towards the orange buoys. It wasn’t a great swim, I think having made the mental switch to go easy I just wasn’t ging to push anything at all. Even so it was pleasant to be in the water and I enjoyed going out there without a sense of pressure to train. It’d be back to normal the next day of course.

On the pier I bumped into Douglas from Epic Camp. I’d seen him briefly the day before, but today he joined us for breakfast at Splashers. It was great to catch up and share stories from past camps and everything else since. Douglas was the first to make comments about my past weight in his usual blunt way. So I was happy to turn up 90% of the man I’d been at the last Epic Camp!


Unfortunately I had to dash off to get my bike into Bike Works and see if they could sort out the issue with the bottom bracket. Glad I booked it in a few days earlier as it ensured the work would get done on my off day. With the bike in their hands it was back to see the event merchandising. To be blunt – there’s a lot of ugly merchandise out there. I’m sure it will all sell, but not much to me. In fact I think I spent more on stuff for others than for myself! Whether it’s appropriate for them to wear the gear when they weren’t here has been debated.

A brief encounter with Ian Osborne and Emma-Kate Lidbury in the store was a nice surprise. I’d met them in Lanzarote where they got to watch me have a terrible race! Today I got to hear stories of luggage nightmares as US Military personnel bumped lots of baggage off flights. Hopefully their stuff will have turned up and we’ll have a better chance to talk at the Parade of Nations. Since I last met them it seems Ian has picked up a fantastic job as editor of Triathlete Europe magazine. Fantastic, except he tells me it leaves him no time to train!

Another Training Peaks/WKO+ tutorial with Roger followed all held over some fantastic brewed Kona coffee. Not the usual place, I’ll have to find the name of this one. The Vanilla Macadamia Nut Medium Roast is amazing. When you order you will get pitched on whether you want to take some coffee home or want a tattoo!

After a half-a-chicken lunch (I’m planning to work out how many chickens died in the making of my Kona race!) it was off for another massage from Junko. I was really looking forward to this as she did such great work last time.

Meeting Michellie

I arrived just as she finished with Michellie Jones! After taking pictures of Michellie and Junko together for each of them I thought I should get in and have mine with Michellie too! I wished her luck and then relaxed on the table for an hour of clearing the muscles out. Junko worked me over as hard as last time, but I was pleased that the overall result wasn’t as sore as before. In fact I felt reasonably good. Could my legs be coming back to me? Check out their Facebook page and if you’re ever in Kona and in need of massage look her up.

To finish my day I just had to pick up the bike and then head over to Maryka’s for a barbie. I’m pleased to say that for $28 I now no longer have a creaky bottom bracket and feel much happier for it!. I rode over to Maryka’s apartment down Ali’i Drive where her and her partner Jim put on a superb dinner. Plenty of food even for a fussy Paleo guy like me! I ate a few more chunks of chicken!

We had some really interesting discussion about diet. The reliance on carbs that predominates not only in society, but also amongst athletes. Whilst you need more to be able to train, there almost seems to be an addiction to them and getting as many as you can. Then more discussion about race strategies, tactics and power. Approaches to racing and how we see ourselves developing as athletes. All good stuff and interesting to properly chat about it after we’e had brief exchanges by email or Twitter.

Being athletes the night ended fairly early of course. I need my beauty sleep after all and had a swim to be up for in the morning.

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