Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Race Week In Kona

I'm really late to post this but hope you still enjoy. Here is the quick day by day summary of week leading up to the race in Kona. It was by far one of the best experiences of my life. In fact, now I want to go to Kona race week and not race just so I have time to do everything.

Travel Day. We left our house around 11 Central and got to our Condo in Kona at about 9 PM (2AM at home). It was a long and actually uneventful day. Abigail did not have much interest in sleeping on the flights, but she did an amazing job and was awesome the whole time. The first flight (ORD-LAX) had a few athletes on it but was mostly the normal travelers. However when we got to LAX things started to look different. The number of Mdot logos went up drastically and almost as much as the average body size decreased. On the plane, it looked like every other person was an athlete and we saw bags and shirts from Ironman races all over the world. Sitting behind us were two men from the NBC crew that were talking about the last few years for the race. It started to sink in that this was going to be a different experience.

The Kona airport made this even more apparent as the baggage claim was packed with people, who now had less clothes on and looked more fit. Not to mention tri bag and tri bag and many different languages being spoken.

We ran into Matt Samojeden at LAX and we decided to go for a Monday morning swim. So about 6:45 we pull out of our Condo and drove to the pier. In the 1.5 mile drive we had to have seen literally hundreds of people running and riding on Ali'i. As expected, Lava Java was packed and parking was already hard to find on Monday.

Matt and I wanted to just swim easy and do the whole course so we swam buoy to buoy and then would re-group and enjoy the sights. I hate swimming, but was loving every minute of this as we could see so much in every direction. The mountains looked awesome when I would breath and the sea life below the water was even cooler to watch. Not to mention the incredible swimmers everywhere. The only issue was the buoys only went about half way and then there was a kayak at the turn around another 1/2 mile away. The water was calm but there were still swells that prevented us from keeping our eye on the kayak, but we decided to swim the full course anyway. We swam for a while, and I swear the kayak was moving, but we keep going. When we finally caught the kayak the guy asked if we were going to Maui and then pointed to where the turnaround kayak was. We had just experienced the current that pushes you out to sea and the guy we found was out to make sure no one keep going. We ended up swimming about 1:20 and definitely well over 2.4 miles, but it was fun and a very good lesson learned about the current.

The rest of the morning Theresa, Abigail and I spend together exploring and shopping. We visited the Zoot store on Ali'i and Dave pointed out that there was a picture of me on the Zoot history wall… very cool!

The whole town really embraces the race as we quickly found out at Walmart:

After lunch I went for a 2 PM run from our Condo. I wanted hot and sunny, instead I got cloudy and cool. I ended up doing 6.5 miles through town, up Palini, and back

I wanted to swim at 7 again, but this time I did the 1.5 mile run to the pier, which took significantly less time than driving there. I swam just over 1.3 miles – out was very easily and comfortable at 18', back started easy then Macca was right next to me so I tried to hang on to his feet as long as I could. Made it back in just under 15' for 32' total. Much more in line with what I was expecting compared to yesterday's 1:20 swim. However I was killing myself staying on Macca's feet and I'm pretty sure he was just messing around. I finished up with another easy run back to the condo.

For Abigail's 8 month birthday we took pictures of her by the ocean and then headed to the race registration.

We wandered around town a little and then I went to Tri Bike Transport to pick up my bike…

I have a bike box and fully planned to pack and bring my own bike with us on our flights. However about a month before the race we found out TBT was going to Kona this year and I had such a good experience with them last year that I decided it was worth it to do that instead. The cost was about the same and this way I did not have to worry about my bike after the race when we went on vacation. The downside was that we got to Kona on Sunday and my bike didn't make it until Tuesday afternoon, but I figured that was still worth it.

So I get to TBT to pick up my bike at about 1:30 on Tuesday and there is a long line (20+ people) waiting for bikes. I stand around for a while, finally get to the front of line and they can't find my bike. They have me come back and walk all the racks with them. Sure enough there are at least 4 other Orbea Ordus in the same color, but not mine. There is still one other bike that came from EndureIT assembled and on rack but mine is not. So the guy helping me gets one of the guys in charge and he asks which shop and when I said EndureIT, he says "Oh, follow me". We get back to the large freight containers and in the corner is a bike bag that he opens up and there is my frame. Yeah, I paid to have my bike shipped to Kona in one piece so I could hop right on and ride it and instead I get a bag of parts. The worst part is it was not taken apart by me and TBT did not have anyone to assemble it. The TBT guys were helpful and tried to help me put it together but they were busy and he was doing a number of other things, so I sat there and re-assembled my bike myself in a parking lot in Kona with a multi tool. Everything went together ok other then the fit being not quite right and the shifter and brake cables needing some tuning as I had them routed a certain way with zip ties but that was all messed up now. At least there was no damage and I am able to assemble my bike myself.  TBT and EndureIT have both appologized for the mix up.

Anyway, I got back to the condo, did another once over on the entire bike and went for a ride. The fit and shifting were a little off, but a nothing a few stops and a multi tool couldn't fix. About 4 in the afternoon I was off for my 1:30 ride and now I missed the keiki race and being able to cheer on a friends daugther…but all in all it could have went much worse. I did, however, make it back in time to see the Parade of Nations

Maybe it was because I was frustrated or maybe because the wind was calm, but I hammered from the condo to the airport and back. I was actually over 30 mph almost the entire way to the airport and still stayed over 26 the way back.

To finish the day up I went and met Brooke from Gu and she hooked me up with everything I needed for the week and the race. It sure was nice not to have to bring nutrition with me.

I originally wanted to swim every morning but decided that I was probably better off just getting to Hawi early on as that was my main goal for the day. I drove out to Kawaihae and parked, set up my bike and right about the time I estimated I would ride. I was a little worried for the first 10 miles as there was not much wind at all. Then I started to get confident as the wind picked up but I still thought it was no big deal. The wind was a about 15 mph wind from the left (ocean) and I was just cruising along comfortably when out of no where a huge gust hit me from the right and pushed me into the road. WTF… the wind was coming from the left, nailed me from the right and then went back to the right. I instantly understood why everyone said to go ride Hawi. The remaining 8-10 miles up hill continued to get more windy and provided even worst gusts. To make it even more fun, as I turned towards Hawi the last 5 miles was into a head wind with the crazy gusts and cross winds. It took about 32 minutes to climb up and 11 minutes to get back down with a tail wind. As annoying as the cross winds were on the way up at 12-15 mph riding speed, they scared the crap out of me at 36+ mph riding speed back down. All I can say is I'm REALLY glad I got out there and road to/from Hawi and experienced the wind first hand before race day.
The rest of the day was one social event after another starting with a TeamEN Lunch, SpiderTech gathering in the afternoon, and Zoot dinner in the evening. The SpiderTech gathering was particularly interesting as Chris from SpiderTech did an assessment of my legs and showed me how I had limited range of motion in my big toe on the foot/calf that I have been having issues with. He went over multiple ways to stretch it and completely explained why it causes the issues with my foot/calf.

We drove into town so that Theresa and Abigail could join me for the underwear run, but first I did another quick easy swim and stopped for coffee at the Coffee of Hawaii boat.

By the time we got to the underwear run it was getting ready to start and so I decided to just watch the fun with Theresa and Abigail.

We then visited the expo area. Chris from SpiderTech treated my foot and calf some more while Abigail and Theresa wandered around. Chris from Team Sports did a quick tune up on my bike as I knocked my chain off while calibrating my Quarq during Wednesday's ride. I showed him what was happening and the nice thing about being in Kona is within minutes we were able to go talk to someone at SRAM. It ends up that the open glide tooth design in the RED cassette does not allow you to backpedal with the chain and large angles. In other words the chain line has to be straight when you backpedal with a SRAM RED cassette. Once I knew this I could not get the chain to fall off no matter how hard I tried, but if I went to an extreme gear combination and back pedaled, sure enough it would come off within a few revolutions. We also ran into Jake from Zoot and he took care of getting Theresa and I Zoot Kona 2010 visors, shirts, and compression socks to match our Ali'i shoes.

That afternoon I drove out to and ran in the Energy Lab. Every run I did so far in Kona was overcast and cool, but at least this time the weather gave me what I wanted for a portion of the run. I went about 5 miles and 3 of them were sunny. It sure did get hot quick and gave me a good idea what I could expect on race day.  The Athlete meeting was pretty uneventfully and standard. I'm glad that we skipped the dinner and I only went to catch the meeting.

My plan was to do a few very short workouts but my body was feeling really tired so I decided to do nothing at all and just sit around with my feet up. Poor Abigail had her first cold and was coughing, sneezing and was congested. Luckily, our Endurance Nation extended family got word of this and we found out Lynn (a pediatrician from EN) was volunteering at the medical tent.

That afternoon when I checked my bike in Lynn checked out Abigail and confirmed it was just a head cold and not in her chest which at least made Theresa feel better. Bike check in was fast and easy. While I was on the way in Chrissie was on the way out so the entire crowd went the other way and I was able to walk right in and take care of everything. One of the joys of being number 1731 was my bike was basically all the way out to sea and at the far end of the pier.

The last stop of the day was to get my Jamba Juice dinner and take a picture for Al!

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