The Kona Diaries – Days 1-4
We arrived on the big island of Hawaii on Thursday night after a draining 24 hours of travel. It was pleasantly warm, the sweating started the moment we stepped of the plane. But to be fair this year it hasn’t seemed as hot as two years ago. Much felt like coming home, we are even in the same apartment block as last time, about 2 miles down Alii Drive from the pier.
After a uncharacteristically good first night – I slept from half 11 at night till 9am, we just took it easy the next day to recover from the travel, collected our hire cruiser bikes, shopped for groceries, visited the farmer’s market for yummy local pineapple, passion fruit, papayas, avocados, apple bananas, and mangos. After lunch we put the bikes back together and I headed out for a first ride to check everything works and to spin out the legs. It was warm and windy. Not a surprise then. I didn’t feel particularly strong but that was to be expected, 24 hours of travel don’t pass you by without leaving some sort of mark.
While writing my race report about the Château de Chantilly triathlon (http://chasingchrissie. wordpress.com/2011/09/01/chateau-de-chantilly-tri-race-report/) it occurred to me that while race mornings don’t stress me out any longer because they have become such routine, this may not be the case for everyone. So I though it may be helpful for some to see what I do.
Firstly, one of the tricks to get it right is to have a plan, and stick to it. You may adapt it for the next race if things didn’t quite work but at 5 am on a Sunday morning it’s best not to challenge your brain too much. I used to write the steps on a piece of paper the day before. By now this is no longer necessary, because I’ve obviously memorised it over the years. I pack my bags the night before, the same goes for attaching spares to my bike, and checking everything is in working order. But let’s have a look at it.
I love racing. After all, this is why I do this sport. But if you race lots it tends to disrupt your training somewhat. So after two Olympic distance triathlons on consecutive weekends, I felt very ready to tackle my next big block of training towards Kona. 3 weeks of uninterrupted swimming, biking, and running until my arms and legs were ready to fall off. Then recover, and race again to test the state of affairs. I can’t even begin to explain how much I was looking forward to this.
And it’s exactly what I did. Ticking off the sessions on the plan, and ready to push my body and mind further in every session.
At the end of September last year I raced the Hever castle tri as my end of season race, and really enjoyed it. So when the race director asked me whether I’d like to return in 2011, it didn’t take any persuading, and I signed up for 3 of the 4 Castle triathlon series races. The first one was a only 1 week before Ironman France, so I had to give it a miss.
So on Saturday I embarked on an epic drive up to Yorkshire. Probably not the best preparation for a race, to spend 6 hours in a car without air conditioning, but thanks to numerous episodes of IMTalk and MarathonTalk podcasts I made it to the campsite by 4pm, and just went about relaxing.
I didn’t really know what to expect for the race with regards to my fitness. The last month had contained an Ironman taper
I’m aware that I was awfully quiet on the blog front leading up to Ironman France. There could have been many reasons for this, like training very hard, lots of work or similar. Unfortunately it was much less pleasant. My mum was diagnosed with a brain tumor. That’s bad in any case, but made worse by the fact that I’m in a different country. She’s also not been one for telling us things like this until she had to, and even then she still tried to keep us away. Not an easy situation, but one that does happen more often than we think. 1 in 3 people are affected by cancer, I think the statistics are.
I don’t want to go on about just how ridiculously rubbish I felt, and all the things I failed to do during the first few weeks. What I want to talk about is how much the sport helped me cope once again.
This year’s Ironman World Championships is on the day of my 28th birthday. When I found this out last year it proved too much temptation to not try and be there.
So on Sunday the 26th of June I found myself nervously standing on the pebble beach in Nice waiting for the start signal for Ironman France. There were 17 girls in my age group competing for a single slot to be on the start line in Kona, Hawaii on the 8th of October. I knew my preparation had
“Looking for something to fill the gaps in you gear? The new Trigirl winter warmer set is just the ticket.
Including a Tubette scarf and a pair of wrist warmers it’s hard to find something better to give you that little bit of extra warmth on a cold winter’s day.
The versatile Tubette scarf can be worn as a hat or scarf or both. I love wearing it on the bike to extend my cycling top upward beyond my neck, and keeping the draught out. Take that chilly breeze from the North! In fact I like it so much that I’ve stopped wearing my scarf completely – it’s stylish enough that I can get away with wearing it outside of a sporting environment.
Fairly soon after starting triathlon I joined the Brighton Phoenix Tri club. Having been involved in a swimming club growing up I thought this the obvious next step. Over the coming months and years the club was to be a source of a wealth of information, helping me to find out about all aspects of triathlon. I made new friends, found training partners, and regularly found a helping hand when needed – I just remember the countless lifts to races that I and my bike benefited from! I love my club but it wouldn’t be the same without its members. So once I’d found my footing I started to think about how I could get more involved.
Today I did my last triathlon of 2010, finishing the season on a high with a good second place at Hever castle.
I don’t know about you but I can feel with every part of my body that the end of the season is here. I noticed the first signs the day after the Bala standard distance triathlon. I was tired. The idea of putting my running shoes on for my usual Monday session made me think twice, and I took a rain check. I wasn’t even looking forward to the next race, just looking forward to getting it over with. But despite the tiredness there’s something deeply satisfying about this feeling. This year I have raced, raced, and raced until I truly had enough. And now I will have a break, because I want to, because I deserve it, but mostly because I need to. Everyone needs a time to recharge their batteries.
Let’s start this post with two quotes:
“You are at the end of season so let’s enjoy ourselves eh !”
“I can’t do it if it makes me feel like that.”
The first quote is the answer I received from my coach in response to asking to enter yet more races for the remainder of the season. The second is from a friend during a discussion of a race that went very wrong after a terrible swim.
My reply to my friend was this: “There’s no point in doing it if it makes you feel bad.”
This sentence summarised what I only very recently had to remind myself of as well. When I started triathlon it was all shiny and new to me.
I’m probably preaching to the converted here, but a few weeks ago when I tidied up my room I discovered a box smoothie maker.
We should all eat plenty of fresh fruit and veg, and I certainly never had a problem with this, but how much fun are smoothies! I’m having almost as much fun making them as consuming the product. Not only are they good for you, they also taste great. I’ve almost gone off the chocolate in favour of smoothies.
It was Tuesday morning and I had rolled out of bed to cycle over to one of the local 10 mile time trial courses to do a training TT. I was making my way out of the city and was just about to settle down on to my aerobars when I saw ahead a pedestrian crossing. I remember passing by a parked windowless white van, and then seemingly out of nowhere there was a pedestrian in the road!
This proves how much we rely on our hearing in traffic! It was 6am and he hadn’t heard me coming (obviously!) and must have thought it safe to step out into the road without looking. I remember him trying to shelter his face with his arms, bracing himself against the impact and then I was lying on the road. Ouch! There were a million things that went through my head. This hurts. Can I move all my limbs? Where’s my bike? Where is the man? This can’t be happening now! Thank goodness I still have my senses, I was incredibly lucky.
Having grown up in the flat terrain of Northern Germany, I used to absolutely despise hills. If there’s one thing I really don’t like it’s slowness, and that applies to everything in life. I’m terribly impatient.
Cycling up hills doesn’t give you the excitement of going fast on a bike and quite frankly cycling up hills is hard work. I was also put off by the fact that as one of the bigger athletes ‘im always on the losing end against some of the slender running girls, as soon as we are faced with an incline.
Planning a block of training can really determine your goals. But to be of much use they have got to be SMART. Some of you may already be bored now – yeah, yeah, we all know this, S for specific, M for measurable, A for achievable, R for relevant, and T for time-bound. But do you actually do it? I was most recently reminded of this concept when flicking through my notes from the BTF level 2 coaching course.
So in practise, does this actually work? At the beginning of the year I wrote on a piece of paper – amongst other things – by the end of July I want to have improved my 10 mile time trial PB to sub 23 minutes. Why is this a much better goal than ‘I want to get faster on the bike’?
I just love, love, love being a triathlete and living in Brighton. This morning I was woken up bright and early by the sun shining through the gap in my curtains. I had a short coffee, then quickly shoved my wetsuit, hat, goggles, and a towel in my bag, put my swimming costume and some clothes on, grabbed my helmet, and jumped on my bike to ride down the hill into town. The seafront promenade was already buzzing with life before 9am.