Sometimes you cross the finish line and you almost immediately have perspective on your race.
My Kona 2014 race has taken a little longer to find that. I went in with the smoothest preparation I have had probably for any race. I felt fit, strong and in a good place to really challenge for the win. Missing that goal is of course disappointing but I’ve always had the attitude though that you can’t be disappointed if you put your best foot forward. So why disappointment? Finding perspective was difficult because I kept wondering “Could I have done more; physically or mentally to make myself perform better on that day?”. I felt like I was in my best running shape going into the race. My bike data doesn’t suggest that I rode outside myself. I didn’t run out of energy. Yet I didn’t run as fast as I know I can. Of course performing to your full potential on the day that matters is a real puzzle. There are so many factors to consider…to get it right is not a science but an art.
I’ve questioned whether hung tough enough at key points in the race. Did I falter? It’s always hard to put yourself back into those moments in the race, to remember exactly what you were thinking when. Pushing past the burning in my legs, forcing myself to see past the current rough patch, ignoring that voice that says slow down: these are all things I practise in training. They are things I think about before the race. In fact overriding those things are exactly what I relish about racing. I’ve analysed other aspects too: my build, what I did during race week, how well I rested but I guess the reason I spent more time thinking about those moments in the race is exactly because it is so much harder to assess those moments in the race. The good news is I eventually came round to seeing that questioning myself, and asking myself the tough questions is necessary and helpful: in all aspects of life not just sport. So now: yeah I’m happy with the race I had In Kona and I am motivated. Next year I will be determined to make sure there’s not an ounce of doubt!
Now let’s get down to the nitty gritty. My race day.
Race week for me was pretty busy but by Wednesday I had very little in the way of sponsor commitments. I did a little training, then hunkered down for some serious resting. You can check out what I got up to on the Tuesday before here:
Race Day: 9:04:23
The alarm went off at 4am but I was already awake. Out of bed, into my race kit and then a forced breakfast. It looks pretty vile: oats which I’ve soaked over night in water, with half a banana and some nut butter stirred in plus a hard boiled egg on the side. No coffee on this occasion. I rely on my Biestmilch BiestBooster for a pick me up just before the race.
Not much else to report. I warmed up on land with a jog around and around the car park and by some mobilisation stretching on land.
Finally, the moment I was ready for about 48 hours prior: the gun! I’m quick out of the blocks and for a short while I have clear water. This is good news as it means I had a good start. About 100 metres or so later the different clusters merged and my clear water was gone. I was sandwiched between two swimmers and getting clouted here and there from both sides. Just as a split in the groups opened up I was dunked completely. I’m not certain I would have made the right side of the split but after the dunk I definitely had not. For the rest of the swim I led the second pack and actually felt pretty good. At the swim exit I saw I wasn’t in bad company for the start of the bike: Daniela Ryf, Caroline Stefan and Michelle Vesterby.
The first 10km of the bike is through town and always hard to find a rhythm. I don’t expect to feel good so don’t panic when I don’t. I focused on maintaining a good position with the group I was with, and taking the opportunity to see where we were relative to the lead group and the chasing group. Two minutes to the front. Not ideal I thought but no need to panic and chase them down too quickly. Once we hit the Queen K I got my rhythm and took to the front of our group where I stayed for much of the first 30ish miles. We caught a group and went past. Around about Waikoloa I could see the lead group and around here the cross winds kicked in. Excellent. This made for a fairer day on the bike. I saw Jodie had rolled into the first penalty box which surprised me as I know she isn’t one for sitting in. She likes to lead.
The race on the bike really began as we climbed up to Hawi. Daniela in the lead opened up a gap. I was behind her but her strong patch coincided with a rougher patch for me. The gap opened up more and grew to about 4 minutes by the time we reached the Queen K. Not ideal. Better news was that I had broken away from most of the other women – only Mary Beth stayed with me.
Not much to report on the way home. A blinding tail wind just as suddenly turned to a cruel head wind with about 25 miles to go. I felt good again and hearing that I was pulling back some time from Daniella was good motivation.
I started the run feeling good. Approximately 2 minutes back on Daniella I again felt there was no need to panic. I could find my pace and gradually close the gap…that was my plan anyway. I felt good for a few miles. And, then, I felt very bad. Have you ever had one of those dreams where you are running with great effort but for some reason your progress isn’t replicating the effort I was putting in. I do have that dream on occasion and that is the best description I have for how I felt from the mile 5 , to the top of Palani at around mile 12. Maybe I did allow negative thoughts to get the better of me for a while but I snapped out of it when I hit the Queen K. So, we know the story from here. Whilst I started closing back the to Daniella behind me Rinny was closing the gap to me. She made the pass around mile 20-22 mile. I got the gap down to 40 seconds to Daniella but she’s tough and fought back to eventually finish 90 seconds ahead of me.
Third place. My second podium. Not what I wanted. However, I have perspective. I was third to two great athletes and I finished ahead of athletes I respect greatly. Until next time Kona. Mahalo.
I feel tremendously thankful to have the support of some great sponsors who do much more than simply provide me with the best equipment. Big thanks to you all:
Cervelo; Newton Running; ROKA; Biestmilch; Louis Garneau; Shimano;
ISM; XLab; Oakley; Ceramic Speed.
It takes a village – so thank you to my village 🙂 Special mentions to Dave Scott for getting me to Kona in tip top shape and to my numero uno: BH.