Kona 2017

Writing a blog after a disappointing race is never the easiest but I’ll have a go at keeping this real. Life goes on and in the grand scheme of things this is just one race in a year that has been more wonderful,  challenging  and more satisfying than I imagined.

I won’t pretend that I’m completely over the “GAAHHHHH!” feeling but also realize that that is understandable – we put a lot into getting ready for Kona. I felt disappointment with my performance because, when I look back at my ironman distance results, even on the tough days I’ve been able to dig deep and pull a decent result out. Kona 2017 feels like the first time I’ve had a bit of a blooper, recording my slowest ever marathon time. However, if racing in Kona eight times has taught me one thing it is that perform well there is 99% likelihood you’ll need to visit a dark place. I thought I was prepared for that but in retrospect I don’t think I was able to do that. For someone who prides herself on being able to hang tough this is a tough thing for me to admit. However, as I come out of the post race fog I can stop replaying the race and asking myself “Why couldn’t I push through?” at that key point and understand why that was.

Anyway, let’s get down to business – here’s a look at my Kona 2017 race.

The Race:

On race morning I felt a little more relaxed than usual. I took forever to set my bike up, which you’d think I’d have streamlined a bit over the summer. I found Brett and Julie and then did a quick pre-race jog. I had brought about 6 choices of ROKA goggles with various lenses to choose from because choice on race morning is a really good idea?! I settled on a pair and then headed out to the swim. As we lined up I felt remarkably calm. I placed myself off to the side as it felt people were scrambling to be close to x, y or z. I’m pretty confident in my get out speed so I figured clear water was good and I’d be able to get into the group when the pace settled.

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Thank you @BreakThroughMedia for the photographs

This year my swim training has taken a back step to the other disciplines so I’ve generally been swimming 3-4 times a week. After Ironman Mont Tremblant I committed to swimming 5 times a week. For reasons I’ll explain below, that didn’t quite pan out but the main thing was I knew my swim had come good in time for Kona.

I saw Lucy Charles and Lauren Brandon disappear as expected and I swam next to Annabel Luxford for a while before she took to the front and I settled onto some feet. The swim was relaxed and relatively low effort although I could have done with being more assertive to protect my position as we got close to the pier.

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T2 was uneventful – which is always the best. By the time we’d ridden through town I was riding with Leanda Cave, Alicia Kaye and Camilla Pederson. As the race went on the group changed a bit and I lost touch with it when Heather Jackson and Kaisa Salt caught us and there was a few surges. As I reached the turn around at Hawi Laura Siddall caught me and I was happy for company. We swapped the lead and by keeping a consistent effort we caught a couple of women on our way back to T2.

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@BrakeThroughMedia

In previous years coming off the bike in 12/13th would have rattled me but I actually felt very positive about being able to run up some more places. Unfortunately that did not happen! I held it together for about 11 miles but then things began to unravel. I have been really tough on myself: asking myself why I wasn’t able to hush the negative voices as the harsh elements of Hawaii started to sting, my legs felt like they were cooking. Brett sensed I was struggling and stayed out on the Queen K longer than usual, which I was very grateful for. Finally making it to Palani was a huge relief as was crossing the line. I stumbled through to the post race area and found Archie with my Mum and Dad. That felt good. Of course Archie didn’t care and was soon grabbing my water cup from me and using me as a climbing frame (ouch quads!!).

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My Conclusion

I knew when I decided to go for Kona qualification in June it wasn’t going to be easy (I should say “we” knew – this endeavor was commitment from Brett and my coaches too, not just me). That was what drew me to the challenge. It got more challenging when my 4th place at Ironman Canada didn’t ensure my qualification. I then went on to race Ironman Mont Tremblant three weeks later. It’s easy to say that racing three Ironmans in ten weeks was setting myself up for failure in Kona. I looked at it the opposite way: it set me up with an opportunity for success. I still believe I was in great shape to have a good performance in Kona and I am glad I had the opportunity to try even if the result wasn’t what I had hoped and trained for.

The Positives

– Kona 2017 has reassured me that in previous years I have prepared for this race in a way that best suits me. Despite holding a poker face for most of my races I am an emotional racer and by that I mean, I like to have time between races to recharge and I like the focus that comes with preparing for the big race. This is why in previous years I have tended to race until June or July and then go into one big block of training, with no or perhaps one race, before I toe the line in Kona. I can see that this worked for me as I draw confidence from training and I like to build up my mental *matches* for Kona. Who knows, maybe I was just missing a few matches this year.

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– This year I have felt a huge amount of support from not just my inner circle but the whole triathlon community. It’s been amazing. Even when I was shuffling along the Queen K I received so much encouragement from other competitors, volunteers and spectators. I have loved being in touch with other mums, hearing about their goals and their challenges – it has been a source of support and motivation for me this year.

– Brett and I got to take Archie to Kona. Watching him point out the different plants and flowers was cool and seeing him enjoy the ocean was pretty special.

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As always huge thanks to my sponsors:  Cervelo, Endura, ENVE, The Island House, On Running, ROKA, Oakley and ISM Saddles.  Also to Julie Dibens (and the JD Crew) and Matt Bottrill my coaching team. My return to racing this year would not have been possible with out you all. And thank you to my parents who have now taken care of Archie through two long Ironman days! Now one more fast and furious hit out at The Island House Triathlon before some RnR ahead of the 2018 season!!

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