Monday, June 7, 2010

The Road To Kona Continues...Hawaii 70.3

As readers of this blog may already know, Hawaii 70.3 was my "A Priority" race for this year. The entire focus of the 2010 season was to return to Ironman World Championships, without actually racing an Ironman in the process. This meant that I had to qualify at one of the few half-Ironman events around the globe that would allow me passage to Ironman if I went fast enough. And this also meant I was a bit more anxious than usual about this race (just ask my wife, who shared a condo with me as I incessantly fretted every detail of the big day) - all the way down to writing my goal times on my arm for what I figured I would need to qualify:

:29 swim

2:27 bike

1:30 run



After spending 2 weeks in rainy Spokane, acclimatizing for the heat by performing jumping jacks and step-ups in the YMCA dry heat room and steam room, I stepped off the plane into Hawaii ready to rumble.

My nutrition protocol leading up to this race was very precise and calculated. I followed exactly the recommendations of Dr. Cohen at Bioletics - limiting my omega-6 fatty acids while taking omega-3 fatty acids, using magnesium regularly, skewing my diet towards higher protein intake and whole amino acid supplementation and elevating my testosterone levels. I also supplemented with nuun uHydration tables and liquid trace minerals during my stay in Hawaii leading up to the race, to replace lost electrolytes.

The training protocol was pretty standard Triathlon Dominator stuff. I just took my program and shortened a few of the weekend workouts, allowing me to do 9-12 training hours each week. I did make some gear modifications, however, upgrading my Specialized Transition Pro with Gray 9.5 Wheels and Vittoria 320 Clinchers.

During this training, I also kept my body as non-acidic and non-inflammatory as possible with Enerprime greens supplement and ProstElan, and took Wicked Fast Recoverease after each workout, loading with 6-8 capsules each day for the last week leading up to the race.

The tricky part about Hawaii is that your eyes pop open at about 4am every morning if you're from the Pacific Time Zone. I went to bed at about 8 every night, and used Millennium Sports ZMK and Somnidren to get my used to that sleep cycle.

I've been experimenting quite a bit with Visualization, and did several focused sessions in the last several weeks leading up to the race - most of which I picked up from Psychocybernetics and the "I Am" lecture.

Race Day

Here is the beach line-up on race day. I started as far left as possible, floating in the water behind the pros. Heck, I figured even if I wasn't as fast, I should still line up where they were going and try to hop on somebody's feet.

Off we go! I'm the guy in the blue cap. Yeah, that one. If you're reading this and you're looking for race day tips, then here they are:

-start far left, out in the water...

-don't really sweat the first buoy, which is a gradual right, but be ready for flying elbows at the second buoy, a sharp right turn...

-poor visibility, swimming into a current, and lots of choppiness during the entire middle section of the swim that cuts across Hapuna Bay...

-a fast final 500 yards...

I drafted like a gold-digger the whole swim on some huge guy with big feet during the entire swim, so it felt pretty leisurely, but my watch read 29:02 as I was coming out of the water. Perfect!

A couple other tips - don't hit the rock and don't touch the turtles.

That's me. See I told you I had a blue cap. And a sweet, fast Blue Seventy Nero speedsuit. ;)

There is a fairly steep hill coming out of transition. Aside from dropping my bike shoe off a pedal as it scraped on the pavement, I had a pretty smooth transition. This is a good race to make sure your bike is in the proper gear coming out of transition, because it does go uphill immediately.

This photo below is about 10 miles into the bike. I had a very precise strategy for the bike split on this course, and after driving the course and doing a couple short test rides in the days leading up to the race, I figured I had the wind and hills figured out.

If you're looking for bike course tips, I actually shot a couple videos explaining my heat acclimatization and bike pacing strategy over at the Rock Star Triathlete Academy - but I'm going to keep it between me and the members over there...sorry folks, that's only fair. You can see the videos for $1.

Suffice it to say, my bike strategy was rock solid (yes, I am not in the aero position in that photo, and that actually happened several times due to the severe winds). In the spirit of the Island, I fueled myself with Pineapple GU Roctane, and by the 30 mile mark, I had ridden into seventh place overall, with a sizeable 2 and a half minute gap between me and the next guy back.

My bike split was 2:21, so now I had a 6 minute "pillow" for a hot and hilly half-marathon that promised to pepper us through a winding golf course, multiple black-top out and backs, and a final "Road To Hell" 5 mile slog.

I hung on to my position as 7th overall and 2nd place amateur until the 3 mile mark, where the eventual amateur winner passed me.

If you're looking for run course tips:

-It's hard to get your rhythm. Focus, watch where you're stepping, and maintain a high cadence.

-Aid stations rock with cold water and ice. Use it lots, especially on your hot crotchiness (cool off those femoral arteries).

-If you start to overheat, take a short walk break. I did this myself for 60 seconds and it saved me as I started to burn up and really lose it just after the 10K mark.

-Don't eat much. Your body has a hard time cooling an digesting. I had a couple banana halves and 1 gel on the run.

-Don't wear a big shoe that will get wet, hot and soggy running on golf course grass. I used the Avia Bolts and they were perfect. Do wear socks.

Once we entered the "Road to Hell", I found my rhythm again, but at this point (about mile eight) I was passed a few times, and knew I'd have to hold on hard if I wanted my slot.

I have to say that I really did suffer those last couple miles, and looked behind me multiple times, expecting to see somebody running me down, but anybody who was going to do any damage had already passed me between miles 8 and 10.

That finish line sure looked good!

When the smoke cleared, it turned out that I ran a 1:33 - not bad, considering I felt like I crawling for a good 2 miles of the run. That was good enough for a 4:29...

...1 minute faster than planned...

...12th place overall...

...and good enough for a Kona qualification!

(those are the white Zeal Optics I'm wearing up there - pretty super cool shades from Boulder Colorado).

So, it's off to the Big Island in October - which means I'll start Ironman training sometime in August. And between now and then? Maybe a few small races or local half-Ironman events, but mostly, I need to teach my kids how to ride a bike. I'm going to need some company during those long runs this fall.

Thanks for reading!

P.S. This November, if you want to come join me for the Laguna Phuket triathlon in Thailand, along with the Asia Ironman 70.3, just e-mail me at - I'm bringing a whole group of athletes down!
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