Friday, October 10, 2014

Kona Round Two

360-some days ago, we were hoping to come back to the beautiful Big Island in 2014. In fact, the first words out of my mouth after finishing last year's World Championships was, "When can we try and qualify again?" (seriously, true story...ask Ryan).

Pretty sure he's only smiling because I haven't asked about doing another Ironman yet...

I cannot believe it has been a year since we were here. While training, it felt like race day would never come....and right now, I can barely believe I am about to go check-in my bike.
 All ready 2013!
Bike check-in complete!

While Round Two offers two very unique pieces--experience and perspective, that I'll talk about soon--it also lacks the "beginner's luck" I was fortunate enough to have last year. You see, having never done an Ironman, I knew two things: (1) that I could complete it as evidenced by my training and my stubbornness and (2) that I would PR no matter what. In a weird, non-OCD-planning-like-usual Jacqui way, I liked not really knowing what to expect. But, this year I have two new things working in my favor. (the "luck" part was the weather that many people referenced as being "nice" last year compared to most Kona years)

Experience: I am very fortunate enough to have qualified with my husband to race in Kona 2013. I am also told I was very lucky with weather conditions, and am starting to understand that this week. Having that 2013 race experience taught me that I could push harder than I did and that another year of training could produce even better results. Ironman Cabo kind of illustrated that as well: my swim was faster (granted, it was a wetsuit legal race), my bike watts were better than Kona, and my run was 12 minutes faster on a more challenging course and hotter conditions. One other thing that has been working in our favor in terms of experience is just knowing what to do the days leading up to the race from last year was really nice in terms of stress-relief. Ryan and I knew what to do on what day so that we wouldn't be on our feet or out in the sun too much--something that we definitely did not factor into last year's race. We went to bed super exhausted Friday night and groggily walked to the start line on race morning.

Perspective: having raced Kona 2013, I know not to take anything for granted: from the weather, to properly getting in my nutrition, to barely walking on the run (something that I promise will not happen this year!). I did not really understand when everyone kept talking about how great the weather was and how lucky we were and everything, but I don't think I have stopped sweating since we have arrived! In any case, that is the beauty of this whole Ironman thing... ANYTHING can happen on race day. SO much factors into how anyone will perform, and I saw that at Cabo: I ran down TWO girls who were top American amateur finishers in Kona last year. Race day cannot be predicted in Ironman events, and that is kind of what I like about the sport. Especially since the run is my strength, I know better than anyone that the swim and bike mean nothing: the race is never over until you cross that finish line.

So, this year I am promising three things:

1) I will leave it all out there. Not that I didn't last year, but this year I understand how to pace myself and will not close in a 5:20 mile (by the way--I didn't actually run that fast, but hey if the Ironman tracker wants to show that I can do that pace, by all means, that's okay with me;)). Now that I have two Ironmans under my belt, I know where and when to push harder and will absolutely execute that in my race tomorrow.

2) To finish with no one else in sight. Well, for the finisher's photo I mean.

Thanks for ruining my glory moment, dude

3) To put both arms in the air. Because, really, who looks like this??...

BOTH arms in the air for 2014, Jac...

Thank you does not even BEGIN to cover what I want to say to everyone who has supported me on this journey. The encouragement I have had from friends and family is what pushed me during those 100+ mile bike rides (all 5 of them...good grief), 20+ mile runs (okay, really, I actually enjoy those) and countless hours in the pool (open water isn't nearly as boring for whatever reason). I am taking all of the belief in me and holding it close tomorrow as I go out for my (hopefully less than 10 hour) workout.

 Let's go EGO!
Lucky does not even cover it

A special thanks to Ego p/b Sammy's for the best bike and set-up on the island, PowerBar for the nutrition that powers me through the day, Saucony for helping my feet move quickly, Coach Jen for pushing me to an even higher level than I thought I could get to, and of course my family and Ryan for reminding me why I do this crazy sport.

 Kona 2015?
Kona 2015?

GOOD LUCK to all of my friends racing the Chicago Marathon on Sunday and HUGE GOOD LUCK for my first-time friend and athlete, Christine, as show pushes her own limits while I'm pushing mine during her FIRST EVER marathon--you are FIT and READY and that text is the first thing I am looking for when I finish my Ironman :)

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