My Big Ironman Kona Training Day

A couple weeks ago I headed out to the Big Island for a week of Kona preparation.   The highlight of the camp was an Ironman rehearsal day:

* swim 2.4 miles in Kailua Bay

* bike 105 miles of the bike course (more or less the entire course except the Kuakini climb)

* run 9 miles on the toughest part of the course

Some goals:  (1) determine course specific weaknesses to work on during my final block of training (2) dial in my equipment and clothing (3) get comfortable in the notorious Kona winds


Swim Summary: I swam just under IM distance in Kailua Bay.  I felt strong the entire way and I was pushing the effort.  The Des Soto Liftfoil suit felt good.  The bay wasn’t glassy when I was out there– I should definitely practice in the lake (preferably with a bit of wind) since it takes a bit of adjustment to be able to concentrate and swim fast when the water is undulating. T1: I jogged up to the hotel room, changed clothing, hydrated and snacked (didn’t want to start with a deficit since  I wanted to get to Hawi without having to stop), and hit the road.  A pretty slow transition.

Bike out to turnaround I got a relatively late start (I wasn’t out on the highway until about 9:00), so the winds started much earlier than usual.  After a fast ride out to the airport (about 10 miles from town), it was constant headwinds all the way until the end of of the Queek K.   I found myself having to pedal down hills at 25-27 mph where I can usually coast at 30+ mph.

Hitting where the Queen K ends before Kawaihae, I got my first taste of “interesting” crosswinds where my front wheel was doing things that can only be explained by quantum physics (appearing in one place to the left then suddenly appearing to my right before going straight again).

Curving up towards Kawaihae I had a nice tailwind that turned into another headwind as I climbed up to the Hawi turnaround.  With a headwind on the climb, it makes sense to stay aero or semi-aero virtually then entire time.  Depending on the wind conditions it can make sense to stay aero virtually the entire ride, so it’s key to be comfortable on your bike!

Here’s a video I made up at Hawi (you can tell from my voice that it wasn’t an easy day!)


Bike Back to Kona

Up at Hawi I drank a couple cokes and some water then started the descent from the turnaround.  This descent can be extremely scary depending on the wind conditions.  During the descent I had a tail / crosswind.  Because of the tailwind it became difficult to “right myself” by pedaling hard during a gust (I was basically “spun out” of my gears), so I just had to focus on leaning my bike into the winds.

It was some sort of bike week in Kona (the Hell’s Angels were staying at our hotel)  and I had the “interesting” experience of having a long line of motorcyclists buzz within a couple feet of me as I was fighting the winds (apparently they like to ride ON the white line when in a 2*2 formation).  I sat up to squeeze the brakes which was VERY destabilizing for a few moments until I slowed down.

I stopped once to rearrange my bottles.  The winds make you feel cool while you’re biking, but the moment I stopped I realized just how hot and thirsty I was.  For this reason, and because it’s often scary to reach for a bottle in the winds, I’m guessing many racers don’t drink enough on the bike and don’t realize how thirsty and dried out they are until T2.

Back on the Queen K,  it was normal / classic Kona crosswinds, except for a brief but awesome tail wind section near Waikoloa where I was easily spinning at 34 mph on the flats!  But that ended and it was head / crosswinds all the way back to town.

Bike Conclusions / Notes: It’s mentally TOUGH to be on high alert all the time during the winds.  I need to try to relax and for the most part just have faith that I’ll be able to adjust well if a crazy gust hits.  No sense wasting energy being tense about it or worrying about it.  My aero helmet and suit were fine in the heat / humidity (and they’ll probably be much more comfortable on race day when I can pour water on them).

My power was relatively low at 218 NP (I hope to  be up closer to 240 on race day) because of some lingering fatigue from my previous block of training.   Also, I was riding mostly in reaction to the winds (focusing on safety) as opposed to riding for maximum speed (which I need to do on race day).

It was a slow, tough day out there.  Chances are race day should be faster and easier, but if it’s not, then this was good preparation!

T2:  I headed back up to the room, chugged 2 big cans of coconut water and some coke, then headed out on the run with a bottle of coke in a rear bottle holder belt as well as one bottle in my hand.  Of course the elevator was full of people when I stepped in with my speedo on!  (practicing race attire)

I felt great heading out on the run.  It was a normal hot and humid day, but there was cloud cover which made things cooler.   I headed out of town & up Palani feeling great.  I was running 6:30s and 6:40s for most of the mile splits except for the Palani section.  Out on the Queen K, I started visualizing this part of the race (the parts of the run on the Queen K are always the toughest for me mentally) and getting pumped up.  I finished a bottle of Coke by 4.5 miles where I turned around.)
I was able to run back at a slight negative split and finish my 2nd bottle of coke.  Each bottle of coke has about 250+ calories, so if I can put down 2 bottles / hour, that’s just about bonk proofing myself at a rate of 500 calories / hour.  I was super pleased with the run given that my run legs weren’t feeling great for most of the week.

I tried to get into recovery quickly.  I hopped in to the pool to do some gentle movements to prevent my body from stiffening up.  I ate some Ahi tuna (with just a little bit of sweet potato fries), 1 naked juice, 1 odwalla, and 4 * 16 ounce cans of coconut water.

A nice way to wrap up a long, nasty day.

About Coady

Lucky to be coaching some really awesome & fun people!
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