Kona Expectations

As I write this, it's less than 12 hours from the start of the race.  I'm sitting out on the deck, in the dark, listening to the ocean.  I guess you could say it's the calm before the storm.

I'm nervous, intimidated, scared, confident, excited, anxious....you name it.  I'm looking forward to the race, and I think it's going to be a very memorable day.  Yet at the same time, I can't help but feel a little out of my league.  I'm about to race against the best in the world.  I'm just some 36 year-old kid from Wisconsin who likes to train a lot.  Do I really deserve to line up and race against the best in the world?  Am I really ready for this?  

Obviously, I'm filled with some self-doubt tonight.  I guess that's to be expected.  I keep telling myself I deserve my place on the line and that I'm ready to tackle this course and race against the best.  I've improved my swimming and have swam a 1:03 for 4200 yards in the pool a couple of times now (that's really good for me).  I've put in a few of the best long bike rides of my life.  Some of them were downright brutal, and I hit numbers that I couldn't hit last year.  I've also had 3 of the best long runs of my life this year.  And I absolutely nailed my long brick 3 weeks ago. 

I'm stronger than I was in Wisconsin last year.  I'm 10 pounds lighter.  I'm more experienced.  I've learned a ton about nutrition and hydration this year.  Yet, I still question if I'm ready.

My expectations/goals:

I don't have any.  Seriously.  

Well....I don't have any time goals.  I do have one goal, and that's to race smart, race hard, and leave absolutely everything on the course.  If I do that, I'll be happy with my time regardless of what it is.

My Plan:

For the swim, I'm going to start to the left by the Ford banner.  I've watched the videos of previous years and it looks like there's less traffic over there.  I have no idea what to expect time-wise.  I don't have a speedsuit so I'm swimming in my tri shorts only (no top).  I'll be super happy with a 1:05, but I'm expecting another 1:10.  Until I prove otherwise, I appear to be a 1:10 swimmer.

Transition is going to be a little longer than usual, I think.  I'm putting on my heart rate monitor (I debated this, but I like to see the numbers when I race since I see them when I train), my tri top, my arm coolers, my watch, my race number, my helmet and my bike shoes.  You can keep your bike shoes clipped in here, but you don't have tons of time to get in your shoes before the first small hill on Palini and I think it will be very crowded so I'm playing it safe. 

For the bike, I'm going out conservative and I'm going to let people pass me.  My focus in the beginning will be hydration, electrolytes and getting in some food.  Once I hit the Queen K, I'll settle in, focus on hydration and bike toward Kawaihai.  Then it's climbing up to Hawi where the winds are so I need to be sure to eat and be well hydrated in case eating and drinking is tough in the winds.  On the way back, I'll keep my power steady and try to pass some of the people who may have over-biked in the beginning and passed me early on.  I love the second half of the bike, so my focus will be on that.  I have no idea what to expect for a bike time, but I'm thinking a 5:15 or better is possible if the winds aren't too bad.  

T2 shouldn't be bad.  Socks, shoes, fuel belt, sunscreen and visor.  I turn on my Garmin late in the bike so it can find satellites so I'll be all set to go as soon as I leave T2.  I also have a bike bottle with Endurolyte Fizz in my T2 bag so I'll grab that on my way out so I have that to drink from so I can get in plenty of water early in the run.  When it's gone, I'll ditch the bottle.  I have two bottles of Red Bull in my fuel belt along with Hammer gels, salt pills, Fizz tablets and Tylenol. 

The run is where things can fall apart so it's really hard to say how this will go.  I'll be doing my run/walk (9:30 running, :30 walking).  I'm shooting for a 7:45-8:00 average pace.  The heat will determine this.  I'll start out conservative and hope to pick things up around the mid-point.  Almost no one negative splits Ironman marathons so I'm not really aiming for that (although that would be the ultimate goal). I'll start out conservative, pick it up after a few miles throughout the middle portion of the marathon and hang on for dear life at the end.  I believe I'm capable of a 3:30 or better, but we'll see.  

I know that might sound like time goals, but those are just predictions based on my training.  I'm not setting goals for this race.  I'm just going to do my best and hope I can finish saying that was absolutely everything I had on this particular day.

Okay....one more goal:  have fun.  

My first Ironman was a fun, memorable experience.  You only get one first.  Kona is such a big deal that I'm hoping this experience ends up being similar to my first Ironman.  I'm hoping for a second first.   

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