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Ed:  There are some goals triathletes have: finish a certain distance, hit a time split, maybe even secure a placing.  And then there's Kona.  The World Championships.  That race above all races that only the select few (plus, you know, celebrities) get to earn their way to.  I (Trevor) honestly never thought I'd see the day that TUSA would be represented at Kona in any way other than as obnoxious spectators.  But then along came John, and he carrier our torch all the way to the lava fields.  We're proud of you buddy, can't wait for next year.  So here it is, in John's words.  What a race.

Race Report:  Kona!

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Well I completed my first World Championship Race in Kona, and it was a humbling experience for sure. Before getting into the report I just wanted to say that this year was a very solid year. The main goal was to race and race well at Ironman Coeur d’Alene and I did just that. Qualifying for Kona was a cherry on top of the season that I am ecstatic to have experienced. The 2017 season was a success where I paved a solid base that I will be able to build upon in the future. Even though Kona may have ended on a slightly sour note. It will just motivate and push me for the following 2018 season with extra motivation.

Now onto the race report…

Ironman World Championships 2017 10:32:23

Kona race morning was like no other races I have done before. With 2400+ people there to race it is a crazy and chaotic atmosphere with everyone getting checked and getting their bikes and gear setup. I could see all the pros in their own special area with their bikes and what seemed like hundreds of media people following them around with cameras.  But once I had my stuff setup it was a bit of the waiting game, I was out of transition around 6:00 and my race didn’t start till 7:05 So, I just sat on the grass talking with some friends trying not to freak out too much. Once the cannons went off at 6:35 and 6:40 for the men and female pros, it got real!

Swim: 56:20

 BOOM!

BOOM!

I got into the water around 6:50 which left me about 15min of swimming/treading water to warm up. I stuck to the plan of getting outto the left of the center in the front group. I wanted this starting position to give me a bit better line to the first buoy with plenty of room to move left or right as needed. As the time neared the front linegot more and more crowded and treading water was more and more “fun” as I constantly hit someone or got hit. Then the cannon went off and it was game time. The plan that I had with my coach was to go hard for ~400m which comes out to about 250 strokes or so. So, what I did was put my head down and swam hard for 5 sets of 50 strokes. This kept my mind busy and not thinking about much else besides just swimming strong, I ended up using this method the rest of the swim and just focused on good strong form for counts of 50. 

The swim started to finally calm down a bit about half way to the boat but there was still plenty of fighting going on, I got hit once on the face and I was happy that the goggles stayed on. Drafting wasn’t much of an issue on this swim, there was so many people around me that there were always bubbles that I was swimming on which made it easy to just do my thing and still get pulled along. 

I ended with a solid time that was relaxing, I felt fine and I was ready to get out of the water and start the long bike.

Transition 1: 4+min 

This transition is much longer than other ones but it was fun running through it all. I got rinsed off with the showers exiting the water and then got changed in the tent before running out the back to get my bike. The showers are a nice touch as I hate being covered in salt water for a long time.

Bike: 5:23:20

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I didn’t know I was riding in the Tour with the number of Pelotons flying by at some points during that ride. There would be groups of 6+people riding two abreast just flying through the field and not enough people were getting called on drafting. But that is beside the point and out of my control…

I started out easily like I had planned just let people go and go they did. Within the first few miles I had been passed by what seemed like 100+ people and it just got worse from there as more and more went by as I held my Z2 watts trying not to go above that as much as I could. Once I got out onto the Queen K I could get settled in and start cruising, when I went through the first 28miles I was on pace for a sub 5hr bike which I thought was nuts! But the pace fell off as we eventually hit some solid head winds for a little while. I was expecting much worse winds for longer periods of time. So maybe it was an easier bike day (that would account for 3 people beating the old bike course record).

I just stuck to my nutrition plan for the first half of the ride, drinking the nutrition I brought with me and taking in extra salt tabs every 30min. I would take a water from every aid station and chug a bunch of it and dump some on me before throwing it to the side. Once I got up to Hawi, I had finished off 3 bottle of nutrition with 1 in my aero bottle ready to go so I felt like I was doing really well. I stopped at the special needs area to find out they had lost my bag which had 3 more bottles of my nutrition and a spare tube. That hiccup threw me for a loop and I figured it was time to be ready to switch to on course Gatorade, which was really my only choice and it turned out my stomach does not like that stuff, the flavor is super strong and just doesn’t go down well. But I forced down one full bottle of that stuff and kept drinking water as much as I could. 

The last aid station is about mile 100 and I grabbed one more bottle of Gatorade and water. I poured a lot of the water on me leaving me with about half a bottle that I kept on my bike, and I then tried to fill my aero bottle with the Gatorade and ended up dropping it. So, for the last 30min or so all I had was 12oz of water and I started to feel it by the end of the ride. Holding Z2 power just didn’t feel good anymore and mentally I was hurting a bit (I got negative here and I don’t think I ever recovered). I was scared I was behind on nutrition and water so I wasn’t sure what was going to happen for the run. I didn’t have the confidence going into that run like I did at Coeur d’Alene

Transition 2: 6+

So many people and it is just packed! I got changed into my running shoes, drank some water and Gatorade. I got sunscreen put on and headed out. 

Run: 4:02 (62nd AG, 928th OA)

In my first few steps out of transition and running up that slight hill at the start I was worried about how it would end, I felt mentally weak and hated myself for it. My first mile was 7:30 and I thought it was too fast and didn’t think I was going to be able to hold that pace. I walked the very first aid station trying to get in water and nutrition. By mile 5 I had already turned to coke because I felt like garbage. I finished my first hand held bottle by mile 7 and had filled it up with coke to sip on between aid stations. Then I got to Palani hill and maybe that’s where my mental game really fell apart, I walked that whole hill and hated myself for it. I can’t say it got any better from there. I just tried to run from aid station to aid station and eventually my right hip started hurting with something clicking/rubbing and running made it hurt more. This made it even easier for my already weak mind to convince myself to walk more. I could also now feel myself being cooked out there from the sun and no aid stations had sunscreen available until I got into the energy lab. 

The blisters on my feet started around mile 14 and I think this was caused from my feet being soaked with water from each aid station. I finally got to mile 22 when Matt Lieto road by on his bike and came and talked to me. What he told me was “Get my shit together and finish the run as a run” So that’s what I did, I ran as strong as I could all the way home and passed a lot of people along the way. But during that last few miles of running I was asking myself could I have run that whole marathon if I had been just a bit mentally stronger and sadly I thought I could have. But that finish is something amazing! Can’t really describe it other than something beyond words. 

Final thoughts.

All in all, this was a crazy finish to this year. Kona wasn’t initially on the plan and I am ecstatic that I was able to make it on my second try. But there is so much more to do! 

Now it is time to rest and relax a bit before getting back into things. I will be racing Ironman Boulder in 33 weeks, this race will be here in no time and I have some big goals for that one!

GO TEAM UNICORN SPARKLE ADVENTURE!