Kona 2019 has come and gone. Did you apply yourself? Did you meet your expectations?What have you learnt? Three questions that can be applied to all your races.
This year was a second crack at the whip for me in Hawaii after a massive learning curve in 2017. In fact, the race scarred me in many ways but there was always that feeling of unfinished business. I left the Big Island in 2017 in pain thinking, what could I have done differently? What would I change in the preparation and race plan if given the opportunity again?
Now that I've had the priviledge to race Kona for a second time and implement some changes I feel it is important to pass this on. Here are my top 3 tips:
1. Mental Preparation:
It's an Ironman so prepare for pain. If you're racing Kona you've done an Ironman before so you know what to expect. Things you should prepare for; it'll be hot, windy and humid and the athletes are much more competitive. The course is more congested, open to the elements and not flat.
Control what you can control. Be organised with your race week before you get to Kona. Remove stress by avoiding the race week circus in town. Find out what the tide will be doing on race morning and swim in these conditions a week before.
2. Heat & Conditions Management:
We all know that extreme heat and humidity affects performance but it'll be those that can adapt and manage that will be the most successful in reaching their race goals. In Kona you can expect temperatures over 30 degrees celsius but it feels like over 40 and the humidity amplifies it too. Adapt or die!
A wise and experienced Kona athlete emphasised not to get caught up with "looking good", this is about performance! I couldn't agree more. The number of athletes who match their colours of their tri-suit, bikes and hats is endless but your future Instagram post isn't going to help you out there amoungst the lava fields!
Big tip- wear light colours (white is best), cover up and keep cool. I couldn't recommend arm sleeves more highly. They offer two important features (and looking very British isn't one of them). They keep the sun off the skin and they keep you cool once wet.
Bike helmet choice is so important.Do you go for aero but accept it'll be hot or less aero but stay cool with plenty of air flow? I've tried both out there and going for option two is by far the best. You may go quicker (marginally) with an aero helmet but 150km in when you're overheating will slow you down and affect your race further down the line.
A scarf and hat are something your mum might say to take with you as you head out into the snow but get a cooling one and it'll keep your core temp down as it gets wet.
3. Race Planning:
Plan for YOUR race and don't react to others. This is your day, you've done the training and should know what numbers you can hold.
There are loads of top athletes out there including those with big egos. If you try and react to them you'll be the one regretting it as you suffer on the back end of the bike. It's a long day and if done correctly you can enjoy the buzz from coming past later on.
If you're heading to Kona for the first time, enjoy the experience, listen to those you trust and be prepared.
If you have any comments or want to share further tips please let me know, i'm happy to add more to the list to assist with others preparing for Kona.