The Kona Post – Part 1 of maybe a few

What a memorable week this has been. At times it is hard for me to be fully appreciative because I feel like I underperformed here on the island but the truth is that this first time, it was a reward. A reward and a learning experience that I hope to build upon next time.

All in all there were so many amazing experiences here.  Many included meeting and chatting with my idols in the sport like Chris Lieto, Craig Alexander, Chrissie Wellington and Dirk Bockel just to name a few.  Check out all my photos on Facebook here to see all the people I met, places I went and how I was looking during the race. Additionally Craig Alexander deserves a tremendous shout out for stepping up and helping Mary Eggers with her Teens Living with Cancer initiative.  Craig just two days post Ironman took time out of his busy day to stop by the Kona Aquatic Center to “kick off” versus Mary.  In just one hour Craig and Mary were able to generate over $1,500 dollars to the cause (as of this morning it is up past $2k).  My hat goes off to you Craig.  To donate to the cause click the following link –> http://www.imathlete.com/donate/Campaign.aspx?fCID=1600

Mary Eggers and Craig Alexander at the Duel in The Pool Part II

In keeping with the charitable theme I am also proud to say that I helped out another true professional in every sense of the word, Chris Lieto, in donating to his Do More Than Sport campaign which had a Kona focus of raising enough money to put 141 children (the miles covered in an ironman are 140.6) through a mentoring program.  I was able to meet and speak with Chris about his initiative and what the program was all about.  It was a pretty amazing experience to be able chat with Chris here on the big island as he was the first “big triathlon guy” I ever followed when I found the sport and also the first professional I ever met and talked to way back in 2010 at the Texas 70.3  A picture of Chris and I has hung on my wall ever since.  And this one will go next to it now.

Almost three years later and here is Chris and I in Kona, HI for the 2012 Ironman World Championships.

So those were a couple awesome experiences I wanted to share with you all.  In addition there have been countless other encounters that I could talk at length about but I won’t bore you all, you’ll just have to ask me in person. Well alright I’ll just give you some bullet points:

-Meeting Dirk Bockel and talking shop with him and the TorHans guys, who actually set up my front aero 20 bottle for me..just like Dirk’s (we have the same bikes…) Check out the TorHans product line, they have some great stuff.  Especially when you need both hands on your bike because of the wind, makes it so you can still be drinking while ensuring you aren’t falling over from the wind (LIKE GOING UP AND DOWN HAWI)

-Seeing “star sightings” (the pro’s) everywhere I turned

-Using the Normatec Recovery Boots at the QT2 house and meeting the CEO of Normatech “G”.  Big thanks to him for letting us use all the boots for the week!

-Seeing my family on Ali’i during the run portion of the race

-Experiencing what all the hype about Lava Java was

-Experiencing what all the hype about the Race Course was like (hahaha…thats a bit of humor there)

-Pre-riding the Hawi ascent and descent on Wednesday morning before the race in the early morning when it was just me and the course and nobody else

…and I could go on for a long time.

This post is already long enough so I am going to save an in-depth race report for later if I can work myself up for it.  In the mean time here is a brief summary:

Swim – truly like none other.  Arms flying, feet kicking….every man/woman for themselves. I came out in 1:03 and was super pleased with my effort.  I now know that I can put together a respectable swim here in Kona.  Other than leaving my swim skin pulled down to my knees everything went great.  I figured out the swim skin was still on me right as I got to my bike, luckily I ripped it off and didn’t leave it on..that would have been bad.

Bike – First half was awesome.  Then about a quarter of the way up the Hawi climb the winds kicked up and it made for a much harder day.  My strength and power never wavered but the force of the wind made everything slower and probably used up more energy than I felt I was actually using.  None the less I am satisfied with my effort, riding on that day a 5:07 (yes, I had a 4 min drafting penalty..kinda BS in my opinion, I can explain further if you would like but not here).  So going forward with more training and the experience of having ridden the course I am confident my time will keep decreasing.  Good experience on the bike to build on.

Run – started the first couple of miles bloated, got it together on Ali’i and ran well through about mile 12.  Was still at a 7:26 pace at mile 17 but the decline had already begun around mile 12 and it was already to late.  Ended up struggling over the last ~14 miles with a lack of energy..just couldn’t seem to get the engine going.  The section of the course that goes on the Queen K and turns around in the Energy Lab truly humbled me.  I thought I was going to go out there and conquer it the first time but it got the best of me…like I am sure it does to a lot of worthy competitors.  But it taught me a lot and I hope to use that education to my advantage next time!

-Click here for the Official Ironman Results Page (Swim – 1:03, Bike – 5:11 & Run – 3:29 – Total Time of 9:51)

Nice picture Dad! This is me giving a shrug to my dad in regards to my lackluster run effort…it just so happens that he captured it in such a way that..well you can draw your own conclusions, but I find it hysterical!

Coming Full Circle on The Big Island

Aloha from Kailua, Kona! As you all have probably noticed I have been pretty quite on the social media front and blog posting lately (Excluding the last couple of days since I’ve been in Kona, lots of pics on facebook so check them out!).  I raced the Vegas 70.3 world at the beginning of September and coming off that race I went right into the biggest weeks of training for the World Ironman Championships here in Hawaii.  So since then I have been focusing all my time and energy on trying to prepare myself both physically and mentally as best as I can.  Overall I have to say the training block went very well.  A couple nasty weather days made the mental part of the training a bit hard but that’s to be expected at this time of the year.  I mean a 7 hour bike ride is just not hard enough already.

I’ve struggled with letting myself get excited about being here in Kona for a while.  It just seemed weird to me as the date got closer and closer.  Most likely because it has been on the horizon for so long.  If you don’t already know, I qualified to race here in Kona last November at Ironman Florida by winning my age group.  My result was not a world beating effort but it was enough to get me here on that day and that is what matters.  I executed my race and my plan on that day and that is what you need to do at this sport.  This qualification was supposed to be a conclusion to a big goal of mine. Honestly, it was an amazing feeling to check that box but maybe it came to quick in my triathlon career.  It was my 2nd full season of training/racing and when I started the sport it seemed like getting to Kona was the most important thing in the world.  However, life changes and you start seeing things differently.  I began to want to see how far I could take it in this sport and as selfish as it may sound I felt like yeah I qualified for Kona…well I should have because if I am serious about the sport this is where I need to be.  So I don’t know, I don’t want to say I was unthankful but I just felt like if I was serious about making something of myself in this sport I needed to start having some results.

Well, over the last 11 months I did get serious.  I left my comfy sustaining job as a CPA, moved west to work at a bike shop and train and essentially put all my efforts towards bettering myself as a triathlete AND giving myself a much needed break from the corporate business world to figure out what I really wanted out of this sport, and more importantly LIFE.  I must say that one of the BEST things about finding this sport of triathlon is that it has given me such an amazing perspective on life.  I was in a pretty big hole while working in the Public sector.  I made myself sick…I had lost my “ID”, that thing that makes you, YOU!  That is a sad thing when what makes you unique is lost because of something beating you down.  Well this sport has refocused me and given me a reason to wake up every morning before dawn ready to take on the world.  For that single reason I am soo happy that I found this sport.  I am happy that Kona was my singular goal in the beginning and I am equally happy that I’ve sort of moved beyond that searching for the next challenge…because if there is nothing else on the horizon to challenge you than what is going to keep motivating you?

With all that said I want to express how amazing it is to be here in Kona, HI.  Yes, I said above that once I qualified it was like, “What’s Next?” But that’s just my nature, always looking for the next thing to dive into head first.  100% all the time, every time.  Being here in Kona is an absolute REWARD and HONOR.  Something that is the product of by my estimate over 1,200 days of focus.  My big tip of the day for all those who would like to race in Kona and compete at a high level in the AG race is to structure your life around triathlon.  Train or do something to better yourself in the sport (ie rest when you need to, eat right, do at least some sort of workout every day) and do that for 3 years strait…about 1,200 days in a row.  This is essentially what I did and how I got here.  No special tricks or gimmicks and not a whole lot of natural ability.  When I started swimming I was in the lane with a 70 year woman who kicked my butt.  But perseverance pays off.

And so now I am here in Hawaii and experiencing this amazing spectacle.  Scratch that, its not just amazing.  It’s magical.  This is my first time here and I am going to cherish it forever.  Hopefully I will be back again to race and spectate, but that is in the future and all I can focus on now is the present.

I guess my final thoughts for the day focus on the title of this post and how its come full circle.  It has done so in a couple ways.  I competed in my first Ironman 70.3 in Galveston, TX back in April of 2010.  It was here I had my first immersion into the Ironman world and was absolutely taken fully and completely.  I won a trophy for my race and was even able to meet my idol in the sport, Chris Lieto.

Chris and I at the 2010 Texas 70.3. My first experience with Ironman.

Meeting Chris was absolutely amazing.  He chatted with me about the race, gave me tips and added to the growing desire to be somebody in this sport.  To be somebody good that is.

Now here in Kona it truly has come full circle as I met Chris once again and had another great conversation.  Chris is not racing this year but still is a huge presence as he is promoting his extremely worthy cause “Do More Than Sport” which focuses on doing good for those in need.  Specifically in Kona this year it is raising enough money to sponsor 141 kids in a mentoring program.  In order to reach this goal Do More Than Sport is looking to get enough people to donate at least $250 which fully sponsors a child through the mentoring program.  I am proud to say that I have sponsored a child this year and am very excited to possibly meet them or at least learn about their story at the post race brunch that will be held on Sunday.  Chris has done amazing things on the course but also off the playing field and this is a great example.  I am very glad that I could be a part of his cause. He has inspired me in many ways, so call it my way of saying Thank You!  And here’s the full circle part…another awesome picture!

Almost three years later and here is Chris and I in Kona, HI for the 2012 Ironman World Championships.

I’d also be leaving a large part of my triathlon experience out if I did not mention the lady who started me on this journey.  Mary Eggers was my first coach and the woman who took me through my first two Ironman and led me to the QT2 group from whom I have been coached by for the past year, although I have been extracting knowledge from them since the beginning!  (QT2 Systems is world class and if you are serious about triathlon you should look into what they offer!) Mary was the person who I first told on a very cold morning way back in November of 2009 (my second month of training for triathlon) that I wanted to race in Kona.  A lot of people would have told me I was crazy, because I meant that I wanted to be racing in Kona the very next year.  Why wait right?  Well it took me a year longer than originally thought but I am here now and it is truly amazing to reflect back on all the experiences I have had and all the amazing relationships I have formed because of this sport.  Mary had a lot to do with those relationships and she deserves a huge Thank You from me.  Again everything has seemed to come full circle here as Mary is on the Big Island this weekend too.  So once again the triathlon Gods have worked their magic.

The QT2 group at Lava Java. Mary, Charlie, myself and a complete random stranger who just wanted to be in our picture! You gotta love it Kona!!

This place is special…even magical and I am honored to have the chance to race on this course.  This first time here is A ONCE IN A LIFETIME EXPERIENCE and I wouldn’t be here  if it weren’t for people like Mary, my good friend Mike Corona who has been a training partner since the very beginning, Travis who I aspired to be like from the moment I met him, Wheeler who has been a measuring stick since I first saw his name as the AG Champ at IMLP IN 2009, Don for letting me into your home and treating me as family, RAMS swimming for teaching me how to swim, Scott Likly and Towpath Bike for dealing with me all these years and seriously 100 other people.  It would take me 2 hours to even attempt to list them all out.  So don’t think I forgot you, I remember each and every person who has crossed my path.  So to all you guys and of course my amazing parents.  THANK YOU FOR GETTING ME HERE AND LETTING ME HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO EXPERIENCE THIS!  I WILL NEVER EVERY FORGET IT AND I HOPE TO MAKE YOU ALL PROUD ON SATURDAY.  WIN LOSE OR DRAW I WILL LEAVE IT ALL OUT THERE LAVA FIELDS!

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