Yet another Kona has come and gone, dreams were made as well as shattered; people threw their hearts in and returned home with something more.
I for one was blessed to meet new people, form friendships that will last a lifetime, grew a little more on my own personal and professional journey, and fried more than once on my morning hot trots around Kona.
Many have written their post Kona blogs and reviews, so I will leave their blogs speak the volumes that they deserve. Hopefully after a few nagging requests I will be allowed to share them here; and perhaps snatch a few from the google ethers that have caught my eye.
So to add my twist to the Kona wind-down here are my top 10 observations from the beast that is Kona Ironman World Championships.
You must be prepared to adapt when you get here. I mean everything! Your race plan, your power plan, pace plan, nutrition, hydration and electrolytes, and most importantly your training plan if needed when you get here. Adapt everything to what this island deals you and how your body responds.
2. Spend time on your first food shop and getting stocked up
Shopping is a mission at first and then gets easier. Please read my previous blogs for guidance. It pays off to invest time buying nutritious food; you will need to spend a little more than you are used to but if you are smart this need not decimate your budget.
3. Athletes sometimes must learn the lessons for themselves
I had to sit back on both trips to date here and watch some hard lessons being learned. I discovered that despite my knowledge and desire to help, that often athletes must figure things out for themselves; or will only hear what they want to until they are ready to really listen. This aspect of an athletes nature is both a positive and a negative; you are right to stick to your guns but don’t be afraid of change either.
I’m here when you need me became my internal mantra. Most first time Kona athletes coming here from less warm climates struggle to comprehend that the body takes 4 days approximately to acclimate and that it bodes in your favour to be kind while the body is doing so. Most get it eventually! Do yourself a favour and understand what acclimation means and that it is not something that you can force to happen by trying to train through. It is certainly not a weakness to slow down for a day or two; more so a strength.
Speak to your coach as you go through the process and they will be able to adapt your programme based on how you are feeling after the long trip to Kona and how you are responding to the heat. Trust in your body and your intuition to guide the process.
4. Spend time alone
This island has a deep spiritual significance for you on your journey; open yourself to this and everything is possible. Hawaii is an island that represents great energy and opportunity for personal growth. The island is diverse, she has unique geography, stunning plant and wildlife diversity, she is birthing new land and is also a force of great destruction; death and birth so to speak or a letting go of the old and an allowance of the new.
The countless beaches provide opportunity for wave watching and moments of solitude as well as deep thought.
I spent a lot of time alone in quiet meditation. Honl’s beach and the beach at Old Kona Airport recreational grounds as well as my early morning runs up higher and away from Ali’i drive or around that bizarre little track at Old Kona airport recreational grounds (it grows on you) as well as swimming in Kailua harbour and in Kealakekua Bay with the dolphins. These all provided me with many moments to myself. Here I reflected, let go, received, and was nudged to write a few articles.
Learn to be quiet and listen, observe, absorb and be discerning about when to speak and how to use what you learn. There is a lot to be gained here on your journey from fellow athletes, the pros (the cons!), the experts, the locals and those seemingly random people who cross your path. Listen and take the opportunity to grow as an athlete, person, and more.
6. Heart, fire, and heat
The Big Island embodies heart and fire and heat. She deserves respect, be adaptable. And don’t forget your SPF!
Race intuitively, from your heart and connected within your body. Yes the data from technology is incredibly helpful but learn to blend this with what your body is saying as the conditions fluctuate.
Learn what heat feels like and how to manage it, determine what your thirst cues are in the Kona heat and what hydration and electrolyte plan works best for you (in and outside of training), appreciate how your digestion works in the heat and when training and later racing at intensity so as to tweak your nutrition plan; observe how your heart rate and cardiovascular system responds to the heat and humidity and adjust your training and race plan accordingly. As best you can learn the winds at Hawi and familiarise yourself with the course and finally; trust in your training.
7. Believe in yourself
Come here with realistic expectations; and giant self belief and then everything is possible. Many athletes that I met with didn’t quite believe in themselves; believe that you are THAT athlete.
8. Conserve your energy
Don’t waste too much energy in the ironman build-up trying to be a big island tourist, ironman expo shopper, social bunny as well as athlete; every time we have been here I have seen people literally hand their energy away before the race has even started.
If you want to be a tourist, do a little before the race and save the rest for after your race; if you want to shop, wait until after (yes the expo stands really wait until after the race), if you want to be a social bunny then get your ass to Huggos after party when you can let it all go in a dance off with the pros. I don’t offer this advice lightly. You must decide why you are here; for the race or for the experience. You may be better investing your time in training, rest, bike and equipment checks, and feeding yourself appropriately.
9. The heat can change your nutrition needs
Practice your race fueling strategy several times before you get here, and then put it to the test on the Big Island. Buy a weighing scales (for you, not the food) if you wish to do this properly. See earlier blogs for recommendations.
10. This island is amazing and her people are special
Give the Big Island some time after the event to do some exploring. Be mindful that most things can be done for free or purchased on site for less than advertised online.
Eat the food, visit the markets, traipse around and follow your nose, find the hidden beaches, chat to the locals, drive past Hawi (yes the world continues past Hawi!) and treat yourself to lunch at the turning point (Kohala Coffee Mill), drive across Maunakea and even consider a trip the summit (pay heed to the health warnings), swim in Kealakekua Bay, enjoy as many sunsets on new beaches as you can, swim the bay for fun, snorkel, eat in restaurants off the tourist path, visit the black sands beach at Punalu’u but take a moment to sit by the fresh water lake of lilies, stop on your way there to buy a pastry in Punalu’u Bake Shop & Visitor Center, visit Hilo and if you can eat at Cafe Pesto (we weren’t disappointed), watch some documentaries and lectures about the island and the volcanoes (wow!), and finally visit Kilauea volcano from all aspects if you can – from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park where you can view the Halema’uma’u crater, from here you can drive down through the National Park onto Chain of Craters Road, and from the Hilo side at Kalapana where you can hire bikes to take you across the lava fields to view the volcano meeting the ocean. We didn’t spend our money on a helicopter hide and decided to see the island by car and wow she didn’t disappoint. Furthermore are subsequent flight to Moloka’i on Mukulele airlines achieved as much and more with the stunning island views.
But also don’t be afraid to venture to the other islands; we booked a flight with Mokulele airlines to Molokai and spent a magical week on this stunningly beautiful and peaceful island (We booked a place in Kepuhi beach resort on airbnb).
Here is a snapshot of my special moments on the Big Island.
And from Molokai
And here is a mashup of everything from moments to important nutrition, race preparation and race day tips on my YouTube Channel
Blogs, articles, and inspirations post-Kona 2016 from others:
Firstly my boy; his writing skills are no longer under my radar! Congratulations to Garron Mosley and his dedicated coach Lucie Zelenkova on a successful year. I have very much enjoyed working as part of this team.
Ireland’s Bryan McCrystal wrote a super race report on his athlete page Bryan McCrystal
PS if you have food (not alcohol) left over please donate it to one of the homeless here in Kona; we did and the words “it is a gift to give” never rang more true.