A Different Kind of Kona


I’m writing to you from Kailua Kona where we’re here for our annual trip to Ironman World Championships, only this time, instead of writing from my usual perspective of an athlete being about to compete, I’m an athlete on Sherpa duty this year!

After World Championships in 2013, which marked 12 straight years of Ironman racing, I decided to pull back and take a break from going long.

I wouldn’t say I was burnt out, but admittedly, I had begun to feel it wasn’t as fun anymore.

That, along with our temporary move to New York City during 2014 were the two main factors I considered when making the choice.

I wanted to take a break before it got old, before I felt tired of it and before I might put myself at risk for spoiling the sport I grew to love so much and hold so dear to my heart.

So, I did!

I still trained, still raced (a little) in 2014, but only did couple of marathons and a single 70.3.

By the time the year was coming to an end, I’d already felt that familiar fire in the belly ignite and after a long chat with my coach, we decided I’d focus on the 70.3, or half ironman distance, for 2015.

Two awesome races (both fasted, by the way, using Vespa’s OFM protocol) at both Hawaii and Vineman 70.3 made for a fantastic start to the year, but then when I failed to run to my ability at Worlds in Austria, placing a disappointing 13th in my age group, what would’ve been a stellar three-star start to the season suddenly fell South.

The fire in my belly raged.

It is races like that which make the successes all the more enjoyable, but they sting so much nonetheless, and the more I thought about how much I missed going long, the more I knew it was time to come back and start training for my next Ironman race.

The last qualifiers had already passed and I hadn’t put in the time to race the distance anyway, so the goal became to set my sights on the race I’ll do next to earn my my 8th trip to Kona in 2016.

In the meantime, my husband, who’d also been entertaining the idea of racing different distances, raced his tail off and won himself a slot for Kona at Ironman Whistler!

So, in a season when neither of us planned to be in Kona, here we go!

I’m curious to see what it’ll be like to be amongst all the energy of the race as a Sherpa, rather than a participant, and quite looking forward to being able to train there, too!

There have been seasons before where Chris and I race the same races, and others where we don’t and part of what makes us such a great team is the flexibility to either train together, or sherpa one another.  There’s nothing better than being supported by someone you love, who also happens to completely get it!

One fun thing this time in Kona is going to be the training.

Typically, since we arrive during taper week, there’s not much training to be had, other than the short, tune up runs and rides, and perhaps a long swim or two earlier in the week.

But this time, I’ll be out there riding long, swimming long and running long on the days leading up to the 10th, on the island I love so much, respect an honor more than words can say and even though it’s going to be a different type of trip, I’ll savor every second of it regardless.

It’s always an inspiration to watch the athletes perform, to see it from the outside looking in and to stoke those flames for next year, when I plan to return.

After all, I’ve got some unfinished business here!      

Stay tuned during the week for updates on racing, clean eating, Hawaiian style, more on fat adaptation and all things Kona!