Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thoughts on Kona

I arrived in Kona, Hawaii yesterday for The Ironman. I started coming here in 1989 to watch the race and support friends, TrainingBible Coaching athletes, and my own client-athletes. This is one of the few years I don't have a client racing. So I'll be free to be an outside observer this time around. As an impartial observer a couple of things have already become apparent to me.

The first is that it is HOT! Really hot. The temperature in the early afternoon is around 90F and the relative humidity is the same - about 90%. I walked a couple of miles to buy groceries today just so I could get some sort of exercise today. I was dripping sweat by the time I was back to the air conditioned room. I'm from the Phoenix area where 105F is common but our humidity is much lower. Phoenix heat is nothing like this. Heat is also a much greater burden than moderate altitude. I spend my summers in Boulder where the altitude is about 5000 feet and train a lot in the mountains at 7000 feet and higher. The physiological 'cost' is nothing like the heat here. I feel very sorry for the athletes who come here from places like Denver (where they have already gotten snow), Minneapolis, Chicago and other cities north of 40 degrees latitude. It's very difficult to adapt to weather like this when it's chilly and threatening to snow. But there are ways. Some day I'll write about them. Too late now, however.

The other thing that has stood out for me so far is that triathletes spend a lot more time on their feet in the days before a race than road cyclists do. Roadies tend to lay around a lot in the days before a race. Of course, they often have team support which takes care of getting groceries and drives the riders to meals. Triathletes could learn a lot from roadies in this instance. I've seen triathletes today walking long distances, and it's less than 48 hours until the start of their biggest race of the year. They need someone to come along on the trip and take care of them. This could be a spouse or a hired 'gofer' (roadies have a nicer for them - 'soigneurs'). In the last few days before a race athletes should never walk when they can ride, never stand when they can sit, and never sit when they can recline. Rest is the key now.


At October 9, 2009 7:35 AM , Blogger Sara Cox Landolt said...

Definitely! Triathletes are on their feet too much pre-race. My hubby & I rotate training for iron-distance events. He's thought about offering IM Sherpa services. It makes sense, if the athlete & Sherpa trust each other.
Good topic.

At October 9, 2009 3:00 PM , Blogger maryka said...

Agreed about people being in the sun, walking around too much before race day. Not to mention those I (still!) see hammering up and down Alii Drive on the bike or running.

With regard to roadies, guys who race their bikes for a living don't get 2-3 week tapers before a big race. They are working hard every day, with rare days off from training, so they understand exactly how to use their rest time wisely. Triathletes... not so much. Compound that with the type A, nearly OCD personality that characterises many Kona Ironman participants and you end up with people who can't sit still in the few days before the race.

Good luck to everyone racing!

At October 11, 2009 5:08 PM , Anonymous cathy said...

I was struck by your comment about heat burden vs. altitude. I live at 9000 feet and it seems to give me an advantage especially in high altitude events, but I felt like doing some heat training really helped me this year. In fact, I felt like without experience and adaptation riding in the heat I would not have finished the Ring of Fire 24 hour TT.

BTW, thanks for your blog. I've never commented here before, but I enjoy reading your informative posts.


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