Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Spotlight on Kona - Luke McKenzie updates us on "island life"

Aloha! Time is flying out here in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii and I can't believe we have already been out here for almost two weeks since the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas. Every day Kona seems to get a little busier as more and more athletes arrive. We are now inside two weeks till the biggest race of the triathlon year and it will only be a click of the fingers before we are nervously treading water in Kailua Bay ready to do battle at the world's toughest one day sporting event, the Hawaii Ironman.

We have settled in well to life here on the Big Island and the the daily routine has transitioned into a basic existence of train, eat, train,eat, nap, eat, massage, sleep ... Just how I like it! My wife Amanda and I are sharing a condo close to town with our good friend Linsey Corbin from Montana and she is definitely a fun girl to have around. Kona seems like a second home to us these days having spent not only the past six years racing this event but also mid session training camps in May and June for several years. We have built an awesome social network here and it's exciting to return each time and catch up with friends, have BBQ's and feel like we belong as part of the this special community.

My training always kicks to another gear here in Kona. I have been really pleased with the work I have produced since arriving and can feel my body hitting it's stride right on time for the race. This past Saturday I did one of my last big key training sessions leading into the race which was a race simulation. I met a group down at the pier at 6.30am including two time Hawaii Ironman champ Craig Alexander (Crowie), Mathias Hecht, Eduardo Sturla, Jo Lawn and Linsey Corbin who all lay claim to Ironman titles at races around the world. We had a seriously talented group of some of the worlds best Ironman athletes to swim the Ironman course. We also had a friend of mine from my high school days, Brett Carter join us and with his surf lifesaving background he has a serious swimming pedigree. I am sure he will be one of the first amateur athletes out of the water in this year's race. I treated the swim like I was racing and wore my Blueseventy PZ3TX with a race suit underneath. It's important to practice all aspects of the race during this simulation.

A quick transition at the pier and Crowie, Brett and I were off for a four hour ride towards Hawi. Once we hit the Queen Kaahumanu highway the wind was blowing strong from the south and we were flying along almost effortlessly at 40km/hr plus for much of the first hour. This is never a good sign for the return journey, especially when you know that the winds gain strength throughout the morning so the return trip was bound to be a tough one. We made our halfway turn just before the final climb to the town of Hawi and headed back south enjoying a crystal clear day with views of the huge volcano's Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea. American Uber biker, Chris Lieto joined us for a while along the Waikoloa stretch and we enjoyed been able to keep up with him for once. The ride back from Scenic lookout was a real tough one as the wind was now in full force and the slight uphill gradient back towards the airport made for seriously tough going. This was perfect as it had really tuned into an Ironman simulation because we were riding at our race pace watts for most of the last hour.

Arriving back at the Kona Aquatic center around midday we quickly transitioned into our running shoes for the last leg of our big training day. We ran a solid 10km out towards the energy lab and let me tell you trying to run with Crowie was tough! I was determined to run with him and I managed to for all but the last 2km. We really have to thank my father Peter for his mobile aid station support out there on the Queen K as the heat and humidity were now in full affect. Our finish line was the pool and it was a very welcoming reward at the end of a tough day of training.

I hope you enjoyed a little insight to training out here in Kona preparing for Ironman. Stop by next week for another update - Race Week!

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