For most people getting to Kona presents its own challenges and then racing in Kona is a beast upon its own.
Athletes have to deal with the heat, the wind, the hype and then their own inner demons all of which can be greatly accentuated in Kona. Small mistakes can be costly when racing in Kona and hitting those best performances is quite difficult. But it’s not impossible.
Look at 3x Ironman World Champion Craig “Crowie” Alexander who just put his best ever race together, setting his own PB and the Kona course record. Not easy, but knowing Craig, he did not leave one stone unturned and walked away with the goods.
This year I only had two of the many athletes that qualified race in Kona. Dale Hemley and Karla Mckinlay both lined up and raced their hearts outs last Saturday and once again an athlete on the podium.
Dale ended up with a 9:38, which he is happy with but he was definitely ‘off his game’ for reasons we have yet to discuss or determine. I know many athletes would be over the moon with that time and especially in Kona, but when you have stood on the world champs podium before… you want to be back there, but more than that you want to execute your race like you know you can.
This is the beauty of the brutality of our chosen sport. It can make us feel invincible and then it can completely break us. We always need to respect it and learn from the lessons that are presented to us. How can we be better? As a coach and athlete I look forward to the challenges of figuring out what works and what doesn’t and how I can get what Timothy Ferris calls ‘MED’ the minimum effective dose to get the desired result.
What is the MED in training, what is the MED in the race day fuel we need to propel ourselves to our goals? These are questions that need to be asked.
So then there was Karla Mckinlay who is 65 years young, and is someone who people should aspire to be. Karla came on our Luxury Bali Camp this year and we got to ply some the amazing life she has lived out of her. Maybe I can get her to talk about this in an upcoming interview. Anyway Karla came to me after talks in Sheparton 70.3 last year for her lead up to Ironman Australia in May.
And her is where the minimal effective dose comes into play. Karla keep insisting that she need to do more. Only because she was going to be ‘out’ there much longer than most other athletes. So how could 3-4h bikes and a couple of 5h bikes be enough, especially when she was likely to bike 7+ hours? Further more, how do you run your PB marathon split from long training runs between 90 minutes to 2h, when your IM marathon time is going to be circa 5+ hours?
I insisted otherwise and went against conventional wisdom. Even though Karla is relatively new to the sport of triathlon and that of Ironman (Kona was her 4th Ironman) I believed she had a lifetime of endurance on her body. Maybe not specific to IM but endurance no less. To me, strength, focused efforts and even trying to overcome set motor patterns (infinitely harder the older we get) was what the training menu needed to consist off. Not to mention a good recovery protocol.
In Ironman Australia this year and after spending 20 minutes on the side of the road fixing a flat tire, Karla won her age group and went 14:27 (2010 and arguably a much easier course Karla went 15:40). 1h and 13 minutes quicker which a massively reduced training load.
And then there was Kona and the ambitious goals we developed whilst in Bali in late May. Time goals are difficult in Kona and focusing on that can be your undoing as who knows what Madame Pele will throw at you, so the first goal was to have a crack at standing on the podium, and then their was the individual time goals across the disciplines.
2. Swim 1:40
3. Bike 6:45
4. Run 5:25
5. Overall Time: Sub 14
1. 4th in the 65-69 age group and in Kona the top five are on the podium
2. Swim =1:40:30 and the conditions weren’t the most favorable this year .
3. Bike = 6:56:11
4. Run = 5:07:03 – Personal Best
5. Overall Time: 14:01:3 – Personal Best
Another personal best from a training load that many on the fence of conventional wisdom would say couldn’t be done. Congrats Karla and Dale.
The simple ingredients of success are getting a very good coach that has consistently had success with helping athletes achieve there goals (and keeps them in the sport or healthy long term), fully believing in the coach you work with (and yourself) and then there’s the implementation.