I was often asked if it’d be hard to watch the race live without even mildly yearning to be a contestant. The answer is no, because despite the low back injury that ruined my season- and continues to plague me 4 months later- I had established after I had a great day there last year that I would not return to Kona simply to participate as a pro. I had no delusions of garnering enough points my first pro year to make it there in the first place, and even if by some miracle I did, it’d be a guarantee I’d toe the line tired and without a chance to contend. I don’t race unless I believe I can place…and yes this whole year every race I did I convinced myself beforehand that my back “issue” was sorted/in the past, and I’d get a chance to show the fitness I knew I had, and thus place.
Who knew ocean swimming was a place for such enlightening conversation, huh? ;)
The bike- oh the bike- thank you, thank you Amanda for the numerous rides to Waikoloa shops and back. It was standard to ride 3hrs pretty much every day. Taking my road bike to Kona was a double edged sword. My upper back/shoulders/neck were literally destroyed right around the 3hr mark, my low back still hurt on certain rides without relief….but fighting the headwind and trying to keep up with people on their aero little TT bikes made me strong! Often times I found myself angry that I was riding so consistently and felt so strong, because racing is something that I know I still cannot do.
Running I did alone, focusing mainly on 45min or less with lateral drills on the grass and plenty of stretching after. I also did a few Pilates Reformer classes, which if you haven’t done and want to prevent a back injury go do Pilates! It is something that I will definitely keep doing throughout the year.
I am also grateful for getting to see Dave Dyrbshire for treatment/assessment on my back. Never discount a part of your body that’s entirely “separate” from where you feel pain for being the root of your problem. My back issue according to Dave: caused by the 4 years of imbalance/compensation since my accident in 2008 where I broke my right collarbone, and fractured the L5…root: collarbone.
Suddenly, race week was here! Now I get to dive into the real fun, and some awesome sessions that were not training at all- they were about people with a passion for living, enjoying life.
From there Hillary mentioned she was taking one of her athletes, Alyssa, to ride the Hawi section of the course, I asked to tag along and after another quick change of clothes and some food, hopped in the car with them to drive up to the Mauna Lani and start our ride. This is a ride I will never ever forget. We started at about 3pm, and ended at sunset. We got the one period of the day where the ocean/air is STILL and it was the most magestic ride in the coolest part of the Ironman course I’ve ever experienced. We literally rode back into the Mauna Lani with the sun setting!! BTW, Hillary cracks me up- that girl is on another level…she had run THIRTY miles with Rousey, and called this 3hr aerobic, but still 3hr not-flat ride, “therapeutic”. It’s how you choose to look at things. (pic of Hills & I riding back into sunset- thanks Alyssa for the shot!)
Friday Beth and I rode the Ironman course It started out great, and I was thrilled that she was on a road bike too. She borrowed Cody’s bike so props to her for riding 112 miles on a bike that didn’t fit at all! I was really concerned about my left shoulder/neck because the dang road position left it tender to the touch/not able to look right after a few hours- imagine 6! But Beth and I agreed that was just a get ‘er done ride and taking in the scenery. Okay. We made it to Hawi with just a quick pit stop at Kawaihae. Cold drinks up there, then a longer stop at Waikoloa shops on the way home. Each stop was a huge relief that allowed me to stretch out/ relieve pain (why can’t we have these stops in Ironman? I’d be able to race! ) After Waikoloa things went awry. The headwind was pretty intense, Beth got a flat somewhere along the airport and I felt like a turtle (speed, neck, shell for a back). No way in hell were we riding the 18% grade (pic is only the start) up to Cody’s house. We parked ourselves at BASIK and Cody picked us up!
I had promised myself after too many late nights out and consuming beverages that I normally don’t even sniff, that today I’d watch my friends finish, and be in bed around 8. Riiiiiiight.
From Palani, I was innocently walking to get breakfast when Rachel (110% Play Harder- best ice/compression recovery ever) and Hannah were at Bongo Ben’s already getting started on mimosas. Crap. I had breakfast and a virgin fruit smoothie. But then Kim Rouse came along and suddenly we had ordered a bottle of champagne and more juice. The funny thing is, when the runners started coming along, 5 min under the burning sun on Alii Dr and all the champagne from a mimosa evaporated from my system. I also began the process of losing my voice yelling for all the athletes.
As the runners passed along, you could see in people’s faces who would crumble and who would prevail. This reminded me of what I’d seen through race week- people leaving their races in training. There’s the pros that have raced too much and get here exhausted. Or those that get greedy/panicked and do too much. Then there’s age groupers, close friends of mine, that have this false idea that the pros/top of the top train at least 30 hours a week, even 50 for the men. I heard some people riding 6hrs the week before because they felt they were young and could recover from it. It killed me. You see the potential, the great races they’ve had this year, the heart that goes into it, and in a few days, or in one session, they give it away.
Race week be the king/queen of lazy. See the podcast I did with Tawnee for Endurance Planet (http://www.enduranceplanet.com/week-of-kona-tatiana-vertiz-ironman-research-team/ )
After about 3 hours of that, I walked down to a Thai place to get mango sticky rice (pay attention to the amount of sugar I consumed this day haha). That left me bouncing off the walls, I could barely sit still as I watched Rinny try to catch Leanda on screen at the Clif Lounge next door.
From there Rachel and I met at the King Kam- we tried to rinse off at the beach by the Pier but of course that was closed to only athletes/etc. So we got into the pool. Bad mistake- it was pee/sweat filled and I got out feeling disgusting. But, nothing a few pina coladas couldn’t fix! More. Sugar.
Monday is a blur, I felt like crap- not hungover just dead tired. I went to bed at 6pm and slept 12hrs!Tuesday I felt great, was on the second day ordered by my new coach, Jesse (QT2), of no training for the week so I just lounged around. I had dinner with Jennifer and her husband at Huggo’s where I discovered they give out bbq ribs during happy hour. Coupled with the teriyaki steak I ordered after= food comma.