My 2012 Kona Race Plan

Since I am not training like a fool this time around, I need to pay closer attention to how I execute. If I have learned anything over the past four races in Kona, having a plan is really more for mental & emotional comfort than anything else. Madame Pele and the general conditions of the island can conspire to make race day into a dizzying array of challenges: ocean swells and currents, shifting and gusting winds on the bike, radiant heat and oppressive humidity on the run are but a few things that come to mind.

With that in mind, I present to you my 2012 strategy and welcome your input!


I will be arriving on Wednesday night with just Thursday and Friday pre-race. This is mainly because we are planning to stay longer with the family; but in reality I have been out there as early as Tuesday and have never truly been able to acclimate to the humidity.

I estimate needing about 10 days, and in my world that will never happen…so I need to nail my race execution and nutrition. My Thursday will be crazy with a swim, registration and my bike ride…then chill Friday after Team Breakfast and it's race day!

The Swim

Last year saw my fastest swim with a 1:06, which I was super excited about. I was swimming with a higher stroke cadence in years past, and while that got me through the swim quickly, my latest realization has been around the total aerobic cost of that type of stroke.

Basically a higher cadence means I am more tired; I need to breathe more frequently. Since I am not a great swimmer, I lose momentum every time I breathe…and over time as my stroke breaks down. So I am making the shift to a lower cadence stroke. This will allow me to breathe every four strokes (instead of 2 or 3) which keeps me faster over the course of the swim.

A slower turnover is also easier for me to focus on my form and a better stroke…when spinning my arms starts to fail, my only option is to just try and keep spinning my arms. Easy to do but not so good for moving through the water. It requires upper body strength but I have more bulk upstairs than I need. :( I have tested this in the pool and I am able to sustain it.

So far the only downside is that I am all pumped up after the swim like a bodybuilder…but my HR is low which is great.

The Bike

This is totally weather dependent…2011 was a sick fast year on the bike for everyone, but it reminded me of a few key things.

First, I need to be safe on the admin loop in town. Everyone is cheering, folks are all bunched up, it's just mayhem…easy spinning until I am out on the Queen K.

Second, I want to take advantage of the cooler early temps (relatively speaking) and the usual tailwind. After about 15 minutes of spinning up to the Queen K, I will be sitting on my goal race watts. Just as I did at Ironman Texas, my goal is to ride those higher watts sustained across the day instead of building in a budget of additional watts for hills (and counting on coasting).

Third, I will be much steadier up the climb to Hawi. I have pushed this in years past and I thing the spike (up) and crash (coasting back down) have hurt my overall race.

Fourth, I will work on staying aero as much as possible on the return trip. Last year I was significantly faster than other folks when I was aero, but I sat up a lot on the hills which cost me. I have bumped my bars up a bit to make them more comfortable, so I can stay in the bars longer. I have also changed to a shorter pair of cranks (172.5s) and added Q-Rotor Rings. This set up has proven very effective in my training rides and I expect a solid performance on race day.

Fifth, I will be dumping water on myself at every bike aid station, and on my arm coolers at every chance. I will probably keep a water bottle in my back jersey pocket to have it accessible.

Sixth, I will be following my race nutrition plan as outlined by the Core Diet team. Adjusted for the conditions, I will be taking in close to 60oz of Perform an hour. This with the 1/2 powerbar or gel every 30 minutes…add in some additional Salt Stick pills and I'll be rocking and rolling.

The Run

A lot of this depends on both the conditions and what I did to myself on the bike. But I have still made some tweaks. Based on my Ironman Texas performance, I will be running exclusively off of heart rate (not pace). Nutrition will be in full effect as will staying cool. I will most likely WALK up Palani (Pay and Save Hill) as the cost of running could be too much; that will be TBD.

Then it's on the nutrition for the rest of the day. My big focus is on the last hour of this run, for me that's from the Energy Lab back to town. By this point on the day I am usually cooked physically and or mentally, and I have never been able to close well. I'd like to change that this year.


Nothing earth shattering at all, but hopefully a more consistent and solid day. My focus will be on building my effort all day while focusing on efficiency, nutrition and staying cool. Regardless of whether or not the island gods are smiling on me, I hope to have a more complete day at the world champs!