It's hard to believe that it's already September, and time to put the final touches on the Kona preparations. We are about 4.5 weeks out, and I thought I would walk you through how the past few weeks have looked and what the next few weeks entail, on my end.
Early August: Derick (my husband and coach) and I headed out to Salida, Colorado (a small town at 7k feet of elevation) as we usually do in the summer for three weeks. We do this to get out of the intense heat of Austin (most days it is 100 and even the mornings are uncomfortable, mid-70s with very high humidity) but also so I can put in some good training at altitude, escape the heat and enjoy some different terrain (ie: long climbs). This block went right as we had planned; I put in a couple of 100-115 mile rides, some long runs (either 3 hrs or 18-23 miles), as well as some interval work on the hills both cycling and running. The swimming is always tough here, because it is pretty difficult to breathe with the altitude so my paces slip a bit. Unfortunately I find that my top end speed suffers in the pool, but I think the gains on the bike and run are worth this small setback.
Final Race, Hyvee 5150: We headed home to Austin on August 22, and about a week later we were off to Des Moines, Iowa for the Olympic Distance Championships, HyVee 5150. I've done this race the past two years, and I really enjoy it. The organization is nothing short of top notch, and the course is a always well set up (free and clear of all traffic), with incredible competition to match. This year didn't disappoint, though my performance was a bit lacking...I lost the leaders in the swim which put me in a less than stellar position, and I just never seemed to find my bike legs, losing more ground. Frustrating to say the least, but I tried to stay positive and do all I could, as I managed a solid run to bring myself back a few places. All in all, I know this race is not specifically what I've been training for, so while it wasn't what I had hoped, I tried to use the 'maturity as an athlete' card and remember this race served it's purpose to blow the legs out and give me one last short race before Kona. (Some asked why I didn't do 70.3 Worlds, and truthfully having done two Ironmans this year, and very little 70.3s, I knew my confidence was not in that distance and I also wanted to respect the toll the Ironmans can take; I figured that HyVee was a smarter and a bit safer option, and while the performance was not what I had hoped, I am still glad I made this decision).
Sept into Early October: Which brings us up to now, the final few weeks. I came back from HyVee, took a few days of recovery and the following weekend we got back to some pretty good volume for Hawaii. It is also nice to get back to the heat; while it is still rather draining, it makes Kona feel pretty comfortable by comparison. We will use some of the preparations I took into Ironman Texas as a 'guide', but we have learned that it is always essential to truly listen to your body. For example, we had a schedule built for this week but after a 2.5 hr run on Sunday, I immediately said "I need two days of recovery." So things were adjusted this week accordingly. We have aimed to pull in a few key workouts that I feel help me a lot; including things such as a 2.4 mile Open Water swim nonstop (which we do in Lake Austin), a couple of very long rides (in the 120 mile range), and some 2k run intervals. But all in all, one thing I've been extremely diligent about is recovery; it is still pretty hot in Austin, which I feel can delay recovery at times; even while doing all the small things (including ice baths, rolling andsitting in my Recovery Pump boots). We will head out to the big island on September 28, a few days earlier than in the past, and it will be nice to get in some extra time on the course; especially riding in the winds and swimming in the swells of the bay.
-Kelly Williamson, @khwilliamson, Ironman Champion