Everyone who does Ironmans dreams of getting a chance to compete at Kona. And for most people it's just that: a dream. Kona was the race that inspired me to learn to swim and get into the sport. I jumped straight into the Ironman distance and never looked back. While I've done well over the years, progressing from a roughly 13.5 hour time to a best of 11:17 and two top 10 finishes, I've never made the podium and still have a lot of work to do to land a coveted Kona qualification. However, as fate would have it, my journey to Kona started a little over a year ago when I toed the line at Ironman Lake Tahoe, a race I was uniquely trained for and had a super secret goal of getting a KQ at, and the race was canceled at the last minute due to a massive forest fire. The 50 qualifying spots were randomly given to those of us who showed up, checked in and intended to race, and as luck would have it, I was one of the 50. I had nearly a year to prepare for my Kona experience and I decided to also make a real effort to qualify for 2016 at Ironman Wisconsin just 4 weeks before Kona.
My 2015 season also included the Boston Marathon so I felt like I was living a dream. Training was tough over the winter, but Boston went well (I hit another qualifying time) and I went on to do the Big Sur Marathon just 6 days later. I loved the experience and felt I came out unscathed, but ultimately, I was wrong. Nagging pelvic pain had come and gone throughout the winter, and as Ironman Wisconsin training ramped up, I developed acute pain in my hip. It first happened on June 21 and my last run would be June 29. On July 1 I was diagnosed with a stress fracture of the lesser trochanter and told my season was over. It was a little more than 2 months before IMWI and 3 months before Kona and a stress fracture of this nature usually requires 8-12 weeks for full healing. It also required 3 completely sedentary weeks, 4 weeks on crutches and another few weeks of very light and easy indoor cycling and minimal swimming. Overall, I was down about 6 weeks before easing back in ever so carefully with a goal of just making it to Kona and crossing that finish line.
About 7 weeks before Kona I was cleared to start some weight bearing activity, primarily walking and elliptical. I then progressed to running on an Alter G negative gravity treadmill and about 5 weeks pre-race, I did my first outdoor run/walk of 4' running with 1' walking for 30 minutes total. I never did an outdoor run/walk of more than 9.5 miles and my longest on the Alter G was 13.1 at 70% body weight. But I was able to cycle a lot, so I put as much effort into that training as I could and when I was finally able to swim normally again, I worked hard there as well. It wasn't until about 3 weeks before the race that I was starting to feel like a finish would happen.
I haven't posted here in 2 years and don't really intend to continue posting, largely because it's easier and more interactive to share what you're doing in the sport via sites like Strava, Twitter or Instagram, but I really wanted to capture and share my Kona experience. Partly because I never want to forget a moment of it from the battle to make it to the start, to the incredible journey to the finish, and partly to share that dreams really do come true even for those of us who aren't naturally at the front of the pack. Next up, my race week experience and Kona report.