Hi Kate, thanks for joining us! How has the final preparation been coming along for Hawaii?
So far so good! I have been able to do all my sessions although some a little bit better than others and I have seen steady signs of improvement which is encouraging. I have hit a few PB's which helps with the confidence and the hard work is nearly over. It is a little bit scary but so exciting at the same time!
When do you head over to the Big Island?
When I used to travel to Hawaii from Perth as an age grouper I would make sure I arrived 10 days before allowing enough time to adjust to the heat and humidity. It worked well for me. And although I have been tempted this year to head over 3 or 4 weeks earlier because I can...I decided against it. It is still hot in Boise, I can can get quality training in and stick to my normal routine here without any distractions and not get caught up in the "Hawaii Ironman" atmosphere before I need to. So I will leave Boise on the 28th September and stick to my 10 day routine
How many times have you raced Hawaii now, as a professional and also an age grouper? Tell us about your past experiences there. What lessons have you learnt?
2011 will be my 5th trip to the Big Island and I have had a mixed bag of results. My first time as an age grouper I crashed and burned! I remember walking in the pitch black on the Queen K with my glow sticks and my brother being out there in the middle of nowhere encouraging me home. I thought that was it, I had been to Hawaii once and didn't want to go again. But who was I kidding! I was back a year later where I still consider that race as an age grouper the best I have had in Hawaii. It was completely different to the year before, I had learnt my lesson and came away with a 3rd place finish in my age group. The last 3 trips all as a Pro have not been quite as good and I am planning to change all of that this year! It is time for a good one!
It was a big change from age grouper to Pro racing in Kona. A swim start that went from over 1000 to this year around 80. A bike ride where there is always someone around to not seeing anyone unless they are riding in the opposite direction. I had to learn to go back to basics and concentrate on my own race rather than getting caught up with what was going around me.
You had a great win at Ironman Korea in June and obviously handle the heat and humidity well! Any tips you would like to share with our readers on racing in these conditions for Kona? What do you do to cope with the heat?
Korea was a great surprise and also a lucky gamble because Guy and I were living in Boise and it was cold but we didn't want to go early so we travelled half way across the world from cold to hot and arrived Wednesday afternoon. That was 4 days before the race and by spending a little bit of time each day out in the heat and humidity yet still allowing our bodies to rest up we both raced well with good results. I think for Kona if you can get there a week to 10 days before the race you will be fine. A little bit of running and cycling in the heat of the day and your body will adapt. But nothing that is too draining or intense. You are tapering by then anyway. Drinking plenty of fluids, water and electrolytes leading up to the race to make sure you are well hydrated will also help. Then obviously during the race, plenty of fluids. In Korea on the bike and run I was throwing water over my head to keep my core body temperature down. On the run because it was so hot and humid I was carrying a small flask with me that I was refilling at each aid station to get me to the next one. Also sponges, ice down your top and under a cap help in the most important areas!
Have you been doing anything different in this preparation compared to the past?
Yes, it was time to try some new things because last year didn't go so well. So we will see how it goes. I haven't raced a 70.3 leading up to Hawaii although I would have loved to. I stuck to my normal routine and did a big training day instead. Therefore there was no taper or recovery needed and less disruption to my program. I have picked my run volume up which has been exciting and this was something that was progressively going to happen over the last 2 years and my body seems to be able to handle again was I was doing prior to all my stress fractures. I have solely focused on ironman training rather than top end speed but look forward to that challenge again post Kona.
How can you see the race panning out this year? Who do you consider contenders for the title?
Wow it is going to be an exciting race for both the men and the women. You are in for a great day of Ironman spectating Michelle! It as usual will be won on the run and not by a cyclist. Obviously in the woman, I don't care what people say but Chrissie Wellington is the odds on favourite and I am sure she will be doing everything she can to get her title back. She is amazing! The rest of the podium will still be incredible and I expect it to include the likes of Rhinny, Mary Beth Ellis, Julie Dibens, depending on her injury, and there are always a number of European surprises. The men's favourite, would be Crowie but I think it is going to be a lot closer than the women with Andrea Raelert, Rasmus Henning and Chris Lieto.
What is the best advice you can give athletes racing in Kona, particularly the first timers?
Kona is incredible. The entire experience is amazing and only those who have been there understand what I am talking about. Definitely take it all in, but remember the week leading up to the race less is more. You have sacrificed so much to get there and trained so hard, don't worry when you see athletes out riding 3 hours the week before the race. Let them! Rest up, stick to your plan and have fun! There are thousands of athletes who would love to be there. When the going gets tough remember you are one of the lucky ones!
Finally, any plans for after Hawaii? We will see you racing on Australian shores over summer and is the plan to defend your Ironman WA title?
After Kona it will be back to Boise for a couple weeks of R and R and packing everything up for the Aussie summer. Definitely plan on racing Ironman WA. Wouldn't miss my home race, especially as defending champion! That is something that doesn't happen very often. A good break over Xmas then back into it in Jan and start the season again. Would love to do more races in Australia and will look at using them to build into fitness early next year.