QR PROFESSIONAL TRIATHLETE
As per usual, I’ve gone south to find warmer temps as I put in my final preparations for Kona. I am in Lawrence, Kansas with Coach Julie and a handful of her athletes. Matt Bottrill was able to make the trip over from the UK to follow me around on the bike as well. So I have a great group to train with and both coaches eyes on me. We have come to Lawrence the last two years for a few reasons: the pool situation is good, the weather conditions are pretty similar to kona, the terrain is very similar to Kona, and the road surfaces are great for the most part…and of course it is much cheaper than Kona! So we are able to replicate the the demands of the race pretty closely.
We don’t change much in training leading into the final race. Adding the heat stress as well as having teammates to push me daily creates an increased load and demand on the body. So if I were to also add a significant bump in volume or intensity it would be easy to come into Kona overcooked. Getting to the Kona start line healthy with the highest level of fitness possible is always a tough balance, but I feel I have the right experienced team behind me to help guide the final push. I’ll stay in Lawrence until the 26th, then possibly race Augusta 70.3 before heading out to Kona on the 3rd of October.
Good luck to all of the athletes! I'll see you in Kona.
TRIATHLON IN TOKYO TEAM ATHLETE
I am a French Triathlete, 43 years old, living in Japan with my Japanese wife and 2 kids.
I have some swimming background and have been running during my thirties many marathons in Europe and Japan. I started Triathlon 10 years ago in Japan as I thought I could not improve further my running performance (2h47' in full and 1h19' in half). I am part of Triathlon in Tokyo, a group of passionate Triathletes living around Tokyo, gathering both Foreigners and Japanese.
Starting on Olympic distances, I could improve continuously, particularly on bike (my weakest point as I had a swimmer-runner profile). I am now targeting each race to be in the podium (either overall or age group) in Japan. I started from 2016 longer distance: with my first 70.3 in Taiwan where I got a slot for 2016 70.3 WC in Queensland. In 2018, I competed my 3d 70.3 at Xiamen China in 2018, targeting a slot for 2019 70.3 WC at Nice. I finished 6th in my age group: enough to secure a slot for Nice and then the dream comes true: 3 slots for Kona were to be delivered, 2 athletes passed, one was missing, and the final slot was finally for me. Incredible! I was dreaming to run Kona once but no so early: Kona will be my first Full Ironman! Only sport can bring such joy as it relates to dedication, performance, pain and chance... But the chance still continued: Triathlon in Tokyo informed I got a new frame from QR with my Kona selection. I have chosen a PRfive with Di2. After a bike fit, it became my 2019 weapon.
So, 2019 was dedicated to my first IM training. Busy with work and family, I have a maximum of 15 hours to allocate on my training. I am basically following methodology from Matt Dixon as described on Fast Track Triathlete. I have to adapt to my professional requirements (Sales director for an automotive part supplier), to my family schedule (2 kids of 7 and 9-year-old). My target is to make my training as efficient as possible, mainly alone, listening to my body, pushing hard when it needs to. I have focused on bike. As a result, with the PRfive, the proper bike fit, interval, endurance and strength sessions, bike is now becoming my strongest point in the last races (70.3 JPN 3d in Age group for instance). My PRfive is very stable over 38km/hr and makes me feel I can push further. The Di2 makes the bike adapting smoothly to my condition.
I am of course looking forward to running Kona, even I have the doubt always linked to the first IM. The 14 weeks training block is going well. My family is fully supportive, and the 2 kids are getting also passionate for Triathlon, following me in many competitions and supporting the Elite French team before the Tokyo Olympics.
Looking forward to meeting soon the QR team at Kona.
BASE PERFORMANCE TEAM ATHLETE
I qualified for Kona last year at IMFL. It was quite a fiasco since PCB had recently been destroyed by a hurricane two weeks before the race date so Ironman moved the race to Haines City. A lot of scrambling and changing of travel plans to make that happen! The new course was really tough with a lot of technical turns / out and backs to make the full distance work on a 70.3 course but Ironman really did a fantastic job and the volunteers were AMAZING! IMFL was my third full so I guess third time really is the charm to pull off an AG win!
I work full time as an engineer in management at ExxonMobil supporting an operations unit so work is 24/7. It’s difficult to manage long training sessions so the majority of my training is broken up in multiple 60 or 90 minute workouts twice a day (sometimes 3 or 4 on weekends) and I always take one full day off each week to recover. My coach (Tim Floyd with Magnolia Race Team) is excellent and is able to plan my training so I get the maximum benefit from an average of 15-16 hours per week. A lot of interval work and three strength training sessions per week focusing on a lot of stability and full body integrated movements.
Balancing life and work and training is challenging! But I enjoy the grind and seeing how I can improve against my previous self every day. I do think it’s important to remember that life happens too - for example I just spent the last 8 days in Italy for my sisters wedding. I managed maybe one 45 minute “workout” most days but training took a backseat and that’s okay. When I’m back in the states it’s back to the grind! All about #balance.
Read more about Erin taking on IRONMAN after shoulder surgery here.
QT2 SYSTEMS ELITE TEAM ATHLETE
My name is Greg Schaefer, a team member of the Elite Team of QT2 Systems. I was fortunate to qualify in IRONMAN Florida XC age group slot. I have been competing for two years and am super excited for this opportunity to race in Kona.
I was a Division I college basketball athlete that still had the competitive spirit and wanted to chase down some new dreams.
I just completed IRONMAN Lake Placid and have since moved to Miami to heat acclimate and prepare for the humidity in Hawaii.
The road to Kona has been hard balancing a full-time job, family life and two young boys that want me to play instead of train. I constantly remind myself about how many people dream of this opportunity and push through those long tough training days. Very grateful to QR, QT2 and my family for their support. Mahalo!!
IRACELIKEAGIRL TEAM ATHLETE
My road to Kona is probably a little different than most of the other athletes on this blog! I didn't qualify for Kona, but instead won a Kona Dreamin' lottery slot this year! I was automatically entered into the drawing with my Ironman Texas 2019 entry. I honestly didn't even know this lottery existed until I received an email saying I had won. I thought it was a scam until I watched the video and heard Mike Reilly call out my name! Needless to say, I was shocked, and so excited!
Ironman Texas was my first triathlon in nearly 3 years, and it didn't disappoint. I DNF'd IMTX 2014 as my very first Ironman attempt so I had some serious beef with this race. I ended up having an awesome race and had so much fun! Coming off Texas I had almost six full months to prep for Kona and so far, I've had a really amazing training block, hitting some paces and watts I haven't seen in YEARS!
I work full time as a Technical Account Manager for an Oil & Gas software company and am incredibly lucky to have a super flexible schedule. There are still plenty of 4 am wake up calls, mostly to swim before getting to work. I've spent most of my cycling training on Zwift. It's safe, keeps my bike clean, and saves a ton of time! Running is the biggest struggle currently as I train through the Houston heat and humidity. I know it's perfect weather for Kona preparation, but that doesn't make it any less brutal. My coach, Tiffany Johnson, has done an incredible job getting me Kona ready, both mentally and physically. Her workouts are challenging me in new ways, but she stays so in tune with how I'm feeling that she knows when and how we should push harder or back off.
Looking forward to meeting the QR team in Kona!!!
Follow Melissa along the way at @melb.rogers.
THE CUPCAKE CARTEL ATHLETE
I qualified for Kona at Ironman Western Australia last December. This year will be my 8th Kona in a row.
I have been doing triathlon since 1990 and as of today, I have done 37 full Ironman events, 3 Ultraman events and a double Ironman. My best results so far have been to go sub-9 twice at age 47, being an ITU Long Course World Champion and winning a full Ironman (Evergreen 228 in 2017). I also cherish my 3 Ultraman finishes where I ended respectively 1st, 3rd and 2nd.
I am currently on a PRsix – for 2 years, I have ridden QR bikes and wouldn’t change it. I am consistently riding faster than I did on any other bike I owned. My PB so far on a full was at Kona – 4 hours and 37 minutes.
My current set up is:
I’m looking forward to adding another Kona finish to my list of accomplishments!
WATTIE INK. TEAM ATHLETE
The last time I was on the Big Island of Hawaii, I was 16 years old and had just started triathlon. I had only done a few sprint triathlons at this point, but I already knew triathlon would be a huge part of my life. Many of the souvenir shops in Kona carry Ironman World Championship apparel year-round. I walked into one of the shops and decided to get an Ironman hoodie. The woman that checked me out asked if I knew anyone that had competed in Kona. I said, "no, but I'm going to race here one day". I know she didn't take me seriously, but this was the first time I ever expressed my desire to race on the Big Island.
Seven years later at age 22, I raced my first Ironman in Vichy, France in 2018. By this point I had raced at sprint distance, Olympic distance, and 70.3 distance Worlds. The full distance was the final triathlon World Championship to check off my list, and I finally felt like I was ready to qualify. I put a lot of thought into where I wanted to race my first Ironman. I settled on Vichy because I felt the difficult, technical bike course suited me. Also, I love doing destination races! I rationalized that even if I didn't get a Kona slot, I would have the experience of a lifetime! Thankfully, my best friend and experienced Ironman athlete Kara was able to come support me! The race was the most amazing, rewarding, challenging experience of my life. I got tossed around a bit in the swim, but I flew through the bike course. So by the time I got to the run course, I had a 40-minute lead in my Age Group. However, the run is my weakest discipline. Every lap of the bike course, my competition was gaining on me. After gutting it out, I finished in first place and maintained a 20-minute lead!
Since qualifying for Kona, so many things have changed in my life. Shortly after Vichy, I won and set the women's record at a 208mi Ultra road cycling ride in West Texas called the NCOM. I graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in biology and minor in business. Most importantly, I applied to genetic counseling programs and got matched to the program at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences! Genetic counseling is my dream career, and it's even more competitive than medical school with only 30% of all genetic counseling applicants getting matched into programs each year. It's been very difficult to balance training with graduate school in full swing. Kona is in the middle of mid-term exam season! I've had to adjust my goals for Kona based on all of this, and I'll only be on the Big Island a couple days before the race. This might not be the year that I finish in the top 10 of my age group, but I'm going to enjoy myself to the fullest. I just hope to learn from racing alongside the best in the sport. My long term goal is to pursue triathlon as a professional one day, and I hope that Kona 2019 can bring me one step closer to achieving that dream!
QT2 TEAM ATHLETE
I’m very fortunate to say 2019 will be my third trip to Kona - something I don’t take for granted. The effort, training consistency, talent, luck and, most of all, support and sacrifice from my family and friends are the ingredients that have led to the privilege I have to toe the line in Kona on Oct 12th.
After a long and successful tri season this year, I’m focused on the final 5 weeks leading up to the big day. I’m going to use the time to put the final touches on my training - the last bits of necessary volume, sharpening up my swim technique, rounding out my cycle and running speed, taking care of my nutrition and focusing on maintaining a positive outlook that I am counting on to carry me through my race.
With all of the above in the bank, it all comes down to solid execution, smart racing and my speedy PR6. Can’t wait!
WATTIE INK. TEAM ATHLETE
My road to Kona has been a bit non-conventional. In 2017, I did three Ironmans, each was progressively more painful than the one before, and yet I kept forcing myself to finish them because this is how my somewhat faulty mind works. I was in so much pain by the end of 2017 that I struggled to drive to work due to severe pain in both of my hamstrings, and the pain would keep me up at night. In February of 2018, I decided to call a spade a spade and reached out to my amazing master’s swim team for tips on the best orthopedic surgeons in the Boston area who were not all about “conservative” treatment. Two weeks later I knew that my right hamstring was only hanging onto the bone “by a tendril” (the surgeons words) and the left hamstring was not far behind. And in March of 2018 I had my right hamstring surgically reconstructed (as a biomedical engineer, I think a surgery that attaches my muscle to the bone with braided nylon and a PEEK screw is kind of awesome). I spent 6 weeks on crutches and in a hip brace that was so large I dubbed it my exoskeleton. Another 6 weeks of physical therapy, arm biking, one legged bike riding on my trainer, and swimming with my legs strapped together, and then I had the left hamstring reconstructed….another 6 weeks of crutches…even more physical therapy and even more one legged bike riding.
So I would say that my road to Kona started with braided nylon and PEEK screws and the best surgeon I could possibly imagine in March of 2018. I was finally cleared to start running again this week last year (literally, this week one year ago). And to say I could start running, I mean I still had to meet with my physical therapist twice per week and was stuck on the treadmill 80% of the time until March because even short highway overpasses were too much for my atrophied hamstrings. I connected my amazing coach Molly (shout out to the Chris Bagg Coaching Group) with my physical therapist and the two of them both worked with me until December of 2018 when I decided to enter my one and only triathlon of 2018. Hands down the slowest Olympic triathlon I have ever done, including my first triathlon ever where I essentially did the back stroke, wasn’t ever really clipped into my pedals, and ran so slow it’s hard to believe I even finished. But just to be able to finish a triathlon after spending 1/4th of the year on crutches was exhilarating.
And so began 2019. I wish I could tell you about how I balance training with also being a dog mom and a workaholic in a city where the commute can sometimes total 2 hours per day, but honestly, it’s been all about balancing my lack of hamstring strength and hamstring pain with wanting to get back to being a top age group ironman triathlete. I race for Team Wattie Ink, and without the support and love of my teammates I honestly do not know where I would be. I went to training camp in April of this year, my first time ever at a training camp, and despite me crying more or less every night because of fear coupled with actual pain, just being surrounded by people who knew what I had been through and who could pick me up when down, it just meant the world to me. The same can be said for my coach Molly. She has been nothing but supportive and she’s smart enough to know when to see through my bull shit and pull the plug on training when needed.
The day before Ironman lake placid Molly was working at the Wattie tent and I went to see her, not for last minute pointers about race strategy, but just because I was truly terrified about returning to racing Ironman. I was so scared my hamstrings would just not work and I would just shuffle my way to the finish line like I had 3 years ago, I was scared of having a meltdown in front of my family and friends, I was scared I would not even be able to get out of the water (reference to the second half ironman I did this year where I managed to have a panic attack with only 5 other people in the water, coming back is hard). But then the race started, and I just felt like I was home again. Ironman is my passion, it’s what I love, and I just loved being out there suffering with everyone else. I did not love partially bonking on the bike (also more or less like everyone else at Lake Placid) and yet to feel all those things again was amazing, even the “bad” things. I got to the run, and I am admittedly used to having one of the faster runs for the women. This was not the case this year. I did not run awful, but since I was only one year removed from my second surgery, we had just built up my durability enough to finish an Ironman and had not put any speed into place. So imagine my surprise when at mile 12 Molly screams at me “just keep running, everyone else is dying on the course.” And so that’s how it went. I almost relented 2nd place, but at mile 24, I saw my two closest friends and Molly, and all 3 of them said something that amounted to “you have been through too much shit in the last 2 years to give up now” Fair, so I pushed to the finish to finish 2nd in my AG and secure my slot to Kona. I can’t even put into words how it felt to have Mike Riley calling my name again….there were a lot of tears.
And so this brings us to the Quintana Roo. My hamstrings are challenged and so fitting me on a bike with a longer top tube can be challenging. But Bryanna worked with the guys at our bike shop in Boston to make sure I got a set up that would work for me. I raced bikes before I traced triathlon and so I have always said the bike matters little next to the engine that’s on it. But turns out I was wrong, the Quintana Roo is seriously amazing. Hands down the fastest triathlon bike I have ever been on, and I am just so so so grateful for every thing that has happened to me in this past year. I am so grateful to my wonderful surgeon, to my amazing Wattie Ink teammates, to my patient coach, to my even more patient boyfriend, and now to Quintana Roo. I am so so so excited to race this bike in Kona next month.
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