We're getting close. Very close. As August has ticked by I've started to think more about race day and get carried away with what I'm doing and the equipment I'm using. Over the course of this week however I've had my sensible head on and have made some 'sensible' decisions. Most of these decisions revolve around the fact that (for me) Kona is all about the experience, not the race. On the day I qualified I knew that it was a once in a lifetime thing, nothing short of a lottery win or a rediculous sponsorship deal could see me financially able to return year after year, as the odds are pretty rediculous of either of those things happening then we need to enjoy the 'holiday' as well as doing the race. Don't get me wrong, I've looked at previous results and if everything clicked into place I'd be in with a shout of an Age Group placing (or even a win) but that would be rediculous. The people that win Age Groups in Hawaii live like Pro's, they don't work my hours, they're professionally coached and they'll be riding bikes worth many thousands of pounds. These are some of Worlds best Age Group athletes, the thought of me rocking up and challenging them should be an insult to their dedication. It's not often that I let my head make sensible decisions, but 'normally' when it comes to a battle with the credit card then the head will win through. Occasionally I wish I could just bite the bullet but more often than not I know it's the right decision long term.
A lot of these decisions will come at the expense of a bit of speed/time but unless by some miracle I miss out on a podium spot by less than 5mins I know that long term (and financially) they'll be the right decisions.
I'll start with the biggie - THE BIKE!!!! - The seed was sewn when my training buddy Phill ordered a new Cervelo P3C.
I've made no secret of the fact that I loathe my Quintana Roo, from new the standard wheels on it have seemed to fall apart every other ride. I've found that I do most of my training with my ZIPP 404's on it because I just can't trust the spokes not to come loose or break on the standard wheels which means yet another trip back to the bike shop. Then there's the noise!! It creaks and groans like a bike that's 30 years old. Stand up on the pedals and it becomes embarrassingly loud, it's had the bottom bracket adjusted and then changed, it's had seatposts/headsets etc removed, greased and replaced, it's had 4 different mechanics look at it and 'think' they've solved the problem and most recently it's had all new chain/rings/cassette etc etc yet still it creaks and groans. In truth I should have just taken it back to the shop and insisted they replace it after a couple of months but I'm too casual and easy going so I just trust people to get it fixed eventually.
So with all this buzzing around my head I started looking and looking and looking!!!
The outcome of all this looking is......................... I'll be racing Hawaii on my QR!!!
Why?? Well, other than the fact that I haven't got £3k+ to spend on a new bike I'm actually comfortable on it. When I've got my ZIPP's on it then it feels fast enough and for all it's creaking and groaning it's never actually failed me. It got me to Kona with a 5hr bike split at Florida, it recently got me round 91miles and 4800ft of ascent at Kernowman averaging 20mph. It's noisy, it's annoying and at times it's embarrassing but it's what I've got and I trust it to do a job.
Would I still ride a different bike if someone offered? Hell yeah, of course I would. It's not going to happen though.
Next up is NUTRITION!
Last year I discovered a drink called THE EDGE and I got on really well with it. I used it in Florida along with NUUN tablets and it all seemed to work nicely. I carried all my nutrition on the bike with me and I kopped a bit of flak because it was extra weight and because the two bottles sticking up from the back of my seat were hugely un-aero so this year I thought I'd use the official race nutrition. The problem is that Gatorade is a pain to get hold of here and I don't really like it. Powerbar also have a 'special' new drink which I don't seem to be able to get hold of. Is it worth the risk? Is the time I lose carrying extra weight much more than I'll gain by not needing to slow down at drinks/special needs stations? I've no idea, but a worst case scenario is probably only a couple of minutes. I can live with that!
Finally is the choice of WHAT TO WEAR!
This has been a biggie, the most likely to change. I'll happily admit that I'm worried about the heat (and the wind) and the influx of all this white, reflective, cooling gear has been an eye opener. Firstly though we'll hit the swim!!
Hawaii is a non-wetsuit swim which suits me down to the ground. Because of this I bought a new North Devon Tri go faster trisuit which should help me speed through the water. Immediately I noticed a couple of problems though..... I tried it out at a squad swim session and came back with rub marks under my arms, that though wasn't as much of a problem as the fact that the back of it is BLACK and even here in normal temperatures it feels hot. Wearing it in Kona is simply out of the question. So the search started........
I wanted something that wouldn't cause me unnecessary heat, something white maybe (it seems to be the trend) and ideally something that will make me quicker in the water. So after hours of searching the internet I've finally decided that I'm going to wear ................... my old club trisuit!
It's not quick in the water, infact compared to a top hydro-style trisuit it'll probably cost me 3-4mins, it's not cooling in any way, but it's not black either though and it got me through IM Florida ok. I found trisuits that come in white and also found companies that do 'cooling' race gear, but I enjoy racing in my club kit, I'm proud to be a member of North Devon Tri and more than that....................... when Shelly is out on the course watching, when my clubmates are watching online, I'll be visible! I won't just be one of the hundreds out there dressed from head to toe in white because that's what Torbjorn Sindballe did. Do I really want to spend in excess of £100 buying race kit that I'll probably only wear once? My ego isn't that big, my need to go faster isn't that great. What's a few minutes over the course of 140.6miles? My big race was the one that got me here, this one IS the prize.
So, come Ironman Hawaii my kit will be just as it was in Florida unless of course you're reading this as a potential sponsor in which case I'm as shallow as the next man. Of course I'll race in your kit and ride your bike (it's not QR is it?), you know where I am ;-)