Kona. I’ve changed…
Admittedly, I’ve been pretty slack on the old blog posts and updates this year. My year was planned during the off-season of 2015 and has been through various amendments! Originally I was registered for Ironman France in early June. When the European Football Championships were announced the travel prices and accommodation prices went sky high. I decided to change my focus to Ironman UK, some 6 weeks later and revisit where my Ironman career began 3 years ago.
My training went as best as it ever had done. I enjoy the training just as much as the racing. Executing the Ironman race is just putting together all that work and appreciating the process that got you there.
For me, Ironman UK felt like one hell of a struggle and a long, hot day of racing. As I mention in my race report, the run was survival mode. It wasn’t until after the race when I’d analysed my splits and seen my overall position that I could see how much all the other athletes struggled too and I had actually raced pretty well.
It’s hard to tell what position you’re in during an Ironman, even more so with a rolling start. Having a spotter with updates will struggle to be accurately up to date. It’s all about racing as hard and sensibly as you can against yourself and the course.
Finishing in 6th place in my age group has made me realise a dream of going to the Big Island and racing at the Ironman World Championships. Some people have had a childhood dream to race the Big Dance and some have spent years trying to qualify. Being at the roll down on Monday made me appreciate how much it means to people that make the cut.
I’ve raced motocross my entire sporting life and got ok at it. I wanted to race at the highest level I could in that. Dad and I raced some relatively big races, winning Championships, but we weren’t ever going to turn pro or travel with the sport. We loved it and raced as hard as we could every weekend. When I took up Ironman in 2013 I didn’t have a clue what everyone was going on about racing Kona. As I started to learn more about the sport and understand what qualifying for Kona was, I floated the idea with myself that it should ultimately be the aim – become as good as you can. If that is enough to reach the heights of Kona then that’s great.
I think I have a big enough ego to want to aim for the pinnacle of whatever I’m doing. Whether that’s in my working life or sporting life. If I took up guitar I’d want to eventually be good enough to release a hit! I work hard in the background, training everyday and pushing myself as far as I can. As it turned out, Ironman UK came together for me and I was able to realise that goal of Kona qualification.
It was tough. My coach Paul Savage has been incredible. I went to visit Paul with a sore ITB back in 2012 and since then he has trained me from first timer to Kona qualifier in the space of 3 years. All credit to him and his vast knowledge. I stick to whatever he tells me and knock out the sessions as best I can. I can’t speak highly enough of Paul’s ability to motivate me to new things.
My partner Lynsey. She has been there since the beginning and it’s a big call to go to Kona for the both of us. We are getting married next year and to be digging into a hefty chunk of money for my sport is hard to justify but she has encouraged me to be the best I can be and I love her for that. Unfortunately Lynsey cannot be with me in Kona due to budgets and also her best friends wedding taking place the same day!
My parents are amazing. Dad and I love to race, always have done. We are a great team despite all my sports being identified as individual efforts, there is an ever present team behind me regardless. Whatever I decide to do, they never question it, just encourage it. Mum and Dad’s support is never overlooked and they have been at each of my races no matter where it is and they’ve seen me cross every finish line and are such an amazing sight for me.
It’s been hard to sum up my feelings towards Kona. Everyone is different. Like I say, it’s never been my life long dream, but it has been something that has intrigued me since I came into the sport. I hope that doesn’t sound unappreciative or condescending. Once I set my mind to it, it did become my dream and to have the opportunity to test myself against the very best on the toughest course in the world is something that excites me beyond words. I could not have turned down the slot, I don’t want to resent the decision and be sat watching the race on October 8th knowing I should’ve been there. I need to do this.
Bring it on.