It's race recap time!
Now that race season is in full swing, our seahorses are out kicking butt all across the nation in countless triathlons. For our race recap this week, we spoke with RTTC athlete, Kim Marcis, about her experience in lovely Hawaii for Honu 70.3.
Kim is a mother of three and part-time teacher. We caught up with Kim to hear about racing on the island and to learn exactly how race day went down.
Have you ever been to Hawaii before? Was the weather a lot different from what you're used to training in?
Yes, I have probably been to Hawaii over 20 times. Kona is a very special place for me and the opportunity to race on the Queen K and swim in Hapuna bay was a huge dream come true. While the weather was hot, I was prepared for it, and with the wind and lower humidity, it actually wasn’t as hot as some might imagine for Hawaii.
So, what did your pre-race routine look like the morning of the big race?
I woke up an hour before I needed to catch the shuttle. Usually I eat a banana/almond butter sandwich, but I couldn’t find any bread last minute, so I went with banana, almond butter and half an avocado with salt. I really liked the addition of salt and fat, as it actually was about 2 hours between when I ate and when I actually started the race.
The sun was just starting to rise and we sat outside on the balcony of our hotel room and took it all in. I like to do some visualizations before the race, especially to keep myself from getting caught up in the hype around me.
Sounds beautiful. Have you done this race before or was this your first 70.3?
This was my first Honu! I have done one other 70.3, but the course was drastically different- completely flat with a wetsuit in a lake swim. This was also my first 70.3 with RTTC, and unfortunately I fell skiing exactly 3 months before the race and injured my left knee. RTTC helped me tremendously getting back on my feet after the injury, but this race was not about a PR for me. It was more about getting back out there, sticking with my plan and seeing how it all felt.
What did you think of the ocean swim?
There was quite a bit of apprehension in the days before the swim because the ocean had been quite choppy. My sister and I went out for a trial on Thursday and we were catching waves when we raised our head to breathe on one side. Several athletes I was with were really worried, there was talk of “getting pushed out toward Maui” which did not sound good!
Talking with Mikki helped me remember some strategies for swimming in choppy water and I’m glad I did not spend too much time worrying about it, because the water was super calm the morning of the race! The moment I ran off the beach and jumped into the water I knew it was all going to be awesome.
The rolling start spread out all the racers, and I felt like I had lots of space. I could see straight down to the coral the whole time in the water, fish and urchins all around. I focused on staying calm and steady through the first half, and when I rounded the third turn I started to pull harder. Unfortunately my right foot started to cramp a little, so I had to ease off and keep it pretty steady through the end. I came out of the water feeling great!
What were you thinking as you made it into transition one?
Physically I was feeling great. Mentally there were a million thoughts going through my head, mostly everything I had to remember to do before I mounted my bike: hr monitor on, more sunscreen, make sure there are no kinks in my socks, etc. I really took my time in transition, took a few deep breaths.
Bike time! What did you think about the course? Did you feel good out there in the saddle?
When I got out onto the bike course and first looked down at my garmin I was over 170 bpm. My 70.3 MAF is 160, so I spent the first several miles of the bike trying to calm down and get my HR under control. It was a little challenging to see all these folks whizzing past me, but I took lots of deep breaths and looked around me at the spectacular Queen K.
If you have never ridden on the Queen K it is truly an otherworldly experience. Most of the road is surrounded by black lava flows, so it feels like you are biking through a volcano. And of course you can see the Pacific from almost every point. By relaxing and getting my HR under control, I was also able to eat quite a bit. I had made a variation of homemade Salty Balls (energy nuggets) and I was eating about 2 every half hour for the first 2 hours on the bike. Getting these solid calories in was a big key for me.
The bike course has a huge reputation for being windy, and we all knew the trade winds had come in the day before. But I was still not totally prepared for the raging 30mph crosswind that hit me as I rounded the corner around mile 15. It was partially crosswind and partially headwind for the rest of the climb up to Hawi at mile 30. We all cranked our bikes down to the lower gears and I could see this long line of bikers going super slow into the wind up the hills to Hawi.
I stayed as much as I could at my MAF, which meant even at the top of the hill I still had plenty of energy. After the turn around the wind was at our backs and we were going downhill, so we all started to fly. Mikki had told me if I was feeling good at mile 40 to just turn it on and not worry about any specific HR. So I cranked it for the last 16 miles. My dad was there as my cheer squad- and he is also really into the numbers. He was following my times through the course and he told me that from the Hawi turnaround to the finish I gained 200 places. My race plan really worked!!!
That's amazing! So as you came off the bike, what were you thinking/feeling?
T2 was super confusing! I hadn’t checked it out ahead of time, so I didn’t know where to go- you had to rack your bike in one place and get your T2 bag in another. Then there was a third spot to change your shoes and then pack up your bag again. I took the time to put on my moleskin, which I am convinced saved my feet.
Tell my about your run!
Oh man, the run, yikes. Again, I started out at what I thought was super slow, but when I first looked at my hrm, I was up at 179! My run HR was going to be more like 165. I imagine it partially had to do with the heat, but I couldn’t get my HR below 170 unless I was walking.
As I had suffered a major knee injury, my run training had been significantly reduced and my pace was a big unknown. The course also had short and steep ups and downs, and I was concerned about stressing my knee on these parts. Running, in the big picture, is my strongest sport, and I tried to just relax into it and focus on my form.
Everyone around me was in a great mood, I think with the concern over the swim chop and the windy bike ride over, we all realized we had made it to the run and were on our way to the finish. I started eating Clif Shots right at the end of the bike, so I kept with the shots and water. I also had two bottles of my own NBS hydration and stayed away from the Gatorade the whole race, which kept my stomach happy. By mile 9 it hit me I really was going to finish- despite hardly being able to walk 3 months ago. I let the HR go and went as hard as I could for the final miles. It just feels amazing to be able to finish strong!
What was your favorite part of the race?
The swim! You feel like you are in another world. And I love the feeling of starting a triathlon, after all of the planning, prep and travel. To have the start of this tri be in one of the most beautiful places in the world was a total dream.
What was your least favorite part?
The run course. It was on a golf course, so it had these short and steep ups and downs as you went around the fairways and under roads. I only trained on flat roads, and I was super concerned about my knee giving out on the steep downhills.
How did Honu compare to the other 70.3 you've done?
The only other 70.3 I’ve done I didn’t have a race plan, so I basically went as hard as I could until I hit the wall. This happened just a few miles into the run, so the rest of the run was torture. During the Honu, even though the course was much more challenging, I felt in control the whole time. While I was super tired at the finish, I had the sense that “Yes, my body is totally capable of this, and even more…"
We all know how much time and dedication training for a triathlon takes. Is there anyone you would like to thank?
Oh, so many people! First of all my coach, Mikki. She is super calming and rational. I tend to be more emotional and sensitive, so talking things through with her has given me great insight and perspective. She helped me learn about my own tendencies and applied them to how I approach the race.
I am a mother of three young kids- aged 7, 6 and 3. I also work half-time as a teacher. Fitting my training into my life as a wife, mother, and teacher this spring has taken a huge amount of support from family and friends. My amazing parents are able to babysit, and my dad came to Hawaii as our support crew. i sent my sister a bike just over one year ago, and told her she should check out triathlon. She is a total natural, and finished Honu as well with me. Having a sister as a partner in triathlon has been invaluable, even though she lives across the ocean in Honolulu.
And of course I'd like to thank my husband, who has made countless breakfasts, lunches and dinners for our family while I chat with him from the trainer. He puts the kids to bed while I’m at the pool late. And he hands me my bike shoes on those really cold mornings when I’m making excuses not to ride, and he tells me to get my butt out there on the bike and embrace the cold. His support and belief in me has been my main inspiration.
Kim's race recap is enough to make anyone want to get out there and experience Honu 70.3 for themselves!
If you want to learn more about training with Rising Tide Triathlon Coaching and the great things our athletes are doing, click HERE. Don't forget to follow us on FaceBook and Instagram @risingtidetri for daily inspiration.