Kona Race Review

Kona Race Review

06/01/2015 in General, Race Reviews

On August 16 I learned that I had a stress fracture in my sacrum and stress reaction in my femur so I took 4 weeks completely off, which meant skipping 70.3 World Championships so I could be healthy for Ironman World Championships.  When I say completely off, I mean 0 ft of any working out and on crutches 90% of the time to aid healing.  I got to watch Bad Teacher, The Other Guys, Step Brothers, over and over because it seemed one of them was always on.  This brought us to 3 weeks from race day when I started to be active again.  During the next three weeks I did some shorter threshold stuff but kept everything in recovery knowing that the stress fracture had healed some but not all the way so I had to make sure not to “over do it” in the final 3 weeks.

Heading into race week my coaches and I were all shocked at how the rest seemed to vault me forward more than it set me back and we were excited that we seriously had a shot at winning Kona after the nutritional disaster of 2013.
bikeWhen the canon fired I found myself on one of the best feet possible, Pete Jacobs.  To our left was the Andy Potts driven train and on the right was the Jan Frodeno train.  For the first 500 meters it was the perfect place to be…until the trains merged.  Then I was thrusted into a washing machine of arms and legs.  After about a minute I figured out who this ogre that I kept whacking was….Bevan Docherty.   So I let up for a few seconds and got on his feet.  The rest of the swim was pretty boring, just swimming strong to hold onto Bevan’s toes.  When we got to the end of the pier the pace really picked up sprinting for land.  I did not partake, I just kept my pace and came out with the lead group knowing my move would come on the bike.

In transition I felt like a pin ball bouncing off other pros.  I cannot imagine what the place must look like for the age groupers because the 20+ pros in the lead pack were all pushing and shoving for every inch.

The moment I mounted the bike I knew it was game on.  I passed a lot of guys in a hurry not even bothering to take note of who made the lead pack.  Before the turnaround at the top of the Kuakini Hwy (mile 5) I was at the front driving the pace.  I kept the tempo strong but I knew I would have to kill myself to breakaway from a peloton of 20 of the most elite triathletes in the world.  So I switched into my Abu Dhabi strategy of ride strong but wait for the wind.  I spent much of the first 35 miles on the front riding at 85% biding my time…
Pulling trainthen the wind hit and I dropped the hammer and opened a gap of 75 seconds in just 5 miles.
H_American (1)It was at Hapuna Beach where the race really changed. I started feeling a pulsing in my glute, then it was throbbing.  I started to ride out of the saddle and in road position to see if I could get it to release and I just got worse.  It got so bad I could barely push down on the pedals with my left leg.  I recognized the pain and it was the stress fracture in my sacrum.  FUCK.  I pulled the plug while leading, if it is this bad on the bike there is 0% chance I could run a decent marathon.  I throttled back to 125 heart rate and decided that once the peloton caught me I would ride on the back and get sucked along back to transition.

At the base of Hawi Twalsiek and Keinle passed me and I didn’t even bother, I was waiting for the train.  Finally the train caught me about the turnaround right as we grabbed our special needs bags…or so I thought.  I was yelling 31 and nobody had my bag.  I stopped and kept yelling 31 and this young girl was shuffling through the bags and looked up in a panic and said there is no 31.  Then a second volunteer ran over and was quickly flipping through the bags and confirmed that there was no bag 31.  I remounted my bike and saw Riccitelo at the penalty tent and yelled how the fuck do they lose a special needs bag.  I was raging mad…if last year was a disaster this year was a catastrophe.
ShotI had to take a break so I got off my bike and tried to relax my glute and collect myself.  After about a minute on got back on my bike and started the ride of shame back to transition.  Then Andrew Messick pulled up next to me on a motorbike and showed me my bag and said that they had it at special needs, “I should’ve stopped, but I will drop off your bag at the next aid station.”  Ironically I had stopped for over a minute and TWO volunteers didn’t see my bag but miraculously Andrew Messick had it on his motorbike.  My blood boiled and it was a darn good thing I had 50 miles to collect myself.
Aunt HelenI slowed as I approached transition and talked to my wife and coaches.  All I kept doing was apologizing ashamed for failing to perform at what we were capable of.  I walked the first mile of the “run” course and retired from the race.  An X-ray the next Thursday showed that the stress fracture was still there and that I needed to take 3-6 months off to let it heal.

Thank you to all that supported me and a special thanks to my sponsors, especially Orca, Orbea, and Mavic, my coaches Charlie Kern and Bob Duncan, and most of all my family, friends, and wife.  2014 was a the most consistent of my career with a lot of ups but lacked the happy ending we all want.

On to 2015!


  • Gabriel Mercier 05:16h, 07 January Reply

    You are one the the most exciting triathletes to watch and and by far my favorite. You speak your mind and tell it how it is and that’s awesome. I to am going through a touph injury and is keeping me from racing and hope you get better soon and best of luck. I know one day you will be up on that kona podium.

  • Jan 15:24h, 13 January Reply

    Hope to see you crashing course bike splits next season. Get well ! From estonia

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