Whoa. Kona is here. How is that possible?! Tomorrow I *get* to race the IRONMAN World Championship – surreal is an understatement!
I arrived in Kona, solo, a week early to acclimate as much as possible and for a little quiet time – bliss for this introvert! I love my tribe and wouldn’t get to a start or finish line without their support, but the alone time was much needed and has been so rejuvenating. You know your pre-race has been relaxing when you read two books in three days! Aside from reading, the week’s been filled with sitting in the a/c, workouts in the heat of the day, hanging out with my rad Coeur Sports crew, drinking all the iced almond milk lattes + kombucha at Kona Coffee + Tea, and cruising Ali’i on my $90 Walmart 18-speed mountain bike.
More on pre-race details later, but first, the six things I’ve learned chasing my light and training for my first Kona :)
It’s all about staying focused.
I won’t lie… it’s been a long year training for this race. I qualified last September, before Kona 2015, and even though I took a solid six weeks completely off, I’ve still been on a structured training schedule for 11 months. That’s a really long time to stay focused and mentally “on,” scheduled down to the minute most days to fit it all in. Long as the year’s been, though, I wouldn’t change it for anything. Each workout – checked off one at a time because looking at the big picture was too overwhelming – brought me one step closer to October 8. Approaching my training one workout at a time was the best way to keep my head in the game. Because when you’re consistent + focused – even if that’s just five minutes at a time on the trainer – that’s where the magic happens.
This training cycle hasn’t been without setbacks. Most notably: A little posterior tib stress reaction this spring that sidelined my running for about six weeks. While not running for that long kinda sucked, it forced me to take deep breath and step back. It’s all in your perspective and how you choose to react to any given situation. You can let it knock you down or let it propel you forward. Always choose the latter. And, remember: You’re resilient and can get through anything that comes your way – including the crosswinds on the Queen K!
We’ve all had those workouts where we didn’t think we could give anymore. But, you know what? There’s (almost) always a little bit left in the tank. There were plenty of intervals I wanted to stop pedaling or runs when I wanted to walk home after a trip to the porta potty, but after some positive self-talk, there it was: the drive to keep going. Never give up. Because you’re capable of so much more than you imagine.
Those same workouts, the ones where you wanna throw in the towel, as well as the ones where you seem to dance on the pedals and fly on the run… this journey’s been one constant reminder that I’m alive and to embrace it all. Embrace every single second – even the uncomfortable ones – and soak it all up! I’m ready to do exactly that tomorrow!
Always find the fun.
When it all boils down, we all started this sport because it was fun. It was fun learning new skills… fun meeting new friends… fun finding new edges. It’s easy, however, to get caught up in it all – the paces, the power, the PRs – and forget about that fun. When I found myself dreading another early morning alarm for masters, another two-hour trainer ride or another run in the snowy darkness, I refocused and thought of why I do triathlon – because it’s my light and brings me so much joy. Those crap workouts turn around pretty quickly when you sing out loud to Girl Talk during a tough trainer ride, yell weeeeeee while bombing down Wisco descents that make your ears pop, and always, ALWAYS remember to smile. You can bet I’ll be grinning ear to ear on Saturday, too :)
It takes a tribe.
There’s no way anyone gets to an ironman start or finish line without an amazing support crew. There aren’t really words to describe my gratitude to everyone who’s supported me and this crazy lifestyle – my number one, Nick ♥, fantastic coach Andy, my amazing family + friends, team Coeur Sports, Argon 18, Sound Probiotics, pure clean powder, HOKA ONE ONE, ROKA Sports, Smith Optics. Biggest high-fives! Thank you, all, for everything.
With that, here we go! I’m ready to chase the light on Saturday – the exclamation point on a dream that turned into a goal, and with some hard work and determination, it turned into reality! – and, I couldn’t be more excited!
I’m bib 1848. Track me on ironman.com (women’s AG start is 7:10a Kona time, or 12:10p CT) or on twitter + instagram at @erinklegstad (Nick + my sis, Ami, are my personal photographers and will be updating all day!)!
Chase the light, whatever and wherever it may be for you. Chase it. -Tyler Knott Gregson