Friday, March 8, 2019

First race of the season was.....

N
Not ideal.

Dusting off the triathlon gear, shaking out the cobwebs and toeing the line for the first race of the year is generally one of my favorite days.   This year it was for the Desert Tri- Olympic race,  I raced here 2 years ago and had an amazing race.  I loved the entire race and was so pumped to race, Oceanside 70.3, which was up next.  Feeling fit and knowing I still had a solid block to gain a bit more fitness is the ideal place to be in.

Well, let's just say Sunday was the opposite.  I was excited to get out there, had a ton of fun with teammate Polly on our road trip and swanky Travelodge Accommodations.  But race morning, I did not have the usual fire in my belly.  There was a lot of waiting around, and I was thinking that when the gun goes off I will be all in!  The gun went off and I took off but was not all in.  I swam hard and had a good swim but was not loving it.  Onto the bike, my jam, but the watts were low and the mojo was still in San Diego.  Lap 1 I worked hard to keep a few guys in sight and lap 2 I was dying as if I had ridden at 125% and was blowing up.  Calories were good but I was not.  I seriously thought about stopping, but who DNF's an Olympic.  I began dreading the run,  working on my attitude for the run. All the good mental talks about stay in the moment,  get after this,  why the F do I do this,  the run will be awesome, I may die on the run,    My transition was humorous, why we race a B race before an A race.  My socks were in a ball, my race number was already clipped,  my shoes were reversed, I forgot to take my feet out of my shoes so I was running in my bike shoes and my bike was the furthest away because I forgot to register for the race so I was literally the highest number and the furthest away spot to rack my bike.  I take off running and am feeling okay, I purposely did not look at my pace but accidentally did at .75 mile and it was not pretty.   I knew then it was not going to be a repeat of 2017 where I crushed the run.  Today I wanted to finish.  I took 1 mile at a time and just felt terrible, turned my watch around and just ran.  But honestly at mile 4, I was done, I did not quit, did not walk but my mojo was now in another country.   I jogged it in.

I was not happy at the finish line, but pretended to be for a hot minute and was gracious to the volunteers and then had a bit of a private tantrum.  And then it was time to get out of there.  I should be happy with my placement and I realize it may seem a bit arrogant, but I am hard on myself when I don't hit the goals  I struggle to find the silver lining.  I am working on this, promise. 

Mom, Sis and my nieces 
Why? What happened?  Who the F knows....had a long chat with the coach, lots of speculation but best to put it behind me and look forward!   After all, needed to jam home to get ready for an 85th Birthday party for my mom, that night at my house and unpack and repack to catch at 6:25 plane to Denver on Monday AM.
Mom and her friends 

The birthday party was great and a solid reminder of what really counts in life!  Family and health! I can only hope to be living large like my mom and her friends at 85. 

Denver was 1 degree, yes 1 degree when I arrived.  Let's be clear I ran on the TM and swam at an indoor pool.  I walked across the street and to and from the Uber. But I did get to have dinner with JD.

Monday, February 11, 2019

the yikes zone...

Before I discovered triathlon, when I was a youngin in my 30's,  yes I am old.  I was an avid downhill skier.  Instead of triathlon camps I went to ski camps, yes I am a camper at heart.   My last camp was the Steep and Deep Camp in Jackson Hole, WY.  I was nervous as get out for the camp as I was likely, and as it turned out, the least accomplished skier.  Our Coach was simply bad ass and her goal was for us daily, yes daily, to get into the "yikes" zone. That was out of our comfort zone.  For me, that meant a narrow chute, Corbets Coulier, that was a drop of 10 feet, followed by a quick right turn to avoid
smashing into one of the rock walls and another big jump on the mountain.  The camp was 5 days.  Day 1 we laid out our "yikes goals"  Each day I attempted my goals.  I was in the yikes zone but chickened out for 2 days at Corbets and on day 3 I woke up and just f'ing did it!  I was scared out of my mind and did it, no crashing.  But the jump was scarier and each day I tried and skied off and did not do it.  Day 5 I was on the hook for it, I tried and bailed 4 times and then waived the white flag. But at 3:45pm last run, I went for it and I crashed hard... but I tried.  Nothing broke but my ego. But I at least was all in 

Shortly after that I started in triathlon and on one of our annual ski vacations I was bombing the moguls and clipped and edge and bit it hard, yard sale kind of wipe out and my knee tweaked and everything hurt, I was 30 days out from Oceanside 70.3.  My passion for skiing was morphing to triathlon.  I was no longer willing to risk the injury, I was working so hard at my triathlon goals, I did not want to get sidelined due to a skiing injury.  I tried skiing blue runs, dialing it back, but shocking that is not me.  I am all in, in line when the lift open, ski until my quads are burning, taking risks, skiing the moguls, small jumps and going fast!  So I hardly ski anymore. 

But I do love triathlon!  And while I am not a fan of taking risks I descend fast!  But that is about fun.

Last week I felt like I was in the yikes zone, not in the same way as dropping into a chute but in an out of my comfort zone kind of way.  Coach is challenging me in new ways in the swim, bike and run.  It's about power and top end work, a place I don't go to very often.  A workout that looks easy in TP but man can 15 seconds in the pool cause a burn, 30 seconds on a hill or 20 seconds standing all out on the bike cause a lot of pain.  Max  HR's and burning that makes you want to curl up for a few minutes.   The volume of training is not high and the workouts while burn and cause 180bpm did not seem to take a toll.  But they did, I found myself Sunday with a high resting HR, as in 10 bpm high, feeling sluggish, hungry and grumpy.   

Dare I say, we are onto something?  The jury is out, but come March 3, 1st race of the season we will see!  April 6- the season opener Oceanside 70.3 is the real tell!   This is my 5th season with my coach and well he's definitely got my attention.  People often switch coaches for a change, we ge tired of the same workouts, the same progressing.  A  good coach will keep your workouts and program-changing so the athlete continues to grow and stay interested.  

And as I am always learning as a coach, my athletes are seeing some different training as well!  Change is good.  Some feel, hey this is working let's not change it up, but how do get better without change?   And well with goals of getting better at 52, it's lofty I know.  Maybe I will not beat my best Oceanside 70.3 time, but I have goals about where I want to place and how I will execute the race.

Speaking of skiing.... if you did not see Lindsay Vonn's last run, I encourage you to watch it. And to read this  - what a legend!!   https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/10/sports/skiing/lindsey-vonn-retired.html



Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Garmin swim rant....


I am 99% sure I have ranted on this before...but I am ranting again.  

Yes, a Garmin is great for tracking your swim yard!!! Yes, a Garmin can track your times.  NO, you should not be hitting the button every time you come in and send off. 

As a masters swimmer and a masters coach the #1 observation I have on this topic is in lane 1 and lane 2, the 1:15 and 1:20 send-off lanes, I see 0 as in NO ONE, pushing buttons as they come into the wall or as they send off.  What I do see coming in is tough and look at the clock and an underwater streamline off the wall that does not include pushing buttons.  

#2 the intervals are tight (when swimming on base or even more on -5) the focus is on swimming not buttoning (new word I made up)

Learn to use the clock and understand your times.   

The further down the pool, as in lanes on a slower send-off, the more I see of obsessive Garmin button pushing.   Connect the dots...

Sure, use the Garmin to track time and distance!  

If you have set you HAVE to remember the times then likely is an all-out hard set and use the  "button pushing" effort to streamline and get to the wall faster. 

I had a soul-crushing swim set this am.  LOTS of ALL OUT, did you get ALL OUT, 25's.   I can recall my times for 30 x 2, not each one but I could report back to my coach where I came in for most of them, how I felt gasping for air , and what the progression was.  I started my Garmin when I dove in and stopped it when I hopped out- I have total swim time and yardage and I use my brain for the rest. 

Got it?  
Any ??? 

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

When the off season is moving to THE season

Image result for its the new year now what
I started this blog Jan 2 and now it is Feb 5, fkc!  I have tried to finish is so many times... every time I need to edit it a bit due to lag time.... but I am putting it out there now. 

I wrote this article for D3 Multisport-   https://tinyurl.com/y9s3v3pu 

 " The Off Season is Ending, Now What?"   You can read the article above for more insight but it has generated some questions and thoughts from others.

The bottom line is that its almost February and regardless of whether it is -30 or 88 degrees it's time to get focused!   Sure there are the exceptions but most are looking forward and 2019 is upon us. 

If you have not laid out your season's goals, its time.  I have all my athletes do it and we review them.  At the minimum identify your A races and goals for each-  whether those be time goals, nutrition or mental goals, lay them out.  I encourage a stretch goal (go big), a reasonable goal and what if everything happens plan.   So call it A and B goals, I don't do C goals, but I do think about how to handle "THAT' race, you lose your goggles, your chain is off and you have a flat, you drop your nutrition, you forgot socks and you hit 11 porta potties- what will you do?  Quit or roll with it.  The big goals are good to have- I have mine printed out and on my trainer and in my bathroom- a daily reminder of what I really want!  

You are "fat"  I put this in italics as I am sure you are NOT fat, you may feel that way due to some extra holiday lbs.   Well, get on the scale, assess the damage and then figure out what needs to change.  Likely you gained it in 4-6 weeks, so take the same approach to lose it.  The best way is to log your food and drink!  My Fitness Pal.   OR maybe you need to gain muscle?   What are you eating and when?  

What is your weakness and what are you going to do about it?  If you complain about your swim every year, but you continue to swim 2x a week on your own and say you are a terrible swimmer then guess what you will have the same swim.  Is it the bike or run or strength- what is YOUR plan, that is different, from last year to get better?

Asses what worked last year and what did NOT.  Don't keep doing the same thing and expect a change in performance. 

How about life goals?  Do you need more sleep? if yes, how will you get it? 

Alcohol-  people can argue all day on whether it is good or bad.  Honestly, it does not really matter - what matters are your goals?    I can argue that it does not help you lose weight nor does it help performance.   Only you know if you need to or if you should cut back.  I do encourage everyone to quit for 3 weeks- give it a go.  "test the brakes" per se.

I don't encourage you to QUIT everything- it's just not sustainable.  More along the lines of this below- when we do extremes it generally works for a few weeks and then you don't just fall off the wagon you are eating 3 boxes of thin mints at midnight with a bottle of vodka.  



NO
YES
Cut all sugar
Cut processes sugar- candy, sweets
NO processed foods
Limit what you eat out of a package when possible
NO alcohol
No alcohol for 21 days but if you  have a beer don’t flip out
I’m getting up every day at 5am when you have been up at 7am
3 days a week I will get a workout done before work
Lose 20 lbs
Lose 5 lbs – 1.25/week
Train 20 hours a week (when you have been training 5)
Increase by 10-20% /week

Be smart, get on track and get after it!  

Friday, November 23, 2018

Ironman Cozumel

The goal was run well, nail my nutrition and KQ.  Well I KQ'd!  But did not run well and as for the nutrition, the win was I did not puke or have diarrhea (which I have at every other hot humid IM) the lose was I had severe leg cramps for 23 miles, likely an electrolyte or salt issue.  So that is STILL a work in progress,


Let's break it down. 

SWIM- point to point with the current, advertised and reported to be "amazing, like an aquarium,  #1 Ironman swim"    Due to a NE storm we had a lot of chop, the marine life I was was mostly plastic bags and trash and the sea life were jellyfish.   I was tangled up twice in lobster pot ropes so I suppose that was a bit of a challenge.  It was fast for sure but not "amazing"   52:33

BIKE- 3 loops, lots of wind as promised.  I actually loved the bike courses.  9 miles protected with a tailwind, then 9 miles crosswinds, 9 miles headwind - paying for the tailwind.  I felt great on the bike from start to finish.   Sure the wind was tough, sure I got tired but each lap was consistent and I did not drop power towards the end.   

My nutrition plan was nearly spot on, other than forgetting the GF jelly sandwiches and having to sub gu's, the rest was as planned.   Each lap was progressively warmer 78, 86, 89 degrees and with increasing winds.   The big rides in Ocotillo primed for this long hot windy bike ride.    Aid stations every 10 miles and well stocked with bottles of ice water which I poured over my head, down my back.   I got a new helmet  The Giro Vanquish Aero Helmet and I love it. It is not the most aero helmet but its super light and has a lot of vents for cooling.  Knowing I overheat I am willing to sacrifice a bit of aerodynamics to keep my body cool.   I finished the bike feeling strong and happy with the bike split 5:34:46.  I rode at 70% and VI 1.01 so I SHOULD have been set up for a strong run.

RUN  I headed out feeling great!   light on my feet, cooled down with my long sleeve cool shirt, hat and running shorts. Holding back and feeling like this was going to be the run I have been working towards.  At mile 3 it felt like someone grabbed the inside of my thigh just above my knee, as in I nearly buckled. Wow, what was that?  I tried to shake it off and kept running.  By mile 4 the pain had traveled up to my groin and I was trying to figure out what the heck was happening. It occurred  to me this was cramping, something new and it was not fun.  By mile 6 it was both legs and WOWZA this was going to be interesting.  I was miserable and it got real so fucking fast that this was going to be a mother of a run.   I knew I had a solid lead but with the pain, I was in I began to worry.  My focus became run aid station to aid station and just survive.  John was amazing, supportive and all over ( in fact he ran 30 miles that day) but I was in the hurt locker and was trudging along.  I was worried I was going to get passed.  This is the part of Ironman that is so mental, it was staying in the moment, using the mental tools (many of which came from The Brave Athlete- Calm the Fck Down and How Bad Do You Want It ) So much of Ironman is mental.  I have an arsenal and I used many of the techniques, thumb tapping, counting to 100, visualizing Roo running, knowing that my body can go further and on and on.  I have 0 pictures of me running because John said I just looked miserable.  Even the final 2 miles when I knew I had the win, it was so fcking hard.  The magical finish line which was up a giant ramp into lights that were blinding was a struggle. I crossed the line and was heading down the other side and could see the catchers like 50 feet away and then it got dicey, black spots, weaving, I hit a barricade and lights out.  Wheelchair and med tent.  They were quick to tap the IV and I was panting like a dog so out came the O2 and the cramps were seizing up so then came some magical Mexcian spray that was lidocane, anti-inflammatory and who knows what else.   You could see my legs still working it was crazy.   The added something to the IV and finally, the cramping stopped.   My temp was 102 so my core was hot.  


To say I am disappointed with my race would be an asshole thing to do as I punched my ticket to Kona.  So yes I am happy with that but am so disappointed in my run but I am damn proud of persevering.  It was awful but quitting was never an option, it was about survival! 

Would I go back to Cozumel- NO.    Did I have fun ? Yes with John, Monica and Cindy we had a blast- lots of laughs from the 3 ft salmon to the 9th meal of rice, to the swim cap on the water faucet to be sure we did not accidentally use the tap water, the lack of building code in Cozumel, the post-race nachos and beer and the AM spiked smoothie-, Marty the 3ft iguana in our backyard, the compound we lived in with metal gates and bolts....  we had fun! Racing with friends and in this case also my athetes is a double win.   

For the race- my recommendation is to rent a house-  it is crazy inexpensive, near the finish line so you can walk to reg, walk from the finish.  We rode to bike drop off and taxi to swim practice. I like to eat my own food pre-race, especially in a 3rd world country,  and it's a lot of fun to have a group in a house.   We stayed in hacienda sombrero!    No car necessary.   Fly into Cozumel NOT Cancun, even if you save $$.  Taking the ferry over is a pain and with the storm, we had people we sick as dogs.  I used Tri Bike Transport as it was only $100 more than on American Airlines and I did not have to worry about my bike not making it due to weight on the plane.  On Cindy's flight, 15 bikes did not make it.  Also, you run the risk of damage in when you are on an Island there are fewer resources to fix it.   Post race we ate and drank on the town- which is probably fine all the time as tourism is their survival.   I am thrilled to say NONE of us got sick!!  Thank goodness...  


And now.... eating gluten, drinking alcohol, eating cookies.  A much-needed offseason or really some nonstructured time.  Today I rode 2.5 hours on my road bike and did not care about power, nutrition or hydration.  I had leftover pie for breakfast and a PBJ on the bike.  When I am regimented for so long I need a "pass" for a bit to just not care about how many g of protein I am getting, how many electrolytes, micronutrients....blah blah blah!  


December will be great- tons of travel!  First up is a very cool conference next weekend! Outspoken - Women in Triathlon Conference next weekend.  Outspoken is an opportunity for women in triathlon to connect with like-minded women, hear from industry leaders, and develop leadership skills related to their role in triathlon. The summit will provide a rich forum that will develop strong voices, inspire others and advocate for change in the sport you love. Together, summit attendees will work to elevate women's triathlon and women in the business of triathlon through partnership, community, a focus on solutions, and skill development.

From there to Reno for my other job.  Home for a few days then to Tucson for Johns marathon!  Then 2 days in Coronado for work and then to Boulder for the holidays!   Fun times... As for 2019- more on that later  

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

It's OVER

#TGKIO


Wanna take a guess?  Thank God Kona is Over.  I am not going to lie; I had some major KONA FOMO last week.   I know I did not race this year to try and KQ, but regardless, I wanted to be there.  Race week in Kona is simply fun.  There is a buzz that is indescribable; there are reunions with so many friends and competitors that I only see once a year if I go.  Walking down Alii and seeing familiar faces is what makes the week.  Eating a Lava Java, checking out the bike porn, pro’s running up and down the road, the nervous energy of the big dance.  Add the Insta and FB Kona spam, and I was cranky. So there, I admitted it.  I realize my life is blessed and that I can be “upset” about not being in Kona.  My health is good, my family is healthy and happy, and we have what we need.  I have perspective FWIW.

But come Saturday I was all in for the master spectating.  With a modified workout due to rain and a bit of a recovery week my Saturday was a trainer/run/trainer workout it was the perfect day to watch Kona!  Trainer sesh #1 was too early for Kona.  Run was long and tough – but whenever it was getting tough, and my attitude was slipped I channeled Kona!  Back to the bike and we had Kona Live on the flatscreen.  The coverage was great this year, although I think the men’s race, received much more air time.   I was glued to the screen until the final female pros were running in.  Watching the best in our sports gut it out, some making it look effortless and others showing their sheer agony.   The commentators did a great job talking about bike form, run form, etc.  Always too much to learn.   I wish they had spent more time on the 2-7th place of the women’s race which was fantastic.  Watching Rinny move her way through the field,  Anne Haug’s running form unchanging from mile 4-24 to name a few.   It was a record-breaking day and fun to watch!   But happy we are past it 😉

My takeaways from IMWC 2018
  • -          It was the best, fastest year ever and never ever will it be that calm or fast again, ever, ever ever, ever.
  • -          Lange is an aid station hustler.  Watch this – taking the 2L bottle of coke.  Every aid station he was a master at cooling, drinking, sponges-  lesson for IMCOZ
  • -          Did I mention it was a calm fast year
  • -          Watching IMWC is more enjoyable than racing, but I’d rather be racing
  • -          It was a fast calm year
  • -          Run form- Fck the solid runners DON’T lose their form  #workinprogress
  • -          It was a great year to race in Kona
  • -          You NEVER know what is happening to others on the race course- Tracking I watched some super solid runners get off the bike in the top of their AG, and a few DNF’s, a few blew up, and a few crushed it.  You NEVER know, so DON’T give up. 
  • -          It was an amazing day
  • -          Longer sleeves on the bike and run--  sleeves to elbows and nearly to the knees
  •       Swim like Lucy but run like Anne


So what else…I dug a grave, crawled in and was too tired to cover myself up.   Last week started off rough with my Tue bike/run workouts and “we” hoped a few aerobic days would be good for a solid weekend.  Let’s just say they were not.  Saturday was a strugglefest in many ways!  I got it done but it was NOT pretty, paces off, everything hurt.  It was that kind of feeling that I have had over the years of “being on the edge” as in something will pull, tear or break if I don’t let up.
It’s hard to raise my hand and waive the white flag.  I saw what Mike had laid out for me and wanted to be able to hit that training but knew in my gut that it was not a good idea.  I sent a text with a lot of expletives and then followed up with an email that was hard to write, but necessary.  Outlining how I was feeling and what was up.  This is WHY I have a coach, he listened, responded and laid out a few options for how to handle the next few days.   I had a bit of travel, so that was convenient.  I opted for 2 days OFF, as in NO swim, bike, run.  And then an aerobic day and a plan of a tough trainer workout today which I started and knew I was not there yet.  One more day!    The “old” me would have rolled through it, “sucked it up” and wound up injured or in a deeper hole.  As hard as it is ONLY the athlete knows how they are feeling and you must raise your hand and tell your coach.    I share this, so my athletes know I break, I don’t hit all my workouts, and I take days off.  More is not always better!.

I am heading into a big 3 days- 5 hours x 3 days and hope that the time off will allow me to crush the workouts I have laid out!   A bit of unconventional training this weekend, challenging differently and will be “fun”   One day at a time.  One week at a time.   IMCOZ is on the horizon.
Racing at 95% vs. 105% is always better. If you are overcooked, you cannot dig deep.  Racing an IM is about how deep you can go, how long you can suffer.  Watching the pro’s in front, they make it look easy, but watching the others, you can see the pain, suffering and the deep desire to hold their place, move up or pass.  (even if it was the BEST year in KONA EVER) 


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Ironman training....I asked for it

Mile Repeat Crew
Remember, not too long ago, I was eager to start IM training.  Well, let's go back and take that away.   In all seriousness, I love most of it.  If it was up to me, as in I did not pay Mike, I would be riding 12+ hours a week, running 4-5 days, swimming 3 days and training well over 20 hours at an all-day pace.   I tried self-coaching and let's just say after 8 weeks I had to beg my previous to take me back.   Some self-coached athletes don't do enough, some do too much but mostly we don't do what we don't like to do.  For me, that means longer runs off the bike, the trainer and strength.  Without the accountability and for someone else making the plan, I would not get it done.  I would train myself into the ground, but not in the right way. 

So as we roll 20 hours weeks here I am in the mode of 1 day at a time.  Each workout I need to be open-minded, give it my all and go with it.  Some days I am shocked, as in last Tue my mile repeats went smashingly a bit under target pace with an effort that was sustainable and today well fck me.   We added 1-mile repeat to make it 5, the pace was over the target pace and the effort was ridiculous has in too hard to hit the pace.   

Tuesdays are generally trainer/mile repeat Tuesday and it was rough.  The trainer workout is first and starts at 4:30am and I was struggling on the warm-up and let's just say it did not get better.  The 108% efforts were coming in at 100% and as I was crafting a text to coach about how tired and sore I am, how I want to nail the run .... I stopped and scrolled through Insta only to see what feels like ALL MY friends in Kona!   That was the fuel I needed.  I dialed up some music, Eye of The Tiger, which was THE only I played before every big swim in HS and College, grabbed my IMWC towel given to me at the finish line in Kona and sucked it up.  Its NO fun missing EVERY interval, but 100% beat the heck out of 0%.  I made a deposit in the training bank and was off to the run.  As Des Linden says  "just show up"
GWl + Desanco on a weekday


Tuesdays I run with my athletes- either hill repeats from my house or we need on Neptune (flat road along the ocean) for speed work and this week was a build off last week to 5x1 mile with 1 min rest.  

Today was tough from the beginning.   My GI has been wonky since Sunday and this AM was acting up, my legs were cooked and the pace was tough.  I used the workout today to channel what many of my IM runs are like, tough and painful and they are all mental.  It' often comes down to who can suffer the most, and I practiced that today.  The pace was off 5-7 sec/mile but the bigger lesson was I was not far off and just kept going.  The same mantra for race day, just keep moving!    This is a recovery week, per se, HA, after today, Wed- Fri is super chill and then Saturday is a big one.   I am going to channel Kona for that one.   


6 hours in Ocotillo- hot and windy!  #imcoz + hour run OTB
Deposit in the bank 
When the watts or pace come easily it's all rainbows and butterflies and is easy to think this is what race day will be like.  With 15 Ironman races completed, I can tell you, that most are more about enduring pain and suffering, so preparing of that is key.   When the workouts get tough, miserable, that is when you pay attention, how are you managing it, what is your mental state, what can you do to get it done?   

After all that I had a strength workout but I had to get focused and get some work done.  Around 4pm it was easy to start justifying why NOT to lift, so many great reasons.  Instead I scrolled through Inta to see everyone in Kona and I was out the door with a new Spotify playlist and got to work!  

It's easy to see make training look so easy and fun on social media, but it can be tough and that's the purpose of this post  It's also mental.   I get nervous for workouts and certain training.  I can see a 7-hour bike ride and not flinch, but a 2:30 run and I am nervous.  Whereas my training partner stresses over the bike.  It's fascinating how each of us has our pain point or stress points in training.   We need to pay attention and continue to work on those. For some its the swim, some bike, and others the run!  It's what makes this sport so exciting, complex and always room for learning!    

Where is your mental challenge?  What tools do you emply to stay tough and get through what you are worried about? 

As for Kona, not going to lie, I have major FOMO!   Race week is magical and so much fun!