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Paul Ransome Hits Kona

I arrived on the big Island 1 week before what I had built up as the biggest race of my life, not realising how hard travelling for 24 hours with my whole family consisting of my Wife, 3 young children and both of my parents could be, especially after suffering a cold for the past week!
The week of the Ironman World Championships in Kailua Kona is well renowned as the big dance of the triathlon world and if your not careful you can get caught up in all of the razzmatazz of the pre-race events and drain yourself for the big day. Spencer Smith spent the whole week warning me not to over do these events and try to get the pre-race training done and rest up.

Apart form the Tuesday, which involved registration, getting ripped off for merchandise, watching my kids run the ironkids race and the parade of nations? (walked 13 miles that day) I managed to avoid the other stuff including the infamous underpants run which I didn’t think was appropriate as I didn’t have any Planet X boxers!
I managed to get some nice swims in the bay, ride the infamous climb to Hawi (more of a gradual ascent) and got plenty of runs in along Ali’I Drive. The one thing I didn’t account for was it wasn’t too hot, the sea swell was small and the wind on the bike wasn’t that bad. Mistake 1 I had already underestimated the course as a big part of the challenge in Hawaii is the conditions.
Race Day came I had slept well and the cold seemed long gone. Arriving at body marking was unreal the masses of athletes being funnelled through the process to get into transition. Cameras and helicopters were everywhere and I was walking into transition 5 yards behind Daniella Ryf. I checked the EXO 3, pumped up the tires and loaded my nutrition… The machine was ready! Time was flying and after meeting the family it was soon time to lube up the shoulders and pull on the swim skin.

20 minutes later I’m treading water with 1800 other guys waiting for a cannon to go! Bang and we’re off. 2 things I remember from the swim, divers filming us from below and not to slow down as there were about a thousand blokes wanting to grab my ankles. I was really worried about this swim as it looks nuts on the TV but it really wasn’t that bad.
After rushing into transition the time had come to put the EXO 3 to good use. I mounted well and was off but disaster struck when the strap came out of my shoe buckle. I had to get off and re-strap my shoe! Off up the Kuakini Highway I went remembering to stick to Spencer’s plan of trying not to plan of trying not to pass too many other triathletes as I needed to get the HR down. That became the problem, my HR was not going as low as it normally would for 20 watts below target power. I was still passing lots of other guys including plenty of fancy £13k Cervelos without even being able to get to target power, the bike was on form but my body was not, The Garmin told me the temperature was 96 Fahrenheit, a little toastier than it had been which was probably keeping the HR high, the wind was also higher than it had been all week!. The funny thing was I felt like the effort level was below target as well but I just couldn’t get out of that gear, the island was taking another prisoner! For 20 watts down on Power with 2 stops the bike time wasn’t that bad but I certainly wasn’t going into the run feeling ready to crush it! 4 miles into the run along the airless baking hot Ali’I Drive the light-headed feeling came and I knew the tanks were nearly empty the higher heart rate had drained the tanks far earlier than expected. The next thing I saw was a few guys all over the place, practically collapsing coming the other way after the turn. I went in to keep cool survival mode it had to be 100 Fahrenheit, I packed ice down the suit and was tipping water over my head at every opportunity, this would cause major blister problems later on. I helped a few other Brits keep motivated to keep going, it’s a long way to come and bail out!
The whole day felt like I was 10% or more down and just couldn’t shift gears, by the time I reached the energy lab I’d slowed to 9-10 minute miles and it was a proper shuffle. The heart rate gradually slowed to 109 coming back along the Queen K highway which is a good sign your running on fumes or even less! I met some great guys on the run course but the day had become about finishing ok not racing which is not my favoured way to tackle an Ironman let alone a championship race. I suppose it happens to the best of them I watched Jan Frodeno jogging back from the energy lab just as I was on my way and he’d just been passed by Daniella Ryf!

I wanted to make the final 2 miles epic so picked up the pace to close to 8 again, I turned down Palani hill and bang there goes the blister and bang there goes my right quad! The last 2 miles became a painful fast hobble, a bit like Lionel Sanders but about 50% slower! However my wife and 3 kids were at the finish line right before I crossed, I stopped kissed and thanked them all and strolled across the line, the finish still felt epic.
What have I learned;
- Blisters on the balls of your feet hurt like hell
- No amount of sweatbox training prepares you for Kona if you want to race
- Eat as much as you can on the bike I obviously needed more
- You need to get there more than a week before the race to acclimatize 
- The EXO 3 is a fast, strong bike, good legs would have helped a lot!!
Thank you to Dave and Planet X for helping me with gear to get here and to Spencer Smith for smashing me into shape after the broken arm. Next time I’ll do better I promise!

7 November 2017

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