Lizi Duncombe Triathlon Coach

Dream . Believe . Achieve – My Road to Kona 2019

Personal Blog

They Say that Kona is a different beast to any other Ironman. “You have to pay your dues” – “Earn the island gods respect”. A good start is to simply step back and enjoy the whole experience whilst making damn sure you manage your expectations of the the following. Wild Crosswinds, Heat and humidity, Self Evaporation.

They say you should never try something new before a big race however when its Kona and you’re not exactly aiming for a podium spot I thought this was the perfect opportunity. 650g of of carb loading later later and you feel your eyeballs popping out of your head.

An early start is the least of your worries because you tend to wake up every morning around 2/3am from jet so you can utilise this. The day before the race – getting the Transition prep done early is important for getting an early night. Racked by 4pm dinner by 6pm , time to put the legs up and let the carbs digest.

Swim start – First non-wetsuit swim experience and it wasn’t too bad because the bouyacy of the sea water was pretty special. You start by swimming to the startline and waiting for the gun to go but meanwhile treading water where everyone’s trying to get to the front of the line so it’s a bit chaotic but at least you’re nice and warmed up before the race starts!!
Gun goes – everyone goes… Lizi gets left behind… my chilled out fashion to starting a race to get into a nice rhythm dosn’t go down well at the World champs apparently! You get immediately dropped and stuck behind the 80 year old men breast stroking in the pack in front and once you get past them you’re very alone….Needless to say there were no PBs there and I was literally one of the last in age group to get out of the water but on a positive note I felt great – no chaffing , managed to cut my foot open on a rock the day before but even that was masked by my excitement to get on my bike… So excited I ran straight passed my bike because I missed the peer in all the hype so ended up taking 6 mins in T1. Anyway… onto the bike taking the technical bit around town nice and easy after all my main goal of the day was the finish the race with a little admin as possible.. Onto the Queen K, head down legs on baby here we go!!!! What a perfect rolling road for me, I was loving life! About 30km in to the bike I started regretting all my rides riding in the recent months being on the indoor turbo because I was worried about coming off my bike so close to the race as it hadn’t been long since one of my close teammates, Claire Danson had been paralysed from the bellybutton after colliding with a tractor just cycling around country lanes (more on this at the bottom of the page)
…My hip flexors seized up pretty badly but actually once I got to the Hawi turn point the issue seemed to go away, my confidence was back and I was like a new lizi – staying in aero on the descents!!! You don’t really get much of a choice because the crosswinds were so strong that you need to make yourself as small as possible or you’re off the cliff. The heat and wind got sufficiently worse throughout the day and I remember thinking if I’m finding this tough all the other ladies that are smaller builds than me will be suffering a lot more. Being ginger does have its own challenges though.. each time I looked down at my arms they were getting progressively scorched, so bad I probably could have cooked an omelette on the surface of my forearms. It dosnt matter how much suncream you put on – it’s Hawaii and it’s guna get you. Because of the humidity I wasn’t able to naturally put down as much power as normal so I didn’t try to, I just tried to meet the island with all it’s limits and work with it so that I could have drama free marathon. Finally getting off the bike in 6th Place!!! I sat down in T2 and couldnt stop crying.. I was so hot and so burnt. Meanwhile the lovely volunteers where covering me with suncream and wet towels… I pulled myself together and off of the run down Ali drive, the coolest part of the run..What false hope this was!! Once you’re up the first climb and onto the Queen K this is the hottest part of the day and you feel like you’re running in a hot wet cloud but it was incredible, the tunes playing loudly, and I was hit with an intense wave of excitement. This part I saw all the female pros running back the other way which was great because not only did I get front row seat of the race but I got to see how much they were suffering too. My run pace wasn’t anything special because I was managing my expectations of what was about to come at the ‘energy lab’ the section where all the air is absorbed into the rocks around you and you have to run down to sea level to then run back up again… so you destroy your quads running down and then it’s a bit like altitude training without oxygen running back up but also in 31 degree heat with 85% humidity, to the 30k point. The 30k point is the bit that gets most people even in a standard marathon but In Kona it also marks the end of the energy lab and what you do here will dictate the rest of your race but because I’d gone easy and I started drinking simple sugars like coke, my last 10km of the marathon became a negative split and I just emptied the tank taking my pace back down to a 4:30-4:45min/km straight to the finish line.
I could not believe I managed this drama free!! One of the last on the swim, one of the fastest women in Age group of the day on the bike and managed to come 17th in the world in my first ever Kona experience. So many personal lessons to take from it and incredibly happy and lucky to be part of it and be able to feel the pain. I think I have to come back once I’ve learnt to swim faster.

So Whats next??? Maybe Lanzarote since ill be coaching training camp out there in Feb with GB Olympic rower, Toby Garbett.
Keen to join us?? Click Here – Lanzarote Training Camp 2019
Thanks to my sponsors: Science in Sport nutrition, Swift cycles bike shop, sungod sunglasses, Kymira Sport compression and infrared clothing and Aftershocks bone conductor headphones.

As I mentioned earlier in my story my friend Claire that is now paralysed from the belly button down from a serious collision with a tractor in August earlier this year. She is an incredible women and one of the best age group triathletes I know. Less than a month before the accident she had won age group at the Olympic distance European Championships for Great Britain and shortly afterwards won Age group at Ironman staffordshire 70.3. She is now on her road to recovery and is working her way into the Paralympics where she will learn to use her Upper body to race for Great Britain, following her dreams inspiring us all with her courage, same positivity she has always had, and her determination to lead others that are suffering from similar trauma by showing them that they don’t have to suffer anymore.


Claire Danson – Team GB, Precision Race Team – Link to @doitfordanson campaign


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