Tag Archive for Kona

Keeping things in perspective – Leanda Cave

Since turning to long course racing, early season form has never been my focus. For this reason, despite the high expectations triathlon media and fans have placed on me, I am actually happy with my 6th place in the Ironman 70.3 San Juan this past weekend. It is impossible to stay in peak form all year round because the body and mind need rest. No rest can result in chronic fatigue, injury, and ultimately a very short career in sports.

I am coming off one of the longest breaks in my 14-year career as a professional triathlete. In addition, the new list of obligations and commitments from winning the Ironman World Championships less than 6 months ago has grown exponentially. Unlike some of my competition, I have not had months to prepare and train for this event. And to be perfectly honest, in the grand scheme of things, my goal is defending my Kona title and this is when I will definitely have my “A” game. 6th place is not a “sub-par” performance for me this time of year. It does not mean that I did not give 100% in San Juan. This race hurt a lot! It was a tough course, hot conditions, and the competition was fierce. There were also some new faces on the start line who were keen to show they mean business in their IM 70.3 distance debut. These girls were the ones who stole the show on the day, with Helle Fredrikson claiming victory.

Winning in Kona is a day that seems so far from my immediate reference of fitness and state of mind. But after being a professional triathlete for so long I know what I need to do to be hitting my peak when and where it matters. I love what I do and sometimes it is very hard to justify calling it a job. Racing and trying my best to win races is all I know and at the time, that was what winning Kona was all about: doing my job as best I can. My office is anywhere in the world. My co-workers are some of the fittest, nicest, and most driven people on the planet. Sometimes I stand on a start line in the shape of my life with my eye on the big prize and sometimes I am simply on the journey to that place.

Racing in San Juan helped me recognize in a profound way that what I do is not a pursuit of a selfish goal, but a journey that enables me to inspire, motivate and encourage people of all ages, in and out of triathlon. I have had many humbling experiences as a direct result of finally reaching the ultimate goal of my triathlon career. I’m excited about future races so that I can continue this journey. The next race on my schedule is the Ironman US Pro Championships in St. George on May 4.

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Are Pro Athelets too Soft these days?

By Guy Besley, Team Latitude,

Let me start this topic by pointing out that these comments are purely my own, that may or may not be shared by members of Team Latitude, and is in no way meant to be derogatory or negative to any stakeholders or supporters of this great sport! I should also point out, I am not doing any extra research here, just going off memory, so cut me some slack!

Ok, now that’s out of the way here goes!

Let me take you back many years, yes I am “old School”, the year was circa 1984, the runners in the Westfield Ultra-Marathon (remember Cliffy Young) were making their way into Melbourne after a lazy 900km on the road! A Scotsman (whose name slips my mind) was in third place with only 7kms to go, I’m pretty sure Yannis Kouros had already crossed the line in first (as he always did), anyway back to the Scotsman. He was done, spent, cactus! Only 7km of a 900 km run to go and nothing! Collapsed coincidently out the front of the Kew cemetery. His support crew dragged him into his van and in came a sport physcologist. 2 hours later he emerged; stood still for a few minutes then slowly put one foot on the ground in front of the other, another minute passed and the next foot followed.

It took the best part of another hour before he was moving again, not running, but a stagger, albeit a solid stagger. I was following this on the television, then made my way up to Doncaster road as he was nearing the finish line. Suffice to say, he DID finish, ended up coming 5th. How would you be, getting overtaken with only kilometres to go in a 900 km race. He was taken straight from the finish line to hospital, and suffered amnesia; didn’t remember a thing of the past week! Tough! or stupid? I say tough and inspiring, many say the opposite.

2 years later, if I recall, a similar fate hit a South Australian by the name od David Standeven, he was leading Yannis Kouros by a small margin to be fair, Yannis started 24 hours behind the field, he is my vote for greatest athlete of all time in any sport, in the dying kilometres he was passed by Yannis, and another guy and came third, only to be also taken by ambulance and also receiving a dose of amnesia.

The moral of that, these guys, to name only a few in this legendary event were tough!

Lets go to a sport close to all our hearts, again back to the 80’s, Julie Moss! Ill say no more on that, it doesn’t need more said. But I believe her “toughness: inspired generations of not only triathletes but athletes in general!

A bit closer to the modern time, 1997 :-) an Aussie Legend in my book, (not to mention making a comeback to Ironman racing in Melbourne IM finishing a very credible 5th) Chris Legh. You may recall Chris Leaving half his stomach behind in Kona! TOUGH! Hell yea! A bit of trivia, that year Thomas Hellreigal won in a time of 8.33, a time that would have made him 13th in 2011, and 9th in 2012, hold that thought!

Also in 1997, remember the “Ironman Crawl”, no that isn’t a dance! Sian Welch and Wendy Ingraham crawling to the finish! Tough? No shit!!!

So lets get back to the question, Are Pro Athletes too Soft these days?

It seems that just about every big race a solid percentage of pros fail to make the finish line, for many reasons. This has become exceedingly topical after a tough day at Ironman Melbourne a few weeks ago, when many big names and strong athletes failed to even make the run course. Why is this?

Well Matty White wrote a fantastic article in response to some criticism by us “armchair critics” which really summed it up well, have a look at  http://firstoffthebike.com/news-and-features/its-not-just-about-the-t-shirt/ he points out the demands placed on the modern pro triathletes and I think covers some very good ground.

Personally, I was never a great athlete at all, but I prided myself on being tough, “old school” I’ve never had a DNF in any activity I have partaken, and never would or will, BUT lets be honest there is an enormous gap between what the pros do, and what I could ever have done, so for me, it was “only about the T’shirt” as it is for the majority of people on a starting line of any distance race in any given endurance event. So, yes, I was one of the critics that said “soft” not in a negative way, but more of a gentle tease. I personally know quite a few of the guys that pulled out at IM Melbourne, and they are not soft! What they are is over worked, over tuned, elite machines trying to stay at pace. Just like a Formula 1 car; if they are not at the pace and things are going wrong they have to be smart and withdraw; to fight another day. The cost becomes too great to continue.

There is no money in this sport, every penny counts and the depth of people in long course battling for a measly buck is immense, and getting tougher as the ITU guys make a move over to the “glamour” of long course.

So Soft? Hell no! but highly tuned machines doing their job, trying to eek out a quid off a small prize pool. And if you have the view “sponsors pay em”, you clearly have no idea of professional triathlon. They will all make less that you! and one thing is for sure, they work a damn site harder than you!

So you cant call modern day Professional Triathletes soft, its just not appropriate. lets go back to the IM times now compared to only a decade ago, they are substantially faster, last year in Melbourne 2 people (nearly, as cam Brown only missed by seconds) broke the elusive 8hr barrier. So please people, have some respect, and Race Directors and Race Organisers, its not just about money, this is triathlon, a lifestyle and a passion for many, so please pass a little over to the guys that do it for a living and fill your pockets with their relentless promoting and inspiring performance on and off the worlds race courses.

I must sum up by saying this though, those old athletes, well they just had a different meaning for tough!!

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2012 Hawaii Ironman World Championships

leanda cave

By Leanda Cave,

My first attempt at Ironman was in 2007 and it happened to beat the Ironman World Championships.  Before the race I made a bold statement to the world on the NBC coverage stating that “I would one day win this event.  It may not be this year, but it will happen.”  After the race I realized two things:

  1. This (Ironman) is the hardest thing I have EVER done; and
  2. Winning this thing may take a while.

Now, here I am in 2012 being crowned the Hawaii Ironman World Champion……….6 years later!!!  This win is not my own and it was no solo effort.  Yes, on race day I am out there doing what I know how to do, but I want to say a HUGE thank you early on in this race report to my family, friends, coach (Siri), my massage therapists (Bill Kruse, William Pettit and Byron Thomas) and sponsors.  I want you to all know that this win was no solo effort.  These people and companies have enabled me to be where I am today and they are so important to me .

Photos by: Kevin Koresky

This is my 4th World Title and the only one witnessed by members of my immediate family: my sister Melissa and my brother Justin.  My parents (Joyce and Gordon) couldn’t make it to Kona because Mum just had an operation that did not allow her to fly, but they were online the entire time.

Back in 2008, I signed up with K-Swiss, Pinarello, Pacific Health Labs (makers of Accelerade & Endurox R4), Blueseventy, TriSports.com, Computrainer and Giro/Easton.  I have had a mixed bag of results in the last 5 years, but there is one thing that my sponsors have had the whole time: belief in me.  As I write this, my eyes are welling up with tears because it is with through this team and my more recent sponsors (Driscolls, Fuel Belt, ISM, Tor Hans, SKINS, Oakley, TriBike Transport and PowerCranks) thatIhave been afforded the opportunity to live my dream.

Little things in my life have always been the big things.  I did not grow up privileged.  My family has always had a very hard work ethic that has been instilled in me.  However, a number of sacrifices have been made along the way.  Leaving behind my family to pursue my dreams has not always been easy; however it has been encouraged and accepted by my parents and siblings.

I see myself as a bit of amisfit.  In large groups I am socially awkward and I say inappropriate things from time to time (I apologize to those who I may have offended).  I never really fit the mold of a typical teenager/youth who went out to parties all night, dressed to impress, slapped on layers of make-up, chased boys or lived it up throughout my university years.  I was the person who, despite enjoying the odd late night and drink or two, made it home well before my peers and was out the door training when some were just making their way home.  But this misfit is now confident being the person she is through the success the sport of triathlon has given her.

Photos by: Kevin Koresky

My first time at Ironman was nothing like my race last weekend.  A brief history of my previous races in Hawaii:

2007: 10th place.  A decent first time result, but I could NOT move after this race.  I qualified for the event in the 2006 70.3 World Championships (and the debut of this annual event) where I came 3rd to Samantha McGlone.  That year I also won the ITU Long Distance World Championships which was my 2nd World Championship win after my 2002 ITU Olympic Distance win. I beat Chrissie Wellington in this event, but she kicked my arse in Kona, and has dominated the distance and the World Championships ever since.  I have never been in so much pain in all my life after a race.  I could not walk for a week.  My inexperience in pacing caused a bad judgment of effort on the bike and I cooked myself.  I started the marathon (first one I had ever done btw), and EVERY step killed.

2008: DNF.  For the 2nd time in my 12 year career as a professional triathlete, I was sick with a cold on race day.  Not bad odds really.

2009: 21st. Let’s just say it was a shitty day at the office and leave it there!!!

2010: 10th.  What a struggle and a fight this day was.  The demons in my head were screaming at me.  I had a relatively strong swim and bike.  But my gut started playing up during the 2nd half of the marathon and I was in the loo 8 times.  My head was screaming at my body to stop.  I’m a bit stubborn and I said no and I fought hard to make it in 10th place.  Another arse kicking in my book.

2011: 3rd.  I finally nailed a good one.  I made a few changes.  Less  travel and racing.  Longer training blocks.  More recovery training days.  And some great nutritional advice from an expert, Brian Shea from PB Nutrition.  It was a breakthrough race for me and gave me the confidence I needed to win IMAZ a few weeks later and do my first sub-3hr marathon.

2012: WIN, WIN, WIN!!!!  Here is the race report you have been waiting for.  I came off winning the Ironman 70.3 World Champs with a good bit of confidence leading into my final 4 weeks of Kona preparation.  I headed out to the Big Island right after Vegas.  It’s what I did last year and it worked.  Kona is also such a great place to train and relax at the same time without any distractions, and I have had my fair share of those this year already!  With a week out from race day, I said to my coach Siri: “I’m ready.  I just need to rest now”.  I felt I had peaked.  Not a feeling I get very often, but I know it when I get to that point.  I wasn’t too bothered by the triathlon circus that started to arrive in town.  There were days when I was being pulled around in a million directions by media, sponsors, friends and family.  Nothing that bothered me or I didn’t expect.  I did what I had to do and kept my feet up the rest of the time.

The weather this year seemed much cooler than previous years.  A lot of rain.  Mild temperatures and not too much wind.  But that is not what I wanted for race day.  I was hoping for a really hot and windy conditions, and guess what…………that’s what we got!  I have no idea how high the mercury actually was on race day, but I felt it and I liked it!  This year was the first year in the history of the Ironman World Championships that the pro women had a separate start from the men……..what a brilliant concept: what took so long?!!!  This enables me to have a “clean” swim.  In the past it has been a battle with the men, who seem to swim rather aggressively. I could see my competition the whole way and they were not dragged along by the white water made by the men’s race.  Much fairer on all accounts.  I swam in 3rd most of the way and came out in a small group of 4 girls: Gina Crawford, Amy Marsh, Meredith Brook-Kessler and Mary Beth Ellis, with Amanda Stevens about 1min ahead.

The bike took a different scene than previous years.  There was no clear dominant cyclist on this day.  I was expecting Caroline Steffen to peg it off the front once she caught the “group” (I say this with inverted commas because technically, with the drafting rules, we are spread out according to the rules).   However, Caroline seemed to be riding rather conservatively, being content to cycle amongst the lead women, but  unfortunately she received a bike penalty early on which saw her playing catch up on the way up to Hawi.  At around this point I took to the lead which is where I remained until Hawi at which point I grabbed my special needs bag while Caroline and Mary Beth sailed on by.  I was surprised and happy to see we had split the field apart at this point, helped by the brutal winds that were hitting us from the front and the side on our ascent.  It was now a three woman show up the front.  But that didn’t last all that long.  With a tail wind heading back to Kawaihae, I pulled a stupid move and tried pass both Mary Beth and Caroline, but I ran out of gears to make it past Caroline who was in the lead and I had to drop back.  Because I did not complete the pass, this is a bike violation and I was cited with a 4min penalty which I served at Waikoloa. So I rode into T2 solo, but was surprised to see Ellis run out of the penalty tent in transition as I came in. We were all back on a level playing field……kind of!

Out on to the run, and I felt pretty average.  Mary Beth took off quite quickly in pursuit of Caroline who was 4 minutes up the road. Mary Beth gapped me by about a minute, but that was ok so early on in the run.  After about 6miles, I started to feel a bit more of a bounce and I could open my stride up.  Although the gap to Caroline stayed the same, I reeled in Mary Beth.  We ran together for the next 6 miles….. side by side (not stride for stride because she is tiny!).  At this point I just started feeling stronger and stronger so I pushed a little harder, but nothing crazy.  I’m talking 5secs a mile faster tops, but enough to see the gap closing slightly to Caroline who was now 3mins up the road.  Somewhere between mile 15 and 18 Mirinda almost caught me.  I sound vague when I say this because I actually had no idea she was there until the next day after the race when everyone was telling me. There were quite a few motor bikes around me at the time and I couldn’t hear a thing anyone was yelling at me from the side of the road.  In fact, at the turnaround in the Energy Lab, I saw Mirinda not too far behind and I thought it was at this point she was catching me.  So I was freaking out a bit.  I was still feeling good so I didn’t change my pace.  I just kept plugging away and eating in to the gap between myself and Caroline which was now down to 2mins30sec.

One thing that I remember thinking at this point in the race was how amazing Natascha Badman was doing.  I remember back in 1998, before I had even turned pro, Natascha just won her first of 6 Ironman World Titles at the age of 32.  And she is still killing 14 years later as an incredible 46 year old.

On my way out of the Energy Lab, I heard from sidelines that I was now only 1min45secs down off Caroline.  In my head I was calculating what I needed to do to win.  With 7 miles to go, I had to get back 15secs a mile and I thought that was totally doable, all I had to do was not slow down.  Gradually the miles were ticking on by and I could now see Caroline just a few hundred yards up the road.  1mins, 55secs, 45secs and that was the last time split I heard.  My head switched off and all I can remember seeing is Caroline getting closer and closer and at 23miles, I made the pass.  I surged right at the bottom of the last hill and it wasn’t pleasant.  Everyone has a pain threshold, and had just hit mine.  It is a different pain in an Ironman as opposed to an Olympic distance event where flat out is as fast as you can go to the point your heart can not beat any faster.  In an Ironman, you are willing your body to go but you are bound by the limitations to perform under fatigue.  My heart rate felt low (I don’t wear a watch or use a bike computer for that matter during a race), but I could not push any harder.  I gave the last few miles everything.  This was a fight for a World Championship Title that I have been chasing for years and I was not going to lose.

A little bit of guilt came across as I know the disappointment Caroline must have felt as she found herself now in 2nd place, which is still such a great result.  I also felt bad that I couldn’t celebrate with the crowds in the last ¼ mile because I was scared I would be caught.  But one thing I was so happy about is the win, and to have finally put my money where my mouth is.  And to top off and share such a great moment in my life and my career was the gift of having my brother, Justin, and my sister, Melissa there at the finish line. I was also blessed to have my coach, Siri bringing me home along with my dear friends. To see the emotion and joy on their faces is like nothing I have ever experienced before and that is what made winning so worthwhile.

Photo by: Paul Phillips

As a triathlete, I have no single weapon, however, I do have a shed full of useful tools.  I may not have the fastest swim, bike or run time, but that’s ok. It’s the combination of my tools that make me one of the best triathletes.  I race to get over the finish line first.  Sometimes my tools are sharp enough, and I nail it.  Other times I am missing the right spanner.  A little footnote about this analogy: my Dad is a carpenter and I grew up around a bloody big shed and a whole lot of tools!


Congratulations to all my fellow competitors and the finishers of the Hawaii Ironman World Championships.  Thank you for making this a memory that will last as long as I live. I am very proud of my 4th World Title and all the things I have accomplished along the way.  It doesn’t stop here.  My next race is this weekend: IM 70.3 Miami.  Then on IM Arizona on November  18th.  And to round off the season, my final race will be IM 70.3 Phuket on December 2nd.  These races could go either way, but I plan on racing them the best I can.

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An unexpected 3rd World Title

By Leanda Cave,

I am normally quite diligent with my race reports, however, I haven’t had my feet on solid ground for a few weeks, so I apologize for leaving you in suspense!  In a nutshell, here is what the last two weeks have looked like for me: pack up Boulder apartment; pack bike; fly to Des Moines; race HyVee 5150; pack bike; fly back to Boulder; drive 14 hours home to Tucson; unpack bike; pack bike; fly to Las Vegas; race IM 70.3 Las Vegas World Championships; win; pack bike; fly back to Tucson; unpack bike; pack bike; fly to Kona; breathe; write this race report!!

So in this race report, I will do my best to remember what went down amongst all the craziness in my life to bring you up to speed on the HyVee 5150 race in Des Moines and the IM 70.3 World Champs in Las Vegas a week later. Great for you readers, because now you get a two-for-one deal………and let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a bargain???!!!!

Last year I watched the live online video stream of HyVee 5150 and I was almost jumping out of my skin with excitement and anxiety, so much so, I found it difficult to sit still.  With sweaty hands and my heart racing, I said I would not be watching the race in 2012, but racing it.  And so I secured qualification to HyVee 5150 (which, FYI, is the richest triathlon on the circuit), via the points system, and on September 2nd I was standing on the start line.

Essentially, despite being dubbed an Ironman triathlete these days (and a veteran one at that!), I can still lay it down in an Olympic distance race.  With a 2nd at the Columbia 5150 and a win at Escape from Alcatraz, I wouldn’t say I am all that shabby at the distance.  So I

felt pretty good about my odds of doing alright.  My pre-race tune up workouts indicated I had speed and that I was in fairly decent shape.   But the problem I had on race day was not so much a lack of speed in my legs, nor my arms, but my lungs.  I suffer from Asthma.  I was diagnosed in 1996.  It has been a very long time since I had an attack, and for that reason, I had not been taking my medication as frequently as I perhaps should, and coming down from the dry air of Boulder to the hot and humid conditions of Des Moines did not work favorably for my condition.

I struggled with my breathing from the minute the gun went off.  I couldn’t hang on to the girls who I normally exit the water with.  I was killing myself on the bike and yet I felt like I was spinning on the spot. And the run was just a battle with my head that said stop and my lungs that didn’t want to work.  I barely made it to the finish line.  However, I am rather pleased that I did because of the hefty pay check that came along with my less than average 15th place performance.  I was definitely disappointed about my race in HyVee.  I know what I am capable of, but something else was in my destiny.

After a 14hour road trip back to Tucson the day after HyVee 5150, I made a quick change of equipment and clothing and took off to Las Vegas for the 70.3 World Champs.  With the two races being a week apart, I didn’t do a whole lot of anything other than eat, sleep, tweet and travel.  The problem I had during my last race ate away a bit of my confidence.  I had pretty low expectations of myself coming into IM 70.3 Las Vegas.  I questioned what I was doing there at all.  My biggest concern was another bout of asthma during the race and another week of Kona of preparation out the window.

 

But I am a racer.  It’s what I know and it’s what I love.  And as the race drew closer, I was mentally ready to once again give it 100%.  The doubts I had about my form and ability soon diminished as Siri Lindley (my coach) and I reflected on all the hard work we had put in over the past months.  Quite a few people made comments that I was just using Vegas as a warm up race for Kona.  But the truth is that it is a World Championship event and it has to be raced as such.  I was there to race the best in the world at the 70.3 distance, not to just go through the motions of racing.  I give it my all in every race I do.

The conditions in Vegas were brutal.  I knew it was going to be hot from what I experienced the year before, but this was way hotter.  I saw temperatures in the 100’s from 9am onwards the whole time I was there.  Same for everyone!

 

The swim was not my best.  I swam well, but I never felt great.  Jodie Swallow led it out, and I was 30secs down on the feet of Kelly Williams in 3rd. I felt good as I hit the bike, however it wasn’t until half way that I realized I must have been feeling really good when I caught Jodie and put time into the rest of the field.  Admittedly, I was rather shocked to come off the bike with a 2 minute lead.  The women in this race were no slouches on the bike.  In fact, I raced quite a few the weekend before in Hy Vee, and all of them caught and passed me during that race.

The run was nothing short of hot, hot, hot, with little if any shade.  There was some welcome relief with ice cold water at the aid stations.  With the added bonus of being in the lead, I started to gain momentum and put time into my main competition, Heather Jackson (2nd off the bike) and

Melissa Hauschildt, Angela Naeth, Margaret Shapiro, Joanna Lawn, Mirinda Carfrae, Meredith Kessler, Lindsay Corbin and Magali Tisseyre.  One or two of these girls had caught and passed me in a number of races I had done this year.  It was either a case of me blowing up on the run, or them just being the better runner on the day.  Not this time…….with one exception: Kelly Williamson.  She is kind of a sneaky fox.  Although she didn’t have the best bike of the day, she was gradually passing one athlete after the next and with one lap left of the 3 lap run course, she was definitely in striking distance to me if I didn’t hold my shit together.  I had about a 2min lead on her and I would have to slow down 45sec per mile for her to catch me.  That was not going to happen.  This was my day.  I wanted this badly enough.  I have wanted to win this World Title since the inception of the 70.3 distance back in 2006.  I have raced every one of them with a mixed bag of results including a 2nd and a 3rd.

 

 

Now with 3 World Titles to my name, there is still one that I want even more: the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.  Watch this space!  4 weeks away and the countdown has begun!!!

Before I sign off, I want to let all my sponsors know how grateful I am to you for your ongoing support: Driscoll’s Berries, K-Swiss, Pacific Health Labs (makers of Endurox R4 & Accelerade), Pinarello, Trisports.com, Easton, Giro, Blueseventy, ISM Saddles,Tor Hans, Computrainer, Fuel Belt, Skins, TriBike Transport, Oakley, Halo Trainer and PowerCranks.

Thank you Kevin Koresky (Tri Lounge & Finishline Multisport) and Jene Shaw (Triathlete Magazine) for your awesome photos!

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