Race Coverage

Calm Mind & Pop Strategy...


By Hanna Grinaker (thefitspace.com)

Hawaii Ironman World Championships Race Report - I didn’t expect to love racing in Kona. In fact, I prepared to hate it (or at least parts of it). I anticipated feelings of dread, doom or even death wash over me like a tidal wave at various points over the 140.6 mile distance, but you know what? They never came. 

Isn’t that interesting how that works? Perception of effort has always been so mysterious to me. There have been races that, on paper, have been equally demanding, but for whatever reason, I had been on top of my suffering in one, and completely overwhelmed by it in another. With time though, I’ve learned it’s usually my thoughts about how hard a race will be that drives how well my brain will cope. Instead of hoping a race won’t be one of those grinding affairs, I brace myself, expecting the hurt to come and welcoming it when it does. “Can it hurt more....?” Oh I’m sure it can.

Ever since watching Sean race Kona in 2016, and then tuning in to the live broadcast on TV the 2 years after that, I developed some ideas about what I would endure. When I stepped off the plane in Kona to a blast of hot air to the face like the feeling you get when you pop the oven door to check on your pizza, I felt relieved. The heat felt like a huge hug—a promise delivered, rather than a bad dream come true....


Race morning arrived fast and furious—my nerves did not. I sent up silent prayers to God thanking him for that. A calm mind makes better decisions. 

Conch shell blows and we’re off. (I was promised this day would fly...it did). 

Swim: 1:05 and change. The swim was both uneventful and not particularly fast. Both of which I was okay with. My goggles were knocked off once, and I fielded a few punches to the head and arm, but to get out of the water relatively unscathed, with only a slight burning in the throat from the salt, felt like a win.

Bike: 5:11. The first 30 miles of the bike worried me. Swells from the swim had thrown off my balance leaving me dizzy and nauseous. I kept telling myself that focusing only on the fact that I felt this way surely wasn’t going to change anything, so I shifted my thoughts elsewhere. By the time I reached the turnaround point in Hawi (60 miles in), I started to regain the strength and the power I had lost in the first half. The 50 miles back into Kona were “fun”, as I began picking off people one by one. Aid stations at every 7-mile mark were handing out 20-ounce bottles of Coke so I grabbed one at a few, filling my front hydration system to allow for it to go flat and therefore, be easier to drink. This pop strategy formulated a few days prior to race day when I decided to skip stopping in Hawi to grab extra aid from special needs, and knowing from races past that Coke makes me feel like a freaking rockstar.   READ MORE

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