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Christenson Kona Chronicles–Pt. 1

By: BJ Christenson

Every year during the first full moon of October the worlds best long distance triathletes assemble in a small city on the western side of the big island of Hawaii.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the event this is Kona, The World Championship, The Big Show, and any other simile you can use for the big event of your sport.  The people are gathering and the momentum is building for this weekend’s upcoming race.   Every day the small city of Kailua-Kona transforms itself into host of triathlons biggest event.  This is the Ironman– 2.4 swim, 112, mile bike, 26.2 mile run… then brag for the rest of your life.

32 years ago the idea of the Ironman was conceived as a challenge to just finish the distance.  From those pioneers the race has evolved into a true world championship event and the center piece of the sport of triathlon.  This also marks my 32nd year of life and I feel special saying the race and I share the same age.  I am writing this blog to share the event with friends and family back home and hope to share my experience behind the scenes of my preparing for the event and report on the race itself.

Qualifying

Like any world championship you have to qualify to race in Kona and prove you have what it takes to race with the best in October.  I qualified for the Ironman at Ironman St. George. I chose Ironman St. George as my qualifier for several reasons. Number one was because this was the inaugural year for the race and the only Ironman in the state.  I also chose Ironman St. George because it was a very difficult course and a great challenge to mentally prepare for the tough conditions in Kona.  Qualifying is always a difficult task and when and where you qualify is sometimes what many believe to being crucial to having a good race in Kona.  By qualifying in St. George it has allowed time for recovery and then time to prepare for a good build into this weekend.

Preparation

Once qualifying is out of the way it is time to start preparing for October.  This will be my 4th race at the world championship and each time I race I learn a little more about what it takes to be successful in Kona.  One element that has plagued me and my gigantic frame is heat.  In Kona it is hot and there is nowhere to hide.  If you want to do well in Kona you have to learn to deal with the heat.  This summer I would do as much as I could during the hottest part of the day in order to better acquaint myself with hot conditions.  However this year I took the advice from some friends and wife to start Bikram Yoga.  If you aren’t familiar with Hot Yoga it is an absolute suffer fest of performing yoga in a room heated to 110 degrees.  My first class I lost 5 pounds of water weight in a 90 minute class.  All I can say is that this class has been an excellent method of learning to cope with heat.  The 2nd element that can make for a rough day is wind.  Kona is famous for being very windy and I can attest that it in fact lives up to its reputation.  So in order to prepare for the wind I would make sure and ride on the days that were particularly gusty in the Salt Lake Valley.

Finally the 3rd element that makes this race particularly challenging is the pressure to perform well.  Everyone here is a very talented and fit and you have to keep your emotions in check in order to stay focused during race week.  Every where you turn someone is swimming, cycling, or running and it makes you feel as though you need to get out there and join them.  I have faith in my training and there is nothing I can do this week that will improve my fitness for Saturday.

And so race week begins and I wrap up this first installment of Christenson Kona Chronicles 2010.  One thing I do know is that I am fortunate to be here and even more fortunate to share the weeks experience with my wife and son and my friends.  I will be reporting part 2 of these chronicles in a few days so stay tuned for the lead up to the big race.

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