Ironman World Championship: Meredith Kessler – Kona Uncovered
With the Ironman World Championship over for another year, we decided to catch up with some of the athletes to get an insight into how they prepared, what gear they used, and ultimately how the race unfolded. We also caught a look into what their family and friends got up to on the Big Island before and after the big day. Yes, there is plenty to do other than race or support someone racing; although it would be easy to miss this during race week!
First we catch up with Meredith Kessler (MBK) of the USA
Result: 7th professional female – 9:10:19
Swim: 54:06; Bike: 4:55:13; Run: 3:16:35
The athlete files:
Coached by: Matt Dixon (Purple Patch Fitness) since 2008
Training base: San Fransisco, USA
Training camp pre Kona: Mauna Lani, Kona
Favourite place to eat in Kona: Beach Tree at Four Seasons Resort
Best activity outside of racing: Snorkelling
Number of times drug tested whilst in Kona: Two – both with blood and urine
Families take on Kona: My family and friends enjoy staying around the Mauna Lani which has a great area for snorkeling, lying on the beach, and watching sunsets! My husband enjoys shore fishing catching Trevally, Goatfish, Hawkfish so it is heaven bringing them all to the area and worth the commute in race week.
TZ: The night before, did you get any sleep? Do you have any strategies useful for getting a good night’s sleep before a big race?
MBK: In anticipation of not getting too much sleep the night before the race, I try to at least get quality sleep two nights before the race and sleep until I wake up with no alarm! This is obviously much different than race night/race morning and thus it feels like a million bucks! We had to get up around 3:30AM on race morning to shower, eat, get ready for the race, and drive 30 minutes into town. I bet at most I am getting 4-5 hrs of sleep because of the body naturally anticipating the event and waking up intermittently through the night. I do plan on sleeping in as much as possible two nights before the race because this is when your true rest comes (and two-five days leading up to race).
TZ: Race morning: Any superstitions, routines, favorite breakfast? Anything you specifically avoid
MBK: I have to shower, shave, exfoliate the face etc to wake up! It’s then time to get into race gear including sponsor tattoos, writing my husband’s initials and other special messages on my hands for inspiration throughout the day, and giving my wedding ring to my husband. I eat Vans waffles with Nutella, a banana, and sip on a hydration drink on race morning.
TZ: Swim start: How do you decide where to position yourself?
MBK: Positioning depends on the body of water, your competitors and the current. An ocean swim will have a current and if it is strong, it can move you way off course. It is a frantic push to get into your groove and then you try to fit into a pack around your same ability level. I like to keep the buoys close especially to help with sighting and I find it helpful to line up with people a titch faster than you in the water and try to hang on for dear life! This is always a great challenge in the sport.
TZ: Transitions: any little tricks or tips for the age groupers?
MBK: They should have some tricks and tips for me! I know that I didn’t come from an ITU/Olympic racing background but this is no excuse and I need to improve on my transitions which have been traditionally slow. This year, I took specific steps to practice them. This including running barefoot several yards, clipping on the helmet, jumping onto my bike and riding ¼ of a mile – repeat and repeat some more. Practice makes perfect, or at least in my case, some improvement. The most important thing for me in transition regardless of how fast I’m doing it – is to STAY CALM which helps me to not forget anything important in the moment.
TZ: Please make a few general comments on each discipline, whether it is something that went wrong, things that went to plan, anything of interest that happened during the race?
MBK: Swim – The women professionals have taken swimming to a new level in Ironman events. There were 10+ women that exited the water around thirty seconds of each other. Everyone is working on their swimming – which is great!
MBK: Bike – The men’s race didn’t interfere with the women’s race like it did last year which was wonderful and appreciated. However there was some chatter after the race commenting on the packs of women on the bike course in addition to the ongoing blocking that was happening at times. The brand is working on improving the drafting rules and it will be an ongoing subject for many years – a progression in improvement that won’t happen over night but it will get there over time.
MBK: Run – This is where the money is made and it showed with Mirinda’s record breaking performance as well as the other amazing podium finishers in Rachel and Liz. A special shout out to fellow American Cait Snow who sprinted by me in the finishing shoot – she deserved that and is an amazing athlete and runner! I was like a wounded animal at that point and there was just too much real estate left to hang on to 6th!
TZ: Nutrition: did it go to plan, if not what happened?
MBK: Nutrition seemed to go according to plan(ish) but sometimes the body just doesn’t have the A game on race day, no matter how well you have prepared. This is the beauty and curse of endurance sports. Having been most prepared for the run in my eyes – it is always a mystery that is worth investing the time in to improve and fine tune for the future.
TZ: Post race recovery strategy:
MBK: If you want to race again in 2013, you need to concentrate on recovery after Kona, more so than other races. It is mentally and physically draining so I used my Recovery Pump boots on a daily basis, ate as intelligently as I could, concentrated on hydration, and had a lot of protein recovery shakes. It is a challenge but a must after an intense race.
TZ: Hindsight is a fantastic thing; if there is one thing you could change about your race or preparation, what would it be?
MBK: We prepared well in for Kona and followed our game plan to the best of our ability. Strategically, we couldn’t have asked for anything more and thankful to have broken my personal Kona curse by finishing in the top 10. However, I have said it before but if you’re A+ body game is not there, it will be for others and you will be in for a battle/struggle. Although I have had the pleasure of doing 50 full Ironmans – I still learn something new EVERY single time! I will take what I learned during this one, and try to parlay that into the next race.
TZ: What’s next on the training, racing or recovery calendar?
MBK: I’m exited to have two more races on the docket -Rev 3 Florida on November 10th and we’ll end the year with Ironman Arizona (IMAZ) on November 17th – I have yet to miss IMAZ since it’s been offered and really enjoy ending the season with it! Of course – we will need to get the body into gear to be able to properly compete. I’m hopeful that we have a good base from our time spent in Kona to maintain and fine tune leading up to the last two races of the season – looking forward to it!