If you know anything about IM Kona you probably know about two iconic places on the race course: The winds in Hawi and the Natural Energy Lab
We all know that Kona is hot and windy but when it comes to the energy lab - it's really not that bad when you run in it.....in training.
But training is not race day.
On race day, we enter the energy lab after 2.4 miles of swimming in the ocean, 112 windy and hot miles of biking (with not a single tree to provide even an inch of shade) and then after ~16 miles of running.
So, with 10 miles left in the final leg of the Ironman, we have 4 miles in the natural energy lab.
At this point in the Ironman, this is the place where dreams are made...or crushed. After a steady 1 mile climb out of the energy lab, it's 6 long (and mostly lonely) miles on the Queen K Hwy, back to town, before the finish.
Karel and I decided to do our Sunday run (scheduled for 60-75 minutes) in the energy lab. Because race day will feel completely different than any other training day, it's really nice that we have had so many opportunities to feel and see the race course.
Even with this being my 4th IM Kona, it's really hard to remember what happens on race day - especially if it was a year or years ago.
We parked at Kona Mountain Coffee, off the Queen K hwy and did a bit of warming up (dynamic stretching) before our run. We both had our Nathan hydration belts with Clif hydration as well as some Clif blocks if needed. I can't believe how many athletes I see out running with no hydration! Silly athletes - don't put all that training to waste and go into the race dehydrated!
Karel ran ahead of me as he is faster than me but we both kept the pace easy and comfortable.
It was about 1.2 miles from the coffee shop before we hit the energy lab.
The first mile is slightly downhill and then the road curves to the right and it is flat, hot and a little windy. Actually, the windy feels good in that it offers a little breeze.
I got excited to see a little gravel on the side of the road which I will absolutely be jumping on to if I can, on race day, as my legs love running on gravel.
A quick smile/picture break before running back out of the energy lab.
I'm really glad that we took advantage of this training run because unlike race day when we may be a bit "out of it" and using all mental focus to keep one leg moving in front of the other, the views are incredible.
I'm sure my legs won't like it on race day but I did enjoy the small gentle inclines on the way out of the energy lab.
Not sure if this sign is a good or bad thing...
Yay - only 7 more miles before the finish line
Ouch - 7 more miles before the finish line
After the run - it was time to cool off! It's crazy how cold water on the body dries so quickly!
I finished with 7.78 miles in 1 hour at a nice and comfortable pace w/ a few walk breaks.
After we cleaned up, ate and rested for a little, it was time to join our friends Jana and her coach, for lunch at Lava Java.
Karel got a fish sandwich and I got the mushroom and zucchini sandwich with sweet potato fries - yum!
As for the rest of the day - Karel and I had booked massages at Club Fitness for 4pm and 5pm so after we were nicely relaxed after our massages, it was time for dinner and early to bed by 8:30pm.