HOTSHOT at IRONMAN Kona: Making it to the finish line

The IRONMAN World Championship is Saturday. Over the past few months, we’ve met over 20 Kona athletes who rely on HOTSHOT to get them through one of the toughest battles on the Big Island. On their journeys to Kona, athletes Karen Perzyk and Greg Colvin discovered that anything is possible. They can train through the pain, and they can, in fact, combat the debilitating impact that muscle cramping has had on their performances. Read their stories here: 



Greg Colivn: Confident in his race plan

I’ve struggled with muscle cramps my whole life.  I’ve had many races ruined by cramping. It’s hard to accept cramping wiping out my performance after all the effort, time and expense to get to the start line of a big race. The frustration is that I know the fitness and preparation is there, but something so out of my control negates all the work that I’ve done.


Hot races have always been extra tough for me because of my size and, even with a well-executed hydration plan, I still suffer from cramps. Many times I’ve had cramps early in the swim that lasted the rest of the day so electrolyte levels could not have been a factor. I’ve also had my legs lock up with cramps just after putting ice in my pants in hot races (I’ll never make that mistake again!). This convinced me that there is something else going on with my body besides dehydration and electrolyte imbalance – and now I think someone has cracked the code.

As soon I found out that HOTSHOT was available, I bought it. I’ve used it before races and on long training days with great results. To have that level of confidence meant that I was able to put my swim into high gear without the fear of foot, calf or hamstring cramps. 

This will be my second race at Kona and my 19th Ironman. The first time at Kona I experienced cramps halfway through the swim that stayed with me the rest of the day. Kona is hard enough with the heat and wind. Cramping on the swim on top of everything else added up to a long brutal day. This year, I’ll be prepared and will be using HOTSHOT before the race as a precaution and carrying a bottle during the bike and run. 


Karen-blogKaren Perzyk, An Unlikely Kona Qualifier Proves That Anything Really Is Possible:

I trained really hard this season. Admittedly, I think even my tri friends thought I was crazy. Still, I had no idea that it would all culminate in winning the Willy Wonka golden ticket of triathlon. I’m just an above average age grouper. Yes, I’ve gotten USAT All-American the last two years, and I’ve vastly improved throughout the four Ironman races I’ve done, but I’ve still come up just shy of the podium recently in both 70.3 and 140.6.


A good friend of mine – a former pro and perhaps the only Michigander ever to race Kona as a pro – challenged me this season, saying my problem is that I just don’t want to feel pain on the bike. I knew he was right. So this season I decided I was going to force myself to focus on my weakness.


But it wasn’t just the bike. There’s another secret weapon: swimming volume. Specifically, open-water swimming volume. I’m talking 20,000-25,000 meters a week of swimming. Swimming doesn’t necessarily make you SWIM that much faster, but I firmly believe it gives you bottomless wind and back-end endurance on the run. And the running? This is my third season of being religious about running only 3 or 4 times a week.

And the final je-ne-sais-quoi element to an unlikely KQ? Camaraderie. Our tri group doesn’t have a name. We don’t have fancy, matching tri kits. It’s just another reason to spend time together and feed our swim-bike-run addiction. We’re an offshoot of our larger running family that’s been going strong for 10+ years. There were several of us signed up for IMLOU this year. We met religiously several times a week before sunrise to do 1.5-mile round-trip swims in our local lake. Sometimes we’d do doubles — even triples. We did our long rides together almost every week. We shared equipment knowledge. We encouraged each other through injury. We kept each other accountable. I’ll tell you, if there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s that you don’t get to Kona by training in a bubble.

I never dreamed I could ever make it to Kona. Now I’m the third little IMLOU dot on Coach Cox’s W45-49 2016 Kona qualification chart. You can do it, too. But there is no easy way! Be obsessive about every aspect of it. Surround yourself with people as intense as you are. People who believe in you even when you don’t. Have faith in the process. Plan ahead. Soak up information from your tri community. You will get that Kona slot. As the formerly (and still somewhat) subpar bike split girl who emerged from the ashes of a bike crash, I’m here to tell you, it’s NOT out of your reach. You can do this. Anything is possible!



Train Smarter: 5 things every triathlete should incorporate into their IRONMAN training plan. 

Carbs and Protein: 7 tips for proper intake for optimal fuel. 

Running Tips: How to taper for race day.