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Training for Kona with USA Triathlon Hall of Famer, Karen Smyers

By: Becky Paige

I had the opportunity to race in my fourth Ironman World Championship on October 8th. My latest journey to the Kona starting line began the day I placed second in my age group at Ironman Cozumel in November of 2015. I was fortunate enough to have 11 months to get my body prepared for race day at Kona.

I consider myself pretty lucky because my coach and training partner is Karen Smyers. She’s an Ironman World Champion and USA Triathlon Hall of Fame and ITU Hall of Famer. I could go on but, trust me, she has lots of accolades. One of the things that I have learned in my tenure working and training with Karen is that being flexible in your training is paramount. Things don’t always go as planned and managing work, life, and family as well as listening to your body are really important.

In June, I was racing the Patriot Half Triathlon and noticed on the run course that they were handing out a product called HOTSHOT. I was intrigued. I can’t say that I have ever suffered from debilitating cramps. I have gotten my fair share over the course of my life but it is not something I particularly struggle with.

Fast forward to the week leading up to the Ironman World Championship. During the week, I met Craig “Crowie” Alexander at the HOTSHOT booth in the Ironman village. It was a pleasure to meet him in person and I felt pretty lucky to get a picture with both him and Karen. I was hoping that some of their fast Ironman mojo would rub off on me for race day! I also did a ‘first’. I ran in the annual “Underpants Run”.  I swallowed my pride and met up with the HOTSHOT team for some fun pictures in my fancy HOTSHOT underpants. It’s all for a great cause – raising money for local Hawaiian charities. And it truly was lots of fun!

On race morning, I woke up at 4 a.m., had some breakfast and made my way into town to prepare for the race start. That morning the sunrise over the pier was breathtaking.

I have used HOTSHOT prior to my long run workouts, and on this particular morning, I had a HOTSHOT prior to the swim start. It seems to put my body at ease. HOTSHOT has a hot and a bit of a spicy taste to it – the kind of hot and spicy that warms your belly. At 7:10 a.m., the cannon went off for the women’s swim start and my latest Ironman adventure began.

I had a perfectly fine day, solid in all three disciplines. In the swim I felt like a tiny fish in a big magnificent ocean. The bike course is seriously challenging. Between the heat and wind, you just have to put your head down and keep on going. As for the run, you can’t think about running a marathon. You have to break it down. And somehow, someway you get it done. One thing is for sure, there’s nothing better than running into town and knowing that you have made it. The finishing chute is pure magic. You forget how hard those 140.6 miles were.

I was hoping to race a bit better, but getting to the finish line at Kona is what really counts. I am also happy to report that I didn’t have any cramping issues. It’s good to know that if I needed it I had HOTSHOT at my disposal.

The thing that I love about being a competitive athlete is that I am always looking for ways to improve. As a masters athlete, I have come to the realization that the journey getting to the starting line is just as important as the race itself. I’ll continue to incorporate HOTSHOT into my training. I plan on sharing it with athletes that I work with to see if it can help them. In the meantime, I am in the process of mapping out my race schedule for 2017. A trip to Rotterdam with Team USA for the Olympic distance World Championship will be a key event next year. And maybe I will try to get back to Kona and race with the best Ironman athletes in the world. Maybe five times is a charm?

MORE ON THE HOTSHOT BLOG 

“What I learned from IRONMAN Champion Crowie Alexander” One athletes story 

 

7 Questions With USAT Triathlon Coach Bob Seebohar: Read on to discover foundational training tips for all triathletes. 

HOTSHOT Science: Why does HOTSHOT have a kick? It’s all about activating the TRP Channels. 

 

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