Racing to Kona- By Sue Aquila

Through the years, I have had had six direct competitors in my business. Two of them were national chains within throwing distance. Why did we prevail?

  • We knew our business.

  • We knew our competition.

  • We knew the market.  

This year was to be the culmination of my training with Gordo with the goal of a Kona qualification. I decided to race two Ironman events to give myself the opportunity to chase a slot.  First up was Ironman Texas. I believed I had a shot at a slot but that it would be unlikely (mostly due to a lack of heat acclimation).

My team (three at the race site and one on the computer) approached the race as if it was my last shot to qualify. The three key parts of our race strategy were:

  • Know myself

  • Know my competition

  • Know the course

Know Myself:  I believe I can only race as well as I have trained. There is no magic race performance going to burst out of my body during an 11 hour event. The dye is set when I toe the line.  My focus is on executing my pacing, my nutrition and my race.

Know My Competition:  Ironman has a participant list online on the race website for every race including bib numbers.  I wrote the BIB number range for my age group on my race bracelet. My team took the participant list and researched every person’s athletic resume on Athlinks. From there, they distilled the list down to the top 10 tiered in terms of the level of competition.

My team was spread out on the marathon course and tracked the women that started running ahead of me in my age group.  They also tracked the women chasing me in my age group. They coordinated the tracking with a training partner at home using Ironmanlive.

Because of this group effort, I was able to get accurate splits and information on my competition.  Plus it was really fun to run people down!

Know the Course:  The internet is a great tool to learn about your race course if you can’t get there prior to the race.  I had notes on each section of the bike course and memorized them before the race. I looked for opportunities to go fast when others went slow.  I knew where the going would get tough and where I could get going.

Since I live in Bloomington, Indiana, it is only appropriate to quote Bobby Knight: “Most people have the will to win, few have the will to prepare to win.”

And my race?  Goal achieved.  I hope to race you in Hawaii...

RacingMarilyn Chychota