KONA competitor and full-time triathlon coach Richard Lawrie tells us all about his journey to kona
Tell us a little bit about yourself? What do you do, how old are you? Single or taken?
I'm 27 years young and a full time Triathlon coach affiliated to the 'My Training Day' academy. I manage a large squad in Port Elizabeth as well as athletes around the Eastern Cape.
I am also a hard working amateur athlete with ambitions of racing at a higher level. I've been doing triathlon about six years now and love it! And I'm taken - by a triathlon girl who is actually part of the My Training Day squad in PE!
Stepping off the plane for the first time at Kona can be pretty emotional. And taking your first swim in the bay at Dig Me Beach can be daunting! What went through your head?
I was actually feeling very relaxed throughout my Kona experience. It was an amazing opportunity for me just to race at this event and I wanted to enjoy the journey as best as I could. This is something I focused on from the day I started my 24 week block right through till the end. I would say that I was far more excited than nervous for the race.
I knew that it was going to be a challenging day and that I would go out there and just do the best I could. Of course I had a goal in mind but I know that in this sport it all comes down to race day and that staying calm would allow me to go in feeling positive and focused.
How long was your build up? What type of peak mileage/hours did you do?
I took one month off after Ironman SA, and then kicked off my training for Kona.
I used a 24 week training block. It started off nice and easy and started to pick up towards the end. My goal was to still maintain balance throughout and this meant that I actually didn't do the kind of volume that some would have expected. My biggest training week was 29 hours and my average training hours were probably around 19 - 20 hours.
Take us through your race at Kona! From the massive cannon blast to the best finish line in Triathlon, how was the whole experience?
Where to start! Race morning I woke up after a good nights sleep. I was feeling very relaxed and excited to get going. Entering the water and waiting for the cannon to fire I was feeling calm and very excited. I knew I had a very tough day of racing ahead of me and it was going to require a lot from me to perform at the level I was hoping to.
I had a swim that I was happy with exiting the water feeling strong in 59:45min. Transition 1 went smooth and I was in and out fast. Onto the bike for 180km and the legs were feeling a bit sluggish early on. This is pretty normal though so I didn't panic and kept the effort steady to give the legs some time to get going. Eventually they did and I started to find a good rhythm. I was making up loads of positions and was feeling comfortable in doing so. It was extremely hot and there was a decent wind blowing. I focused on staying hydrated and made use of each and every aid station on the 180km bike course. Coming back towards town there was a strong headwind blowing but my legs were still feeling great so I was motivated.
Coming into Tranisiton 2 I was feeling good and confident for the run. Getting out onto the run my legs were feeling a bit fatigued from the bike but this is normal for me. My legs usually come around after 2 - 3km but this time it was unfortunately different. Getting onto Ali'i drive and about 3km into the run I noticed that I was not feeling any better and this is when the heat started to take its toll. The heat and humidity was insane. It was like nothing I've ever experienced before and I was not prepared for it that early on the run.
My aim was to run a 3 hr 20 min marathon and I thought this was very realistic as I ran a 3 hr 14:50 at IMSA and felt that my running was really in a good place going into the race. My focus was to try and run the first 16km stretch on Ali'i drive at around 4:42min/km but the humidity really took it's toll. It was only my second ever marathon and to think that I had another 39km to go was extremely daunting. My mind started filling with negative thoughts, I started doubting myself and began to wonder if I would finish the race.
At this stage I definitely thought that even a sub 4 hour marathon was out of the question. I remembered one of the tri mottos that we hear so often; "just keep moving forward" and that is exactly what I did. My pace was dropping and I knew that I was in for the hardest experience of my life. I decided to focus on running between each aid station and to then walk the aid station focusing on getting in liquids and cooling my body down with sponges and ice blocks. I did this for the duration of the marathon and only at the 31km mark did I start to believe that I was going to finish and still manage a sub-4 marathon. Coming into town I was feeling absolutely shattered to the point where I was completely emotionless.
To be honest I struggled to take in the finish line because I was so finished myself! I remember being passed by 4 athletes in the final 400m and I had absolutely no response as I just wanted to finish. Crossing the line and realizing that the hardest event of my life is over was a huge relief. It wasn't the race I had hoped for but it was still a result that I am happy with. What makes me more happy is that I did not give up and I kept on pushing till the line. I finished my marathon in a time of 3 hr 41 minutes, the race in 9 hr 39 minutes & 18th position in my age group. I've taken more away from this experience than I ever could have imagined. It is a race that truly humbled me but I am really hoping to go back some day (hopefully 2019) and be more prepared physically and mentally.
You've got a MiFitLife policy. How did the fact that you were covered help during the build up?
It was great because I knew that this trip was costing me an arm and a leg. To sum it up it cost me around R80 000 - R90 000. Having the cover insured me against injuries that may have come about during the hard months of training and I knew that I was covered for the expenses of the race entry should anything happen to me.
So what's next?
I am currently enjoying a very nice break from any form of training programme. It has been a very big year for me (3 x IM 70.3 races and my first 2 x Ironman events) and as a coach I am a firm believer in taking time out to allow the body and mind to recover. The last 4 years have been pretty big for me in terms of racing so I have decided to take a slightly longer break now. Next year I will be focusing on the shorter 70.3 distance events again as I would really like to do well at the 70.3 World championships in my home city (Nelson Mandela Bay).
Upcoming races include:
MiWay Durban Ultra (March 2018)
Miway Suncity Ultra (May 2018)
Ironman 70.3 Durban (June 2018)
Ironman 70.3 World Championship (Septmeber 2018)