D3 Coach Simon Butterworth will be racing in the Ironman World Championships in Kona Hawaii for his 13th, YES THIRTEEN, times!  He has seen a number of race conditions to give him a solid perspective about how best to prepare for everything and anything.  His experience is your new-found knowledge as his strategies have helped him earn the Kona podium.  It took you a lot of sweat and commitment to qualify for this race, so read on for the best information and advice you need to toe the line on race day. 
This Guide is broken into four sections:

  1. Pre-travel preparation
  2. Preparation when you get to Kona
  3. Race week
  4. The Ironman World Championship race itself

1. Pre-Travel Preparation – Before you get to Kona
Race Report – Visualize what you expect
Writing a detailed race report before the race is the best way to visualize the event and plan for trouble, which will happen at some point.  You should be working on this, hopefully with a coach, weeks before the event.


Taper
There is plenty of good advice out there, but the best is from your coach.  Follow her/his advice.  When you get to Kona, don’t be tempted to do more than planned because you will want to recon the entire course.  Use your car unless you get there early and have plenty of time on your hands.When to get there


I have found that the ideal time to arrive is 10-14 days before the race (that was only possible after I retired).  If it is less, the heat acclimatization advice provided below is very important.


Gear Prep
Simple advice, don’t wait to the last minute.  Get new tires and don’t put them on the wheels until 3 days before the race.  The more tread on the tire, the less small cuts in the tire, the less chance of a flat.  A well-used tire could well ruin months, even years of training and an expense that makes the cost of new tires chump change.  Make sure everything else is in top condition before you fly.


We are fortunate at D3 to have a deep pool of coaching resources, and that includes D3 Coach Julie Dunkle.  She will be competing in the Ironman World Championships this fall for her 6th time and suggests that you should be cautious of how deep your race wheels are.  The crosswinds on the Queen K and out to Havi can be relentless and I have seen riders blow across the road.  If you are a strong and capable rider with lots of experience you can roll an 808/404 combination, but if you are unsure I would suggest 404/404.  Note: there are no discs allowed in Kona. 


Heat Acclimatization
Essential to do if you are: coming from a cool or lower humidity climate (or several weeks of cool weather),  are not getting there until race week, or have never raced in Kona conditions.  If you can get to Kona a week or more ahead of time, I would still recommend simulating the heat somehow so that when you do get there you will not go into a panic about the conditions.  Run coach Bobby McGee has a simple way to prepare for heat.  He suggests, for two weeks before your departure plan your bikes and run so that you can layer up for the last 30 minutes of every workout.  Doing more when active is not productive as it is too stressful.  There are also some interesting ideas out on the internet with the use of a Sauna, but be careful with these if you are not a regular sauna user.  Again, you don’t want to overstress yourself when you are tapering.  


Just because you have got used to the feeling of the heat and humidity it does not mean you can bike and run as fast as you could in cooler temps.  You just don’t lose as much speed.  Run pace could still be 20-30 sec. slower per mile, you need to get your mental head around this fact.  Here is a calculator to determine how much time to allow for the heat. 


Fears – Thinking Positive
I am not going to get into the mental game in this article but will say this is a critical piece if you are going to race to your potential.  You should have been working on this for weeks or months before the race.  


D3 athletes utilize the talent of mental skills coach Will Murray for such training.  And for this particular event, Will shares that as you are out and about in Kona and during your practice swims you will see a lot of superior athletes, fit and ripped, tearing around on the bike and strutting around town.  It might be easy to start comparing yourself and trying to keep up.  But race day is all that counts.  Stick to your own workout schedule.  Remind yourself of your own race plan.  See these folks as colleagues and fellow travelers, and avoid trying to be like them in the days before the race. 


Also, it’s easy to get caught up in all the buzz and pageantry.  The morning swims, the coffee barge, the Underpants Run, the 5k running race, the day-before 400m swim race all the seminars and other extracurricular events.  Remember why you are there.  While it’s fun to take in all the zaniness, you still need to focus on your own race, stay off your feet as much as you can and not get too wound up the Kona-ness of it all. 


Swim
If you have not swum in salt water you are in for a treat.  If you have survived a rough lake swim you are in for a treat.  Only once have I seen rough water in Kona and in reality it was not rough, just a constant up down on rollers.  Sighting under these conditions is challenging, so work on this if you have not done so already. Another positive is that there are a lot of good swimmers in Kona, they don’t tend to swim off in the wrong direction, so follow the leaders until you spot the many buoys.  


Bike
This is the big challenge in Kona.  Not only can it be very windy it is also a hilly bike course.  The good news is that the wind tends to stop you thinking about the hills until you go slowly down one.  


The bike is all about pacing.  Be realistic with your planning.  You should know what your power and/or HR should be for the duration you are expecting.  There is also nothing wrong with perceived exertion.  Note the word duration.  If you determine that your duration is going to be longer than your prior IM by any significant amount, because of the conditions,  your power output goals should go down some.  Fueling and Hydration should be adjusted for an anticipated longer event as well.  If you get this right, no need to worry, the inverse is trouble. 

Run
What happens here depends on what you have done for the past 114.4 miles.  If you did overdo it, don’t panic.  In my first go in Kona, I almost collapsed when I stepped off my bike and the first 4-5 miles were hell.  But Kona does magic things to the mind and the last thing you want is to not finish the race.  So don’t give up and the great thing is all the encouragement along the first part of the run.  


If all went reasonably well and you get your running legs before leaving town stick to your plan, enjoy the feeling of knowing you are on your way to the finish.  


2. Preparation When You Get To Kona
Bike Course Recon 
How much of this you can do depends obviously on when you get to Kona.  Here are my thoughts in order of importance:
1.  The windy bit, Waikoloa.  Drive out to Waikoloa around 9 am to get in a ride in during the time you should be out there on race day (which is usually the windiest time of the day).  Unfortunately, it is not always windy out there so you will need to ask about the conditions.  I have been there for two weeks with what would be great race conditions only to have to famous winds come back 1-2 days before the race (you don’t want to go out there that close to the race).  
When you are out there be sure to ride through some of the cuts through the big mounds of Lava.  If it is blowing hard going through these the first time is scary.  You may be leaning into the crosswind the suddenly there is no wind.  In the middle, it can get totally confused with the wind buffeting you around.  Then as you exit, you get the full force of the wind again.
2.  A ride thru Kona.  It is important to get an idea of the climbs you will experience over the first 5 miles.  Don’t hammer them, ride as if you are doing the race.  Get comfortable with the speed and don’t try to go faster on race day.  

.
Taper
There is plenty of good advice out there, but the best is from your coach.  Follow her/his advice.  When you get to Kona, don’t be tempted to do more than planned because you will want to recon the entire course.  Use your car unless you get there early and have plenty of time on your hands.

When to get there
I have found that the ideal time to arrive is 10-14 days before the race (that was only possible after I retired).  If it is less, the heat acclimatization advice provided below is very important.


Gear Prep
Simple advice, don’t wait to the last minute.  Get new tires and don’t put them on the wheels until 3 days before the race.  The more tread on the tire, the less small cuts in the tire, the less chance of a flat.  A well-used tire could well ruin months, even years of training and an expense that makes the cost of new tires chump change.  Make sure everything else is in top condition before you fly.


We are fortunate at D3 to have a deep pool of coaching resources, and that includes D3 Coach Julie Dunkle.  She will be competing in the Ironman World Championships this fall for her 6th time and suggests that you should be cautious of how deep your race wheels are.  The crosswinds on the Queen K and out to Havi can be relentless and I have seen riders blow across the road.  If you are a strong and capable rider with lots of experience you can roll an 808/404 combination, but if you are unsure I would suggest 404/404.  Note: there are no discs allowed in Kona. 


Heat Acclimatization
Essential to do if you are: coming from a cool or lower humidity climate (or several weeks of cool weather),  are not getting there until race week, or have never raced in Kona conditions.  If you can get to Kona a week or more ahead of time, I would still recommend simulating the heat somehow so that when you do get there you will not go into a panic about the conditions.  Run coach Bobby McGee has a simple way to prepare for heat.  He suggests, for two weeks before your departure plan your bikes and run so that you can layer up for the last 30 minutes of every workout.  Doing more when active is not productive as it is too stressful.  There are also some interesting ideas out on the internet with the use of a Sauna, but be careful with these if you are not a regular sauna user.  Again, you don’t want to overstress yourself when you are tapering.  


Just because you have got used to the feeling of the heat and humidity it does not mean you can bike and run as fast as you could in cooler temps.  You just don’t lose as much speed.  Run pace could still be 20-30 sec. slower per mile, you need to get your mental head around this fact.  Here is a calculator to determine how much time to allow for the heat. 


Fears – Thinking Positive
I am not going to get into the mental game in this article but will say this is a critical piece if you are going to race to your potential.  You should have been working on this for weeks or months before the race.  
D3 athletes utilize the talent of mental skills coach Will Murray for such training.  And for this particular event, Will shares that as you are out and about in Kona and during your practice swims you will see a lot of superior athletes, fit and ripped, tearing around on the bike and strutting around town.  It might be easy to start comparing yourself and trying to keep up.  But race day is all that counts.  Stick to your own workout schedule.  Remind yourself of your own race plan.  See these folks as colleagues and fellow travelers, and avoid trying to be like them in the days before the race. 


Also, it’s easy to get caught up in all the buzz and pageantry.  The morning swims, the coffee barge, the Underpants Run, the 5k running race, the day-before 400m swim race all the seminars and other extracurricular events.  Remember why you are there.  While it’s fun to take in all the zaniness, you still need to focus on your own race, stay off your feet as much as you can and not get too wound up the Kona-ness of it all. 


Swim
If you have not swum in salt water you are in for a treat.  If you have survived a rough lake swim you are in for a treat.  Only once have I seen rough water in Kona and in reality it was not rough, just a constant up down on rollers.  Sighting under these conditions is challenging, so work on this if you have not done so already. Another positive is that there are a lot of good swimmers in Kona, they don’t tend to swim off in the wrong direction, so follow the leaders until you spot the many buoys.  


Bike
This is the big challenge in Kona.  Not only can it be very windy it is also a hilly bike course.  The good news is that the wind tends to stop you thinking about the hills until you go slowly down one.  


The bike is all about pacing.  Be realistic with your planning.  You should know what your power and/or HR should be for the duration you are expecting.  There is also nothing wrong with perceived exertion.  Note the word duration.  If you determine that your duration is going to be longer than your prior IM by any significant amount, because of the conditions,  your power output goals should go down some.  Fueling and Hydration should be adjusted for an anticipated longer event as well.  If you get this right, no need to worry, the inverse is trouble. 

Run
What happens here depends on what you have done for the past 114.4 miles.  If you did overdo it, don’t panic.  In my first go in Kona, I almost collapsed when I stepped off my bike and the first 4-5 miles were hell.  But Kona does magic things to the mind and the last thing you want is to not finish the race.  So don’t give up and the great thing is all the encouragement along the first part of the run.  


If all went reasonably well and you get your running legs before leaving town stick to your plan, enjoy the feeling of knowing you are on your way to the finish.  


2. Preparation When You Get To Kona
Bike Course Recon 
How much of this you can do depends obviously on when you get to Kona.  Here are my thoughts in order of importance:
1.  The windy bit, Waikoloa.  Drive out to Waikoloa around 9 am to get in a ride in during the time you should be out there on race day (which is usually the windiest time of the day).  Unfortunately, it is not always windy out there so you will need to ask about the conditions.  I have been there for two weeks with what would be great race conditions only to have to famous winds come back 1-2 days before the race (you don’t want to go out there that close to the race).  
When you are out there be sure to ride through some of the cuts through the big mounds of Lava.  If it is blowing hard going through these the first time is scary.  You may be leaning into the crosswind the suddenly there is no wind.  In the middle, it can get totally confused with the wind buffeting you around.  Then as you exit, you get the full force of the wind again.
2.  A ride thru Kona.  It is important to get an idea of the climbs you will experience over the first 5 miles.  Don’t hammer them, ride as if you are doing the race.  Get comfortable with the speed and don’t try to go faster on race day.  

3.  Climb to Hawi.  A great time to do this if you get there early enough is the weekend before.  A great starting point is to drive to the end of the Queen K. Spencer State Park.  Ride the rollers along the coast a bit below your IM pace, then when the road moves away from the immediate coast and you start a steady climb, push the pace a bit above your IM pace goal.  As the road starts to climb it also starts to turn east and with it, the winds usually get stronger until you are not going anywhere fast.  Winds can also be very gusty along this road.  A warning and good news.  The shoulder is narrow and it is scary with traffic.  Race day there is none, be careful.  


Come back to Spencer down the long hill not working hard and pick it up a bit again along the rollers.  Coming back down the hill with the wind at your back is very fast.  As the road curves south it will get gusty, sometimes very gusty.  You should stay in your aerobars, as it makes you lower and reduces the effect of the gusts.  Look at the grass ahead of you to anticipate the gusts or sudden lulls.  Don’t ride beside any friends on the shoulder.  
4.  Hill Repeats.  If you get to Kona soon enough there is a great place to do hill repeats 6+ miles south on Alii Drive.  You will find what I am talking about around that distance.  Also of note is the Pit.  At mile 5.5 you go up a short hill on Alii and the road turns right.  On the next longer descent there is a road going off to the right, the Pit.  It was part of the original run course.  Picture yourself running up that hill a little over a mile after getting off the bike.  That was a tough course.


Run Course Recon 
I don’t believe there is any benefit to running out of town on the Queen K.  At most go out to the Harbor and head back.  I would get used to the small rollers on the Queen K and the climb up and down Palani.  Don’t run in the middle of the day unless you are expecting a swim and bike to rival the Pros.  I run mostly in the morning and do one or two short runs mid to late afternoon when I expect to be running in the race.  It is worth a drive down the Energy Lab road to get a look at it.  It is not a big hill until you are climbing it more than halfway through the run.  


There is an interesting example of the structure of the island just past the turn at the bottom of the hill and before you get to a building with toilets. Park just before you get to the toilets and walk straight across the beach and onto the lava.  You will see a small inlet in the rocks.  If it is low tide the water will feel cool and you may smell sulfur.  Water is coming down from the top of Mauna Loa through the lava tubes.  

orking hard and pick it up a bit again along the rollers.  Coming back down the hill with the wind at your back is very fast.  As the road curves south it will get gusty, sometimes very gusty.  You should stay in your aerobars, as it makes you lower and reduces the effect of the gusts.  Look at the grass ahead of you to anticipate the gusts or sudden lulls.  Don’t ride beside any friends on the shoulder.  


4.  Hill Repeats.  If you get to Kona soon enough there is a great place to do hill repeats 6+ miles south on Alii Drive.  You will find what I am talking about around that distance.  Also of note is the Pit.  At mile 5.5 you go up a short hill on Alii and the road turns right.  On the next longer descent there is a road going off to the right, the Pit.  It was part of the original run course.  Picture yourself running up that hill a little over a mile after getting off the bike.  That was a tough course.


Run Course Recon 
I don’t believe there is any benefit to running out of town on the Queen K.  At most go out to the Harbor and head back.  I would get used to the small rollers on the Queen K and the climb up and down Palani.  Don’t run in the middle of the day unless you are expecting a swim and bike to rival the Pros.  I run mostly in the morning and do one or two short runs mid to late afternoon when I expect to be running in the race.  It is worth a drive down the Energy Lab road to get a look at it.  It is not a big hill until you are climbing it more than halfway through the run.  


There is an interesting example of the structure of the island just past the turn at the bottom of the hill and before you get to a building with toilets. Park just before you get to the toilets and walk straight across the beach and onto the lava.  You will see a small inlet in the rocks.  If it is low tide the water will feel cool and you may smell sulfur.  Water is coming down from the top of Mauna Loa through the lava tubes.  

Heat Adjustment
There is not much you can do once you get to Kona other than being out in it.  Don’t use AC in your hotel/condo except perhaps to cool off the bedroom so you sleep well.  Same in the car except in the hottest part of the day.  


Nutrition/Hydration
Don’t try anything new!  Stay well hydrated, you will notice you sweat a lot.  Drink some but not exclusively sports drinks each day.  Tap water is good in Kona.  There is a Costco in Kona, find it, it is the best place for gas and most food supplies.  Food is expensive on the Island.  


Bike Support
Bike Works Kona is your best bet for quality bike service and the all-important supply of CO2 cartridges as you are not supposed to take them on your flight.


3.  Race Week

Activities – Parade, Underpants Run, Swim Race (Saturday before big event)
Plan this carefully, don’t ‘overdo’ walking around town during race week, you need all the rest you can get.  The Underpants Run is still fun, but it is now so big that it needs a parking lot to stage the event (it used to start on a narrow street in the middle of town).ART/Massage/Acupuncture
ART (Active Release Therapy) specialists set up a tent on the Monday of race week by the King Kam Hotel to treat those strange niggles that seem to always crop up at the last minute.  Your best bet for massage is to find one of the many who comes to work on the Pros during race week.  There is a good acupuncturist in the village of Holualoa that can be found here.  https://www.malamatherapy.com/denice.html


Swimming
There are limited buoys on the race course all year round.  IM marks the course with buoys for their swim race the week before the big event.  In the morning there are swimmers in large numbers out on the course two weeks before the race.  There is a masters program at the Kona public pool.  Kona athletes have always been welcome.  The head coach helped Mark Spitz to a few medals.  Learn more here.  In addition, there is an Ironman organized swim called the Ho‘ala IRONMAN Training Swim.  You can learn more about that one here.


Registration
Get this done the first day they open for business, Tuesday.  It gives you plenty of time to get everything ready and ask questions.


Day Before
Get off your feet. Don’t leave the shopping to the last minute.  You should have nothing to do today except prepare your fuel and hydration needs for the race and get in a short workout.


Stay Hydrated
Keep a bottle with you all day.


Last Short S-B-R
Shorter the better, just make sure you and everything else works.


Bike Check-In
Be sure to recon the transition area fully when you get there.  Don’t leave this to the last minute.  


4.  The Ironman World Championship Race Itself
When To Get To Venue
ASAP.  S*%#@ happens in an IM, get there early so you can handle anything.  If all is perfect then great, relax on the grass, off to your right as you walk to your bike.  


Setting Up Your Gear
You may get told at check-in that you can’t get to your bike and run bags race morning.  So far they have not enforced this, they are just trying to discourage it.  I carry my own fluids for the first part of the run so I need to get to the bag.  If you do the same it’s best to put the fluids in, cold, in the morning.  I freeze the bottles for my run bag and my run special needs bag.  Don’t do this for the bike special needs as sometimes they don’t melt.  


Warming Up
There is a great place to warm up inside the secure area of transition.  There is a small path on the far side of the little bay formed by the jetty and transition area behind the grassy area.


Race Start
Don’t wait until the last minute to head down to the water.  It is a slow process of getting everyone onto the small beach and there is a 100-200 yd. swim out to the start.  


Swim 
Sighting:  You should have sorted this out in some practice swims earlier in the week.  As mentioned earlier staying on course in this race is not that hard as most people go in the right direction.  If there are rollers that make sighting buoys a challenge, there are two hills way off in the distance, well past the turn, that can be used to sight.  On the return, there are radio towers behind the swim exit.  


Wave Starts (sort of):  There is no longer a mass start but only 4 waves and they are big: Pro Men, Pro Women, Amateur Men, and Amateur Women.  I like this setup as I get to swim in a school at the start with the men and then about halfway a school of women drag me along for a bit.  


Breaking Down the Swim
A) Start
Pick your poison.  I much prefer getting swum over than having to work around slow swimmers and I want a draft.  Again there are mostly good swimmers here and they don’t weave about like they do in other races.  I have always found this start to be easier than any other big wave start.  If you don’t like getting in the scrum then I would stay back but close to the right side of the course.  Going out left always means a bit bigger rollers (you are closer to the shore).  Follow your coach’s advice and stay in control those first few hundred yards, it’s a long day ahead.
B) Outbound
Don’t panic if you don’t see the boats at the turnaround for a long time.  They always seem hard to spot.  You should be settled into a good rhythm as the big hotel that juts into the water passes on your left.  
C) Return
The course is a very long triangle with a short base.  Turning around the two boats marking the bottom of the course can get a bit hectic, but you don’t have to swim way wide to stay out of trouble.  Follow the buoys at first but then as you get a bit closer you can see the masts on land behind the transition area.  Be sure to stay close to the buoys as you approach the pier.  There is often a current carrying you to your left away from the buoy line.  


Bike
Breaking Down the Bike
The bike course can be broken into several very nice and easy to remember segments each with their own characteristics.  Thinking in these shorter segments makes setting goals easier.


A) First 5-6 Miles in Town
The start of the bike can set you up for a great race, or wreck it.  It is mostly up and down, and there is so much pent-up energy around you that it is hard to stick to your plan.  You must do so and ignore the hammerheads out of the saddle trying to crush the first hills.  Hopefully, you took my earlier advice and rode this part of the course and know how long it should take you when you are fully in control of your faculties.

B) Kona to Donkey Crossing
The Donkey Crossing is a sign on the Queen K about 4 miles past the airport and a little before a long descent.  That long downhill marks the end of a gradual climb to the highest point on the Queen K, about 24 miles from the start and 17 from the top of Palani.  It’s a rolling assent with some false flats and descents.  Again don’t push the steeper climbs to hold speed, it is still way early in the race.  With luck, there will be little or no wind along this segment.
C) DK to End of Queen K
You will be moving well past the Donkey Crossing flying on the big descent to the Lava fields of Mauna Loa. Other than that long descent the segment is a series of long rollers and a very slight altitude gain to the end of the highway.  Here you will be met with the famous wind.  Sometimes it is a headwind, or almost so, other days a very nasty crosswind.  The really nasty fact about this segment is that you get the winds coming and going.  Only the fastest cyclists avoid the typical SW onshore wind that develops midday to the early afternoon.   Try to stay well within your goal power along this road, the day is far from over.  
D) Kawaihae
This very short but notable segment for two reasons is often scary fast going down and brutal hot going up (on the way back).  The reason for the speed is that if there is a strong crosswind on the Queen K, the wind is howling down this hill to the Kawaihae harbor.  FYI a little history.  The first missionaries settled in this part of the island and the harbor has been the major port on the west side of the island from the earliest time of white settlers.  
Coming back up the hill later on the wind, in my experience, has gone and is replaced by no wind of a slight onshore breeze.  The heat is intense but fortunately, it is not too long a climb, about a mile.  
E) Rollers on Kohala Coast
The road up to Hawi starts with a rolling climb right along the shore and then holds a constant elevation, with rollers, until you hit the steady climb to Hawi about 7 miles out from the town.  Wind is all over the place here but is usually not too strong.  Most of the climbs are a bit too long to be pushing outside your power goals.  You do not want to arrive at the next section depleted in any way.  
By the time you return on this segment you may have a headwind if the onshore breeze gets going early.  
F) Climb to Hawi
Without a doubt the toughest part of the course, up and down.  Going up you may wonder how much slower can I go without falling off.  Going down you may wish you could slow down.  As the road turns gradually east the wind gets stronger.  At first, it is a gusty crosswind and you start wishing it would just either stay steady or hit your head on.  It will hit you head on but don’t wish for it too soon.  As mentioned before, look at the grass and trees on the side of the road for oncoming gusts.  Stay low as much as you can.  This is not a good place to climb out of the saddle but I would do so whenever there seems to be a lull in the wind, to stretch your back.  
Coming down it can get very scary.  You don’t have to worry about traffic but sometimes large packs of mad athletes seem to form on this hill.  There is no advantage to this with the wind at your back and having someone weaving all over the road near you is not desirable.  At first, it is great with the wind right behind your back, but gradually it becomes a crosswind and gusty, just like going up.  That’s the hard part.  
G) Working back to Kona
Coming home the race really starts.  If you get back on the Queen K feeling good then you have been racing smart.  Now is the time to push the hills just a bit harder and enjoy the feeling gained from passing bikes.  The Donkey Crossing is my big landmark for the return home, at that point it is almost all downhill to Kona.  There may be a wind in your face but it is not often strong.  Spin out the last few miles after passing the Energy Lab road.  If you are a slower athlete, enjoy watching the Pros battle it out to the finish.   


Run
Breaking Down the Run

“You should arrive back in Kona feeling like you are nicely warmed up”, says professional triathlete Wendy Ingram.   Like the bike, the run breaks down nicely so that you are not focusing on 26 miles.  Doing this on the run is even more important.  You are now hopefully metering out your last energy reserves at your best effort.   Even if you don’t feel too hot as you start, take advantage of any ice, and cold sponges at each aide station.  You will get very hot very soon.  
A) Out and Back to Kahaluu Bay (AKA Turtle Beach)
Breaking this down a bit finer is a good idea as the run through the village will set you up.   Go easy up the first climb on Palani.  Kuakini is slightly down with some false flat, then it is a slight downhill on Hualalai.  Try to stretch out your strides on Hualalai.  On Alii absorb the support from the fans, the great view of where you were swimming early in the morning and focus on getting comfortable.  The climbs on Alii are not long or steep but they may get your attention.  The first one leaving the village will tell you how you are doing.  
Keep the pace very comfortable on the outbound (about 5 miles) even if you are feeling very good (relatively speaking).  After 3-4 miles and certainly by the turnaround you should be running at your goal pace and have your running legs.
It is usually humid along the shoreline but there is shade.  Outbound it is easy to get all the shade going, on the return stay as close to the left side of the road as you can.  
Going back through town absorb the vibes from the crowds.  Don’t get too excited, there is a nasty hill ahead.
B) Climb up Palani
Running up Palani is something you need to consider before the race.  It is not hard when fresh but I don’t think anyone would say it is easy on race day.  The question you need to answer is “how much will a run to the top take out of me”?  A tough question and only some testing and experience will tell you.  I have walked up the hill many times and sometimes faster than some runners.  
C) Out to the Energy Lab
This is deceptively tough for several reasons.  The support from the fans is noticeably diminished and late in the day/night non existent.  After the first downhill the road trends up all the way to the top of the Energy Lab road in a series of long gradual ups and downs.  If you are a fast athlete, meaning you are getting out there before 4pm,  it is by far the hottest part of the course, along with the Energy Lab section.  If you are slower, the sun may have lost or is losing its punch.  If it is hot but there are some clouds take note of how you feel when a cloud covers the sun.  It is amazing and it is an education in how the heat affects your running. 4pm,  it is by far the hottest part of the course, along with the Energy Lab section.  If you are slower, the sun may have lost or is losing its punch.  If it is hot but there are some clouds take note of how you feel when a cloud covers the sun.  It is amazing and it is an education in how the heat affects your running. 

D) The Energy Lab
Take heart, at the top of the road you are already well past the halfway point of the run.  Going down is generally a relief but it does get hot especially if you are an early bird.  
My first few years racing Kona the climb back up was very hard, and I walked most of it.  But the mental game is important.  It is not a steep hill, you would fly up it in cooler conditions and when fresh.  Think cool and focus on you.  Keep your cadence going and realize at the top you are only 10k from getting back into town.
E) Short and Hard run back to Kona
It’s hard because the mental and physical gas tank is getting very low.  The road does trend downwards to the bottom of the last hill.  This is where your mental game will be tested to its limit.  It will be very easy to give in to the desire to walk or walk more.  It is also true that you almost certainly have more left in the tank than you realize.  Keep thinking of something positive waiting for you down the road.  Engage your fellow travelers, unless they are your competition.  
F) Climb to Palani
Two years ago I arrived at this point realizing that one of my competitors was just ahead of me.  This is where Mark Allen made his move on Dave Scott in 1998.  I did the same on my competitor with a successful result.  It taught me that there is indeed much more in the tank than you realize.  I would not try to kill this hill unless there is a good reason but I will no longer let it beat me.  Make it your best effort holding a tiny bit in reserve for the last wonderful segment in Kona.

G) Mad Dash to the Finish
Unless you are fighting for a podium finish be careful on the descent on Palani.  It is steep and at this point your quads are not in the best of shape.  It’s a good place to get the cadence going again.  Then as you round the hot corner lengthen the stride.
Kuakini can seem awful long as the sounds of Mike Riley from the finish line fade a bit but hang in there.  The finish on Alii, if you are a first timer, will be all you imagined it would be and some.  If you have been here before it will be just as special or more so than the last time.    
Congratulations, Ironman! 

Coach Simon says about his picture to the left, that it was from the 2016 race, and its what you look like when you think someone just behind you has been lurking for the last mile and he is in your AG and you know you are in second place (I was misinformed).  It proves you always have more in the tank than you think.
Coach Simon believes that in the big picture, and attitude more than age makes the difference in many aspects of this sport. There are times in triathlon that to see improvements you need to slow down and spend some time working on your technique – which requires a great deal of discipline. So does having a coach and following the plan written for you. The best coach in the world can only be of help if you’re ready and willing to do the work .

All This Experience

Can Be On Your Side!