Thanks to athlete Michelle Hildebrand for this great read on some of the nitty gritty race specifics of racing in the prestigious Ironman World Championships!
All of us here at Solvang Tri Camps have been honored to see Michelle’s progression from her first Solvang camp in 2009, through to her 6th camp earlier this year. Her determination and dedication to her Kona goal was an inspiration and something we all suspected would be on the cards in due time!
Congratulations Michelle on achieving your goal of qualifying for and racing in Kona, very well deserved!
Michelle Hildebrand’s top 6 takeaways from Kona
1. The environment on race morning is indescribable so take the time to look around and soak in the small things like seeing the pros bikes in transition, walking down the red carpet steps into the water while listening to the drums, and looking back at the sea wall full of spectators before the swim start.
2. Racing in the Ironman World Championships is almost more mental than physical because of the long stretches of nothingness and lava along the Queen K on the bike and run that don’t provide the mental change up that other courses provide. I expected the heat and wind but not the mental challenge this course threw at me.
3. The extra aid stations on the bike are a godsend for getting extra bottles of water to keep cool but the length of the aid stations on the run is almost a curse because walking the entire aid stations eats badly into your run pace.
4. The run is hot but for those of us finishing over 10 hours, the energy lab and return trip to town are not too bad because the sun is starting to go down.
5. The wind on the bike is as bad as you’ve heard in spots but keep telling yourself that the wind is your friend and eventually you’ll start to feel it push you along.
6. The last mile of the run going down Palani, through town and down the finisher chute in Kona is as amazing as you can imagine!
In some ways it is rather like a dream you could have on one of those training days where you feel invincable. Enter your first Ironman just one week out, and then win the race. Come on, for real?!!! Well if your name is Molly Smith, then this was no dream, it was the actual reality of her Ironman Maryland race just a couple of weeks ago.
Molly, a 3 time Solvang camp athlete (2015-2017), shares her amazing story below, and it’s a fun read with some real gems. And if you have an extra 30 seconds, check out her Ironman finish on the video. It’s a fantastic display of true shock and elation all rolled into one that will just make you smile.
Thanks Molly for showing us that sometimes a leap of faith is the way to go. Truly, many congratulations on your Ironman win and an amazing season!!
Interview with Molly Smith, Ironman Maryland winner!
1. Heading into 2017, what goals and hopes did you have with the sport?
My number one goal is always to have fun and race to the best of my potential on a given day. I regularly remind myself that it is a gift every time I make it to the start line, and that I should never take my health, fitness or ability to race for granted!
I hope that I can be saying those things 10 and 20 years down the road, too,
2017 has been a year to remember for Donn and Anne Viviani! Racing numerous National and World Championship events, their medal tally has grown once again. These incredibly fit grandparents and long time Solvang camp athletes, are continuing to prove that life only gets better!
We had the honor of catching up with Donn after the National Aquathlon Championships which were held in Austin, TX, October 1st, where Donn actually found some clothing he can keep on! 🙂
1. Got to ask, how does it feel to be National Champion?
Actually someone has to be… first is no more unique than third or any other number, it’s the tyranny of ordinal progression!
The big deal for me this year was actually at world’s back in August when they announced as I crossed the line… “bronze medal winner, Donn Viviani from the USA” because I had no idea where I was at worlds so it was a surprise…