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Alex McDonald

On October 11, the triathlon world will find out who the best in the world is--and thousands more will achieve a dream. Tune in to's coverage of the 2008 Ford Ironman World Championship and find out what's going on in Kona. Read Ironblog posts from Alex M. McDonald, TIMEX Ironman Multisport Team Athlete and official event blogger, as the race grows closer.

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This Ironman was an epic race and by far the hardest triathlon I have ever done. As my first pro race in Kona I am satisfied with my race and results knowing that I left it all out on the course. However, at the same time it was not exactly the race I wanted or the race I know I was/am capable of. Some of the circumstances were beyond my power, however, I focused on the things I could control and am proud that I pushed through to the finish line.



The swim is really the only part of this race where I am actually disappointed. This leg is the biggest difference between racing as a pro and as an age grouper. There are a lot fewer feet to follow in the pro field and they go out hard, VERY HARD! I was happy with my start and initially caught a good group and swam with it for about the first 3rd of the race. Then the group surged and before I realized what had happened I was off the back and couldn’t catch up, a rookie mistake. I swam the second 3rd alone, trying to stay positive and expecting to be the dead last pro out of the water. Then a trailing group of pros caught up to me and I swam the last 3rd with them making sure not to lose the feet this time.


Coming out of the water I was very frustrated, but I focused on staying relaxed and wanted to get on the bike as fast as I could. As I was running through transition a volunteer informed me my timing chip had fallen off. I had to get a new, chip which didn’t take too long, but I was one more thing to do and more time lost.


I began riding very hard, which was by design, to try to get my legs going. After coming back down the Kuikini highway around mile 8 I began feeling ok. However, as I was climbing Palani Hill I dropped my chain, however, I was riding so hard that I had wrapped my chain around my cranks twice before I could stop pedaling. I had to get off my bike in the middle of the hill and man-handle my drive chain for a what seemed like an eternity to get it free. “Stay relaxed and calm, these things happen, it’s a long race” I told myself. I managed to get it free and was off again, however, after that my shifting was not quite right and I ended up dropping my chain several times throughout the bike ride. Later in the race I stopped for tech support for a moment to try to get it straightened out.


My bike mechanical issues, my legs inability to ever wake up and the wicked wind made for a very hard ride. I normally an able to find a comfortable steady rhythm for at least the first half of the bike, however, on race day my legs never woke up and I felt like I had to push the effort the whole day, however, I focused on my PowerTap and held my wattage to make sure I didn’t blowup and saved something for the run. Just as an indication of how much harder the bike was this year, my bike leg was 5 minutes slower than last year, yet I held an average power that was 15 watts higher.


I was disappointed getting off the bike and I passed several athletes in T2 who were clearly about to drop out and I really wanted to quit; yet I knew I couldn’t. After all this is Hawaii the most famous and epic triathlon in the world, I couldn’t give up, that’s just not my style.



After a mile or so I began to find a rhythm on the run, I thought at least this was better than the “rhythumless” bike. I didn’t want to push too hard too soon and as a result I may not have run quite as fast as I was capable, but nonetheless, I knew that I needed to save something for the last 10k after the Natural Energy Lab. I focused on a fast light turnover and consuming as much fuel as I could at the aid stations. My FuelBelt is/was perfect to make sure that I was able to get in what I needed due to the congestion at some of the aid stations. After just a few miles I slowly began running my way back through the field. The last 8 miles were mentally tough as I knew I was not going to make it into the top 30 like last year, however, I pushed as much as I could. I was proud of the fact that with a pretty good run of 3:02 I was able to pass about 30 guys, my mental fortitude had paid off.


I crossed the line in a time of 9:10 as the 38th pro. I arrived in Kona, HI fitter and faster than last year where I posted an Ironman PR, yet this was not my day. After dealing with some (more than normal) adversity throughout the race I focused on staying positive and pushed all the way to the finish line. Normally over the course of an Ironman the thought of dropping out crosses my mind 3 or 4 times. However, today at least a dozen times I wanted to quit, at some points it was a serious consideration. A race that was not to my potential leaves me thirsty for redemption; perhaps this is why I am considering racing Ironman Arizona at the end of November… By the way, the last time I feel like I underperformed at an Ironman and sought redemption was Ironman Florida in 2005, the next Ironman I raced I finished 5th overall!


Ultimately it was a good race, I learned a lot and very I am proud of myself for staying in the moment, being positive and not giving up, after all the don’t call this Ironman because it is easy.

And for those of you that missed it, my post race treat…a cinnamon bun the size of my HEAD!




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What at day in Kona yesterday.  In a nutshell I had a great race, not the race I know I am capable of, but none the less I persevered under tough conditions and I was the 38th pro in a time of 9:10.  A full race report will follow soon. In the meantime here are some photos from the yesterday and my post race cinnamon bun from lava java today.











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The day before the race is always a day that I try to have as few obligations as possible. I get in a quick and easy 35-45min workout where I do 10-15 minutes of each sport in succession with a few 30 second pickups and then get off my feet about out of the sun! There is nothing I can do now but relax and keep my attitude focused on the positive. Just like on race day there is very little that I can control at this point, I just stay in the moment and keep my attitude positive.


After a busy day yesterday filled with sponsor obligations, meetings and spending sometime talking with sponsors and going to a friends house for dinner I slept very well last night, which is the most important night to sleep well. I know that I will not sleep well tonight, but that is the norm for me.


I am feeling great both mentally and physically, and I ready to leave it all out on the course tomorrow. For those of you interested you can track my progress and follow the whole race at, but remember HI is 6hrs behind East cost time and 3hrs behind West cost time.


Oh, one last thing…GO RED SOX!!!

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This morning I got in an early swim which felt great in my new BlueSeventy PointZero 3 seventeen,  which is the 2009 version of the PointZero3+.  The suit is a little more snug through the mid section, has slightly different panel construction and also features a sliver back panel so that the hawaiian sun is reflected for cooler temperatures.  Then I went for a quick spin with some friends and it was onto LavaJava and the expo.


This is the one time of year where I actually get to meet many people who I have been e-mailing and calling for over a year.  Although technology makes communication easier, there is no substitute for meeting a person face to face.  So the late morning was spent talking to a lot of folks in the industry as well as being a member of the Timex Multisport Team panel on the expo village stage to answer questions about Timex, the team and being a professional athlete.  The Timex tent also a big picture of me riding my bike, of course you would never know it was me...but it's big and it was kind of fun to see.



Ashley and I are on a fish taco tour.  We have been going to as many different restaurants we can trying their fish taco.  After all we are in Hawaii and where else to gorge ourselves on fish!?  Today's selection, Killer Taco, a local place in the Kona industrial area which you we never would have known about if it wasn't for the guide book.  After lunch Ashley and I went back to our condo where I immediately fell a sleep for almost 2 hours!


Corny saying of the day...

"Right before a race, rest is the best!"

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Tuesday and Tuesday afternoon is really when the Ironman World Championship festivities begin.  Although there has been a gradual build over the last week, now is when the small town of Kaulia-Kona exploded and becomes the epicenter of the triathlon world.    Part of the reason I like to arrive in Kona a week early is so that I can take a few days and just relax before the excitement, sponsor obligations and stress of the race arrive.  However, with the opening of the expo on Tuesday race week is officially here!


The parade is always the kick off to the expo and my and other members of the Timex Multisport Team , were there to throw out shirts and hats to the crowd…it never ceases to amazing how badly some people want a T-shirt!  I guess when it says Timex Ironman there is a little extra value.  It is really an honor and great experience to be part of such a great team and organization.



As for myself I am feeling great and getting excited to race, however, I’m trying to stay calm and conserve my energy.  I registered yesterday and even though I was there pretty early it still took a little while, but the volunteers are great and things went very smoothly.  Yesterday a 1hr ride followed by a 15min run was it for my training.   It is really amazing the changes that the body and mind go throughout a taper in preparation for a race.  Last week I felt horrible and could barely hold my projected race pace/power for 3 miles, let alone for 112 miles.  However, yesterday I really thought my Trek Equinox , was floating an inch of the ground as I cruised along the Queen K at 25mph while barely pedaling.   Then I felt effortless running along Alii in my Brooks Axiom racing flats!  I must admit, I think I ran a little faster as I passed Lava Java and all the triathletes hanging around! I could hear my coach, "save it for race day!"

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