Zensah athlete, Ryan Frederickson recently flew to Kona, Hawaii and competed in the Ironman World Championship. This is the original Ironman Triathalon, where it all began, and features around two thousand of the world’s most elite Ironman athletes. At Ironman events throughout the year, professionals qualify by scoring a specified number of points, and amateurs must place well or win a coveted lottery spot to be eligible. Frederickson garnered his qualification by winning the 18-24 division at Ironman Texas.
The challenge begins at Dig Me Beach, where competitors must swim 2.4 miles out and back, and is followed by biking to Hawi and back, which takes riders 112 miles across the Hawaiian lava desert. On this ride, Frederickson said he faced “harrowing head and cross winds, and a substantial climb to the turnaround in Hawi.” Athletes then run a marathon along the coastal Ali’i (Ah-lee-hee) drive to Keyhole Point, the westernmost point of the island of Hawaii. In addition to the extensive distance, Hawaii’s steep hills and strong winds provide an additional challenge for athletes.
During race week, Frederickson said he focused on staying relaxed and calm. His 21st birthday fell on the Thursday before the race, but he kept his mind on the task at hand and kept training instead of taking the day off to celebrate. Injury in his Achilles heel hindered his running training, so Frederickson was forced to compensate with additional bike time and hope for the best. He completed the bike portion of the race wearing Zensah Compression Arm Sleeves and compression leg sleeves to help him prevent fatigue.
Race day arrived and the cannon blast brought an intense fight to the front line. Frederickson fought hard to get an advantageous position in the swimming portion, and had to compromise staying calm and keeping his heart rate low in order to stay ahead of his age group. As he reached the bike course, Frederickson began to push himself harder as the climb to Hawi began, and challenging head winds set in. On the return to the lava fields, however, Frederickson was able to reach his fastest speed ever of just under 50 mph! His arms were fatigued, cross winds were brutal, and temperatures were heating up, but Frederickson approached the running portion of the race with confidence. If he could only stay loose, he would be able to finish the race with a good time.
Frederickson missed two aid stations and was beginning to feel dizzy, but doubled down on the last two and entered the last leg of the race feeling pretty good. He took the time to stretch out his Achilles, which had been bothering him slightly. Having not had a hard run in months, Frederickson was impressed with his first 10 miles, but then his race took a turn for the worst. It started with intense pain as he was running towards Ali’i, and Frederickson soon discovered a hard lump on his foot. He was forced to call for an examination.
Luckily, it was just plantar fasciitis, and not a stress fracture as he had feared, but Frederickson still made the decision to end the race. All athletes have good races and bad races, but Frederickson is choosing to move on from Kona and learn from it as he begins to plan for 2013. He has a newfound respect for Kona and its challenges, and next time he will be ready.