Ahhhh!! We are 9 days out now! Not nervous, nope, really, not nervous (total lie). I guess it's more excitement and nervous energy. Every session I have on the training schedule seems to be hard and fast and short. I see high watts and fast paces with lower than expected heart rates every day and it gets me all jazzed up. I am finding myself with more and more energy each day this week. Nervous energy is starting too. All those Kona tweets and FB posts get my heart pumping. The race wheels are on the bike! Race Day Wheels actually shipped them to my house on Monday so I get to ride with them for 2 weeks. Love those guys, they are great. I have used their services for all my Kona races, and CDA this year as well. The product (wheels) that they deliver is always consistent. The tires come brand new and you don't feel like you are riding anything used, more like brand new.

I have an 808 with a Power Tap on the rear, and a 303 on the front this year. Last 2 years I have ridden a 404 on the front in Kona. But we have had two pretty good wind years, so I'm assuming that this year will be a doozy.

Ryan at Kompetitive Edge got her all gussied up and ready to go. She is shifting nicely (there's still 9 days for me to mess that up) and she's all clean (again...9 days, who knows what will happen).

Swimming! Oh my gosh. I haven't really talked about Coach Nick, so I thought this would be a great time to do so. A little over 3 months ago Troy and I started working with coach Nick for swimming (Nick Levine with Open Water Coaching). He's the kids swim coach at our club and we have seen him on the pool deck almost every day for the past few years. He's a 2X channel swimmer and he knows open water swimming really well. He's also really chill and relaxed and it's nice for Type A athletes to have someone like that in their lives!

So on the 4th of July Troy and I did a 1500 time trial with Nick where Troy almost beat me, but I still prevailed. Whew. Then Troy got faster than me and went 1:05 in Wisconsin. I was proud. Then Troy had an off season and I kept swimming, so now I'm back to being faster. All along Nick will take the guidelines that Dirk gives me in my schedule, and he will write the actual swim workouts. Before Nick I just made things up and it was okay but hard to hold myself accountable all the time. So Nick writes workouts with the goal of getting me faster. This I like!

Last week I struggled in the pool big time. I actually quit 2 of my workouts. I had trouble hitting my intervals and I got frustrated and I got out. I was fine when I was swimming with others, but on my own, just me and the black line, I was like "it's so cold, I'm so slow, poo" and would get out. I called Nick on Sunday and lamented. He told me not to swim Monday and to meet him at the pool Tuesday.

I get there Tuesday, 1500TT. No warm up, no cool down, just get in and do 1500 TT. Suddenly I'm nervous! Really nervous. I get in, he tells me to go whenever I want. I'm stalling and he yells "GO". It was just like the cannon at Kona, unexpected, and the first 100 was spent yelling "swim swim swim" in my own ears.

Then I settled in for the long haul. I found with the swim the same thing I am finding with my biking and running right now. I can't get myself to a total exhaustion place. I wasn't panting or on the verge of puking. It seems that my top end is this strong, steady, and under control place. It's not wild, or frantic, or at risk of an epic kaboom. But it's efficient, and positive, and relentless.

I get to the wall and Nick says, "you swam really well". I was like "Oh good". He said, if you swim like that for 2.4 you can break 1:00 in Kona. I yell at him "There is no way I can hold that for 2.4, and if I did I wouldn't bike or run very well afterwards". We laughed. Then he said "Do you want to know your time?". I said "yes please" and he said "22:37".

I just stared at him blankly. I said "you mean 23:37", he said, "No, 22:37". I was in shock. I've only dreamed of holding 1:30 pace in the meter pool which yields 22:30. I thought, maybe sometime in my life I can hold 1:30 pace and swim a 22:30. It was a life goal, a life dream more like. I just took 50 seconds off my 1500TT in 3 months.

Then he looked at me, totally dead pan and said:

"Calm down Sonja, you are going to be just fine".

No shit! Wow! Thank you Nick!

I'm still smiling over that swim. I was talking to my mom yesterday and I was telling her, I've have had so many successes in training the last few weeks I am probably going to walk the whole marathon in Kona and have an epic blow up. It's just been so good lately. She got mad at me for that, but this is a woman who refused to wear her seatbelt while going through radiation for cancer treatment despite being driven around by her teenage daughter (=bad driver). She said, why do I have to wear my seatbelt, I have cancer. So, we allow each other a bit of sarcasm. Mom is honestly the only person on this earth I am sarcastic with.

So, hate to say it, love to say it, whatever....the stars are aligning. What this means for race day is completely up to me. But at least I can say I flew to Kona in the best shape of my life. Whether I have the wits, and smarts to turn that into performance on race day has yet to be determined, but man, all I can say is that this journey is freaking crazy. It's the roller coaster of all roller coasters!

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