April 12, 2021

Chasing the Dream: The Amateur’s Journey to Kona

Triathletes train year after year dreaming of one day racing in Kona. On today’s episode, Andrew Harley is joined by Greg McAuley and Joanna Nami, two athletes who will be racing in Kona this fall. Both athletes qualified to race at the Ironman World Championship through the Legacy Program. Learn more about the legacy program and preparing to race in Hawaii. Gain insights from both Greg and Joanna as they share advice for racing your next event and going for your dreams!

The TriDot Podcast Episode .081 Chasing the Dream:The Amateur’s Journey to Kona Intro: This is the TriDot podcast. TriDot uses your training data and genetic profile, combined with predictive analytics and artificial intelligence to optimize your training, giving you better results in less time with fewer injuries. Our podcast is here to educate, inspire, and entertain. We’ll talk all things triathlon with expert coaches and special guests. Join the conversation and let’s improve together. Andrew Harley:  Hey folks, welcome to the show!  Really exciting line up today as I will be talking with two TriDot athletes who will be racing Kona this year after qualifying through the Legacy Program.  So plenty of tri knowledge and stories and Kona dreams to talk through today and I am amped for it.  Our first Kona-bound athlete joining us today is Joanna Nami.  Joanna is better known as Coach JoJo, and has been coaching athletes with TriDot since 2012.  She is a co-founder of Hissyfit Racing, a 2nd year member of the Betty Design Squad, and has 15 Ironman finishes on her accomplished triathlon resume.  Joanna! Thanks for coming on to talk about your journey to Kona! Joanna Nami:  Thank you Andrew, I’m happy to be here! Andrew:Also joining us is TriDot Athlete Greg McAuley.  Greg is a mechanical engineer from Houston, Texas where he works as a power generation technical consultant.  He has been in the sport since 2009, and has over 60 triathlon finishes with 12 Ironman events to his credit.  Greg thanks for joining us! Greg McAuley:  Thank you for having me too! Andrew:  I'm Andrew the Average Triathlete, Voice of the People and Captain of the Middle of the Pack.  As always we'll roll through our warm up question, settle in for our Kona qualifying main set conversation, and then wrap up with our cool down.  Lots of good stuff, let's get to it! Warm up theme: Time to warm up! Let’s get moving. Andrew:  Many countries allow motor vehicles to have a customized license plate that says whatever the driver wants it to say, within the confines of certain rules.  In the United States we call these “Vanity Plates” and depending on what state you live in they can have anywhere from five to eight characters.  John Mayfield, for example, drives a good looking black truck with the word “TriDot” in all caps on his license plates.  There is no missing him out on the highways of Houston.Joanna and Greg, for our warmup question today, if triathletes were required to ride around with a small license plate on the back of our bikes, what would you want your “Vanity Bike License Plate” to say?  Greg, I’ll start with you. Greg:  Probably “Finisher” because I intend to finish every race I start. Andrew:  Yeah, that’s a good goal Greg.  Really solid goal. Greg:  Thank you. Andrew: And to your credit, the word finisher it is not a very long word.  Surely that would fit on a “Vanity License Plate” and with the amount of races at the time we are recording this podcast, you said you finished 68 triathlons.  I think I have like 25 or 26 myself.  Do you know your total Joanna? Joann:  5000. Andrew:  We’ll go with that.  We’ll go with it.  That’s close.It’s a ballpark number, but it is close. So in your 68 finishes, that’s a lot of finishing so I think you have earned to have that on your license plate.So that’s a great pick.  Joanna, what would you have on yours? Joanna:  Well, those who know me could guess what it would say, but I would need 14 letters and most people could guess it would be “Fight Girl Fight,” but if we had to shorten it that would be “FGF”.  That is my mantra and everyone knows that. Andrew:  You know what, for the sake of this conversation we will just say- lets go for it, 14 characters- sure why not. Joanna:  Let’s go for it. Andrew:  Yeah.  If you follow Coach Joanna Nami on social media you are familiar with, I think 98% of your Instagram or Facebook posts include the hashtag #fightgirlfight and you fought your way through 15 Ironmans.  So who is to tell you that shouldn’t be your mantra.  Right? Joanna:  Right. Andrew:  As I was thinking about this I thought of a couple things, but what I’m going to go with- and really this is just a new thing from the podcast.  This would not have been my pick before doing this podcast, but now you know, I announce myself on the start of the show as Andrew the average triathlete.  I want people to know that I am one of them.  I am not one of the crazy fast people out there in the world.  I am very much the average triathlete, but I also call myself the “Captain of the middle of the pack” and you know when I first kind of wrote that in my very first intro and kind of decided to use it for all the shows, I didn’t know it would stick.  I didn’t know it would get responded to as well as it did.  Now a lot of the guys and gals that I ride with up in Dallas they’ll call me “Captain” on our rides and just kind of have some fun with my little podcast intro.  So just as a nod to all the podcast listeners out there I would have just Captain.Other people might think- they are like “ok, why does this guy have that?  Does he think he is a pirate?”  I don’t know, but people who listen to the podcast they will see the TriDot kit and they’ll know.  They’ll know it’s me. Hey guys, we are going to throw this question out to you on social media.What would your “bike vanity plate” say if you had to have a custom license plate on your bike on race day out on the course.  It could be anything.  Maybe you already have one on your car and you are going to just take it and put it on your bike.  Maybe you are like Coach Jo and you have got kind of a mantra that you take with you out onto the course and you put it on your license plate.  Maybe it is kind of claiming, by faith, like Greg that you are going to be a finisher and you’re going to get to the end and you’re going to conquer.  Whatever it would be.  Go to the I Am TriDot Facebook group, find the daily post today that is announcing this question and let us know what would you put on your “bike vanity plate.” Main set theme: On to the main set. Going in 3…2…1… Andrew:  Today our main set is brought to you by TriBike Transport. If you are traveling for an upcoming race, let TriBike Transport ensure that your bike gets there race-ready and stress-free. TriBikeTransport is the original fully-assembled bike transport service for cyclists and triathletes. I love traveling for a race. After registering, the first thing I do is book TriBike Transport for my bike. You start by using the easy online reservation form to guarantee space for your bike. Then, about one week out from the race, you will drop off your bike fully-assembled at one of their conveniently-located partner shops. Your bike will enjoy a smooth ride all the way to the race site where you will pick it up near T1 ready to race with your bike fit position untouched. Thousands of athletes have trusted their gear to TriBike Transport and you can too. Learn how by heading to TriBikeTransport.com and as a friend of the podcast, use coupon code TriDotPod for $25 off your next booking. Andrew:  The Ironman World Championships on the big island in Hawaii is THE top bucket list race for most of the triathlon world.  It is the birthplace of the Ironman event, and easily the most legendary race in our sport.  Many athletes train year after year dreaming of one day racing in Kona with an athlete having to qualify through a top-notch Ironman performance or Ironman’s Legacy Program.  Most of us will never get a shot at racing in Kona, but both athletes joining us today have earned their spot and are here to tell us all about their journeys to a Kona slot and how they are preparing for their dream race. So Greg, Joanna, before we even talk Kona there would not be a Kona journey for either of you without that first step where you signed up for your first triathlon and crossed your first finish line.  So just kind of tell us how did you each get into the sport and what do you remember from your first race?  And Joanna, let's start with you here. Joanna:  I got into triathlon after having my three sons back to back and had really tough pregnancies with all three.  After being on bed rest for a long time with my last pregnancy, I decided to take a Power Pump Class at the YMCA and I saw a sign that said, “Do you think you could do a triathlon?”  I knew I could swim having grown up a swimmer.  I knew I could run.  I had never really ridden a road bike.  So I trained for a short period of time with still a 3-month-old, went out to a small sprint race in Houston and did well and my husband said, “Oh-no.  Here we go.”  So that is kind of how I got started. Andrew:  Before we even started the podcast today, I mean, you were talking about how when you go in on something you go all in on something whatever it is. Joanna:  I go all in. Andrew:  Whether it was law school back in the day or triathlon now.  So all it took was one banner at the YMCA and you were ready to go all in on triathlon. Joanna:  Well I think you lose yourself.  A lot of times I think moms put so much into their children that often they kind of lose their self-identity and so when you get a glimpse of that and find it again you hold onto it. Andrew:  That is super cool!  Super cool perspective.  Greg, what about you?  What was that first triathlon for you? Greg:   Well my very first triathlon I finished accidentally so to speak.  I substituted for my brother-in-law.  My oldest child was racing for the first time so I said “This is something I have to do.”  So I bought a bike at Walmart and just found a pair of shoes in the closet and I finished the race.  I still remember hearing the Rocky Theme in the back of my mind like, this is the biggest accomplishment ever.  But that thought lasted for about five seconds.  After I crossed the finish line and really thought about what I had just done, I said never again.  Fast forward two years later, I had decided to adopt a healthier lifestyle and signed up for the Rookie Triathlon in Austin of all places and finished that and really caught the bug.  After I crossed the finish line I realized this is something I probably can do.  I didn’t have any ideals or goals of doing anything longer than a super sprint until I signed up for the next race. Andrew:  I didn’t either.  Yeah. Greg:  So that was my original experience.  It was to stay into shape and to continue down the road of living a healthy lifestyle. Andrew:  I remember crossing my first finish line.  It was a local sprint in Keller, Texas and I was exhausted.I was like, “Oh my gosh that was so tough!  That was so in sane!” And it is.  Right?It’s your first time, you don’t know any better, you haven’t trained for anything longer.  Greg, how did you make the leap from crossing the finish line and saying “never again” to now sitting here as a 12-time Ironman finisher.  How do you transition from never again to okay, fine, let’s do some more. Greg:  My best friend had lived a similar story.  He is a year older than I am and he had lost a bunch of weight and tried to find something that was not monotonous.  He joined the YMCA Tri Team in Pearland in the city that we live in and met a bunch of like-minded people.  He and I knew each other through the fact that both of our sons were in Cub Scouts. Andrew:  Okay. Greg:  So by the time I came around and was looking for a way to stay into shape that didn’t involve standing on or working out on an elliptical machine or on a treadmill for hours at a time, he said “Hey what about triathlon?” Andrew:  Very cool. Yeah. Greg:  I found a nice or gently used road bike and he started coaching me and then introduced me to the Y Tri Team and the rest is history. Andrew:  Okay.  So you both got into the sport.  You both decided to give it more than just that first shot.  You started doing more races.  At what point for each of you did Kona become the goal.  Do you have a distinct memory of where you first laid your eyes on that Kona race in Hawaii and said “I have got to do that.” Joanna:  I think when the small group of girls, including Cindy Reeves one of my good friends, when we went up to Coeur d’Alene to do our first Ironman, I think the whole magic of that first Ironman experience.  We had obviously seen things about Kona and glimpses of Chrissie Wellington winning in Kona and thinking it was so magical to watch her on TV.  I think the seed was planted.  I think it seemed so far off and so hard to obtain that I didn’t think it would be a reality, but I think as the years progressed you start to just build on that dream.  So I would have to say it was definitely when we did the first Ironman in Coeur d’Alene. Andrew:  So finishing that race in Coeur d’Alene, which is a beautiful course from what I hear.  I have never been there, but I hear it is just gorgeous. Joanna:  Yes.  It’s amazing. Andrew:  Tough course right? Joanna:  Very tough for three girls from Texas who didn’t even have a heart rate monitor.  So yes, we were doing it based on “feel” when you are climbing mountains. Andrew:  Oh great! Yeah just great!  So when you crossed that finish line and you knew of Kona at that point you were like “I need to get to Kona.” Joanna:  Yes, most definitely. Andrew:  Greg what was it for you? Greg:  I think subconsciously or even before I finished my first triathlon I think in the back of my mind it might be something that I would try later on in life.  I lived in Hawaii when I was a kid so I really enjoyed and remembered the beautiful surroundings.  I never made it to the Big Island when I lived there.  So I think, again, subconsciously it was always a place I wanted to go, but somewhere too, Joanna, after I finished my first Ironman in of all places Cabo San Lucas, Mexico I said this wasn’t too bad.  I survived and there is just something about Mike Riley pronouncing your name saying you are an Ironman.  I think it was then that I knew that I wanted to hear my name called when I crossed that finish line. Andrew:  In Hawaii.  So you have both have worked really, really hard to get to Hawaii.  And that is an understatement really to say that it has been a journey to get your name on the participant list and be a part of Kona which we’re all super excited for you guys to get to do this year.  So there are multiple routes.  You can either be really, really fast to the point where you do well enough in an Ironman event to qualify for Kona or there used to be the lottery which is now no more.  You used to be able to put your name in a lottery and you might get drawn out for Kona.But now how you guys have made it through is the Legacy Program.  So tell us a little bit about what the Legacy Program is and how it works and what your process really has been like going through that. Joanna:  Greg can add to this too.  The Legacy Program is a program in which an athlete can complete, used to be 10 full distance Ironman races, now it is 12 full distance Ironman races and upon completion of your 12th you apply to the Legacy Program. You submit your application.  About six months later you are notified of where you are slotted for which world Championship.  So me applying in 2018, I found out that I was then slotted for 2020.  So I did not even get picked for the first year. Andrew:  Is it that they just have so many slots to give out basically? Joanna:  They do.  They give out so many slots each year and the Legacy Program had grown in popularity and the list of athletes that had qualified according to Legacy had grown so I was slotted for 2020.  Then Greg, he applied in- Greg:  I applied in late 2019 so I found out that I was slotted originally in 2023.  Given this was only a year after Joanna was awarded her slot that you can see the popularity of the Legacy Program has exploded over the last few years.  I found out that I was slotted for 2023 in February of 2020.  By April I had received, or been moved up to 2020 and then obviously last year’s race was cancelled.  I am glad to and honored to be racing this year. Andrew:  I think racing 12 Ironman events sounds insane.  So you are both insane.  Just know that.  Which that’s okay.  It’s alright.We’re here for it.  I’m still working towards my first Ironman event.Just in the process of knocking out- which at this point Joanna it is 15 Ironman that you have raced, Greg you have done 12.  Both again, insane numbers.  In knocking down those 12 races was there ever a point, again the goal is Kona and you know you have to get to the 12 to get slotted for Kona; was there ever a point where you were like “Man I’ve done five I have seven to go.  I’ve done six, I have six to go.  I’m only half way there.  This is so many races.  This is such a drag.  I’m just going to tap out.  Six is good, seven is good, eight is good.”  Or did your resolve just never waver, you knew it was always going to be worth it and you just kept trucking along. Greg:  For me there was a point in time when my dad was going through chemotherapy.  He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2012 and when he got really, really sick and could no longer attend any of my races I thought about quitting the sport all together. Andrew:  Wow. Greg:  Then I had a conversation with him and you look at all the time you have invested and all the good that you are doing through participating in the sport.Because at that time only my oldest daughter had completed a triathlon and then soon after that conversation my other two children and my wife became triathletes.  I realized then that I was having a positive impact so I might as well continue.  Then again, I didn’t realize how much time I had invested at the time, but upon further reflection I said, “Might as well.” Andrew:  I mean what a great perspective from there. Greg:  I might as well continue down that road until I cross that Kona finish line. Andrew:  Yeah and here you are months away from that.  So Joanna, what has it been for you? Joanna:  No, I have not wavered.  But I will say that even from early on I think probably my second full Ironman was the inaugural year of Ironman Texas and I think even my goal in mind for that race was to aim for a qualifying spot.  So in all the 15 I’ve done, I’ve been trying to better my time and aim for those top spots.  I think there are a lot of athletes that are like me that fall in that range of the last two years of coming in 6th at Cozumel in my age group missing the qualifying spots.  And so we keep aiming for it.  We keep trying to be faster and better, but- Andrew:  There are so many great athletes out there. Joanna:  There is!  It is so competitive.  I feel like the women are getting faster and faster as they age and have more time on their hands.  So I think that will continue.  Knowing how I am I didn’t truly focus on Legacy as much as just keep going.  Just keep competing.  Just see how close you can get to this qualifying spot and in the meantime 15 Ironman occurred. Andrew:  And you are going to Kona! Joanna:  And I’m going to Kona!  So I think the journey is different for everyone, but I’m definitely appreciative that they have the program. Andrew:  When you got the notification that you had been slotted for the race; you were in, because you have to finish the 12 and once you finish 12 then you can apply, but you’re still not slotted for a race yet.  So you get the notification, you’re slotted, this is the race you are doing.  After all that time in training, all the time spent out on the race course, what emotions just shot through you Greg when you were officially finally registered for Kona. Greg:  I’m not a crier, but I literally cried.  It didn’t hurt that they sent us an electronic letter too that starts with “Aloha.”  That was just the additional validation.  But when I saw the participants list and I saw my name on it, it really sank in.Before then with all that happened last year and being postponed and then cancelled, I didn’t really know or think that it was going to happen until I saw my name on that list.  But I literally cried for five to ten minutes but was thankful the entire time that I was able to see my name on the list. Andrew:  Yeah.  Joanna, what about you? Joanna:  I agree with Greg.  I think that the process is long and I think from the point of getting slotted for a race.When I applied in 2018 I was praying that I would get that spot for 2019.  So when you get notified that you don’t get it that year it is heartbreaking because you know it means; what a lot of people don’t realize it’s not only waiting a whole ‘nother year, it’s doing another full Ironman to stay eligible. Andrew:  Yeah, which is why you’re at 15. Joanna:  That’s why I’m at 15, yes.  To validate you spot you have to complete a race each calendar year.  So you know there is a lot more work to be done.  I think Greg and I were both in agreement that in this last month when the participant list came out that said World Championship at the top, I couldn’t scroll to the S’s fast enough to get to my name to make sure that my name was listed and then I went to Greg’s second to make sure he was there.  You just want to make sure that they didn’t get it wrong and that you’re not on there. Andrew:  That they didn’t delay you one more year. Joanna:  No!  There would have been multiple emails if that occurred. Andrew:   So surely from all of the races it took you to qualify, you have both learned a thing or two or three or eight about racing Ironman.Again, I’m still working toward Ironman number one.  I can’t imagine getting to the double digits of that accomplishment.  What have you both learned from your Ironman races that you like to pass on as advice for athletes like me who are training for their first, second, third Ironman? Joanna:  Oh, there are so many things. Andrew:  We’re here for all of it.  We’re here to soak it up like a sponge. Joanna:  Good!  Get a pillow and lay down because I’ll be here for three hours. Andrew:  Teach me, please! Joanna: I think number one and I tell my athletes this- after doing so many Ironman races- is that something is going to happen in each one of those.  Something that was out of your control and learning to deal with that situation in the moment.  You have to realize that not everything is going to go perfectly.  Even during training I tell them, be a sponge.  Listen to those around you.  Listen to those that have done the work and that have competed in multiple Ironman races and prepare yourselves for all those situations.So that is kind of one thing that I try to teach them. Andrew:  From your 15, what are a few of the things that have gone wrong? Joanna:  In Louisville 2014 I wrecked.  A guy hit me from the back, broke my derailleur so I spent 75 miles with no shifting on a very hilly course. Andrew:  Cool!  For a girl from Houston. Joanna:  Fun!  Yeah.Lost all my nutrition.  That was back in the days when I thought you needed 12 sandwiches and you know 15 bars taped to your top tube and lost all my nutrition.  That becomes just a game changer as you are living off what is offered on the course.As far as Maryland, Cozumel how many jellyfish stings can you get with a wetsuit on.  I mean, it could go on and on.  I’d have to list them all out and think about.  Something will go wrong in every race.  Something.  There will be a factor that is hard.  Not one Ironman race is ever going to be easy.  I try to prepare my athletes that way.  When we swim at the lake that last loop I’m like “Hand me your goggles.”And they are like “Excuse me?”And I’m like “Now go.”  You have to prepare for every situation that could occur in an Ironman race and so I think that just makes you tougher.  It makes you braver.  It makes you want more.  Makes you want to see what challenges you can take on and conquer. Andrew:  That’s great! Greg, what are kind of those top pieces of advice that you would give to athletes? Greg:  My top advice would be to develop mental toughness.  As Joanna says you never know what is going to happen in any given day or any given training day for that matter.  But develop some mental toughness and it can help you overcome a number of different issues when they come whether it is part of the body that is hurting or you have a mechanical malfunction on your bike or you just run out of gas.  The more mental toughness that you have the more you are able to- more easily overcome those obstacles.   Sometimes you just quite frankly can’t.  I have been blessed to be able to finish every Ironman that I have started. Andrew:  The finisher. Greg:  Yes.  I try to finish what I start.  And right behind that is one of several TriDot mantras is to trust the process.I know that if I put in the work, if I do the prescribed training the way I am supposed to, the way I know how to, that I’m going to be successful. Andrew:  I think just from both of you talking, have either of you seen the movie or read the book The Martian.  Matt Damon is in the movie. Greg:  Yes, I’ve seen the movie. Andrew:  So it’s just another movie with Matt Damon in space, you know there’s tons like it.  But there is a scene at the end of the movie and it’s also in the book.  For those who haven’t seen the movie Matt Damon is on Mars.He is stuck on Mars and NASA is trying to figure out how to get him home from Mars is the plot of the movie in essence, right?  So there is a scene at the end, I mean spoiler alert, they get him home from Mars.There are a ton of movies where Matt Damon is being rescued from something; this is one of them.  And so at the end of the movie he is teaching a class to perspective young adults who are wanting to be astronauts and he is teaching a class on basically preparing them for their potential career as an astronaut.  He is telling them like- I think the line is “Being an astronaut is just solving problems and if you solve enough problems you get to come home.”  Throughout the whole movie he is just solving problem after problem that he is encountering on Mars and in the end he solved enough of them and he gets to come home.  It’s like being out there on the Ironman course.  It’s 140.6 miles and so there’s going to be problems and if you solve them all and keep moving forward you get to go to the finish line.  That’s what I was thinking.  I was thinking back to that movie and Matt Damon’s speech at the end of it as both of you were talking.  So super random story.  Super random interjection, but that is an invitation to my brain people. Joanna:  Can I tell you one more thing? Andrew:  Please do! Joanna:  Andrew, when you asked that question another thing I thought of was in training for the 15 Ironman races, I have trained with probably ten different sets of training partners.  The one thing I do tell my athletes or like my Betty Sisters or the Hissyfit Girls is that when the journey is over, it’s over.  When the race comes and is gone it’s over and you’re going to look back at the memories and all the things that happened or all the mishaps you have when you’re out riding or all the funny things you can remember over the training and you are going to kind of wish for that time back. I often say that the journey is the gift.  The journey is the reward.  You don’t want to take it for granted.  I say not only do we race with a grateful heart, we train with a grateful heart, and we need to hold on to those training days.  I think Greg and I are experiencing that to an extreme at this point when they talk about postponing races or cancelling races and you know Kona two times now has been put off for us, but my coach John Mayfield has told me he said, “Just think about it.  It would have all been over in October.”  You know, all the 15 years of work would have been over and he said now you just get to enjoy it for a little bit longer. Andrew:  A little bit longer.  A few more training rides for Kona. Joanna: It’s a few more training rides, but it is quite a number of days that I can be excited and to be looking forward to probably one of the greatest days of my life.  So that’s a gift. Andrew: At the time we are recording this podcast, I’m not exactly sure what day we are going to air it, but folks are still in this calendar year.  Some races are happening, some races are a little bit more up in the air and so that is a word I’m sure a lot of people will really appreciate.  So thanks for that Jo.  As you are talking about that, I mean, both of you in training for all of those Ironmans that you have already finished and then training for Kona that you are working towards, you’ve put in a lot of long workouts.  You’ve put in a lot of just physically and mentally challenging training cycles preparing for your Ironman.  What is kind of your approach for prepping for an Ironman and is there anything that you are doing differently as you get ready for Kona? Joanna:  This is instruction 101 with my athletes.  It’s not one week at a time.  It’s not one day at a time.  It’s one session at a time, one interval at a time.  Sometimes breaking that interval in half if it’s zone 4. Andrew:  Absolutely! Joanna:  Sometimes if it’s 30-30s we have to break it down.  Truly you have to take it one session at a time.  It can be overwhelming.  If I would have thought back when I was doing Coeur d’Alene, hey you are going to need to get through the 15 Ironman to get to Kona, you can’t wrap your head around that. Andrew:  No. Joanna:  Even in saying I’m going to do a full Ironman this year.  That is overwhelming for most people.  So the beauty of TriDot, we will say, is we do trust the process.  We break it down into each week.  Either we are in a development phase and that’s a lot easier if we just think of small bits at a time. Andrew:  It becomes palatable. Joanna:  Yes.  Yes most definitely! Greg:  I might add, I couldn’t agree with Joanna more about again, trusting the process.  Don’t do anything differently than you’ve done in the past.  Do what got you across 12 or 15, in Joanna’s case, Ironman finish lines.  But also to acknowledge all of those that have helped you get there.  Continue working with and doing that same thing to help those and let that community help you achieve that goal.  As far as Kona, it’s not just any other race, but our preparation whether it’s physical or mental needs to be the same.  I’m really excited about the new additions or the new features of RaceX that will allow me to train and although we have plenty of hot, humid, and windy weather around here we don’t have hills so I can’t simulate the climb to Hawi, but I can simulate it on my smart trainer or outdoors via RaceX.  So I’m really excited about that.  But as far as general preparation, nothing different.  Just do the same thing that has made me successful in the past. Andrew:  I will say, Greg, piggybacking off of Joanna earlier talking about being grateful for- I mean sometimes it can be a blessing to have more time to prepare for something.  Had Ironman Texas happened the first time around for me I would not have had the advantage of the new RaceX to prepare for that race. Joanna:  There you go. Andrew:  And I now do have that advantage.  So I’m trying to take the silver linings where I can. Joanna:  It is.  Positivity! Andrew:  It is!  That’s one of them here.  You know, you’ve got to keep coming up with silver linings sometimes, but that’s okay.We’ll get through it.  So, hey!  Let’s talk about Hawaii guys.  It’s a beautiful state.  It’s popular for vacationers and triathletes alike and on race week there is a lot more to the Kona experience than just the race.  There’s the famous underwear run. There’s the coffee boat off shore from Dig Me Beach that tradition is to swim out to the coffee boat, get a coffee, and come back.  There is the Ironman Village.  There is Ironman Race Expo.  What are you both planning to participate in just as part of your Kona experience?Greg, we’ll start with you. Greg:  My first thought is to say only if my coach does the underwear run I will.You don’t want to see me running in just underwear.  It’s gotten me in trouble a long, long time ago.  All kidding aside, the one thing I know I’m going to do when I get there- or the two things I’m going to do actually are to workout with my other TriDot athletes and to spend as much time soaking everything in with my family.I’m flying my entire family, all my children, my wife, and my grandkids to Hawaii. Andrew:  That’s going to be a blast. Greg:  So just spending quality time with them just like I do any other destination race that I’ve done. Andrew:  Yeah, that’s amazing!  Joanna, what about you? Joanna:  Oh my gosh!  All of the above.  You know, I’ve rented the house so it could accommodate as many training partners and my Betty Sisters, coach, family, everyone that is coming.  I want to do all the traditional events that are there.I have dreams- the underpants run with Momma Betty and Kristin Mayer.  Everything that I can do.  Everything that I can experience.  I think we’ve waited so long and had so many dreams about everything that’s going to happen when we get there and like I said to you previously, I’ve never stepped foot on the island.  I’ve turned down a number of Hawaii vacations.  I said I will never go until it’s my turn.  So I just can’t wait to take it all in. Andrew:  Yeah, we can’t wait for that for you.  As a race though, Kona is not at all the easiest Ironman.  It’s famously hot.  It’s famously windy.  It has a famously strong field.  Joanna, what are your expectations heading in for the race?  How are you feeling just in terms of the race itself? Joanna:  Bring it on. Andrew:  Bring it on.  Fight girl fight. Joanna:  Fight girl fight.  You know, Greg and I are very lucky to have- I know it’s going to be difficult.  I’ve heard horror stories.  I’ve had an athlete that finished the race two years ago and it was really, really tough; very tough windy conditions.  I think Greg and I are going to lean on each other in that aspect and have some very long, very hot training rides.  Hopefully some good wind as prep.  I do think our training programs through TriDot will prepare us for the race.  I think mentally the 12 to 15 Ironman races has prepared us to be pretty mentally tough and when it’s something that you have wanted so bad for so long I think that we’ll do just about anything to get to that finish line.  So that’s about it. Andrew:  It’s funny how this is a sport where sometimes you go out of your way to seek out tough training conditions for a race like this.  Just for Ironman Texas knowing it’s usually a pretty warm run course there are times leading up to my first attempt at lining up for Texas where I was seeking out instead of running in the morning or the evening; let me run at 2 or 3 pm when it’s the hottest part of the day just to give me the toughest conditions because on race day it’s probably going to be that.Greg, what about you? Greg:  I just reflect back on the previous, or the 12 Ironman finishes and have I done serious hills?  There were serious hills on my first Ironman in Los Cabos.  There was a four mile climb out towards the airport that we had to do twice into the wind.  Coeur d’Alene you know we had to climb into the wind.  So I’m not overly concerned about the hills.  The heat and humidity we have plenty of that around here and we are going to be training, we’re going to be doing our race prep in September.We’re going to be doing long rides into August and September and for anybody that’s lived in the Houston area as long as we have, we’re acclimated to it.  It’s still tough, but just relying on that past experience and saying this is not good, but it’s doable. Andrew:  I got through it in those training rides. Yeah. Greg:  I’ve got through it in training and in racing.  So again, part of building mental toughness is also building confidence at the same time.  Been there, done that.  But also manage your own expectations to the extent that you can. Andrew: There’s a lot of different famous parts of this race course.  There’s the clear blue waters of Kailua Bay.  There’s the lava fields.  There’s the climb to Hawi on the bike.  There’s the energy drive on Ali’i Drive on the run.  There is a lot to take in while you’re out there.  What portions of the course are you most looking forward to and are there any parts that you’re kind of maybe even dreading a little bit that you’ll be excited to get through? Greg: The only part of the course that I’m nervous about is the swim course.  The water should be beautiful.  I recall my first Ironman race in Baja, Mexico.  The water was crystal clear.  Our biggest concern was if we were going to see any whales.  The mamma whales had already given birth so whale watching was one of the activities that we did while we were down there.  I didn’t spot any whales while I was swimming, but you could see all the way down and through 25 foot depths.  So I’m really looking forward to the clear water.  Then the climb to Hawi and then the turn around and descent back.  I can only imagine how fast I’ll be going. Andrew:  Joanna, what about you? Joanna:  A little confession to make that being that I have never been to the Big Island or Hawaii and I’ve never watched the World Championship Race because I think I wanted it so bad that it sometimes was difficult to even think about watching it. Andrew:  So like the live race coverage every year, you don’t watch any of that. Joanna:  No.  No.  I would look up on the tracker who the pros were in the lead, but I haven’t watched it so I don’t know a lot about the course. Andrew:  And that’s intentional though? Joanna:  It’s been intentional.  My husband laughs that I have a DVD; which is funny in itself. Andrew:  That’s how long you’ve had it. Joanna:  I’ve had it in the plastic wrap. Andrew:  It’s a cassette. Joanna:  It’s a VHS tape.  No.It’s in my night stand like I had to keep it there to keep the dream there, but I haven’t watched it.  We were invited to go to Hawaii two summers ago and my husband was like “Oh this will be great.  We’ll go.”  I’m like “I’m not stepping foot on the island until they let me race.”  So that will be my first time onto the island. Andrew:  So committed to the dream.  Because normally for a race, like we scout the course.  You want to know as much as you can about the course and so you’re intentionally- Joanna:  I have a feeling my coach is going to have different thoughts on this as we approach the summer months that I might need to start thinking about what the course is going to look like.  But if he makes me, I’ll do that. Andrew:  You know, and if you’ve finished Coeur d’Alene and you’ve finished all those other 14, 15 then you’ll be fine right? Joanna:  Yeah. Andrew:  Well of course everyone at TriDot, the audience listening today, me sitting here talking to you guys we wish you guys the best.  I would just encourage if you’re in the TriDot family, you’re listening to the podcast, on October Kona day track Joanna Nami, track Greg McAuley.  Put their names in.  Put their bib numbers into the Ironman Tracking App.  Keep an eye on them.  See how they are doing as they are heading toward the finish line.  Before we head to the cool down on this podcast I want to take a moment just to talk about the finish line.  You have both already crossed the Ironman finish line so many times, but this time around it’s in Kona.  This time around, it’s almost like you’re carrying all those other finishes with you down that red carpet.  Joanna, what’s going to go through your head as you are thinking about that moment and you’re just running down the red carpet? Joanna:  I’m going to start crying right now.  I can’t.  I mean if I even think about it it’s overwhelming.  I’m sure it’s going to be a really ugly cry as I come across that finish line.  Probably running the finish line I’ll be thinking about all the time, all the sacrifice, all the sacrifice by my family.  See, I’m getting choked up. Andrew:  We’ll allow it.  It’s okay. Joanna:  Okay.  But I think all of those things are going to cross my mind.  It’s probably once I sit down after I finish, the reality of it all is going to set in and even more gratitude and even more joy and then five minutes later, “What’s next?” Andrew:  So having done 15, was there a point along the way where the finish line just became a finish line or was each of them kind of independently special along the way. Joanna: Oh, I think by far each one is independently special.  I truly do.I think you have to have goals for each one; whether that’s a finishing time or a PR on the bike, or a more successful swim.  Any of those things I think it’s really important to set goals for each of those things.  So every one of them I have really, really clear memories from and lessons learned from each of them. Andrew:  So Greg, when you think about the Kona finish line as you’re making your way towards it, what do you think is going to be going through your head? Greg:  A feeling of relief as well as being just completely overwhelmed like Joanna. It’s very difficult to say what I’m going to specifically be thinking, but I can only make one guarantee that I will kiss my wife and I may even kiss my son for that matter because they- Joanna:  Or kiss John. Greg:  Or John if he’s standing too close to them.  But just be thankful for the community.  I started kissing my wife just shy of the finish line at Coeur d’Alene which was my second Ironman and I’ve done that every Ironman since except for one time in Ironman Texas where my wife and kids were still eating when I crossed the finish line.  Thankfully they have updated the Ironman tracker and they are a little more accurate.I’ll be just extremely thankful and be a little bit melancholy that my dad isn’t- he died about five years ago.So he won’t be there, but he will be there in spirit. Andrew:  Absolutely. Greg:   So just a feeling of relief, gratitude, and just being completely overwhelmed and I’m looking forward to it.  I may just get on my knees just past the finish line and just start bawling and they may have to haul me out of there, but I don’t care and hopefully nobody else does. Cool down theme: Great set everyone! Let’s cool down. Andrew:  Alright!  Let’s have a little fun on our Cool Down today.  I call this “Joanna and Greg’s favorite things” where I’m going to ask you ten quick questions and I want you guys to identify some of your favorite items, moments, and courses from over your triathlon careers especially focusing on your Ironman experience here.  So let’s get into it.  Quick question #1:  What Ironman medal in your collection is your favorite? Greg:  Very first, Los Cabos. Joanna:  Number 1, Coeur d’Alene.  It’s got the Ford on it. Andrew:  Is that why or just because it was the first? Joanna:  Well, I think my first glimpses of Kona were that it was sponsored by Ford and so the Coeur d’Alene medal had the Ford at the bottom.  I still look at it and get all (gasps) you know like… Andrew:  What Ironman swim course has been your favorite? Joanna: Cozumel. Greg:  Los Cabos. Andrew:  Both in Mexico.  Beautiful water.  That makes sense.  #3:What Ironman bike course has been your favorite? Greg:  My favorite was probably the Ironman Texas old course. Andrew:  Okay, because it used to go through the same Houston Forest right? Greg: Yeah.  In 2015 it was just the single loop up through the forest and back.It was challenging, but it wasn’t as monotonous as the current bike course is. Joanna:  I would say Coeur d’Alene was probably the most beautiful, but I would agree with Greg that I think the Texas old course was probably my favorite because it’s your home town and it was fast and fun.  So I would have to agree with him. Andrew:  #4:  What Ironman run course has been your favorite? Joanna:  None. Andrew:  None of them?  You’re just miserable and shot by then right? Joanna:  Zero.  Oh goodness. Andrew:  None that you liked even a little bit deep down? Joanna:  Oh I love to say- I’m really stuck on Cozumel right now because I’ve done it two years in a row, but I think the run course is so much fun.  All the people that live there come out and cheer and are so supportive.  It is such a lively, crazy run environment.  So you have so much to look at and so much to be entertained by. Andrew: Sure. Joanna:  And then that you know it's beautiful water all around you.  So I would definitely probably say Cozumel. Andrew:  Okay.  Greg? Greg:  Like Joanna mentioned, none of them were fun.  Most memorable was either Coeur d’Alene just because of the crowd and the fact that somebody actually handed me a cheeseburger on the back side of the second loop of the course. Andrew:  No?  That’s amazing! Greg:  I wasn’t going to throw it away so I ate it.  Fortunately, I didn’t get sick.  But also, you know, I was still fairly new to the Ironman distance so it made it memorable. Andrew:  #5:  Greg, what is your favorite treat to have after finishing a race?  A cheeseburger? Greg:  Either a big burrito that they serve sometimes at Ironman Texas or a big steak like I had after Ironman Maryland. Andrew:  Alright.  Joanna? Joanna: This is for all my training girls and all my athletes.  We are big on the nachos post-race. Andrew:  I’m big on nachos any time. Joanna:  Yes! Andrew:  There’s never a bad time for nachos unless maybe on the run course.That might not work too well.#6:  Who is your favorite pro triathlete to root for? Joanna:  I follow so many of them. Andrew:  It’s tough.  This is a tough one. Joanna:  It is.  I have always loved Linsey Corbin.  When she won Coeur d’Alene, my first Ironman, and came down the finishing chute in the cowboy hat that kind of sealed the deal for me. Andrew:  That’s pretty cool.  Yeah, that’s a cool move. Joanna:  Then on a Zoom call this year with some of my Betty Design Sisters, Linsey came on and I got to tell her about how I totally girl crushed on her when she won that race in the cowboy hat.  So that was a cool moment.  So I would probably have to say her. Andrew:  Cool!  Yeah that’s a cool connection.  Greg what about you? Greg:  A while back it was Andy Potts.  I met him and his family at Coeur d’Alene.  He won that race the year I raced it and for the last four or five years it’s been T.O.  I watch his podcast.  I watch his YouTube channel and met both him and his wife.  I haven’t met his son or his newborn. Joanna:  And we have to shout out to Rinny because her comebacks after pregnancy are pretty spectacular. Andrew:  They are badass. Joanna: She’s a badass. Andrew:  She’s a badass.  That’s the right word for it so we’re going to use it. Greg: And T.O. was also in the military and I grew up in a military family so I have a lot of respect and he is one heck of a triathlete too. Andrew:  He’s okay.  Yeah he does alright.  He does okay out there.   What is your favorite TriDot training session Greg? Greg:  Do I have to have a favorite? Andrew:  You do have to have a favorite.  I’ll make you pick right now. Greg:  The Tuesday easy run.  No, all kidding aside it is probably the Tuesday threshold interval bike ride. Joanna:  All of the swims.  All of the swims especially the open water. Andrew: #8:  What is your favorite local race to do that is not an Ironman event? Joanna: Yeah.  There’s a ton of local races that I think that I have really enjoyed.We have a local half, Oilman, which that was my first 70.3.  So I came back like ten years later and do it again. Andrew: And crush your old self? Joanna:  Yeah.  I think I got last the first time I did it and then much better ten years later.But then we have- Greg and I live so close together that we have done a lot of the same short sprint races over the years.  We’ve been on a lot of the same teams.  So those are all special memories.  So as far as Houston goes, I live in a neighborhood called Silver Lake.  It had a great race.  We were both part of a YMCA triathlon team years ago before even Tri For Him.  We loved a race that they put on. Greg:  Yeah, I would say either Silver Lake or there used to be a race called Combat and I was fond of that.  I only raced it twice, but was really fond of it because of its location, how fast it was, and the fact that both years when the Clydesdale class was only 200 pounds and up I took second in my age group both times.  I was successful at the shorter distances and it’s nice to just be able to roll out of bed 20 minutes before transition closes and make it and rack your bike and just go on to race. Andrew:  Yep.  Question #9:Greg we’ll go to you here first.What is your favorite memory from your race experiences? Greg:  Crossing the finish line of my first Ironman.  As I recall, my dad spent probably 13 of the 14.5 hours it took me to cross the finish line just tracking me in various parts of the race course.He had never been there before, but he found a way to just be in the right place at the right time.  Then hearing my name you know, “Greg McAuley from the good old U-S of A, you are an Ironman.” Joanna:  I’m going to cry again.  My God, stop!Probably the first two Ironman my boys were very little at the time and so at Coeur d’Alene of course them being there right at the finish line and me hugging and kissing them.  Then the inaugural year of Texas finishing and the moment I come through the finish line my 4-year-old is crying that he has a boo-boo on his knee.  So then I am now carrying the 4-year-old all around. Andrew:  Because he’s had a tough day. Joanna:  Because he’s had a really tough day!  I think it is just funny.  It was the dynamic of you doing this incredibly hard race and then coming through and they don’t care who you are.  They don’t care what you’ve done.  You are just mommy at that point and so then I’m fixing the knee. Andrew:  That’s amazing.  That’s a great story. Joanna:  Yeah.  The memories. Andrew: Alright, last and final one.  #10:  Once Kona is done and dusted, bucket list item fulfilled, Joanna what race is the next at the top of your to-do list? Joanna:  Hmm.  That’s really tough, but- Andrew:  You’ve been dreaming of Kona for so long. Joanna:  I think I’ve got to go back. Andrew:  Yep, Kona round two. Joanna:  Kona round two. Andrew:  Kona or bust!  It’s the Joanna Nami lifestyle. Joanna:  Yes! Andrew:  Anything else you’ve been looking at?  Eying? Greg:  Yeah, I’ve thought about Challenge Roth, but I also think about what it takes to do one, much less 12 and it’s a lot of time and a lot of other type investment.  So probably either a 70.3 or I just may enjoy a year on the Olympic or sprint circuit. Andrew:  Well, that’s it for today folks!  I want to thank TriDot athletes Joanna Nami and Greg McAuley for sharing their journey to Kona with us today. Shout out to TriBike Transport for partnering with us on today's episode.  As you get back to racing this year head to TriBikeTransport.com to get your bike to the starting line. Have any triathlon questions or topics you want to hear us talk about? Head to TriDot.com/Podcast to let us know what you’re thinking.  We’ll have a new show coming your way soon, until then, Happy Training. Outro: Thanks for joining us. Make sure to subscribe and share the TriDot podcast with your triathlon crew. For more great tri content and community, connect with us on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. 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