Random AG John Jenkins
Written by: Herbert Krabel
Date: Thu Oct 25 2012
Slowtwitch: We are glad to have you as a random age grouper.
John: Thanks, itís pretty cool being asked to participate.
ST: Well, when I went to the Kona airport that night I figured I would run into some triathletes, and so I decided that I would approach the first one I encountered, and that would be random enough.
John: Yeah! Two days out from the biggest race of my life, I had a "deer in the headlights" look. That must have drawn you over.
ST: Not really. We actually both bought nice flower leis for loved ones about to arrive, unlike others who jumped on the sad looking fakes ones. Did your family appreciate what you had selected or were they too tired from the trip from the East Coast to notice?
John: My Mom, dad and wife were so happy to get to Hawaii, and I guess the leis were icing on the cake. Of course, they had to joke about "getting lei'd" as soon as they got here. They were tired after about 17 hours of traveling but the sights and smells of Kona seemed to wake them up.
ST: When did you actually arrive?
John: I arrived in Kona on Saturday October 6th at 7:30 PM. I wanted at least a week to acclimate to the time change from Jersey. But, arriving at night, in a new place was tricky. Next time I will make sure I get there in the daylight as the darkness made it a little hard finding the house we rented on Ali'i drive.
ST: As someone traveling from the East Coast that might be a bit tricky to achieve, but we hear you.
John: Maybe Iíll just move to Kona. That would solve the issue.
ST: How much of what you experienced in Kona matched the picture you had made up in your mind?
John: Everything was way more beautiful than I had pictured in my head. The colors of the water and energy in the air were amazing. The feeling of actually being a part of this experience, and living this dream of mine was better than I had ever imagined.
I imagined the race being hard, and it lived up to that. It was the hardest Ironman Iíve done yetóthe hardest race of any kind Iíve done yet.
John: I had planned to do the Underpants run, but I didnít have a run scheduled for that day. And, being so close to the race, I was sticking to the plan. So, I just went down and shot some video for family and friends so they could see what it was about.
I never did swim to the coffee boat because I do not drink caffeine for a month or so before racing.
After the race, however, my family and I had plenty of adventures around the island. We pretty much went to see all the highlightsóand more.
ST: Having watched the underpants run you my have noticed it isn't really a run, or at the very least not a big effort. Plus you can get other beverages including water at the coffee boat.
John: Yeah, as a first-timer, I had to learn the ropes. I hope I have the chance to return and build on what Iíve learned. I was disappointed, because I rarely miss the chance to run around in my underwear.
ST: Were you nervous going into the race?
John: Hell yes! Like many who do this race, I had thought about it since I was a teenager, and the build up just contributed to the nerves. This was probably the most nervous I had ever been going into a race.
The worst part for me, when I do an Ironman, is putting race bags together and bike check. I had my bags all over the living room of the house we were renting, and I drove my wife crazy with the check and re-check.
I guess this part is the worst because of a sense of losing control when you have to check all your gear in. The whole, ďIs my bike ok? Did I check everything?Ē Once that is done there is no turning back. I worry the most about bike mechanical failure. Itís the one thing I cannot control, and makes me nervous.
ST: But you had no issue with your bike, right?
John: Nope, no issues with the bike.
ST: Your 10:13 in Kona total time looks solid. Were you pleased with your effort?
John: Thatís a tough question to answer. I think I am pleased. I thought Iíd be able to finish faster, but I didnít. I guess thatís what a lot of people say about Kona.
A friend of mine wrote in his blog, ďWe fixate on the numbers but when the gun goes off, we have to let go and race with our current level of fitness in the conditions presented.Ē I feel I did that and executed my race planóeven though that didnít result in the number I wanted.
John: I might have pushed a little harder on the bike. I did not take any big chances or go too far out of my target zones. It was a cautious approach but I was able to keep a steady burn all-day and finished strong. But, based on how my legs felt on the run I feel I could have pushed a little more power on bike. But then again the last 25 miles into that headwind were humbling. I was able to remain patient and it kept me safe.
ST: That sounds like you should not have changed anything after all.
John: Yeah, except for the temperature.
ST: How much time a week did you dedicate to your Kona training?
John: My training for this race started with about 10 hours a week, back in January, then it built up to an overload week of 25 hours, which was my biggest week of training ever. An average week of training was probably around 17 hours.
The key for me, with this type of training load, is privileging my sleep. I try to get at least 8 hours every night, and naps on the weekend.
ST: Where did you get your Kona slot?
John: Cozumel, back in November 2011. That race is now the 2nd coolest thing that has happened to me in triathlon. I had my PR race thereó9:35--in conditions that are somewhat similar to Kona Ė itís very hot and windy, but there are no hills. Of course, the winds are not quite as bad as those in Kona, at least not the year I did it.
ST: Plus that gave you a lot of time to think about Kona.
John: 11 months for a first timer in Kona Ė I donít know if itís an advantage or not. There might be something to not having that much time to think about it. I thought about it. A lot.
ST: What do you do when you are not racing triathlons?
John: I work as a Construction Inspector in Atlantic City, NJ, and I own a coaching business, with my wife, Maria, called No Limits Endurance.
ST: Anything else we should know?
John: This is another tough question to answer. Before triathlon, my wife and I ranóa lot. We did marathons and ultra marathons, and Iím ready to get back into that for a while. I love the woods and the mountains, and trail running is probably my favorite. Iím signed up to do my first 100 miler in the spring of 2013. A new adventure.
ST: Have fun with that adventure.
John: Yeah, I get that. 100 miles seems crazy. But, just like my first ironman was the craziest thing Iíve ever done at that time, Iím trying to test my limits in a new way.
Thanks for this opportunity to share my experience. And, Iíd like to thank my family and friends for putting up with me and my obsession for the last three years. Now, I get to experience my wife go through the same thing Ė as she makes a go for Kona this year!
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