The road to Kona - Interview with Emma Pallant

Vifit Sport is a proud partner of the BMC-Vifit Sport pro triathlon team. Seven out of eight athletes of the team qualified for the Ironman world championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. We spoke the athletes about their preparations and expectations for the race.

During the training camp in Lanzarote, you’ve told us that your main goal for this year was to race your first Ironman & qualify for the Ironman in Kona. You made it, congrats! How does it feel? 

“It always feels great I think when you achieve a goal and it sets things up nicely for the next goal, which is to prepare the best I can in these few weeks and execute the best race I can possibly put together when I'm out there :).”

Did you expect to qualify for Kona this year?

“I think the ironman was very unknown territory this year and I wasn’t really sure how I would take to it. I love the training for it, but I have learnt so much from actually racing it. i think you have to go through a pretty telling apprenticeship with the longer distance to keep on building and progressing and I'm sure I will learn a ton more in Kona. So, I think there was big expectation on myself to put everything into making it possible, but I try to focus on what I can do, control and give to the race, and then whatever comes out of it comes out :).”

Two full Ironman races in a period of about 3.5 months seems quite hard! Do you think that time in between is enough to give your best performance?

I think that because I have a really high volume of training, that it has actually cut the training load down a little bit, so I won’t feel any ill effects of two of the longer races, because it’s just been compensated for in the training periodisation :).”

How are you preparing for Kona and what is your goal?

“I think the biggest challenge for me will be hydration, nutrition and pacing. The pacing is the easiest to solve – we have been really drilling this in in training, paying more attention to numbers and are starting to build up a good date profile, which is less important in the shorter races but it’s a lesson ironman is really teaching me. The hydration and nutrition we tackled with a heat test at Bakala organized through the BMC-Vifit Sport team and now I have some good numbers to work to. I'm a killer sweater so I have a pretty heavy program to stick to, but I'm training it all in, out here in Lanzarote for a couple of weeks, and I'm loving just getting my head down and into really big long days of training. So, the goal for Kona will be to implement the plan to the best of my ability and cross that line knowing that I couldn’t have given any more in preparation or in the race itself. I want to hit that deep dark place, but not until the last 5km this time ;).”

Did you adapt your nutritional plan in your preparation for Kona?

“I have really changed everything about my nutrition, I was too head strong on pushing myself in Austria and didn’t drink or eat nearly enough. But, this time I have a written plan out with specific salt and liquid volumes and practically it was a bit of a nightmare trying to work out how to take it all in at first, but I think we have a good plan now and I just need to keep it there when the head is in race mode! :)”

How nervous do you think you will be at D-day on a scale of 0 – 10?

“I think it will be pretty high up there!! I have fainted quite a bit in the hot conditions before, when I hadn’t drunk enough, and the worst time injuries came when I was riding. So, I think I will be keeping on thinking about this to make myself nervous enough to not forget the important factors, so I will try and use those nerves to a productive, practical use :).”

What is the first thing you think you will do when you finish?

“In Austria I just wanted to curl up and sleep! About 3km out from the finish I was seeing stars and I didn’t even think about life after the finish line. I was so focused on making that line, that when I did I was ready to just lie down, hide and not move for a few hours. I didn’t really have anything in my mind, but hopefully this time I will be a bit more on it car bonnet and ready to face plant into the ocean and get a nice sweaty hug from my boyfriend who is coming out to support.”

What is the first thing you think you will eat after your performance?

“I will have been on sugar, liquid and salt for nine hours, so I think something cold and something protein-ey. I'm going to say a frozen version of my favorite Vifit Sport protein bar - lemon yoghurt.”

Who is the first person you think you will call after the race?

“My coach won’t be there, so it will be her, Michelle Dillon, and then closely followed by my mum :). Even though it will be the early hours of the UK I'm pretty sure they will both be pulling all-nighters.” 

Do you reward yourself after such a performance and if so, what is your ultimate reward?

“My season has been pretty full, because I love to race a lot and it tends to help me, because I always learn from races and it’s great to try out different training and tapering approaches into each one. But, it means that I haven’t really done a lot of celebrating. My best friend’s wedding is before Kona, so I will be not drinking there and I can’t remember the last time I went out for a good blow out. My ultimate reward will be a few heavy nights on the g&t's and on the dance floor, but spread out, I can’t back up nights out! But, I definitely need a few nights to let loose now at the end of season, because my little inner raver has been confined to a party for one on the treadmill for most of the year now!!!”