On this edition of The Kona Edge we look at the strong mindedness of Ellen Hart to improve in her Ironman bike in order to manage in any situation at Kona. From taking in beautiful scenery in her Ironman bike training to having strong winds whip her right off course. This is how she does it.
BRAD BROWN: Welcome onto this edition of The Kona Edge, time to chat some biking and we head to a beautiful part of the world, Denver, Colorado, Ellen Hart joins us once again. Ellen, welcome back onto The Kona Edge.
ELLEN HART: Thank you Brad, I’m glad to be with you.
BRAD BROWN: Denver is a beautiful place to ride a bike isn’t it?
Take advantage of beautiful places to train for your Ironman bike
ELLEN HART: It is a beautiful place, with the mountains all around and then plenty of flats and then with Boulder so close, that’s another whole world of cycling opportunity in Boulder. I take advantage of both.
BRAD BROWN: In our first chat you mentioned that your now husband bought you a bicycle and that’s how you got into triathlon, you’ve taken to the bike, you quite enjoy it. Obviously you come from a running background, but the biking is not too bad, is it?
ELLEN HART: It’s not and I like it and I have to say that my enjoyment has definitely grown in probably the last couple of years, I’ve enjoyed it more than ever. I’m trying to think, I had one serious crash in 2008, right before Vancouver IT Age Group World Championships and it was entirely wind related. I was riding down, there was some sort of tornado warning that I was oblivious to that day and there was just a really strong gust from the side and just picked me up and put me down. I had some real fears about wind for a long time.
It’s still not my favourite climatic condition, but those side winds in Kona presented quite a problem to me because they just come out of nowhere and they’re really strong and so that’s one aspect that I really had to work on both physically and mentally, to kind of try and soften some of those fears.
Yeah, I’ve had a Trek bike the last couple of years and I know that everybody has his/her favourite bike, but I seem to just fit really well on that and we’re part and parcel of the same unit going down the highway. That’s just probably a lot of time too and experimenting with different saddles and that sort of thing to just feel more comfortable on the bike.
Don’t let setbacks spoil your Ironman bike experience
BRAD BROWN: Let’s talk about that crash and dealing with the after effects and you mentioned how nervous you were with the wind from both a physical and a mental perspective, how do you bounce back from something like that? Was it a case of then forcing yourself to go out riding in cross winds or how did you deal with that Ellen?
ELLEN HART: Yes, two parts, I did have to just go back out and realised that one sort of surprising and traumatic incident does not inform the rest of my life and does not predict the future. Having a narrative in my head that, not that every single gust of wind is going to knock me over, but there was just really only one and that was kind of a long time ago and that I’m strong. And I actually, for a while was asking every single person I met, like what do you do in the wind and just trying to get some sense of, like coming back out of aero, going back down into aero? Which way you lean? What do you do with your hands? Sort of some things, scootching back a little bit on the saddle, some specific things I could practice on the bike, but also just going out in the wind.
There was a while when if it was windy I’d say hmmm, no thanks, I think I’ll ride indoors and now I say, uh, it might be windy on race day, so why don’t I go out and give it a try. And I also, you know, here we go with touchy, feely again, but I also worked with a therapist about sort of re-training that response to the traumatic incident, that it doesn’t have to be in the forefront of my emotional piece. It can be in the memory piece of my brain rather than in the reactive part. Yeah, I worked on that for quite a while but it’s just that I want to be better and I know what my weaknesses are and I want to work on them and I want to be a more complete triathlete. And so that was something that I knew that I had to put some time into.
BRAD BROWN: And you want to win, sometimes you just have to do what you have to do to win.
ELLEN HART: Yes, yes that’s true. It’s almost easier to race because I’m the best version of myself in a race and I’m braver and I’m more focused. And so now getting through several Kona where it’s pretty much always windy, and other experiences, I feel a lot more confident.
BRAD BROWN: Ellen, I think that’s incredible, thank you so much for sharing that with us, much appreciated. We look forward to catching up again next time here on The Kona Edge.
ELLEN HART: Okay, thanks Brad.