|I couldn't get enough swimming in before the race! Loved it!|
The vibe in Kona race week is unlike anything I've ever experienced! I remember driving down Ali'i that first morning to get a practice swim in and there were runners and cyclists everywhere! The drive gave me chills! When we got to the pier it was more chills! The four days I had in Kona prior to the race were magic. I found the perfect combo of the crowds and finding relaxation at our house. My training went perfectly! All my swims were amazing and I felt so fast on my runs and confident on my bike. I knew Kona would be hard and I was prepared to work hard. I knew it would be hot and humid and I was prepared to go slower to deal with that. I knew it would be windy on the bike and I was ready with my HR and power plan to not fight the wind. No time goals, no placing goals for me. These things I knew and Kona threw out all the punches on race day and nearly knocked me out....
I knew the swim would be the easiest part of the day for me. I knew the heat wouldn't affect me too badly here ( temps in the bay were 80F). I had done most of my training in the Didsbury pool which is kept at 86F so I was used to being hot in the swim. I knew I wanted to swim hard and get a jump on the wind and heat if possible.
The swim out to the start line was kind of surreal. I kept thinking "I am really here!". I chose a spot in the middle and ranged from second to third row while we were treading water waiting for the race to start. The line morphed alot while we were waiting from having a good spot to an ok spot. Looking back I should have taken a spot in the front line for sure. The cannon went off ( The cannon!!!) and it was mayhem! I had to do head up front crawl for the first 30 seconds as it was so crowded. There was tons of contact! I started with one pack and swam through them and caught another pack. Swam through that one and caught a third pack! I was having a great swim! From there it seemed more stable but you were never alone, always swimming with a group around you, beside, in front, behind. Always. We started catching the men who started 15 mins ahead of us before we hit the turnaround. And it got solidly busier from there. It was hard for packs of women to go around groups of slower men smoothly and a few times I got boxed out and had to breast stroke and change course. It was one heck of a busy swim course. But I loved it! It was fast and fun! I was so happy with my swim!! I came out feeling good and no nauseousness at all. I rinsed off in the showers and went to grab my T1 bag but both the volunteer and I were having trouble finding it. All it had in it were sunglasses as I had my shoes and helmet on my bike. Once I had my sunglasses I went into the tent for a sloppy shot of sunscreen and I was off to grab my bike. Hit the mount line smoothly and was off....
|I was pretty happy to see my family!|
That rip through town was something else! We do a little loop around the transition area then head south on the Kuakini highway for a short out and back before hitting the Queen K of Misery. There were so many people on the course at once, it was heads up riding for sure! I got to see my family twice and slowed down the second time just a bit and was able to throw a high five out to Liam on the way by. Then it was time to climb Palani and hit the Queen K and settle in.
It was so crowded out there for the first hour on the Queen K. People moved in packs for the most part "flirting with drafting" and honestly there wasn 't really a choice. If you sat up to get out of a draft zone you would have sat up through a few hundred people. Things started to spread out better by Waikoloa but it was still a very congested course and very easy to draft. I would say I stayed draft legal for the most part after Waikoloa but not everyone else did! Up to this point I was holding just under my goal watts and although I was hot I was feeling pretty good.
We really started to get into the big winds after the turn to Hawi at Kawaiwahae. They were everything you've read about and more. Such a long slog up to Hawi in those winds! I was starting to feel a little fried as I got into Hawi and got my second bottle of concentrate but soon after the descent starts you need to be firing on all cylinders to stay safe. I am a cyclist that loves to bomb down hills but here I can say I rode more conservatively than normal. The crosswinds do toss you around and that's scary at high speeds!
I really started to feel tired towards the end of the descent back down to Kawaiwahae. I was pushing lower watts and it didn't feel right to try and keep them up, so I didn't. After Kawaiwahae I got really hot, hotter than I ever could have imagined. Hotter than I can find words to describe! Did I mention I was hot? I felt prepared to work hard and get tired on the bike but I wasn't mentally prepared to suffer on the bike, not like you do on the run. I really suffered on the back third of this bike. My daughter sent me a video the night before the race with some great wisdom and I had written down one of the quotes she gave me #magicinmisery on my forearm. I can't tell you how many times I looked at that in the last 60km on the bike ( and the run too! ).
I couldn't hold power and my stomach started to get upset and all I could think about was getting cooled off. I felt my mental alertness starting to slip so I made the decision to stop at an aid station with about 30km to go. I took my helmet off ( which was a nice hybrid well ventilated helmet!) and doused my head with ice water and the volunteers gave me ice from the coolers to put down my top, front and back. I felt like a new person for 20 min or so but it didn't take long to heat back up. Around this same time I really struggled to get fluids down too. My stomach was not good.
I was never so happy to be coming off the bike, getting into T2 felt like a huge milestone. When I came off the bike my left foot was so painful ( bunion fun ) that I had to walk part way into transition before I could run again. I hit the change tent and got my run gear on, got smeared with sunscreen again and then a porta potty stop ( should have reversed those last two!) and I was out onto the run...
|Fake it till you make it! Smiling and waiving.... and not feeling good!|
Holy cow did I feel awful starting the run! I didn't even have to tell my self to slow down because I couldn't go fast. I felt gross, nauseous and hot and I was scared. I was scared of what my stomach would do, I was scared I wouldn't be able get in enough fluids and calories to do the marathon. I was scared I wouldn't be able to finish! I saw Marty and Liam and my Dad as I left T2 and all I wanted to do was cry when I saw them. It was probably a good thing they were behind a barrier because if had stopped to talk I might have lost it. I smiled and waved and hoped for the best.
So here starts the marathon. With a sloshy and nauseous gut as my companion, I headed out at what I thought would be an easy pace to run this marathon. I walked the first few aid stations and took advantage of the water, ice and sponges to cool myself off and took in very little by mouth. Sips at most. I was running with a great gal and she was walking aid stations too and we were a good match. After about 40 minutes of fighting my stomach I made the decision to try and walk to see if I could settle it. I walked for about 1km and never really felt better and decided I didn't want to prolong the suffering so I decided to start running again with a plan to walk aid stations and try to keep getting small amounts of fluids and calories in to support the rest of the marathon. The rest of Ali'i was hot and miserable.
I saw Marty and Liam right before the climb up Palani back onto the highway and I just burst into tears. They walked a bit with me while I told them my woes. Marty gave me all the good tips, the ones I had already tried but in the end he could just leave me with the advice to battle through it. And I did. It was hard, harder than anything I've ever done or could have imagined. I suffered! I felt nauseous most of the run and in hind sight I probably should have just forced an exodus from my stomach but when you are hot and tired and feeling bad you don't always think straight. Every aid station felt like a brief miracle where I could pour water on myself and cool off but also a fight because I knew I needed fluids and calories but had no desire to take in any.
With around 5km to go I felt confident that I had enough in me to finish without taking any more in and this is when my stomach finally settled. Funny to say but the end of the race was when I felt the absolute best! I still walked the aid stations to get water and sponges and ice to cool off but I started flying! It felt so good to feel good and finally run the way I know I can! When I hit Palani I did a fist pump! So close! I flew down Palani, skipped the last aid station and just kept pushing. Marty and Liam gave me a cheer on Kuakini and then sped to the finish line. They couldn't believe how fast I was running. As I came down the short stretch of Hualalai before making that "final turn onto Ali'i" there were a couple ladies in front of me putting the speed on too. I know it seems silly at the very end of an Ironman but I didn't want to slow down and I couldn't visualize how far down Ali'i the finish line was so I poured it on some more to pass them so we weren't all in the finish chute at the same time. And there was a bit more to go.... I heard my mom and dad and mother and father - law cheer me on ( but didn't see them I was blind for anything but that finish line!). I passed a couple men ( looking back should have slowed down and enjoyed the crowds a bit more but I never wanted a finish line more than anything in my life!) and gave out some high fives on my way through the chute and heard Marty and Liam but didn't slow down one bit until I hit that arch! Holy cow was I happy girl! No tears, just pure joy at finishing.
|Who passes people in the ironman chute?? I do! Get me to that line!|
|BEST FINISH LINE EVER!|
As I type this I feel like something is missing. I know I had "good" day when you look at my times. And I am grateful, I truly am! Racing at Kona has been one of the best experiences of my life. I went into this race in the best fitness ever and completely healthy! It's hard to reconcile what you know you can do with what you did on the day when you are limited by factors other than your fitness and preparation. It leaves me hungry for more, to want another try - fast or not so fast - to prove myself on that course, despite the extreme conditions. Not for a time or a placing, but to do my absolute best. So... for awhile the Big Island will be calling me back and I do hope get back there someday soon!
If you've read this far thank you! This experience wouldn't have been possible without so much support! My family, my coach, my friends, my athletes, my clients ( wow you should see a tired bootcamp instructor teach HIIT Cardio at the end of an Ironman build.... ) and our amazing triathlon community. I had so much love and support from all of you! I tried to channel the love so much on race day, you have no idea how much it helped knowing so many of you out there were tracking my day. I could not have done this without you all having my back. So thank you! Much love to you all.