Hawaii is hallowed ground. I know that. I have had a healthy fear and fascination for the race for years. When I started this sport, I quickly realized it was the pinnacle of Ironman and without getting too deep into this subject on this post (I'll post another entry in a little while....ooooh the suspense!) but just to give you all an understanding, a few years ago I started buying Kona coffee and drinking it regularly. I don't really even enjoy the bitterness of Kona coffee, but I wanted to surround myself with everything that had to do with Kona and the race. So needless to say, I was pretty stoked to be finally living out a dream that I had been chasing down for the past 7 years (did my first tri in 2004)
HERE), but for now let's get right into the nitty gritty...
The plan was to hop a plane from ROC, head to ATL, transfer to LAX, then it was just a hop, skip and a jump across the Pacific Ocean to KOA. Only problem was there were a few mechanical problems with our transfer plane to Kona and that caused a 5 hour delay in the LAX airport. That was weird, because there was a lot of compression gear and M-dot merchandise in that terminal. I met a guy from Michigan who was a lottery winner there as well and he was one of two I met this trip.
|Kim and I on the seawall on Ali'i Drive|
|Kswiss tent at the expo|
|Friday swim with R.Barnett - cloud obscuring volcano in background|
|How to transport a $5k bike when you have a convertible rental|
|Bike check in|
|Race morning - Sweeeeeeet!|
|You have to know how to have fun!|
Swim 2.4 miles - 59:23 / 12th in M25-29AG
This was absolutely insane. Honestly one of the coolest things was that I was floating in the ocean ready to begin a journey that I've dreamed about for the previous 7 years...I swam out to the start with about 15 minutes before the cannon fired and the plan was to start to the left to get a little more "clean" water and be out of the melee a bit more. I got a chance to hang on the Ford Edge that was floating and then with like 5 minutes to the start, I swam over to the line and got behind all the surfboards. They were doing a good job of reigning us back to the line, but you could just tell we were floating out and there was a current.
400m into the swim I noticed I was still with clean water and wondered why everyone was telling me prior to the race how crazy the swim was. It was at that point that we blended in with the other people to the right and things got crazy. The "stream" of people was only about 6 bodies across and I was on the left hand side of that stream and wanting to catch a good draft. I had a goal of a sub 1 hour swim in Kona and I knew I was capable of that considering the 56 I swam without a wetsuit in Placid (as long as the currents were nice)
|The mele of the swim start|
The trip into the shore was uneventful, but since it's a world class race, if you let up for a split second...about 5 people pass you and I tried to keep the pressure on all the way back home to shore. The crowds were intense as I climbed the stairs and I tried so hard not to slip on the astroturf. (didn't want to come this far only to be taken out by some green mats!) Regardless I made it out alive and was headed to T1 with the digital clock reading that coveted sub 60 time.
T1 - 3:10
It was cool to be on the pier and as soon as you get out of the water, you run thru some showers to rinse off the salt water from your suit. I took some extra seconds making sure my suit was rinsed because with the way my arms/pecs felt from the chaffing in the water, I didn't want any more of that.
|Running towards T1|
Bike 112 miles - 5:15:44 / 21.28mph avg spd - 50th M25-29AG
The bike was something that I've been working hard on this year and this split was like the culmination of hard work of the past year pouring out onto the lava fields. Some reliable people told me that it's smart to bike a LITTLE bit above your pace in the first 10 miles or so (prior to heading up Palani and taking that left on the Queen Ka'ahumanu) just so you get out of the wind that little bit faster than everyone else behind you. I was trying to do that, but also was cautious enough not to blow myself up in the opening miles and have to walk the marathon. This is where the powermeter/HR monitor came in handy.
|White hibiscus sticker near seatpost and the phoenix was ready to roll|
|Climbing up Palani Road hill|
The course can be described as rolling up to about mile 53, then it starts a nice 7 mile climb up to Hawi (pronounced Hah-vee - Hawaiians pronounce W's as V's in their language). They say if you can see whitecaps on the ocean to your left at the little town of Kawaihae, you're gonna be in for a windy and sketchy descent. Long story short, it was windy. CRAZY windy. Like the most extreme wind I have ever felt while on a bicycle. I can only correlate it to the wind that is produced when an 18 wheeler tears by you on your bike and you are only feet away....it's kind of like a semi going by you on your right side and then going by you on your left within seconds of eachother. It's nuts.
Coming down from Hawi was a little dicey, but I survived, caught a little wobble on the downhill section due to some serious wind, but was able to keep it straight and on the road this time. The scene was crazy, you saw a string of cyclists in front of you and one would wobble from the wind, then the next and the next until you thought to yourself, "brace for it....here it comes" and it would hit you like a Mack truck.
HERE for the bike for those wondering about pacing, etc. I drank a ton on the bike, every hour I would consume 2 bottles of Ironman Perform, a gel and 2 Suceed salt tablets. In hindsight it MIGHT have been a little too much sodium, but my shorts were covered in salt lines, so I was rinsing off with 2 bottles of water at every aid station. Despite the asphalt temperatures reading 130F that day, I was still keeping cool (or at least I thought)
The last 40 miles I felt strong and was passing SO many folks who were sitting up on their brake pads obviously having blown up from going out too hard. I know my HR climbed and pace dropped a little bit (I believe the scientific term is "decoupling") in the last segment, but all in all it was a fun ride and so much fun to be powering thru the lava fields and picking people off in the last few miles of the bike. I cruised into T2 and I was feeling like this might be a good race.
T2 - 2:52
Nothing really special to report here, just in and out and I made sure to get a fresh coating of extra sunscreen.
Run - 26.2miles - 3:47:43 - 57th in M25-29 AG
The run in Hawaii is fantastic. I mean it's the part of the NBC coverage that is totally glorified and it is ALL that it is cracked up to be. You take a right out of transition and run down and back on Ali'i Drive right by the ocean. You pass all the little shops, there are tons of people out and there are even a few shady sections that you can get a little respite from the intense sun. The weird thing is that you are cooled so much on the bike by the winds that when you stop and get to the run, it gets a lot hotter.
I came blazing out of T2 and I checked my watch and realized that I just had to run a sub 3:40 marathon and I had broken the elusive 10 hour barrier! My mind started racing and I was getting excited at that thought because I popped a 3:27 in Placid and that was MUCH hillier. Thoughts of besting a time set by LEGENDS in the Rochester area (Dennis Moriarty and Erik Grimm) bounced thru my head and I was flying high. But the odd thing was that I couldn't get my HR to come under 138bpm during the first 5 miles of the run. I don't know if it was nerves, adrenaline, heat or excitement thinking about that sub10 time, but I couldn't make it drop. So it stayed about 140-141bpm for the first few miles.
Mile 10 was a repeat offense and I was fearing I was going to be running from porta potty to porta potty from then on. I was still popping salt pills and I stopped after this stop. But I did realize that the sponges work really well inside the porta potties and they are easily disposed of inside as well. Now my pace was slowing to mid 8's on the run (including those stops) and I was about to take a right and climb up Palani to the Queen K.
|Running up Palani Road after porta potty stops|
|Been waiting YEARS to see this sign|
No spectators are allowed in the Energy Lab and the only people there are the other volunteers and runners. You basically enter and take a downhill to the ocean and run right along the coast before hitting a turn around and climbing back out. It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, but by the time I was climbing out, I was ready to be done with the race. I was hurting and I knew that my sub10 dreams had evaporated and turned into the salt stains that were all over my clothing at this point.
|Not as burned as I thought I was going to be...|
At mile 24, there was a pretty long and slow climb about a half mile long. There's a grassy median and some spectators out there too which was great, but a young male coach with a clipboard was yelling at a female competitor behind me saying, "she's only 45 seconds ahead and this is the last uphill, NOW is the time to go AFTER HER!" and somehow that gave me some motivation to realize that as soon as I got up this last incline, it would be flat or downhill to the finsh...I couldn't wait for that. My garmin file can he found HERE for those people who want to geek out with HR and paces.
|Run analysis graph - HR + Pace per mile|
TOTAL TIME - 10:08.52 - 537th overall and 57th in M25-29 AG
Taking that right hander onto Ali'i is something I've envisioned in training runs for YEARS. It was nothing like what I thought it would be like, but you head down a finishing chute with flags from all over the world lining the way. There are TONS of people and the street is as packed as the Tour de France is on those mountain top sections. It's absolutely wild and I tried to soak it all in. I was screaming a primal scream at the top of my lungs and was exhausted thoroughly when I finished, but it was all totally worth it. I had made it to the line and my name could be added to that exclusive club.
|Kim and I - finally done!|
|So glad mom and dad could be there!|
|Post race with an uber excited Jenna!|