Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Ironman Hawaii Race Report - kind of...

I was sitting contemplating life after finishing the Hawaii Ironman (as you do) and was preparing my race report in my head.  The more I thought about it and the more I read other people's race reports I lost enthusiasm for it.  Not because I had a bad day or I wanted to forget it but I think because I wasn't actually racing, I was completing and it seems a bit silly to write a 'completion' report and to be honest my day was pretty boring.
So rather than going through a blow by blow description of the whole 11 hours and 25 minutes of what I ate and how many times I went to the toilet (twice in case anyone is interested) I thought maybe I would just write down some of my musings and highs and lows of the day.
JC and PNF

Hoping I would get to see this the next day
I was pretty excited to get the chance to go back to Kona, since my failed attempted in 2009 it seems that the bar has been raised and girls are getting faster and faster and I really wondered if I would actually qualify again.  I am not a particularly touchy feely emotional type person but I think that DNF'ing in 2009 was quite a significant event and so returning to Kona brought back a whole range of emotions and made me realize how much it would mean to me just to run across the finish line on Ali'i Drive.
Actually I just wanted to return to Kona to do the Undie Run.  
The whole build up to the race was way better than last time with Jared and Kezzle and I being the main team and Claire, Malcolm, Chris, Lesley and DTE coming over a few days before so this time I was surrounded by my people.
I think I was way more relaxed the closer the race got - my hip was feeling good and I had no expectation on myself to go fast, I just wanted to finish and was prepared to walk the marathon if need be.  I had a swim and bike time in my head but the last time I did Kona I was the most miserable I have ever been on a bike for the last 50km (I actually lost the will to live) so if it took me 6.5hrs this time but I was happy then I would take it.
Bike check in time

Race morning and not having a great hair day

Celebrity spotting on race morning, Gordon Ramsey without a shirt

One of the highlights of the day was getting to the swim turnaround in 31 minutes - "I shouldn't count my chickens but OH MY GOD this is going to be the fastest swim of my life!! When did I become such an amazing swimmer!? And isn't the current pushing us to shore? So I will probably go even faster on the way back!!" Getting closer to the pier - "I'm not going to look at my watch until I stand up so it will be a surprise how amazingly fast I just swam, hmmm it seems to be taking quite a while to get to the pier... don't look at your watch yet, don't look at your watch yet..." Stand up on the beach and look at my watch - 1hr11, oh well at least I had 71 minutes of believing I had suddenly learnt how to swim properly...
Another highlight was getting to the 90km mark on the bike in 2hrs35 - at least this time I was a bit more realistic and knew that the last 70km into the headwind might slow me down a bit.
Fortunately the demons which plagued me in the last 50km in 2009 didn't return this time, I had a bit of a low patch around the 120km mark but perked up and started passing people who I recognised from passing me earlier.  In fact according to I passed about 25 people in the last 20 miles of the bike.
And while we are talking about passing people on the bike I still can't get over how fast some of these girls can ride - using Jared as a measuring stick since he is above averagely quick for an age group male and he got out splitted by probably a couple of hundred girls - what the hell?! I can understand girl pros should be faster than him but age group girls?! Crazy.  Anyway I was pretty happy with my 5hr47 - I was prepared for a 6 hour ride so anything under 6 was a bonus.

The run highlight was getting to the run and actually being able to run! As expected though, running a marathon without really training for it (on land anyway) is not that easy and a few unscheduled walking breaks occurred... The worst thing was my feet which were really sore from just being on them for so long and not being used to running for so long.  I did stay blister free in my prostate shoes and new socks which the man at The Big Island Running Store assured me would not cause blisters and he was right.
Can't not include a tongue photo, actually pretty much my only photo from the race
I made a few friends along the way and even got asked if I was single - maybe this should be the fourth highlight of the day.

The last 14kms certainly dragged on but seeing Kezzle and Jared in the Energy Lab helped.  Jared was not in a great way but seemed like he was going to make it.  Claire and Malcolm were great supporters and popped up on their bikes at a few different places and seeing the other Kiwis out there made things a bit more interesting.
I got to the last aid station on the Queen K and then I ran the whole way to the finish - I even ran through the last aid station on Palani.  I'd like to say that the pain and despair of the last four years hanging over me from not finishing last time came rushing back and I ran down Ali'i Drive with tears running down my my face and collapsed sobbing on the finish line - but in reality, aside from being pretty happy to be finished, I didn't feel much else.  I do remember a guy on the side of the road cheering me on saying "You're on Ali'i Drive!" which is strangely probably something I will always remember.  I don't really understand how people can be so emotional at the end of an Ironman - I'm so drained that you could probably kill a puppy in front of me and I wouldn't blink, I have sweated out any excess fluid so there would be nothing to make tears with.
It was 6.25pm when I finished and almost completely dark (actually I remember walking along the Queen K thinking if I don't start running then they might make me carry a glow stick which prompted me to start running) and the lights of the finish area were so bright.  It is the first Ironman I have ever finished in darkness - damn you Kona and your super early sunset...  I managed to spot Claire and Malcolm and their NZ flag as I ran down the finishing chute and gave them a high five which was pretty cool.  I also vaguely recall Mike Reilly calling me in saying I was here to get the job done which is what I think I wrote on my entry application - I did get the job done.
One thing I was not impressed with was the finishing area set up.  It was about 10 minutes of walking (post Ironman pace) before there was anywhere to sit down and while I had two volunteers with me they were hardly even touching me unlike at IMNZ when they propped me up so much that I was almost being carried which is exactly what you want when you have just finished an Ironman.
I eventually found Jared in the massage tent and followed him into the medical tent when the massage people thought he was going to keel over.  He wasn't in a very good way which made for a very interesting next hour trying to find our supporters and work out the logistics of getting us and our stuff back which was mentally exhausting.  All I really wanted to do was lie in the fetal position and close my eyes but we ended up having to ride our bikes the 5kms back to the condo carrying all our gear bags - just what you need when have just finished an Ironman.  I was particularly worried about Jared but he had perked up quite a bit by this stage so I made sure he kept singing to me in the darkness of Ali'i Drive so I knew he was ok.
And just like that Ironman day was over.  I still can't get over how fast these people at Kona are - if my running had of been up to scratch I would take say 40 minutes off my time to give me 10hrs45 which is a reasonably decent Ironman time for a girl (I think..), that would put me at 36th in my age group out of 70 - how crazy is that! To be honest I think I would have been a bit disheartened to have a perfect race and still only finish in the middle of the age group.  Admittedly it is a very competitive age group and although I hate using the silly cliches which people use when talking about Kona but it is very humbling.  To go from being a near the front age grouper to being a middle to even back of the pack is a bit of an eye opener.
One last musing from my day was that of our little group of me, Jared and Kezzle I had the fastest run split!! I am of course using the term 'run' loosely... Jared had some cramping issues so walked quite a bit and as far as I know Kezzle just ran really really slowly.
On the Walking Bus
The next few days were rather slow and uncomfortable with the worst sunburn I have ever had plus some chaffing is some rather undesirable places.
But nonetheless we still managed a boat trip the next day to swim with dolphins and go snorkling, had a nice dinner at Bubba Gumps and made it into the after party and stalked Macca.  Then on to Waikiki for a few days trying to stay out of the sun (my extreme sunburn made me rather solarphobic).  We did some shopping, taught ourselves how to paddleboard, ate macadamia nuts, 'ran' up Diamond Head (not because we wanted to go for a run but it was the only method of transportation to get there), went to the aquarium and overate at The Cheesecake Factory.
Top supporters

My new friend

Waikiki at sunset

Pack run up Diamond Head

Part way up Diamond Head, probably walking by now

Made it to the top, everyone suck in
Still at Waikiki

Trying to ignoring the sleazy man next to me

Pre flight massages
Now we are back in NZ remembering what to do at work and learning how to hang curtains and stain decks.  The weather has been pretty good so far so might do a bit of easy biking in the weekend but will keep the running shoes packed up until next week.  Taupo Half Ironman is about 7 weeks away so will start thinking about that soon but I might just enjoy riding my road bike for a few weeks first.
So my last word must go out to my loyal supporters - Jared Razzle and Kezzle for being my training buddies for all those long rides, Davo for the bike program and helping to get my wheel fixed two days before we were due to fly out, Neilio for our stylish BMW kit, Darreene for kindly lending me his bike bag, Claire, Malcolm, Lesley, Chris and DTE for being great race day supporters, my two (and soon to be three) loyal blog readers in Tauranga, Mum for taking in all the free t-shirts I scored while I was away which are too big for me, and to everyone for their messages of support before and after race day.  There really is a special little community in the NZ triathlon scene and I am always humbled (sorry to use it again, last time I promise) by the amount of support which I receive from all you tri-geeks out there, thanks for all being a part of helping my tri-geek dream come true.  Don't worry, next blog I will be back to my usual cynical self.

1 comment:

  1. hey nice post meh, You are one of the best writers I've seen of recent. I love your style of blogging here. this post reminds me of an equally interesting post that I read some time ago on Daniel Uyi's blog: Guest Posting .
    keep up the good work friend. I will be back to read more of your posts.