Grab a coffee....this is not short...
Race morning went smoothly and I soon found myself sitting on the Kona pier with 1800 of my closest friends wondering what I was about to get myself into. After the pros started at 6:30, the age groupers began funneling into the bay to get the party started.
where's waldo? (above the dude with the orange cap)
I was a bit chilly and didn't want to tread water for 30 minutes, so I filtered in and snagged a spot on the seawall.
I spent the next 15 minutes just stretching and taking it all in. The people, dawn, the beautiful ocean, music, nervous and excited athletes. I was about to begin one of the most incredible events in endurance sports and I felt incredibly lucky. I knew my family and friends would be out there all day long cheering me on and I couldn't wait to see them. My stomach felt great, but I wasn't sure if I had eaten enough- I had downed 1/2 cup of oatmeal, 1 banana, 1 spooin of Nuttzo, and 1 purefit bar. 500 calories or so. Well, it was too late to eat any more, so I reminded myself to get on it as soon as I hit the bike.
Swim- 2.4 miles in Kailua Bay (1:06)
Everyone told me the swim was the biggest brawl they've ever been in and now that I've been there, I agree. Then again, I brought it on myself, lining up right next to the pier (the inside line) with a straight shot to the buoy line. I figured that this is where fast people would be and although I am not a fast swimmer, I hoped to get dragged along a bit. I was clinging to the pier until the cannon went off and then the rest is a blur.
hanging on to the pier...
For a bit, I couldn't even swim, so many legs and arms and bubbles everywhere. A big frothy mess of flailing limbs.
But, soon enough, I was moving right along. The swim was beautiful, the perfect temperature and I was just happy to be there. I knew this would be the only time I'd be cool all day so I tried to enjoy it and soak it all in. I kept having the "holy crap, this is really happening" thoughts running through my head. Before long, we hit the turnaround boat and I glanced at my watch - 33 minutes- pretty much what I had expected for the halfway point. I knew I should be working harder and I felt like I spent half of the swim with my head up or breaststroking but there was nowhere to go. Bodies on every side of me and no way to get around. So I just hung out and cruised it in, I figured it would be a long day. Out of the water in 1:06 and into transition to prepare for the long ride.
I thought I had a pretty quick T1 (more on this later) and I headed out on the bike. The transitions at Ironmans are pretty incredible because of the volunteers. There are the nicest, most helpful volunteers in there, helping you dress, undress, apply cold towels- everything you can imagine. i wanted to stay all day! With help, I took off my borrowed Orca swimskin (thanks Katya!), put on my helmet, glasses, garmin 310xt, and got smothered in sunscreen. I put my bike shoes in my hand and carried them to the mount line where I put them on and then hopped on my bike.
Bike- 112 miles (5:48/ 19.27 mph)
As soon as I hopped on the bike one of the pins holding my garmin strap on flew off in an almost exact repeat of IM Saint George. Nooo! Oh well, in the sports bra it went and I knew I could check it periodically to see where my heartrate was. Right out of T1 I saw James & Dan and gave a wave
I pedaled away and started getting passed by hundreds of people. There is an out and back along the Kuakini highway that is packed with athletes and is pretty narrow. To say there is drafting on this section is an understatement. I was getting a bit frustrated because I just kept letting people pass and then I had to stop pedaling to fall back to a legal distance. After the race, I learned that the drafting in this section is just inevitable and its not even marshalled. So basically everyone just accepts it- well, live and learn and next time go with the flow. Right out of transition, I noticed blogger bud Laura right up ahead. After 10 miles or so, I pedaled up to her, we had a chat, and then she became my ride buddy for the next 100 miles and I rode into transition 2 right behind her. Having Laura there was a huge highlight to the bike and I felt lucky to have her there to motivate me. When she would get ahead, I'd focus on her blue butt that said, "Race With Passion" and eventually make my way back up to her. When I'd jump ahead, I'm thinking she did the same.
Back on the Queen K highway we started the ride up to Hawi. I had heard about the possibility of strong crosswinds and was terrified. My #1 goal at this point in the race was to make it down from Hawi and then start my "race". I rode pretty easily and got passed a ton. I know this paid off later in the run, but am left wondering what would happen if I pushed it a bit more. At mile 40 we started the climb up to Hawi and this is where I switched from race mode to survival mode. I have never ridden in winds like that and I never want to again (although I'm sure I will). I was griping the bullhorns for miles on end, just praying to make it down alive and making deals with madame pele. I was very unconcerned with my speed and pace and very concerned for my life. I know this sounds dramatic, but the winds were pretty rough. When you combine this with my intense cycling anxiety (i have a very real fear of descending and anything that involves bike handling) it makes for an interesting couple of hours. I just read Julie's race report and its funny that she thought of me in this section, thinking, "if Beth can do it, then I can do it". She's right! We did it! I finally made down from Hawi and got hit with a headwind, but who cares! The crosswinds of death were over. I concentrated on eating and drinking again and got back in aero for the first time in 25 miles. I tried to push the whole way home, but made sure I didn't go too hard. It started to get lonely the last 20 miles and I wondered if I had gotten passed by the entire field in the Hawi section. Where did everyone go? I could see Laura's blue butt a couple hundred yards up and focused on keeping her in sight. Looking at my watch (I had a time-of-day watch on my wrist, garmin still in my top) I was going to break 6 hours, maybe even 5:50, so I wasn't disappointed one bit. Still on track for a solid day.
My stomach felt great the entire ride. I drank a ton of lemon lime powerbar perform- about 4 bottles (700cal) and I ate one sleeve of clif bloks (200 cal). I also tried to eat some bars (clif mojo, luna) but they tasted nasty in the heat and I ate only about half of them (400cal). I am usually anti- gels, but I knew that since I wasn't eating my bars, I needed something else, so I ended up eating 3 power gels along the way (300cal). I think my stomach is interesting in that it likes variety. I don't think I could handle getting all my calories from one source (like all gels) . All-told, I ate about 14 or 1500 calories on the bike. By mile 100 I was SO ready to get off my bike, I couldn't wait to run!
Again, I thought I did a great job. I handed off my bike and shoes to a volunteer and then ran to the changing tent after taking a very quick stop in the porto potty (I never did go on the bike). Cold towels, sunscreen, a quick change into run shorts, grabbed a redbull, and shoved 2 sleeves of clif bloks in my sportsbra. Ready to roll!
Run- 26.2 miles (3:10/ 7:16/mile pace)
Right out of T2, I ran up the hill with my Red Bull and saw James and Dan and then more friends.
fist pump for the camera...oh jeez, someone please put me on the Jersey Shore because there is more fist pumping in the run portion of this race report than in a night on the town with the Situation and Snookie. Watch out!
The first 9 miles are an out-n-back along Ali'i drive and if you're feeling good on this section, it's almost like a free 9 miles. I was running easily and worried when my first mile split was in the 6:40s. But, I was keeping my heartrate at 150, so I knew I would be ok if I just executed the plan. I reminded myself that the reason I had put in mega bike miles in training was to be fresh for the run. Pace was irrelevant to me and I ran by heartrate. I was able to see all of my friends on and off the course during this first run section and I was completely 100% motivated to get 'er done. I realized I was a ways back from most of my training partners, but I was having a grand time and just concentrated on keeping a high cadence, staying totally relaxed, and taking in my surroundings.
My parents and sister were at the 4.5 mile turn around with signs and chalk and this was a huge boost- they are the best cheer squad around! (Well, maybe second best to Chloe and Sue Hutter :) Back into town, mile 9 or 10, I ran up towards the Queen K and saw James, Kristin, Katya, and Kerrie. I wanted to stay and chat, but there was work to be done! So, I probably gave a fist pump and went on my merry way.
Once I was up on the Queen K, things got a little more lonely. But, the men's and women's pro races were unfolding in the opposite direction and provided a nice distraction. I had a blast cheering for all my favorite pros and kept on truckin'. Trevor and Joe were out there on bikes which was awesome as well.
I had lost my salt pills and was paranoid about cramping so I started asking around about extra salt tabs. Joe pointed me in the direction of one of his friends/athletes on the course who helped me out and gave me a couple. THANKS GUYS! I kept moving and followed my nutrition plan : 1 mile=one shot block for the first 12 miles. I also made sure to take water and ice at each aid station.
At mile 13, I swtiched to cola for the rest of the day. Each aid station was one cup cola, one cup water.
Mile 13 was an important one. If I remember correctly (which I may not) this is where I met Robbie, who ended up running stride for stride with me the entire back half of the marathon. This is also where I looked at my garmin (clasped in my hand now) and saw 1:35 for the first 13.1. Okay, so if I don't blow it, I might squeeze out a 3:15 marathon....hmmm...and this guy Robbie I picked up seemed to be on the same page, dishing out a nice pace...Well, I didn't want to count my chickens. Okay, maybe I did a little chicken counting. Robbie and I kept moving towards the energy lab and caught up on life stories. Super cool guy who works for his family business selling elevator parts. He had had a tough swim, a good bike, and was looking to round out the day with a solid run. We had a silent agreement to get eachother there. For the next 13 miles through the energy lab and back down the Queen K, Robbie and I each had our highs and lows, but when one of us was about to crack, the other one took control. We were just hanging on to eachother and it reeeeeeeeeeaallly started to hurt. But we weren't really slowing down. We were holding steady. Around mile 23 it became clear that I was going to beat the time goals I had set out for my total race (i figured a great day would bring me in around 10:30/40). I wasn't sure where I was in my age group, but I knew that if I was under 10:15, I had a good shot of making the podium. I really pushed through wanting to give up, but I knew that it was all mental at this point. My quads were cement like none other but I knew we needed to keep going. Robbie and I booked it down Palani and then over to Ali'i drive.
Me and Robbie in the final mile...Guess what I got...Whoa, looks like another fist pump. Really, I need some new material :)
Everyone says the last mile is "free" but noooooooo, not for me. The last mile was one of the hardest as I had really emptied the tank to get there (I know all the fist pumping is making it look like I am having way more fun than I actually am). I crossed the finish line with nothing left but a smile and of course, a fist pump.
I was super happy to be there, lucky to be safe and couldn't believe it was over! Dan picked me up at the finish and walked me through the finish area.
10:13:51 / 13th AG / 25th Amateur
Run: 3:10- fastest amateur run o' the day.
Dan didn't tell me where I had placed in my division, so I figured it wasn't worth mentioning. Turns out it was 13th. I would have liked top 10, as that was my goal, but you can't control the performance of others, and my performance was excellent FOR ME and that's all I can ask for, especially my first time in Kona. If I was still 29 years old, I would have been 2nd. But guess what? I'm not 29, I'm 30! Gotta deal with that- and I actually love this about triathlon- that the speediest women are those with a few years on those youngins.
Tatiana (who won her age group!) made some good points in her race report- there were a lot of fast women this year, but that just means that the sport is growing and becoming more competitive for women, which is a good thing.
I really had a great race for me. I know I can knock some time off of the swim and ride stronger and more confidently in the future- so I'm excited to move forward and work hard...a sub-10 finish is sort of kind of in sight (Did I just say that?!?) I also realize in hindsight that I need to work on those Ironman transitions. I think I had it in my head that everyone takes their time in there because it's a long day, but not true! I spent about 4 minutes in each transition. My friend Caroline (who clocked a smoking 10:07 PR- yeah C!!!) spent just about 2 minutes in each transition. I think I'll have to ask her for some tips this winter. I also need to learn how to mount with my shoes already on the bike. So, in transition alone, I "wasted" nearly 4 minutes compared to my fastest competitors- I gotta fix that! Other than that, as I mentioned, I really want to build bike confidence and handling skills and that, I hope, will come with time and lots of hours in the saddle with my speedy friends who may one day tire of waiting for me at the bottom of the hills.
At the end of the day, I'm so completely happy and fulfilled and ready to put my feet up for the rest of the year! Offseason here I come!
But first, a thank you to everyone who helped me dream big this year.
My parents and sister who came all the way to Kona and were my travel sponsor :) , my husband, my amazing friends who cheered all along the course, my coach Dirk who has done so much for me this year, my training partners and everyone out there in internet who reads, follows along, offers support, cheers, and cares. You are all the source of my motivation. When things get rough, I always think of that next timing mat, and making it there, hearing that beep and knowing that people are watching!
And huge thank yous to all my supporters. Nytro Women and the team sponsors for supporting insirational female age group triathletes- I am constantly in awe of the women on our team, Colnago and my speedy Flight, Zoot for the fastest shoes around, Powerbar & Nuttzo nut butter for keeping me fueled, Betty Designs for keeping the sport hot and for great clothes in and out of training, Rehab United for making me strong and giving me a core that can take an Ironman beating and stay strong, and both Rehab United and Dan Selstad for doing the impossible- keeping me injury free for an ENTIRE season!