Despite being anxious to race the Ironman World Championships, I had a somewhat refreshing sleep. I woke up at 0400hrs and ate my fairly typical race morning breakfast: a coffee, oatmeal, and a bagel with jam. I finished packing my stuff and then helped get the kids up and out the door at 0500hrs.
Athlete check-in was fairly straight forward…body marking, then weigh-in by the medical staff (that was a first). Then it was through to the transition area to drop off my liquids at my bike and my Gu bottles in my run bag. I was fortunate to run into Jonathan Coffen during the check-in process and wished him best of luck for the race (I had finished IMCdA with Jonathan.) Then it was waiting time in transition for a little under an hour.
Shortly after the pros, we (all the AG athletes) started to filter down the steps and into the water for the mass start. I had a quick look were everyone was going and decided to start on the right side, near the pier. I figured this would give me a straight swim down the buoys. Everyone was quite anxious to get the swim started and Mike Reilly had to keep working to keep everyone from moving out too far. At 0700hrs we were off…cannon didn’t work so Mike just said go and then I think the cannon went.
The swim was probably one of the cleanest I have ever done. Yes, there were a few bumps here and there but generally speaking it was quite calm. I was able to grab a set of feet for about half of the swim out to the turnaround. The personnel on surf boards directing traffic were trying to be as helpful as possible but I kept finding them getting in my way as I was trying to swim straight down the buoy line and they kept insisting that we move left. I felt quite strong and comfortable in the water and just tried my best to get into a strong rhythm and focus on a strong pull. I was happy to see the sail boat at the turn-around and start heading the other direction. There was a little bottleneck at the turnaround and it probably didn’t help matters that there was a fair amount of chop. I tried to swim as hard as I could on the way back and was fortunate to get a set of feet here and there. I finished the swim and looked at my watch to see a 1:16. Not as quick as I had hoped, but my fastest Ironman swim ever and without a wetsuit. (It must have been my sweet Nineteen Rogue SS)
I tried to hurry through T1, but I wanted to put on Calf Compression Sleeves as well as socks (I prefer to put socks on in T1 and then wear them for the remainder of the race. Additionally, I was a little concerned with getting sun burned so loaded myself up with sunscreen and then had one of the volunteers apply even more.
Then it was on to the bike. I was excited to be on the bike so that I could start making up lost time on the bike. I was feeling very good but decided to ease myself into my pace. I tried to back the power off as I climbed up Huakini Highway and then enjoyed the fast descent back to Palani. Once on the Queen K, I settled into a rhythm and started working my race intensity. The winds were relatively calm until shortly before Hapuna Beach State Park and then they really started to pick-up. We had a very strong North East wind for the climb up to Hawi. Once up at Hawi, I grabbed my special needs bag and then quickly got my Snickers Almond Bar and Red Bull downrange. My stomach was still feeling good at this point but I was starting to struggle with my power output. Shortly after returning to the Queen K my stomach started shutting down. I was puking every few minutes on the bike and I was having trouble keeping anything down. I was on pace for a sub 5hr bike but knew that unless I could get my stomach sorted out, the run would turn into a disaster. So I backed off the pace on the bike, stopped taking in salt tablets and solid nutrition, and tried taking in a little water and Powerbar Perform.
At around the 155km mark on the bike Ivan O’Gorman passed me. I figured I would try and pick-up my pace and see if I could ride legally behind him. Seeing as Ivan is a good runner I thought that if I could get off the bike with him then I’d have someone to run with. I tried to ride with Ivan for a couple kms but he was riding well and I was still not feeling great so backed off the pace. Shortly before the airport I passed Jonathan Coffen…I wasn’t expecting to see Jonathan until half way through the run. I finished the bike in 5:09:xx but was still not feeling very good.
T2 was a little slower than normal, but I took the time to use the washroom and load myself up with sunscreen.
As I headed out on the run, I saw my personal cheering squad which was a blessing. I eased myself into the run. I figured I would just continue with water, coke, and a little PowerBar Perform until my stomach got back into the game and then I would go back to my Gu Roctane. I was passing a lot of people on the run, but it was friggin hot with almost no wind on Ali’I drive. Each aid station was a welcome relief as I could throw water over my head and ice down my back. At a little less than a kilometer before the turn-around on Ali’I Drive, I saw Christophe Terzi heading the other direction (Christophe was staying next to us at the Kona Coast Resort.) He was looking pretty good. My stomach was starting to turn around so on the way back into town I tried some Gu Roctane Gel from my Fuel Belt. It went down ok, but I knew the run was going to be a slugfest.
|Heading up Kuakini Hwy to Palani.|
I was happy to run back through town and see the family again. They were hanging out on the hill at the McDonalds. I was completely ignoring my watch and running purely by feel. I was feeling terrible and felt like I was running in an inferno. Just as I turned to head up Palani, Pete Jacobs was coming down. As I turned onto the Queen K and started running towards the Energy Lab, I got to watch as most of the male/female pros were heading home to the finish. This was pretty neat as I got to cheer most of them on. The Queen K was a welcome relief to Ali’i drive as there was at least a little breeze, mind you it still felt like an inferno.
Each aid station was a welcome relief with water and ice to try and cool my body. The run was a living hell, but I knew each step was one closer to the finish. I was very thankful to my parents who had taught me so many scripture verses as a child. I was thankful for a note my sister, Hannah, had sent me earlier this week on Facebook on the dedication I had displayed in my training and my family life and the great goal we as Christians press on towards as mentioned in Philippians 3:14. I just kept reminding myself that I was not going to quit and I was not going to walk, despite every muscle in my legs screaming for me to stop. Shortly before the turn around in the Energy Lab, I spotted Ivan. Just after the turn around I caught up to Ivan hoping that he’d be able to run with me. He looked strong but he didn’t quite have enough to pick up the pace so I continued on alone. On the way back out of the Energy Lab Jonathan gave me a high five and said I was looking strong. That was a blessing because I truly did not feel strong.
|On Ali'i Drive heading to the finish!|
And finally I had the one last climb up the Queen K to Palani and then I was home. Dad was waiting for me on Huakini Hwy and as I turned and headed down Ali’i drive there was the total support crew. I quickly high fived Ruthie and James and then enjoyed the remainder of the run down Ali’i drive to the finish. As is my typical practice, I tried to high five as many kids as possible. I was shocked to look at my watch and see 9:34 as I crossed the line. I then glanced at my watch again to see 3:00 on the run split. I have no clue where that came from. That was the most brutal and mentally tough run I have ever done. I can honestly say that it was by His grace that I finished. My total time was 9:35:02. Good enough for 139th Overall (Top 100 Amateur) and 18th in the M25-29 Age Group. Not bad for my first showing in Kona.
I am truly thankful for the amazing opportunity to race in Kona and I could not have done it without the amazing support of my amazing wife, Claudia. I am truly a blessed man.
Thanks to my support crew Dad, Mom, Claudia, Ruthie, James, and baby Klara for enduring the heat and cheering me on. And of course so many of my friends and family members for believing in me and encouraging me onwards.
A special word of thanks to Brian Grasky, my amazing coach, for pushing me to new levels this year. And thanks wouldn’t be completed without recognizing those that have support me this year, GEC, CompressportCanada, and Brainsport. Thank you all.
Finally a special word of thanks to Danny Carter for helping with my ankle/Achilles issue over the past couple months. Without his assistance I’d probably still be nursing an injury.
Now it’s time to relax and recover and start considering what next year will bring.