So now I'll get on with the race report...
My goal(s) going in were:
1. If everything went perfectly 9:15 (1:05/5:00/3:00)
2. If the conditions dictated then just beat my time from 2012 (9:35)
3. If I was having a rough day then just go sub 10hrs
4. And if all hell broke loose then the goal would be to just finish
I woke up on Saturday morning just before 0400hrs and had my usual breakfast of a coffee, a bagel with jam, a couple eggs, and a glass of orange juice. I had been struggling with a bit of a stomach bug in the last two weeks leading up to Kona and race morning was no exception. I didn't want to use that as an excuse as I suspected it might just be a case of being extremely nervous given my blow-up from last year.
After breakfast was down-range I finished up with my race nutrition bottles and then headed downtown with my dad. I was thankful to have dad with me as it meant Claudia and the kids could sleep in a little more. Body marking and weigh-in were relatively quick and as always the volunteers were positive and uplifting. After I was through I set up my bike and dopped off my frozen gel flask for my run bag. I found a nice quiet place and then just relaxed.
|The Male Amateur Swim Start (photo credit FinisherPix)|
The swim start was a little different this year given that the male and female amateurs had separate starts. The male amateurs started at 0650hrs while the female amateurs started at 0700hrs. I started about 4 or 5 rows back and about half way to the right of the large TYR marker. My goal going in was to just try and have a steady swim and try and grab a good pair of feet. I was optimistic that I could swim ~1:05. When the cannon went off for my start I was surprised at how quickly the field opened up and there was virtually no contact (this was the cleanest start I have ever experienced). I settled into a steady effort though I didn't get much of a draft on the way out. At the turn around I found a set of feet and was able to stay glued to them for pretty much the last 1500m of the race.
I was honestly a little disapointed when I came out of the water and saw 1:10 on my watch. (Actual time was 1:10:31). Following the race I checked my 910xt and it had measured the distance as 4265m. So given the extra 300m+ I was right where I had expected. At this point I realized that unless we had a fast day on the bike Goal #1 was probably not realistic today.
Through transition and onto the bike. It was quite congested initially and I was definately not feeling great. My stomach felt upset and I suspected it was from a little salt water ingestion during the swim. I struggled initially to hit my target power numbers so I told myself to just relax and settle in for the first hour. I went to water at the first aid station and slowly my stomach started coming around, though I felt terrible. I was making great progress on the bike, but shortly before Mauna Lani I was reminded of how quickly the winds change. We were getting pounded by the wind and it only got worse as we climbed towards Hawi. By the time I got to Hawi my stomach had settled and I felt like I could start riding a little harder. The descent from Hawi was crazy fast as I enjoyed a tail wind. However that tail wind was short lived. Shortly after Hapuna Beach the wind flipped and I was once again riding back to Kailua-Kona with a headwind.
With the exception of about 1hr of riding (the descent from Hawi up to just past Hapuna Beach) I felt terrible. However what kept me pushing was the realization that I could still probably bike sub 5:10. This was significant for me as this is what I had biked in 2012. (I biked 4:50 in 2013). It also meant that a Kona PB might still be in the works. Bike time 5:07:14 | Power (avg) = 194W | NP = 200W | VI 1.03. Power meter is a Quarq ELSA.
|Biking on the Queen K (photo credit FinisherPix)|
Transition was slower than I would have liked, but I realized taking time to apply sunscreen and use the washroom were both important. Out on the run I immediately felt very good. I tried to just run easy and avoid pushing the pace. My thought process was to run the first half in 1:30 (4:16/km) and then to reassess. I held myself back on Ali'i drive and focused on cooling my body at each aid station with ice and water and consuming coke, perform, and water. I went through the first half of the run in just over 1:30 so knew I was right on pace. Despite some cloud cover, although still hot, I felt like I was overheating and the only relief from the heat was the ice and water that awaited at each aid station. The energy lab was a completely different beast. The run in was fine, but I knew I was hitting my limits. Everything was starting to tighten up. Just before the turn around I saw Reilly Smith and shortly thereafter Brad Williams (retired USAF) - both were heading back out of the energy lab. I finally caught up to Brad and was just about to settle in to run with Brad when he said something along the lines, "Congrats - the military championship is yours" we shook hands and then he said, "go get it." (I was a wreck at that point so this entire conversation may have completely transpired in my head)
|Running through the Energy Lab (photo credit FinisherPix)|
Final run time 3:04:59...another BQ! Still no sub 3hr marathon but I guess it'll just have to wait.
Final Time: 9:30:16 - A new PB in Kona on a tough day.
I was 138th overall including the Pros, Top 100 Amateur and 25th in M30-34.
|Finisher Pic (photo credit FinisherPix)|
I actually didn't find out until the next day that I had won the military division. This was the first year that the military division was international and not just American Military personnel.
|Samantha Morrison (USAF) and me receiving our awards (1st Male/Female in the Military Division)|
|An award I will always cherish.|
It was truly an honour to race in Kona. It is a race like no other and one that is always special.
|Battle Scars from Kona!|