It’s taken a while to process my thoughts and mentally get over the race in Kona and get round to sitting down and write a report (might have something to do with qualifying again!), probably that long that it’s now out of everyone’s mind. Anyway here goes…
I flew out to Kona early to ensure I would acclimatise to the heat, had a good 11days of light training recovery and relaxing prior to the big day. The forecast for the day was good with light wind forecast and clear skies, should be a fast race!
Calm seas for Kona meant a potentially fast swim, the new Aqua Sphere #phantom Speed Suit had felt great in training leading up to the race. My swimming was going very well so for the first time in Kona I felt confident to start on the front line, I picked a great spot in the middle of the line beside the mid-line marker buoy.
All set for the gun to go and a water safety marshal stops right in front of me on his paddleboard as the gun goes! Oh well; not sure if I swam over his board or under it, got some clear water anyway and then had a good swim from there on.
Swim was pretty un-eventful; certainly less bumping and bashing than previous years in Kona, possibly due to being slightly further up the field and not in the main bunch, a great swim finishing just under 58mins, over 3min swim PB at Kona so very happy, must have been the #phantom!
Onto the bike and the usual smash fest over the first 10k, with everyone going full gas through town. I held back on the hills keeping a reasonable power and then catching back up on the downhills and corners, always surprises me how bad some athletes bike handling is (even at the worlds)!
The queen-K-was amazing, no wind smooth roads, keeping to my power limits it was all going well. (Despite the drafting which I’ve never seen so bad in Kona, at one stage as a pack passed me, I sat up and couldn’t see the end of the pack behind me!!!) Whilst trying to get past a pack I ended up on the rumble strip in the middle of the road and my bike computer decided to jettison itself into the undergrowth. Never mind I still had my watch to check occasionally (good excuse to buy a new Garmin!)
As we worked up to the mid-way point at Hawi I could feel that I had maybe gone a bit hard in the first half, not completely over the top so kept it steady for the ride to halfway and the way back (Power data shows I didn’t overdo it, about target power for first 2hrs) at the turn around I could see that I was on about 5hr pace, with the lack of wind this seemed about write for the effort, expecting it to be slower on the return with the usual headwind. There wasn’t any headwind so parts of the bike course were sweltering heat bowls! Fairly uneventful return leg other than my chain uncharacteristically coming of and jamming between the chainset and frame, not sure how long this took to fix, will have to look at the Garmin data when I get to downloading it (about 2mins)!
Having had a steady and conservative 2nd half of the bike (power actually about 12W lower than planned), I was confident in having a good run, legs felt pretty good (relatively speaking) coming of the bike and the run started well. I was excited for the run heading out on 6hrs so should be easy to get an overall PB and sub 10hr at Kona!!!
Holding a steady 3hr 30 pace for the first few miles felt good and I thought a good conservative pace to build through the run. This very quickly ceased over a very short period my stomach started cramping up with shooting pains that I’ve never had before, I slowed the pace and kept going only to very quickly be reduced to walking pace. The cramps eased after walking for too long so I started running again, managed a few miles and then had to walk again. There started the cycle for the rest of the run, the real low point was going up the hill at Palani where I lay down for a sleep under a tree for 5 minutes (I didn’t manage to actually sleep as stomach was to sore).
By the top of Palani I had resigned myself to a slow walk for the remainder of the marathon (I’ve never DNF’d and wasn’t about to start here). As I headed/walked along the Queen K, there was no way the Hannes Hawaiian Tours support group were going to let me walk, buoyed pushed, cajoled into running this got me going again. The inevitable run for a few miles, then walk a few to ease the stomach cramps continued, however I set myself the goal of negative splitting the marathon, any motivation would do at this stage!
This carried on for the remainder of the marathon, in the second half I definitely ran more than I walked, even picked up the pace for the last couple of miles to finish strong, if only!
The finish chute was great the support as ever is fantastic and makes it all worthwhile!!! Finishing in 10:27:15 was no where near my goal and although not my slowest at Kona, it was worst in terms of age group and overall position. Positives Swim and bike PB’s and a negative split marathon (2:15 first half, 2:05 second).
I was helped from the finish line being completely done probably more mentally than physically having pushed myself to keep going knowing that the result was far of expectations (made all the harder as my legs felt good for running). Then fainting and collapsing in the recovery area followed by 2hrs in the medical tent wasn’t a great experience. A good time to reflect and my thoughts went from never doing this again to what am I going to enter next year, and I’m definitely coming back (still have unfinished business in Kona, and want to come here and at least feel I had a solid race).
The conditions definitely don’t suit my build but that’s no excuse I could and should be able to do better than I have done.
It’s a lot easier writing this now having raced Ironman Western Australia and qualified for Kona for 2019.