Hawaii was always going to be tough. I just never realised just how tough it would be. 45mph winds, 38-42deg to be precise.
My day started well, the plan for the swim was to not get to beat up at the start and then get set into a steady rhythm. Just before the gun a outrigger canoe decided to manoeuvre behind the start and then got caught in the tide and started pushing a group of us over the line. This actually helped as it thinned out the left hand end of the line slightly. I started 3 rows back, from the gun (which there is no warning signal for) I got clear water which I pretty much kept all the way round, for the second half of the swim I swam with a group of age group women. (much less hassle than swimming with the blokes and not so violent). Out of the water in 1hr 1min, about 3mins slower than predicted, but feeling good and hadnít used up to much energy.
Onto the bike and things just went crazy everybody was riding flat out for the first 7 miles through town, which consisted a fair few short steep hills. I decided I just wasnít going to get caught up in this I was pushing 120watts more than my plan for the race and still was only keeping up. I eased back and just watched as at least 40-50 people breezed past. Onto the Queen-K highway and a flatter section of the course. Time to put the power down and get into a steady rhythm, within 10minutes I had probably passed everybody who got the better of me in town. But as to be expected drafting was a big problem, with so many people finishing the swim together there isnít much you can do about it. If you stick directly to the 7metre gap youíll be going out the back quickly. I donít draft so I started working my way through the pack, the same old story started to occur everybody was hammering the hills and then coasting on the dowhills and easy on the flats. I kept my power fairly constant and after about 50mins I managed to break free of the pack and build a good lead and could tell they had decided not to chase me down. It helped that a race referee turned up just as I broke away and started to hand out penalties. There is a god after all I thought! But to quickly!! Almost instantly my bike computer decided to jettison itself into a Lava Field, I stopped and fitted it back to the bike but it wouldnít stay. The spare tub tape I was carrying came in useful to tape the thing on. All that hard work gone to waste I was now a few minutes down on pack I had worked so hard to get away from. But at least I was cycling on my own now and being harassed.
By the turn around point at Hawi (approx 60miles 2hrs 51) I had managed to get back to where I wanted to be (aiming for a 4hr50 Ė 5hr bike split) despite my gear indexing being to pot which typically meant I couldn't use the one gear I wanted to.
It was also pleasing to see 20-30 people sitting in the penalty tent taking there 4minute penalties.
From then it was downhill (in more ways than one) the course headed downhill with speeds of 50mph this should be fun, but the wind started to pick up, gusting from either side at up to 45mph. It felt like somebody was trying pull the wheels from under me, I saw several people lying at the side of the road with cuts and grazes, (Iíve since heard stories of people being blown over the crash barriers at the side of the road). Within 10minutes my legs decided they didnít want to play anymore. I couldnít work out why, my nutrition and hydration was all going to plan. As some will know my psychological state wasnít at best going into the race, I just couldnít seem to summon the will power to keep going when things got tough. The heat didnít seem to bad on the bike as the wind had a slight cooling effect. After about 4hours I stopped and gave myself a good talking to, also tried to fix my gears (which didnít work). I managed to up the power slightly from then on but it was going to be a long hard slog back to transition. You know things are getting bad when you start getting passed by 45-50 year old age groupers. (And there was worse to come). I never ever thought of giving up, I decided that even if I had to walk the whole marathon I would finish.
Iíve never been so relieved to get of a bike before. OK lets see what happens on the run. Out onto Alii Drive and it was hot I seemed to be going well hitting about 3hr 20 pace for the first 10K, I was happy with this given the state I was in at the end of the bike. I slowed down a bit and had it in my mind I would be happy with a 3 1/2hr marathon. All went fairly well until mile 14 (out in the lava fields). I started to feel the pace and backed right off as I didnít want to walk the last 6 miles or so. Down into the Energy Lab and it had started to cloud over a bit so I didnít think it was that hot. (After the race I read various reports stating that it was actually 38-42deg down there) so maybe it was hot after all!!
The rest of the marathon went slowly with me walking the last 4-5 aid stations and a couple of Ĺ miles when I started to get stomach cramps. Into the last mile and the atmosphere was amazing this really lifts your spirits, and definitely makes all the struggle worthwhile. There probably isnít a better finish line in the world! I managed a 6:30minute mile for that last mile (including grabbing a St. Andrews cross from my parents) and crossed the line absolutely exhausted.
I was disappointed with my result finishing over 1hr down on people I had easily beaten 6weeks before at the ITU worlds. However I soon came to realise that although I had a bad day there were several who had much worse. I managed to beat the guy who was second in my age group at IMUK. So it wasnít a complete disaster, more of a reconnaissance mission for next year!!
In hindsight trying to do 2 ĺ Ironmen in 6 weeks wasnít the best idea but when a opportunity like competing in Kona comes up you have to grab it with both hands.
I would like to thank everybody who has coached and supported me over the past 14months since I took up the challenge of IM racing, especially my parents who jumped in at the last minute to accompany me to Hawaii and keep me on the straight and narrow.
It was only during a in promptu conversation with a couple from Canada that I realised just how many events Iíd done in the last 14months Ė 5 Iromanís (including the 3 hardest in the World), 3 x Ĺ Ironmans and 1 x ĺ Ironman. An average of a big race every 1 1/3rd month.
I think way to much and not surprising that I was due a bad race. What next??
Mmmm, I know what coach Ken will say, some much needed rest.
Iíll definitely be reducing the number of events with only 2 big events planned IM Germany in July and then Hawaii again in October, with some local and smaller events just to keep me in the racing zone.
Almost forgot Iíve already entered IM Western Australia in December so Iíll have to see how I feel over the next few weeks before committing to that!!!
A bit of R&R after the Ironman Event