Thursday, 14 October 2010

Finally a Kona Race Report!!

(I'm hoping this makes sense, it's been written over the space of 3 days)

So I’m blogging again from up in the air (there’s nothing much else to do) and hopefully this laptop won’t crap out on me before I’m done. It’s Tuesday (or Wednesday in the UK) and we’re heading from Hawaii to San Francisco in a knackered old Boeing 767 that’s massively late because the mechanics have been ‘fixing’ it. Everything has been knackered this week!! This laptop is on its last legs, one of Shelly’s cameras died on race day when they got soaked by a wave, the list goes on.........

So my blog postings have been a bit pathetic over the course of the holiday. I’d really intended to post every day, maybe even a video blog. It just didn’t happen though, so here I am about to write a race report 3 days after the event! Disgraceful!!

The day before the race we had to get all our gear together and get the bikes racked. This is normally one of my favourite times as I get to stroll around Transition taking pics of all the mega expensive bikes and watching as people run around sorting things in their own way. Hawaii of course is different though. First of all you have to wheel your bike down the ‘catwalk’. It really makes you feel like you’re something special as you walk through what I can only presume is the annual stat collectors. Rows of people sat with notepads presumably noting down what bike/wheels/bars/groupsets etc etc etc you have on your bike. It’s a special feeling! You then get your own chaperone who walks with you to your bike racking, then takes you to drop off your transition bags, before walking you right through the Transition routine so you know what is where on the day.... Then they walk you right out of the transition area so there is no browsing around looking at bike porn. It’s very effective, works very well, but it’s also very disappointing to be ushered in and out so quickly........................... After that was all done we popped to the local shop and bought a microwave pizza for tea (I know how to live!).

I had a pretty good night’s sleep on Friday night and woke up on Saturday all ready to roll. We drove into town and rocked up with plenty of time to spare so I got my tyres checked, sorted out my special needs bags and dropped some gels into my T1 bag. Then I went to chill for a while before remembering my number belt and GPS chip needed to go in my T1 bag too – back I went. I settled down to chill again and remembered my glasses needed to be in there too – back I went again!!! It killed some time I guess.

We all made our way into the water and swam out to the start area, it was packed out.... Mike Rielly said at the Awards Banquet that the pre-start looked very calm, HA!! He wasn’t in there! Then the cannon went off and the carnage began. It was just a fist fight and seemed to stay that way for most of the swim. Normally I’m quick enough to get out of the main bunch, here though I was smack in the middle of the main bunch and it hurt! I was pushed under the water, had my legs and feet pulled, got kicked, swam over, dragged under, it all happened and it happened for 90% of my time in the water. It’s very rare that I don’t enjoy a swim but this one was evil and I was massively relieved when I reached the exit ramp, so much so that T1 was a very casual affair while I gathered myself back together again. I’d posted before that I hadn’t felt fast in the swim so when I left T1 and saw just 1:05 on the clock I was extremely happy.

Out on the bike and it was the regular story. I started off nice and steady as I was still a little fazed by the whole swim experience and the first miles of the bike are sneakily hilly. As always the bike monsters started ripping past, standing up and mashing the big gears on the hills, I just span my legs steadily and saved myself. Once on the Queen K I hit the aero bars and the passing cyclists slowed greatly, this was good, I was cruising and the speed was high. I checked the Garmin and my HR was a little high, I was feeling so comfortable though I was sure it would drop. I checked again and again, but still it stayed higher than I wanted, it was probably just the heat although that was something else that I seemed to be coping with far too well. I was happy!
The climb up to Hawi appeared and I stuck to the plan which was to take it nice and steady. If I needed to sit up and spin it was fine. It was going to be a long day and I didn’t want to waste myself just half way round. The climb was tougher than it had been on my Wednesday recce ride, the wind was a lot stronger too. We were getting blown all over the road heading uphill, the descent was going to be very interesting. By now the faster men were coming past on the descent and some of them were looking decidedly cautious, that WASN’T part of the plan. We made the turn at Hawi and just before the descent I grabbed my special needs bag and stopped at the side of the road while I sorted stuff (I was in no rush).

Now I’m not the best when it comes to a technical bike descent, but Hawi isn’t technical it’s just crazy so I was right at home. 40mph+ on the Tri-bars was the plan. The windy section is only 5-7miles long and the faster you go the quicker it’ll be over (unless you get blown off the road and crash), besides, if I’m overtaking everybody then I’ve got the whole road to play with. It was as scary as hell but great fun as I tore past people and by the time the crazy side winds had turned into evil head winds I’d even caught and passed people who’d passed me going up the climb. My HR was still too high though!!!!

Back on the Queen K was where things started to get tough. At 70miles I started thinking that maybe my HRM had been right all along and I had been going to hard, by 80miles I was sure of it. Damn!!! Should I push on and risk wrecking myself for the run or should I ease off and hope to save or recover some run form. I’ve suffered on too many Ironman Marathons and really didn’t want to walk through the lava fields so I sat up and took a step back. The last 30miles were probably at the pace the first 30miles should have been. It was hard to sit back and watch people come riding by while I knew I could have pushed on, I just hoped that I’d save enough to be seeing them on the run again. The biggest worry though was actually my feet which seemed to have swollen up to fill every section of my bike shoes. They were in a world of hurt so I poured water and ice over them in an attempt to ease the pain, nothing seemed to work though.
As I rocked into T2 I hopped off my bike and it felt awful, my feet were in agony and I pretty much hobbled my way towards the change tent. It felt as though every tendon between my feet and my toes was about to snap. The transition itself was even more leisurely than T1 as I went through my stuff, put on socks, shoes, vaseline, sunblock etc etc before grabbing my gels and heading out into the sun again.

I knew it was going to be a tough run as I left transition and knowing that the first few miles were again pretty tough I headed out at an easy pace. At least it felt like an easy pace!! I’d told everybody that the I was going to do a 10:1 run:walk but the run section was always going to be between aid stations unless they were less than 5mins apart. So every drink station got walked through for a full minute as I grabbed mostly water and coke, then every 2nd feed station I’d take a gel onboard. There were times when progress was slow and the Ironman shuffle was in full effect but I seemed to be working around the same group of people. During good sections I’d move forwards through the field as I started feeling like I could pick the pace up again, then I’d drift backwards again as I paid the price for my efforts. I always managed to keep it together enough to keep moving though and there were no 3-4mile walks as there have been in previous Ironman races so I shouldn’t complain too much.

I’d had a Finish Line pose lined up in my head all week, but as I ran the last stretch along Alii Drive I decided that it was a bad idea and scrapped it. Instead I just made a total arse of myself in front of the camera so that anyone back home (who’d managed to stay awake) didn’t miss me.
So that was it............ All over!!............ I had a small stint in the med tent because I had tingling feelings in my hands and face but it was nothing concerning. Then it was off for the official medal picture and a massage followed by a few slices of Pizza.

Once all was done and dusted we headed back to our apartment for a (much needed) shower and then returned to the Finish area to watch the last competitors come in before midnight. It was great that this year nobody missed the cut off although I did feel for the person who missed the swim cut off by 24secs and they didn’t let them carry on. That’s just cruel.

So that’s it! Race over! I finished in 722nd place overall and 136th in my Age Group. My time was a slightly disappointing 10:26:02 with splits of 1:02:15 (3:48) 5:26:43 (7:14) 3:46:02.
Would I change anything? Of course I would, I’d change lots but it’s too late for that. The job is done, the once in a lifetime trip is over. But ............... if I were to give ME just one piece of advice about doing it all again, I’d probably say “Do your research and get a good coach, then TRY to stick with them”. Being a lazy-ass Triathlete is great, but when you get to race something as big as this then you really do want to give it your all and do the best race you possibly can. I didn’t! I still loved it though!!!


The (not so) Reluctant Athlete said...

Wow, Ian, I am honestly in a sea of admiration. Congratulations and thanks for letting us read about it, too!!! And now I want to eat pizza. LOL

Mark Woodhall said...

Ian, I too have nothing but respect and admiration for your performance, and the training you put in.

It was a blast tracking your progress as well! :)

JohnP said...

congrats dude - thats an awesome time by my standards. Heck I'd be happy just finishing ;)

Sheila said...

Sounds awesome and terrible and also enjoyable. Congrats again on qualifying for and completing Kona!

Leslie said...

Really well done Iain, loved the race report.