Ironman 70.3 Hawaii - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Kohala Coast, Hawaii
United States
84F / 29C
Total Time = 5h 32m 42s
Overall Rank = 396/1745
Age Group = M30-34
Age Group Rank = 50/135
Pre-race routine:

First idea what to expect...

Got into Kona on Thursday morning which was nice. Had plenty of time to pick up some C02 cartridges, check in to the hotel (Hapuna where the swim start is) and then go to the Fairmont Orchid for packet pickup. Put together the bike, then went to Macaroni Grill to meet up with the rest of the group who flew in that night for dinner. This was my first experience traveling to a race, so the whole vacation aspect to it was new to me. And I was really enjoying spending time with my training group other than just while we were training.

Friday we all went for a short swim in the morning, then I went to drive up to Hawi with a couple others just to check it out. The climb wasn't nearly as bad as I imagined, but the wind was the real deal. It's not windy the enitre time, but there are patches where it looks like a tropical storm is rolling through. Got back to the hotel to just relax for a little while then went to drop off bikes and our run bags before the pre race meeting.

Our group did consist of 9 racers, and a few specators, but the decision was made by someone to eat at the hotel buffet Friday night. Maybe not ideal, but I wasn't going to of the guys decided to eat room service with his family instead. So instead of being a worry wort about what I was eating, I decided to just enjoy myself without going overboard. Definately ate more than usual, but nothing that affected me.

Got to bed at around 9pm, and woke up a few times before finally getting out of bed at 2:45. Slowly ate breakfast over the course of the next 2 hours which consisted of 2 blueberry bagels, half a power bar, an apple banana a handful of cashews, a handful of wheat thins, sipping water, and 12 oz of powerade.

Met up with the rest of the group at 5:30 to get body marked and top off the tires. Went back to the room for last minute potty stops, took a couple salt sticks and a little more powerade and headed to the beach.

Event warmup:

Just swam about 100 yards.
  • 44m 42s
  • 2112 yards
  • 02m 07s / 100 yards

Goal here was to just stay in the draft, avoid the congestion, swim easy, and hopefully get out of the water in 40 minutes. Gun goes off, and what do you expect with a mass start of 1600 people? So I'm just trying to swim with the pack. I pop up to sight, and I can't see anything but arms and splashing water. I actually never saw the first 5 buoys at all until they were directly on my right. And judging that I was about 20-30 yards to the left of each buoy, I knew I was swimming really wide...but the whole pack it's not like I coult cut back across the pack to take a better line. I think the currents had a lot to do with it. I was warned about it...but never really understood till now. The normal advice of starting far outside does not apply in this race unless you want to swim 1.35 miles. And I'm not exaggerating...A LOT of people I know swam 4-6 minutes slower than expected because they went out wide with the pack...yet there were a few people that stayed inside that swam quite well. When I hit the swim exit, I was pretty bummed. I had thoughts that my race would just be crap as I started on the wrong foot. I know the race is not won or lost on the swim, but before I could get too down on myself, I saw a training friend who was supposed to do the race but couldn't because she broke her arm in a bike/car accident 2 weeks ago. She was right at the swim exit and cheered me on. I figured if she can be in good spirits after crashing and missing out on a race, then I shouldn't be upset about a swim that was 5 minutes slower than expected.
What would you do differently?:

Start far inside and back...then fight to stay inside to get the best line.
Transition 1
  • 03m 44s

It's a long uphil run to transition. And the transition area is pretty tight. If two people were putting on their shoes on each side of the isle, good luck trying to walk your bike between them. So I just took my time. Jogged up the hill, put on my shoes, helmet, nutrition and flat kit in the tri top pockets, and fast walked my bike out to the mount line.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing. Purposely took it easy to avoid spiking my HR. And I couldn't have gone much faster once I got my bike since the transition area was so tight and congested at the time.
  • 2h 49m 52s
  • 56 miles
  • 19.78 mile/hr

The goal was to ride at a HR of 145-150 for the first 25 miles, then increase to 155-160 for the climb to Hawi, and cruise back down at 145-150...hopefully resulting in a 2:45-2:55 time. Umm...that wasn't least the HR part. HR took a long time to settle below 165 in the first 5 miles no matter how easy I tried to go. I was passing some, but also getting passed as well...which is rare. That confirmed 2 things for me. That I was not going "that hard" in relation to the field, and I was not the only one who had a shitty swim. Because some of the people that passed me looked like the real deal. I decided after about 5 miles that I needed to adjust my HR goals. 160 would be my new HR cap on the way out, as that was the effort that felt fairly easy to me.

Started taking in calories 20 minutes in. I had one bottle of water, 2 gel flasks with 4 gels each, 6 salt sticks and a bottle of powerade. The gels were working well, so I decided I would not use any of the perform at the aid stations. Once I was done with the powerade, I went with 2 water bottles, most of which was being dumped on my back and chest.

The rolling hills were not too bad. You carry enough speed on the downhills so that the uphill portions only last a few seconds. I saw a lot of people pass me trying to hammer the uphills without shifting as their shoulders would rock and some people even jumped out of the saddle to sprint those portions. I shrugged it off as the advice was given to me to let those guys you'll either see them up at Hawi, or walking on the run.

After passing the Kawaihae harbor starts the first set of major climbs to Hawi. I'm in my granny gear just trying to spin as much as possible and stay on my aero bars. Still passing quite a few people, but maintaining my effort levels for the most part. The winds started to pick up, but were not nearly as bad as they were on Friday when we drove the course. Once getting near Hawi, the winds were really impacting the field as things got really bunched up. But I was still fresh, and took advantage by passing huge trains of people now struggling in the cross winds. Because I was passing on the left, and the winds were coming from the right, it was like I was getting an eternal echelon draft as I picked them off.

At the turn around at the top of Hawi...some guy from behind me yells..."Alright now...F%&$ this S&%#" in reference to the winds. And man was it fun descending. Easily hitting 38 mph for very long stretches even with the cross winds. Stability wise, I was okay with my 404's. Never once felt the need to get out of aero due to winds, although some of my training partners did so. Again had to fight the itch to hammer too hard as my HR began to spike...but probably more so due to the adrenaline of going really fast and holding on to my aero bars pretty tightly.

Made it up the last few climbs back into Kawaihae, and before I knew it the bike was pretty much over. I was pretty happy with my time given the effort I put out. If I did the race as a time trial, I think I could have easily gone 2:35...but this is a runners race...or so EVERYONE says...and I do mean EVERYONE who has ever done this race.

As far as nutrition...nailed it. Finished my flasks, half a pack of shot blocks, 16 oz of powerade, and 6 bottles of water...of which I drank maybe 3 bottles. Total calories was about 1000 with 6 salt sticks.

What would you do differently?:

Nothing. Paced this bike to absolute perfection. I actually got off the bike WANTING to run...and I suck at the run.
Transition 2
  • 01m 53s

Didn't know volunteers would be grabbing my bike as I jumped off. Got my run bag and didn't know where to go. I saw the changing tent, but since I didn't need to change, I just found a chair on the side and used it as I dumped my stuff out. Got into my socks, shoes, and grabbed my hat. Asked the volunteer what I do with my helmet, flasks, and flat kit, and she said she would take care put it all back in my bag...awesome.

Forgot to put on my knee straps, so had to fiddle with that for 15 seconds before running out of T2.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing really. I could have gone about 20 seconds faster if I knew what to expect. This was the first time I ever had a T2 with a run bag and it took me a few seconds just to think of what I needed to do.
  • 1h 52m 31s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 08m 35s  min/mile

Got out of T2, and my HR was near 170. I felt like I was going again...threw my 160 HR goal out the window. Original time goal was 2 hours, but I also didn't expect to feel this good when I got off the bike.

I saw some of my training group friends who came up on the trip to spectate and told me I was only a few minutes behind a couple of our other group memebers. One I expected to be ahead of me, but not the other...I assumed I passed her on the bike without knowing. Turns out she smoked me on the swim by almost 9 minutes and had a good bike ride...but maybe "too good". I know she's a slightly better runner than me, but I figured I would try to chase her down anyway since my race at this point just seemed like it was going to be "average". I knew so long as I didn't totally blow up, I would be under 6 hours, and 5:30 would take a sub 1:50 run...which I knew I didn't have in me.

Hit the first mile at 8:14. legs feel really good...but that's a little too fast. Ok...just go by effort...8:20. Umm...not sure what to do, but I'm gaining ground on the two ahead of me as we pass each other on the many out and backs on the course. I take in water and ice at every aid station, and work gels from my flask. I also start taking in more salt sticks. At this point I'm noticing something REALLY WEIRD. I'm passing people on the run. A LOT OF PEOPLE. In a typical small local sprint or Oly, I'll pass maybe 4 people on the run, and get passed by dozens. This was not the case today. For everyone that passed me, I passed 10. And there were people walking from mile 2...some of them looking like they may drop out. This gave me the confidence that I paced the bike properly, and I deserved to have a good run.

I finally catch one of my training partners just after mile 6. I know I'm a much better biker than she is...which is why I assumed I passed her on the bike without knowing. I gave her a slap on the butt as I came up, and I could tell she went too hard on the bike just by her running gait. I was planning on running with her as we have done all our long runs together, but she was fading. So I just took off as she told me the next guy was not far ahead. He's a very strong biker, and he tends to overcook it and blow up the run, so I knew I had a chance.

As the miles keep going along, I still feel really good. HR is starting to climb into the mid 170's, but by mile 8, I knew I was in good shape to finish without I just set my watch to ignore the HR and just show my mile splits and overall time. At this point, with about 10k to go...I do some math in my head, I need to run the last 6.1 in 49 minutes to break 5:30. WTF??? Could this be possible that I run a sub 1:50...when my real goal was closer to 2:00. On this brutal run the now blazing heat. I start thinking back to the 40+ mpw I was running in training...and maybe now realizing that it's all paying off.

So I make a push to run the 8:00 pace I need, but once I hit the out and back service road, I knew it wasn't to be. That road is just HOT and demoralizing. My pace is starting to creep closer to 9 minute miles, but my legs still feel okay. I catch the last training partner who was ahead of me (or at least the last one within reach) just before mile 10. We talked a little, and he was still running well. He said he took it easy on the bike like I did, which is why he didn't blow up. He told me to take off...and I tried...but couldn't gap him. For the next 3 miles he was only about 10 yards back. But finally at the last mile we see our spectator friends again. They cheered me on, but I also heard them cheer on my partner to run me down. I suppose that was the boost I needed as I kicked it into what felt like another gear (may not have looked like it) and put about 30 more yards on him. Came into the finish with a huge smile.

Nutrition was again spot on. Finished my 4 gels in the flask, and had a few shot bloks. Those didn't work well as chewing and breathing was a bit difficult. Also started sipping coke at mile 4. Took in 4 salt sticks and about 550 total calories on the run. I probably could have done with a little less. Aid stations were everywhere. At least one every mile...which was great to constantly get ice and sponges, and when drinking water, you never felt the need to drink the whole cup.
What would you do differently?:

Possibly could have pushed it a hair harder. But I had respect for the course and my first HIM. The last 6 miles, I could have put myself on the edge of disaster, but I was having so much fun this week, I didn't want to spoil my race with a blow up just to chase a few minutes for a sub 5:30. I know this will not be my lifetime PR, so finishing with a smile was goal #1.

And another note...I actually enjoyed the run. Passing so many people is so much more uplifting than getting passed.

Note #2. This was a half marathon PR for me if you can believe that. My last half marathon in November didn't go well, and my next best time was actually in the first half of my December marathon (1:53:xx), but I blew up in that race.
Post race
Warm down:

Met up with those who finished ahead of me, and stretched/hydrated while the others behind me came into finish. Lots of sweaty hugs. Had a couple beers, then went onto the course to cheer on the last of our group.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Other than some poor navigation on the swim...which many others fell victim too...NOTHING. I trained hard...I was injury free for the most part...and I executed my race plan better than I could have imagined.

Event comments:

Awesome race. I don't care what people say about the WTC and Ironman...but this was NOTHING like anything I have ever experienced. From packet pickup to the finish line, there is just a vibe at this event like no other small local race. I can only imagine what Kona is like in October. The volunteers were absolutely amazing. I thanked as many people as I could.

Overall...this whole experience from training to race day was awesome. I had so much fun, I can't wait to come back.

Last updated: 2011-01-24 12:00 AM
00:44:42 | 2112 yards | 02m 07s / 100yards
Age Group: 80/135
Overall: 908/1745
Performance: Bad
Course: 1 loop. Not sure what to call it...a clam shell? None of the turns were 90 degrees, and there were about 7 bouys...all with some form of turn...anywhere from 15 to 75 degrees. Made navigation quite difficult because each time you passed a bouy, you never really knew how much you had to turn for the next one.
Start type: Wade Plus: Shot
Water temp: 79F / 26C Current: Medium
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Bad
Breathing: Good Drafting: Below average
Waves: Navigation: Bad
Rounding: Bad
Time: 03:44
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike: No
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Average
02:49:52 | 56 miles | 19.78 mile/hr
Age Group: 58/135
Overall: 463/1745
Performance: Good
Avg HR 161
Wind: Cross-winds with gusts
Course: Out of Hapuna, south to Mauna Lani intersection for a turnaround, then up to Hawi, back all the way to Mauna Lani and into the resort area.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 01:53
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes Good
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal Below average
01:52:31 | 13.1 miles | 08m 35s  min/mile
Age Group: 39/135
Overall: 281/1745
Performance: Good
Mile 1 - 8:14/170 bpm Mile 2 - 8:20/171 bpm Mile 3 - 8:39/171 bpm Mile 4 - 8:28/172 bpm Mile 5 - 8:26/173 bpm Mile 6 - 8:29/174 bpm Mile 7 - 8:29/174 bpm Mile 8 - 8:43/176 bpm Mile 9 - 8:59/175 bpm Mile 10 - 8:42/174 bpm Mile 11 - 9:07/177 bpm Mile 12 - 9:00/180 bpm Mile 13.1 - 8:54/183 bpm
Course: Pretty much a run around the Mauna Lani golf course and resort property with one 1.5 mile (3 mile total) out and back on a service road. Running on grass, cart paths, and asphalt, and tons of small but rolling hills. Almost no shade available.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5