Ironman 70.3 Hawaii - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Kohala Coast, Hawaii
United States
World Triathlon Corporation
85F / 29C
Total Time = 5h 17m 21s
Overall Rank = 214/1513
Age Group = M30-34
Age Group Rank = 26/121
Pre-race routine:

Ok...this is a stupid long RR, but I think it deserves it. Read if you want, but this is more for me than anyone else.

So everyone was telling me that the biggest jump is from your first HIM to your second. After going out pretty conservatively last year in 5:32, finishing with a strong run, I decided I was going to gamble this year and actually race. The goal was 5:15 to 5:20 this year if conditions were good like last year with light winds...well, light for Kona anyway.

Before leaving Oahu, it had been really windy for the past 5 I was hoping that the weather was just "getting it out of the system". We landed in Kona on Thursday with winds in full force. Friday, we drove up to Hawi, only to see the ocean covered in white caps. We rented a Dodge 1500 crew cab since we had 6 athletes and 5 bike boxes...and even our truck was getting blown around in the wind.

When the winds were still blowing Friday afternoon, mentally, I just accepted it. I was here to RACE, and that's what I would do. I'm a strong biker, so like Lance, I should WANT the wind to blow and crush the souls of the weaker bikers who can hunt me down on the run. My attitude soon changed from worrying about time goals, to throwing them out and HOPING for wind...and my training partners were not too happy about it...=).

There were about 15 of us from our group racing. Last year I came in 3rd, but this year a few more faster guys raced...namely Burt and Andrew. My goal was to "podium"...knowing that Astro, Burt, Andrew, Stan, Keiko, and I would be the front of the pack. Astro being the strongest overall, Burt and I being very similar, Andrew and Stan being better swimmers, okay bikers, and solid runners, and Keiko being a great swimmer and runner...poor on the bike...but only when compared to men. Honestly, if I had to rank myself, I would be no better than 4th on this list, only because I was the second youngest, and all but Keiko and I have kids. Stan and Andrew could dust me if they had enough time to train as much as I do.

Woke up at 4am race morning, opened the door and yup...the wind was there...20-30 steady, gusting to 35+...which meant Hawi was going to be much worse. Interestingly enough, the winds died down significantly just before the swim start.
Event warmup:

No warm up...just wet my goggles and was ready to go.

As we were in the pre start corral, we saw Lance come right up to us as he was looking for someone asking where he needed to be for the pro start in about 10 minutes. You would think people would rush up to him, but many of us just looked star struck with our jaws dropped.
  • 38m 54s
  • 2112 yards
  • 01m 50s / 100 yards

I started up front this year, with the goal being to fight for the inside line because the current naturally pushes you out to sea. With a mass start, and the sun in your eyes, it's easy to just follow the pack and swim wide like I did last year, so I vowed it wouldn't happen again.

Lots of contact at the beginning, but that's what I expected for starting in the first 10 rows of a 1500 mass start. The first 2 buoys were just a huge bottleneck. I had to swim under the first buoy.

After the second turn, it's long half mile swim parallel to shore...and I was on the inside just where I wanted to be. But eff me, I still swam way out wide as the pack chased a buoy that got loose. I looked up and noticed the paddle boarders were 200 yards to my right, and had to swim at a 45 degree angle back to shore instead of parallel to it just to get back on line. It was crazy and I was pissed for making the same mistake as last year...but at least this year it was because of a buoy (that I never saw...just the pack was chasing it and I followed).

I got back on course and found Burt in the water. We finished up together and I was expecting to see something like 42 minutes...which would still be 2.5 minutes faster than last year. But when I saw sub 39...I was pretty stoked.

1. Keiko 31:40
2. Astro 34:40
3. Stan 37:07
4. Andrew 38:47
5. Burt 38:48
6. Me 38:54

Note...everyone swam faster this year despite all of us going wide. The course may have been short, but that's tris right?
What would you do differently?:

Swim the actual course. Don't follow the pack, and don't sight the buoys as they are too small...use the paddle boarders to sight. The worst thing that can happen then is you cut inside and they tell you to go back out pretty quickly.

I could have swam harder, but I was just focused on drafting and conserving energy so I could hammer the bike.
Transition 1
  • 04m 1s

Slow jog up the hill to transition. Could have moved faster here, but this wasn't a sprint. I saw Burt pull away, and figured I wouldn't see him again unless he fell apart on the run as he's a stronger biker, but is coming off a running injury in January. Took extra time to put on socks. The extra time used was saved in T2. Almost tipped over mounting as I decided to clip in with my right foot first since the pedal was up, even though I always clip in left first. Wouldn't have been a problem but the mount line was right on a pretty steep hill. People told me there were tons of people who tipped over there. Not sure why they moved the mount line from last year which was before the hill.

I saw Andrew coming out to the mount line and said he had a bad swim and went out wide too. He must have gone out farther than me as I expected him to be out of the water 3 minutes before me. But as we started even on the bike, I knew I was going to put time on him as that's my advantage, where the run is his.
What would you do differently?:

Take the extra 1 second to clip into my left pedal first instead of my right.
  • 2h 39m 6s
  • 56 miles
  • 21.12 mile/hr

Rode just under 2:50 last year at a decent but conservative effort and followed it up with probably the best run in a tri I ever had. Which told me that I didn't bike hard enough...but for my first HIM, that was the plan.

So this year, after building up my bike fitness even more, the plan was to HAMMER! My original goal was to ride under 2:40, but with the winds, I didn't think it was possible. I would have taken 2:45. I rode at 160 bpm last year, so this year I wanted to push it a little more, but would go more off feel than an exact number.

Out of T1, my HR is naturally sky high in the mid 170's. I feel good though, and just ride comfortable knowing my HR will eventually settle. It's a tail wind the first 5 miles, so I'm just burying my head flying by people. I make the turn around, and there's the wind slowing you down to 14-16 mph at points. My HR is settling in the mid 160's, closer to 170 on some of the short climbs, but again, I feel good, so I just go with it. I start working my flask at 25 minutes into the bike, and things are going great. I pass by Stan at mile 10, and blow by him pretty easily. Like Andrew, he's a good runner, so I have to put some time into him. Turns out though that Stan slipped and fell coming out of the swim near the showers and hit his head. He took the first 10 miles easy debating if he should withdraw. Thankfully he was okay.

I make a consious effort to stay low. After reading Bryan's IMSG report, I made sure to stay on my bars and only look up when needed. As bad as the winds were, we basically had a 20 foot wide lane to work with, so getting blown isn't really that bad if you just accept it. The people who got scared and sat up on the horns suffered that much more.

Flew by Keiko at Kawaihae. She's a solid biker, but she was going way too easy and not riding aero. I know she's a solid runner, but it was looking like I was going to put 20 minutes on her for the rest of the was actually more than that, and she was out of the running.

As I got up near Hawi, the winds kicked up even more...steady 25-30, gusting to 40+. It was funny watching people leaning 15 degrees to the right while only going 12 mph. Again, I just buried my head and pushed on. The only time I got out of my bars was to drink or eat.

After the turn around, it was like a roller coaster. I was FLYING. Again, I just put my head down, no fear, and dropped the hammer as people death gripped their bull horns. Was I scared...hell yeah, but I didn't bust my butt all year just to race like a pussy. I got blown more than a few times, but nothing I couldn't handle. I could also feel the tail of my aero helmet getting pushed sideways at times...almost to the point where it might have flew off if I didn't have my chin strap. Overall, my 404's held up good...but I think a 404/808 combination would have been more stable.

At mile 40, I caught back up to Burt. He's normally a stronger biker than me, but he said he almost crashed from the crosswinds and had to sit up for a while. He pulled back ahead, but I kept him within sight till the finish.

Overall, I raced hard...definately borderline too hard, but that was the goal. My legs did want to go harder during the end, and I had to hold back a little knowing I still had to run. I knew my time would be in the 2:40 range, so I was stoked, and Burt was still within range. The wind was bad, but it didn't hurt you as much as you would think if you didn't let it kill you mentally and stayed on your bars. I also think since it was mostly crosswinds, faster bikers were not penalized as much due to straightening out the yaw angles.

Nutrition was about 5 gels, and 3 salt sticks. Water when needed. A lot less than last year, but it worked well.

1. Astro 3:14:58 (2:37:02)
2. Burt 3:21:40 (2:39:54)
3. Me 3:22:01 (2:39:06)
4. Stan 3:30:45 (2:50:10)
5. Andrew 3:36:37 (2:53:40)
6. Keiko 3:51:30 (3:15:17)
What would you do differently?:

Nothing...I gambled, and I didn't bust out yet.
Transition 2
  • 01m 29s

Good T2. They didn't have bike catchers this year, so you had to rack your bike. Not too bad though. Already having socks on helped.

Burt missed his rack spot due to bad volunteer directions. The volunteers were calling out numbers and pointing you where to go since this was a totally different transition area that the athletes had not seen prior to the "athlete responsible for knowing..." didn't apply. So I left T2 before him.
What would you do differently?:

  • 1h 53m 51s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 08m 41s  min/mile

I ran 1:52:30 last year, and with some improved run fitness, was hoping to run 1:48ish.

Started running feeling pretty good, but had to take it easy as I could feel my quads may cramp. Burt quickly caught up to me, then pulled slightly ahead. Sub 8 the first mile, and slightly above 8's during mile 2 and 3. But then I realized mile 2 and 3 was with a tailwind, and BAM, BOOYAH, IN YO FACE...the effin wind. I've run into the wind before in training, but this was like nothing I've ever experienced. I actually thought it was worse than the bike. When I saw my pace going north of 9 minutes, and sometimes over 10, I first thought my legs were giving out, but Burt wasn't pulling away, so I knew the wind was killing everyone else too. I saw Stan on one of the out and backs, estimating I was over 6 minutes ahead, and he was coming.

People were passing me, but it was expected...Burt never got out of eyesight, and I made jokes about the wind to him as we passed each other on the turn "I should have left my aero helmet on". Finally we turn back with the wind, and I was relieved to see 8:20's again.

At mile 7, I noticed I was slowly making ground on Burt, and thought to myself..."I got him". Within a half mile, we were shoulder to shoulder. He was hurting, so he slowed down to my pace, but wasn't ready to throw in the towel either. Mentally, I had nothing to make a move though as we were going through tough rollers and more wind, and our own little Iron War began. I told him to go if he felt good, but he refused...but he understood that we were still racing each other, so this wasn't a "lets finish together" party either.

At mile 8.5, we caught up to Astro. He was cramping bad. We just started the long road to nowhere into the wind and slightly downhill, and none of us could make a serious move. Astro would pull away, but then stop again to stretch while Burt and I held slow as it was (about 9:20
s). We hit the turnaround at mile 10 and it's tailwind and back up the hill. Mentally, it was releiving. I wasn't hurting with pain...just really tired, and the tailwind gave me that boost. With 5k to go, I made my move, dropped my pace down to 8:00 flat and Burt and Astro couldn't answer. I saw Stan and Andrew coming down. Andrew was quite a ways back, but Stan was closing in hard. It was an all or nothing move...1st or 4th...maybe even 5th if I blew up and Andrew could pass me.

As I exited that out and back, I looked behind and couldn't see Burt and Astro...I knew I put at least a minute on them in that 1.5 mile stretch, but still needed to hang on the last 1.5. We hit headwind again, and those last 1.5 were the longest miles of my life. I swear I looked at my garmin at least 40 times, and looke back at least 10.

One last look back with a half mile to go, and I knew I was home free. Struck a pose for Darrin folks who were spectating and enjoyed the run in. I was going to win this race amongst friends, and meet my overall time goal despite brutal conditions. 10 people must have passed me in that last stretch, but I didn't care. I came through the finish flexing my guns!

Final Standings
1. Me 5:17:21 (1:53:51)
2. Burt 5:18:34 (1:54:41)
3. Stan 5:19:59 (1:47:21)
4. Astro 5:20:25 (2:03:53)
5. Andrew 5:26:12 (1:46:41)
6. Keiko 5:53:53 (1:59:14)
What would you do differently?:

Nothing. I think I could have gone a little faster, but I was actually racing other people, not really for time...and it was FUN! I probably should have backed off the bike a hair, to set up a slightly better run, but I couldn't let Burt gap me. If I let him get away on the bike or run, I may have given up. Pushing a little too hard to stay with him is what helped me push to the finish and avoid cracking mentally.
Post race
Warm down:

Waited around for everyone to come through and congratulated them on a great "race". You could hear the chatter amongst finishers about the there was no doubt. Last year was talk about..."oh it was hot". Yeah...Kona is always hot, as it was this year. The talk was the wind.

Went back out a half mile from the finish with Darrin folks to cheer the rest of my training friends on...anxiously waiting for my GF to finish. I was originally thinking 6:15-6:30 for her, but knew that was out the window with the wind. She finally appeared with 2 of my other friends as they formed a mini pact to finish together...and did so with a nice run to the finish. Awesome.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Ok...for 95% of the field, the answer is the wind...and while the wind did slow me down, it also toughened me up...I think it also toughened up the pros too which is why you saw records fall. People who were not there can look at the faster times and make assumptions about what it was like, but anyone who did race will tell you just how EPIC the day was. But it was feast or famine. There were those who stepped up, and those who wilted under adversity. Also can't say how proud I am of my GF, who completed her first HIM in such conditions. I seriously thought she may not finish, or finish so far back that she may never want to do another long course race. But she persevered, and while slower than originally expected, finished with a smile, and quite respectable given the circumstances of her first HIM.

Event comments:

Great race. Lots of volunteers who were more than helpful.

Last updated: 2011-10-18 12:00 AM
00:38:54 | 2112 yards | 01m 50s / 100yards
Age Group: 58/121
Overall: 621/1513
Performance: Average
Course: One big loop around Hapuna Bay.
Start type: Wade Plus: Shot
Water temp: 78F / 26C Current: High
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Average
Breathing: Good Drafting: Good
Waves: Navigation: Bad
Rounding: Average
Time: 04:01
Performance: Below average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
02:39:06 | 56 miles | 21.12 mile/hr
Age Group: 20/121
Overall: 144/1513
Performance: Good
Avg HR 164
Course: From Hapuna out to the Mauna Lani entrance, then back up to Hawi, back down into the Mauna Lani resort
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Just right
Time: 01:29
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes Good
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Good
01:53:51 | 13.1 miles | 08m 41s  min/mile
Age Group: 35/121
Overall: 335/1513
Course: A lot of out and backs on the Mauna Lani golf course. Cart paths, fairways, and blacktop.
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] 4