Brian has been competing in triathlons for over 13 years and has completed over 100 events including 6 Ironman Triathlons w/ a 9:31 PB.
On the coaching side, he is a USAT certified coach and has worked with athletes ranging from beginners to professionals. Brian is also Owner/President of Personal Best Nutrition, a nutritional supplement resource specifically catering to the needs of endurance athletes.
Ironman Hawaii Race Report - Saturday 10/16/04
I can't say it enough, the feeling of treading water for that final minute, helicopters over head, Mike Riley's Iron-voice over the P.A. - just awesome. I cannot believe I'm here!
Ironman Hawaii Race Report - Saturday 10/16/04
242nd place overall out of 1579 finishers
41st out of 99 finishers in 25-29 age group
Misc: Nearly 10% of the starters DNF
Quote from a 7x Kona Finisher: 'Sometimes you have heat and sometimes you have wind - today we had a lot of heat and wind!!'
*Breakfast: (1) Vanilla Ultramet blended w/ 16oz Pineapple Juice, (1) frozen banana & 16oz water + (1) defizzed can of Red Bull
*Supplements: (2) PBN Multivitamins, (2) PBN Antioxidants, (3) Ultimate Performance Accelerators and (3) Optygen.
5:30-7AM (Arrive at Race Site Up to Start)
*Sipped Cytomax upon leaving condo right up to the start. Solution was mixed at (1.5) scoops per 28oz of water. Also consumed about 16oz of water between 5:30 - 6:30AM.
*Took (2) Endurox Capsules, (6) Muscle Nitro and (2) Advil approx. 60mins before 7AM start
*For any triathlete, that final walk down Alii Drive at 5:45AM is truly unbelievable. Our shuttle dropped us off about 1/2 mile from the pier, so the walk takes you through the final run down Alii Drive, right through the finish chute (the chute is blocked off so you cannot go through). I literally got chills walking up the street, knowing that I was about to take part in an event which I had dreamed about for years.
*On the P.A. a local stated the forecast looked to be good and the day should bring some very fast times (I'm assuming whomever that was has since been fired :o)
*After getting through body marking, I made way out onto the pier for the final check of my gear and any other misc. 'to dos'. The professional start went off 15 minutes before the age groupers at 6:45AM, and I watched the start from the pier. This proved to be a slightly stressful mistake as I now had to make my way through a 8 ft. wide walk-way into the water, along with 1,600 other athletes in the span of 15 minutes. As this is the 1st year there has been a separate pro start, and no age groupers were allowed in the water before the pro start, this was quite a landslide of itchy athletes. If you do the math, that's more than 100 athletes squeezing through this gap every minute. I was shuffling forward with PBN Teammate Patrick High (who incidentally pulled off another 5th place in the 40-44 age group today), when an announcement was made that there was <5 minutes to the gun. Mind you that there's another 150-200 meters to the start once you're actually in the water.
*Long story short, I made a break for it, did a little warm-up swim and arrived at the front of the start with about 90 seconds to spare - perfect!
*I can't say it enough, the feeling of treading water for that final minute, helicopters over head, Mike Riley's Iron-voice over the P.A. - just awesome. I literally remember thinking, I cannot believe I am here, just a dream come true…now the fun begins!
Swim (2.4 miles):
*I had a good position right up front and even though this was the World Championships, I felt I could still swim in the top 10%, so I lined myself up accordingly.
*When the cannon went off, I went hard, but not completely anaerobic as I wanted to get in with a good group from the start. If there's one thing I've learned from the 5 other Ironmans I've done, whomever you're with 5 minutes into the swim is in all likelihood who you're going to be with 2 miles later as it's difficult to bridge time later in the swim.
*I was surprised at how much open water I had for at least 8-10 minutes. There were (2) packs on either side and they were gradually closing in on me, but by the time we converged, we were well over 1/2 way out to the turn buoy. Once together, I tried to get in line with some of the athletes who appeared to be swimming straight and possibly quicker than I.
*The helicopters were creating quite a downdraft now and again as you could feel the wind and spray.
*I took the turn easy and had the intention of surging slightly on the return as I was feeling very relaxed.
*After the turn, I picked up the pace and was making up time until I caught another pack and decided the additional energy needed to move up to another group wasn't worth it. I'd maybe make up another 30 seconds, so I just settled in.
*Overall the swim was just about as perfect as I could have asked, but the times for whatever reason were 'slow' as I exited in 59:20. For reference, Peter Reid who typically exits with the main pro field and did again this year, swam a 53:12 as compared to a 50:36 in '03.
*Swim Totals (Time/Place) = 59:24 (196th place)
Fluid transition w/ no issues. Consumed most of (1) box of Extran and about 8oz of water before mounting the bike.
*Totals (Time) = 3:00
Bike (112 Miles):
*Once on the bike, the goal was to try and get my HR down as quickly as possible to my target of 145. I was pleasantly surprised that my HR was only in the low 150's when I got on the bike as it's usually much higher. The Hawaii course winds it's way through town for about 10 miles before heading out on the Queen K. The temptation to absolutely hammer this section is high as the crowds are just screaming, but I stayed smart.
*After the out and back, heading up the short, but steep Palani Road (aka Pay and Save hill), I was expectedly caught by Patrick High, just as we headed out on the Queen K. We exchanged some positive energy and began the long ride up to Hawi.
*The main difference between this race and other Ironman events is the level of athlete is very high. 75% of the field had to qualify to get there and usually had to post a good time to do so. Being that cycling is typically my weakest leg, I was pleased that I was passing roughly the same # of athletes as was passing me. This was a much different scenario than was the case at IMF as I lost about 100 places on the bike. I think one of the reasons is the field in Kona is more experienced and many athletes in FL ride well beyond their ability.
*About 8 miles or so outside of Kona, near the airport, the headwinds really started to pick-up and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. I expected this, so I wasn't surprised and continued to stare at my HRM (heart rate monitor) and completely disregarded the time splits. At this point, the winds were probably 20-25mph, right in our face. Again, I really wasn't being passed by too many athletes and felt fine, so I just continued to push into the wind, maintaining my cadence and HR.
*Another positive sign came about 30 miles into the race as Joe Bonness came by. The last few times I've raced him he's passed me much earlier and charged by as if I were standing still, so this was good news. My HR at this point was a little low, so I kept Joe within site for about 25 minutes before he pulled out of site on some of the steeper hills.
*I continued with my feeding cycle every 20 minutes of the 'Iron-cocktail' which consists of (3) 28oz bottles containing (2) scoops Cytomax (Tangy Orange flavor), (2) scoops Metabolol Endurance (Orange Smoothie flavor) and (2) scoops Carbo-Pro. The 4th and final bottle I consume on the bike has (2) scoops Cytomax (Tangy Orange flavor), (2) scoops Carbo-Pro, but only (1) scoop of Metabolol Endurance as I add 1.5 cans of defizzed Red Bull to this mix so the total calorie amount is roughly the same. As I did in FL, when I realized I wasn't getting through the bottles quick enough, I went back to 15 minute feeding cycles. Why I waited for 2+ hours into the race to do this, I'll never know and believe it may have been a costly error which I paid for later in the day.
*The wind was just relentless, never getting ridiculously high, but NEVER backing off. For the entire ride up to Hawi, there was a strong headwind which I knew based on the looks on everyone's face was beginning to take it's toll.
*Another awesome part of racing Kona is seeing the pro race happening live right in front of you. As I was on the approach to Hawi, I saw Norman Stadler charge by and didn't see another athlete for about 5 minutes. At that point he already had a relatively big gap on the entire men's field which would balloon to 20 minutes by the end of the ride. Also on the way out I took my split off of Natascha Badmann as my goal was to get off the bike with her. This was 'on paper' as she started 15 minutes ahead.
*Despite the slow times, I was comforted when I hit the turn at Hawi (59 miles into the race) and it was exactly 7:30 since I'd seen Badmann. This meant we made the turn at the same time (7:30 x 2 = 15 minutes, the gap to the pro start).
*Now I thought, here we go, just after the turn I picked up my special needs bag with (2) more bottles of 'Iron-cocktail' (IMC) and started the descent out of Hawi. I tossed about a 1/2 full bottle of my other IMC to make room for the full bottles. This meant about 300 calories which I didn't consume as I did in FL. For a solid 20+ minutes, we were all in our 53x11 and just cranking at probably 30+mph. My HR dropped as I just couldn't go any faster with the tail/cross wind and was glad to finally be taking back some time.
*After the main descent I made my way back to the Queen K for the final 40 miles back to town. I don't race with a speedometer, but taking my splits every 5 miles at the markers, I was covering each at roughly 13:30 which meant about 22mph and if I could maintain that back to town would put my bike split in the low 5:20's. Not bad considering the conditions on the way out! That time went right out the window as we again hit a huge headwind with about 40 miles left and even maintaining 20mph was a huge effort.
*As I had practiced dozens of time in training, I brought my HR up to the low 150's (from my primary high zone 2 target of 145) for the final hour and was passing a lot of athletes including Bella Comerford (2x IMF champ who DNF'd today) and again was given a boost of confidence as we came off the bike together in at IMF '03 and I was now 15 minutes ahead of her.
*Although the speed was slow, I felt fantastic. My time goal was not what I had planned but I still felt very good at the 100 mile mark. With only about 10 miles left to town, both of my IMC bottles were about 75% full, so I tossed the one without the Red Bull as I knew I wouldn't be able to finish it and thought it more beneficial to drop the 1.5lbs of weight for the final few hills.
*I am calculating that between those (2) bottles which I didn’t drink completely, I took in roughly 700 (+/-) less calories than I did at IMF. Being that I was also on the bike for an additional 26 minutes, this was a bad move. Anyway, I came into town feeling very good and ready to run as there continued to be nearly cloudless conditions with temperatures in the low 90's. I moved up slightly in my overall position moving from 196th out of the water, up 10 places to 186 coming off the bike.
*Bike Totals (Time/Pace/HR) = 5:36:6/20mph avg/144avg HR - Bike Split was 223rd fastest on the day.
*No issues, smooth transition which I again consumed about 75% of an Extran and about 8oz of water before heading out of T2.
*Totals (Time) = 3:06
Run (26.2 Miles):
*Exiting T2 I felt very strong and thought the original goal of a 3:10 marathon was a possibility. As you wind your way through Kona, the crowds are just incredible and the support from my family, friends and everyone else was awesome.
*The course heads down Alii Drive for about 5 miles to a U-turn and comes right back into the center of downtown Kona. This stretch is rolling, with little shade and the temperature was already above 90F. About a mile out of T2 I ran up to Karen Smyers and asked her what her run target was as historically she's run very even. She responded with, 'Whatever I can do.'
*As I don't wear a watch or HRM on the run, I don't know what my splits were, but believe I was probably running near a 6:50-7 minute per mile pace. On the uphills which had a little steeper grade, I was struggling a little, but was still passing most people, so I knew I was in good shape - then the fun began!
*Urinated at mile 3.
*A little ways after the turn I started to struggle and just didn't feel 'on'. My pace wasn't dropping too much, but I knew something just wasn't right. I decided to pull back a little, get in some calories and fluid and try to regroup as I knew the stretch from Pay and Save hill up Palani out to the Energy Lab would be challenging.
*5 Mile Split = 36:51 (7:23 per mile pace)
*After I came up Palani, I was caught by Lori Bowden and was again feeling very good again. She was pulling away little by little, but I was now running a solid pace and started passing other athletes. This lasted for about 3 miles and then the wheels came off again.
*As I was starting to have those highs and lows near the 1/2 marathon mark, I thought it was time to start hitting the defizzed Coke as the sugar and the caffeine really pick me up. Unfortunately, every aid station for the next 10 miles was out of Coke. I don't think this is the reason I started to crack, but I did find it unbelievable that they could run out of Coke at the World Championships. I didn't feel my stomach could tolerate the concentration of a gel as I already had some GI stress, so I continued with the Gatorade/water at each aid station. Unfortunately I never felt good again on the run and knowing my time was now out the door, the incentive to actually run faster is minimal.
*18 Mile Split = 2:19 (+/-) (7:45 per mile pace)
*I continued with a series of highs/lows for the balance of the run, with the final 10k from the energy lab turning into a combination of walking and shuffling. My legs just felt drained and looking back believe this was caused by the additional 1/2 hour spent on the bike and the 700-900 less calories I consumed.
*Regardless of how you're feeling at mile 25, I'd guess that for nearly every triathlete, this disappears when you pass that 25 mile marker sign. The nice thing about Kona is after you make the final right hand turn off the Queen K onto Palani, it's all downhill. I was able to get a cup of Coke at the 2nd to last aid station which had a dramatic affect and I was able to run the final 1.5 miles to the finish line.
*Split for final 8.2 miles = 1:29 (+/-) (10:51 per mile pace)
*The final 600 meters is magical for any triathlete who's been in the sport for awhile. The significance of finishing on Alii Drive is the pinnacle of our sport and the experience was all I could have hoped for. I ran slowly up Alii Drive as I wanted to enjoy every second as the finish line approached. The finish chute was magical, and just as I had envisioned a million times in training, I ran up the chute and a step before crossing the line, turned around and looked out at that stretch of real estate which has seen every great champion of our sport.
*I crossed the line in an official time of 10:29:37, in 242nd place, quite a ways off my original projection, but given the conditions of the day really wasn't as bad as I'd originally thought.
Truthfully, if you'd have asked me my run time, I would have said somewhere around 4-4:15, so the fact that I actually ran under 3:50 wasn't too bad. I think the only reason the run was at all salvageable, was when I was running, I was running well. The excitement of finishing was soon followed by disappointment as I had failed to execute the race which I had trained for.
*Run Totals (Time/Pace) = 3:46:57 (8:40 per mile pace) - 511th fastest on the day
I am disappointed that I did not achieve my goal of having the best possible executed race in Hawaii. Aside from the times which were arguably the slowest ever, I just didn't feel like I was racing the marathon. Looking back over my training logs, there was a 15-20% increase in my cycling which definitely helped on race day, but a 10% decrease in my run volume (there's only so many hours in the day!). This combined with the calorie deficit on the bike, is what I believe led to my slow marathon time.
If there's one thing I've learned that's tough about racing Hawaii, it's that's there's no one thing that makes the race hard. Hawaii is an event where the cumulative effect of the heat, wind and barrenness of the landscape just keep widdling you down. To truly have a great day in Kona, especially when conditions are as relentless as they were this year, you need to be a complete athlete, strong to the core.
Thank you again for all my friends and family for their support, as what goes into an Ironman starts long before race day. A special thank you goes out to my expectant wife, as putting up with all that goes into this single day is a challenge.
Please don't hesitate to drop a post on the PBN Forum if you have any questions at all. Thank you for reading and all the positive messages and energy I received over the last few months.
Just an FYI, continue to check into the PBN Forum as we will continue to be posting race reports, articles and a lot of other helpful information pertaining to the sport throughout the Winter.
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