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Ironman World Championship - Triathlon

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Kona, Hawaii
United States
World Triathlon Corporation
85F / 29C
Total Time = 14h 18m 52s
Overall Rank = 1996/
Age Group = F 35-39
Age Group Rank = 84/
Pre-race routine:

Warning - this is going to be long. My RRs always are.
This Kona journey started many years and racing miles ago. Brad and I had hit our 12th IM in 2014 in Chattanoga and applied for a legacy spot then. We weren't selected for 2015, but were informed we had been pre-selected for 2015. The light was at the end of the tunnel. We are very fortunate to have Brad's family commit many years ago to joining us in Kona. That made this race/vacation even more special.
We arrived in Kona Wednesday night after 24 hours of travel from our new home outside of Oxford, UK. Getting off the plane, the heat and humidity hit me. Prior to arriving in Kona, I was concerned about the 11 hour time difference and the drastic weather differences between the UK and Hawaii. Leading into the race, I had just 2 goals for the day - enjoy the day/race and finish. I had no time goals. This was really the first time (besides my first IM) where I went into it with this mentality.
Thursday was the Underpants Run, a swim, check in for the race, bike assembly, driving the bike course to Hawi and riding some of the course. The crosswinds you hear about are no joke. They were frightening. We only rode for 5 miles, but it was definitely scary and unsettling. We attended the Welcome Dinner that evening and got a good nights sleep. We had some time to relax Friday with not much on the schedule besides bike and gear drop off. Having done 13 other IMs, you could see the small yet special differences about this race. We got personalized bike number plastic cards versus stickers. We had a personalized tag on our swag bag. Bike drop off was very cool. Some companies were lined up giving away stuff if you ride their frame/wheels, etc. I scored a cool towel from Enve. They also had counters there to get the Kona bike count - they were counting everything from frames, helmets, pedals, seats, handlebars, etc. The remainder of check in was uneventful.
After a traditional pre-race meal at our house with Brad's family, it was early to bed. I got 7.5 hours of solid sleep and was up on race morning before my alarm. It was nice to see Sissy before she went off to her bodymarking station. And I was able to chat with Jeff while eating breakfast which was a nice distraction from force feeding myself. Jeff, Kari, Brad and I left the house around 5:00 am to head to town to find a parking spot. We found one a few blocks away and I was a ball of nerves on the walk to the pier. Deep exhales. I felt like I could puke I was so nervous. Yes, I had done this distance 13 other times, but this was freaking Kona! And the crosswinds we experienced on Thursday didn't help calm my nerves.
We briefly parted ways form Jeff and Kari as it was "athletes only" behind the King K hotel for body marking. The line was long, but we had plenty of time. We stood on one line to get our arms wiped with alcohol, collected our race number tattoos and then found another line to have them applied. We found Sissy's line and waited so she could body mark us. As soon as it was our turn with her, we both started crying. As minuscule as it may seem, it was really special for her to body mark us. She has been with us for over 10 IM races and is sincerely excited about race day and supporting us. After body marking, we got our chip activated and got weighed. I was crying I was so nervous. I just needed to get started with the race so the nerves would go away. We pumped our tires, put nutrition on the bike, I put the little sticker Karen and Mike sent me on my handlebars (a pic sticker of them in a shark mouth Karen had sent me - funny!) and we wiggled into our swim skins before dropping off our morning clothes bag. We had to navigate back to the AM bag drop as it was in the opposite direction from where we were meeting Jeff and Kari to give them the pump. Turns out we didn't really need to bring a pump as they were plenty at the end of each bike rack. We found Jeff and Kari and hung out with them for a few minutes. We hit the bathrooms in the King K hotel one last time and then walked over to the swim start area on the pier. We had plenty of time to get over there and as we got closer, the men in the blue caps made their way into the water as the ladies in the pink caps stepped to the side and waited our turn. Brad and I said our goodbyes, good lucks and I love yous. It is always emotional saying goodbye to Brad on race day. We both worry about each other and with the layout of this course, we knew we wouldn't see each other until I was climbing to Hawi, hours into our race.
Event warmup:

I was excited to hear the men's wave go off...and then it was my turn. I entered the water to the sound of Hawaiian drummers. It was freaking awesome! I hung out in waist deep water for a few minutes so I didn't have to tread water for 15 minutes. I slowly made my way out in the water and kept a little distance between me and the first few rows of women. I did not need to be right up front during the Ironman World Championship swim start. I could see the clock so I knew how much time we had before the cannon went off. I was searching on the pier for Sissy, but I never spotted her. I did a few slow rotations in the water to try to soak it all in...getting a view of all of the spectators on the pier, watching the drummers, seeing all of the spectators on the sea wall, looking at the beautiful sky with the mountains as a backdrop. And I had a huge smile on my face. I could not believe I was racing in Kona. It was such a surreal experience.
Watching the clock count down to our 7:15 am start, the cannon boomed and we were off.
  • 1h 08m 34s
  • 4224 yards
  • 01m 37s / 100 yards

I swam at a comfortably pace from the start and right away, it was insanely crowded and pretty physical. There was absolutely no open water to get around people. I had no choice, but to continue to swim at this pace, which was ok. A few hundred meters into the swim, things started to thin out a bit and I was able to find some feet to draft off of. The sun had risen over the mountain and I was just loving the swim. The water was clear and now that the crowds had thinned out a bit, I could see the bottom and enjoy swimming in the aquarium. I loved seeing all of the beautiful fish! The way seemed to go by quickly and before I knew it, I was at the Body Glove boat (around 32 minutes). We had a short swim across before making another right turn to make the trip back. I couldn't tell if we had a current or not on the first leg and hoped it wasn't going to smack us in the face on the way back to the pier. It seemed to be calm waters without much current. I was then catching some of the slower males which started 15 minutes before the women. It wasn't horrible, but it did mean swimming around some people to find clean water. As you get closer to the pier, you can hear the crowds and see them along the pier and sea wall. It was freaking awesome! I was able to sight off of the huge inflatable gatorade bottle. I hit the stairs and got up them and over the mat without any real issues.
What would you do differently?:

It wasn't my best swim in terms of time, but I was pleased with it. I swam comfortably and was really happy with my navigation and how I was mentally with it the whole time.
Transition 1
  • 06m 24s

I hit the hose showers and rinsed the salt water off before grabbing my bag and heading into the tent. I had a volunteer give me a hand, which was very helpful. I needed assistance getting the cool wings on my wet arms and over my shoulders/back. I chose to wear gloves thinking I might be on the horns a bit more than usual due to the crosswinds. I slammed a Honey Stinger waffle in my mouth, got sunscreen on the exposed part of my back/shoulders and hit the port-o-potty within the T1 tent before running out and grabbing my bike. Our helmets had to be on our bikes (not in our bags) so I put that on once at my bike, gave my tires a squeeze and ran to the mount line.
What would you do differently?:

  • 7h 23m 6s
  • 112 miles
  • 15.17 mile/hr

I was the most worried about the bike. I had only heard how hot, humid, hilly and windy the bike course is. I got going out of T1 and soon saw Jeff, Kari, Sissy and Mitch in town on Palani. Right away, on Kuakini, I was getting passed like I was stopped. I am not surprised at this and just rode my race. I saw the rest of our family shortly before the turn around. Leaving town, I saw the Palani group again and gave them some high 5's before making the turn onto the Queen K. It was so awesome to see our family and friends, especially knowing I wouldn't see them until I was on the run course.
Right away I was smiling and enjoying the ride. Holy shit, I was riding on the iconic Queen K in freaking Kona! It was amazing! We had a nice tailwind for the first part of the ride. I stuck to my plan of eating every 30 minutes along with 2 hits of Base salt. I also tried to consciously stay on top of my water consumption knowing it would be hot. The day was absolutely beautiful. The course is barren, yet spectacular. The contrast of the lava fields with the blue sky and ocean is just beautiful. The sky was clear and I can vividly recall how clear Mauna Kea was. I actually thought of Mitch at this point knowing how much he would have loved to see it. I was enjoying the day and loving the course. I could see the coastline ahead and to the left and knew I was headed that way. The sights and sounds of the helicopters overhead was so neat and then the male pros appeared. They were speeding by heading back to town. Crazy fast!

The wind seemed to shift at some point and we had a headwind heading into Wiakoloa and Kawaihae. I made the turn at Kawaihae and knew I would be approaching the climb to Hawi. I was a bit anxious about this section after riding it on Thursday and knowing this is where the strong crosswinds typically appear. The women pros went zooming by heading back to town and then the fast male age groupers followed. It was a nice distraction from the headwind and the climbing. I kept an eye out for Brad figuring I would see him soon. He was easy to spot with his black helmet, green jersey and white arm coolers/wings. With him coming down from Hawi, I knew I needed to spot him since he would be concentrating on descending. It was nice to have an exchange with him, even if it was for just a second.

The headwind and climbing to Hawi was hard, but it wasn't the hardest thing I've done. I mentally went back to so many training rides this year and years past that were windier or hillier. A huge advantage to having done 13 IM races is that I have a significant mental toughness bank to make withdrawals from. I counted down the miles to the turn around and hit special needs for a brief stop - my first stop on the bike. The descent from Hawi was not nearly as scary as it was on Thursday and I was thankful the crosswinds weren't too bad. And I was thankful to be leaving Hawi.

It was interesting to me how few cyclists there were out there with me. I knew I would be on the slower side, especially compared to Kona times, but it was still crazy how isolated it was. I had done some long solo training rides and I didn't mind being out there by myself. I noticed some whitecaps on the water coming down from Hawi and I knew that would mean a headwind the final 35 miles back on the Queen K. I think knowing that a few miles before it hit helped mentally. Before making the turn onto the Queen K, I saw the pair of athletes making the climb up to Hawi - the dad who was cycling and pulling his disabled son. It was so inspirational and brought tears to my eyes. I was hoping they would make it to the turn around before the time cutoff.
I made the turn onto the Queen K and was hit in the face with a headwind. I was the one that said I would rather have a headwind vs a crosswind. And here it was. At least a headwind meant you get aero, put your head down and ride. It wasn't scary, but if you let it, it could get to you. The view heading back to Kona is amazing. I was loving just enjoying the lava fields, the water, the mountains. The wind was strong, but I was still loving the ride. I felt good, my legs felt great, I had a slight headache, but was keeping it manageable. Fellow athletes were few and far between. I would leapfrog with 1-2 others, but for the most part, it was a pretty isolated ride. As I was battling the headwinds, I was smiling the entire way. I was really happy with how my ride was going and knew I would be coming into T2 faster than I anticipated. Even with the wind blowing, I was motivated by everyone supporting me, both our family/friends in town and everyone back home tracking me. I told myself that there was no point getting down about the wind. I needed to embrace every aspect of this race - the hills, the heat and even the wind. I was riding happy and enjoying my day for those that would never get a chance to be here experiencing this. For those that would never be able to race on this course. I was racing happy for them and they were so motivating. Countless times I would reflect on how fortunate I was to be out in the sun on this day. It's an opportunity not many get to experience.

My plan for each aid station was to ditch my 2 bottles I was carrying and grab 3 - one for my aero bottle and to dump on me and 2 for my bottle cages. At the mile 75 aid station after I had tossed a warm full bottle, I was told they had no water. They ran out. WHAT?! How is that possible?! This is the Ironman World Championship and they ran out of water! So I grabbed a bottle of Gatorade and sipped on it until the next aid station, hoping it wouldn't upset my stomach. Next aid station - again out of water. This was unreal. I had kept one bottle partially filled with water that I would use on my arm coolers. I used the water sparingly thinking they might be out of water for the rest of the bike course. The dry arm coolers are hot though. My one and only port-o-potty stop on the ride was at mile 75. I didn't want to stop, but there was no line and I knew I would be more comfortable stopping now.
Finally at the next aid station, they had water! They had a few more aid stations to the finish and were out of water at one of them. So 3 of the final 6 aid stations had no water. I felt badly for those riding behind me. I climbed the last hill into the headwind at mile 100. I knew I was in the final stretch and kept plugging away mile by mile. I saw the airport and then the energy lab. Getting so close. At this point, there were runners on the final portion of the marathon along the Queen K and that was a nice distraction. I always get a little teary-eyed at the end of an Ironman bike leg. And this was no different. It still felt unreal to me that I just biked the Kona bike course. Having seen it so many times on TV and online, I was here doing the race! I snaked through the streets in town and pulled into T2 happily turning over my bike.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing. Well, maybe trust my training a bit more. I was crazy nervous about the bike before the race. It was hilly, hot and windy, but not nearly as hilly, hot and windy as I expected. Maybe I built it up in my head so much that it wasn't really that bad.
Transition 2
  • 08m 13s

I couldn't run through T2....mix of how my legs felt, bike shoes and slippy surface. I walked quickly, found my bag and got into the tent. Nothing remarkable here....just getting through T2 and doing what I need to do.
What would you do differently?:

Always hustle more, but I wasn't in a huge hurry.
  • 5h 32m 35s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 12m 41s  min/mile

I saw the female winner after she finished as I started the run. Always kind of comical. There's a hill right out of T2 which I walked. My plan was to run as much of the first half of the race as I could and then switch to a run/walk combo. On Ali'i, I had to abandon that plan pretty quickly and went to the run/walk intervals. The crowds on Ali'i were great! The views were spectacular. The sun and crashing waves. I couldn't help but have a huge smile on my face. I was running on Ali'i Drive! Holy shit! I walked the few hills on Ali'i and soon saw Billy and Bill. What a welcome sight to see family! They gave me a note from the rest of my family who was at the finish area to see Brad. So sweet. Right after Bill and Billy, there was a guy with an Eagles shirt who was throwing a football to runners. How fun! I was 1/1 with my catches on the way out. Made it to the turn around and headed back to town. One more football catch and hellos to Billy and Bill. The miles were flying by and I still couldn't believe I was in Kona doing the Ironman!

I thought I might see our family and Brad after he finished in town, but after searching the crowd, I was wrong. I was a little sad to see no one in town until I heard Kari screaming my name on Kuakini. It was awesome to see her and I got an update on Brad's status...that he hadn't finished yet. I knew I would see him then since the rest of the course was an OAB. As I was walking up the huge hill on Palani, I saw this green jersey come flying down the road. That sweaty hug on Palani was so special. After racing over 120 miles solo, finally seeing Brad is amazing. It was such a great energy boost and one spectator even made a comment on how sweet it was to see us hugging. Another one said if Brad really loved me, he would have swapped spots with me. Funny! The drummer at the top of Palani was awesome and I got to enjoy a Hawiian sunset while on the Queen K. I walked to just enjoy the sight and take it all in.

Once the sun set, I knew it would get a little tougher mentally, but I was still happy and thrilled to be out there. Run/walk intervals were so so and I tried to keep to my eating schedule. I had to stop at the one station to put vaseline on a blister that was forming. I didn't want to stop, but I knew it would be better when I did. I made the turn into the Energy Lab and enjoyed the slight downhill along with the party that was happening at the aid stations. The Energy Lab is iconic from the race coverage, but was just a change of scenery for me from the highway of the Queen K. Since it was dark at this point, there wasn't much to see for me. I appreciated the Red Bull tent down there b/c they had people and music. I hit the turn around and headed back out...stopping for Special Needs which was around mile 18. I chatted with a few people as we walked out of the Energy Lab, running the uphill when I could.
I made the turn onto the very dark Queen K. There would be random lights from a car or bike that passed by every so often. Other than that and the street lights, it was pretty dark. I just kept plugging along. One thing I noticed was how desolate the marathon course was. Usually at that time in the race, there would be a ton of athletes out there, but with Kona being so full of fast athletes, the marathon course was really empty. I would see very few people going out on the course and would run into a few that were also headed back to town. The miles were ticking away, but the final stretch along the Queen K seemed to drag on forever. I was already smiling though. I made the right turn onto Palani and knew it was time to ditch my glow necklace. I found a little boy in a stroller to give it to. I ran down Palani trying not to cry with this huge smile on my face. I couldn't believe the finish line was so close! Left onto Kuakini, right onto Hualalai and finally right onto Ali'i. During the last few turns, I was aware of athletes in front and behind me so I could have time to enjoy the chute. I was trying to soak it all in smiling the entire time....the spectators and finishers cheering, the huge beautiful banyan tree, the bright lights of the finish line, the high 5s and sound of the crowds. The chute is spectacular. Lined with carpet and a variety of flags along the chute walls. And the crowds. I was smacking every hand I could. I didn't know what side of the wall my family would be on and just happened to run down the right side of the chute which is where they were. It was kind of a miracle I found them, but I am so happy I did. It made the finish even more special. I stopped to hug them all before making sure the chute was clear and enjoying my time crossing the line of the Ironman World Championships!
What would you do differently?:

Absolutely nothing.
Post race
Warm down:

The post race area was really confusing and there were so many people in and around the finish line. The volunteer gets you to a certain point, but then you are on your own which was strange since I didn't know where to go. They took my chip, I went to the table to get my morning clothes bag and sign up to have a shirt sent to me since they ran out. I got my medal and a massage. I called Brad and he met me in the massage tent with food. We got some pictures and then he walked me out to meet the rest of our crew who had our bikes and bags.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Lack of heat acclimatization.

Event comments:

After so many years of chasing Kona, it seemed to blow by in the blink of an eye. It was definitely a special and an iconic race, but I think for me the thing that made it so much more meaningful was having Brad's family and our friends there. They made my day and vacation. I am really proud of the mental state I was able to keep during the race. I wanted to enjoy it and I am happy I was able to race happy the entire day and just enjoy my experience. This was a challenging race and yes it's hot and humid and windy, but it wasn't the hardest race I have done. I am certainly happy I was able to experience it and cross that finish line. For me, I am ok with literally being one and done in Kona, but would definitely go back as a spectator.

Last updated: 2015-08-04 12:00 AM
01:08:34 | 4224 yards | 01m 37s / 100yards
Age Group: 43/
Overall: 1283/
Performance: Good
Suit: swimskin
Course: 1 clockwise loop
Start type: Deep Water Plus: Waves
Water temp: 80F / 27C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Good
Waves: Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 06:24
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
07:23:06 | 112 miles | 15.17 mile/hr
Age Group: 84/
Overall: 2065/
Performance: Good
Wind: Strong
Course: Short OAB in town on Kuakini before a long OAB on the Queen K to Hawi
Road: Smooth  Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 08:13
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
05:32:35 | 26.2 miles | 12m 41s  min/mile
Age Group: 84/
Overall: 1996/
Performance: Good
Course: OAB along Ali'i and then OAB along the Queen K, into the Energy Lab finishing on Ali'i Drive along the sea wall.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5]

2016-12-07 3:14 AM

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Subject: Ironman World Championship

2016-12-07 10:54 AM
in reply to: #5207013

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Subject: RE: Ironman World Championship
Congratulations on racing Kona. I am sure it is the goal of many AG's, but such a challenging feat to accomplish. Thank you for posting the RR on this site. Regardless of your time, it is inspiring to come to a "beginner" site, and read such a detailed report from someone who has reached the pinnacle of IM racing. It provides people like myself hope that regardless of how you get there, you can still get there. I still have 9 more IMs to qualify for a legacy opportunity, but hopefully, some day, I will make it there as you had.

Congrats again and thank you.

2016-12-07 11:23 AM
in reply to: #5207013

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Subject: RE: Ironman World Championship
Sincerest congratulations on your finish and thank you for a wonderful RR! I only have 2 IMs in the bag, so I have a long way to go. But it is certainly a dream that I am pursuing. You are an inspiration!
2016-12-09 5:30 AM
in reply to: kalish

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Subject: RE: Ironman World Championship
Congrats. I just want to say I loved your race report and your attitude was spectacular. Thanks for posting and great race!
2016-12-09 6:24 AM
in reply to: #5207013

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Eugene, Oregon
Bronze member
Subject: RE: Ironman World Championship
Awesome race and awesome report! I felt like I was there doing the race when I read it. (In my dreams, haha! I have never even done a full IM, or even ridden 112 miles.) Funny about the water stations--you'd think they would have gotten that figured out by now, having had the race in the same location for so many years..... There were"issues" to 70.3 Worlds in Australia and I kept thinking, "Now this wouldn't have happened if this was Kona," but maybe they still haven't worked it all out there either!

Think I would have blown a gasket at that point. How can you have NO WATER at a World Championships aid station?! Glad it did not ruin your race, and hope others were okay.
2016-12-09 10:07 AM
in reply to: KWDreamun

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Bronze member
Subject: RE: Ironman World Championship

Originally posted by KWDreamun Congrats. I just want to say I loved your race report and your attitude was spectacular. Thanks for posting and great race!

x2 - really great attitude and way to really soak it in! Congrats - on all that hard work, all those races leading up to the day!!! 

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