This Ironman was an epic race and by far the hardest triathlon I have ever done. As my first pro race in Kona I am satisfied with my race and results knowing that I left it all out on the course. However, at the same time it was not exactly the race I wanted or the race I know I was/am capable of. Some of the circumstances were beyond my power, however, I focused on the things I could control and am proud that I pushed through to the finish line.
The swim is really the only part of this race where I am actually disappointed. This leg is the biggest difference between racing as a pro and as an age grouper. There are a lot fewer feet to follow in the pro field and they go out hard, VERY HARD! I was happy with my start and initially caught a good group and swam with it for about the first 3rd of the race. Then the group surged and before I realized what had happened I was off the back and couldnt catch up, a rookie mistake. I swam the second 3rd alone, trying to stay positive and expecting to be the dead last pro out of the water. Then a trailing group of pros caught up to me and I swam the last 3rd with them making sure not to lose the feet this time.
Coming out of the water I was very frustrated, but I focused on staying relaxed and wanted to get on the bike as fast as I could. As I was running through transition a volunteer informed me my timing chip had fallen off. I had to get a new, chip which didnt take too long, but I was one more thing to do and more time lost.
I began riding very hard, which was by design, to try to get my legs going. After coming back down the Kuikini highway around mile 8 I began feeling ok. However, as I was climbing Palani Hill I dropped my chain, however, I was riding so hard that I had wrapped my chain around my cranks twice before I could stop pedaling. I had to get off my bike in the middle of the hill and man-handle my drive chain for a what seemed like an eternity to get it free. Stay relaxed and calm, these things happen, its a long race I told myself. I managed to get it free and was off again, however, after that my shifting was not quite right and I ended up dropping my chain several times throughout the bike ride. Later in the race I stopped for tech support for a moment to try to get it straightened out.
My bike mechanical issues, my legs inability to ever wake up and the wicked wind made for a very hard ride. I normally an able to find a comfortable steady rhythm for at least the first half of the bike, however, on race day my legs never woke up and I felt like I had to push the effort the whole day, however, I focused on my PowerTap and held my wattage to make sure I didnt blowup and saved something for the run. Just as an indication of how much harder the bike was this year, my bike leg was 5 minutes slower than last year, yet I held an average power that was 15 watts higher.
I was disappointed getting off the bike and I passed several athletes in T2 who were clearly about to drop out and I really wanted to quit; yet I knew I couldnt. After all this is Hawaii the most famous and epic triathlon in the world, I couldnt give up, thats just not my style.
After a mile or so I began to find a rhythm on the run, I thought at least this was better than the rhythumless bike. I didnt want to push too hard too soon and as a result I may not have run quite as fast as I was capable, but nonetheless, I knew that I needed to save something for the last 10k after the Natural Energy Lab. I focused on a fast light turnover and consuming as much fuel as I could at the aid stations. My FuelBelt is/was perfect to make sure that I was able to get in what I needed due to the congestion at some of the aid stations. After just a few miles I slowly began running my way back through the field. The last 8 miles were mentally tough as I knew I was not going to make it into the top 30 like last year, however, I pushed as much as I could. I was proud of the fact that with a pretty good run of 3:02 I was able to pass about 30 guys, my mental fortitude had paid off.
I crossed the line in a time of 9:10 as the 38th pro. I arrived in Kona, HI fitter and faster than last year where I posted an Ironman PR, yet this was not my day. After dealing with some (more than normal) adversity throughout the race I focused on staying positive and pushed all the way to the finish line. Normally over the course of an Ironman the thought of dropping out crosses my mind 3 or 4 times. However, today at least a dozen times I wanted to quit, at some points it was a serious consideration. A race that was not to my potential leaves me thirsty for redemption; perhaps this is why I am considering racing Ironman Arizona at the end of November By the way, the last time I feel like I underperformed at an Ironman and sought redemption was Ironman Florida in 2005, the next Ironman I raced I finished 5th overall!
Ultimately it was a good race, I learned a lot and very I am proud of myself for staying in the moment, being positive and not giving up, after all the dont call this Ironman because it is easy.
And for those of you that missed it, my post race treat a cinnamon bun the size of my HEAD!