In 2010, I raced Kona for the first time as a professional. Following a less-than-stellar race that year, I made the decision to not return to Hawai'i until I won an Ironman. It took me almost four years to make that happen, but it finally did and I made my way back to Kona last week.
As I mentioned in my previous post, my original plan to close out the season included racing Ironman Lake Tahoe 20 days before Kona. With Tahoe being cancelled, I had to adjust my training and preparations and I felt as though I did my best with the time I had.
Initially, the swim started out pretty well for me. I was tucked in the 2nd group, but just as we neared the turnaround I lost contact. I'm not sure if it was from a lack of focus or another reason, but I was on my own for the second half of the swim.
I came in from the swim and flew through transition trying to make up some of the ground I had lost. I quickly mounted my bike and got out onto the course, but something felt really wrong. I felt completely restricted in my range of motion. Then I looked down and realized I was still wearing my swim skin. I pulled over and tried to get it off as quickly as I could, stuffing it down my kit and riding on. I've done a lot of races, but new mistakes still manage to happen.
This was definitely not the start of the day I was preparing for, but I tried my best to settle into a rhythm on the Queen K. However, something still felt way off. I wasn't sure what, but I kept rolling as some races take a while to settle into. A few riders came by and I couldn't respond as I was just didn't have anything. I kept trying to get myself going, but nothing seemed to help.
By the time I had reached the turnaround in Hawi, I was almost dead last. Pretty discouraging.
I was running through a rolodex of ideas in my head to try to find something positive, but there didn't seem to be a whole lot available. So I started with my seed number. I was number 44 and I was racing somewhere around 50th position, so I convinced myself that if I just keep rolling, I can beat my seed.
By the time I got back onto the Queen K, I had managed to catch a few people so I figured I had probably made that goal. Now I made the goal to get into the top 40 as there are more points for 31-40 than 41+. By the time I got back to transition I had moved into the mid 30s. Now I made it my goal to try and get inside the top 30 by the end of the marathon. "Pace doesn't matter, just don't stop" was what I told myself.
Hawai'i has a huge amount of spectators on the run (except the Queen K) and that made such a difference after only hearing the sound of (strong) wind in my ears for nearly five hours. I kept trucking along and by the time I made my way out onto the Queen K I had moved inside the top 30.
The final half of the marathon was long and challenging and I was very happy to make that final turn onto Ali'i to the finish line. The crowds along the finish were amazing and I took my time to high five as many people as possible. Soaking in their positivity was a great way to end such a long day.
Ten+ weeks ago I fought to win a race. Last weekend I fought just to finish a race.
They both have their own rewards.
Until next year,