What an amazing experience from body marking through to finishing it’s a buzz !
I’ve never been in a swim start like it. There were so many people in the water there was hardly room to tread water. I managed to maintain a position about 5 rows back but had to swim for about the first minute water polo style. I am learning to enjoy swimming in a pack and boy what a pack this was. For the whole way to the turnaround I was swimming amongst dozens of swimmers. After the turnaround our recce’ing of the course came up trumps as I sighted off the finish rather than each buoy (boo-ee as the americans say!) – this meant I took a straight line and had lots of clear water.
I exited the swim in 63 minutes – slower than I’d hoped but I felt I’d swam well so could not complain. Just over 3 minutes later I was out on the bike. The support was awesome and put the biggest grin on my face. At this point any thoughts of going conservatively on the bike went out the window and I decided to see what I could do. Once out onto the Queen K highway and the Lava fields I was happily cruising at 23+mph and my average was creeping well over 22mph. Thoughts of a 5 hour bike started appearing quickly followed by the dream scenario of getting under 10 hours.
I must admit the Lava fields never got boring. When the course turned up towards Hawi (the turnaround point) it climbs and it was into a headwind. I could see other cyclists coming the other way and I pushed like mad as I’d been told the wind changes direction and I didn’t want to miss out on the downhill with a tail wind. I made the turnaround in time and hammered it at 30+ mph – fantastic fun.
As i approached Kona again the wind was back in my face and the last 10 miles were brutal, I certainly started to struggle and wondered about what state I’d be in for the run.
Running off the bike felt terrible though I’d learnt from Sherborne to not jump off at too high a speed. Luckily by the time I got to the change tent I was running more freely. Another 3 minutes in T2 (apparently this was 42nd fastest T2 !!).
Out on the run I hit the first mile in 6.54… I decided to ease off which I felt I did but hit the second mile in 6.55 !! Thought I may as well go with this, you never know I may be able to maintain it. I got through 10 miles in 70 minutes and was feeling great. Sub 10 hours was there for the taking.
Out onto the Queen K highway I was focusing on getting to 16 miles as that would give me easy mental arithmetic to work out the minute miles I’d need to do the remainder in to get in under 10. Hit the first downhill stretch approaching halfway and my left leg started to cramp on the inside of the thigh. I managed to run through it and it eased off once I was on the flat or uphill. Also my forearms were cramping – probably due to the amount of time down on the tri bars on the bike. It was now a battle to prevent cramp grinding me to a halt. My strategy was to walk through every second feed station and get a gel and water into me. It seemed to work, the cramp started on the downhills but eased off after. As the race progressed it felt like hamstrings and calves were on the point of going, I was thinking I couldn’t have taken on anymore fluids on the bike and now there was a chance that cramp would scupper what was becoming a race. I played mental games working out what minute miles to finish in under 10. I got to 9 minute miles and felt great, then hit 10, 11 and finally 12 with a few miles to go. Then 15 and finally 20 with 1.2 to go – at last it was walk / crawlable. Coming along Alii drive is the most amazing thing – the support awesome. I crossed the line in 9.50.55 managing the marathon in 3.23 finishing 289th overall and 52nd in my age group. I can tell you I was over the moon, on a complete high and virtually in tears as the two ‘catchers’ took me through for my medal and pizza!!
PS for anyone thats interested in this sort of thing – I got weighed before and after the race. Despite taking on as much fluid as I could manage (there were periods on the bike when I felt bloated) I lost about 6.5lbs during the race – thats near enough 3kg (ie 3 litres)