Ironman World Championship, Kona 2008

Time: 10:31:50
Swim: 55:29
T1: 2:34
T2: 3:30
Run: 4:00:28

Race Analysis here.

Since I was staying in a hotel right near the race start I went down to body marking more or less as soon as it started. Left the hotel at 4:45am and was back by 5:10am ! Bike was ok. Loaded up food, water, talc in shoes, checked tyres, set gear, place pedals at right angle and reset computer. Relaxed for an hour in my room listening to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service by The Propellerheads since Jo had said this in her good luck mail. Also Personal Jesus by Depeche Mode – love this tune and ever since they used it for the DVD of Ironman Lanzarote it’s proved quite inspirational for me.

Got down to the pier early for the swim as didn’t want  the panic of last year to get on the front line. Saw Douglas and had a brief chat – he was in a great mood saying how he loved this ! Got down onto the beach and found Paul. He had a bottle of water which was good. Great being down there for the singing of the national anthem. The Pro’s start within seconds of it finishing which was immediately followed by all the age groupers piling in almost like it was the start.

Muscled my way onto the front line. Could tell it was going to be rougher than last year by just how hard it was for maintain my position, so many people wanted to be on the front line. At one point some old guy shoulders between Paul and I so Paul says “you gonna swim lows 50s then ?” the guy looked sheepish and said “Good Point” to which Paul said ” If u stay behind us we’ll be out of your way very quickly” …surely people realised that if you’re not aiming for 55 minutes or below on this swim they should not be on the front line … guess not.

Gun goes. It’s always a shock. Lose Paul immediately in the churned up water. Do half a dozen strokes water polo style, get my ankle pulled twice, spot clear water one person over and move into it. Get into a good long stroke and am maintaining my position, not red lining but controlled. Very pleased. Wonder how long this clear water will last till I get smashed between the groups either side. After a few minutes I can see two guys breaking clear (they went on to do the fastest splits of everyone including the Pros! 47:01 and 47:02) and I’m more or less in line with the leaders to the left, push to get my nose ahead to avoid a nightmare when the two groups come together. Every so often I would look back as I breathed… it was pretty motivational – kept feeling we must have gapped the field by now. But no, masses still there to swamp me if I slowed. After about 15 minutes it settles down – loads of people everywhere but all have the space they need,. I settle into a steady pace managing to bilateral breath for chunks of it. Good sign I’m not over doing the pace.

I swim to the left of the front group of age groupers. They swim direct to each buoy and then veer off. I decide to sight along the line of buoys and go from swimming on my own to being in the pack at each buoy. The conditions are tough on the way out with pretty bad chop and a current against . Once we turned it got a lot better. I worked my way into the centre of the pack and the draft was awesome until with about 500m to go we catch a trailing group of pros and all hell is let lose in the pack. People veering, swimming over. Very aggressive, the worst of the race, I’ve got rather large scratch across the top of my left arm to prove it. I ended up swimming over two people to get out left into clear water. It was insane, the whole pack slowed down because everyone started getting in each others way.

Out in 55 minutes something, very pleased, it was bang on target.

As I’d thought getting out in this time made the loops on the bike course through town alot nicer as the field was so much thinner. I was consciously not pushing too hard early on.Took it “easy” up Palani, using the same approach as Wisconsin. I had tonnes of people going by me. Boy there are some strong cyclists.

The first part along the Queen K was super fast but towards the end of it we were hit by some strong cross winds. Then the final section to Hawi was really hard. Very strong winds gusting across and hitting us in the face. It was slow. I was being good about my nutrition and getting loads of fluid and taking on salt tablets. Had an unfortunate moment when I didn’t realised I’d grabbed a salt tablet along with food and bit the capsule in half flooding my mouth with salts ! yuck. Coming back down from Hawi was super fast but the cross winds made it pretty hairy. Had a very close call when a gust hit when I was getting some water so only had one had on the tri bars. Once back on the Queen K we now had a head wind here as well. Made for a tough last 30 miles. I felt I had a solid ride for 5:30 given the conditions.

Unfortunately as I mentally prepared for T2 and  the marathon I knew I was drained as I just couldn’t face it. I didn’t want to run. I already had the inkling this may not be pretty.

Out on the run was planning on going easy till I got on the Queen K, I thought I was and hit the first mile in 7:20. It was at this point I saw Mum and Jane first and I was running well. This continued for a grand total of 2 more miles and then it just felt like someone injected my quads with deadness. Tried to gain a rhythm and had brief periods throughout the course where this happened but they were fleeting.

At the Ali’i turnaround I saw Roger coming towards me – he looked so light on his feet and was flying. At that time he was on for sub 3 hours, he slowed a little for 3:09.

As I approached Palani I was battling mentally. I saw mum and Jane again – they are great supporters and I was more or less in tears when I passed them. They are proud of me whatever but I don’t want them to suffer seeing me in such a bad state.  Then I hit the QUeen K … so hard. Focusing on half way. Think this was a mistake cause when I got to the 14 mile marker something inside flipped and I slowed dramatically – could I face 12 more miles. I’d run all the way but had to walk through that aid station to sort my head out. From there I ran the whole way home. I continued taking my mile splits and it got to the point I was pleased when I saw splits below 10 minutes… thats a serious shuffle.

Bizarrely enough I quite enjoyed it. The toughest mental battle to keep going but unlike Germany this was due to my legs just not working how I’d liked so it was a positive to keep going. Also it was pretty apparent that I was not going to get a good time quite early on so I quickly focussed on limiting the damage.

The final descent of Palani was so hard on the quads, Jane had realised I was suffering and come up there to give unexpected support.  The loop round to Ali’i felt like far longer than the half mile it is. Once on Alii you realise why you do this and why it’s worth it despite the time. These events are about testing your limits and it’s races like this where you find them. My body was screaming for me to stop. My central governor  had to be over ridden by my mind for three and a half hours. If I can use that mental toughness to push my body when it is in shape to run then the good run splits will come.

Jane and Jude had managed to dash round and get on Alii to see me. A sign of how slow I was !! They handed me the Tri London flag, I was unsure about waving it as I crossed the line but decided it was worth the risk as with my finishing time I don’t imagine it’s a finishers photo I’ll be displaying much!

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