Sunday, May 31, 2009
Ironman 70.3 Race Report and Race Day Photo Gallery Part III
(unedited) What a day it was. 4:30 beep, beep, beep. Pushed the snooze button. 4:45. Food, shower, final checklist. As the sun came up, things had apparently changed overnight. Vog, gone. Clear sky and trade winds, back. Headed to the transition area with Chris Lieto and his wife. Spectacular morning, perfectly clear water. Cannon, boom. Mass start. Fish darting below in panic mode, people darting above - also in panic mode. (see photos in gallery below). Swam faster than I thought I ever could after riding Craig Alexander's heels for a bit before I lost the lead pack (came out of the water 21st) - loved my new skin suit. Swam most of the way with my friend Greg Penner, and started in the water with Graham Cooper, Randy Work, and Nicole Gorman. "We're all in this together," I thought.
Good transition - long run up to the bikes - Belinda Granger passed me on the transition hill - she was sprinting up the hill, focused. Jumped on my bike, felt strong and was so happy to be back on the Queen K in a race. Lost my nutrition when the mount holding my water bottles filled with Ensure and spare tires broke off on the way to Hawi. Kept a positive mental attitude about the loss of nutrition and my spares - told myself, "My bike and I are that much lighter!" rather than getting upset. Prayed that I would not get a flat. So many things can go wrong in a triathlon, but you're going to dance on a fine mental line between being upset and in pain and being motivated and enjoying a day you've been waiting for. I choose the latter. Whatever mental attitude you choose when you race it will amplify in your soul. It's up to you. Pick doubt and fear, or challenge and motivation.
I was so very glad when the Hawi turnaround was not quite all the way in to Hawi town. Ahhhhh, tail wind. Just before the turn around, the winds picked up again. Wind really picked up about the time the pros turned around near Hawi - so people in the middle and back of the pack had a much more difficult race - just like the Ironman - every minute faster on the swim, e.g. getting to Hawi a minute faster, can translate into 2-3 min faster finish time, because you have another minute less of headwind and another minute more of tailwind.
Got back to the Orchid, surprised to see an almost empty transition. Started the run, and knew immediately it was going to be hot. It was hot. An oven actually. Ice in the running hat at every aid station was melting by the time I hit the next aid station. Ice in my shirt, pants and mouth. Anything to try to cool down. As I started to melt anyway, my paced slowed down significantly, but I kept telling myself, just keep going, just hang on. "I've just got another 1:45 to 2:30 hours to go and I'll be on the massage table next to the ocean with a new medal." Had some issues on the run - but don't we all. Wet running shoes made a Squish, squish, squish, as I squished my way through a several hour tour of a golf course, and as much as it hurt, and was hot, I still think it would have been more "painful" to actually to sit and stand in the sun and actually golf the course - but that's just me. Saw my friends Caue and Rip on the running course - it's amazing how supportive people in a race are of each other. When people walk, or stop, you can hear the other racers say "Come on man, let's go together!"
I think that in every half Ironman distance race and in every Ironman race, at some point on the run (usually around the 50% mark of the run) I have said to myself, "Why are you doing this? It just hurts." and then I consider retiring from the sport. Then as I get closer to the finish line, I know there is no way I'm going to retire from this sport because I remember how much easier my life's challenges have become after each triathlon. It truly is a self imposed challenge that makes the external challenges in our life seem easier. At the 12 mile mark on the open golf course, there was a women with a sign that said "Only 1 mile to go!" As we approached, I heard the guy behind me say "Actually, it's 1.1 miles to go." 1.1 miles later, around a path, over a bridge and the crowd was cheering. That's a big crowd for a half Ironman I thought. I crossed the finish line, looked up and said thanks. What a day. Far beyond my dream to compete in this race - on this day, and be able to go that fast - after what I had gone through this past year with 8 months off doubting weather I could ever race again (but that's another, yet untold, story - stay tuned...).
Done. Finished. Sore. Time for photos, smiles and hugs from friends at the finish line. Time to rinse and jump in the hotel pool. 70.3 Hawaii was an amazing, very well run event - worth all the effort and cost to get here and be a part of. I got a spot for Ironman Canada at the awards! I also qualified for Clearwater, but I noticed that the guy at the end of the 5 slot allocation roll down (number 6) seemed to be going with his friend (number 5), you could also see that his wife really wanted him to get the slot and he his sense of anticipation in the slot allocation roll down line up of guys was apparent - but he could not go, because there were 5 people in front of him, including me. You could see in his eyes how much he wanted it, and I knew I could find another triathlon to race somewhere - so I forfeited my slot, and it rolled down to him.
The joy in his face was so very worth that momentary loss. I found out later that his name was Kris Kiser and his wife Kym Kiser had qualified for Kona, so had he, but he gave up his Kona slot because he was yet not ready for the big show. So earlier in the roll-down, his forfeiting his slot had allowed someone new to race in the Ironman. Talk about instant Hawaii Karma - now the exact same thing happened to him, and he got his Clearwater slot! Sometimes in life, we can make small decisions that have a major positive impact on others. My challenge for you on your tri-athletic journey - is to make some of those decisions this month. And if you can, go online and register for the Hawaii 70.3 for next year and I'll see you there!
Click on the play arrow for the race day photo gallery! To see larger images, triple click any photo gallery.