So….as I was saying…
Into T2, and I’m glad for the change. Again, calm urgency rules the day, though at this point I have no idea where I stand on total time or if my goal is even still reachable. I may even be in danger of testing the time cut-off again, like last year. But I think if I can still execute my run plan it should be fine. I see Carrie there at the run transition, such a welcome sight. I get changed to running gear in just 3:50 – almost exactly half the time of the year before.
Heading off on the run I’m grateful just to be there. Gone are thoughts of a sub-7 hour finish. Now I just want the finish (and maybe a little more).
My heart rate is too high to go right into running, so I walk a bit and jog a bit trying to get myself collected for the rest of the run ahead. I quickly catch up with Lydia and Michelle, two friends who are also walking and running. First time at the Ironman 70.3 for each of them and they’re doing great. I run and walk along with them for a time, then I feel like I’m ready to run my race and I set off ahead.
A short distance further on I find myself running alongside a guy I know only as “#18” initially. We settle into a nice pace together and start up a good conversation. His name is Wayne and he’s got 16 Ironman finishes on his race resume. Today, though, he’d love to get a sub-8 hour finish. We do the math and figure out that if we can hold a particular pace the rest of the way, we’ll get that sub-8. So we press on, running mostly, walking occasionally. Essentially the plan I had set out for the race to begin with. I just hadn’t counted on having company; but I was grateful for it. Wayne was great to run with and a welcome distraction from the discomfort and the heat.
Along the way we saw a lot of friends. Fiona, Liz, Akshay, Lori, Marsha, Michelle, Stuart, Lydia and others. All looking good and moving towards that finish line. We’d yell out encouragement to each other as we passed. Even new friends like #1423 and #785. Never knew their real names, but we shared a lot of smiles and waves and words of encouragement nonetheless. The aid station volunteers were terrific and we tried to thank them all as we went.
Heading down into “Hell’s Kitchen” just before Mile 9 we knew we were in good stead. If we could just stay strong through that barren 2-1/2 mile stretch of lava rock we’d be in a great position to get our sub-8. All the way down and all the way back out, we kept pushing and felt pretty good. The heat is a particular problem for Wayne so at every aid station he was dousing himself with ice to stay cool. I was taking cola and water, and dumping half the water over my head. The iced sponges were especially welcome too.
Coming out of Hell’s Kitchen we were just past mile 11 and we had a renewed confidence. It was all golf course from here and we were ahead of pace.
Last Mile Best Mile
Entering the final mile we dispensed with the pacing and the heart rate and just decided to give it what we had left. I was a little stronger at that point so I forged ahead, I could hear the finish line announcer and coming around the corner started to hear the cheers!
There it was! The finish line. I saw a number of my friends who had already finished and, of course, my beautiful Carrie was there jumping and cheering (and taking pictures). I crossed the line, feeling great. 7:48:38. I got the sub-8 finish I wanted. And I don’t feel the least bit badly about the 7:25 finish my Garmin thinks I should have had – mechanical issues are part of the sport, I’m proud that I was able to overcome it and now I know what I’m capable of for the next one.
Oh…a minute later my new buddy Wayne came running through the line. He got his sub-8 finish too.
At the finish area was food, music and friends. I can’t recall the last time a cheeseburger tasted so good.
The Wrap Party
- Lydia, Michelle, Marsha and Stuart all got their first Ironman 70.3 finishes.
- Laura K. (http://www.twitter.com/frayed_laces) not only got another Ironman 70.3 finish. She blazed her way to a qualifying slot for the Kona 140.6 World Championships in October! The big dance. A dream for any triathlete. Way to go Laura!
- Liz Kelly, after a couple of years of disappointments, this was finally her year. She did it all the way and got a great finish. VERY proud of her.
- 2-time Ironman Champion Tim DeBoom won the men’s race in a little over 4 hours. Fellow Pro Belinda Granger defended her title and won the women’s race in 4:34. Bree Wee, whom I chatted with before the start, took second just 6 minutes behind.
- One thing a little odd…in past years the race gave a “finisher’s hat” to athletes who completed the course. No such hat this year – a few other folks commented on that as well.
- No shirt for me either – inexplicably they were out of “Large” finisher’s shirts when I got to the table. They offered me an XL or said they’d have to mail it to me. I don’t plan to ever need an XL again so I asked them to mail it. They need to sharpen up that part of their organization I think. They knew ahead of time how many racers they had and how many asked for which size of shirt. Running out means they didn’t do a very good job of ordering the shirts in the right quantities.
- Great to see friends like Candace and Ray out there. They weren’t even racing today, just came out to support us. Thanks guys!
Post-race we collected our bikes, Carrie was an angel and went for the car while Lori and I rested in the shade and then we got a few last snapshots before heading back to the hotel.
Great day, great race, and that night…a lovely dinner for two at the Kawaihae Seafood Grill (I had the steak) while we pondered our next move. (perhaps literally; more on that soon)
- Heavy emphasis on the bike in training. Including the trainer workouts.
- Going almost entirely liquid for my nutrition. Other than the PowerGel I had at 5:30AM I didn’t have any solid food all morning. Just Spiz & Gatorade on the bike, Gatorade and Cola on the run.
- The new AquaSphere goggles. Untinted this time. I think I got a clearer view both underwater and while navigating and that contributed to my comfort.
- Losing a few pounds. I’m not sure what weight I raced 2009 at – probably around 212. This year I said I’d like to be under 207 (my NYC Marathon weight) and I actually weighed in at 206.4 two days before the race. I felt lighter on the course.
- Elastic laces on the shoes. Faster transition – more comfort during the race.
- Wearing the singlet under the swimskin. Putting on a jersey/shirt wastes time in T1.
- Run/Walk. Getting my heart rate down during the walk breaks helped me take in my nutrition and keep me fresher for the later miles.
What Didn’t Work
- I need MORE bike training. 3:32 (minus the mechanical) is o.k., but still not a great bike time. Next time I’d like to challenge 3 hours. More long hills. More core work and more gym strength work during Build phase.
- I’d like to get there Thursday night next time. Just less rushing around on Friday generally.
- Sad to say I’m not sure my SRAM groupset helped that much on the bike. Especially considering half of it got destroyed at mile 46. Maybe next time will be better. Maybe I should have had the bike professionally tuned up (like pre-2009) before this race.
- Could still stand to lose a few more pounds. It was good at 206. I think it would be better at 201.
- Self-seeded TOO far back in the swim. I don’t want to be at the start buoys with the elites, but I should have had a little more confidence I guess, and started a bit further forward.
- A little more sunscreen probably would have been a good idea.
Thank you thank you thank you to my friends, family and supporters near and far who lent words of wisdom, encouragement and cheer. Most of all, of course, my wonderful partner Carrie. You’re amaZing.