The long awaited IRONMAN Kona blog post…Sorry for the delay. Business school midterms and projects, along with work took priority immediately after Kona, leaving me virtually no time to write up my experiences in Hawaii. I promise that will be my only excuse in this recap of IRONMAN Kona.
Our journey to Kona began on October 6th. JFK>PHX>KOA. The 13 hour travel time didn’t even phase me, knowing that the Big Island would be filled with the best triathletes from all over the world.
Race week was super busy!
Not soon after landing, I found myself going to the CEEPO Launch party. Going to Kona with a bike sponsor was an honor, and I am proud to ride CEEPO Venom, developed by Tanaka Nobuyuki. Tim Russell, of Thoroughbred Triathlon Coach, joined in on the action.
The rest of the week, included: (excluding all other touristy events)
Some more pics!
The week flew by. Splitting time between Family and pre race activities left me no time to rest, which would have been a priority if Kona was going to my IRONMAN race. This week was focused on the experiences, the sights, the atmosphere – just everything that makes IRONMAN and Kona ever so magical leading up to the big day. Like pineapples…I did not miss any opportunity to consume an immense amount of pineapples. No matter where I ate them, they were succulent and super tasty. And while I’m on the topic of food – I’ve learned to appreciate the deliciousness of adding Macadamian nuts to my food, especially on top of my pancakes! Island Lava Java on Alii Drive served the best pancakes with chopped up macadamian nuts on top.
Friday before the race was the mandatory bike and gear bag check in. I checked in around 2:30pm. The IRONMAN Kona bike check in process is like no other IRONMAN check in. Why? Because you get to have a volunteer escort you through the entire process, from bike check in, to run bag check in and then to bike bag check in. It was really cool to have a volunteer walk me through the Kona Pier and show me the direction of where I would be running during T1 and T2 on race day.
My CEEPO Venom was parked early.
Alright, let’s get onto RACE DAY!
Pre-Race – woke up at 4am, checked in to transition by 5am, body marked (temporary tattoos). I ditched my parents to get body marked and weighed in. My race morning weight was unusually high at 142lbs; it must have been all the pineapples and macadamian nuts 😉
I met up with my parents in from the King Kam hotel. They watched me body glide myself and put on the swim skin (no wetsuits for Kona!) By 6:30am, the Pro’s have already started and it was time for all the Age Groupers to enter the water. I got into the water 15 minutes before the start and found myself treading water for a while. That must have sucked a good amount of energy from me, which I will get into later.
Swim – 1:22:30 – for me, that was a bit faster than what I expected. Not having done an IRONMAN distance swim (2.4 miles) without a wetsuit, I was expecting a 1:25 swim split, which would be about 10 minutes slower than my Lake Placid split. The coolest part of the swim was that the water was always clear, so drafting was relatively easier than say…a lake swim. Conditions were choppy but nothing crazy enough to break my stroke.
T1 was super fast. A little too fast – I forgot to apply sunscreen. Bad decision. Always reapply sunscreen in transition.
Bike – 5:42:27 – This is where things got ugly. And after giving it some thought, I finally realized why I felt so sluggish on the bike; I had not eaten a big enough breakfast! So I ended up riding the first 40-50 miles feeling like I had bonked. And trust me when I say this, it feels like a death march. What was supposed to be a 5:10-5:15 bike split turned into a dismal 5:42, which put me in a bad position for the start of the marathon. Without really getting into much detail, I wasn’t able to generate my target wattage until I reached the 7-mile climb up to Hawi. After the turn-around, I tried my best to stay tucked in during the descent. Focusing on not getting blown off the bike was also a challenge…but it was also exhilarating! I found a good rhythm coming back into town but the deficit I suffered on the first half of the bike would inevitably catch up with me on the run.
Run – 3:53:23 – Leaving T2 has always felt as if I were shot out of a cannon, but in this case, I felt more sluggish than ever when starting the marathon. I knew that pushing hard on the second half of the bike would hurt, and it did. It hurt a lot. The first 10 miles, out and back on Alii was a constant effort. By the time I reached the climb up Palani Road where I saw Mom and Dad, I had started to lose it. That is where I decided to walk; running or shuffling up Palani wouldn’t have been any quicker. I knew that the longer I stayed out on the course, the more I’d hurt. So after a few walk/run efforts, I mentally topped off and ran the last 13 miles without stopping. My legs ran on cruise control at around 8:45 to 9:00 mile pace. What surprised me the most was that I was able to run in and out of the Natural Energy Lab without stopping. The stretch in the lab is nearly 3 miles long, where no spectators are allowed, only volunteers and racers. The last 10 kilometers hurt, but I knew that if I stopped and walked, it would hurt even more…so I kept on running. At mile 25, I saw my parents one more time coming down Palani Road. Mom was so excited that she ran down Palani next to me!
The moment I turned onto Alii Drive, I knew that I had made it. And in a blink of an eye, I found myself finally crossing the finish line, at 11 hours 4 minutes and 13 seconds.
Finishing IRONMAN Kona. Another stepping stone fulfilled.
THANK YOU TO MY FAMILY, FRIENDS AND SPONSORS!
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