Saturday, October 20, 2012

Hawaii 2012

I'm sitting on the plane headed back to California and have for the last few days tried to suck up as much Hawaii as possible:

Friends, family, Lava Java, swimming with honu and lava flows.

I think that I fall more in love with this place each year. If you've been to Kona, you will know that there is just an indescribable pull to return each October. The pull finds me in my dreams and makes me work hard when all I want to do is sit on the couch and eat Bon bons.

Super Chef John Making Muscle Milk Pancakes, mmmmm

We arrived, and by we, I mean an entire entourage of family on the Wednesday of race week. My mom and step dad have been all three years with me so are now familiar with the drill and they were joined this year by my Aunt and Cousin and super supporter Marks parents, who win the "coming from furthest away" award, having traveled all the way from London to see our super bowl. While my Mom and Gary showed these Kona babies the ropes, I spent some time prepping for the big day and visiting with my support team of Argon18, Cytomax and TYR.

Team rules the UP run 2012

I was lucky enough to stay with non racers in a house behind the King Kam until Sunday and spent the pre race days finding friends at the underpants run and then sorting myself out for race day!

SisterFromAnotherMother Kebby

Big thanks to Kebby and Reg for tending to me like family and always being there during race day.

People kept asking me if I was EXCITED about the race, but until we touched down in Kona, I was feeling quite calm and ambivalent about it. How does that happen? I think a long season of racing is to blame for that laissez faire attitude. But come Saturday morning, I was FULL of emotion, including some tears before the start. Wonder where those came from? I think the more and more of these races you do, the more you know how much it will take out of you on that day and how much you will have to give of yourself to be successful. And you also know how MUCH you and your family have given to get you there...missed family time, early bed time...thank goodness Mark is also an athlete and not much of this is an inconvenience for him.

So by now, it's time to get into the water and tread water with 1800 of my closest friends for the next 20 minutes before the cannon (what cannon?) goes off.

Pre race food: giant bowl of cereal, banana, nut butter, Cytomax. Total calories: 850
Pre swim calories: 100 calorie gel

Thanks Angela from the Athlete's Lounge for photo!
Swim 1:04:51 (hit the final turn buoy at 34:xx) :30 faster than LY
Luckily for me, as soon as I found my spot in the water, I also found Grant and Michelle from Colorado. I know that Michelle is a stud swimmer and I wouldn't keep up with her, but seeing a smiling face in that crowd is always comforting. All of the sudden, instead of the cannon going off, we all just started to go...someone yelled GO and the entire filed went. Apparently the announcer yelled go and THEN fired the cannon. Doh! For the first 500ish yards, it was madness similar to last year. I was being pummeled and just trying to keep my head above water and keep moving forward. Grant was right next to me and I kept breathing and seeing him still to my side. I thought, OK this is good, Grant was overall amateur winner at Canada and is a good swimmer as well. We found some clear water and a cruisey pace. I focused on staying in the draft rather than only own as who doesn't want to save energy? I hit the final turn buoy at 34:xx and was thinking, "wow, last year I hit this turn at 31:xx.this swim is gonna be slow!". There was for sure a swell the night before that left residual chop but I thought, time to put a hustle in that bustle Hailey Manning! I found a guy with a ginormous tattoo on his calf and followed him all the way home. We had clean water until about 200 meters from the finish when we were all coming together and trying to get out of the water.

Excellent, 1:04:51 on a slow swim day left me 12th in the AG out of the water and ready to RIDE my bike!

T1 calories: 100 cal gel on the run out

Thanks Robyn for the AWESOME pic!
Bike: 5:32:38 5th best bike split in the AG (LY was 5:21:48)
I have been spending a lot of my rides with a fast crew out of San Jose, who push me to my limits most of the time. I was hoping that this would pay dividends on race day and really I think it did. It's harder to say well, I went slower this year so I must have had a "worse" ride. Not true. And I avoided the "what time are you shooting for" dilemma before the race by saying, this is Hawaii, the conditions are not constant year over year and last year I went 10:06 in calm conditions. This year showed us true Kona conditions and produced slower times.  (For reference, most pro women biked 12-18 minutes slower and Rinny ran 13 minutes slower) The cross winds started on the Queen K and at times I was cursing my aero helmet, I felt as if the wind was going to pick me up via my helmet and toss me across the road. Thankfully, I only blew from the shoulder to the yellow line once this year. I knew that it was going to be awesome on the way out and that on the way back I would find my low spots from Kawaihae through mile 90. I focused on riding with my legs and not my back and had no lower back pain which was absolutely delightful. And the low spots from previous years didn't really come. I was focused on getting my Energy Drops in every 15 minutes and I think having a bit of a calorie surplus going into Hawi was the difference this year. I kept as cool as possible with a bottle from each aid station going over my head and refreshing my speedfil with cool water. I took my first bottle of coke around mile 90 and focused on getting home.

Bike calories: 6packs Cyto Energy Drops, 2scoops Cytomax, 2x150 cal gels, 1 large bottle coke...1,760/320 an hour.

I found a lot of age group women on the way out and then wasn't passed much by any other females for the rest of the ride. I was mindful coming down from Hawi and tried to note the other gals that I saw. What I did see a ton of was Drafty McDrafterson. I had a guy glued to my wheel for the better portion of the ride and noted he already had one penalty. I told him to get lost with my eyes first, and then told him verbally to get off of my wheel. And then proceeded to call him Drafty McDrafterson to his face when he would ride back up on my wheel. And for voicing my frustration instead of just riding my race I was gifted with my own 4 minute penalty to serve at T2 for not passing said McDrafterson within 20 seconds. I thought about the penalty and what those four minutes would mean at the end of the day(ultimately one AG place), but didn't let it get me down. Shit happens and it's still a long way to go. I was friendly with the volunteers in the penalty tent and while I was standing there for what seemed an eternity, watching girls come in, Drafty McD rolls in for his second penalty. What a goober!!

3,2,1, GO!!! I had seen Sonja just enter T2 as I was being released from prison and my back was like, whoa Nelly, stopping is no bueno!! Get this truck a moving!
T2 calories: 100 cal gel on way out of transition
Run: 3:38:01 vs LY of 3:33:41

This was five minutes slower than LY but again, most pros ran 8-12 minutes slower. So I take some satisfaction in only 4 minutes slower for me. That's OK right? I knew at some point, my consecutive Ironman PR streak would have to end. I have done 6 Ironmans and up until last Saturday had set a PR each time I toed the line. This too, must end. I passed Sonja on the way out of transition and told her it was time for us to get to work. The first 5 miles along Ali'i went really well, in fact I kept having to tell myself to slow it down a bit. My goal was really to break 3:30 here for the first time in my marathon history. But after the first five HOT miles, I suddenly Felt the slowing occurring. I don't know that I've ever felt the slow happen, again since I've been blessed to just have the times keep coming down so this was a new sensation to me, and one I wasn't too happy about! But, every time I saw Mark, I just kept focused on getting enough calories in and ice and water down my shorts. That's right, down your shorts. You will never know such wonderful coolness :) it was beyond wonderful to see my entire family and brood of friends from the beginning of the marathon straight through to the end. Smiling faces and loud cow bells can get you through a lot! Going into the energy lab, I set a goal for myself to find one girl to pass. It was here that the wheels really did fall off a bit. Instead of finding one girl, 3 found me. After I got out of the lab, Mark and Kebby were waiting for me and telling me that I may still be in position for a wooden bowl, or 5th place in the AG. I picked up the pace and told myself that it was time to get home. I knew that I wasn't going to be setting any records that day, but that in the last 6 miles, I would try to pass as many people as possible. That included 3 women within the last mile. I was praying some of them were in the AG but it wasn't to be.
Heading past Palani Mark told me to soak it all in and enjoy Ali'i drive. I had been thinking about running under that big Banyan tree and feeling the energy of the crowd. I saw my mom and cousin Julie cheering for me charged across the mat. Thankfully Reg had all access and was there to greet/catch me as soon as I had finished.

Run nutrition: 4 gels and a whole lotta coke! Let's say 15 cups of coke at 40 cal/cup? 1000 ish so just around 285/hour. After about the first 10 miles, my tummy said hell to the NO to any more gels, so I started drinking coke instead...mmmmmm cold coke!

Kona 2012: 7th W30-34, 10:25:01
Another ironman down, and another race down with no peeing. I swear I hydrate, and just to check, I had the med tent weigh me and I had gained 3 lbs over the day. Can you say camel?

I came into this race wanting to do better placement wise than last year. Last year, I was 8th in the AG and 15th amateur female. This year I was 7th in the AG and 30th amateur...but I'm not disappointed. I truly feel as though I had a strong race. There was no magic like there was last year, and there was a lot of negotiating with myself throughout the day..."yes you want to walk but there is nothing wrong with you so you can't walk until the next aid station". But it was a solid, strong race. I'll be looking for that 5th gear over the winter.

Many, many Mahalo's to my friends, family and super supporters. Without this group of people, I wouldn't be where I am as a person or as an athlete.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I love this island

Kona is T-minus 2 days away as I sit here on the dark lania listening to the ocean crash against the shore. I love this place, in fact there may have been tears on touchdown yesterday. Seeing the lava fields, the small wispy plants that somehow survive in this environment, it's definitely a passionate place.

I have an entire brood of support here this year, Marks parents have flown all the way from England, my mom and her hubby are here from Ohio, and even my Aunt and awesome cousin and her son have made the trip from Seattle. Saturday night party anyone?

We landed yesterday almost 40 minutes early which was a gift! We got to our house that we are sharing with awesome friends, none of whom are racing...see the support theme here?!! And then built bikes, found food...pulled pork, mmmmmmmm tasty, but maybe not the best decision in terms of my Kona abs making any appearance at the famous and most important event that takes place this morning, the Underpants run!

The rest of yesterday was spent having fun with friends at a party and then a luau dinner with TYR with amazing women like Julie Dibens and Chrissie Wellington. Good food AND cool peeps!

So more fun, registering, getting bags ready and two more sleeps and then it's gonna be ON! Being on the island this year for a third time feels really different and special. The first year, I had zero expectation, I had qualified at my first go at Ironman in Utah and just had a blast experiencing what is Kona race week. Last year I was excited to see the friends that I have continued to build and to see how I could improve on the course. This year it feels special. I don't know how else to say it. My sister gave me the best advice though. As a college swimmer of just one year, she watched her besties go through four years of collegiate swimming on the best D3 team in the nation and how they put SO much pressure on themselves. She told me to not do that, and to remember my first year here, how I was just so excited. I need to just be excited and do MY best.

So I plan to do just that on Saturday, my best, with a smile. We will see what that will bring.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go get ready for the underpants run!

Pics to come:)

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