Coeur's Kona Race Report Part I
Posted: Oct 24 2013
2013 Race Re-cap Ironman Kona #23!!
I have to say that Kona 2013 showed me that I truly love my life's journey through this sport of triathlons and I was truly blessed to be on the starting line in Kona for #23!
While my day did not play out as I had anticipated, I was so very happy to hang tough and finish 6th in my age group. It was a day with almost ideal conditions making for what was a fast race!
I was super excited about my swim time. At the turnaround boat I looked at my watch and knew it was fast, 29 min…only to swim back in 38 min and change. Yikes, that was a strong current!!
The bike is always what I love, but this year after a bike crash 12 week earlier while riding in France, I never felt one with my bike. Crashing takes its toll probably more mentally than physically.
I generally love this course and this year it was fast for 85 miles. I have never ridden to Hawi in my big chain ring going 17+ mph for last 5 miles.. Usually I am lucky to go 12 mph for those 5 miles! The descent out of Hawi was spectacular mainly as we did not encounter crosswinds! I was smiling all the way down. Then once back on the Queen K we meet up with those great headwinds for the last 30+ miles of the bike! I was pretty excited to dismount my bike!
The marathon is the best along Alii Drive. There is a lot of cheering, friends, and a bit of cloud cover making it ideal for the first part of the run! I felt good until mile 19, coming out of the Energy Lab and then knew I had to dig deep to hang on to the day. I stuck with it finishing in 11:17:50. This was not my best ironman or my worst, but probably the most special!
I realize placing/time does not matter at the end of the day as each of us has the same passion for the sport and we all have our own special story to tell. For me it is what makes the Ironman World Championships so very special and I look forward to taking on #24 one day in the future!!
Ironman world champs 2013
Race day always begins with an element of excitement and anticipation, but when it is for a race that will be executed on the world stage, the level of excitement is something that fills you to your core.
The morning of the race both Mim and I were wide awake and ready for action by the time our alarm went off at 4:30am on the 12th October 2013. As experienced athletes we have our pre-race routine organised to a T, and before I knew it we were walking down Alii drive in an eery stillness and darkness that can only be described as the calm before the storm. We were surrounded by finely tuned athletes who were, just like us, about to embark on a race that would be the culmination of the hundreds of hours of training. The countless early mornings and endless sacrifices were about to be worth it, and it was written all over our faces.
After putting the final touches on our bikes Mim and I returned to the mass crowd to receive some final words of encouragement from our epic support crew. As we made our way to the swim start I heard the first canon fire to signal the start of the men's pro race, which gave me goosebumps. Mim and I embraced in a final hug before we entered the water and made our way to a "clearing" in the water. At this stage we still had 20minutes until our canon fired, which was a daunting prospect considering we were struggling to maintain enough space around us to tred water. Needless to say I believe this was the slowest 20minutes of my life! But when the water rescue boards finally turned and straightened up we knew it was show time!! As the canon fired there was an explosion of energy from almost 2000 athletes vying to get a fast start and set themselves up in a good position to complete the 3.8km swim. Within the first second I had lost Mim, which I anticipated, but I somehow managed to get myself into a good position early on and followed the lead of some quick feet. The entire swim came and went before I knew what was happening. The clear waters of the bay were a brilliant distraction to the brutality that surrounded me. On the way back to the pier I received a strong elbow to the eye and all I could think was "that's going to bruise!"
Hitting the steps into transition one was awesome. The volunteers were amazing and I received some special treatment in the tent as one of the only two athletes in there. I was told I completed the swim with a one hour split, which was spot on my prediction. When I ran to my bike a smile came across my face as I acknowledged all the other bikes that were still there. It was time to ride!
The trip out to Hawi was fun! We were lucky enough to have a big helping hand by a serous tail wind and before I knew it I was turning at the top of the climb and making my way back to Kailua. Mim road past me in the final stages of the climb and we exchanged some words of encouragement. At this point in the race it is all about making sure your nutrition is in check and that you are loaded up for the run. Unfortunately I was unable to execute my nutrition plan as I had hoped due to some errors on my part. This is what racing is about. Acknowledging what you did well and leaning from your mistakes. Consider this mistake noted. That last 40km on the bike were tough. The head-wind was picking up by the minute and mentally I was ready to see my supporters and get on with the run. Coming into town was exciting, but I was already preparing myself for T2 and what was to come on the run.
T2 came and went without a fuss, although I was approached by a member of the medical team asking me if I was alright. I was a little confused by the question. What did she mean by "alright?" Did she mean was I fatigued and exhausted? Then my answer was "yes!", but this is to be expected and something that I have trained my body to endure. I was also concerned as to why she was asking me this question. How bad did I look?! All the same I didn't dwell on it too much and I proceeded to tell her I was fine.
The first few kilometres of the run are what we as ironman athletes live for. The crowd picked you up and carried you with their energy. It wasn't until I hit the quiet parts out of town that I was able to complete an honest body check. After suffering several injuries in the lead up to the race, today was the first time I was going to run further than 10km in over eight weeks. To say I was nervous about how the run was going to go would be a massive understatement. I could already feel the ache of my injury creeping in and I hadn't hit the 8km mark yet. I saw Mim running back into town and she was flying - looking so strong. She told me to keep pushing, and that's what I did. Unfortunately I didn't seem to get any "free miles", meaning my body paid for every single one of them. Mentally I was prepared to hurt and I used every single coping mechanism I had to keep pushing. It was great to get some encouragement from my support crew at the top of Palani hill before heading out into the solitude you are faced with when out in the lava fields. The energy lab couldn't come quick enough, but I was excited to see Mim one last time with a "see you at the finish line!"
I'm pretty sure it was the volunteers that pushed me all the way back into town. Their energy was contagious. When I finally turned to head down Palani hill you couldn't wipe the smile off my face. Looking at my time I knew I was going to cross the finish line in a little over 10hours. Although I know this wasn't my 'plan A' race, given the circumstances I was pretty ecstatic. I enjoyed every minute of those final few kilometres, especially when I was able to share the moment with so many special people in my life. Crossing the finish line was everything I hoped it would be. I had dreamed about it for over five years, and living it was just that, a dream come true. The clock read 10:07:00 - 7th in the 25-29 age-group.
Physically, mentally and emotionally I was exhausted. Kona had taken it all out of me, and I would have been disappointed to have it any other way.
After a most enjoyable week leading up to the race and a great nights sleep, I woke up feeling great on race day. Relaxed, calm, excited and a little nervous - all good signs.
My swim was as expected. I had planned to do the swim in 62 minutes - enough time to complete it comfortably, without too much stress. The swim was far more brutal than I remember, and at no stage did I find clear water, space or a rhythm. I was preparing to see the clock at 1:10 as I was nearing the pier. Fortunately, it read 63 minutes. A pleasant surprise, but back in 13th place in my age group.
I had a great time out on the bike. With favourable conditions I settled into a relaxed rhythm and focused on my nutrition. I had prepared myself for tough conditions, and had planned to do a 5:40 bike. Fortunately the weather was amazing, and I came off the bike in 7th position feeling on top of the world. I did 5:13 and was toying with the idea of going sub 10 hours for the first time - I was excited!
The run is my strength, and having stuck to my nutrition plan, I felt I had a sub 3:30 marathon in me. I chipped away at the field to come home in 2nd place in my age group in 9:48 - a 12 minute PB and a ranking of #33 female IM athlete in the world! It really was my day out there and could not be happier with my results.