Coeur's Kona Race Report Part II
Posted: Oct 29 2013
This was my second time to the Big Island for World Championships, so I was more calm and relaxed then I can remember. When my alarm went off at 4:30, I ate breakfast and headed to the pier. After getting body marked and my bike set and ready to go, I just sat in a quiet spot on the pier waiting for the word to hit the water. Once the women pros went off, I jumped in the water and did a little warm-up. I was told to start right this year because my swimming has been pretty strong and that I could go out fast and get away from the madness. Big Mistake. When the cannon went off, I immediately got hammered by big men everywhere. I never got a complete stroke in until the 3rd buoy and never saw clear water the entire swim. It was the most violent swim ever. I knew I had a busted lip as I tasted blood and got my goggles knocked off my head more than once. I was so happy to exit the swim and get on my bike. Once I ran up the steps, I saw a 1:01 on the clock. This is what I swam last time in Kona, so I wasn’t surprised, but I obviously was hoping to be closer to my PR swim.
Transition went smoothly and I was in and out of the change tent , got my bike and started my favorite part of the day, the bike.
I love to bike. I normally make up so much ground here. Today wasn’t that day. I did my absolute best to stay in the moment and just be thrilled that I was racing with the best in the world on the most epic course in the world. I have battled an injury to my left hamstring for the past 2 years and it was a challenge for me on this particular day to get any power going. I was pushing way below my normal bike average. I felt pretty good in town and on the way out to Hawi. We obviously had a great tailwind at this point, so seeing great speed with lower power was making me feel good. The climb to Hawi was so uneventful this time without the crazy cross and head winds. At the turnaround, I got my special needs bag and was prepared for the madness of the descent, except there wasn’t one! A headwind down Hawi? Ok. I went with it. During this time, I just kept getting passed left and right by athletes. Needless to say, it was frustrating, but I was determined to keep positive. The ride back into town we were hit with relentless headwinds and I really was struggling. I am not sure I have ever wanted to run so much, but was thrilled to get back into town!
Transition again went really smoothly and I was ready to run! The run is traditionally my weak link, but I felt pretty good coming out of transition and headed up Palani. On Ali’i the miles were ticking off and I was hitting a pretty good pace for me. The crowd support here really keeps you motivated and excited. I absolutely love this part of the course. Once we turned and went up Palani, I walked a bit, but once we turned onto the Queen K, I felt good again. I walked all the aid stations to get in fluids. I went through a real low spot, but I was pushing hard to get to the finish line. I knew I wasn’t going to have a PR, but I was going to run my best run in Kona and better my last trip to the Island if I could just keep moving forward. Once I made the turn onto Palani, it was the best feeling. I just loved running down Palani (although my quads were screaming at me) and the support along Kuakini and Ali’i never gets old. It is the most amazing feeling and experience ever. You work so hard to get to that last mile and it just flies by. Crossing the finish in 18th and a 10:47 was way off my goal for the day, but I couldn’t have asked for a better day and way to celebrate turning 40 (which I did at midnight). My family was there to celebrate with me and it was a day I will never, ever forget.
Kona 2013 is in the books, and it was a day that I won't soon ever forget. For those skimming and looking at pics, here's the short recap. Arrived in Kona the Saturday before race day, had a great time prepping and then managed to break 10hrs in an Ironman for the first time ever, on one of the toughest courses on the circuit. Landed in 8th place in the AG and while it wasn't the podium spot I was dreaming of, I am OVER THE MOON with the day and having broke 10hrs.
I came to Kona a week early this year, having a few extra vacation days to spare and can't believe I ever came "so late" on Wednesday's in previous years. Being out here a week early and staying outside of town with friends in Hualalai was amazing. I got to do almost my entire taper here on the island in the heat and spent the other days catching up with friends and some of my super support crew! Who wouldn't prefer to taper off on the Kona pier vs. your normal masters pool? Although that being said, Stanford masters is a pretty spectacular pool with an awesome coach.
My family and Mark arrived Wednesday and we moved into town to stay with 2 other couples, neither of whom were racing. Instead of partying it up, they took care of me as if it were their own race. They cooked for me, braided my hair for me (it was in tact even after the race!), went everywhere on my schedule and then cheered for me ALL day long on race day. Who does that, and what did I do to deserve such an amazing support crew? I tried to make a small piece of it up to them by making breakfast (ok they may have still assisted but I tried) on Sunday after the race. There may be some wine gifting in order! I'm secretly hoping Robyn and Brian will sign up for a 100 miler so I can crew/pace them for a change!
Race day arrived and I have always thought and professed out loud that I think you are full of horse poo if you tell me you sleep well race eve. So here I sit, telling you that I actually was able to quiet my mind and sleep for about 5hrs straight on race eve...after that though, I tossed and turned as per usual. I think having done all of my race visualization on previous nights helped as I did none of that race eve and instead just counted sheep until I fell asleep.
Race morning we were all up at 4:30, I was eating, sun screening and getting my hair did! Robyn could seriously make money with her skillz. If I don't have braids, I would likely have to cut hair out after each race with the amount of knots that would work themselves into my hair. Soon enough it was off to the start and to prep my bike and kiss everyone farewell.
Pre-race meal: Osmo pre-load, water/cytomax, rice with egg mixed in (think fried rice) and a banana. Total kcal's 900. Best to start off with a well topped off tank!
TYR Swim: 1:01:38 previous best in 2012 1:04:51
First of all, THANK YOU Tim from Stanford masters...I was able to send him a note on my PR and am thankful it was a non-wetsuit swim as he considers all wetsuit legal swims, non swims and the times don't count. This time was LEGIT. I started WAY left, further left than even my usual here in Hawaii after having 2 consecutive years of being beat to a pulp by my German male brethren. I told myself to go hard for the first 400meters to get clear water and on good feat. Check! I rounded the turn for home in just over 28 minutes. I thought, HOLY SMOKE!!! I may break an hour for the first time ever in an Ironman and IN Kona! The swim is usually slower on the way home and this year was no different. I was on feet, but felt like I should have been going faster but couldn't really escape so I just sat in and waited it out. I had the most clear, non violent swim of my ironman career...no joke. I only got hit once and it was 3/4 of the way through the swim, and completely unnecessary. The start was beautiful and I had clear water and great swim buddies most of the way. Highlight of the swim? Looking down and seeing a honu after I rounded the turn for home. I took it as a good omen, as those guys are my fave!!!
Argons 18/Smith Optics Bike: 5:16:31 previous best 2011 5:21:48
Quickly into T1 and I had the great fortune of having my cousin (who was volunteering) be my changing tent assist...no idea how that actually happened that she was free at the exact moment I ran into the tent, but it was great to have someone I know and love send me off onto the bike. I had heard that it was supposed to be a clam day with relatively little wind, but I hadn't allowed myself to actually believe it...I kept waiting for those cross winds to start! The first 20 miles were impossibly clustered, but after that it was easier to ride your own race and choose if you were going to draft or not...it is always frustrating to see women atop the podium that you saw tucked in with men, but there is absolutely nothing you can do about it, so I don't let it take any of my energy. The wind was at our backs all the way to Hawi. This day truly flew by and I couldn't believe that we were already at the turn around! I also kept telling myself that if it was this wonderful on the way out, the last 30 miles on the Queen K were going to be a bit rough...and indeed they were! Coming through Kawaihae is kind of your first slow down. Thankfully Mark and Jenny were there to cheer us on. My best strategy for those last 30 miles is to continue to execute your nutrition to avoid low spots. On the way back, I saw super supporters in Puako as well who had made signs for me and this was a TOTAL pick me up! Sonja passed me somewhere along this stretch and made sure I was OK...yep! just battling the head wind that I knew was coming! Rolling into town you get all of the cheers and it was time to get off my bike and run.
Total bike nutrition: 7 salty balls (150kcal each), 5 bottles active mango, 1 bottle coke, half bottle perform and water! 1650 kcals/314 average per hour
Coeur Run: 3:35:23 previous best 2011 3:33:14
I had felt awesome pretty much all day from the swim through the end of the bike. I got off the bike and had that first wobbly leg feeling as I was running through transition. Who made the run around the pier like a mile?!! It was forever on the green astroturf and then finally into the change tent. I grabbed some nutrition, my Garmin, a bottle of Pre Load to top off my salt and my white wings in the hopes of not getting too burnt. Those things are SO hard to get on and I had already started to swell a bit so it felt like it was cutting off my circulation on my wrists. I don't think I'll wear this again (at least not this type)...I only need protection on my shoulders and back and having it go all the way down the arms is unnecessary and it takes a lot of work to make sure they stay wet enough each mile to keep you "cool". Home made mod coming up! The first 10 miles along Alii were ROUGH...I walked a few times and was just hot and pooped. I saw Mark and my family and all just kept telling me to keep chugging. I got cooled off a bit and by the time I shuffled up Palani, I was in a better groove. I had allowed myself to do the math just a bit at mile 16 on the way into the energy lab. If I had 10 miles to go, and xx time...I MAY be able to squeak in under 10 hours. This is where I also tell myself to not get overly excited as 10 miles is still a LONG way to go and ANYTHING can happen, so keep your head together please Hailey. Into and out of the energy lab we went. It was particularly barren this year as they stopped spectators from the 13 mile point, so we were without any spectators/family support for 10 miles. Don't know what that was about, but it STUNK and there was no warning that it was going to be like that. At about mile 20 I found the guy in the picture with me and for some reason, once I got on his feet, he picked up the pace just a tad. I could hang on, but every once in a while he would try to add a bit more speed and I would fall off the back. He would turn around and slow up for me to get back on his feet. I muttered a thank you and he said he wasn't having his day so he was happy to help. What a guy! After about 3 miles, I slowed at an aid station and he must have felt the finish line calling as that was the last I saw of him (he finished about a minute ahead of me).
With 3.2 miles to go I had 26 minutes. That's not a lot of time after your body has already pushed for 9:30 and it wasn't all downhill. Mark told me I needed to run hard and get this done. I have never had to push so hard to achieve a goal. As I was running with a little over a mile to go, I saw Kebby and desperately asked if I was going to make it. She told me I had plenty of time, but MAN did that last beautiful mile along Alii take FOREVER! I am usually able to soak it all in and high five everyone, but I HAD to get to the finish line before 10:00. I looked up and saw that it was going to happen and I was going to even have time to spare! I don't normally do much at the finish line, but I was SO excited that I did as much of a jump as I could muster.