Arriving in Kona last Sunday, I was the first of the family. Thirteen of us were coming to town for Team Iron Kitty, and I was excited to see my brother and sister's families with all the nieces and nephews. The week was full of fun experiences, and mellow workouts to keep my body tuned up. Of course some trips to Dig-Me Beach, and the Underpants Run were in order. Thanks god I don't get sea-sick either. Some boat trips to pass the time were great, but there was a big swell in the waters that left quite a few queasy. Wednesday a romantic sunset cruise with Whitney and then a snorkeling trip with the family. Here's a quick run-down in pictures of the week.
3:00 am wake up, almost on my own. Slept surprisingly well, about 6 hours! Normal process, make coffee, bagel with peanut butter, honey, yogurt and granola. Relax, try to check on how the pre-race IM Live feed and got WAY too excited and shut it off. Dad got up to hang out with me and drive to the start. Whitney got up a bit later as well and we were ready to head to Dig-Me beach. The place is just buzzing with excitement and trying to keep my cool was hard. Seeing some SF friends there volunteering, Abby and Doug, was a welcome sight. and helped me calm down a bit. Around the hotel and to body marking, still holding it together and chatting a bit with anyone that wasn't locked into their "Ironman Stare".
Marked, stretched, suited up and all my "business" done I head for the water with about 15 minutes left before the cannon goes off. nerves are still under control, but I'm anxious to get going. Walking down the steps of Dig-Me beach and reality and immenseness of this event is finally coming to me. I stand knee deep in the water, just looking around at something I'd worked for over the past 5 years. It was an honor to race this course, and whatever result came of today I'd be happy, but I wished it would be a great day none the less. So many other great athletes coming into the water, it was hard not to feel inferior at times. Just remembering M2 and Tom telling me to race my race and not get caught up in moment, have faith in your training and stay patient and the race will come to you. I decided the best avenue for goals today would just be to break it into three races. That way if one event goes to shit, I can still concentrate on the next and take home the experience.
Swim - 1:05 to 1:10
Bike - 5:05 to 5:15
Run - 3:15 to 3:25
Wading out in the water, rear the floating Ford, it was much calmer than I expected. Not much energy to keep afloat, I mulled around and had to move back a few times as the currents pushed everyone forward quite a bit. The swells were still coming in from the week and there was 3-4 foot waves out on the course. Its going to be a "fun" swim, especially since I've already documented, swimming is not my strong suit. I put a great effort in over the past month to improve my swim, so lets go see how this works out.
I hear "1 Minute" over the loudspeaker and get lined up about 10 deep on the start. Last minute fiddling with watch, goggles, then BOOM! Holy crap, I didn't hear a countdown! The race was going with or without me. Head down and into a good stroke, "this isn't so bad". Not freaking out, not getting crushed, This is AWESOME! I was amazed with the civility of everyone. You'd run into someone, but the both parties would back away. No wrestling, just cruising along. Big problem developed at about 10 minutes. My goggles were leaking. I tried them out the day before, but yes, fiery salt water coming in. Had to stop every 5 minutes to get it out. The swim in itself is great. The waves and currents were causing some issues for everyone. Every few breaths would bring a wave and a gulp of saltwater if you weren't paying attention. Passing the boat and turn buoy, I glance down and see cameras which was fairly amusing. The water was really clear out there and on a nice day it would be great to float around. Heading back to the pier because a bit arduous. The TYR speed suit started tearing into me, and the salt water burned! No draft I could find for long and my calf muscles were cramping, so not much kick. Seeing the pier was all I could hope for, and when I finally got there, my first Kona swim was behind me! Thank God! From the race pic I figured out that my cap had slid under my goggles, causing the leak. Damn-it, no more mask for me.
Swim 1:17:04 1259th place - HA! No goal here today as usual.
Off to my favorite part, passing people on the bike! Not quite as anxious as in Texas since I didn't have to "make up time" for a Kona spot, but still pressing. Quite dangerous over the first 20 miles anyways with the massive crowds around town and out and backs. Such a sight though and my family and girlfriend had a fantastic spot at Hot Corner to cheer me on. Holding a cautious effort, and just wanting to get out on the Queen K was my goal. My Dad disappeared on us for a while at this point last year and had us worried. He flatted, so surviving was my only thought.
The climb up Palani was great. Crowds lining the street, almost like a Tour climb. I could hear "Go Kitty" all the time which was amusing for me at least. Cresting the climb and passing my Iron Kitty cheer squad for the last time, I was ready for the long grind out of town to Hawi.
The Queen K was a line of bikes for as long as you could see. Normally this might be demoralizing, but I was competing against the best in the world, so all I could do is swallow my pride, put my head down, and chase them down. Had to yell "On your left" a few times, but for the most part, everyone rode correctly. Definitely some drafting going on in the field, but the ref's were out in force and plenty of red slashes were dished out. I settled in with a few guys doing about the same as me, and we would pass, and re-pass, and cheer each other on. No real winds yet, so the trip out was really uneventful except for the first bottle exchange. Looked like a war zone with bottles everywhere across the road. Had to be careful and pick the right line.
This is just a beautiful ride, and I don't think I could even come close to doing is justice describing it. Rolling through the lava fields, the volcano on one side, and the ocean on the other, I have to go back to take it all in on a relaxed ride. Making the turn towards Hawi, off the Queen K, there was another big crowd cheering everyone on. My Dad and I came this way earlier in the week, and the winds were crazy! 20-30 mph side winds the whole time, so it was the only part that worried me. As we approached Hawi though, purely a headwind. It was a great sign, but we had to climb a hill, into a stiff headwind which is not what I like to do. That climb was a grind. Tucked deep into aero, and pushing 300 watts, I passed quite a few lightweights! A few wobbles when the wind changed direction a little, but no real surprises. Making the turn at Hawi and cruising into special needs, my frozen brick water bottles worked great this time! I had slushie Perpetuum and Gatorade! Yelled to the girl there was a PayDay in the bag for her, and I was off, ready to crush the downhill with a tailwind!
Before the downhill, the one thing I feel bad about happened when a girl stopped in the road in front of me the the left of the white line. I was putting a bottle back, and luckily looked up enough to see her and got my bike out of the way, but got a bit of shoulder into her in the process. Sorry!
Once on the downhill I could see people bracing themselves for the crosswinds. They never came and I was in full aero, spun out of gears and still accelerating up to 40 mph, WAHOOOOO! This was my favorite part of the race, and I couldn't believe the winds settled in to the benefit of everyone. Cruising back to the Queen K, the heat was starting to build. Popping salt like candy, dowsing my body with water and taking in my cool slushies was a treat. Back on the Queen K it was desolate for a few minutes without many people around. All the sudden I crest the hill at Hapuna Beach and the amazing line of bikes can be see again for as far as I could see, WOW. Still had to keep it in my head to ride my own race, or I'd be walking a marathon. Still an hour and a half left, feet and butt starting to hurt, legs still good though! The Queen K's winds started to pick up now though and riding into the moderate headwind was going to make my head spin. Keeping a keen eye on my watts, I pass the airport and it was time to gear down a little in preparation for the run. Making the last few turns to Hot Corner was a joy as all I wanted to do was get off that bike and RUN! Fantastic ride at the same time, thanks M2!
Bike Time - 5:07:20 - 405th split - 609th place, passed over 600 people on the bike!
Watts - 251 Avg
Strava Ride Link
A few things usually go wrong in an Ironman and I nearly forgot my Garmin on my bike in T2. Luckily, my bike catcher was a fast one, and was half way down the pier, on his was to racking it, so I didn't backtrack too much to go get it off my bike. Grabbed my run bag, sat down, no cramping (extra salt works! 8 total), shirt and socks changed, visor on, and Iron Kitty is ready to take on a marathon!
Racing uphill and through Hot Corner again, it was hard to contain myself like my coach Tom said would happen. Looking at my watch, and I had better try because running sub 7 minute pace would either be a ridiculous PR, or a certain flame out by mile 6. Getting down to Ali'i Drive I settle into a comfortable pace, bouncing between 7-7:30 pace. People are going nuts for the Hello Kitty shirt, and I am all smiles as a result giving some high fives especially at Lava Java where the crowd is immense. Flowing down Ali'i, I'm picking off quite a few walkers and slow joggers who probably blew themselves up on the bike. I knew my buddy Stefan had a good lead on me already, but that was who I was hunting for.
My real highlight was at mile 3 where my family's house is. I was wondering what was in store for me there and they didn't disappoint:)
I was feeling great throughout Ali'i. Saw Stefan and gave a good cheer for him. He had a good 10-15 minutes on me, so catching him was going to be hard unless he died on the Queen K. Coming back into town and the crowds were bigger as the pro men had come in and the women were soon to follow. Climbing up Palani, I tried to conserve as much energy as possible for my next Queen K grind of the day.
This course is really two different races. Once you pass Palani, its another world along the Queen K. Desolate, lonely, and HOT. Aside for the awesome aid stations, with music pumping, and crazy people staffing them, you are on your own to deal with everything in your head at this point. On the way out on the Queen K, I kept it together. Some fatigue was setting in, but still passing people and keeping a good pace. Run by my buddy Ken Glah who gives me a "Looking Strong!" Brought a good smile to my while I was pushing into my pain cave. Making the turn into the infamous Energy Lab I see my buddy Ryan who is crushing it and I started to wonder how it was all going to unfold for me. My pace was telling me I might be able to pull off a 3:15, but who knows how my body was going to react again when the heat turned up like in Texas.
Trying to talk to people at this point was amusing. You figure I could at least get a smile wearing a Hello Kitty kit, but no luck. A few word interchanged every once and a while was all I could pull. I see Stefan again, give a big cheer for him as he is holding his gap and I am set to hold onto my race as it is. The aid station and special needs area has one of the most boisterous people working it. They know the pain we are in, and it seems if they could pick us up and carry us for a bit, they would. Trying not to burn my legs out climbing out of the Energy Lab, a few running mates I actually got to talk came back to me and cheered me to the top of the hill.
From the top of the Energy Lab its 6 miles to the finish. Knowing you have less than an hour left is such a relief, but at the same time, knowing you have nearly 9 hours into your legs is not. Still two long grinding hills left to conquer, including Mark and Dave Hill. The first hill puts a hurting on my legs, but I'm still moving enough to keep pace with everyone. Trying to stretch my stride to take advantage of the downhill and not much is happening. I'd either bonked or the heat was getting me, but I knew this was the dark place for my race and I'd have to get out of it or the final three miles would be ugly. Shorten the stride, take time in the next aid station, ice, water and try to get my head straight. Climbing the last hill was the worst feeling of the day.
Tired, feet, shoulders, everything hurting, then I see my Dad at the top screaming for me and it goes away. "Time to go Brett!" and its on. I start down Palani, but halfway down, my right hamstring seizes up! Stopping and stretching it out, it releases, and I take it easy for a minute to make sure it doesn't come back. All that's left now is a downhill, then a turn to the finish on Ali'i. Concentrating on my breathing, stretching my stride and finishing strong. Tried to enjoy the finish, but worried spending any more time on course would leave my legs cramping. My family was waiting at the turn, and while I felt I was running fast, they asked if I was cruising it it, ha ha.
The finish is just a blur. So many other races have great crowd and energy around the finish line, but this just lifted you up and I couldn't fee anything. All I could think about is my Dad crossing the line last year and what a journey its been. Crossing the finish, a weight was lifted, a few tears came down, and I was happy to have put in my best effort for my first Ironman World Championship.
Run Time - 3:21:14 - 276th split - 389th final place
Strava Run Site
Total Time - 9:53:40
Being whisked away into the athlete's area behind the King K, the legs were wobbly, and I was getting a bit chilly. Dehydrated and body in a ravaged state, Ivy finds me, and she is just way too much of a bundle of energy at this point, lol. The family and girlfriend find me and I can hardly put down a piece of pizza.
My friends, family and coaches have been more than supportive over this journey and I can't thank you all enough for that. Having met my long terms goals from years ago is really a credit to them as well. Nobody can do this alone and having the support team to help me along was my greatest asset.