‘Ohana: “an idea in Hawaiian culture. The word ʻohana means family in the Hawaiian language, but in a much wider sense, to include not only one’s closer relatives, but also one’s cousins, in-laws, friends, race, and other neighbours.” This was the theme of this years Ironman World Championship. And, I was truly with my ‘Ohana. From, my wife Fiona whom I raced this race with for the first time in 2016, to Karen, someone who I love and respect and raced with for the second time on triathlons’ biggest stage, to her husband and amazing person Jock, and new friends of Kylie, Simon, and her entire family. We joined as a group in an Airbnb at Waikoloa Village for 6 nights and then moved to another Airbnb called “Ohana Haven” a short 10minute walk from transition in central Kailua-Kona for the next 5 nights. What we shared in was the greatest single day sporting endurance event on the planet with World Champions, Olympic Gold Medalists, our idols, and paralympians.
The Short: Kona PB and negative split swim, lowest power on the bike yet holding back for first hour, and then ran 4.25 miles nonstop to cramping in Q3 with a fast and amazing finish (1:59:33/1:55:13) PB run at Kona, performing better in my A/G from 74.8% at #125 in 2016 to 72% at #144.
Up at 4am. Had 2 pieces of toast with vegan butter and jam, banana, 2 small RedBulls, and 3 small applesauces with cinnamon for about 800 calories and 2 immodiums. We left as a group at 4:30 and walked 10min to transition. The 5,000 volunteers were amazing all day (Thank you!!!) Through Body Marking of tattoos on the arms #1,783 which was the amount of male racers of 2,500), weigh-in of which I was up around 6lbs from the 2 days of full carbo-loading adventures, to the bike where I put on 2 bottles of gatorade, 1 bottle of Hammer electrolytes, 3 packages of clif shots totaling 1,000 calories), and bag drop. I headed to the front of the 18-39 corral in this years first ever wave start. There I saw more of my ‘Ohana in 2X Ironman Military World Champion Joel Maley from Canada who I have been following for several years now and would repeat as champion. I also saw Ryan Guilliano who is probably the Top American Amateur and who I have been also following for several years an would come 5th. I also introduced myself to a bloke from the UK who was wearing a Chapman Racers kit and who turned out to be best mates of a guy Joe Spraggins I have also been following for several years and who raced here last year.
The traditions from Island Breeze were incredible and the beating of drums as we saw the Pros head into the water 20’ in front of us. With 30 min to go at 6:25 (the pro start time) I ate another 200cal clif shot bloks with water). With 10min to go we headed into the warm waters wearing my Roka Viper Elite swim-skin and WattieInk Worlds Team tri shorts, with no top. I put my goggles under neath my cap like IMCairns and I wish I had new goggles.
I swam the 125yards to the end of the pier and waded watching the fish below me and trying to get some space but i was literally and exactly shoulder to shoulder in the water. The field was inching forward and I swam back, then over to the left for better positioning and so i wasnt shoulder to shoulder.
The drums were making their sounds and 6:54am, brace, brace…
Swim 2.4miles 1:03:03 (83 a/g, 583 overall)
The first 10minutes was chaos. I got 1 kick to the face. Surrounded by that much testosterone thrashing around makes you feel like the best athletes in the world want to rip your head off. I tried sticking on some drafts but actually prefer my own open water. When I finally found it, my cap was loosening and I caught it mid stroke and put it down my top to not pollute the reefs, just like Cairns. After Q1 I thought “this is taking a while, it seems like I have been going for a while. But this is an Ironman, it’s not exactly short!” The first turn came around 28:13 which was 2min slower than 6 days earlier in the Hoala Ironman Training Swim. I again did most of my own sighting and chose to do it mostly solo. At the 2nd turn, the waves felt like they propelled me forward and I said “ok, its time to go and get this back down. I was on 1:33/100yard average at that time and had gone 1:28 and 1:29/100 yard in 2 IM training swims in the Oreo Valley Tucson. I was definitely passsing people who had gone out too hard and felt great all the way to Dig Me Beach. I looked at my watch about 5 times and knew I really had to continue to work hard if I wanted to PB in my Kona Swim; I never gave up that hope. As soon as my hands touched the sand, I stood up and ran up the stairs setting a Kona PB by 18seconds which was huge for me considering I did basically no quality work for 2 seasons now and have been able to maintain my time from 3 years ago by focusing on form and technique. The Qtrs were: 17:07, 15:23 15:25, 15:05. I was 10yards short and burned 906 calories.
T1 Grab bag, volunteer helped me put on my wattietop which i dont know if it helped me or not to have off. It was a bitch to put on with wet humid body and temps. Ate 2 immodiums I put on first pair of sunnies, M&M canister with 10 salt tablets in pocket, and socks on that got soaked but was to protect feet from sun. This was a mistake too but didnt cause blisters or any issues. I slammed a Crowie HotShot to prevent cramps too. Bike, mount line, go.
Bike 112miles 5:15:24 (127 a/g, 638 overall) I was 11min slower than 3 years earlier. 125HRavg power 213avg/226NP, TSS 230, avg temp 88F, max temp 95F
My plan was to hold back for the first hour with HR low and right on pace. I did that with a 129avg HR for Q1. 3yrs ago I went out way too hard and held 138HR for the first quarter but it was way hotter that race where it was 93F at the 1st Qtr. In fact temps got to 102F that year and 7 degrees hotter on average than this year. The traffic was much improved from the wave start and I didn’t let the many passing me to get into my head. I ate roughly every 20min but only had half of my bloks which is probably where my nutrition hurt me. I had 2 bottles of coke, 2 red bulls, 2 Quantum Bars, and 1 GU in addition to bike loaded nutrition totaling another 1,000 calories or about 400calories per hour. I was on 128avg HR for Q2. The bars were an excellent choice and I believe is what helped my bowels. The drafting was fair, i felt people were doing their best not to cheat but when one draft marshall held his finger out I was paranoid that I had one. I asked him if I had a penalty and he said no but it wasnt clear still and i was paranoid all day long. (At Challenge Cairns 2011, i got a card that I didnt realize was for me and got my team relay team DSQ’d). I averaged 23.7mph to the bottom of the climb to Hawi and then it went to shit. The tailwinds to the port let me hit max speed of 45.7mph but by that time the winds were kicked in and temps were on the rise to 95F. It drizzled twice on the climb as i watched the Pros pass. I continued to hold back power keeping HR in check but on the decent when I wanted to push, the legs didnt feel like they had the strength and I attribute this to all the walking in Kona leading up to the race, being physically tired, and mentally weak. I think i need even more taper for IM Utah. But it could have also been the heat and humidity which I faced in IMCairns. My HR dropped to 123 and 122 for Q3 and Q4. As a result my avg HR was 125 vs the 133 from last time and I went slower. It’s a fine line though since going out to hard can make you have a much slower marathon. I also think I was tired from lack of quality sleep and the weeks long heat and humidity wearing me down.
I had bought a new Rudy Project Specter Road helmet to get more airflow vs a hot aero helmet which I was happy about and liked my new bike fit from the edurance physio at BodyCentral Tucson, but legs were again off this year. At one point I got a ‘good job’ from a referee when I had to kick up the watts even higher to secure the pass within 25seconds on another athlete. I didn’t pee once on the bike which should have been a note to me that i was going to be struggling later. I didn’t finish all my salt tablets either…I burned 2,784 calories and went 1:10, 1:20, 1:18, 1:24 for the Qtrs.
There were definitely idiots blocking and some passing on the right, whatever.
Thank you to Tom at Sahuarita Bikes for servicing my bike for free. I trust you with her and appreciate your care and quality you provide!
WattieInk: Watching Kona back in 2011 and 2012 in Australia, I didnt know what the W stood for. Now I do. The American designed and made by Heather Jacksons husband Wattie, is the best gear I have worn with 10years in the sport. This year I was able to #rockthew at the IMWC. Afterwards I was able to hang out at the Wattie house with a Quintana Roo party with Heather, Joe Gambles, and Joe Skipper. I am such a fan of this sport. Thanks to the Wattie Crew!
Run 26.2 miles (3:56:53, 6:11min PB in Kona).
My legs felt the normal yuck after I handed off my bike and running the pier. I had another HotShot, no sunscreen, changed to a Wattie running singlet, and put on new socks, and Altra shoes. I also put on a hair bandana, visor, 4 gels in pockets, and canister with 4 salt chews. My bib was attached to singlet. It was a bit hot but not as bad as 2016. I hit the loo #1 and ran out of transition to massive crowds up the first part of Palani.
I ran 4.25 miles continuous to the 3rd aid station where i then walked. Climbing up Hualalai I saw 2nd place Tom O’Donnel heading in with 3min to go. Then I saw Sebastian Kienle, Ben Hoffman, and the rest of the Pro men. I would pretty much walk the rest of the aid stations but never in between except on Palani Hill where I was so happy to see Fiona at the top. I danced though the music near there and onto the Queen K. The undulations were around a half mile long which I used to split up the run. Then, I saw the Pro female leaders of German Anne Haug, Aussie Sara Crowley, and Brit Lucy Charles as we all entered an aid station at their mile 23. The helicopter came in low and blew half of the aid station to shambles. My visor blew off from the up draft and I ran off the road to grab it; pretty hilarious. I hit the loo for the first and only time (which was much better than the 5X from ’16 and emerged with 2min ahead of my ’16 time. This gave me my slowest mile of 10:27 at mile 14. I continued on with the heat, humidity, and tailwind past the energy lab, where I enjoyed a slightly different run course from ’16 that I liked better. I thought about my family and supporters around the world into the lab grabbing lots of coke and redbull only eating one of my gels. By now I had felt 2 cramps coming on in my core. And in the Energy Lab on the way out it was in full force lasting 3 miles that I was able to run through but found so painful. Finally the salt and Coke did their jobs along with half an orange. And, i wasn’t hot aided by putting cups of ice in my groin each aid station. With 12km to go out of the lab to the finish, I now felt amazing.
I started picking runners off but my deltoid/traps felt the worst. Every 30seconds I flicked my neck back like a Bull at a Rodeo. A competitor asked me of I was OK and I said yes, just my neck was painful. Shorty after that while my pace was now firting at and below 8min/mile between the aid stations, a mantra popped into my mind from the Yoga and Headspace App I had used a little bit this season. “Free the mind, Clear the mind. Accept this and clear the mind”. I put my head back, eyes up, and barely adjusted my neck after that. I ran up Dave and Marks Hill harder than I ran any other segment of the marathon increasing my HR to a max of 141. I was significantly faster than 3 year prior.
I let the finish line pull me in hitting as low as 6:55/mile on the Palani decent with a 7:39 mile 26 and a maximal smile looking for Fiona. I ran in for another Kiss on Hualalai, grabbing a small USA flag. And a final 7:37/mile pace with highest HR on the day of 148Max into my 2nd strongest finish of an IM run since IM Western Australia in 2015 after similarly cramping to a walk before the half before coming back and running to a 3:26 PB. I burned 2,120 calories.
Man, so much emotion and I felt so amazing since I hadn’t buried myself on the bike. I was slower due to the bike but had a significant run Kona PB breaking 4 hours andd negatively aplitting the run by more than 4minutes.
After I had recovered, we cheered in Kylie to agreat race, and Karen to a sub 14hr and 10min Kona PB. We went to Splashers for some food and beer then stayed at the finish line till the very end seeing an 80year old and first ever bilateral double above the knee amputee cross the line at Kona. (Note: Rudy had attempted and failed tring to bike like an abled body athlete. He only had glutes, no quads, and couldnt make it at Kona but did in Arizona). I made it onto the race video review at the awards banquet and passed out that night. We said Goodbye to our ‘Ohana looking to do IMNZ together in 2021 and went to a Coffee Planation and then Kona Brewing Company. We boarded a plane to Denver with Dave Scott and Andy Potts sitting rows in front if us. We returned to Tucson to a door getting installed in our Kona training room.
Next up, Fiona’s comeback race, post stress fracture, with a December half marathon in Marana, AZ. After a train trip from Tucson to NJ and a cruise to the Bahamas at Christmas, training will begin for Ironman St George and Ironman Ireland. Then, marathon specifc training in pursuit of Sub3 with my mom in her first ever marathon in Corning, NY.
Thank you for all thee support and stay tuned!!