October 17th, 2019. It was 5 days after my 2nd IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii and Ironman St George had come back after an 8 year drought, planned to take place in May 2020. I immediately signed up because this legendary course was one of the hardest ones ever, setting a Did Not Finish (DNF) rate of 28%. Once Covid hit in March, the race was canceled and I deferred to another legendary course returning to Couer d’Alene, Idaho in June 2021. That day had the 2nd highest ever DNF rate of 27% due to a 102F heat wave on the marathon, second to IMStG in 2012. I went there and finished 18th in my A/G earning a spot to my 3rd IMWC because there was an unprecedented 200 spots available with events around the world were cancelled. I was prepared to go to Kona in October 2021, the event was deferred to February and then moved for the first time in the 44 year history of the event to St George, Utah. Many chose to go to Kona in October 2022 but, having been to Kona twice before, looking to save $5K+ on travel, and most importantly, doing the race I wanted to do for years, I opted for St George which was set up to be one of the hardest IM events ever.
Dad and Donna came out to support from NC. FiFi had to stay home but I also got Sydney to come along. We stayed in our RV 1mile from the start, went to Bryce Canyon, Zion Natl Park, and Snow Canyon. I met Ari Klau and Tom Oosterdijk at their BBQ featured on Triathlon Mockery YouTube. I met Crowie and Bob Babbit and enjoyed the lead up to the race.
I woke up at 3:00AM and ate 4 pieces of toast with vegan butter and strawberry jam and a banana. Timing chip on, new Zoot tri shorts, and Plush bike kit. Dad drove me the 1 mile to the shuttle pick up at 3:35am and by 4am I was on the shuttle to Sand Hollow listening to music, eating 2 cups of applesauce, and a medium RedBull.
At my bike I put in 3 packs of Clif Shot Bloks with Caffeine in Bento box, 2 bottles of Gatorade Endurance and another one in the torpedo. The Argon18 with 3 tubes, 3 C02s too. I hung out and then saw Dad and Donna after they took the shuttle up. I lined up and said hello to my FB friend and 4th amateur overall from the Zwift Academy, Eric Engel. I then ate 200cal of Clif shot bloks with caffeine. Walking down the starting shoot I saw and said hi to 6x IMWC Dave Scott. I lined up on the outside of the 10 across start line and headed in at 6:56am.
2.4mile swim: 1:03:05, 42nd A/G, 275 Overall
I wore 2 caps because the days prior, the water was 59F but it warmed up to 64F on race morning and was quite nice. This is the first time wetsuits have been allowed in an IMWC because Kona waters are so warm. I went out strong and felt good. I didn’t see many people passing me and was passing the A/G in front of me. I had someone on my feet for the first half tapping my feet the whole time. I looked at the watch and was on one hour pace going through the half in 29:34. But on the turn around the wind and chop picked up slightly and I lost considerable time. I was 2 seconds slower than my Kona swim in 2019 but 3min+ slower than IMAZ in 2018. I believe I did the best I could.
A bit slow. I sat down to take off my wetsuit bypassing the strippers to keep HR down. I put on bike shoes in T1 since there was a carpet the whole way to my bike parked right on the end of an aisle. My shoes are old and with cold hands I thought I would struggle to get feet in shoes and be safe. My sponsor Tom, from Sahuarita Bikes in Arizona drove all the way up 9hours, days before the race just to work on my rear disc and had some amazing shoes for me that just didn’t fit because of my wide feet. Thanks Tom for all you have done for me and making me feel like a Pro over these last 5 years! Definitely ready for new shoes. My cleats were old and rusted in. Tom worked to get the locked on bolt out of my shoe so I could replace the cleats which felt worlds better.
Bike: 5:24:31, 36th A/G, 190th Overall. 20.9mph avg, 6,600′ ascend, 303TSS, 75%IF, 123HR avg, 221avg power/246NP, VI 1.11%, 72F avg.
I started off this intense course with a decent hitting 49.5mph and at the turn around saw a crash of 1 guy. I was keeping watts at 260-270 and pushing 300+ watts on the hills. For example the first 35min were 270NP then the 6min hill I held 307NP. The next hill 6:17 at 295NP, a 7:11hill at 287NP, a 2:08hill at 298NP, a 2min hill at 340NP, and the big climb known as “The Wall” at mile 77 in 6:15 at 297watts. It’s this type of power that led me to a very large stress score of 303 which is what I had trained for most of the season.
At one point I thought I had a flat and I lost some spots on a decent and dicked around till I stopped and checked the tire but it was fine. I just needed to make sure I didn’t have a slow leak. I have done this before too so I may put in sealant next time for this.
The beauty was absolutely stunning and multiple times I looked up on the climbs and just took it in with a big sense of gratitude. Whether it was the red rocks or the black lava fields and volcanoes, just incredible vistas were everywhere.
Fuel: My major fuck up for the day. I had timers on my Wahoo Bolt which I never used before in a race. Besides motivational quotes, I told myself to eat 100 calories every 20min and have a salt tablet every 30minutes. By 3hrs in, I was sick of eating and would say “Do I have to?” But I had to click to “dismiss” the message so this made me eat every time and I may have missed just 1 gel. I finished my 3packs of Clif shots by 1hr 40min and only had a half pack of the others I had with me. I opted for the Maurten Gels from the aid stations. I had my watch ringing every 5min to drink but believe I lost focus on this and must add a separate reminder on the Wahoo Bolt to finish Gatorade bottles. I don’t use Maurten Gels in training; usually just Clif Shot Bloks. I also struggle to drink 2 bottles while on the trainer for 5-6hr rides. Watching Lionel Sanders videos and Matt Hansons, they were targeting 100-120grams of Carbs per hour. The Maurtens had 40grams each so taking them every 20min put me on 120grams per hour. I then focused on just drinking water instead of Gatorade because I didn’t want to just continue to drink sugar as well and thought it would be too many calories. I also figured that taking salt every 30min would be enough. At times I felt my mind going and losing focus. I thought it was too much caffeine of which I was already at around 405mg in 6hours but I have a lot of caffeine usually in my life and in reflection never get this feeling. Upon further analysis, the Maurtens only have 85mg of salt and my Hammer Endurance tablets were 120mg. So I was on 495mg per hour (50% of where I should have been). Gatorade endurance has 600mg per bottle. If I had just 1 bottle per hour I would have been at 1gram of salt which could have been close to what I needed. In short, I was so consumed with eating fuel and getting the calories in that I totally screwed myself in terms of electrolytes. Looking back at my power reduction over the back half and lack of mental acuity, I would say this salt is the story of my day. I was peeing throughout the day on both bike and run but the water was then flushing out the few electrolytes I did have. Further, I usually never drink water on the bike for this reason. So I put calories in priority over electrolytes and drinking Gatorade. On the bike I also had some mouthfuls of coke and half can of RedBull.
The rear disc kept me stable at 35-40mph on some steep descents with cross winds but my issue was not having enough gears. I was able to get up all the steep ascents in my 42-28 but on the descents, my 55-11 was still not enough so will be now going up to a 56 for sure.
I am happy with the bike. I had fun, enjoyed pushing hard but believe my nutrition probably prevented me from focusing in that back half. I also want to go back to a sleeveless tri kit. Being a big guy I feel better with the air on my skin even though I continued to dowse myself with water on most of the bike.
A bit better than T1. I ran in, peed myself while sitting putting on my new socks and Altra Torin Plush 4.5. I changed from my Plush Bike kit to a BOA Arizona singlet I won from my 5K performance 2 weeks ago in Tucson, which by the way was the best singlet out there as Everyone was calling out Go Arizona!!! and no one else had this singlet; it was really pretty awesome! I put on my IMWC’19 visor and new sunglasses. I couldn’t find my Imodium tablets that were hiding so only had the 2 Imodium’s in the morning when I woke up and ate brekky. I got some water and ran out of transition.
Run 26.2miles 4:10:07, moving time 4:07:52, 78th A/G, 483 Overall, 9:32/mile avg, 1,679′ of climb, 123 avg HR
Running non-stop in an Ironman is very very tough. I have only done it once before. I ran the first 12.5 miles non-stop even up “Satan’s Spine” which is a 7.5% grade for 0.4mile. And this was filled with adversity. At the top of the first of 4 hills my entire core was cramped. I took more salt tablets every few miles and opted for only Coke and RedBull but I was severely cramping due to the pitfalls on the bike and it was very painful. I tried to alleviate it with Coke which finally did the job temporarily by mile 5/6, but then after the 4mile decent, my foot that I’ve been dealing with severe Plantar Fasciitis for a year now hit a 8 on pain level of 10. I was still able to run but the pain was excruciating; I continued on. On the decent to the half and seeing Dad and Donna again near the Hot Corner I decided that I needed to go #2. The Imodium helped but wish I had the extra 2 in my T2 bag I couldn’t find.
The cramping started coming back and I felt pretty exhausted. My mental acuity was missing and the pain of the foot and cramps just did me in. I now started turning to run/walk even walking the descents; my run was turning to shit. But I never said no. IRONMAN is about finishing what you start and Can-Do attitude. The course was lined with spectators throughout the whole course which definitely is not the case as in Kona. It was also very pretty and I thought of the hills where I ran with Dad just days prior. I also saw many of the Pro’s including Kristian, Braden, and Lionel. I also cheered on Skye, Heather, and Ruth. After having double cups of RedBull from mile 20-23, I got my wings back and was so motivated knowing that soon Mike Reilly was going to call me an IRONMAN in my third World Championship. My last 3 miles went 8:23, 7:51, 8:02 which were 3 of my top 5 fastest miles in the race.
At the finish I couldn’t handle much. I was exhausted and there were bodies everywhere. I had 3 Sprites and 3 french fries. I got my gear and went back to the RV. Dad and I went to Chick Filet as one would do in Utah. Then, I took a Monster and Dr Pepper and walked to the finish line where I stood for 3+hrs cheering people in right to the line. I got a high 5 from Kristian Blummenfelt. It was all awesome. The Hawaiian fire dancers, the famous Kona man that gives the prayer at the end of the evening. I figured, there aren’t too many opportunities to go to a world championship so I definitely was going to take it all in.
There is nothing like Kona but this was way tougher. The wave start prevented large 50+ packs of drafting parties on the bike course and there was no humidity to speak of but the mountains climbed from 2,700′ to 4,700′ with a total ascend on the day of nearly 8,000′. The DNF rate was 21% and the wave start had people cross the line at well over 17hours but the volunteers were outstanding and the views were way more beautiful than Kona. The expo was small and there was no live Breakfast with Bob. I support the IMWC rotating once every 3 years and believe this would be good for all athletes. This course was incredible and my hardest IM of the 17 now completed. The spirit of Ohana was live and well but yea, there is only one Kona. There were 7 spots that rolled down to #29 in my A/G. My goal is for Fiona and I to earn a spot at IRONMAN Arizona in November and hopefully qualify again and together.
Thank you to Dad and Donna for coming out and supporting me. I am happy to have shown you how beautiful this area is. Thanks to Tom for sponsoring me and coming all the way up to St. George to insure I was successful; I was. Thanks to all my family and friends that supported me on the day. Thanks to the 4,500 volunteers who helped me get to the finish line. It was only hours after finishing this race that I couldn’t wait to do another one. First, I gotta get some work on my foot and recover for the San Diego Marathon in 4 weeks where i get to compete with Fiona. Then, it’s onto the next season with my 3rd IRONAMN Arizona in November.
This is the greatest sport in the world. This sport means so much to me because there is very little in one’s life that pushes you so damn hard that you truly get to see what you are made up. ANYONE can do this. How fast one goes is based upon commitment, battling diversity, and having a perfect race. I’m still in search of that perfect race and hope that I never find it. 🙂 Thanks for reading. Kumukahi!