Well, here it is... my much anticipated race report. Kona is a stunning place, and the water here is the most beautiful water I have ever seen. I was nervous about swimming in the ocean with jellyfish, sharks, etc... however, once I got here and took a practice swim, all that fear went out the window! The water was crystal clear and you could see everything. I could go on about what a wonderful week I had, the incredible people I met, and the awesome swimming with the dophins adventure I had, but I know you all want to hear about the race, and I only have 20 minutes at this internet cafe, so let's get to it.
It took about 15 to 20 minutes to make it through the massive line to get into the starting shoot to get to the water. I waited around until 20 minutes before gun time and ended up standing in this line right up until start time. The swim was a floating start, and I swam out to the very back of the crowd and right as I got there the gun went off, and off we went. This was the least jostled I have ever been in an ironman swim. Probably because I was in the back where I belonged and all the other racers were damn fast! The swim was an out and back and swimming out to the turnaround I had this guy swimming next to me the whole time who I could not get rid of. He was wearing a speedsuit and wasn't even kicking his feet, so it didn't make it convenient for me to draft off of him, however, he decided to draft off of me and I ended up pulling him for at least a half mile before I finally did a massive kick, turned over and yelled "GET OFF ME" at him. My little tribute to Gilbert Tuhabonye, running coach from Gilbert’s Gazelles :-)
Coming in from the swim to transition was pretty uneventful, took me a while as I had to use the port a potty and slather sunblock everywhere. Plus, they made us run around the entire perimeter of the transition area in order to get to our bags, which just added time. I was super impressed that they were able to fit transition and bikes in such a small area on the pier. The bikes were racked in wood blocks which was super cool. Got off on the bike and out on the Queen K and things are going well. My swim took me a lot longer than I anticipated. Thanks a lot drafting dude.... and I was one of the last cyclists out. The bike was very lonely, as I truly was out there by myself. They had bike aid stations at what seemed like every 10 miles, and I poured water on top of my head and on my jersey and arm sleeves at every single one and that kept me cool. I heard reports that the asphalt was well over 100 degrees, but it really did not feel that hot to me. At just after mile 40 I had every triathletes worst nightmare happen. I got a flat tire. Who knows, how long I was riding on it, I had just made the turn towards Havi, and all the age groupers were passing me to come back at this point. It had gotten really hilly and windy and I felt like I was riding on bumps yet there were no bumps. A single speed bike guy passed me and at that point I knew something was seriously wrong, so I looked down and noticed the flat. I stopped and realized that I did not have a tool to let the air out of the valve extenders and I was freaking out. How the hell was I going to change this tire without that tool. I had practiced changing these race wheels once before and I absolutely had to let all of the air out of the tires in order to get the tire off. Without that tool, I was in real trouble, because the tire still had a little bit of air in it. At this point, a true act of god occurred, as a bike mechanic van pulled up and asked if I needed help. I'm dead serious!! How could I possibly be this lucky!! They stopped and changed the tire for me. No joke! Took them less than 10 minutes and I was back on my way. I managed to catch up to the single speed bike guy and a couple of other people who passed me. At the turn around I had a fierce tail wind which allowed me to make up some time, there were also fierce cross winds as well. Let me tell you, I have never in my life cycled in such fierce winds. I was truly scared that these winds were going to knock me over and cause me to crash. I saw several injured people who this had happened to while I was riding, and it was a very scary experience. Once I turned back onto the Queen K, I was riding into a head wind. The hills were not that bad on this course and I still did a decent time despite the flat tire. At one point on the bike I looked down and noticed that my legs were red. This really concerned me because I still had about 25 miles left to go at this point and I stopped and asked someone who had parked their truck to cheer if they had any sunblock I could borrow and they did. This was the second miracle to happen for me during this race. I wanted to cry at this point as I couldn't believe my good fortune and I was getting emotional. I was blessed to get a lottery slot and any negative thing that happened seemed to have a solution right in front of me. I truly felt that God was with me and wanted me to finish this race. As I reached transition I still had over an hour and a half left before the cutoff time.
Yay! I started the run off strong and didn't even need to bring my sunglasses as at this point as it was cloudy and the sun was starting to go down. I knew the sun would set around 6 pm and I knew it would get pitch black at that point so I wanted to run as strong as I could before I would have to start walking in the dark. Once I got to mile 5, I got a spurt of energy and was running at a really good pace. Had to have been at least a 10 minute mile pace, which for an ironman is pretty damn good. Once I got to mile 11 the sun had set and it had gotten dark. At that point, I had to start walking as it was just too dark to run and was not safe at that point. It was a lonely last 13 miles as there were so few of us left on the course at that point. I would try to run whenever I would get to any aid station that had light, and at the turnaround, a truly awesome volunteer must have walked half a mile with me holding water and gatorade for me while I walked. He told me I only had 6 miles left to go, even though I had 8 miles left and knew it. Oh well, gotta love volunteers! I started running again in the last half mile before the finish as I had reached the town lights again. I can not tell you how awesome it was to run in and have so many spectators there giving me high fives and telling me how much I rock! This was a constant for the last half mile of the race, and what a truly amazing experience it was to cross that finish line. I want to thank all of my friends who offered me encouragement when I needed it, I want to thank all of you for reading this and putting up with me during my training, my breakdowns, and just listening to me talk about nothing but this for the past 6 months. It was an experience of a lifetime and I'll cherish it forever. Thankyou to God for giving me this wonderful opportunity and for pushing me past my limits. Truly, Anything really is possible