Monday, 11 October 2010
by the time that race morning approached, i no longer felt nervous and as it happened the start was very civilised affair indeed. the cannon rather caught me by surprise but we were off - a fast flurry of foam ( i'd placed myself near, but not right at, the back) i did what i had to do to catch some feet and was pleased with myself for having managed to do so. with a bit of effort i was on the toes of woman who seemed to be swimming a little faster than me, and noticed that i was sharing the draft with another girl. that's even better - as scott had told me the previous day ' you only need one pair of fete to draft' - and two is better than that! before long the group became 4, and the pace settled. it felt pretty easy and the lead changed occasionally in the first quarter o the swim and there was a bit of clashing of arms and legs as .the sea was calm but quite rolling with swell. if i glanced up when we were high, i could see that here was nobody within bridging distance ahead. by the time that we were half way i was feeling just a bit too comfortable and started to get frustrated. however, i'd been getting a tow for 1.8km so i swam to the front and tried to pick up the pace, assuming that these were stronger swimmers than me and would soon swim round and take over again. not so - i actually got the sense that aside forma faster start than i had ,these girls were tiring more than me .so i lead the pack back to shore which was really good fun - i had a paddle border each side of me which i could see underwater, so only had to sight occasionally. mostly i kept my head down and focused on my stroke. it did seem to take a long time to get back..but at last we were helped up the steps and into transition .
now ,i'm usually one of the swiftest mover through transition area, but these girls were really racing to out bike compound! we exited T1 together and they hammered off up the road. i'm working hard to keep them in my sights knowing that there'd be a huge advantage from having some company out there on the Queen K...but the 3 of them had disappeared for view before we got to the kuakahini highway. i now know that the group included Karin Thuerig and Helen Bij De Vaate who went on to ride (4:48 and 5:02 respectively!
riding out and having the queen K to myself was pretty wickid though .i was feeling good and was mentally prepared for this. keeping one eye on HR and the other on cadence, i enjoyed the cheers as i rode past the gathered crowds. a surprising amount of people hanging out in the baking sun on the edge of a highway! i kept my thoughts positive and my legs working. steven and i had been chatting about the likely hood of us finishing together- which of course extended to speculation as to who'd cross the line first. knowing that i'd had a poor swim, i reckoned that he'd already have made up 15 min on me...i thought i might make 10 min back on the run...so couldn't afford to loose more than 25 min on the bike and pushed on to get as far along the course as i could. the figures were kind of hard to work out in the heat of the race...but when the first age grouper passed me only 1:30 into the ride i though i was done for! from that point on there was an increasing stream of strong male riders passing me. as the flow thickened the problem with the different drafting rules that apply to pro's was a bit of an issue - since its perfectly legal for a passing age grouper to slot himself into the 10m gap that i'm holding ( he only needs to be 7m back) ...but i risk a penalty if i don't immediately drop back. most of the guys were pretty understanding. There were very strong cross winds on the way up to Hawi, but they were nothing like those on the way down. absolutely terrifying and i was very glad that i had left the drop attached. all the same, there were several occasions when i was blown right across to the edge of the road and really feared going in the lava. that was a petty miserable 18 miles - potentially fast but not able t ouse it much. i was stunned that age group women were starting to pass me too! no sign of steven yet though..he must be close. and that kept me going through teh tough return part of the ride. it's great that many of my friends are racing here are strong riders as they did all at some point come by , and i was able to get a sense of how peoples races were going .i'd established by now that steven wasn't having a good one - it was only in the last 90 min that he passed me...not riding strong and i passed him back for a further 30 min. until something clicked and he decided to put his head down and motor home! at least i did not have to do so much on the run to beat him though! I could see that i was well short of my target, or even matching last year's bike split but felt i'd worked my legs hard enough that i was not looking forward to a long run. i reminded myself of teh races i've done where i've ridden poorly but run well - Zaratuz half where i ran a 1:24 20km and IM UK where i set my IM run PB last month. i just had to get out and do it.
the first mile went by in under 7 min, the second ditto...over the next 10 things settled to my target pace of 7:30s. I could see the spread of the female pros in front of me, and reckoned that i was within a mile or two of the top 20 and was running well. i 'd somehow passed steven without noticing since i saw him after teh Ali'i drive turn around, behind me, then Scott, then Jenny which really gave me a fright - she'd put 20 min into me if not more. that's just be embarrassing. my feet were already starting to hurt but my pace stayed reasonable until we hit Palani, which i was telling myself is a lot better than i felt at this point last year..then that steep hill really seemed to just sap me. i don't remember if i walked - i think i used an aid station as an excuse to do so for a little and got running again..but my pace just seemed to have dropped off. from then on, mile 11, it was a battle to sustain 8 min miles - i was hitting 8:03, 8:05 and for all the world felt like i was killing myself. i used several stargergies to just keep going - and for the first time ever made use of the special needs bags where i'd stashed a can of Monster .having never tried this before i was quite curious and looking forward to it. in the energy lab it was a picture of carnage. i saw Roger, Richard Hobson, Russ and Yvette all walking and/or looking like death! Somehow that made me feel less retched, determined not to show i was suffering ...and i did my best to encourage them to run too. only 10k to go...that's a long 50 min though! i spent some of it with mark Petrofesa form Epic Camp - he was in a similar condition but wanted to break 10hrs...that was the first time i got a sense of the overall time . it was 4:34. i had 16 min to run 8.2 miles to beat last year's time. it was possible s i pushed on. My feet were balls of blister by then but i know that the magical feeling of running down Ali'i drive was only minutes away ...and i'd survived the (psychologically) toughest race experience so far and felt i'd coped well.
i was disappointed to have posted a slowest race here ever- combining my worst swim and bike (though actually , my fastest run) splits for the course...but considering the number of drop-outs on the day, i'm proud to have finished and proud to have really savoured and enjoyed it. this is more than just an ironman - it's teh mother of all ironman ( literally!) and I look forward to returning next year with some more experience and race savvy.
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