Going into Kona this year was a bit of a roller coaster ride for me. Ironman training always has it's ups and downs but this year was particularly challenging. I had a huge high after IMAZ but deep down I was ready for a break from Ironman racing. Part of me wanted to pass on the Kona slot, but I just couldn't do it. Then after I took it my mind started figuring out ways to get to sub-9. To make a long story short, I got a little to amped up early in the year and pushed a little too hard trying to get my run speed back. Then I rode the roller coaster for the rest of the season and never really got into a groove. Things got tough and I lost the motivation to push myself to be my best. I went through the motions to get the training I needed done but my heart wasn't in it.
For this reason I didn't post much at all leading up to Kona as I really didn't know what to expect and I didn't want to make excuses or set expectations. Instead I decided I wanted to make the most out of the Kona experience and the fitness I had.
Like most races, I have mixed feels about my race. On the positive side, this was the most enjoyable Ironman experience for me yet. I slowed down and truly enjoyed the entire day (and vacation). This is what I should have done when I went to Kona for the first time, but in 2010 I was in the best shape of my life and got carried away trying to race. Ironically, I showed up in 2013 with a lower FTP, lower VDOT and weighing the most I have in years, but I executed well and actually went 6 minutes faster. At the end of the day this was my best executed Ironman and I had zero issues all day... I just never hit my groove and was slow all day. In fact this was the first time I had zero nutrition issues or cramping of any sort all day.
On the negative side though, I'm a bit embarrassed. I showed up a few pounds heavier than I have been the last few years and with the lowest bike and run fitness. It shows in my result as I should have been about 20-40 minutes faster than I was.
Either way, I'm pleased with how the day went and I'm excited I was able to truly enjoy the experience this time around. Now it is time for a break from Ironman racing next year to recharge. I'm looking forward to racing short course to race more often and have a bit of fun.
If you are interested here is a little more of a play by play of the day.
Swim - 1:06
I started WAY to the left and stayed wide at the turns. I managed to swim 2.69 miles with no contact at all and even looked around a few times to enjoy the view. This was probably 3-5 minutes slower that I would have went if I swam in the pack and found some feet. It was well worth it though as I came out of the swim feeling great and like I was just getting started. In 2010, I felt like I was boxing for an hour and came out of the water pissed off.
T1 - 5 minutes
I took my time, washed the salt water off, had a drink, got sunblock/vaseline, and thanked the volunteers. It was great, but took forever :-)
Bike - 5:02
Seeing as I rode over 4 hours exactly once since last season, I didn't know what to expect. My plan was just to ride really easy out to Hawi, survive the cross winds and then re-evaluate. To my surprise there was practically no wind in Hawi and the descent was actually enjoyable, until the turn back onto the Queen K when the headwind hit. The good thing was since I took the first half easy, the headwind was no big deal and I just plugged along and slowly passed people. I ended up averaging 15 watts less than 2010 but came off the bike feeling good.
T2 - 4 minutes
Once again I relaxed and took my time. I made a pit stop, got more sunblock/vaseline, and left T2 in a slow jog.
Run - 3:44
The first 10 miles flew by and I smiled the entire way. My legs were heavy and slow but overall I felt good and was holding back. As expected, reality set in when I hit the Queen K and the run was no longer easy, but it wasn't hard either. When I got to the energy lab I was tired of running and just wanted to be done. Things got hard and I made a decision that I could walk some in the energy lab to allow myself to finish strong. I ended up taking two walk breaks and then started running again when I hit the Queen K. I made it and although it was a struggle at the end I ran all the way back to finish.
Overall - 10:02
Seeing as I never really dug deep or pushed myself, I was able to smile and enjoy almost the entire day. Plus I never got sore post race and was able to start enjoying vacation right away.
- Theresa and Abigail for a 5th year in a row of Ironman spectating and 10 years now of supporting me.
- My family for making the trip to Hawaii to support me on race day and then have a great vacation.
- Zoot for 4 years of support now. The best sponsor ever.
- Ceepo for giving me the opportunity to ride the Katana this year, which was exactly the bike I wanted.
- Coach Phil for keeping me from digging the hole too deep and getting me out in time to have the most enjoyable Ironman race yet.
Next year, I'm going to change things up a bit and focus on racing short course triathlons. This will give me a chance to focus on my weaknesses and race more often/closer to home.