Pre-race stuff was pretty awesome this year thanks to Mark and Sue D. They provided us with a place to stay less than a mile away from the King Kam Hotel in a gated community, right on the ocean, yet out of the craziness that is ground zero on Alii Drive. I will always be grateful for them providing us that opportunity.
The swim this year was by far the worst start I have ever had in Kona. I should have realized I was in a bad spot when a jelly fish the size of a volleyball was floating in front of us. The guards on the surfboards were trying to lasso it with their safety vest safely out of the way before we started. The actual start of the race was chaotic in that the cannon never went off, and at some point we heard Mike Rilely yelling GO! GO! GO! Half of us were looking around like WTF, half were swimming, and combined with my inability to sprint, next thing I knew I was underwater struggling to get to the surface. It was actually pretty scary. It felt as if I was swimming in air, meaning my arms felt as if they were simply not grabbing anything but air, even underwater. Before I knew it, I was spit out the right side, on the buoy line which pissed me off as I knew that meant I had to have just swam 100-125 meters to the side. Once in clear water I started to move up which did for the rest of the swim. Sounds great but it meant I was faster than the people I was with and I totally missed a group. I still have yet to figure out the trick to Kona swim starts I have to say. I ended up swimming 59 min which is a few min off my best there. I told myself, not to panic, it is what it is and not try to over compensate for the loss on the bike.
The bike this year was a bit unusual as well. Because of the bad swim, I had a lot more people than normal out in front of me and it was very hard to not panic and try to move up quickly. 2011 I wanted to bike aggressively and I paid for it on the last 40 miles in to town, as well as the marathon. I wanted to move back to a more conservative approach like I executed in 2010 when I went 9:16. That plan was to ride steadier throughout and make a move on the climb to Hawi, as well as be strong in the last 40 miles. I averaged 238 watts for the first 2:35 with a 270 watt climb up to Hawi. That was not as strong as I rode the last two years but because the conditions were so much harder than previous recent years and I didn’t want to limp in again, I thought I would be smart by staying even on a tough day. The packs out there were large and very hard to deal with. Trying to pass 15 people just to have them 1 at a time re pass every time you would go to the front left you with only two choices:
1. You could go way beyond your plan to pass then make it super hard from them to cling on
2. Drop all the way back and off the back or risk being a drafter, which is something I never want to intentionally do.
It became very frustrating. Many people had no problem just drafting and continuously looking over their shoulder to see if draft marshals were coming. To me, it isn’t the intent of the race, that’s my choice and I am OK with the results of my decision. My power the last two hours was just under 225. Part of this was strategic; some was because I had to go to the bathroom several times which required me to stop pedaling to complete the task.
Additionally I had a slow leak on my front tire so it became harder to maintain speed on the bike, but was still better than stopping to change the tire I think.
Transitions- Looking back, I gave up about 5 min in transitions I think, but the severity the day brought combined with my pre planned strategy to take T2 easier would pay dividends on the run. I still think it did.
I wanted to control my run. This was how I was defining success internally going in. This is also the reason I biked conservatively. I wanted to prove to myself I could be a solid consistent runner at Ironman. My thoughts were if I could continue to put 3:20 runs in or better I could then continue to stretch bikes. I ran 3:26 on a day everyone seemed to run 10-15 min slower so I was very happy with the run. I went 1:41 for the first half, and 1:45 for the second half. I almost even split the marathon which I believe is very hard to do, especially in Hawaii.
I ran steady for the first 2:30 picking up the pace actually from the top of Palani to the energy lab. Once in the lab I tried to regroup and come out stronger. Fact is, I didn’t. I stayed steady until about 23 miles then really started to fade but was able to hang on till the end. I was able to run Palani as well as then hill out of the Energy Lab fully (less the aide stations) which is a sign to me that I paced the day well.
Looking back, I think I was a bit conservative, especially on the bike. It was a conscious choice however and one I will have to revisit it to decide if I want to do that again or not. I have nothing to complain about because I was able to execute my plan, right or wrong, and how fit I was in order to execute. If you are able to do those things then what is there to be upset with? I had not cramping, nausea, diarrhea, etc. I was able to go for it however I decided to that day and to me that is what it is all about.