My 2014 Kona race was a somewhat of a last min decision. I was pretty content to skip this one as I knew I was in for a lot of life changes this year, but was convinced to get into St. Croix and try to get a spot. I was able to get one there and then knew all year what was waiting for me as this would be my 8th Kona visit.I was more excited to come this year than ever because my girlfriend at the time and now fiancée, Tanya, is a new triathlete and was excited to see the venue and race for the first time. I am not going to lie, it also came with the added pressure of trying to not embarrass myself either, which was hard to balance because this summer life was so good, it was often hard to get out and motivate myself to do the training.
Lucky for me, I knew what was waiting for me when I got to the island, and also knew as always the competition is top notch and humbling, but it seemed we has also been blessed with very favorable conditions as of late and that luck was sure to run out at some point. It did.
We got to the swim start together. I decided to start amongst friends and try to at least not beat the crap out of each other on purpose. Trevor, Cesar, and I all started middle left with high hopes of being able to swim together and start the bike together. The plan worked actually quite well until our line we took naturally merged with the people who had started on the fast line and then the swim became quite chaotic. Half way back on the return trip I recognized Trevor and decided to hop on his feet for a bit. He seemed to be swimming quite well and it looked as if we were catching the group in front of us. Thanks for that Trev, I think I was on a path backwards until you snapped us out of it.Swim was a 57, which I guess is about what I would expect, but knew it wouldn’t matter as there was so much racing left. Trevor had a great T1 and was out on the course in front of me. I got to my bike, and this is when the day started to… not go the best let’s say.
No sunglasses!!! Shit. So now I know Trevor is already rolling, I had hoped to be able to bike around him for the day as it would be good mental motivation to be amongst friends. So I could either – 1. GO back and look for them or 2. Screw it lets roll without em. I decided to roll. I told myself if this was the worst of what happens today, all good.Got on the bike and literally 30 second in one of my bottles was ejected, about a min later another one… the details of WHY aren’t too important except they were in fact gone. I know what everyone is thinking, go get em. That’s a great choice in a vacuum, but what happens often is they fly off and skid into the crowd, or a ditch, etc. So now I had 1 gel in my pocket in reserve, and one bottle of nutrition. I told myself I just had to make it to special needs where I had three more waiting for me, and in 2.5 hours, I could work with what I had.
I caught Trevor pretty quick and saw on the first out and back that the leaders were actually pretty close! I put in a solid but controlled effort, and closed a lot of the gap as we got back tot eh bottom of Palani. I decided to soft pedal there, and Trevor re caught me. We were rolling another 5 min or so an when the first person passed me I decided to go with. Trevor didn’t want to ride that hard, and that was the last I would see of him for a long while. I rode with this guy out to Hawi. I didn’t really race on power although I as always aware of it, and looking at my files was within a few watts of what I wanted to ride to the bottom of the Hawi climb. I knew I was further up the road then I usually was at this point and when I would look behind would see nobody coming. With all these factors in mind I decided to ride solid but less aggressive up the climb then I had ever before.At the Hawi turnaround I was very excited to see I was in 2nd overall position! (sidebar – you have to realize how cool this was for me. For YEARS I have watched in awe at the better athletes coming down the road at me and for the first time ever I was one of the guys up the road! For a guy who used to weigh 236 lbs, could not run a mile, and when I did Ironman for the first 6 years faced many dnfs’ and terrible results, I was in the middle of a dream!)
At special needs I got my bag without having to stop. I had frozen my bottles and put them in a freezer bag which was proving to be quite defiant! I couldn’t get the damn thing open. The guy I was riding with was GONE but I knew I needed the nutrition. I finally got ‘em out, and as soon as I got them in my cages, 2 of them bounced out…. AGAIN! Ugh…. I had one refill.
By this point the wind and heat were proving to be some of the worst ever and I think having friends and Tanya on the course was the only thing I was looking forward to seeing again so just tried to re-focus.
I rode down most of the way solo catching some of the pro women, they only had water on the descent and by te time I was all the way down was caught by my friend Dan Stubleski and another guy. It was definitely better mentally to ride with these guys heading back but whoever would roll into the aid station first would get the coke and I only was able to get two of those on the return trip.
The last 5 miles it started to really catch up to me. In the last turn I felt so dizzy I almost hit the curb. This was so frustrating cause my legs felt better than ever but I knew I needed to collect myself in T2 and let these guys go, or I was looking and a long marathon, or DNF.
T2 I literally just sat in the chair for about and drank a lot of water and coke trying to get some fluid and calories in, and then I was off.I could tell I wasn’t going to be able to run to my potential straight away but wanted to try to run solid. I was locked in pretty consistently for the first 8 miles for about 7:20 pace which would have been a PR run for me, but I knew if I was starting there I would more than likely face slower miles.
Oddly enough at mile 8 I felt I needed to pee, so I jumped into a porta john and tried. What came out was scary. It was dark brown/red liquid and not a lot…. I was like OH F@#K.... I’m really dealing with something here, and I think I need more water. At that point I knew I had about 12 min on my friends and if I ran conservative they would catch me in the later miles and I was OK with that. I had no intention of doing real damage to myself so I started to walk aid stations and really drink, and pace smart.
After the energy lab Trevor caught me and what was cool was getting to run with Badmann for about 6 miles and really getting to know here better. To this day she remains a champion as a person and an athlete.
Trevor and I got to finish the race together, which was one of my cooler experiences, and given the things I had to deal with I was very happy with a 9:30. Sure I wanted to go faster, I had worked hard for it, but if I had not worked hard I wouldn’t have been able to do 9:30.