Sometime last year, one of my best friends mentioned she wanted to do a 1/2 Ironman this summer. I told her I would do which ever one she choose; and being a Hawaii-girl (she lived 18years on Oahu) I was soon informed we would be racing Hawaii 70.3, AKA Honu!
I ended talking two more friends, Kris and Jay, into racing with us, and a trip was planned.
We got in Thursday afternoon, and Friday was for race prep. The am plan was to swim the Ironman World Champ course (OK just a little of it!), run Alii Drive, eat breakfast at Lava Java and go to the market in Kona to get all the stuff we needed to stock our condo. Check!
Then it was off to the Expo. The day turned quite stressful, as we had three bike to pick-up for TBT and one from Bike Works Kona. At the Expo, also T2 the run stuff had to be left and then the bikes had to get to T1, some 6miles away and we had to be back for the pre-race meeting. Two rental cars, a ton of luggage and gear, and four bike were not going to make the trip up. Jay and I decided to ride up, which was perfect to squelch nerves and get the creaks of of my legs.
Finally after what seemed to be the worlds longest and most stressful pre-race day, we were able to have a great pre-race dinner and get to bed early.
Race morning was actually uneventful. All our gear was already there, so all I had to do was give the bike a once over, get body marked and do a quick warm up swim. The wind was already blowing something hard, and there was a chop on the water, so my nerves were on edge.
Honu is a mass start swim, which was totally new to me. You have the option of starting on the beach or in the water. I did a hybrid start. My only orders for the swim, was to stay out of trouble. This was an impossible task! It was a washing machine from start to finish. I got hit, I got kicked, I got pinched, but it was actually a really fun swim! My time was a bunch slower than I would have liked, but it was super hard to get around anyone, and I was trying to conserve some energy for what I knew was going to be a long day. I did decide that I like swimming without my wetsuit. Arms not achy at the end!
T1 was pretty good. Everything for the bike was in a bag. So it was all about the dump the bag, get the stuff on and the swim stuff back in the bag. I had a quick freak-out moment when I was unracking my bike and saw a speedsuit on the ground. Quick check... Not mine!
The bike plan was to Hold Back. I have a history of going too hard on the bike, and then cramping on the run. I had no intention of getting a spot to Kona, so this race was to be a little of an experiment. Everytime I saw a girl infront of me (no AG #'s so no ideas if they were in mine) I would tell myself they were racing for a Kona spot and I was just racing for _____. I filled in the blank with things such as ice-cream, a cold glass of water, a nice ocean swim, etc.
The bike was tough! Mentally and physically. Long stretches of black asphalt surrounded by black lava, left me feeling like I was riding on the sun! Also the field was pretty bunched due to the mass start. Lets just say men DON'T like being passed by a small girl on a small blue bike, so they tortured me all day long with the pass and then be passed game. And riding right and passing left is not a skill that many people have developed. The good news was that the "hill" to Hawi, was really not that tough!
Finally we were headed back to the resort and T2. I had no idea how T2 was going to work, so I just got my feet out of my shoes and tried to pay really good attention to what the volunteers were yelling. It actually went smooth. A volunteer ran me to my transition spot and helped me sort out what I wanted. She told me to leave everything on the ground and she would repack it and put it in my spot. Thanks!
The run has been my nemesis of late. I love running, and actually do it quite well, but I have been cramping a ton the past year. So this race was all about NOT cramping. To this end I held back on the bike and took in a ton of salt! The only thing left to do was to go for it! The first mile felt great, so I knew I was golden. I got in a small pack of girls in the first few miles; I had to go really deep into myself to make sure I was going MY pace. The heartrate monitor really helped me.
This was honestly one of the most challenging runs I have ever done (Yes I'm comparing that to Wildflower!) No big hills, just constant rolling. Off and on the golf course (soft but hot and humid) and the road (hotter and hard). It was a series of out and backs and circles. I never quite knew where I was. But the aid stations were awesome! I began to think of them as buffet stations. Found a good aid station rhythm: Cup of water- sip in the mouth, rest on the head. Cup of Gatorade- Sip or two in the mouth. Cup of ice- down the shirt. Sponge- Squeeze out on the head and chuck it.
With all of the out and backs, it was great to be able to see friends and cheer them on. Mile 9-12 was the "Out and Back to Hell!" Black pavement, lots of lava and no shade. People were comparing it to the Energy Lab. I saw a friend up ahead who I wanted to say Hi to, so I just put my head down and slowly made my way up to her. Singing to myself helped too!
Finally back on resort grounds and I knew the end was near. I could not see the finish chute, but knew it had to be close. Picked up the pace and all of a sudden the clock was in front of me and I was done. It was very anticlimactic!
Post race was all about getting fluids in and watching friends finish. Then off for a nice ocean soak. Unfortunately I totally cramped while sitting in the surf. Ouch! Luckily I have nice friends who brought me water and salt tabs down into the ocean while I spent the next 30minutes trying to uncramp.
Results were up and I had placed 5th! Very excited but I knew this meant I was in the running for a Clearwater spot. What to do? Could think of nothing better than to debated it over some nice fruity, tropical drinks and french fries and.... Well let's just say I'll be going to Florida for the first time this November!
The race was brutal, but hanging out with the best race friends ever and seeing my friend Kristin complete her first 1/2 Ironman with a smile on her face made it all worth it!