October 17, 2011

Kona 2011

As athletes we dream big, we set our sights high, and we pursue our goals with heart and passion.  I have been on an amazing journey for the past 3 months as I prepared for my first trip to the Ironman World Championships in Kona.  They always say, “It’s about the journey, not the destination.” Oh, how true these words are.  With the outcome of Kona being my ‘destination’, yes, I am disappointed.  I had a tough day out there swimming, biking, and running on an empty tank.  But I wouldn’t change the result if I could.  The journey that brought me to the start line and the journey I went through on race day have made me a stronger and better athlete…an athlete that will show up to the next race with full confidence that I can conquer the day and do what I am capable of, an athlete that is mentally tougher since I have battled and defeated the demons during a tough nine hour race, an athlete that will know how to fight hard even when things are going smoothly and according to plan, an athlete that is so lucky to be able to do what I do, and most importantly an athlete that is proud of who I am.  There were times during the race that it would have been very easy to throw the towel in and walk away saying, “it just wasn’t my day.”  But those thoughts were fleeting and kept in check by my deep desire to be my best and give it my all.  While my best on that day is by far no means my ‘best’ as an athlete, I dug deep and made it happen.  What more can we ask of ourselves?!

Most of you are probably interested in how my day played out…so here is a short recap:
Being a goof-ball race morning!
Race-Morning: I woke up calm and excited.  Calm knowing I’d done everything I thought I needed to leading up to the race and excited to go out and celebrate the end of this year’s Kona journey.  Things were going smoothly until about 1hr to race start, when I suddenly felt the urge to throw-up.  No time to even try to coax it back down…before I knew it all of my breakfast was on the ground…hmmm not so good to start the day on an empty stomach!!  But what can ya do?  I modified my pre-race nutrition, had Randy run grab me an extra gel and bottle of Ironman perform…at least I could get a few calories in.  Then I headed into the tent to get body marked and off to transition.  I left transition and as I walked up to Randy, he looked at my arm and said, ‘That’s not your number!’  I looked down and sure enough they had stamped ‘124’ on my arm instead of ‘125’.  Opps!  Went and got that fixed then it was time to head down to the water.  I got in the water and was happy to do my warm-up with the fish swimming below me, very calming!  Then off to the start-line. 
The swim: pretty uneventful.  I started off strong and found a good rhythm early and was in the mix of the first pack of guys.  I was on Matt Reed’s feet, with Dirk Bockel on one side and Timmy O’donnell on the other, quite the nice pocket to swim in.  The water was a bit choppy so having good feet to swim on made my effort feel quite easy.  As we approached the exit, I ran up the steps and into the change tent.  The volunteers in the change tent went crazy cheering, a few seconds later Julie Dibens came in, and that is when I realized I was the first woman out of the water, how cool is that?!  I made it to my bike and for the life of me could not get my helmet buckled.  I stayed calm, but it still took me like 45 seconds to get the darn thing on…my longest transition, ever! 
The bike: I was ready to put my head down and work hard.  The streets were lined as we rode through town, which was awesome, I tried to pull some energy from the crowd as I realized my legs were not feeling so great.  I reminded myself that there was a long day ahead and to settle in, do what I could, and I would be able to back-half the race.  About 30min in and my stomach was feeling very unsettled, I thought I was going to have to pull over for a pit-stop!  I kept telling myself, just make it to the next aid station and there you can make a quick trip into the Port-a-Pottie.   Of course, right as I was approaching my much needed Port-a-Pottie, Miranda and Mary Beth came by.  I knew I couldn’t let them go without a fight, so no pit-stop for me.  My legs came around a bit and I was able to stay in contact with them, but  as we turned up towards Hawi, my stomach started to bubble again…this time wanting to come out the top end…and there was nothing I could do to stop it.  At this point, I decided to manage the stomach by stopping the calories for a bit and just going with water.  I climbed at a what felt like a steady effort up to Hawi, but glancing at my lower than normal watts, and watching girl after girl pass me, made it that much tougher.  I hung strong and kept my head in the game, I was falling backwards, but things could turn around and anything was still possible so I kept pushing along.  Something was rubbing on my back wheel, so annoying to hear the ‘swish, swish’ with every revolution, knowing I was working harder than normal to be going so slow.  I hoped off my bike to try to fix it, not once, but twice…and never figured out what it was.  My calories kept coming up in random pukes…would have made for some great pics as it was flying out of me into the crosswinds!!!  I managed my stomach and the heat the best I could, and rode my way back into T2. 
The run: The run along Kuikini and Ali’I was amazing, so many people cheering and calling my name, that definitely helped push me along…so thanks to everyone out there supporting!!  The 10miles out and back on Ali’I were okay, I was ticking miles off, trying to get back on top of some nutrition, but just didn’t feel fluid and smooth like I had leading up to the race.  The run up Palani was tough and then out on the Queen K.  It’s funny looking back at the race, because usually, I can tell you exactly what was happening, how I was feeling, throughout the entire race.  But, as I look back at this race, once I was on the Queen K, the race became a blur.  My head was fuzzy and my body felt foreign.  I was on a mission to get to the next aid station and get fluids, ice, and lots of sponges.  Between aid stations, it was full focus on moving forward.  During the race, my mind was still in race mode and my competitiveness never let down, expectations were modified, and I just kept pushing forward.  The energy lab=a blur.  Back on the Queen K=a blur.  Turning onto Ali’i=a blur.  The finishing chute=a blur.  I don’t have a memory of any of it!  Just random bits of pieces of myself telling myself, I was strong and I could do it.  Randy said he has never seen me dig so deep or fight so hard to just finish.  He actually didn’t think I was going to make it to the finish line when he saw me at mile 23.  But even in my blur, deep down, my desires and passions kept pushing me to the finish.  I guess it’s a part of who I am, its in my heart, its in my soul, its in my blood: NEVER GIVE UP!

Kona Results: 18th Pro Woman
Swim: 51:54  ****Fastest Swim Split***
Bike: 5:20.15
Run: 3:32.47
Total: 9:50.11

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