Thursday, October 14, 2010

2010 Ironman World Championships

 It seems like a dream. I can't believe that only a few days ago I was anxiously awaiting the start of the 2010 Ford Ironman World Championships!
In my pre-race warm up I felt a sense of calm that I have NEVER felt in previous visits to Kona! I swam back and forth between the pier and beach with a smile on my face, and with that, a sense of calmness came over me. I separated myself from the rest of the crazies and found my way over to the secluded beach. The spectators were amazing! I put my feet on the ground and they erupted into cheers for #1718! I heard my sherpa extraordinaire, Jenny, off in the distance and took a moment to run up and give her a huge hug. This picture says it all: calm, relaxed, happy and ready to kick ass!
Swim: The waters of Kailua Kona Bay featured a good/strong current with decent chop. However, I'll take rough water over awful foot cramps any day (as was the case in my previous 2 trips to kona)! I now believe that a huge reason for the cramping I've experienced in years past was nerves. I didn't think I was nervous at the time, but comparing 2008 and 2009 to this year I know that is probably the largest contributing factor. I also didn't abide by the "adjust to the heat" no air conditioning rule this year. This meant my electrolytes were not totally depleted before the gun went off.
It was a pretty physical swim out to the first buoy, but I hung in there and fought back. As was the case in Canada, I didn't take being clocked over the head very lightly. I fought back! and held my line/feet. Once around the final turn buoy I felt my draft starting to slow. I looked up for new feet to follow but there weren't many around. All of a sudden a guy came rip-roaring by my left, and I took the opportunity to jump on. This was my ride back to the pier. I probably should have left my initial draft buddy earlier on in the swim, but all-in-all it was a decent swim. Hell, I was singing to myself the entire time. Maybe I could of swam a bit faster, but I relied on the luck of the draft, and still exited the water within a minute or two of the leaders.

T1: get OUT of MY way!
I used a bit extra time this year to put on arm coolers and apply sun screen. I haven't done this in years past, and ended up a fried mess. I knew the extra 30second in the tent would be worth it if the heat and sun were anything like last year. I'm not sure what the deal was in that transition this year, but seriously I took out about 5 people on my way through. I am not sure why people thought it was ok to take their bikes out of the rack and block the entire row, but I yelled my whole way through transition: "on your right, on your left, coming through, MOVE!" It must of been comical to watch me throw aside anything and everything in my path, but I wanted to get the heck out of there. I think people think of transition as a break. But not me, the clock doesn't stop, so neither do I!
Bike: Once on the Queen K I stayed well within myself. Pain instantly filled my quads, and with it I realized this was not going to feel as "easy" as IM Canada. I was passed by a ton of packs, but tried hard not to let it fluster with my emotions as it has in previous races. I instead said a prayer and asked God to be my witness and remind me that I was an athlete with integrity and didn't need to play at their game in order to have a worthy race. That is what kept me smiling as I reached the end of the Queen K and started my climb up to Hawi.
 If you read any other race reports I'm sure people will talk about the hellacious winds up to Hawi. I came into the race expecting nothing less. Instead of hating life (as in previous races on the BI) I accepted it. The faster I get to Hawi, the faster I get off this awful stretch of road. I remained aero as long as I could and did the best I could. The cross winds sucked and were a bit scary, but I handled them the best I could and just kept fighting.
I honestly did not feel strong, and nothing seemed to come easy to me, but I did remain calm and content. I couldn't control the feeling in my legs or that my heart rate wouldn't go up, but I could control my mental toughness.After watching the drafting and inefficient refereeing I almost threw in the towel. I could rant and rave on this topic for paragraph and page on end...but I'll save it.

I entered T2 feeling a bit depleted, but I still cruised in around 5:39. Considering we faced head winds for 90% of the ride I was content...and ready to run.
T2: there is a good funny T2 story, but in the effort of space I'll spare you the sun screen debacle. But obviously by my awesome lack of tan lines you can tell that I won the quick but brutal battle.

Run: The first 8 miles I tried hard to hold back. I wanted to duplicate my IM Canada run, and knew the secret was in the first few miles. Hold back now, fly later.  The only difference was the lack of "flying." Unlike Canada I was not enjoying the run, and nothing came easy. I tried to put on a smile when I ran by the countless friends lining the course, but in reality I was in a whole heap of pain. The one thing keeping me going was the fact that I was finally the one doing all the passing. 
When I hit the energy lab I knew I had a shot at sub 10:10. That is a "dream come true time" for me, and to achieve it in Kona would be sick. I thought sub 10:10 would certainly be good for the podium, so I tried hard to keep ticking off my competition. Robert was out on the run course trying to figure out where my competition was. By this point he thought I was in 6th, but I had 4 minutes to make up on the next closest girl. He willed me and cheered me on, but I was Ms. Negative pants in return. I was near tears when I yelled back "I can't...I'm running out of real estate." Both him and Jenny refused to accept this and insisted I keep fighting. They told me I could catch a few more girls if I just kept fighting. It was this moment when I finally allowed thoughts of my friend John Adams to enter my mind, fill my heart, and fuel my feet. Many of you reading this blog are blessed to also call him your friend! Those who don't know him, he was an amazing friend, athlete and coach! He was in a tragic car accident several weeks ago and has been fighting HARD for his life.
Friday night I learned that his family decided to follow his wishes and take him off life support. I wanted to grieve but didn't feel I could. I tried hard to sleep, but I couldn't do that either. Until this moment, I simply thought of crossing the finish line for him. But he decided to join me a bit early, and with three miles to go he let me know he was right there with me. Ask Robert and he'll tell you I was holding back the tears. I had NOTHING left in the tank. NOTHING! But, just as I turned to run down Palani I saw my next target. I flew! I was on her tail and waiting to make the pass. I figured I'd wait until we hit the hot corner, that is until she turned back and saw me on her feet. That was all it took and I was off. I turned back one and she was still within 100 feet, I turned onto Ali'i and surged again.
And as I entered the finish area I saw Sierra was right there as well. I thought we were both on the podium. When I passed her I thought I had run my way into 4th. Turns out a few of the girls ahead of me looked more like men, and my friends didn't calculate them into the equation. oops.

10:07! only 6 weeks after my break through 10:17 at IM Canada. And a new run PR of 3:21. I waited a few short seconds to great my good friend Sierra and congratulate her on an amazing race!
Moments like this are so much more enjoyable when shared with those we love. Sierra is an amazing athlete and even better person. It was awesome to share this moment with her! Now if only I could learn to bike like her!
And then, I took a moment for John. I finally let myself accept that he has left this earth. Sharing something like this with him gives great meaning to what I accomplished out there. You have to know John to know what I mean. Dear friend, you will be missed! And those lives you touched will continue to live with a spirit and love greater than any one of us possessed before you entered our lives. Finally I let the tears flow! =(
What a day, and what a journey! I never thought I'd be a contender in Kona, and never thought I would break 10:10 there. I've always been one to dream big, but I guess this year, on this day  the dream was too big for even myself to conceive.  Thing is, it was not to big for John! 
...I have to end this blog post on that note.
 and give a special thanks to my race day sherpas: Robert, Jenny and RJ! You guys kept the fight within me alive.