Not every race can be a good race. With the good races, there must be bad races every once in a while. The bad ones are what really tell us what we are made of. These are the races that make us an athlete. That test us, push us to the brink of exhaustion. These are the races where the term ‘blood, sweat and tears.’ comes from. The races where you want to quit with all of your might, but somehow you are able to dig from way deep inside you and somehow finish a race you never thought you would be capable of finishing… where every single muscle in your body just wanted to give up, but your mind did not.
that race was Kona.
Kona caused a lot of joy…. but also a TON of hurt. It just hurt in so many ways. It hurt emotionally, physically, mentally, it just f*cking hurt.
I went into Kona with different expectations than IMMT. I had to be honest with myself, knowing that I had just raced an Ironman in August and that my body may not respond in the way it normally would on race day. Two Ironmans in seven weeks – NOT easy. Given my numbers leading up to Kona, Coach was confident that I could still race a competitive time at Kona, however, the training weeks leading up to Kona post IMMT were the toughest weeks of my life. It was really, really hard to get my head in the game and focus. I was going through some really hard personal things (divorce, selling the house, interviewing for new jobs…) all while training for Kona. I worked as hard as I possibly could during this short period of time, like the little worker bee that I am, but my heart was losing the desire. So, at a time when I should have been very happy and excited about getting ready for Kona, I was just kind of numb. But like time always does, it moves on, and with time things got better…
Before I knew it… race morning was upon me!
RACE MORNING KONA
It was pitch black outside when I got to the transition that morning, but we were soon treated with a beautiful sunrise. I made my way to the bag drop areas and the body marketing stations. I ended up walking right behind Rinny that morning…“are kidding me?!” so freaking cool. I wished her good luck:) The body marking stations are just like what they look like on TV. I keep having all of these ‘pinch me ‘ moments. Unlike most races, they use the body marking tattoos and they really make everyone feel special. After getting marked/tattooed I made my way to my bike to make sure everything was good to go. I had a moment to myself where I walked over to the water and just took a few deep breaths. I was about to race in the Ironman World Championships, wow, just wow.
After the porta-potty madness, putting on sunscreen and braiding my hair, it was time to make my way to the swim start. I said goodbye to Brian and Coach Jorge and headed to the swim start.
It all started with a 2.4 mile swim in Kailua-Kona Bay.
The Amateur women all started together at 7:10AM. I heard the cannon go off for the pro’s and the amateur men. Each time it went off, I felt a lump in my throat. It was almost go time!
I began the walk to Dig Me Beach, walked down the infamous carpeted steps and I was on the beach, toes in the sand with hundreds of my closest friends:) Once my feet hit the water, I swam about 200 yards with the rest of the women in bright pink caps, where we proceeded to tread water for about 10 minutes before the cannon. While we floated there, the waves started to rock us around and we were constantly bumping into one another. It was like we were buoys getting bounced around by the waves. This was quite stressful and I just tried to be as relaxed as possible. Mike Reilly was announcing the swim start, which helped to calm my nerves, thanks to his fun energy. Before I knew it, the countdown was on 10 – 9- 8- 7 – 6 – 5- 4-3-2-1… GO!! It was a thrashing start, that is for sure. I stayed strong and fought my way through. I was so proud of how I handled the swim start.. no freak outs. I just settled into my happy pace and did one stroke at a time. It helped that the water was crystal clear and so beautiful.. I just tried to focus on that and think about how lucky I was!
The swim is a giant rectangle and the turnaround goes around a boat, which was definitely a cluster F. Volunteers on surfboards line the entire swim, cheering you on and directing you if you start to go off course. At the swim turnaround, I could tell the current had shifted and we were now going against the current, eek. I also swallowed water at least four times and felt it burn my esophagus…ouch. As I approached the shore, I could see and hear the roaring crowd. I was so happy to be done with that swim.
SWIM TIME: 1:16:53 (close to projected time for Kona, significantly slower pace than usual)
I ran up the steps, out of the water and rinsed myself off with these fresh water hoses. The women’s changing tent was jam packed (and smaller than I would have thought for Kona). There were porta-potties inside the transition area (sweet!) and plenty of volunteers applying sunscreen. I didn’t reapply nearly as much sunscreen as I should have (more on this later).
I grabbed by bike and headed out on on the Queen K highway… a long day ahead.
More to come.