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ONIPA’A: Finishing what I started in Kona

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In Hawaiian Onipa’a means “be steadfast, resilient and resolute.”

Each year they pick a theme word for the Ironman World Championships.  The theme word of Kona this year was: ONIPA’A. Given the day I had on the big island, this could not have been more fitting for my race.

And now I’m going to finish my story.  

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After the swim, I had a long day ahead of me.

The sun got hot, really, really hot.  I expected a tough day out on the Queen K , like everyone tells you about, but holy shit that was hard. The good news is, it’s hard for everyone. Everyone is struggling, everyone is hot, everyone is battling the wind… you aren’t alone.

I navigated the Queen K as best I could, while staying in Aero for the majority of the race. My biggest fear was the crazy ass crosswinds, rightfully so… I’d heard stories of athletes literally getting blown off their bikes, so needless to say, I was a little nervous.

I heard Andy Potts (Male Pro, Coach & 4th place at Kona) say after the race, the hardest thing about the bike course is that it’s mind numbing.  You literally look at the same scenery the ENTIRE time.  It’s lava fields, grass, and pavement.. that’s it.  Everyone thinks: “ohhh Hawaii , that must be a beautiful bike ride.”  Well, yes, I guess it is beautiful, but it’s like the freaking desert.  I saw the ocean in the distance, but could not look at it because of the strong winds. I had to keep my head down as much as possible.  To pass the time, the focus was on my watts and fueling. I stuck to my watts, but it was hard to get up to speed at times because of the wind. It was a constant fight out there.

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The course is an out and back and the turn around is at the top of the climb to Hawi, where it actually rained on me that day! For the majority of the ride, I had a GRUELING headwind. However, one positive to it being an out and back is, you get to see the pro men and women zipping by on the other side of the highway, helicopters watching up above, very cool!

The bike ride went by fast, despite how difficult it was.  I think I was so excited to be racing that course, I just tried to enjoy it.  I could tell I was getting a sunburn when I was a few hours in, and I knew it could be a bad situation later on. My quads were starting to get red, and I feared I did not  reapply enough sunscreen in transition.  Towards the end of the ride I was also getting very nauseous and I no longer wanted to eat or drink (bad news).  So, not only did I have a raging quad sunburn (that was now swollen), but I had a stomach ache… oh and 26.2 miles ahead of me..  The bad thing about the heat in Kona is, you actually can’t really tell you are sweating (well, at least for me personally).  I was really happy when the bike ride was over, but I knew that I had a long run ahead of me, and I wasn’t feeling well from the start. 
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Bike time: 6:32:14

( I had hoped to break 6… but I was ok with it)

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