Race morning arrived quickly with a 4:30am wake up call. I slept really well and wasn't really at all tired in the morning, just fired up and ready to race. I ate my usual breakfast which included a bagel with one side peanut butter/one side jam, a glass of milk/a glass of juice, and poured myself a cup of coffee but sadly only got to drink a few sips before had to hit the road! The traffic wasn't too bad coming into the Hapuna beach entrance, and we arrived at transition with more than enough time to spare, nearly 90 minutes. Geoff dropped off Stephen and I, then went to park the car. Bikes were checked in the night before, so we didn't have to worry about that. I got everything organized on my bike fairly quickly, tires pumped up, and a few moments later had an "OH, $H!T" moment when I realized I had left my tri shorts back at our house! You see, I was wearing my bathing suit, and had planned to swim in that and throw on the tri shorts in T1 for the bike, because let's face it - who the hell in their right mind would do a 1/2 ironman in only a bathing suit. OUCH!
I was preparing myself for a very long and painful 90km ride wearing only a bathing suit when I suddenly saw Geoff, who kindly volunteered to drive back to our resort and pick up my tri shorts. A big Mahalo goes to Geoff, who chauffered us around to the race, helped out with equipment, and spectated on a very hot day, and not to mention drove all the way back to our condo and back to get those damn tri shorts, with enough time for them to be placed on my bike! Phew - disaster averted!
Race start was 7am sharp, so I got in a few minutes early to swim a few strokes, which was the entire extent of my warm up. Stephen and I then swam over to the race start, which looked ridiculously crazy with the 1500 or so athletes assembling themselves for the mass start. It ended up being a disorganized mess, with about 50-100 swimmers well past the start line, and several announcements being made for everyone to 'move the hell back or we're not starting this race'. I moved myself back to the proper start line and assumed the other massive group would as well. I wanted to play it fair and not cheat by starting far forward of the actual start line. Apparently this was my first mistake in the swim. The announcer kept telling everyone to get back or they wouldn't start the race. All of a sudden the cannon blew! Race was underway!
-Swim: 29:06 (3rd age group, 7th female overall)
The swim was pretty rough, and it took me quite a while to get some clear water. I ended up swimming a terrible line to the first buoy, as there was a surprising number of swimmers around me and ahead of me. I'm pretty sure this was partly due to the head start that massive group got. Whatever, I'm not going to dwell on that any longer. Anyway, my swim didn't go very great and I was shocked to see 29 mins on the clock as I really should have been about 2 minutes faster than that, and at least 5-6 female placings higher! I was swimming phenomenally going into the race and expected much more of myself than that. The other annoying thing was that apparently a large number of the field (notably all the women ahead of me in the swim) were wearing swimskins/speedsuits. That's all I'm going to say on that topic... Anyway, I was pretty disappointed overall in my swim and will plan to redeem myself at the GWN!
(Photo credit for some of these pics goes to FinisherPix - thank you for those!)
Have no idea who this guy is, but that's me in the pink cap and that darn bathing suit...
-Bike: 2:38 (not sure of the placing overall, but was off the bike in 8th female overall, 1st age group)
My transition was pretty seamless and I was onto my bike in good time, tri shorts and all! I honestly did not feel great for about the first 5-10 miles. It was cooking out there, there were lots of little hills, and my legs didn't feel like they were showing up to the party. So I focused on being in the moment, told myself to just ride within myself and keep pushing, and kept repeating to myself 'smooth pedal strokes, smooth turnover', and just sipped my drink from my aero water bottle. However, after about 10 miles, I suddenly started feeling powerful, strong, and just great overall. After that, I had a fabulous ride! I really enjoyed the bike course, it was actually quite challenging with lots of rolling terrain and gradual climbs, as well as breathtakingly beautiful, with just a little bit of wind. I had mentally prepared myself for much, much worse, and so was pleasantly surprised at the conditions. Don't get me wrong, it was freaking hot out, but those crazy cross winds that I'd heard so much about just happened to be on the milder side.
I feel like I was able to really race the bike, and kept one or two girls in sight (leapfrogging several times) the entire time. The course is anything but fast, as I had a fantastic ride and my bike split was like 9 minutes slower than my split last year at the GWN. There was some drafting going on during the bike, but I just did my own thing and rode my own race, content with the fact that I was riding well all because of me and not a cheating draft pack! During the ride, I took in 3 cliff shot blocks after an hour, another 3 after 2 hours, about 4-6 endurolyte tabs, and 2 bottles with around 1.5-2 nuun tabs/carbo pro/2 endurolytes in each. At each water station, I grabbed a water bottle and had a few sips each time, and at the last one I filled my aero drink with some Perform electrolyte drink but honestly didn't end up needing it.
-Run: 1:56 (no clue on the placing but there were a lot of girls who ran faster!)
I was really glad to be getting off the bike, but had that long 13.1 mile run in the heat on a HARD course looming over me. My transition was really quick, and off I went! They weren't lying when they said this was a beautiful course through challenging terrain of a golf course! For the first time ever, I spent some time in the several weeks before the race mentally preparing for how difficult this run was going to be, and I had assembled a mental toolbox to draw from when the going got tough. I remember Geoff saying that there was a good chance that we weren't going to feel very good the first mile or two but that we'd settle into a good rhythm after that, and so this came to mind during those first couple miles as sure enough, I wasn't feeling very great! The first mile or so was on the grass of a fairway, which was a lot tougher than I'd anticipated as the grass was soft and spongy.
The final 2 miles were extremely tough! I thought to myself "that's 8 laps on a track, you can do that, it's basically the amount you warm up when you do a track workout", and then I just kept visualizing getting through the laps around a track. The final mile was painful - I kept saying to myself "less than 10 minutes to go, you can do this, just keep pushing!" and FINALLY the finish line appeared! The final bit was on grass which was hard to run on. I had no idea where I was, time or place-wise, but ended up at 5:08 and sooo happy to be done and even happier to have executed a solid race overall on a super hot day on a super challenging course.
Finish pic with Stephen! Very happy that it's over!
With Geoff later that day, a little sunburnt but happy!
-Final time: 5:08 (6th in age group)
I thought about sticking around and taking a roll-down spot for the 70.3 World championships in Vegas in September (if it even rolled down to 6th), but after learning that they weren't doing roll-down until 4pm, decided against it. We would have had to sit around in the 30C heat for several hours, and it was a bit of a logistic mess to get to the car (a mile or two away), and then to our condo 10 minutes away, then back. And also it would have cost $350 for the race entry, not to mention the trip fees to Vegas and dealing with another overcrowded race. So I will plan to do a race in Alberta instead!
That's it - sorry for the crazy lengthy post and kudos to you if you got this far!!