This is the third year in a row that I was fortunate enough to compete in the IM World Championships. This race is the pinnacle of triathlon races! Set in the most beautiful place I have ever been to, surrounded by the most fit endurance athletes on the planet, this race absolutely ROCKS! My goal going into this race was simply to execute the plan that Coach Jesse had laid out for me, which included drinking LOTS of Powerbar Perform and stick to the heart rate.
SWIM – 1:06
Last year, during IM Lake Placid – I was beat up so severely during the swim portion, that I decided from there on out –I would always line up mass swim starts WAY outside. I would rather swim more yards than to get beat up like that again. So for this swim – I started WAY left of the buoy line and about second row back. I think that because the cannon did not go off this year, I may have gotten out faster than the people around me, because I did not bump into a single person until the first buoy! The bad part was that I could not catch a draft for the first half of the swim, but I did do a pretty good job on the way back. My garmin said I swam 2.63 – which I am fine with because I did not panic and I did not waste energy fighting with anyone. My swim time was about 3 minutes faster than last year in what seemed like slower conditions.
I had a gut feeling that this year was going to be way more challenging than the past two years that I competed in Hawaii, so I really hoped that I was ready for it. Everything started off great, but when we got to the last section of the Queen K – the crosswinds began and they were relentless. There were so many times that I looked ahead and saw cyclists riding slanted to the road. I kept pushing on and was still feeling good all the way up to Hawi. Hawi is this really cool little town that I rode to earlier in the week and met a few locals that were SO fun! It is always a blast riding through that town on race day. On the way back we were rewarded with a beautiful tailwind all the way to Kawaihae. Turning back onto the Queen K, things started to fall apart a little bit. There was a constant headwind (always is), and although I did keep it together better than years past, I could not stimulate my heart rate. This is when I thought it would be nice to have a power meter, because I am not sure if I went out too hard or if the winds in the first half took it out of me. Either way, I did stay mentally positive – so I am happy with that part. I even remained positive at about mile 95, when I passed a guy and of course he had to pass me back, pull right in front of me and immediately stop pedaling. Repeat this cycle x3! Finally, I decided I didn’t want to burn anymore matches, so I sat up and stopped pedaling. Since he wasn’t pedaling either – I did not get out of his line in time and I received my first ever penalty. I was pretty upset because this whole race, I had been passed by many packs and I always rode smartly. In this situation – I should have hit my brakes – no excuses, It just happened so fast and I was too proud to slam on the brakes. So I got over it and finished the ride where I served my 4:00 penalty in t2. During this stand down time, I saw a bunch of girls run past me through transition and I started to feel more and more anxious to get out there and run.
RUN – 3:16
I think I had a little too much excitement starting the run, because I came through my first mile in 6:35. Oops! Mile 2 was 7:01. Oops again! I knew it was hot and dangerous, but I just love the energy along Ali’i drive and I felt great for about the first 8 miles. About the time I started running toward Palani, I felt my belly start to really rumble and I was worried that I would not make it to the portopotty in time. Fortunately I spotted one halfway up the hill and I made a pit stop. I think that the potty was 500 degrees in there, because I felt like I was going to catch on fire. When I stepped out, the humid heat of Kona was actually a relief! Onward I ran for the next few miles to the next potty where I had to stop one more time. My pace started to slip a little bit, but I was nearing the Energy Lab and actually looking forward to that section. I always enjoy this part of the course for lots of reasons. First of all, I start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Second, I get to see friends and competition. Finally, I LOVE that last aid station – the volunteers are so loud and cheery, that it really makes me smile. I had spotted a few girls that looked like they may have been in my AG and decided that now was the time to go for it. I was happy (and lucky) that my body seemed to have listened to me. This run seemed to fly by, and before I know it, I was turning down Palani and looping town toward Ali’i. There are SOOO many people lining the course that I can’t even begin to paint a picture of it, but it is amazing. That last mile of an Ironman is what keeps me coming back for more! About a half an hour after the race, a friend told me that I got 5th place in my division! I was not really expecting that to happen because women 30-34 are SO tough, but WOW I felt like a million bucks!...
…Until about 10 minutes later when another friend told me that Jeremy was in the hospital. Then I forgot about EVERYTHING! Jeremy is one of those ridiculously healthy people that had one cold in all of the years that I have known him. For him to be in the hospital, I knew it was BAD. You can read all about his experience here, but I was so relieved that he is going to be okay. I slept that night for about an hour, because all of the emotions that I was experiencing were so overwhelming that I couldn’t think straight. Even when I think about race day now, I still get kind of fuzzy mentally and emotionally!
I have had my share of disasters while training and racing over the past few years, and my number one thought is that I am incredibly grateful that I played my cards and everything worked out. There are many people that I know that did not have that luxury. Jeremy, Sonja, Katy B. (did not even get to the starting line), Michelle, Joe V., etc… Those are the people that I think about, because I know how hard they have worked and they didn’t have near the day that they are capable of. In this sport (and in life) I refuse to take a moment for granted!
I am forever inspired and grateful to be a part of BallouSkies. Also, a GIANT thank you to Coach Jesse of QT2 systems for preparing me in every way possible! I will reflect more on the details later, but for now it is time to rest and recover!