Friday, October 14, 2011

Ironman Hawaii - The Final Finish

It is with very mixed emotions that I write this. On the one hand I am very happy to have finished my final race in Hawaii (and 10th Kona finish), but on the other I wanted to put in a much better performance than I did last Saturday. I will admit that I gave it all I had, but my body and mind were either not able, not willing or a bit of both. In order to do well at this game you have to be willing to go to the well. I tried to go to that well for the fourth time in six months last weekend only to find that the well was pretty much dry.

I started out in the swim and watched the main pack swim away but I sat in and thought the swim was actually going by pretty quick. I went to the front for the trip back from the turn around and I was working quite a bit harder but I guess we were swimming into a pretty good current. I don't think I have every swam over 1 hour for one of these, but today was that day. I actually wasn't keeping track of splits at all on this day so I didn't realize how slow the swim was until after.

Once onto the bike I tried to play pac man and start catching all the cyclists off in the distance. The main pack was huge (probably 30 guys) and they were well up the road, but I was determined to at least catch those that popped on the last 50km (which always happens) of the ride. I was moving OK for the first 40 or 50 km and then my legs were just empty. Everyone I had passed on the way out to Waikoloa were coming past me before the turn around. I tried to rally on the way back from Hawi but it was at this point that I had to resign myself to the fact that today was going to be about finishing. I kept trying to up the tempo on the way back but if I were to guess my heart rate never went above 130. I hit T2 in a different time zone, but I still thought I might be able to pull off a good run since my heart rate had not allowed me to beat up my legs much on the bike.

I hit the run and everything actually felt ok for the first 5km. It was at about this point that the same power outage that occurred on the bike happened on the run. I seemed to lose all pop off of my legs and my left achilles started to really hurt. I was hobbled and reduced to a walk/run from the top of Palani out to the Harbour. I am still not sure what the cause of that was but it eventually worked it's way out (with the help of a couple ibuprofen) with about 10km to go. Knowing that this was the final one I tried to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the course as much as I could (but running mid day in Hawaii is not all that enjoyable ever). Still, it was an amazing experience and it was incredible to see Craig Alexander break the course record. He is as classy as they get so it was great to see him get his third title.

All in all this has been a very strange year for a number of reasons. For the past 6 months I have been going from Ironman to Ironman. My goal was to get back to Hawaii one last time. I accomplished that goal and I am proud of that. I had my fastest race (and what Jasper thinks might be my best race) ever in Texas and I am proud of that. I did get another top 10 finish in Lake Placid which I am proud of. The problem with the new system was that I didn't plan it properly and I spent my summer trying to get to Kona without an eye to what I would do (or how I would feel) when I got there. I wasn't physically or mentally ready to take on the distance, let alone the best athletes in the world. That is something that eats at me a little bit, but I am happy to have ended my career at the place that made me fall in love with the sport. 13 years and 26 Ironman's later I can't complain about the career or the life I have had in the sport.

A big thank you to all of those that have made the journey possible. You are all over the world, and you know who you are.

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