I have always enjoyed running. The feeling of accomplishment and joy it brings me is unequaled. Two years ago, I thought I would try something different. I told my husband, Allan, while we were riding the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (another adventure) that I wanted to try completing an Ironman triathlon.
I hired a coach the week we returned. I was referred to Wendy Mader (T2 Coaching) from a friend. She provided me with a detailed training plan which kept me accountable, focused and injury free. The work began for what I thought would be my only Ironman in Tempe, AZ last November. At that event I qualified for the Women’s World Championships in Kona which was held on October 14. This is why my race report for a triathlon is in our trail running newsletter.
The Kona Ironman is amazing. It’s a little different vibe because it is all female. Over two thousand women from all over the world came together to compete. We arrived five days ahead, so I was able to preview the course. The swim (2.4 mile open water) course was marked and open for practice. One of the sponsors set up a catamaran and served coffee about 1,000 yards from the start from 7-10 for the five days prior to the race. We also previewed the bike/run course in our rental car.
With endurance sports I look at race day as a celebration of all the training that was involved. Race day started with my swim wave beginning ten minutes after the pros. The water was warm, so I wore a swim skin over my tri-suit and felt very comfortable. The salt water was a little choppy but overall noneventful.
Exiting the water into the transition area there were fresh water hanging hoses. I rinsed the salt water off, then grabbed my bike bag and headed to the change tent where I removed my swim skin, put on my bike shoes, glasses and applied sunscreen. My helmet was on my bike. 2,100 bikes were lined up numerically. My number 472 was easy to find. Exiting the corral, the cheering crowd was an energy burst.
The 112 mile bike ride went up the west side of the big island to Hawii on the north coast. The winds were manageable and well supplied aid stations were located every 15 miles. I prefer my own nutrition and have been using Skratch Super High Carb in my training. Each serving is 400 calories. The flavor is not too sweet or syrupy but packs in the calories. It works well for me. I carried two bottles and once depleted I replaced with water bottles. My other nutrition is Naak Ultra energy sweet potatoes with butternut squash along with the usual fig bars, bananas and items served at the aid stations. I packed in a special needs bag at mile 85 a sandwich with sunflower butter but when I got it the bread had some spots on it from sitting out in sunny 85 degree weather so I skipped it.
There is a penalty for drafting and penalty tents throughout the course. I haven’t had a lot of experience but I do know it gets windy and may be irresistible to some. The tents were full each one I went by and I was grateful for all my training in Tahoe and Washoe Valley where we can get some big wind. My higher intensity rides I use a trainer indoors. Thankfully, I much prefer riding outside.
Coach Wendy told me to be fresh at mile 80 and most people won’t be. She has always had me train by rate of perceived effort (RPE) and I was at 3-4 on my bike ride which saved my legs for the run. At mile 90 I saw my husband, Allan, working at the aid station. He held up a sign Go Rocket! which is my trail name from hiking the AT a few years ago. I smiled and pedaled on.
The crowds were all downtown and as I turned into transition two. I had a burst of energy from the crowd. Spectators hold up signs with funny comments such as “You paid to do this”, “Women Power”, etc.
I parked my bike, removed my helmet and ran to get my run bag. Once in the change tent, volunteers handed out refreshing cold, wet towels. I changed my bike shoes to Hokas, added a visor and off I went. It was hot and the sun was beating down. We didn’t get any afternoon clouds or sprinkles like we had earlier in the week. I settled into my pace and ran thru town and back (8 miles) then headed up to the Queen’s Highway and out to the airport. It was hot (I know I mentioned that already). The aid stations were located more frequently, and I agreed with myself I would walk each one.
It started getting dark at about mile 18 for me. I had a flashlight in a special needs bag and was glad I got it when I did. I wasn’t sure how long I would be out there. The last few miles were a dream come true. I never dreamed I would be in Kona Ironman Championships three years ago.
Ironman has a 17 hour cap and at 14:02 I crossed the finish line.
Anything is possible.