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Race Report – IM Hawaii 2009

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Race Report – Ironman World Championships Kona – 2009

10th Oct 2009 – Kailua Kona

Pre ‘pre’ race

If you have been following my blog you know how this trip and qualification came about. Landing in Kona was the start of an amazing 2 weeks, ‘cruising’ Ali’i Drive the first morning we arrived at 6.30am after 5 hours sleep was never in doubt, I wasn’t missing this. I lapped up the first swim, I then spent my first morning in the famous Lava Java coffee house, shoulder to shoulder with pro triathletes, most I didn’t recognise but you just ‘knew’, it was a buzz thing. Then as the week went on and more people turned up for the swims the excitement built, I cycled the course, I felt the heat, I paraded with my nation, I met with the Kiwi podcasters and I ran along the ‘Royal’ drive.

I didn’t feel any pressure, I had a goal, lap it up and finish, we all know though, ironmen don’t ‘just finish’. I knew come race day I would put enough pressure on to do a good time but right now, it was a second thought, it’s a long way to go to ruin it by being in awe of the whole thing and missing out on actually enjoying it.
I had advice from people I know and trust, thanks guys, and it helps to level out the thoughts, I also could have got carried away with enjoying it ‘too’ much, as each day ticked by I knew that couldn’t happen, the number and quality of athletes arriving started to put me in my pecking order, I had finished in my qualification race in 33rd, I was under no illusions, top half out of 1800 was what I wanted or I would be gutted, better is good. Top half in my AG was the next aim, you know what, go out to smack it and if the wheels come off, crawl to the damn finish line, if anything I’ll get on the DVD !!

Pre race

As I have had nearly a week to put this into words you would think that I would be able to rattle this off with ease, perfect recollection and a story worthy of Shakespeare, neeeeever gonna happen. However if I manage to put across 10% of the emotion and feeling of the race in this report I will be doing well.
Looking back at my finish time I would have taken it on the day no question, another day maybe not – I would have wanted quicker – but this was a toughie and its not just my opinion, there have been hotter and there have been windier, certainly more humid but we got a good mixture of all of them. However, I suppose it all pales into insignificance when you realise that Chrissie broke the record that has stood for some 20 years, in fact what AM I complaining about!!!

This was the race of all races for me, 3 years in the planning, the unexpected qualification slot was offered, I didn’t hesitate, well marginally untrue, I knew it was going to be expensive but its supposed to be a once in a lifetime eh ?

The build up to the race had been good, qualifying at IMUK gives around 9 weeks of refocus and training, the planning of the trip however was another story, trying to sort out the Kona travel and accom was more stressful than the training, as it turns out we did OK on that front.
I took a couple of weeks off work to push the volume a little and recover better but never really got to the hours that the pros train for, still, I gained a bit of confidence that I could give a good showing of myself.

I think through my blog over the last week I have managed to explain enough of the way the day would hopefully pan out. Gold, Silver and Bronze were the mantra for the darker periods. This is Hawaii though and everything can change on race day. I knew my tired muscles and sore throat during the week before would slip away unnoticed the morning of the race as my focus moved to the job at hand.

We had after all put my mum in quarantine for the last 2 days as she had come down badly with something, she was very good about it fortunately, so hopes were high. The support here by Kelly, Roger and my mum was great, they cooked food, tried to prevent me from doing too much around the condo, generally looked after me and got into the race spirit, same for the lads when they came out, mind you, they just got into the race spirit lol, no house cleaning for them.

I had been sleeping in the living room for the week to acclimatise as the girls had the bedroom with the A/C on. Waking up at 3am Saturday I didn’t need to disturb anyone, made my ham and jam sandwiches, put the coffee on and sat down to read for an hour while I had my breakfast. As experienced as I am I could feel this was a special morning, I wasn’t nervous yet, from all accounts and in my own head, I had nothing to prove with it being the first time here, its reckoned you will always try to come back and if you do, that’s when the pressure is on, to beat the previous time, I decided today was the day to lay down the marker.

All of my kit had been handed in the day before, racking bike and handing in transition bags my kit was no different than a normal IM, all I had to do was take all of my nutrition, techno kit – bike computer/Garmins, swim stuff and clothes for after the race. I felt as ready as I needed to be.

We headed to Kailua Kona at 4.45am, picking up Phil and Jeff on the way. I felt bad about not picking up the many number of athletes and families thumbing a lift down Ali’i Drive, we were heading for Paul and Jan’s apartment complex and not to the race start initially and I couldn’t face picking up a non English speaking athlete and having to explain it. I did redeem myself though, we caught Liam thumbing a lift 2 miles out of town, so stopped for him, he proceeded to moan about everyone with huge cars not picking up athletes hitching, what did they think he was going to do, break into Lava Java with his track pump !! I just had to smile.

The place was buzzing, only 5.15am and it was like the whole town had already come out to support the athletes. All of the pre race necessities were run like clockwork, check in special needs, get my race numbers stamped on my arms, few pictures and then work my way to the pier where transition was.
The pier was alive, a moving but quietly eerie mass of athletes, mostly getting themselves prepared for the day ahead, more than a few were already sorted and sitting around the outside chilling, stretching or listening to music. In a way this is where it differs from the standard IM, about 95% of people here are experienced IM racers, they may still look around at the uber athletes ripped from the eyebrows down, some may get a little nervous before the swim but they know what needs to be done come race morning and you won’t find many give their energy away needlessly.
I bumped into Jill, Liam, Glyn and Mark all preparing. Then I was ready. Over an hour to go, mmmm, toilet queue and then waste 30 mins before the Pro start.

The pro athletes go off 15 mins before us but most of the athletes, AG and pro alike are in the water together so as not to get stuck at the top of the exit stairs, Mike Reilly was on the PA system reminding us to stay clear of the start line etc etc, I walked down the steps with Faris Al Sultan (how often do you get to say that lol !!) and wished him luck, he set off and I sat on the harbour wall with Stephen Lord and Glyn watching the Navy Seals parachute in for the start, yep, a few of them were actually sky diving in, then competing. Then the national anthem, 30 secs after this, the race started for 150 pros and the day then got very real for us AG’ers.

Swim

My plan was start over on the left, try to get clear water and nominal draft for the first 1.2 miles and then work back with everyone, as we swam the 150 metres out to the line it dawned on me that I had watched this so many times over the years – and recently over and over on youtube, damn I could even tell you the names of the fish under me.
My goggles decided on this day of all to fog up for the first time, a few attempts at cleaning didn’t work so I just put them on, I knew they would clear after a while of swimming. I tried to spot my supporters on the harbour wall but I also knew they wouldn’t have been there early enough to get a place, it was mayhem, and 4 deep the whole way round the bay. From the competitor point of view is was awesome to see.
The holding line wasn’t as mad as I thought it would be. We were all treading water 10-15 mins before the start, the banter was amusing, bobbing around in the Pacific talking to someone about where you are from, trying to shout above the helicopters, trying not to get kicked in the shins, it all just seemed to while away the minutes. I kept moving around to get clear water and obviously meet as many people as possible lol.
We had been told to put our chips on and then put a safety pin in it, the swim was mental, you will lose it if you don’t pin it, check !

Then the cannon went off.

It was calm, so calm I thought I had immediately gone off course, I was in my rhythm straight away, breath every stroke, long efforts, still not being able to see the buoys I just swam with everyone else. I had started on the far left and probably had the easiest first 400m open water swim yet, loving every moment, I just kept thinking don’t get complacent, this is going to get worse, minutes went by and it didn’t come.
Around 10 mins in though it started, somehow I had managed to get from the far left to the inside right track, I have no idea how but it was mentioned afterwards that the canoeists had herded us across to the right, I had just followed others grabbing empty space. The assault on my whole body was relentless but I kept telling myself it wasn’t malicious. I was struggling for breath, swallowing water as people grabbed my arms and legs, it’s the first race I have ever kicked out, I had to free myself from under at least 3 people in the space of 30 metres, it was easy now to understand the panic that some people have in open water. Each time we neared a buoy it got worse as I had drifted inside them and had to come out to my left to get round them, many of the swimmers were coming straight up the line and I had to come out into their way and this was breaking into their personal space, I had my goggles smashed across my nose but managed to find free space for 30 secs to put them back on, that unnerved me a little as I have never been punched in the face in a swim either, I swam a little more protectively for a while. I had thoughts of trying to get out to the far left again but this was crazy talk, just get on with it you pussy !

Annoyingly, I had also started to chaff across my neck badly, the salt was already stinging and we weren’t halfway, earlier in the week I had used my race set up to check what might rub, I had this morning taped up the areas that chaffed the first day, pointless !! I tried to change my stroke and breathing side but that didn’t help, I tried to ignore the building pain, I was sure the salt would heal as I go. If it didn’t, I knew something else would hurt before the end of the day anyway.

The turnaround came without warning and my spirits lifted, I was still telling myself where I was, this was Kona baby !!! and it didn’t matter what happened, I was doing it !
Going wide was going to give me a better swim home, we were still channelled into a thin strip by the canoeists on one side and the buoys on the other so I tended to stay around the same people, I wasn’t really aware of the time at the turn but I became aware at this point of the swell we were in against the backdrop of the boats, at least I wasn’t getting punched so much.
About 1km from the finish I ended up in a big group, someone was touching my feet constantly, it was a girl or a bloke with long nails and it was annoying the hell out of me, I am not the best swimmer so just go round me for f*cks sake, it was really getting to me, so I started swerving away, they just followed, after 3 or 4 minutes I rolled over to check how many there were, I was leading a group of about 25 people, so I just slowed and waited, stuff this, I am joining the train, not leading it. I jumped on for the last stretch as we aimed for the pier.
I couldn’t believe the clock said 1.09, I didn’t know whether this was the pro time or ours 15 mins later, so I either had a crap swim or the best swim of my life, I told myself the latter but I knew it was the former. The thought was gone immediately, it was probably a slow swim, I was only 4 mins outside the bronze time so I had something to chase. I call it externalising, if I swum 1.09, blame something else and move on.

T1

Swimskin off, grabbed bag and into tent, the guy asked me if I wanted help, I just poured everything onto the floor and got on with it, he grabbed my goggles, hat and skin and stood waiting to see if I needed more help, arms coolers on, watch on, shades on, race number and gels. The run to the bike is miles, all the way around the pier til you get to your row and then cut in. Helmet on and grab bike and off. Almost bumping straight into Irish Mark on the way out, we had both swum 1.09. That lifted me, he is an hour swimmer as well. My good mate in his IM swansong was side by side with me again.

Bike

The support on the way out of T1 is breathtaking, people everywhere, I heard people shouting my name, huge smile – halfway around the world and I had support, love it, don’t fall off, go dude !!
First part of the bike is an out and back loop around town, a chance to loosen the legs, check the shoes and get a drink, myself and Mark climbed together until he slowly pulled away, it was the fastest part for me on the timing mats too, it’s a gentle climb up to the turn, Jeff and Andy giving me a great shout of support, hit the turn and then a kamikaze bomb down to the bottom before turning up Palani Drive, see Kelly, quick wave to Bevan and John and out onto the Queen K.
I just tried to take it easy, I knew from Bolton I had more chance later on if I evenly split all of my timing mats, I was splitting the bike into 60km loops again, it just makes sense to me.

Going out onto the Queen K is another step through the IM history archives for me, I had pictured this for ages, I had done a few rides in the week before but now there were people everywhere, some at my speed, others piling past me – shit swimmers – and then the good swimmers I was passing.
Almost immediately there were groups forming, we had been warned that the draft zone was the distance of the gap between cats eyes on the road side, easy to adhere to you would think. For the first 10 miles I played swapsies with other riders, I would move to the front of a group and sit there at my speed and then someone would come past and slow down forcing me to drop off and get my distance, then more would follow, bit annoying but it passed the time.
The draft busters were around constantly, doing good work, 2 of the girls we had in our group blatantly sitting in on wheels were carded early on and it split the group a little. However, if the bike marshals didn’t all ride Harleys there may have been more penalties, you could hear them coming from miles away, some people were using this to their advantage, I must say though for the most part, it was pretty honest.

My fuel strategy for the race was simple, racing lighter than usual, start with 2 bottles of 4:1 on the frame, at the third aid station start to use Gatorade, then after that pick up 1 Gatorade and 1 water to drink, then take as much extra water as I could grab and pour it on me. I was using gels every 30 mins on top of the mix of fluids. I didn’t realise until the first bottle went over me how hot it was, the wind into us wasn’t hard, just a constant reminder we weren’t being helped but as soon as I poured water on me the breeze warmed it up, it was only 9am but I knew we were in for a hot day and that meant pouring water on me was as important as putting it in me.
In fact after the race it was mentioned that the tarmac temp was hitting over 130F, not sure but it was certainly a hot one.
The feeds stations on the way out to Hawi (pronounced Harvee) were coming thick and fast, every 7 miles and they were huge, twice as long as any other race, I think I managed to get at least 3 bottles of water each time. I wasn’t getting through as much Gatorade as would have hoped but they were serving it in the retail bottles which were a pain to open on the move and the aero bottle was being warmed constantly before I could drink it, this makes it hard to replace with cold drink, I was having to pour iced water into the top to cool down the Gatorade and then blow through the straw to mix it, I covered myself in sticky liquid more than a few times.

I went through 60km in 1.40, ave speed was 21.9mph and HR 147bpm. This was just above the overall aim but I take the extra speed when I can, I felt good and I knew the hard bits were to come.

The road to Hawi is the only real climb, around 18 miles from the bottom to the town at the top but it was mostly rolling along the way, it didn’t feel as easy as it did in race prep the other day but I tried to stay aero for as much of it as possible. I kept thinking of the ‘matchbox’ that Glyn uses, the idea is that each time you have to push over your ability or outside your power levels you strike one off, start with a book of 20 and strike the last one as you get into T2, I was trying not to burn matches I didn’t have, so I reined the speed in and sat at my HR, I knew the way down would even the speeds up.

Halfway up the climb the media cavalcade started to appear over the hill in front of me coming the other way, helicopters, cars, motorbikes and then the pros, I hoped to see Gravesy at the front but it was a Trek athlete (Lieto) powering down the hill chased by a few of the top pros, then a group 30 secs back, then another, all working together, awesome to watch. Gravesy arrived a few minutes back so gave him a shout of support.
Just before the turn at the top I decided to get off as my knee was starting to give me jip again, the heat when I got off was nuts, the town was protected from the side winds and its like someone switched on a hair dryer but from the road upwards off the tarmac, this meets the air temp at about head height, I knew I needed to drink more and pour more on me, anyway, I stopped 20 yards from the mat and tried to click the knee back, no luck, few more attempts and failed, so back on bike, 1 min rest was all I needed and off, hit the mat in 2.37 which is 60 miles. This is when I started to calculate in my head my expected finish times, however, I had been warned, currently I was looking at a 5.00 split, this could be true til 10 miles from the end, it can still turn into a 6 hour split at that point. So I was only projecting, not hoping or aiming for anything other than get to the end.

The hill down Hawi is great, up to 35 mph for long periods which evened up the 15mph going up, it shows in the averages, I was a clear 2mph average better going down the 18 miles than up it. The cross winds we had been warned about in this area where mild and not really affecting me much, I stayed aero and stuck out left in the road a bit in case a gust carried me right off the tarmac.
The downside to coming down is we need to climb back up again and at Kawaihae this is where it got a bit ugly, 2 miles of hot, sticky, sweaty climbing back to the Queen K. It was really sapping my strength, I could feel the wind off to the right so I knew we now had a headwind on the way home too.
I had caught Jo Carritt about 3 miles from the bottom, she is a better climber than me but I am about twice her weight so descend faster, we swapped places for a while until we hit the Queen K and I left her behind, she didn’t drop far back as I was to see her again on the run.
I also was passed here by Russ Cox, I did ask him what he was doing back here which he wasn’t impressed with at the time but it was a back handed compliment really, we discussed it afterwards and there was no hard feelings, I think when I saw him I started to wonder if I had gone out too hard but seeing him disappear up the Kawaihae climb with ease, I knew he had paced it just right for himself and I was fine.
The turn onto the Queen K back to Kona is as much a mental battle as it was now a physical slog into the head wind, it wasn’t fierce but it was constant and a reminder on the long drags that we were in for a long 40 miles home.

I did the 60km to 120km in 1.47, still steady, HR was not soaring and I felt OK, I was hot but my speed was constant, the heat although stifling when climbing up the short drags was being counteracted by the wind on the flats and downs. Each aid station was now coming slower, 7 miles is a bit longer on the way back lol, I was still grabbing bottle after bottle of water and pouring it over me, I could have put out a Californian wild fire blaze !! I think on one aid station it went on for so long I kept grabbing bottles, emptying them on me, throwing them and getting another one, 6 bottles was my record the line was that long.

I was also feeling good about myself, everyone I passed dropped off me straight away, I only got passed once in about 30 miles and he had been with me for most of the race. I passed more people as we hit the flats, the wind was now against but off the right so I was riding at a slight angle and as far out left as I was allowed without blocking, I didn’t need anyone riding with me in an echelon.
This is where I was trying to concentrate on the next stage, I remembered that through transition I would have to take off my chip to put my compression socks on, so I remembered I had a safety pin in it, next downhill, take the pin out and put in pocket, 30 secs saved.

Although I was fully aware where I was I was also getting a little bored, mile after mile of straight lumpy road can do that and I really wanted to get to the run to see the pros again. The last 10 miles I started to smile as well, the recalculation over and over again had gone from 5hr split to 5.30 to 6.30 (honestly, the hills can do that) and then back to 5.30. To see 5.23 on the clock as I came into the transition was a heart warmer . That meant I had done a 1.55 last 60km, that was a tough return.

I was now up from Bronze to Silver.

I lapped it up again, the cheering from the crowds was so loud, I undid the shoes and stood on them, as I turned the corner onto the pier, stood on one pedal and freewheeled to the bike catcher.

T2
I know going on about how famous this place is can be boring for some but not for me, I had pictured this run for months, not often you can say you know the way through transition before you even get there, you have to run the whole circumference of the pier, its loooong, I used the loos on the way through and then grabbed my bag as I entered the tent. I took my time to have a breather and then take off the chip, put on socks, chip back on and then get sun tan cream all over my bare bits. Looks a long time but a few minutes making sure I had everything was a good thing today, it was so hot now and I needed to bring my HR down. The helpers were amazing, water, Gatorade, sunscreen, bag help, nothing too much, encouragement was handed out in spades, I loved this race and the people that made it happen, right concentrate, on with the job

Run

Once again the atmosphere as you run out onto the start of the marathon is too much to take in all at once, I had my head down trying to sort out my Garmin which was now soaked and the bezel was playing up, pain in the backside ! However, you run up Palani Road take a right and along Kuakini H’way so I had plenty of support to keep me occupied, its 4 deep again and the pirate top was getting plenty of shouts.

This initial loop before you drop onto Ali’i drive takes a few minutes and then the run pans out like this,

Run 4.5 miles to a turnaround up Ali’i Drive following the coast, then back.
Retrace the initial loop onto Palani Hill, climb the Hill, then take a left onto the Queen K highway.
Run along the Queen K for 6.2 miles until you get to the left turn to the Energy Lab.
Take a left into the Energy Lab complex for 2.2 miles, hit a turn around, back up the hill another 2.2 miles
Take a right back onto the Queen K and kick for the last 6.2 miles home.
Lap it up for 800m along the famous finish chute on Ali’i Drive, easy eh ?

In fact it is, mentally it’s a great course, but the description lends itself to make up an image that doesn’t really do it justice, for example, what does Ali’i Drive look like, well, it’s the coast road from the pier that heads south, its not a drive at all, it’s a main road.
From the finish line going out to the turnaround at 4.5 mile marker the town initially starts with bars and shops on both sides for the first mile up to Lava Java, rocks and crashing waves on the ocean side, it then winds down the coast for another mile or so with hotels of all standards. Then the condos start. As the drive goes further out of town it weaves to and from the shoreline giving glimpses of the beautiful bays, black sandy beaches and crashing waves and then moves away as you run past shoreline properties, its so varied that the run was never boring.

And what IS the Natural Energy Lab, I always had images of a hill that you ran down, did a loop in the heat and then headed back out, I also thought this was in town !! Wrong.
The Energy lab is an industrial area off the Queen K Highway between the town of Kona and the airport, its so called the Energy Lab as it harnesses the natural energy of the island by utilising the sun and I assume the heat from the core, so you can see it coming as its massive solar panels are the give away. The image you need, is a downhill road from the Queen K, heading towards the coast with natural foliage and lava rock on either side, it gently turns right just before the beach front, we run along there for another mile, turn at the cone and head back. Oh, and it’s a bit hot !!

Sounds complicated, its not and it’s a great way to break down the course.

So, onto the Ali’i Drive, the road is constantly rolling, lots of support lined both sides of the run course, the first mile was 7.30 and although I felt OK I knew it was adrenaline fuelled, so I checked the HR, 165 ! Oops, rein it in again, I needed to slow to 8’s to get it down to 155 which is my run HR. That little exercise took 5 miles to achieve as the heat was making it hard to control.
I passed the pirate support at 1 mile, Kelly was on the balcony 2 floors up shouting, on the road were my mum and Roger with Paul and Jan, just after this there was a great chalk marking say ‘Go Admiral Rosey’ on the road, orsum !
I was concentrating on pace and wanted to stay around 8’s, the heat was telling me this wasn’t an achievable time for the whole 26 miles but I just tried to run as well as I could in the temperature.

I could feel the arms and neck burning, the suntan cream they put on in T2 was being washed off with the constant covering of water and ice at each aid station, my god it was good to get cold water and ice, even the coke was ice cold, the aid stations and helpers were amazing, so bubbly, you almost forgot each time you went through one how much it hurt.
I remember going through the 2 mile marker thinking, shit, I have 24 more of these to go, then the 3 mile marker I thought, shit, I have 23 more of these to go. I had to stop thinking like that. I passed Glyn walking at mile 3, he was smiling and gave encouragement as I passed, he knew it was going to be a long day before he started as he had knee problems from weeks ago, the mind was strong but the body had stopped, for now.

the 4 miles to the turn went => 7.44, 8.01, 8.22, 8.16

The locals of Ali’i Drive also get into it, there were at least 2 hose pipes being pointed at us each mile, enthusiastic kids hoping to get high fives, all I could think was to keep cool, my feet were soaked during the bike leg and they were getting a good soaking here as well.
The aid stations were about each mile, I wanted to keep running but as the water from the last feed wore off it became obvious that the heat was not only coming from the sun but bouncing off the road and making it hard to breathe, so I made the decision that from the turn around I would power walk the aid stations.

My fuelling strategy for the race was this, coke and water in me at every aid station, a gel every 3 miles and if I could stomach it, a sip or two of Gatorade, that happened once, never to be repeated, minging !! And as much water and ice as I could put on me.

Hitting the turnaround I chalked off target number 1, just another jog back into town and the real hard work starts. Not long after the turn I realised all of the water washing off the suntan cream wasn’t just affecting my arms and neck, my lips were killing me and burning by the minute, I couldn’t think where I was going to get some cream, there were shops but I had no money, obviously !
I could also feel that my ‘try something new on race day’ was going to bite me on the ass by the end of the run, my new arm coolers had an elastic top to hold them in place, this was now rubbing under my arm pit and each time I threw water on me it stung, that wasn’t going to look good later either.
At mile 7 I saw Jason coming the other way looking for me to support, superb, I asked him to ring ahead to the pirate guys to get me some suntan cream and high 5 me so it didn’t look so obvious I was being aided. You know, at the end of the day it was something they gave out in T2 so it wasn’t like I was borrowing his bike for the rest of the run but I still didn’t want a fuss made. He set off back down the road ahead of me. Result.
As I crested the hill coming back down to the area the guys were stood I could see they were ready for me, although a bit obvious as Jason was walking towards me with a big bottle of suntan cream in one hand and cream in the other, I think I said something along the lines of don’t make it obvious and high fived him, just enough to coat my mouth and then across my neck. I didn’t mean to sound harsh to Jason but the last thing I needed was a card for outside assistance, it would only have been a yellow card (3 and you’re out) but you don’t need the worry. I apologised after the race but he was fine with it. I still have the blisters on my lips now, who knows how bad they would have been.

The return 5 miles had clocked in at 8.25, 8.31, 8.16, 8.29, 8.31.

This is where the leader Craig Alexander passed me going the other way, I had done it, RichM had told me to get back to the climb before the winners come home and you get to see them as they are finishing, he was at least 2 minutes ahead of Chris Lieto. The parade of guys coming back home is long and famous and I got to see them all, cool.

Once you leave Ali’i Drive it’s a climb up past hot corner (so named as it’s where the athletes pass by so many times in the day) and onto the Queen K highway. This is a mental battle and damn hot, the highway is 6.2 miles straight out, lots of rolling elevation changes to contend with and just enough bends in the road not to able to see all the way to the energy lab, but you knew it was far. The heat off the road and lava fields was ridiculous, it was probably only 95-100 but the reflected temperature back to the athletes was what turns this race on its head.

The aid stations were every mile, the mile markers were in between this, I was feeling hot and hazy at mile 12 so I decided to reward myself with something I never normally do, walk in between aid stations, I gave myself 30 seconds of power walking, a mental release, I had just started walking when I heard ‘Rosey, get to the next aid station and take the rest while feeding, come on buddy !!’ PMSL, damn the decision to put my name on the back of my shirt ! I started running again, ‘Good Jawb Rosey !’ I really needed that moment, his shirt said something like Team Psycho, I remembered it for later  as he went past.

The next 6 miles were 8.49, 9.06, 8.39, 9.00, 8.30, 9.12.

This was the toughest part of the race to string together and keep moving, its zombie zone, its just before you get to halfway so you are still fighting the demons of negative thoughts, but once you get past 13 miles you get a lift, then you realise at 16 miles you still have 10 to go lol !! I had to concentrate on the water and aid stations to keep my mind off the games, then behold, a little ray of light, an English Rose !

At around the 17 mile the helicopters started again, I knew who I would see first coming over the hill, I started singing to myself, ‘Whats that coming over the hill, its Chrissie Wellington, its Chrissie Wellingtooooooon’ and repeat, it was making me really smile and she was doing the same back, real lifting stuff, I gave her a shout, she just kept smiling and running. Love it.

The energy lab was next, going down the hill the wind was against, pretty much evened themselves out, there is a feed station just as you go in, I took at least 8 waters, I had run out of personal gels now so I grabbed a Powerbar gel and took it, the special needs station was at the turn around so I had 4 more of my own gels coming my way, bonus, mmmm, Smart Gels are the way forward lol !!
Nearing the turn around I spotted Irish Mark, I had closed the gap of 1 mins he had on me on the bike, to be honest I never thought I would see him again he set off that fast but he was within distance now, we took the turn together, he said hi, I responded, then obviously with a little interest now sparked he upped the pace a little, I stuck to my pace and walked through the next aid station and picked up my special needs, he slowly disappeared up the hill as we left the energy lab.

The energy lab miles were 8.23, 8.45, 9.13, 8.47, that’s 2 down, 2 up, I was actually picking up the pace and I knew it.

At the athlete welcome party we had been told that as you exit the energy lab you have 10km home, that was a feeling I wanted to have, this was the time, the body had other ideas though, I really wanted to go for it from here but even though I was passing people and the time splits were coming down slightly the body still didn’t feel too good. My neck and shoulders burned, the rubbing under my arms was now numb and bleeding and I could feel from the sloshing around in my shoes that I had 2 massive blisters, one on each foot. But what’s that in front, I could see Team Psycho, lol, a target to lift the senses. It took me two damn miles to catch him as well but I returned the favour at the next aid station, ‘Come on Psycho, not far to home, picture it mate, come on keep moving !!’ I even got a smile. Those 3 miles went 9.00, 8.49, 8.52, it felt faster lol !!

The last 3 miles were amazing, I smiled the whole way, I even ran through the last 2 aid stations, I knew it was downhill once I reached Palani, steep too, wet feet and trying to slow down on that slope don’t mix, I just had to freewheel. I don’t think the smile left my face the whole way down, people were everywhere, I started to catch more runners too. Turning into Hualalai it was another downhill and the last road before Ali’i, all the aches were gone, I felt bad overtaking all of these guys but if you had the adrenalin I felt right there it soon became a distant memory, turning onto Ali’i was amazing, like a finisher chute but 800metres long, I was now striding out like it was a 10km run.
One of the guys tried to go with me, so I encouraged him to give it some and out sprint me, I think his hamstring snapped right there as looked like someone had shot him in the backside, the scream was proof he was walking the rest of the way, I could see the pirates shouting, 400metres to go, I could see Kelly and I could see my flag, don’t stop, in fact, shit I could see Irish Mark too, he was 50 yards in front of me, I was going to catch him right on the line, I couldn’t do that to him, I wanted a good finisher picture and I was sure he did.
It wasn’t until that point that I knew my time, I had fought for the last 6 miles to get under 10.40, I really didn’t want 10.45 so push harder !!! I could see the time on the clock, this time I KNEW it wasn’t the pro time, could I ‘be’ any happier.
I slowed to let Mark get his picture, only slowing a little after I checked behind me for sprinters. I heard his name called by Mike Reilly and then immediately my name, I could see Mark look round in surprise, I just raised my arms aloft and shouted at the top of my voice !! Wooohoooooooo !! And then gave Mark a hug.

My last 3 miles were 8.35, 8.51, 7.09 !!

A 3.40 marathon and finish in 10.21. I had got to Gold

I have no regrets but I have a marker xx

I did it.

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