The End, My road to Kona


Kat’s Most Excellent Hawaiian Adventure: The End, My road to Kon

I wish writing this was easy.

Simply put it’s not.

Did I fail?

Heck no.

Was a scared?

Hell yeah.

Did it show?

You bet.

Did I do what I set out to do?

This I still cannot answer.

I actually slept really well the night before the race.  This is rare for me, but I got about 5solid hours of sleep.

My morning ritual as is my dinner ritual, never changes.  It doesn’t matter where Iam….Canada, Arizona, Mexico, Europe, it doesn’t change.  So I won’t bore you with those details.

The drive to the venue was quiet.  Five of us in the car. Not a peep, except for Kyle trying to be kind and make small talk.

When we reached the point of not being able to drive anymore, Jeff let Kyle and I out (Kyle was shadowing the Swim Coordinator – how cool) to continue on to special needs check-in, body marking, weigh-in (yay-119.4), check bike and tires.  From there, I would return to my friend Anne’s hotel room (meet up with Jeff and the girls) and then WAIT….and wait and wait.

Anne wanted to get in the water early, as soon as the pro women went off…so we parted ways, and I knew I wouldn’t see her again till she was a blur on the bike returning from Hawi.  I managed to find a quiet spot along the wall and out of the water, until 6:45.  I made my way far far far left (maybe to far) and about five rows back.  I’m a very conservative swimmer. I play it safe in longer races, ever since my horrible experience in the non-wetsuit Lake Placid Ironman in 2011.  If you based my IM swim times on my pool time, there is no reason why I shouldn’t swim 1:08-1:10, but my fastest IM time has only been 1:14.

The cannon went off way quicker than I expected.  But off we went! It was instantly stunning and I had no contact except a little bump here and there, but no punching, grabbing, pushing me under the water contact, so I was thrilled.  I felt good and smooth in the water.  And while Jeff and I swam1:35+ the other day, I knew I would swim much faster today.  I did see 3-4 dolphins and later heard there was a small pod leading the pro men. I also saw a large ray and a turtleall before I hit the Body Glove turn around boat.

I decided to sneak a peak at my watch at the midway point atthe boat and was shocked to see 38:xx! That meant I was on pace for a 1:16!!  Now, I knew the currents were against us going back, but I still thought 1:20-21??  Did I relax too much, maybe I went off course (although it didn’t seem I did), or maybe I lost focus, because I exited the water in 1:28! FIFTY FREAKING minutes later!!  What the heck, did I take a side trip to Maui?  I was so disappointed when I got out of the water, I played it too safe.  But I was also roasting, and I couldn’t figure that part out.  I later learned via slowtwitch that the water temp was not the 79 degrees they announced in the morning but close to 85.

Out of the water to the short run to the tents, where amazing women helped me get set for the ride.  And then the long crazy all around the perimeter of transition run to my bike.  The weird thing I noticed (well not weird, more like crappy) was there were almost NO BIKES left in transition.  Note to self:  SWIM FASTER IN KONA (if youever get to come back).

Fast forward, hop on bike and ride!  The beginning part of the ride is all over town, so your family and friends see you a few times, which is nice.  I was happy to be out of the water and in my element.  The first 5 miles or so are congested so hitting your watts isn’t too easy (they’re all over the place, while you are settling in). Once I crested Palini (after dropping my chain,what the heck I have DI2), and turned on to the Queen K it was time to lock and load.  Hit the number I have hit a thousand times and just ride.

And then something happened.  I couldn’t hit my number. 10 watts below….push the pace….feel like crap, back off 15 watts below…..push the pace, feel even yuckier!  So by mile 20 and one hour in, I picked a new watt number and made a deal, that if I stuck to that number and was more aggressive than normal on the downhills, I would be fresh and good for the marathon.  I honestly feel that the warm water did me in, and even though I took in what was planned for fluids I was somewhat dehydrated and was paying for it.

Looking back, I call BS….on myself.  Not for the fact I couldn’t get my power up, that part is true, it wasn’t happening for some reason, but the part about trying to convince myself I was conserving myself for the marathon.

Let’s face it, eight weeks isn’t a lot of time to recover from an Ironman.  Throw in Pumpkinman and the stressful week leading up to it and after it; and a mini vacation to Bermuda and I just wasn’t ready.  Maybe 10 weeks would have been better who knows.  But I just wasn’t myself, and it was disappointing.  So to reiterate myearlier statement, “did I fail?”  I still answer no, but I don’t feel like I succeeded either.

Now, just because I feel like this now and had moments of feeling disappointment while racing, I must say IT WAS AMAZING!

The ride to Hawi was gorgeous; I actually got there in 2:58 and was excited, for two reasons….1. Hawi is at 60.5, which meant I averaged over 20 mph on significantly less watts than I planned.  2.  I was SPOT on with my nutrition and sodium intake (per the plan, maybe not per the conditions). And 3.  I hadn’t been blown off or almost off my bike (yet).

At  the turnaround I grabbed my special needs and all three bottles still were partially frozen! It was the best treat ever! I headed back down Hawi and started the return to Kona.  I kept praying the cross winds wouldn’t be too bad; and thankfully they weren’t.

But from what I was told if the winds weren’t bad going to and from Hawi, we would pay somewhere else.  And pay we slow swimmers did….pay! Like a huge toll you aren’t expecting on the New Jersey Turnpike and you have like 75 cents in the ashtray!

Mile marker 69….damn, that’s where the good beach was too.  So needless to say there are good and bad memories…..beautiful beach vs. highway psycho winds.   I will take the beach anyday!  The same hills Jeff and I cruised down at 38 miles per hour earlier in the week,  I was hammering away at 200 watts going 14!  I was hanging on for dear life.  The winds were so strong that my feet,back and shoulders were all on fire!

I started doing the math at mile 80, and thought, “at this pace I won’t be off the bike for 2 more hours plus.”  It was frustrating. I started to pass a girl who had a cadence of

The poor thing, DI2 jammed, broke, froze (well it may have hada heat stroke)…and was stuck in big chain ring, hardest gear.  She still had 25+ miles to go.  I wished her well and thought about how much she was suffering BUT THIS WAS KONA. Everyone suffers to some extent, to some level, to some degree.  We all worked hard to get here.  Gave up late night dinners withfriends, Sunday brunch, so many things for a one-day epic adventure; and in my case even Cliff Jumping with the family. You push through the adversity. You find a way to look beyond the fact your legs are screaming, your lungs are on fire, your back is blistering, and you feel like you are having an out of body experience.  It’s Ironman; it’s a long day.

So refocus, 20 miles, 10 miles, 5 miles, 1 mile….and next thing I know I am descending into town. Feet out of shoes, top of pedals, throw the bike to a volunteer with amazing catching ability and run my butt to the transition area.  I actually am a pretty good transitioner…..if the mileage on the run was added to transition, I would probably do pretty well in Kona.

Mile 1 and mile 26 were glorious!  The ones in the middle not so much.   On a side note, I passed Hynes Ward at mile 1.  He was suffering,but I felt sorry for him because everyone knows him.  Cameras, media, spectators all cheering and he was just struggling.  I saw him again, when I was coming out of hell, I mean the Energy Lab and same thing….but he pressed on.

According to my pacing on my Garmin (does Ironman still not know how to measure between the timing mats?), I was on target to run exactly what I did in Mont Tremblant.  I hit mile 13.1 in 1:58! Exactly where I wanted to be.  Mile 14, falling off pace significantly 10 minute mile….mile15, 10:15 and so on.  The stretch in the Energy Lab wasn’t nearly as slow as IMLive showed, but it was slow none the less.  By mile 19, I was actually unable to walk the aid stations for nutrition (something I had started doing around mile 9 so that I was getting everything I needed).    I always say if you’re going to walk in an Ironman,walk in the aid station buffet, then start running the minute you pass the last table.  What this does is it holds you accountable and it’s a short distance where you can refuel and take stock of where you’re at.  It makes it much more manageable.

So I continued on with the IM Shuffle.

There’s lots of great energy from mile 1 until about 14, then again around 23.  The miles in between are what get you.  Knowing what I know now, if I ever do qualify again I plan to do my long runs with large sections in the middle with no distractions, no landscape, no people, no cars….just a place that’s hot, slightly windy, humid and boring (maybe the treadmill).  It’s such a mental place and training yourself in that section is key.

Ok….no more BLAH!

It was time to get back on Palini, put on my big girl pants and run down that damn hill! Can you say OUCH!

Not much further, three more turns and I will be on Ali’iDrive.

What a welcome….not exactly the one Mirinda Carfrae got, butI will take it!

Mike Reilly even said, “Hey she qualified in MontTremblant!”

As if, that explained why I was so damn slow!

And, that’s it. I did what many before and many after me will do.

I raced in Hawaii.

I raced in Kona.

I raced in the Lava Fields.

I ran in the Energy Lab.


And, maybe I didn’t belong there.  I don’t really know, but in August I had the race of my life and I qualified.  I did it.

I wish writing this was easy.

Simply put it’s not.

Did I fail?


Was a scared?

Hell yeah.

Did it show?

You bet.

Did I do what I set out to do?

I finished, with a smile on my face.

And even though for two days, I said  “One and done,” I want nothing more than to go back.ImageImageImageImageImage


One thought on “The End, My road to Kona

  1. oh man girl! Sorry to hear you had some tough parts to your day, but you stuck it out and did your best and that is ALL we can ask of ourselves!! Way to go! You’ll be back adn we will both SWIM faster!!!!!!!!!!

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