Thursday, October 13, 2011

Part 2: The Bike & Run

The bike:

Getting onto my Stead out of transition and knowing that my swim wasn't the best meant that I was going to need a strong ride to have the race that I wanted. Leaving the transition I first heard the support crew and then saw them. I instantly smiled and the slowish swim was instantly forgotten! I was going to have a great fun day.

Up the first section of Palani, around the first little lap and I could see that there was sooooo many athletes in front of me. Seeing a "GO X-MAN" sign from Billy & Family instantly had the smile firmly planted on my face. After seeing all the support crew twice, I was out on the Queen K. What was this day going to hold for me?

The scenery up the road was just a long line of riders. I started to pass them one by one, group by group. Knowing that I had a few bad rides whilst I was in training meant that I just rode to my capabilities without over - riding. My heart rate was in check and I was feeling really good. I was just going to continue at this rate as I was confident that I could maintain this effort the entire ride.

Still passing cyclist at regular intervals, I started to look for athletes that I knew to try and gauge how far back that I was. Heading up to Hawi, I started to see the regular faces. I caught Hayden Armstrong and had a quick chat to him about the day and how the legs were going. Passing Leigh Chapman a bit further up the road meant that I was not far from the lead guys in my a/g. Into Hawi, I had a quick stop to zip up my suit before the descent down.

Getting my special needs bag, I loaded up my drink bottles, ate the banana and then started the ride back into town. Hitting 70kph on the way down and seeing the same guys I had passed meant that I was going over twice as far at the same time and if I could maintain this I was pretty confident that I was going to have a great ride!

Turning back onto the Queen K, I caught a few more Aussies that I know and was really happy with the position that I was in. 55k to go and time to get one back on the Queen from the roasting she gave me a few weeks earlier.

The oncourse nutrition wasn't doing me any favours throughout the day and if I had any more than a small mouthful, I was spewing this up on me. I started on Coke early and along with my own nutrition this was working really well. Grabbing water at every aid station worked well as I was able to keep myself cool.

Getting back into town, knowing that I had a solid ride (my 2nd fastest in the 5 Ironmans I have raced) I saw that support crew again and was grinning once again. The calculations actually started entering my head wondering if I could actually break 9hrs here on my first go. I knew that I would have to run a HUGE pb to achieve this, however was a low 3hr marathon possible. Probably not.

Dismounting my bike, giving it to the volunteers and the run into Transition, my legs felt really strange. Not sore, but strange. Nothing that they have ever felt like after a ride before. Sitting in the tent, getting my nutrition down and headed out onto the run. I gave a few high 5's on the way out and then thought, "let's see how my legs are going to go!"

The run up the first part of Palani was ok and then headed down towards Ali'i drive for the first time. Getting onto Ali'i drive I was already on top of my nutrition and hydration as I knew that I didn't want to be walking much later in the day. The day was a very hot one and this made me very conscience of keeping cool. The race suit was amazing and I am so glad that I had the opportunity to wear it.

Ticking along at a steady pace of 4min 30sec per k for the first half of the marathon I was feeling really good. The first sign of a slight chink in the armour was coming out of the energy lab. I had to walk the last 200m up onto the Queen K. This didn't faze me as I was still having a great day!!

On the way back along the Queen K I knew that is was going to be close whether or not I could go under my qualifying time of 9hr 6min. The legs then started to signs of a long day out in the lava fields as I started to walk every aid station, from there it became the occasional walk between.

Matty Burton caught up to me and we encouraged each other up the last hill before the turn onto Palani for the last mile. I had to walk for one last time (i think the total count was 3 other than aid stations) for about 50m and once I got to the summit, I knew that I was home! With the last mile in front of me, I just started to smile knowing that I had conquered the Hawaiian Ironman and with the added bonus of being in good time.

Turning off Palani, I saw Billy, Gail & co and gave Billy the biggest High 5 that I could! The smile on my face for the support that they gave me was evident. I thanked every other person that congratulated me for the last mile also.

From here I started to turn around as I really wanted the finish chute to myself. One guy was running close behind me so I waved him through. He understood as he gave me a massive high 5 on the way passed and congratulated me on my race in the little English he spoke. Running down Ali'i drive in to the finish chute was absolutely amazing and I really wanted to cherish that moment.

Matty stopped and waited and asked if we should finish together as we had trained with each other here and supported each other out on the battle fields. I said that it was a good idea, but not today. I told him to go forward and I would follow him in. Little did I know he won his a/g in the 20-24 age category.

Coming closer to the finish line I had one last look still to see no-one behind me. Crossing the line with my arms raised was a massive sense of accomplishment as I had fulfilled a dream from many years ago. Not only did I fulfill it by finishing the race, but by having a time that I never thought was possible in this race made the day even more special.

Once crossing the line and walking off the ramp, feeling surprisingly good, I just wanted to see my family and say thanks for all the support. Seeing them so over whelmed with happiness instantly brought tears into my eyes and I gave everyone of them a massive cuddle and thanks.

To see 9hrs and 9min on the clock was an astonishing feeling and knowing that I had run a pb in the Marathon in those conditions was also awesome (3hr 15min).

I have so many people to thank with regards to helping me have such an amazing day out there from the people who made the journey onto the big island to all the support back home from friends, family and training partners.

The person that really made this dream a reality is my coach Andrew Sinclair (TMC) for the carefully constructed training program to suit myself and lifestyle in the build up and then for the most beneficial training program whilst I spent 4 weeks here preparing. Without this expertise the last 18months in preparation for this race would not have had the outcome that we both achieved. I can't say thanks enough to him and the words "manlove" & "bromance" spring to mind.

The other parties that played a really significant role must be acknowledged also.

Scott from XOSize Active, for the support along the way with also providing the best and coolest custom suit that I have ever raced in. Not a single bit of chaffing from this and one that I will add that if you are serious about performing in these conditions, you are crazy if you don't use one!

Karl from Schnell Carbon Wheels, although it has been a very short time being a partnership, the way that the wheels were organised for me was outstanding and then being backed up with the outstanding quality exceeded all my expectations. I never thought that I would ever ride a 4hr 43min at Kona and I must add that these wheels played a massive part.

There have been other people who have contributed to these results and due to being so many of you, it is hard to list you all. I am looking forward to working not only with my existing partnerships, but also forming new ones along the way.

Now is time to enjoy the rest & recovery before I look to my schedule over the summer months and my assault on both IM Melbourne & IM Port Maquarie. Is sub 9 a dream or can I make it a reality?

For now...


9hr 9min Kona Finisher!

1.04hr Swim

3min T1

4h 43min Ride

3min T2

3hr 15min Run

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