I’ve put off writing my race report as I didn’t really know where to start. Of course there’s the race day itself, but there’s also the days and months leading up to that moment went you’re treading water in the warm Pacific waters, waiting for the gun to go. Coming into the Ironman World Championships I had only two races under my belt: a mediocre 70.3 race at Oceanside and a more pleasing win at Ironman Texas. Believe me, this light race schedule wasn’t by choice. 2013 has been a challenging year . I’ve experienced two of my career highlights but also faced some of my most frustrating periods in the sport due to a number of ill timed injuries. I’ve not really dwelt too much on these in public but those close to me have witnessed my frustrations, at times taken the brunt of this frustration but shown faith and support throughout. Coming 2nd in Kona was very much a team effort and a big thank you goes out to my support crew.
Despite a rather truncated run preparation I arrived in Kona 10 days before the race feeling relaxed, feeling happy and with a hunger in my belly to race. Last year my Kona experience was miserable. I pretty much felt ill the moment the plane touched down, spent far too long at the doctor’s clinic and gutted my way through the race with tonsilitis and a bronchial infection, to finally finish in 11th place. This year I got back to the Kona I love. Early morning swims in the ocean, enjoying coffee with friends and lapping up the buzz of race week. I was ready to go.
Aquasphere Energize SpeedSuit
Aquasphere K180 plus goggles.
In contrast to the spectacle of the age group start, I feel like the Kona start for the women’s field is one of the more calm swim starts of the year. For the second year, we had a separate start from the pro men. I got off well and when I took my first few breaths I saw that I was out at front and in clear water. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t stay out front but by getting out fast I knew I would be in the first pack. The rest of the swim was uneventful. I felt comfortable, in control and happy that the race was finally underway!
It turned out that the front pack included about half the women’s field! Testament not only to the good conditions we enjoyed but also the increased depth and changing dynamic in women’s racing. I had a decent transition, picked up my bike and headed out of T1.
Bike: Cervelo P5 Six.
Wheels: Shimano C35 front and C75 back.
Helmet: Louis Garneau P-09
Hydration: Side Kick, Chimp (mounted on aero bars), Delta Sonic and Stealth Pocket 300.
Saddle: ISM Racer
There was a big pack heading out on to the bike course. I was content to sit at the back through the town section to avoid getting into trouble. I felt calm, relaxed and well within my comfort zone. It couldn’t have felt more different to last year where I was in panic mode having missed the front pack in the swim and red lined the first 20 minutes of the bike. Once we hit the Queen K I realised we had a pack of riders who could all ride strong and we had a tail wind. It was going to be difficult to break away early on. The pack to’d and fro’d with some solid work being put in by Meredith Kessler, Amanda Stevens, Jodie Swallow, Leanda Cave and Caroline Steffan. I moved up close to the front so I could cover any moves and took some turns at the front. There was a bit of jostling as we approached the Timex bike prime zone (I’m still not sure exactly where this is) but mostly the pace was steady. I was hoping we would come across the cross winds of last year but nothing: it was calm.
At the Hawi turn around it was obvious that we weren’t riding hard enough. Rinny wasn’t far behind and I for one wanted a nice buffer leading into the run! A few girls passed me and echoed my thoughts. As soon as we hit a headwind I went for it, and got a good gap but I wasn’t decisive enough and the gap was closed down pretty quickly. I recovered but knew I would need to go again. I think there was a subtle increase in pace and after the Kawaihae turn I picked the pace up again as we hit the rollers. This time there was a definite splinter in the group: Meredith, Jodie and I had a gap. I felt relieved. There was a headwind back into town but I felt strong. I think for the first time in an ironman I actually wanted the bike to continue. A new feeling: usually the last 10 miles feel like a bit of a slog!
First off the bike with Meredith hot on my heels. What was I thinking? Now the race really starts and…. I hope someone can clean my Oakleys!
Newton Ironman Elite Trainer
Meredith was out of T2 before me and started out at a roaring pace. I let her go. I knew I was running a solid pace and wanted to let my legs come around rather than forcing it too early. Sure enough after about 2 or 3 miles I closed the gap to Meredith and passed her on Alii Drive. About this time I realised I was feeling a bit tetchy: a feeling I recognised from training. I needed fuel…..hangriness was setting in. I think I ate about 3 PowerBar gels in 35 minutes – way more than usual but their effect was instant. My mood cleared and I felt better.
As the miles ticked by my 8 minute lead over Rinnie was quickly being cut down. Between mile 14 and 15 I felt the media gather around me and knew that Rinny was right behind me, then next to me and then in front of me. Looking back I can’t really remember what went through my mind in that moment. I do know that I didn’t let myself think that was game over. Yes, Rinny was running at a formidable pace but it’s Ironman….and we still had more than 10 miles to go. There was no way I was going to throw in the towel! I did recognize that I couldn’t stick with her though so I just kept going as fast as I could. The gap grew to 2 minutes but then I seemed to make up some time and I was 1’18” down. Maybe, maybe?? But, no Rinny picked up the pace and the gap grew again. With 3 miles to go I knew I was secure in 2nd and once I hit town I soaked up and enjoyed the cheers and the finishing chute.
Finally, on the podium and getting closer to that top spot! 8:57:28
A big thank you to my always supportive sponsors. The support I got from Cervelo and Shimano on race week was just fantastic. It means a lot when you can have every confidence in your machine come race day. To the entire Newton crew: always have fun with these guys as well as loving my runners! And to Biestmilch for keeping my healthy, Louis Garneau, Aquasphere, XLab, PowerBar, Oakley and ISM. Thanks also go to my coach Dave Scott and of course, Brett who, you could say, has seen the good, the bad and the ugly!!
That’s me for 2013….nearly. Next up Ironman Cozumel on 1 December! Until then, hasta luego!