Racing Kona this year was my favorite by far. I had a ton of friends racing. Race morning I spent more time talking to them in transition than thinking about the race. I was not nervous, it was more excitement to see what I could do during the race.
After last year's clobbering swim match, this year was actually pretty low on contact. I swam 1:06 and laughed when I got out. I've completed six Ironman races and swum 1:06 four times. It is my illusive barrier that I will break someday, but yesterday was not the day.
Out on the bike the winds were mild all the way out toward the climb to Hawi. I felt like we were given a gift. I felt good. The climb up to Hawi had the typical cross winds, but nothing scary like years past. Screaming down from Hawi is an amazing feeling - the barren land drops off to the ocean on the right. It is beautiful.
At the bottom of the hill we turn back toward Kona on the Queen K. And it gets HOT. And the headwind picked up nicely. I still felt good. In fact, I felt good all day on the bike yesterday. I PRd my Ironman bike split with a 5:32. Probably the part of yesterday's race I am most proud of.
Out onto the run and the lack of wind in Kona meant it was extra HOT. My first mile was 6:50 - oops, too fast. I pulled it back to 7:30s and was hoping to hold my pace there. I hit the climb up Palani to the lonely stretch of the Queen K and briefly felt like death. A mini-bonk if you will. I slammed some Coke and GU and recovered in the next mile.
The rest of the run was a progression of feeling good and then feeling like I might die, finding some Coke or calories and feeling good again. I think the "feeling good" ended around mile 18. I ran into my friend Nick in the energy lab. He made it his mission to get me to the finish line in decent shape. I can't tell you how awesome this was - he talked to me and distracted me and pulled me along when I just wanted to shuffle. He picked up the pace and I followed.
At mile 25 we ran into Fast Brian. The three of us ran in together. These boys are both way faster than me and had rough days. It was quite possibly my most memorable Ironman finishing moment though - crossing the finish line hand in hand with my friends.
My run split of 3:33 was two minutes slower than last year. I was really bummed about this for a while, but then realized this year the run was hotter. And I really gutted it out to maintain a podium spot. I was 30 minutes faster overall with my time this year and my new Ironman PR of 10:17 makes me happy.
Ironman is a really crazy sport. And I absolutely love it.
Steven and Jeffrey were spectacular supporters all day long. Jeff ran about 5 miles in flip-flops up on the Queen K to find me and make sure I was still running strong.
Ian busted out a 9:09 for 3rd in his age group. Kevin had a solid race only six weeks after Ironman Canada. I am so lucky to have such great friends to train and race with.
It's been an awesome 2009 triathlon season. Thanks for sharing in my journey!