I slept like a log. Seriously, a dead, floating log, that was me on Friday night. I have never had a better night of sleep the night before a race. Who knew? I think it was because everything was done, the bike was in the barn, the bags hung and done.

In the morning PIC and I were both up and ready to go. We had the typical breakfast (Justins, Naan, Love Grown Granola, Coconut milk) and hit the road. We found a perfect parking spot and headed over to body marking. Everything in the morning went very smoothy this year. It was cool to have Michelle with me and we even found Jen and had her with us too.

I had it all planned out. As the pros got in the water, we sauntered over to the edge of the pier and hung there. Just after we did that they held the AGers behind and corralled them in. We had front row views of the action and escaped being corralled in a nervous crowd of athletes. My dad even found us with his BIG lens from like a half a mile away.

After the PROs were off and swimming we AGers were let into the water. Jen, PIC and I got in right away so we could find good spots and not be rushed. It was flawless and I think we all entered the water pretty calm. I swam over to my family on the sea wall and said hello, they like that, it makes them feel good (and me too). Lots of blowing kisses and I could see the excitement in all of their eyes.

Last year I found a canoe to hang onto and I headed out to the do the same this year. Honestly, I think it was the same canoe. The water was warmer this year, but there were some nice waves and swells that weren’t there last year. I’m the one half out of the water.

The swells were calming down over the last few days, but it wasn’t glassy by any stretch of the imagination. I always feel that I do better in adversity so I was excited that there was a tad bit of chop (is this really me talking). Check out those waves!

I oscillated between doing warm up drills and hanging onto the canoe. Karlyn taught me this awesome chicken drill that I totally did to stay warm (and scare off my competition). As they started counting things down, I started to get excited.

I lined up left of the car about 30 feet and just happened to line up next to Terry Nugent who trains at my same club. That was crazy and it calmed my nerves to have a nice chat with him on the line. I ran into my teammates Grant and Kendra as well, and we shared hugs and good lucks.

Kinda abruptly the cannon sounded and we all took off.

I got out well, smooth. I can always tell when I have had First Endurance PreRace before the swim because I feel like a rabid squirrel. Go go go!!!!! SWIM!!!

I didn’t get messed with too much, which was lucky. Starting on the line next to a very fast 6 foot 5 inch 200+ Terry Nugent is not the best idea for me, but I didn’t feel a thing and before I knew it the first buoy was passing by. The cool thing, or bad thing, about Kona is that the crowd never thins out. It’s wall to wall people the entire swim. I found feet and clung to them with all I had.

At one point a guy on my right was headed left and I did this cool roll over the back of him trick that Karlyn taught me.  It worked like a charm and I was back on the feet that I had been on.

The turn buoys were especially crazy but I made it around them using the hip trick that Karlyn taught me. There was a sail boat at the turn around and I was thinking that I wish they had a race clock on the boat. It would be cool to see your half way split.

Around the boat I went and then headed back to shore. This felt long, but it always does. I found a few sets of feet and stuck to them. A few times I got pummeled by people, always men. The women (pink caps) seems to swim offensively at Kona, maneuvering their way around and barely touching anyone.

The way back also seemed to be very swelly. There was lots of rockin’ and bobbin’ around and I remember wondering how many people were getting sick or losing their breakfast in the water. It was a bit of a mosh-pit at times.

As we merged along the pier things got especially feisty. They really create a bottleneck here and people are tired and thrashing about. When my hand hit the sand I was more than ready to be done with the swim. I’m in the back with the pink cap, and green goggle strap.

I ran up the stairs, keeping my footing this time and I glimpsed at the clock. I saw a 1:06 and I remember nodding to myself and saying “That’ll do Sonja.” I stuck “4 minutes” in my brain (I swam 1:10 last year), let the time go, and ran into the change tent, collecting my bag along the way.

In the change tent there wasn’t any chairs, so I dumped my stuff on a table, grabbed what I needed (I had a race belt and sunglasses in the bag…that’s it) and put my speed suit and goggles/cap on top of the bag. I asked a volunteer to pack it up, she nodded and I ran out of there.

I got to my bike, put on my helmet, and ran my bike down down down to the entrance of the pier.

Step one was done…now onto the next!


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Ironman, Race Report, Swimming, Travel, Triathlon


  1. Sonja!! This is like watching a suspenseful show on tv and you have to wait until next week to see how it turns out!!! I can’t wait for the next step!!

    You are awesome and an inspiration!
    love you,

  2. Your dad must have the same lens as my momma! Whenever she takes pictures, it looks like she was basically up my nose at the time even though she was a mile away. Awesome shots of the mass start! I can’t wait to hear about the rest!

  3. I want your dad to follow me around at all my races. Can we arrange that? Your race pictures are always so amazing. I enjoyed watching you cross the line on Saturday. Can’t wait to read the rest of the story.

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