Race night I slept like the dead. I was tired. Our room didn't have AC and was rather hot and we were right on the ocean with the waves crashing all night in the windows so I dreamed about swimming in rough waters.
Before the race I was more relaxed than usual. I went through the usual body marking, bike pumping, nutrition downing, portapotty using routine. This year was nice in that Michelle and I were participating in the Korey Stringer Institute study so we got our own loo on race morning. That perk was worth the extra time in data collection.
We found Laura too and she hung with us pre race. I did my typical Kona routine and got a good spot on the wall. We ran into Jen C and that was awesome to have a friendly face there to make eye contact with in those final minutes.
When the guys started drumming, I started dancing. I was definitely more happy than I was nervous, excited to get things started and to get the show on the road.
Into the water we go. I always swim over to the sea wall and wave to my family. It was awesome to see everyone there, especially PICs kids and Annie. I blew some kisses and then swam off to get my spot on the canoe. Check out my awesome TYR goggles that I got to custom design. They are orange, and red, and pink. LOVE!
On the canoe we ran into Grant just like we did last year. I gotta admit, I missed Kendra a bit at that point, but knew I would see her out on the course cheering. Before I knew it we were lining up and the whole "continental drift" was beginning. Every year it's the same thing. Mike Riley yells at us to stay back, the officials on surfboards yell at us to stay back, and the crowd of 2000 drift forward. Same thing every year.
The cannon didn't work this year so Mike just yelled GO GO GO GO and off everyone went. Then I felt like the cannon sounded a few seconds later but I could have been imagining things.
Swim swim!!! Here I go. I got out well and actually found clear water in the first 500 Meters or so. Then the bashing began. Next time I am definitely stealing a mens blue cap because I swear the pink cap is a target for bullying.
Let's just call it like it is, I got brutalized out there. I got booted off the feet I was swimming on, I got run into from both sides, I got decked in the head repeatedly. I just got harassed.
A few times out there I just wanted it to be over, to stop the physical bashing, the stop and go, the speed up and slow down, and the maneuvering that I had to do. But, alas, it's the way these things go. I'll keep practicing my swimming so maybe some day I will be amongst less people. I own it completely.
Oh, there was current out there. On the way out it drug us right and the way back it drug us left. In fact when I hit the pier, I actually ran directly into the end of the pier rather than the side of it. Then I had to turn right and swim along the end of the pier before making a left to swim along the pier.
The conditions were no worse than last year, but the water was a bit less clear than last year. I remember trying to relax from a particularly bad bashing and telling myself to look at the fishies and not being able to see them.
I got out and saw the clock and felt fine about it. 1:07, little slower than last year, but not too much worse for wear.
T1 was really quick. The only thing I had in my T1 bag was my sunglasses.
Out onto the bike I felt good. I stuck directly with my nutrition plan and also with my pacing plan from Dirk. I was calculating my time as I went along and felt solid with how I was feeling.
There was a lot of drafting, and a good amount of red cards being given out. This was cool to watch in action. As I have said before I try very very very hard to remain legal at all times. I will share with you something. At a race of this caliber everyone is fit, and everyone wants to have their best day. Most people in Kona have a race plan, and it usually involves some parameters on power or heart rate or effort or whatnot. Riding legal will often cause you to impact your ideal race plan. This is why I think a lot of people don't think they are drafting and don't think they deserve their penalty. (PS: I really dig my bike fit, Thank you Scott)
I talked to a woman who was an official and she said that 50% of people who come into the tent with a drafting penalty don't think they deserved it. So, here's why. In order to stay legal, you will be forced out of your plan. There will be times that someone passes you and then they slow down. Sometimes they even coast and stretch. To stay legal, you have to drop out of the zone before repassing or you risk a penalty and if the dude is coasting, you may have to break to do so. He will not receive a penalty for coasting, you will get one for drafting. See, it's a game and sometimes it requires your heart rate or watts or whatever to go WAY below your plan. Just play the game and you won't get a red slash through your fancy dandy bike number.
The flip side happens too. I had 3 situations, and you can see them on my power file where I passed the person at the back of a group and thus committed to passing the whole group. My heart rate went to 170. My watts were 230, but that was what I had to do to remain legal. It was on me to do so. Was it part of my optimal plan, not at all.
So, these things happened, I watched a lot of drafting, I watched people stay legal, I watched people try, I watched people get penalties, and all along I rode the race I needed to ride. It was a beautiful day out there, although, there were white caps on the water which is really bothersome to see when you are racing, because you know your day will become very hard at some point.
The wind up to Hawi was in your face. But it wasn't cross like 2 years ago, so I was fine with it. I'll take the wind in my face any day. Coming down was fun and fast, and then the 2 mile climb from Kawaihae to the turn onto the Queen K gave us a real taste of what we were in for. HEADWIND.
I have riden this section quite a few times and it was the biggest head wind I have experienced. It's always a head wind, but usually I can cruise in the 19-20mph at race intensity. This year I was at 17mph for 2 hours. Boo. A lot of people just gave up on remaining legal through this section, the drafting advantage on a steep headwind like this is big, and the officials are extinct at this point.
I passed Michelle in here and she looked really good. I mean we were both in the headwind so we were working hard, but all signs looked good to me. There was an official with me at that point and I know he stuck with Michelle for about 5 minutes. Because we were in the same kit I think he thought we might work together, but he had nothing to hand out, because we don't.
Into T2 I was really excited. I felt quite good coming off the bike and my tummy felt good. I wasn't tired of my nutrition and all systems felt a go. Into T2 I saw Hailey! It's not the first time this year we have been in T2 together. That was awesome to see a familiar kit.
On with the Newtons and the hat and I was off to run a marathon. I was pretty jazzed to get into the meat and potatoes of the day. I felt like I was strong and that it was go time.