Pre Race: I arrived in Kona on Thursday, September 29...a mere 11 days after the birth of our first son Andrew. To say leaving home was hard is the understatement of the year. Jenny, Sophia, and Andrew dropped me off curbside, and I felt like we were in one of those movies where the "man" is leaving his girl to go off to war, not knowing if he is going to be coming home alive. There were a lot of tears shed immediately by all of us (well, not Andrew..), and the race was the last thing on my mind. I held it together, arrived in Kona to a warm welcome from my mom, and got organized in our huge house "Komohana" which was situated perfectly out of the way of the mayhem that was to arrive down on Ali'i over the next week. The first few calls/Facetime's home were disastrous, and Jenny and I almost felt that communication was worse than no communication---it just reminded us of how long and how far away I was from them during this delicate time in our lives. Thoughts of last minute ticket purchases were brought up, but we stuck it out, and things actually settled in and Sophia understood a little bit at least that papa would one day return home. I don't know how our Armed Forces do it---leaving their families for months if not years at a time with no knowledge of when they will re-unite again...ugh, awful!!
Okay, so that paints the picture of what was on my mind early in the week, but I managed to settle in well...good foods from local markets, good training sessions, legs really started to wake up around wednesday before the race, and I was getting comfortable with the South Swell that was rumbling the swim course and the winds that we would face on the bike. I did very little running by design, and as race day approached, I could not wait to race. Doug Thralls did some amazing bodywork on me on two occasions, really freeing up my "always" tight hip rotation...I was zinging Thursday, and worked my best to save that energy for race morning. Maybe I peaked a bit early, but some bike intervals on thursday kept me feeling "zingy" to race morning. A quick swim friday morning felt awesome---I felt like I was flying through the water. So going in to race day, again Chris had me feeling perfect...now it was up to me to execute the plan. I managed to get a lot of rest going into the race, staying away from the commotion down on the race course and at the Expo. Dinner friday night consisted of A LOT of brown rice, a Lentil Soup concoction, Ezekial bread, Nut Butter, Quinou. All good carbs, some protein, and almost no gluten. I also was on the water all day, and added in EFS after lunch as my "electrolyte loading beverage." I was in bed early, as the 12 "other" occupants of the house avoided me knowing that I wanted to be alone (thank you all, I was in race mode!). I ended up watching ""The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch on YouTube, and I carried the key points into my race---brick walls (they are there to separate those who really want something versus those that just "say" they want something), the reason behind his decision to do the lecture (his kids)...they all were invaluable tools for the race for me. Randy died of pancreatic cancer shortly after this lecture...but you would never guess that he was terminally ill with cancer...he was more alive than 99% of the people on this planet...no "poor me," no "why me," he was an amazing person. I didn't finish the video that night, but when I woke up at 3:30am race morning, I finished it...and I was full of Randy Puasch-isms---nothing was going to get in my way on this day.
Breakfast was surprising small, as I had a hard time getting my breakfast down probably due to the amount of food I ate the night before (I ate dinner at 4:30pm by design). 2 servings of oatmeal, half a bagel with nut butter was all I could muster, and I made a mental note there: this is NOT enough. It may have played into the race a few times, as I would have liked to get in twice as much as I did. My family was up with me, and there was a good feeling in the kitchen having them all with me---it was not the norm for me to have so many people there to "sherpa" for me (thanks Jordan again for the use of the term---it's so fitting).
|4:30 am Race Day..My Sherpas all in Orange!|
|Electric Swim Start|
I decided to line up on the inside, but not right on the pier as I knew I would get pummeled not only by the swimmers, but by the kayaks and surfboards that "hold the line" along the buoys.
First Mistake that I would change for next time: I decided to be in the "third/fourth row"---I'll spell out why in a second, but I should have gone for the front row---being a first timer, I was conservative, but now I know that I belong in the front row. The canon was to my immediate right, and I watched the canonizer intently as I figured there would be no warning to the start. BAM..let the mayhem begin...
The start was not as bad as I expected, but I expected the worst. I learned to NEVER stop swimming freestyle, that the head up drill is invaluable, and to fight for it. Immdeiately, I was pushed to the buoy line and the line of boards and kayaks but the 1700+ swimmers to the left of me, so I was not only fighting other swimmers (all of whom seemed so slow!), but also these things with sharp fins on them (luckily no interactions with them). And the early "crawl" was so slow! It seemed like a lot of slow swimmers mis-seeded themselves, I think the opening 500 yards must have been at 2:00 pace, ugh. Had I started a bit more in the middle, and in the front row, I would have sailed with the faster swimmers. Approaching buoys was the worst, as the line from buoy to buoy was not maintained by the kayaks and boards, so it created a "crunch" at the buoys, and they wouldn't let anyone swim inside of them. I fought hard on the first two, but developed a new strategy that was brilliant (if I say so myself...). As I approached the next buoy, I was 5 feet inside of the buoy, and I was gonna have to hammer someone to get around the buoy. Instead, I went submarine style...swimming about 10 yards under 2 kayaks, the buoy, and coming out the other side in undisturbed water---AWESOME! If you were near me, you would have heard my excitement underwater ;-) The rest of the way out opened up a bit, but I couldn't figure out how so many people got in front of me off the start position I had. I swam though group after group, sighting open water lanes and "intervalling" into them to catch the next group. I felt great, under control, but flustered as I knew I was wasting energy with all of the maneuvering. At the first turn, I glanced at my watch---30:00 on the dot. With all of the extra "work" to get there, I was happy that I hadn't lost too much time in the process, but now we were turning back into the swell, and thus, slower swimming. I rounded the second buoy at the turn, and headed home. It finally opened up, and I started to take in this beautiful swim course. You could see everyone around you against a brilliant blue background. I grabbed a set of feet here and there, but continued working my way through swimmers. With 300 to go, I settled in on some feet again to rest a bit, watched the coral reef get shallower and shallower, felt my hand hit the sand, and popped up---thinking, what's my time!! 1:03...happy with the time, but with all the commotion, I knew I could do better...next time ;-) I say this because I never felt like I exerted myself on the swim, I never got to really stretch it out and swim until about 2500 yards into the swim...
|Split Name||Distance||Split Time||Pace||Div. Rank||Overall Rank||Gender Rank|
|5 mi||5 mi||42:20||7:00:32||8:28/mi|
|10.2 middd||5.2 mi||47:49||7:48:21||9:11/mi|
|17.2 mi||7 mi||1:06:43||8:55:04||9:31/mi|
|26.2 mi||9 mi||1:04:44||9:59:48||7:11/mi|
|Well, I looked good here...|
|but not here on the Ali'i return...John's pep talk...|
|on Holy Ground|
|Carlos Sue and I at Dinner Sunday night...Champions!|
|I think I made them proud parents on this day ;-)|
|Me and the Deans Post Race..Love em!|
Jenny, simply, you are amazing. I missed you more than I ever want to miss you...you have been behind me on this journey, putting up with the long hours, the nights with "no Papa" at home. The calls after my failures, a crash...and you have been there unconditionally for me every step of the way. I don't know what's next (or after IMAZ...), but I know you have given me much more than you have received, and I can't compete with your heart and unselfishness that you have exuded over the past 18 months....I feel like the luckiest man alive to have you as my wife. You are my rock.