'your best teacher is your last mistake'
I'd be doing my coach, supporters and self no justice if I said I was happy with my race in Hawaii. On a tough day in the heat, I found myself in situations, making poor decisions when I was not quite meeting my pre-race expectations. With that said I worked very hard on my race preparation and felt that I was capable of handling the challenges that were thrown at me. With the amazing support I received in Kona from the BTC supporters and the thoughts of my friends and family I always tried to enjoy the experience and respect the tough race that I was having. Here's how things went down.
The lead up day to the race had gone great, the weather was hot, but I felt I coped well with conditions in training and I usually relish a bit of heat on race day. At the swim start I knew we were up for a hot one from the lack of cloud cover and was not too concerned, and in fact a little pleased.....maybe not so much later.
After a shocker swim in 2013 I started a bit wider in the swim this year hoping to get a smoother ride with less physicality, but due to the start line being halved in size since my last attempt it was the usual shoulder to shoulder bobbing up and down treading water to start. After the cannon blew I thought I had got out well, looking across I was up nearer the front end, but after groups started to merge in, a few whacks to the head and some kind people jumping over my body I was quickly sucked back and under water for a bit (enter a little spew!). From here I really felt like I struggled to get back to terms with my rhythm. I tried to relax and sat on a couple of groups but in the back of my mind I thought I may have missed the boat and lost the faster groups. Not noticing the slower conditions much as reported, I tried to get back to the pier as well as I could, I was disappointed to come out in 1.03.
I was excited to get onto the bike, probably my biggest improvements have been made here in the last year. Regardless of conditions and how I felt I had planned to ride slightly more aggressive at the start this year (but not too much) to get out ahead of some of the packs, avoid drafting issues and then settle into some more consistent riding. It was going well, and with a slight tail wind, by 60km I had moved up well. Approaching the Hawi climb I was positioned well, but wasn't feeling particularly flash and my average power for the first couple of hours was definitely higher than I wanted, so as it got windy near the top I started to struggle.
As we hit the turn around I saw the leaders go the other direction and knew they were moving and I was off the pace a bit more than I would have liked. I aimed to try to find some targets on the way back to Kawaihae to help keep me honest on the way down, but at 100km I really started to struggle. My power numbers were dropping and I was feeling the pace and the heat. I tried to focus on my cadence and nutrition, but hitting Waikoloa on the way home I was falling apart. Trying to keep momentum going at times and stay with riders I spent a bit too much time out of the saddle and got caught up surging trying to keep well positioned on the road and into town. Rolled in at 5:05.
Run Coming off the bike I was looking forward to a run, unfortunately on jumping off the bike and into T2 I knew I had cooked my legs a bit too much (sore quads) and was suffering a bit with the heat. In T2 the volunteers were great, the change tent felt about 200 degrees and after getting my run gear on I took 20 seconds to sit in a chair with an iced towel over my back.... I was HOT!
Out on the run I just searched for my comfortable pace, tried to lock into a smooth rhythm and feel relaxed. Unlike usual years in Kona Alii drive was hot, no shade so I was taking my time at aid stations to stay cool and hydrated with sponges, ice and every drink possible. After a brief chat with Matty Harris (who was flying) I made on my way and was buoyed only the by the support and the number of people I was passing. As I headed towards to Palani at 15km I started to feel that awful cramping sensation in my quads (letting me know that I needed to take action). As I hit the Palani hill I walked to try to get my heart rate down and prevent cramping up the hill. Luckily Ray from BTC ran up with me giving me words of encouragement, as I hit the top of the hill I got going again. I knew my pace was not where I wanted to be but with the support of everyone I kept moving and was continually motivated as I continued to pass people and see them in a worse state than me. I was experiencing the toughest run I'd ever done, but I was thankful for the thoughts of all my friends and family at the finish to bring me home. Although disappointed with where I was I enjoyed the last miles, still managed to pick up spots and smiled with elation for the occasion and toughing out the difficult day. 3.10 run and 9.25 finish.
As I greeted the BTC gang after, I was so pleased to have their encouragement and support. Although they knew I was not wholly pleased they appreciated my efforts and I appreciated their support in getting me through the day. A big thanks to Coach Bruce and all the other amazing people who supported me in my preparation. I now look forward to setting the next goals and moving on to a better performance.