Oddly enough, this was the part of the race I was most anxious about. I have heard so many stories about how the swim is a like churning washing machine, arms flailing, legs kicking, people everywhere…. not my idea of a good time. I like swimming by myself in my own lane in the pool staring at the black line on the bottom. This would NOT be that…at all. I talked with a few people before the swim to find out where to start and the general consensus was stay to the left, on the outside and on the left of the Ford car that is always floating in the water. Well, I get down the steps and into the water and, hmmmmmm, no Ford car, great! Now what? I got into the water with Ryan and told him I was just gonna go to the left. I stayed with him as long as I could, but he didn't go as far left as I wanted to so we parted ways. I was directly to the left of one of the orange buoys in the water, it seemed like a good place to start, I was comfortable with my decision. I pushed/swam (without touching anyone…I didn't want bad swimming Karma before the race started) my way to the very front line of people. Once I found my place in the masses, there was less than 10 minutes until the cannon went off. People were chatting and being relatively friendly amidst the chaos that was 1800 people in the water. Of course you always have the one guy who thinks he’s badass, “I guess everyone is a 54 swimmer today,” as he was looking at myself and the three other girls that were right near me. “I’m really going to swim a 54 and you people all think you’re fast, I’ll just trample over you at the start, people read women really need to know their places in these swim starts.” I wanted to clock the guy in the face, I didn't But I did swim faster than him and I didn't even have a super fast swim!
Anyways, we are treading water, the drums are beating, anticipation is building, you can faintly hear Mike Riley in the background talking about the race and what lies ahead for the day, there was a strange clam before the start of the race and then all of the sudden you hear someone shouting, “GO, GO, GO, GO, GO, GO,” there was no cannon (apparently it misfired or something), and everyone takes off. This was the part that I was so anxious about and it was over in an instant. I sprinted like crazy for probably less than 2 minutes and I found myself in fairly clear water. There were always people around me and I was able to catch a pretty good draft for the entire swim, but I never got touched once. So much for washing machine like swim. I was able to stay within myself during the swim, not get clobbered, look at the beautiful scenery and marine wildlife under water and keep up a pretty decent pace.
The swim was pretty uneventful; it went by without any problems, it didn't exhaust me, it wasn't fast, it wasn't slow, and I was right where I wanted to be getting out of the water. I was racing in the Ironman World Championships! Before I knew it I could see the pier and the day was really going to begin.
Swim Time: 1:00.23
I made sure to rinse off in the “showers” on the Pier before heading into the changing tent, I didn't need any excess salt on my body to start the day. I knew a bunch of people that were working in T1 and I looked all over for them as I entered, but I guess they were helping other people at that time so I missed them, bummer. Transition would not be as easy and “fast” if it weren't for the wonderful volunteers. I just stood there while they did everything I told them to do, “sunglasses, arm coolers, helmet, race belt (note to self don’t put this on until T2 next time, it’s not necessary), nutrition.” They fixed me up and I was off.
The dreaded bike. Hopefully, next time I write a race report it starts out with, the bike….loved it! I had to let this part of the race digest a little bit before I wanted to even think about writing about it. Had I written this a week ago, it would have been completely different. 112 miles is a long way, especially if you haven’t put in the bike miles. I had a little set back (piriformis/glute issue) after IM CdA and had to take a 3-4 week break from the bike, probably not the best thing for my bike fitness, but it seemed to all work out in the end. Anyways.
The first 50-60 miles of the bike were uneventful. I felt like I was going at a pretty good pace, I wasn't struggling or fighting the wind, I was just cruising along. This should have been a clue as to what lay ahead, but apparently I wasn't thinking ahead, I was living in the moment. I was pleasantly surprised how easy the first half of the bike was…I never once felt like I was getting blown across the road and there definitely wasn't a headwind. Not a good sign for the ride back from Kawaihae. Although, I was getting passed and passed and passed and passed by other people on the course, I was able to stay positive and take in the fact that I was racing in Kona!!!
Turn around in Hawi came in less than 3 hours! Super pumped about that, but the happy thoughts and good vibes on the bike stop there. Somehow my special needs bag got lost and I didn't get my nutrition in Hawi, I might have been a little upset about that, but I brought along what I thought would be enough calories to make up for that in case I didn't get those bottles. I probably should have brought more, or just not relied on special needs, I won’t do that again!
We flew down the hill from Hawi and I was still pretty happy with how things were going and then we made the turn back onto the Queen K. There’s not a whole lot to say about this last portion of the ride. I felt like I got smacked in the face with wind that wouldn't stop blowing. So much for a sweet tailwind on the way out, this headwind was killer. Either that or my lack of bike fitness leading up to the race was coming back to bite me in the bum. The crosswinds weren't bad, I never once felt like I needed to get out of my aero bars, but the headwind was relentless. I got off my bike twice to check to see if my breaks were rubbing. I was convinced they had to be. They weren't. I was convinced I had a flat, I didn't. I was going that slow. Somehow I managed to make it back to within 4 miles of T2 (mile 60-100 are a blur of “my breaks have to be rubbing, I think I’m getting a flat, when is this road going to end, Queen K with a headwind is NOT fun, OMG I want to throw my bike in the ocean, I know so many people racing right now, how come I haven’t seen anyone, am I really going that slow, ugh” it wasn't pretty) and who comes riding up the road screaming and yelling and cheering for everyone on the road, but Chrissie Wellington. That was the only thing that got me back to transition.
Bike Time: 6:11.18 (ugh)
I took my time in T2, I was not in a good place mentally, there might have been a few tears, but I was almost done. Ha, almost, I still had a marathon to run. I can’t say enough good about the volunteers, they were super helpful and motivating and they are for sure what got me out of T2.
I knew the run was going to be a challenge. I’d done one “long” run since June and knew I was going to have to dig deep.
I saw Kim and my mom running out of transition to start the run and I’m pretty sure I didn't even acknowledge their cheers. SORRY! Down Ali’I drive for the first 10ish miles of the run, there are people lined up and down the streets cheering, partying and having an all around great time, while we are suffering! I saw some friends on the side of the road and yelled hi to them, I needed to do something to distract myself from how bad I was feeling, so instead of letting people yell and cheer for me I was on the lookout for people I knew so I could say hi! There was even a chalk message on the road for me! Thanks Nalani, Kurt and maybe Michelle too!!
At the turn around on
at mile 5ish, I still wasn't feeling great, but I kept plugging along. I was walking through the
aid stations to try to take in calories since I’m almost positive I was a bit
calorie deficient after not getting my bottles at special needs on the bike. Finally,
at about mile 6 I saw a friend!! I had caught up to Kathryn and chatted with
her for a minute or so and tried to get her to run with me, but no dice, I told
her to have a good run and I’d see her later. I saw Delo, Felipe, and a few
others while running through town, a much needed energy boost at this point in
time! Running through Kona town is pretty exciting there are lots of
distractions, things to keep your mind off of what’s going on.
I told EVERYONE that part of my plan was to walk up Palani hill. I could probably run up that steep thing just as fast as I could walk and it would take less effort, well that didn't really go according to plan. As soon as I made the turn up the hill there was the BOCA contingent, they might as well have been the whole crowd on that hill, they were great!! I started walking and then saw Raul and he told me I had to keep running, ugh, I just wanted to walk up this hill, but I started running, again. Thanks so much to everyone who came out and supported the race, this was a great place for you all to be, definitely a tough part of the run for sure! Toward the end of the group, I saw Nytro, finally, it’d been basically all day he was a sight for sore eyes! He ran up the hill with me for a while and at that point I wasn't able to take in any more calories, he told me I had to keep eating, I couldn't stop taking in yet, it was way too early in the run and I still had 16 miles to go, keep eating, keep taking in and keep running. (I guess it’s time to start drinking Coca Cola when all else fails Coke will save the day. I try to hold off as long as possible before I start drinking that stuff, because once you start, you can’t stop). Best advice of the day. He got me to the top of the hill, couldn't have done it without him and the rest of the BOCA squad. I said bye and I was on my own.
Everyone said the Queen K is a lonely place. Well, it sure is and six miles along a highway with little to no cheering friends is a long ways to run, especially in the heat of the day. I made a friend during this portion of the run. A nice girl from
area, who did the whole race in a bathing suit! WHAT!? HOW?! I can understand
doing a sprint or maybe an Olympic race in a suit, but an Ironman, this girl is
tough! We kept flip flopping each other, I’d walk the aid stations so I could
get my ice, coke, water, ice, she would run past me and then after the aid station
I would pass her again. We chatted a bit and she was super encouraging
throughout these lonely six miles.
Every intersection, I was convinced that we were at the energy lab, but every intersection I was disappointed and just kept plugging along. Finally it came and I knew I was almost on my way home, running down into the energy lab was no problem at all, it’s downhill and you are getting closer and closer to heading back to town. You run to the bottom of the hill and then they make you turn and run about a ¼ mile before you actually get to turn around and head back out. Another friend! I saw Ryan at this point and that gave me another boost of energy. I made the turn, and was headed back up and out of the lab. On my way out I saw Ryan, said hi, chatted for a minute and kept on going, I knew it would be a bad idea to stop at this point or I wouldn't get going again.
Back out on the Queen K. I was there for maybe five minutes and who comes riding down the road? Nytro to the rescue! How I needed him there at that point in time, he rode next to me for about three miles, being super supportive and encouraging. I was in a much better place mentally at this point thanks to him. I was actually able to hold a little conversation with him! Exactly what I needed! Had he not been there, I probably would have walked a lot of that last long stretch along the lonely Queen K. I was getting so close to town, but still had a ways to go, he told me that one of our other friends Burpie was right up in front of me and if I kept going, I would probably catch him very shortly. That was my new goal, keep running, keep smiling and catch Burpie! At this point he road back to catch up with a few of our other friends on the course and offer them some encouraging words and support to get them through some of those final miles. While, he was gone, I caught up to Burpie, he was struggling. We walked one aid station together, ran another mile and at the next aid station he said he was going to walk again, I told him I was walking ALL the aid stations, we walked it and I started running again, he didn't follow…(that wasn't going to be the last of him though). Nytro caught back up to me, gave me some final words of encouragement and said he’d see me at the finish!
I made the turn down Palani and saw the BOCA crew once again; at this point I had a huge smile plastered on my face because I knew I was almost done! I waved and said hi while I was flying down the hill, I have no idea where the finishing speed came from that I found in the last 1.5 miles, but it felt like I was out racing a 10k! Down Kuakini and the final turn before the final turn onto
Ali’i Drive and the
finish. Running down Ali’i Drive
and into the finishers chute was an amazing experience. I was smiling from
ear-to-ear, high flying all the kids on the side of the road and taking it all in.
Everyone said to take in that last ¼ mile, enjoy it, it’s not something that
everyone gets to experience and it’s something hard to put into words. I did
just that, it was an awesome experience, one I will not soon forget. I entered
the finishers chute and was beyond excited (and then Burpie blew past me with
1/10th of a mile to go, jerk!). I ran up the ramp and “Lectie Altman
from , YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!” Kailua, HI
Run Time: 3:47.53
Race total: 11:07. 23, not to shabby for my 2nd Ironman!
That was by far the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. I finished the race in just over 11 hours, under 11 would have been great, but given my month hiatus from training, I couldn't be happier with the outcome! Everything came together in the end and I was able to pull off a pretty successful race, in my opinion. If you would have asked me right after the race if I’d ever do another Ironman again, my answer would have been “HELL NO!”
I was so incredibly exhausted, both physically and mentally. This race took a lot out of me. I had grand plans to come back to the finish at 11 and stay to watch all the midnight finishers (this will also happen someday!), but my body had other things to say about that. A trip to medical and multiple bathroom trips later, we were headed back to the condo.
Thanks to everyone who came over and out to Kona to support me and all the other racers, what a great race and experience!! Even if I didn't mention you specifically in this little post, if I talked to you over my week in Kona, in person, by text, or by email, you were key in getting me to that finish line. I couldn't have done this race without the love and support of my family and friends. So thank you so much to everyone!!
I’d love, love, love to race in Kona again and be able to actually race instead of hold on for dear life! I’ll be back for sure, when we will have to see what happens with my racing next season. The race calendar isn't set yet, but there will be racing and I’ll be back!
It’s recovery time for me now and I’ll be back to posting more consistently again soon.
Pictures from Kona ASAP