Today is your day. Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way.
We woke up at 3:40 for a 7am race start. There was a lot to do before the cannon.
The first and most important thing was breakfast. One does not swim bike run for 70.3 miles on an empty stomach. Regular readers know that my stomach and I have had a tumultuous relationship on normal days, and on race days in particular, which means I don't normally eat a whole lot. But after my trip to the doctor a few months ago I've been feeling much better and wasn't concerned. That, coupled with my race plan, made the morning go surprisingly smoothly. A banana and half a peanut butter-covered bagel and I'm ready to head out the door.
Ah, the race plan. I thought you'd focus on that. My race plan and goal for the Honu were very simple: Finish. Have a good swim, know I had the ride, and get through the run however I needed to. That's all. I had a general finishing time in mind but couldn't have told you what it was once I was out on the course. I knew basically what each of the three splits should have been. But I didn't know how bad the wind would be on the bike, which would be a huge factor (and was), and I didn't know how my foot would hold up on the run or how badly I would melt in the sun. So no pressure.
This was a great way to look at my first 70.3. Why add any more pressure than I needed to? This was already going to be the hardest day out I've ever had. I have no ego, for once, riding on the result aside from the unthinkable DNF, so I was going to go out, work hard, have a good day, and try to work hard enough to stagger across the finish line but not so hard I stagger across mile six. More on this once we get to the bike and the run. That's where the plan really solidified.
To get to the race start we drove to the race finish, then got on a very nice coach bus which took us the extra four or so miles down the road to the race start, Hapuna Bay. Diesel claims its normally a fleet of school buses. Nicer buses = Lance Effect. Thanks, dude who won't be riding any bus. We appreciate you causing this to sell out. Helps us.
Once at Hapuna Bay the first order of business is bike check. We left our bikes in T1 yesterday, but they aren't quite ready to mount and go yet. For one, no water in the bottles. This would be tragically bad. Super Awesome Wife, who got up at 3:40 with the rest of us because she's super and awesome, and she wanted to see the off, helped me fill my bottles. This was the first time we got a good impression of the wind on the course. Namely, that if the water came out of the fountain in one place, you should hold the bottle waaay over here, otherwise you're watering the lawn. It was nice to laugh that early in the morning. The sun was already up. It was looking to be a great, hot, windy, hot, windy day.
For two, the day before we had all let air out of our tires. It gets hot on the Kona side, and anyone who passed high school science knows that heat does what to air. Yes, in the back? No, you may not go to the bathroom, sit down. Ah, the stereotype in the front row, yes? Right, heat causes air to expand. So if we had left our bikes sitting in the hot sun all day yesterday with fully filled tires, the tubes may have exploded. Which would have sucked. Changing a flat when I should be doing all my other pre-race stuff is not great. Luckily, that was not a problem, I borrowed a pump, and just like that Kratos was ready.
|Ready for battle|
Once I was body marked, I sun screened up and I was ready. Super Awesome Wife decided that rather than wait for the off on the beach she was going to head back up by T1 so that she could see the whole bay, and it would be easier for her to get pictures of the four of us coming through T1. This event was too big for her normal Picture Coming Out of the Water-Run to T1- Picture in T1. She had to choose. I'd rather see her as I was leaving on the bike than coming out of the water anyway. Helps. I kissed her and Dirtbag Fetus, then we went our ways.
The announcer told us to take our places between the buoys, I waded out to what looked like a good spot, to just where I had to tread. No one was right in front of me but I wasn't on the leading edge either. I wasn't sure how far to the front I should be. Normally I get right up there, but in a field this big? Might get swum over. I settled in.
|We wait for the pros off, I search for a Garmin|
|We take our places, with the less confident swimmers waiting on shore for the mosh pit to thin|
This was a washing machine, more so than any other race I've done. I immediately realized I overestimated my start position, but only slightly. I did get swum over a little. I got elbowed and kicked, there was white water everywhere, bodies everywhere, no clear water to be found. As a swimmer, it was exhilarating. Yes, I grew up loving the pool, everyone in their own lanes, everyone with space. But the physicality and aggression of a good mass start is awesome. A great way to being a day. I know many who would disagree. But they like running, and that makes them crazypants.
Eventually the crowd thinned some and I had open water. As open as water gets in a race like this. Which actually means I was in the middle of a group all heading towards a fixed point in the water. What is nice about this is I didn't pop my head up to sight but once for the first half of the race. I, like a fish, swam with my school and trusted that whomever was leading us had a bead on where we were all going. I watched the hips of the dude (chick? full body suits on skinny people are hard) next to me, occasionally avoided kicking feet, and found my rhythm.
|The field stretched across Hapuna Bay|
I hit the beach feeling great. As far as you know, Lance was pulling on my feet the whole swim and I just barely beat him out of the water. Dude must have sprinted up the hill to be second into transition.
Swim Time- 32:55. I expected somewhere around 30 minutes. I'm happy.
It was here that one of my first Rules about the 70.3 came into effect. I will not run uphill. Not much. Why? It's going to spike my heartrate and make me tired. I'm not looking to save a minute here. So I walked up to T1. Better to be calm in transition. Got out my bag, poured a big water bottle over my head to get some salt off, put on my shoes, helmet, race belt with number, and shades, and grabbed Kratos. Ready for the fun part? Here we go!
|T1 was hugely packed with bikes|
|Greg Bennett into T1 in the lead|
|Lance and Chris Lieto in 2nd and 3rd|
|The pros rush through T1|
|Diesel on his way out|
|Dirtbag always finds time to blow kisses to Super Awesome Wife|