The Big Kahuna: Ironman World Championships 2014, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
October 11, 2014.
Well it’s two weeks since Kona and race report is due. I had an amazing time on the Big Island and enjoyed the big day immensely (Crazy but true). The Heat and Humidity had me scared Sh****ss to be honest and looking back I probably was a bit conservative on swim/bike and early part of the marathon but I definitely did not want to end up walking the last ten miles if I had overheated. Unless you’ve raced there it’s hard to describe the conditions bar imagine running a marathon wearing a wetsuit and wooly hat on the hottest day in Ireland.
The humidity leaves nowhere for sweat to evaporate and my big toes took a hit for the team due to this. I poured so much ice and water over myself to try to cool off that they were completely macerated post race. I had to burn holes in the nail beds using hot safety pins to let the blood out two days later!! My daughter wasn’t impressed by my DIY surgical procedure in the hotel in San Francisco on the way back. So here’s what I got up to.
My next-door neighbor was Mark Allen (6 time Kona Champ) and I attended a Sports Medicine conference there where he presented. Four days out I took his advice and offered a sacrifice to the Island Kahunas and asked them to go easy on me race day. By the way Madame Pele blew on race day not sure it worked!
Race week four days out: It was time to register and start being plied with free gear, I had a competition with my daughter to see how many free gels and bars we could collect. She won but it was like Halloween come early. Free Helmets, shirts, headphones.. CRAZY
These guys are everywhere in Kona and they are supposed to bring good luck, spotted this one in the changing rooms at Dig Me Beach on the Wednesday morning after swimming.
My daughter Emma took part in the Ironkids Aquathlon on the Wednesday afternoon. Close to three hundred kids milled each other in the water and then ran down Alii Drive and back. Amazing to watch and fantastic event.
No pictures of Underpants run as not really my style! I went on bike that am and there seemed to be more people in that Run than would be in the race Saturday.
One day to go: The day before the race meant checking in Bike and gear bags. I ended up in line right beside last year’s winner Frederick van Lierde. Gear in and dinner on board (Pizza and a Beer!!), my last sunset before 9-10 Hrs of pain.
Everbody was taking these photos but I don’t know why, my wife insisted taking one similar. I slept great the night before and only panic was when the coffee maker in the condo went bust that am (Those who know me and my Caffeine addiction understand this was BAD, VERY BAD!), however quick stop at Lava Java on way to transition sorted that out., then Menehune at near transition.
I swam out to the start line and stayed left of the TYR sign. I expected a melee during the swim but got lucky I think. I hammered the first 200m or so then saw we had group on my left and far right and so there was open water to my right. Cruised on feet to turnaround then pushed a bit around the catamaran and cruised on feet to finish. The swim times were slow due to chop and people said currents. Looking back I could have gone lot harder here.
Onto the bike and I went a lot easier than I would for cooler Ironman Bike legs, I was a bit P****d at the amount of drafting especially when the wind really blew later in the day. I was able to ride legal behind some of the early groups at my goal wattage but when we hit Waikaloa the winds were unreal and the Peloton in front of me were basically riding like a bike race. Sitting back 10m I basically had to let them go unless I went way over wattage I had planned. Loads were penalized by turn at Hawi but four minutes isn’t enough. If you cheat and get away with it its worth easy 10-15 min and penalty should be above this if you ask me. Makes you wonder how many who qualify actually do so without drafting?
Onto the run and heat management 101 for me. I walked each aid station and took basically whatever they were selling. That meant cup of water, energy drink four cups of ice (2 on chest, 2 down front of shorts), as many sponges as I could grab then start running again. All that Ice would be completely melted within three quarters of a mile and then it was repeat, repeat…
I actually really enjoyed the run apart from the run /walk at aid stations made my legs stiff last couple miles but I don’t think I’d have been able to stay cool otherwise.
Running down Hualali St to turn onto Alii Drive was unreal and best race finish I’ve ever experienced by a mile. At that point I didn’t really care about time or place etc. I’d had a goal of going under ten hours but the winds on the bike were so tough I didn’t think it was on. I crossed the line in 10:05 and am happy with that.
I’d like to thank all who have helped fundraise for Daughter’s Of Charity Children’s playground to date via MyCharity.ie. The link is still active for one week so it’s not too late to donate!
I’d also like to thank my family for putting up with me while I trained to get here and qualify. After finishing I had a feeling that that was it for Kona, and me kind of like that’s that checked off the bucket list. Now I’m not so sure and think I will try to go back at some point but not right away.
Mahalo, please watch THIS VIDEO to get a real feel of Kona