Kona – Ironman World Championships

That’s how it should have ended for me, but it all went ’pear shaped’. Now two weeks on I think I know why. Initially I put it all down to my own complacency and arrogance which lead to inadequate preparation both physically and mentally on arriving in Kona. After all I’d been there, done it three times and I knew I had times far faster than any of my competitors and even those in the age group below! Although there’s a Missy Lestrange creeping up behind me!!

But, now suddenly, my head has cleared, I’ve got my appetite back and I don’t have to force myself to drink. Since arriving, I’ve had to make myself do all the things I’ve needed to do, but somehow, I was never truly ’present’. I must have had a bug of some sort, and probably combined with jet lag and dehydration for the first week or so. In addition the US loos are more like overflowing bidets so not colour clues there! Perhaps I should have peed in a jug!

Thinking back I found the flight from Seattle particularly difficult, although I’d slept for most of the trip from London, and all I wanted to do was to get to Kona, curl up in bed with a hot chocolate. This feeling never left me for over two weeks, but I made myself do all the things necessary, registration, AWA breakfast, bike & bag racking and morning snacks with Daniella. Collect the ’shopping’ bike, put my TT together, give it a test ride. But now thinking back I only did one test ride and only went into aero on Queen K. I was super nervous going through town and negotiating traffic, etc. Went out this morning, and it was totally different, I now realise.

Normally on an endurance event, towards the end I start thinking of the ‘treats’ when I finish, but on The Day, I was thinking of that right from the start, on the swim, if not before. I was already wishing it to be over, rather than looking forward to the event itself. I thought I did OK on the swim, but again, on reflection, I was happy to sit on the heels of other swimmers and take a steady pace, slower than I knew I could swim at, rather than pushing myself and finding faster swimmers to swim behind . Once on the bike, again I thought I was OK, but couldn’t believe my ‘Speedo,’ why was I so slow up the gradual gradient and then hesitant on the fast bit back down into town?

Up Palani Road and onto Queen K, now I should be able to get going, but no! First feed station, I stopped, checked my back wheel, were the brakes sticking, took on lots of water and carbs. I normally cycle straight through just picking up a bottle or banana, to drink and eat then discard. It was hard, I didn’t know what was happening, then a girl bumped into me and knocked me off, but no real damaged done and I carried on. I stopped at each feed station, hoping to get ’second wind’ from somewhere. I was getting to the point of giving up but decided to keep going, after all the legs were going round, albeit with no power. Climbed up to Hawi and then didn’t really enjoy the long downhill back to Queen K. The feed stations were great and each seemed concerned if I was OK or not.

Then, the cramps hit in. Only ever had them swimming before and never the whole leg, But, I could stretch out which ever one it was affecting until it eased. Made it back to transition, two were ahead of me and I knew they were slow runners so I was in with a chance. Walked up Palani then started running along Kuakini and found I was comfortable sub 10min/mile (didn’t expect to maintain that, would be happy with 11.) Then as soon as I went down towards Ali’i Drive, both legs cramped up. Could hardly walk, let alone run, stopped until it eased and started again, for them to cramp again and again. Time to “throw in the towel”.

I was remarkably relaxed about it, and later was chuffed to learn that Cherie Gruenfeld had finished and won. She retired the year after my first, much to everyone’s relief as she was doing just it in just over 14 hours which became my goal to beat when I smashed it in 13h 42min. She’s had an amazing career as a triathlete and came back, at 78, for just one more IM. Also finishing was Natalie Grabow, she won the year I came second, and was my inspiration to get my biking up to her standard, and beyond, we made a pact for for her to improve her swimming and me my bike. I sought both if them out at the Presentation evening and was genuinely pleased they had both finished and showed just what us ’oldies’ are capable of.

Since then I have made myself go out twice a day whether walking, running, cycling or swimming, just to keep ticking over. Lazing on the beach, listening to and watching the waves is sublime! Had a session with Karlyn Pipes in her endless pool, and kept practicing, what she had pointed out I needed to do, on my short swims in the sea.

Come Monday, I promised to take myself to Kona Masters swimming. Turned up at 6:30pm, only to find it is at 6:30am! Next morning, no need for an alarm, still waking ridiculously early – overslept! Third morning, got up but arms/shoulders aching so didn’t go. Had bumped my shoulder in a big wave that had dumped me on the sand the previous day. Couldn’t swim too well out snorkelling either, but suddenly felt more ’alive’, took myself into town, no day time nap, had at least one every day since I arrived, then found yet another beach for a sunset, and devoured an enormous plate of rice and tuna salad!

This morning, up with the larks (don’t think they have them here, just some loud squawking things that start way before sun rise!) Off to masters, thinking I’d only do part of the session. Distance sets, wasn’t even trying, so easy, and suddenly the end of the session!

Then TT bike out along Ali’i Drive and up the 13% hill to the supermarket! Aero all the way there and back, except the hill!

I feel great – roll on Utah, fly out Sunday!