So stoked to be back in Kona! , I arrived 7 days out from the race feeling alot more prepared than I was a year ago, after the good season of racing in Europe. I was staying with a local guy that I met last year 30mins out of Kona in Waikoloa. It was nice and relaxing to be away from all the action of race week , and just being able to pop into Kona for the registration and race briefing/dinner etc. And a bonus that I had my own room with a new king size bed and a view of the ocean!
There were a few dramas on the trip over, the airline ‘misplaced’ my bike and gear and I missed one of my flights waiting for airport staff to try and locate my luggage.. My bike and gear finally arrived 4 days before the race and I got a few good sessions in on the course. I didn’t have any hard sessions planned as I had raced the Half Ironman, Aix en Provence 70.3 in France 10 days earlier as a good last hit out. The body was feeling quite fresh after a real easy week of short sessions, the only niggle was a blister on my right heel that was still hanging around from the previous race.
Swim – Race day came around quite quickly and before I knew it I was stepping into the water at Kona with the other 1800 age group athletes. I decided to start further to the left this year after getting smashed in the chaos of the swim start last year. The swim started pretty casually and I just got into a pack of around 20-30 people. the pace was a bit slow but I decided to stay in the group as it was going to be a long day! There was a bit of swell and current so I was happy to come out of the water after a comfortable swim in 1:04.
Bike – The pace on the bike explodes straight way as everyone is keen to get out on the ‘Queen K’ highway. We had a slight tailwind on the way out to the turn around at Hawi so I decide to push the pace. I was steadily passing groups of cyclists, even though so many athletes were drafting! It was good to see the draft busters being alot more aggressive than usual and handing out penalties to most of the culprits. I was feeling really good (apart from a wasp sting on my quad!) as alot of people were struggling with the intense cross winds out at Hawi, I had ridden up to a group of 10 solid athletes to pace off on the way back to town so I kept the intensity up. The average speed slowed a bit but the effort was still near maximum as we battled the headwind for the last 40km. I kept the power on as much as I could and entered the second transition with a Bike split of 4:59.
Run – I ran out of transition and my legs felt great, I was holding 4:07/km till the first turn around at 8km, the heat was intense as the wind on this part of the course was light. I was craving water and ice and grabbed as much as I could without slowing through the aid stations. The next section from town out to the ‘energy lab’ is slightly up hill and coupled with a headwind my energy was starting to fade. It is hard to keep the pace up when people all around are starting to walk, you have to keep the mind strong and remind yourself to run your own race. I kept fuelling the body and using the ice and sponges to try and cool my body down, but he heat was taking its toll over the last 10km. My legs and lungs were screaming but relatively comfortable compared to the extreme heat that was cooking me! I was still on for a good marathon time and managed to keep my average pace under 4:30/km for a personal best of 3:09.
I was really happy with how the day went and had a solid placing, 2nd New Zealander home and 12th in the 25-29 age group in the world with a time of 9:18.