Thursday, October 22, 2009

Kona race report (part 1)

It is with mixed feeling that I am writing my Kona race report. One the one side I am very happy to have done it and experience the awesome week leading up to the race and to be able to complete the race in a not to shabby time.

One the other side I am frustrated and disappointed at some of the things that did not go according to plan, especially because it was the one day I dreamed and planned for since I began doing Ironman and I did put in a LOT of time, sacrifices and money to have a perfect day.

But as Luis Varges, my coach from said at the pre race breakfast, in our everyday life's things don't work out 100% everyday and we need to adapt to that and change our plans to get through the day, now why will race day be different?

I did aim for a very optimistic sub 10 hour finish, but my primary goal was to finish, which I did.

I woke up at 3:30 am and had my usual bowl of cereal and a peanut butter, banana sandwich with a coffee and a glass of Gatorade.

We arrived at Transition at about 5 am and after the body marking, fitting my bottles and all my stuff onto my bike and greeting the family I was at the swim start at about 6h30.

I entered the water 10 minutes before the start and stood in the shallow water until it was 5 minutes before the start. Everybody was lining up at either sides of the swim course and that was my plan too as they recommend that to people who are not good swimmers to start at the side.

As I swam to the start I saw that there were very few people in the middle and I decided to start my swim at the rear but in the middle. One mistake I made was I started to far behind, Being not a good swimmer I was scared to start to close to the front but by that I lost some time by starting way back.

The first 200 meters was chaos and everybody was just swimming over anybody but luckily I found some clean water and up to I guess the 1 kilometer mark I was swimming without anybody interfering. But just as I thought this is going the be a nice swim, it ended. The athletes were channeled by the life guards on the surf boards towards the buoys the closer we got to the turn around buoy. From there on it was chaos again, people pushing me down under, swimming over me and kicking me as soon as I got close to someone.

A lot of times I wanted to stop and catch a breath but all I could remember was my coaches saying to me not to stop as everybody from behind will swim right over you and then your done.

At the turn around buoy I looked at my watch and it showed 45 minutes, what a shock. I tried to up the pace but coming back I was not swimming in a straight line and was redirected by life guards on more than one occasion. At least the water wasn't that congested and although swimming zig-zag, I did not experience full body contact swimming on my way back.

When I swim for a long period I sort of go into my own world and don't take note of things happening around me. Just before the finish I suddenly saw this body laying on the ocean floor and I went into shock thinking someone has drowned while swimming only to realize it's the camera man with his diving equipment and camera filming it from under the water.

I excited the water at 1h22 and was surprised as I thought at the turnaround I am looking at a 1h30.

Preparing for Kona I wanted to swim a sub 1h15 but during my training swims leading up to the race the week before I realized it was not going to happen. All my swim training was done at the gym's pool and it's difficult predicting a time for an open water swim if you are only used to pool swimming. Due to the fact that I was training throughout winter, open water swimming was not possible.

T1 was good with no hick ups. I was handed my bag and got rid of the speed suit and was out of T1 in 3 minutes.

Onto the bike but this is where things went pear shape.

Part 2 to follow

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