Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ironman World Championships

The day started out great. I woke up super easily as 4 am felt like 7 am to me. In that respect racing in Hawaii is great… not so much in a variety of other respects. Matt and I made our way to the pier and ticked all the routine transition items. I racked the QROO and headed over to the swim start.

We also made it into the slowtwitch gallery which was pretty cool…

For the first time in about 3-4 years, I was actually nervous for a race. It wasn’t uncontrolled nerves, but I was itching to get the race going. The wind looked super calm when we walked into the water. As we waited for the cannon, I took it all in while doing some floaty backstroke. It was unreal. The crowds were enormous. Cameras everywhere. Mike Reily blathering about God knows what. Needless to say, the energy of the racers was off the charts.

I lined up on the inside as I was trying to read the surf a bit. Turns out everyone else read it the same way and I quickly realized I had made the first positioning mistake of my Ironman career. The gun went off and I was completely molested throughout the first kilometer of the swim. Shockingly, I was intentionally dunked by a highly aggressive and unstable woman! Some guy took a swing at me for hitting him in the legs… I finally realized what people were whining about in Ironman swims. I usually get clean water but when you are around people, they lose their ever-loving minds. No matter, as it strings out eventually. I just tried to stay calm and patient.

The swim was a long out and back and I rounded the boat that marked the halfway point feeling comfortable. I was swimming well and feeling pretty relaxed. I started to get a bit weak and tight in the lower back towards the end of the swim as my core started giving out a bit but no worries and I hit the pier clocking in at 59 minutes. Just a tick under an hour. I was in and out of transition super quick and excited to start the meat of the day.

Overall the swim was sort of choppy. You can generally tell if you are swimming well or not and I was, so I was satisfied. Triathlon isn’t done on a track or in a pool so time is a tough gauge, even year to year, which makes things frustrating to track and measure performance but also makes the sport not stupid and boring. I digress.

The first part of the bike felt very poor. The power was not coming very easily and my heart rate was quite high. It happens sometimes to me in Ironman so it didn’t freak me out and I just rode without thinking. I saw Matt only 2 minutes up the road and got a bit of a boost as I thought I would roll him up pretty quick. Wrong.

I got out onto the Queen K highway and the wind was completely dead! I was praying it would stay that way as I started hitting my stride. I tried to stay in my zone as people just blasted through me. I couldn’t believe it… through 40 miles I was averaging 24.2mph and I was getting dropped by pack after pack. Welcome to the world championships. I was figuring not everyone passing me was going to ride a 4:40 bike split so I just kept things under control and waited until the nastiness would start as it inevitably does in every Ironman.

The climb up to Hawi was really rough for me. The trademark head and cross winds were there but definitely milder than usual, but I just was struggling with the power at that moment in the race. I hit the halfway point and had lost time to Matt for the first time since I started riding a bike back in first grade. I was now 3 minutes down and furious. What to do?

Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion to our hero's incredible journey to the gates of Mordor and back.


Laura Wheatley said...

Can't wait to read the rest! It was exciting to track you JP- can't wait to hear the "story behind the splits" !!

Megan said...

Hehe... Mordor. We were tracking you all day at Rev3SC. Nice race!