Words. They aren't coming to me as I sit here and try to write a race report. But it was the race of a life time and I want to share it with you. Kona. It's what so many dream of doing and yet I had the privilege of participating. I qualified at my sixth Ironman last year in Wisconsin. A year of training later, here I am in Kona. Competing. Against the world's best triathletes. Alongside so many inspirational stories. It was truly a humbling experience. I arrived in Kona Monday night and decided to go for a run to begin acclimating to the heat, it felt good. The next four days I spent most of my time outside in the shade and my family was kind enough to keep the air conditioning off in the hotel so I could continue to acclimate through the evening and into the night. They are the true unknown heroes and I do not give them enough recognition.
Race morning started at 3:15 with breakfast. The norm, apple sauce mixed with a banana and protein powder with Gatorade to wash it down. Then the walk to the start. We stayed about 1.5 miles from transition which allowed me to fully appreciate what I was about to do. There is a lot of mental discipline that goes into competing and this was my last chance to focus that energy. We arrived at the race start where I was corralled through body marking and into transition to pump my bike tires. I was able to see my family momentarily before the start. They were all smiles!! It was game time for me.
The women started at 7:10 with a cannon and then chaos. I was really looking forward to the swim because of the clarity and beauty of the water. That did not happen. There were bubbles all around from other athletes, the entire swim. This was new for me as typically I am out in front of the pack, but since all the athletes were elite, the pack was faster. The swim was over before I knew it and it was time to get ready for the bike.
T1: (Split- 3:25)
After stripping my skin suit off, I rinsed off in the hoses and ran to the tent. The changing tents were not very big which made it a bit crowded. I threw my shoes on and ran to my bike where I would spend the bulk of the race.
112 mile bike: (Split- 6:02:34)
|Getting ready to transition to the run.|
My coach told me to go easy on the bike. Easy?!! It's a race!! That's not the case. An Ironman is all about the run. If you can't run, you can't compete. I followed my race plan and took it easy on the bike, for the most part. The heat was intense and the lava fields didn't help mask it. Honestly, I didn't feel the heat as much as I though I would during the bike though. Close to the turn around it started sprinkling and before long it started raining super hard the next five miles. It was a welcomed relief from the sun before I headed back to Kona where the sun and over 120 degree road temperatures were in full effect. 30 miles out from transition the wind picked up. I embraced this since I was racing Kona and that's what the venue is known for. I actually said a prayer thanking God for allowing me to experience every aspect the race had to offer. I'm being serious when I say I smiled when the wind started blowing harder. I rode more aggressive than I should have the last thirty miles because I felt strong. My coach did a solid job of preparing me for the bike as he had me do numerous 90-100 mile rides and two 120 mile rides in training. I finished the bike with a smile of relief, even though I enjoyed it. The race was ready to begin.
T2: (Split- 3:13)
I left my shoes on the bike, so this transition was really quick. In the tent I put on socks, shoes, a hat, and race number and flew out of there as quickly as I could.
26.2 mile run: (Split- 4:21:30)
Side cramps. My nightmare. This never happens! I got the worst side stitch of my life and it stayed with me the entire run. I went too hard on the bike. Or maybe it was hotter than I gave it credit for. Either way, I was hurting. The first ten miles were in town with people cheering all around. It was easy to push the pain aside, except for the looming Queen K highway ahead of me. In a marathon, 20 miles is mentally half way, I was in trouble. I saw my family a few times in the first ten miles. Seeing them is always a relief, it's helpful for me to connect with them and exchange a smile as their presence reminds me to dig deep. On the way out of town, the course took us up a big hill, I walked. It hurt so I ran. At that moment I remembered what a marathon felt like. I went into my memories and felt the pain of my second and hardest marathon. It hurt just as much to walk as run, so I might as well run. I did. I pushed through the marathon. With the cramps I was not able to eat so I took in liquid at every aid station. My coach came out and gave me some words of encouragement at mile 22 which helped me put the race in perspective. He reminded me how challenging Kona is and that I'm doing it. Then, suddenly, out of no where my dad appeared! He had been following my progress online so he knew I was hurting. For at least a mile, my dad stayed with me while I slowly made my way to the finish line. He didn't get to see me finish in person, but him being out on the course with me was more important, trust me. (Thank you for sacrificing that, dad.) I finally made my way to the finish line. My family was all there cheering me on, taking pictures, and crying (maybe?) as I ran past them. It was an experience of a lifetime. Even though my run was not what I had hoped for, my end time was respectable and the experience will be with me forever.
Kona was an incredible experience. I can't say it enough or even begin to describe it. I want to thank everyone who was part of the process for me making it to Kona. Thank you mom, for coming to every Ironman I have done so far and always supporting me with your endless love. Thank you dad, for giving me the endurance to race such a challenging course and always being game for training with me. Thank you to my brother Eric and sister in law Lindsay for spending her 30th birthday spectating and always bragging on me (you both always make me feel like a star). Thank you to my sister Kelsey and her husband Jake for never questioning why I do what I do and instead make me smile and laugh, even when we are not together. Thank you to my cousins, Kevin and Jeff, for getting me into the sport of Ironman and following through with your promise of coming to Kona if I ever made it, to Jeff's wife Raelene for her patience and love of spectating for such a long day, and a very special thank you to Kevin for all the pictures. Thank you to my coach, Chris for pushing me harder than I thought possible and believing in me. I also want to thank my many friends who came to Kona on race day as well as everyone who followed along online and in spirit.
|Bike is racked and ready to race.|
Thank you sponsors and local supporters:
Chris Bagg Coaching #cbcg
|My mom, Lindsay, and brother with me at the finish.|
|My cousin Jeff and me.|
|My cousin, Kevin, who took all the pictures!|
|My beautiful momma!|
|My brother and me at the bike turn around.|
|My cousin Jeff and Raelene|