IM WORLD CHAMPS RACE REPORT 2011
Well folks, that’s IM number 9 done and dusted!
This year i decided it would be a good idea to arrive a couple of days earlier than last year, for the simple reason of getting my body clock adjusted to Hawaii time..last year i cut it to close for comfort! This year i arrived, and so did my bike..so no hick-ups at all. My prep leading into this race couldn’t have went any better, starting of racing in Vegas 4 weeks out, i wasn’t so sure at the time if this was a good idea..but i am glad now i done both..racing in the heat of Vegas was great prep for the blistering heat of Kona! I got off the plane and was relishing racing in the heat. It was great to be back.
Every day started of with a swim in Dig me beach..the location for the race start.. it was just great to be there mixing with all the other athletes..and swimming in the crystal clear waters is just pure heaven! After that it would be breakfast, rest a little then the second session of the day..either a bike or a run! All the signs were good for me.. i had no niggles and every session i was feeling stronger. I suppose the only thing that got me worried was a few days before the race the sea kicked up..big big swells! I wasn’t looking forward to racing in that, thankfully it died down a bit before race day. Last year when i arrived in Kona, i was a bit intimadated by all the fit looking guys an dolls.. this year having put extra work into my diet i was alot more confident! I couldnt wait to get racing. The day before the race i went to hotel reception to check what time breakfast would be served, i was informed 5.30am… this to me was a full hour after i normally eat, i threw my normally precise pre race routine up in the air! I wasnt happy at all, but what could i do.
Up at 4am, and down to body marking, i was one of the first there so i was back in my room to
collect all my pre race gear, then down to wait for breakfast to be served. I was getting quite anxious as alot of other athletes were in T1 already getting there stuff ready to race, and i had not even had breakfast, when the doors eventually did open i was a case of shove the oatmeal down, followed by 2 rounds of toast, a cup of coffee, then a rush to get my stuff on the bike, get the wheels pumped, and try and get my head together! Just as i was handing my post race bag in the cannon went for the pros, 30 min to go for me.. i was then happy as i wouldnt have to long to wait. I walked back over to the swim start, putting on my cap..then! DISASTER.. As many of you know i suffer badly with ear problems, to let water in is the worst possible situation for me. I was in an absolute blind panic, i even considered not even getting in the water can you believe! What i have to suffer when my ears are bad, not even winning the entire race would be worth it..
Anyway, in i got to the water with nothing else in my mind but just getting through the swim and still being able to stand up straight at the end of it.. BANG went the cannon and we were off.. On a scale of 1-10 i was swimming at a 5 maybe..my race plan had gone completley out the window. I got swam across..kicked in the face twice it was all going pete tong!! At the half way point in did calm and i found some feet..i actually thought, despite having a very bad start i swam quite well.
That was until i stood up and seen 1.16!!! I was devastated, totally gutted! Any thoughts of me doing well in my AG were well and truly out the window.. I had a quick transition for a change, and was out on the bike in no time..
The first 2 mile of the bike is quite hetic, you have all the dudes overtaking when they shouldnt trying to win the race there and then..those are the same guys you see 10 mile out the road blowing through their arses!! And all this short time i am still thinking of my swim. Before you head up palani hill there is a real good down hill..35mph job:) thats when i hit a pot hole and 1 of my main nutrition bottles jumped out, and even worse my Garmin 705 went with it.. So there i was with 105 mile of the bike to do, no data to keep things in check, all i wanted to do was swing down the hill and go on the beer! I had my 310xt on my wrist, i tried to set it up on the go, but nearly fell of doing so.. I turned it off and decided there was no other way but to ride using only the “FORCE” i had remembered a T shirt i saw a German dude wearing during the week..it went as follows” WHAT WOULD JENS VOIGT DO” i said to myself>>>>STFU>>>HTFU>> and just get on with it! After that i settled i hoped my pace judgment would keep me on track and that i wouldnt go too hard and blow on the run.. The only time i noticed the wind was on the climb to Hawi..Apart from that the bike was uneventful. Last year i started to tire in the last 20 mile or so, this year i felt good..a sign i was fitter, or maybe i didnt push hard enough, but i think i done ok considering i had no concept of time or pace.. I was glad to be getting of the bike all the same..into T2 a the first thing that happens a dude nearly runs over me..like WTF was he at sprinting round the tent! he was hardly in a winning position! I had another good transition and was looking forward to the run, all the signs pre race were good. And i was confident of banging out a solid run.. But this is IM and anything can happen! The first 200m is uphill out of T2, a nice little stinger after a 112 mile bike..my plan was to go through the 1st mile @ round 7.30/7.45 pace..i went through @ 6.50. In my experience of IM those who start fast normally end up walking alot.. and just as i thought that who did i pass??? superman from T2!!! walking.. whilst running past him i made sure he seen my look..then my smile:) I was focasing on taking my pace down, but was finding it alot easier just to hold pace.. i decided to run 6.55/7.00 until mile 16 then hopefully increase the pace.. I met some friendly faces in Matt and Martin on Alii. Matt didnt see me, but myself and Martin exchanged high 5s.. it was boiling hot at this stage..but i was feeling good and loving it. Heading up palini my pace dropped, it’s a stinger, alot of people walk up it..i took baby steps up it.. then out onto the Famous Queen k once again..this is were all you hear is heavy breathing, and the slop slop noises of running shoes hitting the melting tar.. its a lonely place out there..if your weak..this is were you will meet you maker..away from all the crowds with only the aid station workers to shout you on.. Then it down into the energy lab for what is normally the hottest part of the run..the gods were now on my side as there was complete cloud cover.. its 2 mile in 2 mile out.. at the turn round point i noticed i had made up alot of ground on Martin.. I lost sight of him on the uphill but soon seen i was gaining fast..6 mile to go and im thinking.. Christ this is gona be like IRONWAR!! with 3 mile to go i was running on his heels.. Martin is an extremly talented runner..2.50 @ IM Austria this year..smashing the Irish record.. and and no sounder man will you meet! so there we were, 2 friends battling it out on the Queen K.. shoulder to shoulder we approached an aid station, i am thinking..” go on reach for it!” he did and I increased the pace.. only to hear him beathing down my neck a few moments later..now the wolf had become the rabbit! The pace was good and with 2 mile to go Martin cramped and i managed to escape the wolfs jaws:) the last mile is mostly down hill, last year i was in a full sprint heading to the finishline..this year i savoured the moment and grabbed the tri color of Ash and crossed the line an extremly happy and proud Irishman.. there aint no feeling like it i can tell you! What started in the worst possible fashion turned out ok.. i even beat my previous kona time:) And running a 3.03 marathon on a hilly course put the icing on the cake!
The next night myself, Martin,Rob, and the girls managed to get access to the K-Swiss after party, mingling with all the pros was sweet.. free beer we relived the race over and over, and i can assure you, the more beer that went down..the better the stories got! Ireland is a very small country, when you get a chance to race for it..it makes you damm proud..
So whats next?? I have no idea! I will take away alot of very valuable lessions from this race, there are not to many things for sure in this life… but here is one thing that is….. you will NEVER see 1.16 after my name in a swim again!
Thank you every one for pre and post race support messages its said all the time, but i really do remember all the messages, and they do keep the spirits up when it get tough.. A special thank you to my wife.. i wouldnt even be on the start line without her.. and there is more than me who thinks her race day support is 2nd to none.
Until the next time.. Aloha and Mahalo