By Owen Martin 20 Oct 2012
Pre Race Build Up
I am sitting down to write this report a very happy man. This by far has being my most difficult season to date! More so on the mental side of things than physical. Having secured my Kona slot in Canada it was always going to be a very difficult task to arrive in Hawaii in peak form, I had 7 weeks to recover.. train.. and taper. Something which I never had to do before. I was certain about one thing though, I was not going to arrive in Kona with the ( if i don’t race well i have an excuse) get out clause! I took 1 week of after Canada then straight back into training.
I had no idea how my body would react, but was surprised at how I adapted back into training, swimming came back as did biking almost straight away.. running was different! My pace was the same, but my HR did not want to play ball at all.. A pure sign of fatigue! But the prize of racing on the big island was enough to keep me motivated. In my last week of training before leaving things were improving, but just not up to my standard. It was not bothering me at all.. I had got my prize and I was content with that.
I arrived on the big island Oct 1st giving me plenty of time to get used to the huge time difference and the heat. I nearly had a tear in my eye stepping of that plane, because of what I had to go through to get there. Its well known about my Frankfurt escapade.. I was down at such a low low place then! But here i was standing on the runway in Kona. And if you want to know what my exact thoughts were there and then here it is!
( F**k you, you did not defeat me)
I was really surprised at how quickly at how my body clock adjusted, I was sleeping great! Maybe this was down to the fact i placed no pressure on myself, I had no great expectations and was going with the flow. It was great to be getting up in the mornings and heading to the pier for a swim.. It really is a magical place to swim! The rest of the Irish crew arrived day by day.. Myself and Martin teamed up for some swimming and things were looking good, we done some long race pace work and data was showing we were swimming @ 1hr to 1.02 pace. Things were looking good! Everything except my running was good.. my HR would just not come down! As the race was getting closer more and more athletes were strutting there stuff on Alii. I just love the way everyone seemed to be running flat out.. all the time and not even breathing hard:) posers paradise or what!!
With this being my 3rd time here i felt no intimidation, and just got on with what ever training i had to do. Race day was coming fast and it was time for the parade of nations. Our team shirts looked the biz and i for one was extremely proud to wear it! Marching up Alii with a Tri color flying high and people from every nation giving the Irish nation special treatment is a dream!
Next up was the most important race of my life! The underpants run!! Liam said he was going to kick my ass and I just could not let that happen! We took of in our secret super fast jocks.. myself and Liam were shoulder to shoulder running at a blistering 10min/m pace! Martin was trying to catch us, but the pace was to high! Unfortunately we both blew up with Annette and Sarah out sprinting us to the line!!
Myself and Liam now have a pre race ritual were we check our bikes in together.. We got this done early on Fri morning, then it was back to the condo to try and relax, at this stage I had no nerves at all! Ash cooked a lovely dinner and then of to bed at 8… Ash was asleep in 2min then I realised I had a race to do… Que the nerves!!! I did get sleep just not a very restful one!
Up at 3.30am and I was having difficulty getting the porridge down, a cup of coffee some toast with nuttella and of I went to T1. First is body marking then into transition to get set up for the day ahead. I met Liam, Martin and Ivan we wished each other good luck.. then it was SHOWTIME!!
Dig me beach is so so small and trying to get 2000 pumped up athletes on to it is a mission in itself.. I made my way onto it with 10min to go, I spoke to Rob for a second then made my way into the water. I was very aware of how badly I placed myself last year so swam out keeping much further to the left.. Hoping this would avoid the absolute mayhem that I had to endure in 2011. A few moment treading the water then all I heard was Mike Reilly shouting GO GO GO!! ( the canon failed to fire) So of I went with my great plan of avoiding all the boxing.. Yeah right! It sort of reminded me of a Monday night in Ridleys nighclub after Man Utd V Liverpool… Fecking free for all!! I just put up with it and relaxed.. All I wanted to do was swim quicker than my abysmal 1.16 last year. There seemed to be a large swell and I ended up swimming in a group that drifted of course twice.. How far we swam would not become apparent until today when I looked at my swim data.. My total distance swam was 4.3k.. WTF!!
On the final leg back to shore things settled a bit, and I was delighted to see 1.10 on the clock when I stood up! Overall I am happy with my swim, just a bit ticked of a swam almost 500m more than I needed!
Into T1 and all was good.. I got badly burned last year and decided I would completely cover up for the bike.. I choose to wear the new compressport tri top.. It was really hard to get on, and I knew I was taking a long time, on with the zoot arm coolers and i was good to go.. I have not looked at my T1 time but I am sure it was very slow.. better slow than burnt I say!
I noticed before the swim that the flags were blowing a lot more than normal.. I knew it was going to be a windy day in the saddle, And I was proved right! There is a out and back section around the town to do before you hit the famous Queen K.. Its always crowded and full of people trying to win the race even before they get to Palani. I can never figure this out! Once onto the QK I just focused on finding a good pace and trying to conserve something for the run.. I was not looking at any data just using the force! And as usual i spent a lot of time passing people. About 20 or so mile out and I noticed the wind was really blowing a gale.. I had to be extra careful to keep a wide birth whilst passing as the gusts were blowing people toward the centre line.. My manta before this race was just to smile.. No matter how hard it got.. Just smile! And that I did, the wider I smiled, the easier it was to cut through the wind! The more it blew the more I smiled. If it was this windy out on course how bad would it be on the way up to hawi? Traditionally the most windy part of the course.. It was not that bad at all, And this is were I noticed all those hero’s who pushed to hard in the 1st section dying a slow death.. I just kept smiling:) At the turn round we got a class tailwind, I spun out and had to be content to free wheel at 35/40 mph My max speed was 52.3mph:) I was not looking forward to the final stretch from home as I knew it was head wind all the way… I just kept passing huge groups all trying to shelter each other from Madame Pele’s fury! I have never seen the penalty tents so full! I decide not to take the easy way out and just hold a steady pace. It was bloody hot into the bargain.. I went through nine bottles of fluid, 6 of my own mix and 3 i grabbed on course! I can tell you I was never as glad to see Kailua in the distance, it was by far the toughest conditions I have raced in! But coming in of the bike I felt hot.. but good! Looking today at my bike data i was 25watts down on my Canada average.. Maybe this was down the careful pacing and/or I still had fatigue in my legs from 7 weeks previous! I don’t know, but I have no complaints at all!
T2 I had to get the bloody top of and my fusion one on, a helper came over and placed an ice cold wet towel on my shoulders when I was getting changed… HEAVEN!! I stood for maybe 30sec to let my temp come down.. I know I was losing time but like I said earlier I was not to bothered about losing some time in transitions.. slapped on the sun screen then it was out to do what I was really fearing most about this race THE RUN!
This run for me would turn out to be the most important IM run I have done to date. As I said earlier my running is the only aspect of my training that I felt that did not come back to what I wanted post Canada.. And in Canada I underestimated the run course and had to walk for small bits.. This did not please me as these days my running is my strength!
I did not for one second think I would run the 3.02 I ran last year.. My only goal was simply run the whole run.. And hope and pray that Canada would not come back and bite me in the ass!
The first mile went smooth..to smooth! I ran it in 6.30 and I thought i was going easy.. I reigned the horses in the slowed my pace.. I just race at a pace that was comfortable, I had a real fear of having to walk later in the race.. Ivan passed me at break neck pace around 4 mile in..I was running @ 6.55 pace and he passed me as if I was standing still.. A short time later I met Martin coming the other way..high 5s were exchanged and on I went.. The first 10 mile or so is on Alii, then its out on to the QK were if you have any demons or doubts this is were they will get you. I got to mile 13 and was feeling good.. I thought of increasing the pace, but decided that i would stick to plan and just run the run..Mike was running with me for a short while and that was good to take both our minds of the fact we were slowly cooking ourselves to death.. When ever I was running down into the Energy lab I met Martin Again.. He was looking real strong and i knew i would never catch him.. I was tempted to shout to him I AM GONA CATCH YA.. I thought better of it in case i exploded! There would be no re run of our battle last years race.. I can be nothing but happy for Martin.. Proof that hard work and dedication 9 times out of 10 will get you proper reward.. Good on ya buddy:) But its still 2/1 to me… and I cant wait for round 4!! Coming out of the lab I noticed Liam, a slight nod and it was back to the task at hand.. With 6 mile to go I was growing in confidence, knowing now there would be no walking today! I got into a bit of a battle with a Spanish dude with 4 mile to go, he simply did not like me running in front of him… And the fact that his coach was biking directly beside him was pissing me of a bit. With 2 mile to go I increased the pace to 6min/m on the last mile i was running sub 6.. At this stage I was simply over the moon, not for the fact that I would run sub 3.15 but the fact that I was not defeated and ran it all! I turned the final corner and headed for home.. That finishing chute which displays every nations flag.. I was in full sprint.. not to beat any one but just because i was running on air.. all the pain was gone.. no more tiredness! no more doubts.. And then there it was! The Tri Color flying proud among all those big nations… I took it of Ash and crossed the finish line shouting YOU WONT BEAT ME… and that the truth!
The catchers must of said.. great we have a mental one here!! I didn’t care.
I got dunked in ice cold water.. pure heaven! I finished bang on 9.44 this was way better than what I expected! It was all over, I had done it.. going from the back of an ambulance in Frankfurt to crossing the finishing line in Kona aint to shabby at all.. This is why this race was my best ever in terms of performance. simple as that! Standing in the Athletes area post race with all of the Irish squad was special.. swapping war stories and watching Liam consume chocolate milk and donuts to beat the band! I don’t know if it was the effects of the race, or the fact he finally got his finger out and asked Annette to marry him at the finish line! A BIG CONGRATS TO YOU BOTH!
POST RACE THOUGHTS AND PLANS
Well that’s number 11 done and dusted… None of these races would have being possible without the support and love of my wife Ash! Thank you Babe x
I swore to myself, and actually really convinced myself after Canada if I got Hawaii I would take a break from IM.. Simply because I was so mentally tested after Frankfurt! And I believed that after Kona I would be so sick of it all I would need the break! Well exactly what I thought would be the straw that broke the camels back ( Kona this year) has had the completely opposite effect. I am Recharged fully! I have hunger and desire like i have never had… I don’t know what the next race is… But there WILL be a race! I have finally learnt I am a lot tougher than I realised!
Finally a huge congrats to all Irish Athletes who raced in Kona… In comparison to other nations there we were small in number… sort of like Jack Russell’s in a dog fight! Small… But with a mighty bite!! What about the wiley old fox.. Alan Ryan!! 3rd in the world.. I have nothing but admiration for this man.. Congrats to the Irish 1st timers out there, Sharon,Rob, and Mike, Kate. Jesus what a baptism of fire you guys got!
Until the next time…. Aloha!