One of the best parts of being in the Wolf Pack is that we pride ourselves on having fun, enjoying great friendships and supporting each other to our individual goals – whether that is Kona or your first enticer. That is why I loved reading Mike’s Kona wrap up. He is one of the nicest guys around and gives us an honest picture of his experience racing but also enjoys his trip to Hawaii. All work and no play is NOT our motto. Read and enjoy!
After training through the Perth winter I wanted to get to Hawaii as early as possible. Even though I wanted to train and get acclimatised, being able to escape work and freshen up was a priority this close to the race!! My partner Sophie and I left Perth on the 24th September, 3 weeks before the race.
After a week in Waikiki, we headed for the big island. When we arrived, the island was quiet and beautiful, we were away from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki, living the true Hawaiian Island life!! I spent my training time exploring and familiarising myself with the course with my tour guide/Coach who was also racing. The down time was spent eating Açai, drinking the Kona coffee, pro spotting and putting my feet up by the pool! White sand beaches are hard to come by around Kona, it’s all black lava rock!! As race day approached the quiet island transformed into a Triathlon mecca.. The expo was three times the size of IMWA expo and opened a week before the race!! There were athletes and supporters everywhere.
Race day: Started with a light breakky and bottle of Gatorade. The day was amazing, it was cool and no wind! I normally cope well with nerves but this race was next level!! I set the bike up, chucked the bottle on and realised I had forgot the Garmin. First minor hiccup but not the end of the world!! I went back out to say a final goodbye to Sophie and the family. I walked back into transition for race start, I was nervous and honestly, scared!
The mass swim start was incredible. Roughly 100m across, 20 people deep, treading water and waiting for the canon. I went out too hard in the swim, I just tried and tried to get some clean water, find a rhythm and hopefully some faster feet! I never found the clear water, a rhythm or fast feet, I was beaten up and destroyed by the other competitors from the Canon firing until T1.
My overall goal for the bike leg was not to ‘over’ bike. After talking to some Kona veterans, this was the thing that catches everyone out on the first attempt! The goal for first portion of the bike was to get the fluids in and not get done drafting! With so many people coming out of the water at the same time, it was nearly impossible to be outside the draft zone. I was really happy with the ride, the temperature was good, the wind was down, I had definitely held back and saved the legs.
For the first time ever, I felt a million dollars coming out of T2… I started the run exactly how I had planned, I was well hydrated and feeling great. The first third of the run is up Ali’i Drive, a sheltered road covered with supporters! The only problem was that it was sheltered, hot, windless and steamy! As you leave town, you run up Palani Street, a nice punchy hill, about 500m long with an aid station in the middle then on to the Queen K Highway.
My pace dropped a little as I started to run on the Queen K but it was something I expected. Long undulating hills and it was extremely hot! As I entered the energy lab I started to feel a bit gassed, the gels weren’t going down well and I could feel the cramping already. My pace slowed as I started the mental battle with my fatiguing body and by 25km both my legs locked up and I was in trouble.
I spent the rest of the race battling the cramps and run/walking. With 5km’s to go I spotted my coach and waited for her to come by me, I needed that familiar face to distract me and get me to the finish line before the sun went down (backup goal)! As you get to the top of Palani you begin to hear the finish line and Mike Reilly belting out those famous words.. There is still 2.5 km’s to go from the top of Palani but the roads are covered with spectators! Pete Murray calls you down the hill and gives that final pump up, before a couple more turns and into the massive finish shoot. I found Sophie half way down the finish shoot with my Aussie flag, a quick hug and off I went to cross that line!!
Overall it was an amazing experience and one etched in my memory for the rest of my life. The build up, the race and the finish is like no other. If you ever have the opportunity to race in Kona, TAKE IT!!
Thanks to all the wolves that reached out, I appreciated all the support.