Hawaii Ironman World Championship Race Report


October 13th, 2007
Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

Race Day

I barely slept last night - probably a mix of anxiety and fear - but ready to get this thing underway. I have put a lot of time into this one day, and was ready to see what it had in store for me.
I got uo early to eat and get my food and drink together, then Ryan and I were on our way to transition. when I got there, it was already a mad house, and I made my way through body marking into transition to get my tires aired up and stuff my bento box. After that, it was off to the swim start to watch the pro's take off, then into the water for the 15-minute tread before the cannon goes off. That's right, Deep water start, and apparently, if you don't get the the front early, you don't get there...so I opted to swim out just after the pro's, and affix myself to the giant Ford Buoy to the very left of the swim start - along with a number of other athletes! It was crazy.
so, for about 15 minutes, i treaded water, grabbed the buoy (not so easy to grab a big blown up thingie the size of a boat to keep you up!!) and tried to keep a decent position so I wouldn't get too beat up on the start. There were tons of surfers going back and forth the keep the line even and everyone back - it seemed like forever before the cannon went off as i tried to keep my legs relaxed so i wouldn't start cramping before i usually do!! then BOOM! off we went !
[goal #1 - make it to the start healthy. check.]
i swam just to the outside of the ford buoy, along the rope for about 50 yards, the popped under the rope and voila! smooth sailing. I couldn't believe it. I knew it was too good to be true, but for the moment, I enjoyed it, looking down at all the coral and the fishies and the beautiful clear water. what an experience. for me, the swim was realtively uneventful. after about 5 full minutes of swimming solo, it seemed like everyone came together, and it became a mess. but thankfully, everyone seeded themselves well, and swam evenly, so when we ran into each other, it was no big deal. I was totally relaxed and taking it in. At the turnaround - about a mile in, there was a big sail boat full of spectators which was pretty cool to see. the were all cheering us on as we swam by. I wonder what that looked like from there...just about then, I began to get that weird feeling in my legs I seem to get in every Ironman swim I have ever done, so I concentrated on relaxing my legs, letting the salt water keep me up, and swam along in the group. I was totally relaxed, and chilled out on the swim. My goal for the swim today was not a time, but was to keep my legs from locking up completely and to get out of the swim without cramping and having to hang out on a surfboard. simple, yes, but the leg cramps are something that has weighed on me during all the months of swim training. I have done extra kicking and swam extra miles to see if it would help. Well, the feeling came about after a mile(as usual), and now it was time to see if i could keep it from getting bad. Whatever i had to do - slow down, stay relaxed - i did it. although it was nice to swim easy out there, i did want to go a bit faster...but i had to be patient....and it worked. when i got the the finish, I carefully stood up, and got up the stairs and into transition..[swim time 1:03...prevoius IM's have been wetsuit swims 1:01-1:04]
[goal #2 - swim - keep from locking up in my legs. check.]

Transition was quick - except for the 30 seconds or so i stood under the hoses to rinse off. the cool fresh water felt so good. Into the changing tent i went to get my gear on and towel off - then out to the bike which was literally parked on the other side of transition. when i got there, i noteced there were quite a few bikes still parked, and mine was the first in my area to be taken out - but i wasnt so concerned with that really. i just put the helmet on, and ran throught transition to the mount line where i hoped on the bike and took off. relatively uneventful, which was good.
The first part of the bike was an out and back with a steady uphill in the beginning. lots of bikes, and hard to stay legal, but everyone kept their space pretty much. it was great to be out of the water and settled in. at this time, i wondered what my swim time was - i didnt look at my watch, and have never bothered to take splits in races. im not sure it i do this on purpose, or if i just always forget....either one is possible! anyway, i noticed the watch said 1:08 at this time, and then i switched it over to heartrate. Time didn't matter to me at this point in this race either. however the race comes together, the time will reflect it and tell the story in the end. I was more curious about my heartrate in this race for a few reasons- but mainly, i knew i was going to do this race based on my Percieved Effort, and I felt pretty good. but i did notice my HR was elevated, about 5-10 beats higher than i thought it should be, but i wasn't going to let that dictate my day or my effort. there were a few reasons it could have been elevated - i mean, this is kona, and i have had a chest cough over the past week......plus, i've never watched my HR in an Ironman race, so i didn't know what it would do well trained and rested. I did know how it responded in training, but i was never fully rested then, so i was curious to see what it did throughout the day - so that's why i wore it. simple curoiusity. on the PE scale, i was riding at about a 7, which was my "all day long" pace. so i went with how i felt, and watched how my heartrate responded to that. it seemed to stay up thru Hawi.
I was off to a great start on the bike, feeling good, and digging into my treats to eat early. It wasnt until the second aid station that i had a bit of a scare. Im still not sure exactly what happeded...I picked up a bottle with my right hand while my left hand was on the bike. somehow, i hit something with my front wheel (road reflector maybe?) that caused my left hand to slip off the bar and my chest and right arm(still holding the bottle) fell to the areobars. I have no idea how i stayed upright, but i did. i was off of the saddle, on the bar, with both feel clipped out and dragging, holding a bottle in one hand. as i write this, it sounds funny, but it was really scary. the thought of crashing on that blacktop did not settle well with me, and i thanked the heavens for whatever force it was that kept me up. i have my ideas on that one....

so anyway, i collected myself after that scare, and settled back in to my rhythm. At no point was I ever flying on the bike, the wind just kept coming (as expected) from all sides. the bike course followed the pacific north to Hawi, where the turnaround was. the whole way up, the view of Maui's Haleakula in the distance was spectacular. this was by far the windiest and hilliest portion of the ride. I have never ridden into the wind at 9 mph, having a cross wind so strong that i was riding sideways!! People were getting blown around pretty well, and everyone was keeping their distance in fear of a strong gust that might blow us into each other...I looked ahead of me, and everyone in front of me was riding the sideways too. I wished i had a helmet cam!

after Hawi, I was looking forward to a tailwind home to Kailua. HA! well, that's not what was in store for us. that's right. headwind on the way home too. and im not sure how this happened, but it was uphill too!!! no really, i swear, it seemed uphill both ways, but i suppose it was the wind that made it seem that way! the last 30 miles on the bike were steady, and boring, and slow, but i just focused on getting the liquids and calories in to prepare for the run. I noticed at this time my heartrate was right where it should be (or so i think) which was 10 beats down from where it was before. i was still at about a 6.5-7 on the PE scale, so i was in a good spot. but i wondered what my HR meant. interesting.

coming off the bike, i was feeling pretty good. no immediate cramping - good - but feeling a little achy. to be expected, i thought. into transition.

[goal #3 - bike- get off the bike without cramping or crashing. check, sort of. good enough.]

the cramping was coming on now, in the foot, heel and right leg. then in my back, between my shoulder blades hurting when i inhaled. at this time, i decided to take a break, and let it pass. i didnt want to push it, and end up cramped up for the run (like in vineman - i ran 13 miles cramped up in my quads and it sucked to say the least). there was a massage therapist in the tent who took a few minutes to work on me, and it helped a lot. so, after some sunscreen spray, i was on my way - walking. the legs didnt feel quite right. i was on the verge, but able to move forward, so i did. some of the guys i made friends with on the bike egged me on the run out with them, but i told them to go on - this was a touch and go situation. so, i walked out with a wet towel on my head, but by the time i made it to the timing mat, i was ready to run - wether or not i was ready to run! the croud was amazing. i was so excited to be out on the run. and then here they come again....the first mile was walk run. i knew if i could hold off the leg cramps in the first mile, i would be ok for the rest of the run. so, i walked. and walked...ryan walked with me a bit and told me the LSU scores...then, i walked up to shawn chapler (the girl who won my AG at Vineman) who was also walking and having some GI issues....we walked toghther and chatted a while about the day, and laughed about our situations. It was good to chat with her - we're all in the same boat. I began to feel my legs coming back, so i picked up the run, and settled in. here we go.....i was feeling good.

[goal #4 - run- keep from running 26.2 all cramped up. check.]

I also got a pretty good chuckle at about mile 3 when i ducked into one of the porta potty's that bore the slogan "get a head" on the door....turns out that was my only visit for the day.

[goal #5 - nutrition - fuel smart. stay out of the potty's! check.]
26.2 miles. gosh, to write that down seems so daunting. but to do it in this race, or any ironman you've trained for, well, you just do it. the first 10 miles were an out an back - which allowed me to see who the runners were and who was hot on my tracks (and they were there, running strong). i knew they were coming, and there was nothing i could do about it. all i wanted to do was run as well as i could, keeping my HR under 150, and stay hydrated and fuled. i was in my own race. and so far, i was elated to be where i was -for instance - On the run in Ironman Hawaii along the Kona Coast!!! How Cool is that??? okay... i knew i could run under 4 hours, even a 3:45 or better, but again, you never know what the next few hours had in store. I just planned to keep steady. one mile at a time. the run was a blur. there were miles in there i wondered if i would make it to the next aid station, and by the time i got to the energy lab, i thought it couldn't get any hotter of harder from here. but it did. there were uphills everywhere! even the downhills seemed like uphills!! ha, just kidding...sorta...what was up with that? i saw joanna zeiger running thru energy lab - was i going to catch her?? what was going on?? it was at about this time that i really realized that even the top pro's suffered in this race. [later i found out about all of them who dropped out of the race] i was just glad to still be moving, although i knew my speed was on the decline (my HR was down about 5-8 more beats too). it was a real treat to see the ironman board in energy lab with a message for me reading "do it for the dude!" - i got a little burst of energy to climb out of there - thinking of donnie and knowing he's watching and so proud of me. thank you to whomever sent the message. i know that he knew that i'd be here one day. it was a great moment and memory out there in the lava fields....out of the energy lab, there was one long hill in particular(about 2 miles) we ran up at around mile 12 that i was looking forward to running down - but by the time i got back there, my legs started the cramping and i couldn't revel in the downhill i was so looking forward to. that was a real bummer, but just the way it goes. yeah, i still ran it, but i didnt enjoy it at much as i hoped i would as i went up!!everything was hurting by then, i didnt even watch my HR anymore 'cause i had to walk so often - i knew it was down, and my stomach was cramped up after drinking some coke, not to mention the fatigue cramps in my quads and biceps (yes, biceps. dont ask me why, weird). that was the first time i hit the cola in an ironman, and im not sure i ever will again. the stuff is like crack, and once you drink it, you need to keep drinking it or you will crash.(or so im told). and as soon as i drank some, my stomach didnt like the carbonation, but i had to keep on it....cause i didnt want to drop. i kept thinking to myself...."if i stop drinking the coke.... my stomach will feel better.... but then i would crash and suffer... but i want to finish....and by this time, i was about 4-5 miles out, and i could taste the finish. i knew if i kept on, i could be under 11 hours easy, but i had to keep moving. so i stayed with the coke, and delt with the tummy ache. it was about this time when several girls began to pass me as they were running in - these were the "runners" in the race who finally caught up with me. i knew they were there the whole time, but i hoped i could fend them off - and i did a lot longer that in the past. they were all suffering too, just better runners. im better than some now, but there is still room to grow there. i held on as long as my legs would let me, and i gave the day all i had. the last mile was a mixture of pain and exhileration. starting with the downhill on Palani with cramped up legs and ending with the stretch on ali'i drive where the croud is so loud you can barely hear Mike Reiley announcing. but you CAN hear him, and he's soooo close....and then up the ramp to the finish. it was surreal.
[goal #6 - FINISH. check.]
i finished in the daylight, and felt great about it. under 11 hours for sure, but i had no idea what my time was. i was so emotional at the finish, i was short of breath, so they took me to the medical tent to watch me - but after fifteen minutes or so, they let me go. yeah, i was a little dizzy, but to be expected i suppose! i went to find Ryan who was waiting for me....
enter race number 1379 and
click on the yellow link
So, what do I think?
After the race, I remember telling Ryan that "that was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life....and I don't ever want to do it again"!
Today(4 days later), I want to do it again. and I want to do it better. I know I can. in the swim, bike, run, T1, and T2. i can see where I can improve in each segment, and look forward to the opportunity to do so.

What you can do is limited only by what you can dream.
so.... what did I learn? a lot.

among other things, Patience pays off.
I read somewhere that Patience = Concentrated Strength.

As the days pass and I reflect, many things go through my head. One is what I have already heard from many folks...."you lost it in T2" (referring to the fact that I slipped from 2nd place to 7th place in the end - by mere minutes). well, maybe. when you look at my times and splits, and that's all you see, i can see how you would say that. But I don't see it that way at all. this race is more than mere time. a lot goes on in those hours between the starting cannon and the finish line - internally and externally. The way I look at it is that I did pretty well over all. I PR'd by over 33minutes at Ironman Hawaii, the hardest course there is with the fastest endurance athletes in the world. That is pretty cool. It was a long day, and am positive my patience in T2 paid off. who is to say if i ran out of T2 2 minutes earlier that I wouldn't have had my legs lock up (like at vineman)- then have a 5 hour, much more painful marathon? Patience is one of many things this sport has brought me. Patience can be bitter, but it's fruit is sweet.
Again, thanks to everybody for watching and sending out good vibes. It still amazes me that I get to do this.....
Stay tuned...and remember, NBC will be airing Ironman Hawaii 2007 on December 1st!!

1 comment:

Cameron said...

Great finish Caroine. Way to go. I really like the flyers that you sent out to every one. Best of luck next season.

PS I got a picture of you in my files from the Cajunman that you might get a kick out of.


I know got an ego boost from looking that fresh after biking with you for 20 miles, but then again you beat me by about 10 minutes in that race, so my head isn't too swollen.