As soon as I landed in Kona I knew the two weeks ahead of me would be amazing! Hawaii was better than I could have imagined; the beautiful scenery was breathtaking! Each day, there was more and more excitement in the air as the athletes kept arriving. Like myself, most of them arrived a week prior to the race in order to acclimatize and adjust to the time zone. I was inspired just being surrounded by all of them.
After months of preparation and training, the Ironman World Championship was the race I have been gearing up for. 50,000 athletes try to qualify for the Ironman World Championship every year but only 1800 qualify and I felt very privileged to be among them. After competing five weeks prior to this race at the World Championship 70.3 in Las Vegas, I was hoping that my body would remember how it felt to compete in the extreme heat.
The outcome is unknown when it comes to a race as long as this. Competing in Kona for the first time, I wasn’t sure what to expect on race day but I knew the conditions would be very tough with high heat, humidity and strong winds. I didn’t have particular finishing time in mind, I just wanted to enjoy every moment and make sure I could complete the race.
My training was done at this point and I tried to remember the good days to get through this race with a confident and positive mindset. Training through aches and pains was very challenging at times as I was still feeling the effects of my fall at Ironman Arizona. The A.R.T. team was on site prior to the race and seeing them every day leading to the race helped a lot.
The morning of the race I woke up at 4am after a good night sleep. At 4h45am I walked to body marking, dropped off my special needs food bag and headed to weigh in. I then walked to the transition area to load my bike with food, add fluid to my water bottles and pump the tires. The restaurant opened at 5h30am, so I had a coffee, oatmeal with half a banana for breakfast. Time was running very quickly, so I entered the transition area just before 6:30am and waited in line with all the other athletes. It was awesome to watch the Pro athletes start!
The theme of this year’s race was Aa No Maka O Na Aa. “The sparkling eyes of my roots, a meaning that we will never lose our way as long as we remembered where we came from. Success is about respecting our roots, taking value in what we have learned and embracing our journey. Knowing your roots is knowing your way. Our roots represents the path that our ancestors have taken and the choices that have been made that define and illuminate who we are today.” – Kupuna Elisabeth Maluihi Ako Lee.
SWIM: 1:24 (Finished 46/70 in AG, 394 overall women, 1,554 overall)
At 6:40am I entered the water and took position right in the middle – finding a good spot at the start is always very important – and I placed myself behind a group of people I was hoping to draft behind as long as I could.
While treading the water for 15 min. before the start, the sun rose above the water. I took the time to visualize the day, walking every portion of the race in my mind. The canon went off and the long day ahead of me had begun. The swim was pretty rough and I struggled to stay behind the group. I eventually found myself without anyone in front of me, my pace didn’t feel very fast. After the turnaround the swim on the way back was tougher. As I came closer to shore I could hear the crowd cheering…it was great!
T1: 4:39 – I came out the water, grabbed my bag and headed to the transition tent. A volunteer helped me apply sunscreen as we weren’t not allowed to apply it before the race. I ran all the way around the Pier until I got to my bike row. The race started here for me.
BIKE: 5:55 (23rd in AG, 249 overall women)
First part of the bike course is an out and back loop around town before climbing Palani Rd up to a left turn on Queen K Hwy.
The bike course then travels north on the Kona Coast through scorching lava fields and then along the Kohala Coast to the small village of Hawi.
The first 60kms all the way to Kawaihae went well but the hardest miles were still to come. The strong crosswinds was very challenging while climbing 18 miles from Kawaihae to Hawi and my pace slowed down dramatically. After the turnaround the conditions got worse, it started to rain and the crosswind got much stronger. The crosswind and the rain combined was very challenging. I tried to keep a steady pace in the aero position, so I could stay in control and prevent from falling. Passing anyone during that portion of the bike was extremely frightening and difficult. This was the toughest parts of the bike! The last 40 kms were relatively flat with strong headwinds.
T2: 8:36 – A volunteer helped me re-apply the sunscreen while an other helped with my all my running gear and I went to the bathroom that was conveniently placed inside the tent, before starting my run. Coming off the bike my hamstring was really tight, I really wasn’t sure how my leg would feel on the run!
RUN: 4:20 (29th in AG, 291 overall women)
I started running at an easy pace and I kept that same pace throughout.
The sun was brutal on the run and I felt the heat slowing me down. Staying cool and very well hydrated was even more important at this stage. I made sure to drink at every water station.
The run started on Ali’i Drive along the Coast, to a turnaround, and back before climbing Palani Rd up to the Queen K. The run continued along the Queen K until the Energy Lab and then goes through the Energy Lab complex to a turnaround and back up a hill to the Queen K. There were only 10kms left from that corner, and by then I knew that my finish time would be sub-12 hours.
Sprinting the last miles of the marathon felt really good and as I approached the finished line coming down the famous Ali’i Drive the crowd was cheering, there was so much energy in the air, it was unbelievable! I took it all in before crossing the finish line with a huge smile on my face.
I finished in 11:53:58 (12.29 was the average for my AG)
I placed 29th/70 in AG, 291 overall women, 1293 overall
1883 finished this year with an average time of 11.32. 2.9% DNS and 4.9% DNF.
I’m proud to be part of a group of women called the IronDames that raise money for Wellspring Halton-Peel. This year, I raised $2555 for Wellspring through my participation in The Ironman World Championship, surpassing my fundraising goal of $2500. Thank you to all those that made a donation to my personal fundraising page!
It has been two week now since the race and I’m still smiling when I think about how great the whole event was and I feel so happy that I had the opportunity to experience it.
Looking back on race day, I feel I could have pushed myself a little more during the run as I still had lots of energy in the bank after crossing the finish line. This race was tough but it was by far the race I enjoyed the most. I really took the time to appreciate the beautiful scenery, the volunteers, the athletes I was competing with and the very supportive crowd. The past 2 weeks were amazing! There are filled with lots and lots of great memories that I’ll never forget.
What’s next…Next year I’ll be running my 6th Boston marathon in April, I’ll be competing at the Ironman Mont-Tremblant 70.3 in June as part of my training and the main focus will be in September where I’ll be representing Canada in London, England at the ITU World Championship.
Thank you to everyone who supported me during this journey: my husband Charles, my son Philippe and my daughter Julie, my family, my friends, my training partners, Pace Performance, The Triathlon Club of Burlington, The Oakville Masters Swim Club, The IronDames, Spinervals, Conner’s runners, Canada Get Fit and Claudia Hutchison for helping me with my nutrition plan.
The Ironman World Championship 2012 will be forecast on NBC on October 27, 2012 and December 3, 2012. Don’t forget to set your DVR!