Honu Half Ironman Race Report

I’d like to say that everything went to plan, but things did not. Normally I would have a long race report with a fairly vivid recap of what happened during the race. I don’t have it in me today.

Yesterday was a soul crushing sort of day. If you have never experienced the heat and wind on course here, I can think of no comparison. The wind waited until race day to show up, and when it came, it came to party.

The swim was made challenging by the stiff breeze. There was a good bit of current in the swim, and loads of hargy-bargy. I have done quite a few mass start swims. I don’t know what with this lot, but the men were aggressive, and not all that nice about it. I had my legs pulled under me, and my mask intentionally ripped off. One gentleman took exception to anyone drafting off him by wildly flailing his legs behind him in some sort of motorboat impersonation.

The volunteers, usually a bedrock of these races, were ill trained and ill informed. No one seemed to be able to answer even basic questions like “where can I throw this away?”  Never mind an even sillier question like “where am I going?” Nothing terrible, but certainly frustrating when competing.

I was a little slower out of the water than I wanted to be, but I think everyone was slow. Looking at my time, I was in the top third. I’m no great swimmer, so that was fine.

During the transition, I got into an argument with one of the volunteers about my race number. I had it on my back with a race belt. He would not release me until I pulled it around front. I tried to point out that not only were there others with it on there back, there were racers without any number on their uniforms at all. That soaked up about 2 minutes. Shame on me for getting into it with him.

The bike went to plan for the first half. My goal was to get to the turn around at Hawi with a pace of 20mph, and then let fly with the tail wind. Sadly, the way the wind works around this island, we had a stiff headwind going up the hill to Hawi, and as soon as we got to the turn off back to the Queen K, there was a head wind there. The last 8 miles were a complete joke. I averaged 13.5mph or some such silliness. According to officials, at the terminal station at the bottom of the hill, gusts were up to 40mph. Awesome.

When I got to transition for the run, I was treated to my whole family being on the other side of the fence from my bike spot. My 7 year old daughter knew where #1277 was, but the volunteer did not. Imagine my confusion when they racked my bike and I opened the transition bag and none of my stuff was in it. My spot was 50 feet away.

At this point in the race, I knew it was not a PR kind of day. I felt good, and was anxious to get out on the run. About 1/2 mile into the run, I knew I was in trouble. Until I can look at the HR data from my computer, I won’t know anything. I know that I could not recruit my legs to run. At all. They didn’t hurt; they just didn’t function. I felt like there was a mass sloshing around in my gut, and I could not put my feet to a trot for more than 100m at a time.

I considered my options and chose to walk the first mile, to see if getting my HR under control was the right move. I didn’t panic. I just went into race management mode. Sadly, no amount of walking would get me running. It was incredibly frustrating. I took on water, ice, sponges…whatever I could get at the aid stations. Nothing was working.

It wasn’t until probably mile 11 that I could string together longer trots. I didn’t run an entire mile the whole race. Groan. So much hard work. The wind on the bike was punishing. The heat ultimately did me in. If I had to guess, there was a combination of dehydration and heat exhaustion. I will have to spend some time with Coach Ben when we get back to Seattle.

Ultimately, I have to learn something from this, and move on. I have another half Ironman in 7 weeks. My goal is to simply improve on what happened here. I have been through this already – a rough first race of the season. I bounced back and had a great mountain bike season. It’ll be all good.