Don’t be shit!
The day we had all been eagerly waiting for had finally arrived! Time to celebrate the months of hard training.
We were herded through body marking and weigh-in like sheep going to slaughter…! We didn’t have access to our bike bags or run bags so it was a fairly quick amount of time spent checking our bikes and putting on nutrition before lining up for the portaloos and then heading to our start pens, and running back to the portaloos again! Apart from a little panic in transition when I couldn’t get my tyres pumped up (seems to be a Kona thing for me!) I felt very relaxed and calm on race morning.
This year they introduced wave starts to try make the bike course less congested. It should have made the swim less of a battlefield too. However even before our start as we waited treading water everyone was on top of each other, pushing and shoving, not helped by the current pushing us. Fortunately we were off before I got drowned! I tried to find feet to follow but kept getting hit by other swimmers. The water was choppy and I found it hard to get into a rhythm. It took forever to get to the turnaround boat. On the return leg the swell made it hard to sight the buoys and I kept drifting to the right by the current, and also due to a lady who kept pushing me over. I eventually managed to get onto the other side of her.
The bike was hot, humid and windy as expected. The wind seemed to swirl around in every direction with gusts here and there but I coped with it fine. I’ve ridden in far worse windy conditions in Cape Town. The constant headwind did get a bit relentless towards the end. The heat got to me more though. My garmin said it was about 35c for most of the way back from Hawi. I made sure from early that I used a bottle of water at the feed stations, which were every 15kms, to pour over me to try keep my core temperature down. And to make sure I didn’t drink too much plain water which would flush out my electrolytes. (In previous races and often before or after racing I’ve suffered from cramps; fortunately in Kona I had no cramping before, during or after the race. I think I’ve finally worked out what works for me) After about 150kms I had finished my nutrition drinks but needed more fluids so I grabbed a can of Red Bull and drank it as quickly as I could before the Litter End zone, pouring half of it down my front! Thinking back to my race I definitely wasted some time at the feed stations and perhaps could have gained some time here, but to the sacrifice of not getting ice cold water to cool me down.
I set off on the run feeling pretty good and enjoyed the crowds along Ali’i Drive. Feeling pretty good at this stage of an Ironman is more a relative term; I was running not walking, my stomach was still somehow able to cope with a mixture of gels, Coke and Red Bull and I hadn’t thrown up or pooped in my pants! and my focus was still on having a decent race and not just literally crawling to the finish line. I was still waiting for my wings to appear though….I need to have words with Red Bull.
I had a little walk up Palani; usually it’s my thing that I only allow myself to walk at water points, but I figured I was probably faster walking up than a very slow jog. Cobus was on the side of the hill and basically told me to get a move on and ‘don’t be shit!’! My engine jumped into gear….1st gear from neutral/stalling. I swear this hill gets steeper during every 24hrs. It wasn’t a 20% gradient earlier!
The out and back to the Energy Lab along the highway is far. And boring. It goes on forever! Some of the water stations were as if they were packing up to go home. I know I was a little slower than usual but surely I wasn’t doing that badly/turn-off-the-lights-once-you’re-done I thought?!, there must be loads more people behind me?! Before long I was onto the final 12km home. I suddenly found my focus again and my legs. I wish this had happened earlier! And I kicked into race mode of picking off ladies in front of me.
As I ran up the last little climb on the Queen K there was music pumping and a big smile grew across my face; I only had 2kms to go! Time to use every last bit of energy. I passed a girl who had passed me a km earlier. I wasn’t sure if she was in my age category. It was nearing 6pm and the sun was almost setting. One of my goals was to beat sunset. Palani was now a 30% gradient! My quads were in agony as I hammered it as hard as I could down the hill. Don’t trip and fall Jenny, I kept telling myself! Emotions ran high as the crowds cheered me on down the last section of Ali’i Drive and onto the red carpet. I gave it my all and was delighted to see the finish line. I had beaten the sunset, beaten my previous time here in Kona in 2014 (by almost 40 minutes) and managed to come 12th in my age category. I hadn’t achieved my podium (top 5) goal but I had given it my best shot.
A huge thank you to everyone who has helped and supported me, especially Cobus, Dave and my family; my Ohana. I hope I made you proud and I did my best to not be shit!
The fire inside me is burning stronger now as I know I can improve. I’m looking forward to some rest & recovery and off season training before tackling my 2020 goals.