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This race was my 40th birthday present from my wife, followed by another week or so on Maui and Waikiki. I love Hawaii - its my favourite place in the world, even before I knew about triathlons and Kona. We had our wedding anniversary here 9 years ago, so it was nice to come back with the kids. Some background - after doing IM OZ last year and finishing with a 10:42 (credible for me), I decided that would be it for full IM's for now, and would just concentrate on improving at 70.3 and OD races. At this my point in life it seems the sensible thing to do - my wife is incredibly supportive but with 2 young kids and my own consulting practice I just don't have the time to dedicate to full ironmans. So after Port Mac last year I knew that I needed help with my run leg, and engaged the services of former pro Matty White, who I've always been a fan of (ok, bit of a man crush as well). Matty's ethos is to focus on improving the run leg as that is where the most AG gains are made, so this was a good match for me. He's an extremely good coach, and after a 6min PB at Mooloolaba tri in March things were looking good. After reading some of the comments on the trannies forum about the Hawaii 70.3 race, I knew not to set any great expectations - swim would be fine, bike hot and windy, and the run hot, and extra hot! It was going to be a slow race, but thought that a sub 5 was still possible. In comparison, my best 70.3 time was at Sunny Coast (4hrs 52min). Swim - 28min 47sec My age group (male 40-44) had the opportunity of going off first, and I had the honour of being in the very first group of 4 from the start. Swim is my strongest discipline, and straight away I pulled away with an American around the first can. The water was crystal clear and you could see right to the bottom - absolutely stunning. Another 2 guys then came over the top of us so we had a nice group for most of the swim. I got an accidental kick in the face and had to fix my goggles and I lost the group with about 500m to go, which I was ok with as I could ease off the gas a bit and not cook myself before the bike. Got out of the water in 4th place to lots of loud cheers from the yanks supporting. Nice also to hear commentator Greg Welch identifying me as an Aussie too. T1 - 3:32 Steep run up from Hapuna Beach, relatively uneventful except I nearly forgot to take my swim skin off. Bike - 2hrs 36min Headed south once we got on the Queen K to Fairmont Orchid turnaround (where I was staying). Got passed by another Aussie in budgies (Retro - heaps of them there, and they did really well). Back up the Queen K towards Hawi. It was a strange feeling riding on a course that is so famed - and to me it certainly lived up to its reputation. I'm no Hawaii expert and I would say there were probably windier days than this, but jeeeesus did it blow. The Hawi climb would be fine if it wasn't for the constant wind in your face. Averaged 32 km/h heading out, and the turnaround was a huge relief. Got to work on recouping some time heading back, but had to watch the cross winds which seem to come out of nowhere. My average speed on the return leg was 38 km/h. Heart rate was kept under check as I was conscious of not overheating before the run. Got to T2 in 13th place, which was fine as I expected to drop some places. Side note - I hired a bike over there, a Cervelo P2 (more convenient when traveling with kids, and saved a lot of grief when packing). Would have obviously preferred my P5, but the hired bike did the job. T2 - 3:40 Good bunch of volunteers - the US seem to put more on than any Aus races I've experienced, but maybe it was just this one. Run - 1hr 50min This is where everything counts for me as I'm not a traditionally strong runner. For the last 6 months I had worked so hard with Matty on this, and I really wanted a good split to show for it. Problem was it probably wasn't the easiest run course to achieve that - and in fact I found it deceptively hard - heat yes, but I found running on grass to be difficult too. First lap was ok, averaged 5min km's - but then I encountered 2 issues. Firstly, my HR was far too high from the heat and short sharp hills, and I just couldn't bring it back down. Secondly, a friggin hamstring strain that I developed a week or so before the race flared up. I try to not make excuses, but this was really hurting on the second lap - and was getting concerned I would do some serious damage on the sharp inclines. On the second lap my 1km auto lap started to look uglier and uglier, and ironically once I got to the Hell's Kitchen section (a straight bit of road with absolutely NO shade) I pulled myself together and started to get the pace back up. I also got some encouraging words from my very first boss (Bruce Annabel, who trains with AP), who happened to be there competing as well with his wife. The aid station sponges soaking in ice cold water were fantastic, need them in Australia - particularly for a hot race like Noosa tri or HOTW. Got to the finish line and felt very wobbly, and a little sick which is unusual for me as I normally go ok in the heat. Overall time of 5:03:11, and finished 14th in my age group - so I only dropped one place in the run, which was a surprise. Initially I was super pissed off for not at least going under 5 hours - but now, after some reflection (whilst drinking beers by the pool in Maui as I write this) I'm ok with it. Not an excuse, but the hamstring malfunction was annoying and given the earlier advice received that the conditions will result in a slower time, I was pleased with how everything else went. If anyone is thinking of doing this race, I highly recommend it. It's tough no doubt, but it is such an amazing place. And if you're anything like me and can't see yourself ever qualifying for the IM world champs then this is a great way to experience at least some of it. Didn't get a chance to catch up with other trannies (Suburban Kid, etc), but hope they had a good race too. Next race is Sunny Coast 70.3 - the quest for a better run split continues....