Jump to content

IRONMAN Hawaii Race Report

Recommended Posts

OK so this is the most exciting race report I’ve ever had the pleasure of writing. In fact, all race reports I have written have been to prepare me better for the day in Hawaii. As always, she’s a long’un so grab a cuppa or a beer and have a read (no really, it’s like super long!!) 
My 10th ironman race and I was lucky enough to have it coincide with my qualification for a race which was only ever a dream for the first 6-7 years of me racing this distance before meeting AP who instilled a sense of belief, desire and work ethic in me which allowed me to qualify at ironman Australia this year. If there was a negative, this was my 3rd ironman in 10-months (Busso, Port and Hawaii) so it has felt like an 18-month build up for this race. 
My weekly structure was much the same as my past 2 builds under Alex Price – this plan works well for me given my availability, time to train and has the perfect balance of hard and easy work within the week (super important and under-estimated).
Monday – Swim 3-4km (AM), strength and conditioning (lunch)
Tuesday – 2 hour brick as 1.5 hour bike, 30 minute run with some intensity, strength and conditioning (lunch) 
Wednesday – Swim ~3.5-4km (AM), 12-13km run with quite a lot of it at 4min/km pace 
Thursday – 2 hour brick as 1.5 hour bike, 30 minute run
Friday – swim 3.5-4km (AM), strength and conditioning (lunch)
Saturday – Since the week after Port I went down to W’gong to ride with the team. Most of the rides were between 4.5-5 hours and with a lot of decent work involved, with a run off the bike which built up to 18km at race pace/effort (slower than previous build). 
Sunday – long run (did quite a few runs between the 28-32km distance and again the second half was always faster than the first half of the run). 
I won’t bore you all with the details of the days leading into the race but as a brief overview the week of the race looked like this: 
Monday – arrived in Kona. My bike didn’t make it on the plane from Honolulu to Kona! Great start – but thankfully the team from Tri Travel, picked it up for me and brought it to me at my hotel, a great service! My mate Michael who had flown in from NYC to be there to watch the race too! Champion. Couple of beers and then an easy 30-minute run in the heat! 
We were staying literally 200m from the race start, registration, expo etc. it was brilliant! I was warned not to get in and around the hype too much but geez it was great for convenience and super close to all the eateries within town. 
Tuesday – An easy swim in the morning and then drove the course with a few in the Tri Travel crew. Shane gave us a good run down of the course and what to watch out for which was very valuable for race day. We got dropped 30km from Kona and then rode back into town. My first ride on the famous Queen K highway – magical experience. My training partner, Luke Jeffrey, arrived in time for the Parade of Nations – again, it’s these experiences which were a dream come true for me. Another few beers (common theme for my time in Hawaii actually) and dinner. 
Wednesday – another 1-hour bike ride with Jeff and easy 15-20 minute jog later in the afternoon to experience some more heat! 
Thursday – A swim out to the famous coffee boat from the pier, a couple of espressos whilst holding on to the boat was amazing. It’s such a unique experience to do these activities synonymous with only the Hawaiian ironman. Another light jog in the afternoon and Nicole came to join us today too, after flying over a few days after me. 
Friday – Was supposed to be a short, easy spin with Jeff but the poor bastard got his second flat tubular in 3-days (a front and rear)! But nonetheless a very easy, smooth ride. One thing of note was the wind had literally changed to the completely opposite direction to earlier in the week, crazy. Got the bike racked then lounged around for a few hours, eating, and trying my best to stay off the feet. Got to bed early and wasn’t really awoken until a knock at the door at 4:50am by Luke and Steph. 
Race day: Woke up at 4:50am (by the knock at the door), had some breakfast and then Luke and I walked the 200m to transition, got the body marking done, prepped the bike and then went back to the hotel room to lay low before the race start. Had some breaky and continued with some shitty American coffee before heading back down after we watched the pro start from the balcony of the hotel. I was about to race against 2400 of the best ironman athletes in the world – this was exciting! 
So before I get into the race itself, I have told anyone that I’ve spoken to about the race that I only plan on doing Kona once (at least for the moment) and there were a few reasons for this 1) it’s a logistical nightmare getting from Bowral to Kona but this was the least important 2) I suspected the race was going to be full of blatant drafting, aggressive swimming and full of egos and 3) I don’t like it when it’s above 25 degrees so 10-hours doing an ironman wasn’t my idea of “fun” however, I digress and will come back to this later…. 
SWIM: The swim start is super bloody wide! I started pretty close to the centre and about 4-5 rows back. My plan was to swim straight (not aim towards the first buoys) until the 4th buoy and then find a rhythm. The water in Kona is amazing – you just float and it’s warm, there’s fish swimming underneath you but otherwise it’s pretty much just straight out and back really. I’ve swum 57-58 minutes for the past 2 IMs so I thought if I was 4-5 minutes slower here without a wetsuit, that would be fine and it was bang on actually. I swam really easy but never really found my own space – there was plenty of elbows and pushing down going on but I wasn’t too bothered by it, because I was swimming quite conservatively, I had more energy to just push ahead if I didn’t like the space I was in. 
Swim time: 1:03:36 - 684th overall and 109th in the age group. I was fine with this considering I didn’t expend too much energy out there in the water. 
T1: Wow – there felt like there was 1000 people in this tiny changing tent. I stood up to get things organised and got changed for the bike – was the most chaotic I remember a transition area ever! Time: 3:53 
BIKE: I was fitter than I was in Port Macquarie but I was going to ride a little more conservatively given APs main instruction was for Luke and I to put ourselves in a position where we can run the last 10km of the marathon. That being said, my plan was to ride a NP of 230-340 watts for the bike. One element I didn’t appreciate enough about Kona was the difficulty of the bike course. It’s not super hilly but it feels like you’re never riding along the flat – you’re either going up or down what feels like 2% grade, it’s difficult to get a nice rhythm riding in Hawaii. As Luke so elegantly put in his race report, the first 30-40km of the bike is about how big of a circle you can create swinging your d#*k so I wanted to be conservative! This is a SUPER fast start to the day. I covered the first 50km in a bit over 1h15m riding 232 watts so it’s fast. After about 50km you climb up towards Hawi which is about a 10km climb but felt more like 40km, it was slow going and I was very envious of those coming back down the other way. Got to the top and you then fly back down at 60-70km/hour at little effort. Another side note – I do not rate my bike handling skills and get scared when going down a hill too fast but some of these other athletes were horrible! Super slow, riding the breaks, sitting up – I couldn’t believe it! Anyway, so I reached the halfway point in the race in 2:33 and 233 watts. By this point, it reaffirmed I wouldn’t be coming back to this race any time soon with the amount of drafting that happens here – some unavoidable but much of it blatant! Trains of riders who didn’t give a shit about rules. What I also noticed by this point in the race was that I’d had about 6-7 litres of fluid of was struggling to pee. I also felt like nothing came easy. Power was hard to come by, although heart rate was fine, it just “felt” hard! After 120km, I was getting pretty bored of riding the push bike and was keen to get the ride done with. I made a conscious effort to ride the last 60km a little easier than I had previously planned so I rode at 220 watts coming back into the wind along the Queen K in towards Kona. This bike ride felt like it took forever, and I can’t explain it but I didn’t particularly enjoy it either. 
Time was 5:08:15 at 226 NP and HR average of 142 for the ride. I was about 75kg for the race. This was about 25 watts and 5bpm lower than Port Macquaire but geez it felt much much harder and the only thing I could put it down to was the heat and I was starting to cook from the inside! 
421st overall and 93rd in the age group for the bike. 
Nutrition on the bike: Simple. Infinit in my bottle where I'd have ~80g carbs per hour and a bottle of water between aid stations. 
T2: I seemed to fluff more in T2 than I normally do, making sure I took in water and got some vaso and sunscreen on me. Time was 3:51 
RUN: I knew the best case scenario for my run here was to run a 3:30 marathon – after running during the week and watching my heart rate, I knew that would be near impossible for me. Shit it was hot. I started the run and saw Nicole and asked her “is Jeff out running yet”, when the answer was “no” I just thought that bastard is riding conservatively so he can run past me! But this was the least of my worries to be honest. During the early part of the run you run down the most famous stretch in world triathlon Ali’I drive – this is phenomenal, but I felt HORRIBLE, I felt unwell, my quads were cramping and I couldn’t cool myself down. I started getting quite teary after 5km because I didn’t think I could do this, I started to think about pulling out of the race and how I would explain it to Nicole, my coach, my friends, my family, my clients, everyone that’s asked about the race… I got quite emotional about it. I got to the next aid station and just walked – sponges x 5-10 into the top, down the neck, ice everywhere and I just drank a lot more water to cool down. The next 5km I started to feel much better and I knew I could just plug away, I didn’t have that thought about pulling out of the race anymore but I was so uncomfortable and in so much pain for 10km into an ironman marathon – I knew this was going to hurt! I ran past Jeff on Ali’I drive and we manoeuvred ourselves to make sure we high-fived and gave each other a rev up – I saw he looked fresh and I felt shit so I figured he’d probably get me along the Queen K somewhere. I saw Nic, Michael and Steph on the climb up Palani road which was perfect timing for me to re-energise and re-focus. After about 16km you hit the Queen K and you enter the most boring, mentally draining ironman run ever! It’s exposed, there’s zero shade. None. It’s like someone closing the M5 in Sydney and just running along there, the only real spectators are at aid stations otherwise, there’s not much happening except other people running. At 20km-22km my quads were ready to shut down so I did the unthinkable and tried something new on race day – a big no no in many people’s books but this quad cramping was going to stop me running. I took some salt, which I don’t normally use – that did nothing so I tried some hot shots at about 26-27km (I think it was) which tastes like dirty garbage water except with a spicey taste at the end but I was willing to try anything, honestly. I went past an aid station at about 32km or so and took in some coke and water and then stopped, staggered over and just vomited as if I’d punished too many beers during a night out (which I also know well) and then every time I had water or anything, I’d vomit it straight up. I was worried. 10km to go in this heat with no water, no calories and already feeling like shit was worrying but I couldn’t do anything by this point I just had to keep moving forward. Down through the energy lab, which is stupidly hot and saw Jeff again on the other side, I wasn’t in any state to work out how far behind he was but I knew if I kept jogging I should be able to hold him off. I got to about 1 mile to go where Pete Murray was who just said something like “Scott Connolly from AP10 in Australia, Alex Price will be very proud of you mate” which gave me chills – it was only now, with about 1.5km to go (downhill) where I felt I could relax because I knew I was going to finish the famous ironman Hawaii and realise a dream I’ve had for a very long time. 
Run time: 3:37:12 (I just checked and I went past halfway in 1:45/1:46 and I’m actually shocked to see the last 10km “only” took me 54:23 – I’m super chuffed about that considering everything that was happening internally and externally at the time). 
Nutrition on the run: Nothing you should follow given the fact I almost ruined my race! But the goal is 80g of CHO. My Infinit bottle must have leaked which meant I went through, what should have been 21km worth within 8km! 
End result: 9:56:47 - 357th overall and 71st in the 30-34 AG.
I had no idea of my race time during the ironman. I didn’t look at it after 3-4km into the marathon as I knew it was about survival, resilience and focus. I crossed the line, saw I was under 10-hours and just felt this huge sense of relief and emotion. I waited for Jeff in the recovery area and after a chat and a swim, Michael was waiting outside with beers, what a legend!
Finishing the Hawaiian ironman…. This surreal feeling of accomplishment was complete. People that either know me, or know ironman triathlon know and understand this isn’t “just a sport”. The sacrifice, time, energy, mental application, love and effort that go into this sport make it much more than that. For so many years, I laughed when people would say “are you going to race the Hawaiian ironman” and my response over the years moved from “hahaha no way, they’re way too fast” to “yeah I’ll keep doing ironman until I get my legacy spot” to “yes, hopefully” to just simple “yes, I am”. I’ve lived a dream – I’ve been with Nicole for 7-years and this is something she knows how badly I’ve wanted to do this since the day we met, my dog is named after the race location, Kona. I’m super proud to have achieved this. 
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – a massive thanks goes to Alex Price. He started telling me from day one to verbalise what my goals are “to qualify for Kona”, make it known, believe it and chase it. He has gone above and beyond to make sure everything was in place for me to firstly qualify but then to race as well as possible in Hawaii. It’s not just about writing sessions into Training Peaks, coaching has so many more elements involved from athlete psychology to nutrition to mental health and fatigue all of which Pricey integrates into the coaching/mentor relationship with his athletes. But an enormous thank you to Nicole – training for ironman means all those things I’ve just mentioned – time and energy sacrifice and it takes more than the individual to make a dream come true, so thank you so very much! 
So where to from here? I’m racing ironman Australia again next May, where my goal will be to try and get in to the top 3 of the age group. I have no intention of racing Kona again, not any time soon at least. Something needs to be done about the numbers and the drafting before I’d contemplate that but I still want to be the best athlete I can be, so I want to do well in my ‘local’ race first and foremost for the moment and possibly get back in to some shorter distance races.
  • Like 7

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

👏 Congratulations & thanks for the detailed report. I always hoped to get to Kona but  after reading this Im not  sure if I could tough it out in that heat. Dumb question coming up; what is the energy lab? 😶

All the best for IMAUS next year & reaching your goals of top 3 in your age group 

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...