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Kona race report


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I'm still writing it, and might try to do what Bernie did with photos and things, but here's the report (in progress...)

 

 

 

 

Hawaiian Ironman report 2003.

Tractor in paradise.

 

Ever done something unexpected in your life? Ever found yourself doing something you never thought you would? I have. The Hawaiian Ironman Triathlon. It almost crept up without me even knowing it, and now that it’s happened I feel… weird. Stunned. Humbled. Honoured. It’s hard to explain.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I planned to do it. I worked hard over many years, set goals and qualified through large numbers of competitors in important races for the right to compete. But all that now seems a blur. Surreal. The simple fact is that here I am, a finisher of arguably the toughest athletic event a human can put himself or herself through. Me, the skinny little nerdy kid who used to get picked nearly last for team sports at high school. The slogan for the race is “Anything is possible”, and it’s totally true. Anything is possible. The 1600+ competitors from right across the world who complete the race prove that. The 75+ year olds that complete the race prove that. But most importantly for me, I proved it to myself. It’s not me believing it from someone else’s experience, but my own. Anything IS possible.

 

On a stopover at an airport on the way home from the race a complete stranger came up and said, “You’re one of the Ironmen? That’s cool. But what in hell makes you want to do it?”

 

I usually don’t know what to reply and say something like “I’m not sure… Because I can.”

 

But this time for some reason I knew EXACTLY what to say, it just flowed out. And as I said it out loud I realised that the race was so much more to me than I ever thought it was. I said, “It’s everything. It’s being involved with something, and with a group of people that you can only dream about being part of. There’s so much energy from everyone who does the race, and that energy flows through and combines to form this massive atmosphere and electricity that cycles up and up, which then all goes back to those people. To be part of that is just awesome. But it’s even more than that. It’s the dreaming, the planning and the feeling of getting fitter and stronger than you ever thought you could be. It’s the whole lifestyle that goes hand in hand with being involved in the race. And then during the race, the energy comes not only from yourself, but also from your competitors – who are really more your companions – and also from the eager volunteers, your friends & supporters and the cheering spectators. So with all this happening, the challenge through most of the race isn’t to push yourself, but to hold yourself back. The pain is only really toward the end, and is so insignificant compared to all the rest that it’s nothing. Nothing at all. Plus any pain by then is actually a good feeling in a way. To not have it would be disappointing, as if you haven’t given this most important physical test of your life a 100% effort. And then when you do finish, it’s more than completing a race. Your life is changed. But now I can see that in fact the event already changes and improves your life long before you finish or even start the race.”

 

He carefully listened and quietly nodded the whole way through, and then said “You know, I’ve always sorted wanted to do something like a half marathon. You’ve really got me thinking now. Thanks man” We then shook hands and went our separate ways. I think I got at least as much out of it as he did, because to be honest I was really telling it to myself mainly anyway.

 

As for the race itself, I feel it’s just another part to the whole experience. The greater experience, the greater journey started even before I signed up for the race. It involved the training over a very cold winter in Portland, which was actually much harder than I thought. Two Ironmans in one year is a big ask mentally as well as physically. It’s was also a big strain on family and the rest of my life. It involved trying to cope with an ITB injury that gave me lots of problems during the last two months of training, and also worrying that the injury would flare up during the race and force me out. It involved travelling over with Tri Travel and a lot of the other Australians competing, and making some great new friends in that process. That part was just excellent and Tri Travel did an awesome job. It involved being in Hawaii during race week and absorbing - and contributing to - that massive collection of energy. But for the sake of recording it to look back on and refresh my memories in one, ten, seventy years, here it is in all its gory details…

Edited by Reefmanburger
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Reading your report Peter is every bit as inspirational as seeing you striding out on your way back from the Energy Lab. Now I know why I persevered through 6 Ironmans before finally getting my turn at the big dance. You're right though. The whole experience was worth all the sacrifice. The trip was everything I had hoped it would be and more. I look forward to catching up with you at other races too. Regards Kanangra.

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That was truely inspiring stuff Pete, congrats to you for competing in the best/hardest event in the triathlon world. I'm sure that guy will go off & do his half marathon without question after that great response. I really enjoyed watching it live on the net, keep the training up......sounds like your ITB injury didn't flare up during the race, thats great i couldn't imagine going into any IM with an injury which would have disruptbed your training a bit. Well done again, looking fwd to more stories from Kona.

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Thanks everyone :lol: I'm wrapped you like it. Here's the rest in a rough kinda way... Sorry if I ramble on too much. :D

 

 

My sleep the night before was better than I thought. About seven hours with no tossing and/or turning. Some races I’ve only managed an hour or two of solid sleep. Anyway, I woke to the alarm at 4am and sprang out of bed before I realised where I even was. Okay. Race morning and It’s here it’s here it’s here. Did all the routine tasks quietly with my room mate Colin, then walked down to the start area about two hours before the cannon was due to be fired. Everything was perfect. The day was calm and warm, the lines of athletes for registration weren’t long and everything went smooth, I felt excellent. All I needed to do was find Nicole to give her a hug and kiss before the race. Half an hour later I was still looking and getting stressed. Not good. Let it go, you won’t find her and there’s no point using up energy trying to. I’ll see her after the race. Then there she was and it was perfect again. We did our good luck/thanks/love you and I shuffled into the warm Pacific waters with the rest of the Ironman competitors.

 

God here we go. Ten minutes to go I thought as I treaded water gently at the start line. I soaked it all up. The crowd was massive, swimmers were everywhere and three helicopters hovered overhead. Wow wow wow. I turned to someone in the water and said “This is amazing isn’t it?!” He said, “I hate the start. I hate the swim. I wish I was on my bike” Poor guy, he’s missing out on a great part of the experience by thinking like that. Next thing I knew BANG!!!! The cannon blew and 1600+ swimmers started the mad fight up to the first turn 1.9k away. I started well. Got on to some feet and drafted without any real heavy contact from anyone. Sure there were kicks in the face and punches on the back of the head, but nothing really hard. It was going well. Got to the turn and looked at the time. 27.30. WHAT?! It was MUCH quicker than I thought. Maybe I’d gone too hard… I eased back a little and started to get swum over by people behind me, including one that almost ripped my goggles off. Got sick of that so swam away from the crowd and into some open water (although some people followed me there so I was now basically the bunny). Then my big left toe started cramping. Shit! I couldn’t stop because of the people on my heels so slowed a little more and tried to relax it with turned it into a boat anchor. After awhile everyone had passed me, which was good. I just decided to cruise in and save some energy for later. This race is all about patience. Got out of the water in 1.04. Hmmm… It ended up slower than I thought. Oh well, doesn’t really matter. Just finish. Don’t worry about speed at all. Patience grasshopper.

 

The swim/bike transition was pretty uneventful. I took my time – all six and a half minutes of it – and talked to the helpers the whole way. Got some sunscreen (did she put enough on?) on and jumped on my bike. Time to ride like the wind – with patience of course!

 

People were passing me constantly for the first quarter of the bike. It was hard to hold back but that was the game plan. I planned to ride at LEAST half the course between 65 and 75 percent of my maximum heart rate and pretty much stuck to that except for some steep hills. It was pretty hot, and if you feel hot on the bike then it’s VERY hot. I drank about two litres of Gatorade an hour which is about double what I normally drink in a race, but felt fine. I was still sweating at least that much. The Hawaiian course is notorious for howling winds but by some stroke of immense luck there were none whatsoever for the first 70-80k. At about the 55k mark I rode past Nicole. She’d taken a bus out to cheer me on. It was fantastic to see her out there in the heat of the day. What a wife. The drafting was surprisingly good. I wasn’t really stuck in any packs and didn’t have any issues at all. I think it was actually a lot less crowded than at Ironman Australia. Sure a few people were drafting and they got penalised, but it was mostly very clean and easy to do the right thing. As I approached the bike turnaround at Hawi (after an 8km hill climb) the wind started to spring up a little, but after turning it was behind me! The ride down the hill was awesome. Sat on about 60-65kmh for most of it and had tons of energy up my sleave. Then all of a sudden the wind turned into a headwind, and everyone on the course had a 40km head wind to finish the bike leg. The riding was pretty amazing actually. At the aid stations every five miles an army of kids stood waiting, hoping someone would take a bottle from them. Once called they’d run along with you as best they could while they handed over their drink (or food). I kept reminding myself that this was really the lava fields of Hawaii, and that I was really here doing it! Savour this time for the rest of your life Pete. The trip into town seemed to drag longer and longer however, and at about the 25k mark from home I think I had my low point of the race. The wind was tiring my legs more than I wanted. I was struggling a little, and still had almost an hour left to ride. I came over a crest expecting to see ‘Bumhole hill’ (which signifies about 20k left to ride) but could only see another endless heatpan of lava. Had to get myself mentally together again. I had a look down at the photo of my two boys Fraser and Campbell taped to my bike frame and refocussed. Everything is fine. It’s all perfect. My ITB was good. This race is supposed to be hard, this is Hawaii. I’m here. Everything is perfect. Have patience. During that time I realised that my time was WAY under what I’d projected because of the lack of early winds. Hmmm, if I started to push hard now there was every chance I’d finish in less than ten hours (which is a real benchmark for Ironman races). Umm, No. I’m not here for speed or a fast time. Just finish and have fun. Patience grasshopper. Once I’d made that decision I felt much better and slowed down a little and cruised into town without any other problems. By the time I’d got there any chance of a sub ten was gone but I was happy because it felt like a big weight was taken off my shoulders.

 

Going into the bike/run transition my legs felt pretty wobbly. Bloody hell that last 40k took more out than I thought. But by the time I got changed (threw my heart rate monitor off) and everything I was feeling good again. REALLY good. Time for a nice hot marathon. That thought brought a big grin to my face. Lap it up.

 

Running out of T2 I saw Nicole again! I jumped up and clicked my heels, which sent a few cheers and laughs around the crowd. She said something like, “Pete. Don’t!” But hey Nic this is what it’s all about. Having fun. I stopped, gave her a kiss and love you, and ran off into the heat of the day. The heat. My GOD. It was apparently about 40c on the road by then. Just try to go slow and light and float along and ignore it. Find a happy place, find a happy place (motivational saying taken from ‘Finding Nemo’). But you know what? I felt fine with it. THIS was a happy place, and I was loving it. The heat actually felt good. I did feel light and floated along easier and quicker than I thought I would. The ITB was happy and things couldn’t be better. Actually the only thing worrying me was I was going too fast. MUCH quicker than those around me and probably well under five minutes per kilometre pace (my goal), so I tried to slow down a little and thought again of how everyone kept telling us to have patience. Patience grasshopper. Five Ks into it, and 23 minutes. Hmmm, too fast. Slow down goddamn it! The heat had gotten worse and I resorted to putting water sponges on my shoulders like a lot of other people. It was a lifesaver by then. Around that time I started seeing familiar faces which is always a big boost. It’s amazing just how much of a lift you get when you see a competitor that you know. Go Colin! Lookin’ good Scotty! Awesome Nige!

 

Then came trying to ‘run’ up Palani Rd hill at about the 15k mark. A VERY steep hill on the way out of town. Almost everyone was walking but something a mate on the Internet said flashed through my head. “Not too many people run the entire course over there, but I have a feeling you may.” (thanks OLT). A quick image of Nic and the boys and dad and a lot of other people that’d supported me popped into my head as well, and seemed to say ‘just do your best’. I probably should’ve walked but right there and then decided that my chances of finishing were now pretty good, and while speed didn’t worry me, it became quite important not to walk (except through the aid stations, I ALWAYS walk the aid stations). Got to the top, turned the corner and started running down the famous Mark Allen/Dave Scott hill. Ahhhhh.

 

Some dudes were sitting on sofas on the side of the road with a huge stereo pumping out ACDC’s “Highway to Hell”. It was incredible, because that’s the very point you leave the town and crowds and head into the lava fields. I also had a huge memory of my brother Wayne who died earlier this year after a long battle with drug abuse and depression. He was a big fan of Acker Dacker, and the emotions flowed over. I quietly shed a tear as I ran past a couple more people, but I don’t think they noticed. Everyone was lost in their own thoughts by then. Those dudes will never know but they gave me something that I never expected but will remember and cherish forever. It was an amazing space in time. A perfect moment, and I don't know if Wayne was watching down smiling but it certainly felt like it. Rest in peace my Brother.

 

5k later my wheels were starting to fall off, so I started on the Coke, but it made no difference! Shit. My pace dropped a lot but I didn’t even care by then, I was hurting. Actually I thought at the time that this is where the race had moved from physical to mental. Dig deep and just keep running, keep moving forward. Into the Energy Lab, the part of the race everyone fears most. As bad as I was feeling through there, the race dealt another card for me. The weather changed. Clouds rolled in and a fresh sea breeze started up. I took off my hat and sunnies and drove mechanically on. The run back out was still pretty bad however. I saw one poor guy on the side of the road with his shorts around his knees trying to bend over but couldn’t. He wiped himself with his hat, threw it away and started walking again. At the top of the Lab I stopped for a leak (first time EVER in a triathlon, must be well hydrated thank Christ!) and started running the last 10k back into town and the ultimate finish line.

 

It was at that exact moment that I KNEW I was going to finish. The ITB was still perfect. I was going to make it. Not maybe, not probably, but absolutely. With that thought my legs felt instantly fresh. My energy perked up and WHOA, it was time to turn it on! Woohoo! The next five kilometres were without a doubt the best I have EVER felt during all my time in triathlon/running. My pace was twice that of my ‘run’ in the energy lab, I was giving high fives and shouting “Woohoo!” to the aid station people, and was passing people so quick it was almost embarrassing (almost). Anthony from the supporter’s tour group rode up on his bike and said “Wow, you’re running well”. I said something like “My GOD this is the best I’ve ever felt in my life!!!” He took a photo, said keep it up and went off to see how everyone else was going.

 

At 5k to go my wheels fell off properly, which was fair enough I thought. The fact that the last 5k did this to me was totally reasonable and I didn’t regret it for a second. I really wanted to suffer over the line anyway. 30 minutes of pain was a tiny price for the day so far, and even then (as I said to the guy in the airport), you can’t have given 100% if you finish with fuel in the tank and no pain. Some stitches started up which was something I’ve also never had in an Ironman. Whatever. Just work through them and keep going. Then while going UP the Dave/Mark hill a stitch got much worse. Hmmm. Well that’s fine, I’ll just stop and breathe it out. Easy. Did that, got passed by a few people (who all said something like “keep it going”) and started running again. That kept going for the last two Ks, right up until turning into Alii Drive. A LOT of people repassed me, but it was all just so irrelevant. The race was almost over and places/times meant nothing at all to me by then.

 

Running down Alii drive was… different than I thought. Amazingly awesome, spine tingling and scary, yes. But... I don’t think I’m good at finishing Ironmans. It just seems a really bittersweet time for me. The exhilaration of finishing mixed with the sadness of knowing the grand journey is over. Plus I didn’t see Nicole, which was a bit disappointing. But hey, my day, my race, my experience was MUCH more than that last 20 seconds. The best part of the race was definitely between 32 and 37k of the run, but the entire experience, the entire journey is what it was really all about.

 

Looking back I think I had a very smart race. Kept my patience, ignored trying to beat people/times, and most importantly had fun.

 

So what happens now? Do it all over? Perhaps in a couple/few years. Right now I need a holiday. On our four-hour drive home from the Melbourne airport Nicole and I talked excitedly about our ‘new life’ without all the training commitments. This new ‘challenge’ is all about putting Campbell, Fraser and Nicole before myself and teaching the boys that you never quite know what to expect in life, but anything is possible.

 

Life is good.

Edited by Reefmanburger
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Hi Pete,

 

I don't mind saying I have a little wetness in my eyes after reading your excellent report. I feel like a proud father. Your race reports have always been a good read but you've reached new heights now. I'm stoked for you and the other WSTC crew who raced so well in Hawaii. Well done and hopefully we will catch up again soon. Best wishes to Reefwife and Reefkids. Now get that house built !

 

Michael

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Beautiful, Reefy - that's one I'll be printing out and keeping in a folder to re-read over and over. In fact, that first part is something I'll pass on (if it's okay with you) to anyone who ever asks me if they should take on tri/half marathon etc.

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Pete, great story. Well done on your Hawaii I finish. Its a true inspiration and I have tears in my eyes dreaming of the next few years working upto Aussie Ironman 2006 (or 2007).

 

Thanks again for your story and congratulations on a good race.

 

Tri-Stu

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Top 2nd half to the race report Reefman, that is one hot run but hey sounds like you basically ran most of it so thats a great achievement. I've read lots of individual race reports in the last few years but that one stands out above anything else, well done dude! A well deserved break of training and racing for you now.

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Peter

Congratulations on your great race! And to the excellent race report. Thank you for taking the time to let us into Ironman Week preparation stuff. I know what it is like the week before Forster, so Hawaii must be ten times as intense!

 

Relax now and enjoy post IM togetherness with your partner.

 

Giddy up....with some inspirational motivation!

Cheers

HORSE

:lol:

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Thanks Pete,

 

I've been training hard over the past few months in preparation for the 1st leg of my journey, the qualifier for IMOZ at Forster on November 16th. For the past week or so I've been struggling mentally with all the sacrafice and my motivation has been low...not anymore. Your's is an inspirational tale and through it I've gained perspective and a desire to achieve. Well done and thanks again.

 

GB

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Pete,

 

What a fantastic race report.

 

Have you received any coverage in the local press ? ie the Portland Observer, Hamilton Spectator or Warrnambool Standard ?

 

I only ask as I used to live in Warrnambool and notice that Jamie Drew has been receiving a fair amount of coverage in The Standard for holding the yellow jersey in the Herald Sun Tour.

 

Your race report reads like a ready made article for a Sunday Newspaper Liftout !!

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What a great report!

 

And I think the first part really captures what triathlon, and particularly IM is all about. Everyone is a winner, even if they dont cross the line first!

 

Imagine someone coming up and just stating "your one of those ironman". That must have been an amazing feeling?

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Bloody hell thanks guys! :lol: I wasn't expecting such a huge reaction.

 

R Rob yeah the Portland Obby have done 2 lead up stories, one finishline news item and will be doing a follow up. They've been really good but of course they have a lot to report about Lukey Bell too!

 

Yurtie yeah I think kids make a difference, but it was also hard because I missed them while over there. I have a dream of one day doing an IM with one or both of them. But that's their call of course.

 

Wombat yeah of course it's ok! If I can play even a little part in getting someone into the sport or at least active on some level, then I'd be VERY wrapped. What goes around comes around.

 

Mike yeah it's 12 hours a day 7 days a week from here on for the house ('cept today of course!)

 

To everyone again, thanks. A big part of what kept me motivated during winter was Tri-Chat, and a big part of getting over the ITB was all your advice/support. Plus while over there a big part of what made it so much good fun was doing the daily updates/webcam etc. The energy I talk about that feed everyone involved? It's here every time I log on and I'm sure you all feel it too. That's what make this bloody site so damn addictive! It's a pity to see all the fighting on here at the moment though... A few good Half Ironmans might fix that up though (hopefully)!

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Peter, please accept a HUGE congratulations from me, and thank you for providing me with so much inspiration by letting us in to your personal life, and your day last Saturday.

 

You're a blessed man in every way.

 

(lump in my fwoat)

Bernie

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Congratulations Peter - and thanks for the feedback leading up to the race and one great race report.

Definitely eligible as a story in "Becoming an Ironman - Vol2" .

Time to take it easy !

Rocket

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“It’s everything. It’s being involved with something, and with a group of people that you can only dream about being part of. There’s so much energy from everyone who does the race, and that energy flows through and combines to form this massive atmosphere and electricity that cycles up and up, which then all goes back to those people. To be part of that is just awesome. But it’s even more than that. It’s the dreaming, the planning and the feeling of getting fitter and stronger than you ever thought you could be. It’s the whole lifestyle that goes hand in hand with being involved in the race. And then during the race, the energy comes not only from yourself, but also from your competitors – who are really more your companions – and also from the eager volunteers, your friends & supporters and the cheering spectators. So with all this happening, the challenge through most of the race isn’t to push yourself, but to hold yourself back. The pain is only really toward the end, and is so insignificant compared to all the rest that it’s nothing. Nothing at all. Plus any pain by then is actually a good feeling in a way. To not have it would be disappointing, as if you haven’t given this most important physical test of your life a 100% effort. And then when you do finish, it’s more than completing a race. Your life is changed. But now I can see that in fact the event already changes and improves your life long before you finish or even start the race.”

This is the bit that's going up on the wall.

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Peter,

 

You even have my wife thinking that Kona is something I should do sooner rather than later. She cried when she read your post. She cried all day watching people run across the line with their kids. This for me would be the highlight of the whole thing.

You are a modern day Bushido. I like Pete am going to put some Kona quotes up on the back of my motivation board(dunny door) :lol:

Hats off to you.

 

Jimmy

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Peter,

 

I got back from a 120k / 4hr bike ride when I read your post. Suffered a fair bit the last 30k, ran out of water, kept thinking to myself, my legs are trashed, there is no way I could do another 60k on the bike and then jump off and run a marathon, I'm kidding myself, I'll never make it to IMOZ.

 

I still don't know if I'll make it to IMOZ this year, but I know I will give 100%. Thank you so much for being so truely inspirational. You da Man!

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Peter,

 

Thanks for your brilliant race report...it's great to read it from a competitors point of view.... I have been to watch once & that was .......maybe too awesome....enough to "blow my socks off". So it was great to read a report from the floor (so to speak). ...

 

Great work esp after having injury worries & the lack of confidence that that can bring!!

 

Rest & recharge well.

Edited by murt
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Thanks Pete,

 

That's one hell of a race report...in fact it's a whole lot more than that and that's what makes

it so special.

 

You really impressed me with your focus and execution since before IMA 03 and you've

truely earned the special feelings that you have described here so well.

 

Thanks for sharing them with us.

 

FL

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  • 1 year later...

Good time to bring this one to the top.

 

While people were otherwise occupied you might have missed this, yesterday's Sunday Courier Mail printed most of Reefmans 2003 IM report. IT was burried deep in ’Life section’

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