Thursday, October 16, 2008

The race report.

Ironman World Championships 2008

Kona, Hawaii

Bye, bye for now Kona!

An event like no other- the Ironman. As Paula Newby Frasier puts it “you haul yourself around for 140.4 miles, all to experience the 0.2 miles of Alii Drive”. So much of this is true.

Race Facts:

Oldest competitor: 78

Youngest competitor:18

Number of volunteers: 5,000

Number of people who started but did not finish: 96

Things to repeat:

  1. Wear non-aero helmet
  2. Start in the front of swim
  3. Swim next to girls!
  4. Wear sunglasses and visor
  5. Smile and keep a positive attitude

Rookie Mistakes:

  1. Put sunscreen on after the swim. This was the plan, but for some reason I missed the sunscreen rubbers.
  2. Open valve extender before putting tube on, duh!
  3. Eat if you have to stop!
  4. Warm soup makes me have to go to the bathroom every mile!

Things to Fix:

  1. Mount bike with shoes on bike
  2. Red bull in t2 bag. I was wanting more energy
  3. Wear Gracie’s Gear sport top so I don’t get the same chaffing on my chest.
  4. Mentally keep your head in the game when you think you are going slowly, you are still moving fast.
  5. Always put your arms up when you finish the ironman. For some reason I didn’t and I should of for several reasons. It shows appreciation to all the people cheering for you at the finish line. They love when you show your excitement. Two, it shows you are proud of yourself. And lastly, it makes the finisher photo look so much better (arms up, thinner waist j/k). It just looks like you are happier. And although I felt all those emotions, I need to show it to others.


I have officially decided that this is no longer a 3 sport event, but 4. Treading water for 15 minutes is almost as grueling as the first half of the swim. As soon as the pro cannon goes off the amateurs swim up to the imaginary line drawn between the ford vehicle and the huge blown up Gatorade. It takes less than a minute to get there and then you tread water with hundreds of people surrounding you. Let me back up, although the ocean is beautiful, it is incredibly salty. Not just a little salty, like when you are forced to gargle salt water, but so salty it leaves a taste in your mouth all day. Now add in treading water next to men who have forgotten to cut their toenails, or maybe this is just normal for them, but I have as many toe nail gashes as I do chaffing marks. And then add in the surfer boys flying back and forth on the surf boards to make sure you do not cross the imaginary start line, creating waves that hit right into your face, you have to make sure you breath at the right time or “gulp” a nice fantastic taste of salt water right into the mouth. I seriously felt like I was drowning and was definitely getting claustrophobic before the race began. I don’t know if I enjoyed this part at all.

“ Cap secure, goggles in place. Only 140.6 miles to go.” - 30th anniversary Ironman book

What is different about this event too is that they do not tell you when you are starting, they say to look for the red flags and then you will be starting shortly. I did not look for the flags, as we were not to go off for another 4 minutes when all of a sudden the huge cannon went off. We were off, I reached down quickly in hopes of starting my watch, but had no idea whether I did or not. For the first time I truly felt like I was swimming in the washer machine. It was crazy. I was kicked in the left eye immediately, but did not think much of it. I stayed strong and aggressive and swam almost the entire first half with a girl to my right. Which worked out well because she was great about keeping her own space. The more you make contact with others the more energy you waste so I tried to keep my own path as much as possible. I was able to swim on some feet nearly the entire race, which was helpful, I barely have any recollection of sighting buoys, turning at the turn point, etc. And the idea of being distracted by the beautiful under water scenery was not even a thought. I saw zero fish or coral along the way. I did see about three scuba divers underwater filming as we were coming in. That was a first. About 40 minutes into it I was ready to get out. I had consumed enough salt water that salt tabs were no longer a necessity, my goggles were killing from the pressure created from the nice foot in the eye off the beginning and well, I was tired of being hit. I contemplated turning on my back to fix the goggles, but took a quick glance at my watch. 44 minutes it read (thank goodness the watch started), all right, less than 15 minutes I told myself, just hang onto these feet and get it done (as I learned form Ironman CDA, to never loose the pack you are swimming with). As soon as I could touch bottom, I stood up, not what I normally do, but the goggle pressure wasn’t worth anything to me at this point (notice the black left eye in the photo above) . I got out of the water and ran to T1. I was happy to later find out that I had the top swim for the 30-34 year old division.


I debated a lot before the race, aero helmet or regular helmet, shoes on the bike or off the bike. I chose non-aero helmet, and I am thankful I did, and also chose to put the shoes on before mounting the bike. Next time I will mount with shoes on the bike, however, it did not make nor break me. It was just a long run in the bike shoes.

The Bike.

“The Queen K is ramrod straight, but the ironman will throw you curves all day long”. –30th anniversary ironman book.

It was hot off the bat, immediately I knew I had made the right decision for me in wearing my regular Rudy Project helmet. I don’t do great in the heat and with all the crosswinds during the day it was not necessary for me. I was doing great. Men were passing in packs and a few girls here and there. I thought the crosswinds would not hit until we made the left hand turn off the Queen K, but they started early. It was rough; at times I was the only one out of my aero bars, hanging on for dear life. I figured, better safe than risk crashing, because for me the goal is to finish this race. Also, I race this long stuff and focus on cadence, randomly at mile 15, my bike computer decided it was time to reset itself. Nothing had been touching it, it was requesting date, time, etc. This has to be done by taking the computer off and resetting it, that wasn’t going to happen. Good thing I have spent hours of training at a high cadence, I could go directly off the feel. At times this was nice, as I could not focus on speed, cadence, mileage, it was jut me in Kona racing. Climbing is not my forte, so it was a mental challenge for me to keep my head on straight as I was getting passed on the way up to Hawi. John Bergen passed me here too. At the turn around it was a different story. I was picking people off, a few that I had cycled around at the beginning of the ride. I was filling strong. I think because I was fueled and hydrated well, (by the way I have decided that Gatorade is the way for me to go, the perpetuum is great for me in training, but I have a hard time with it when I race), and I kept as cool as possible, consistently dumping water on my head and on me. Right before mile 88 I passed John Bergen, later this would be a blessing. At mile 95 I kept hearing a “clunk” every time my wheel would spin, but I was still riding strong. With clinchers and a flat the mph go down drastically, so I was not quite sure what happened. I decided to pull over at mile 95. I looked at my watch 4:54 into the race, immediately John pulled over and helped me switch out the flat. He was moving quickly, the wind was blowing our bikes over, the tire was switched out and before you knew it we were ready to pump the thing up. We blew three cartridges before realizing that this thing would not fill. Crap….I forgot to open the valve when I put the valve extender on it before the start of the race. Big oops! “ Big time rookie here trying to fix the tubular mistake” I thought to myself. This was 15 minutes into the change, as a spectator and race official came over. John started on his bike again and we took the tire off, opened the valve, and did it all again. Then we used a hand pump to get the air in. Then I was off watch time of 5:19, I flew the next 17 miles and passed a lot of people. However, the additional sunburn and realizing that I did not eat anything during that 25 min pit stop, hit me on the run.


I was craving a red bull, but knew I did not have one until mile 18 on the run. Pretty uneventful, just needed lots of sunscreen.

The Run.

I started running and dropped my gu flask immediately, I had to turn around and get it, then girls were passing like crazy. I felt slow, had the chills, not feeling great. However, I think many people feel this way at this point. I toughed it out, kept running, but my body wanted no calories. I saw Mark and Mom and Chris at mile 6 and told them it would be a long marathon. Somewhere up Palini I got a second wind. I thought I was running faster, but really a lot of people had slowed down. Mental note for next time…. stay within yourself and listen to your body. I stayed strong through mile 16 and then started fading again. I went to chicken broth but that made me have to use the rest room every mile. It made the liquid run right through me. The energy lab was when I got really tired and where temperatures reached 108 degrees that day. I kept running, but it was not pretty. It was getting dark, I was wondering if they would be handing me a glow stick soon. The miles got longer and longer and I just plugged away at them. Before I knew it I was on the home stretch of Alii Drive. It was loud, exciting and once again brought the smile to my face. It felt great to finish my second ironman.

All in all, it was solid day with the mishaps at hand, I learned more today about myself, my life and racing than I could in any other day of my life thus far. At the awards ceremony they mentioned that this race is not always about crossing the finish line but what you learn along the way. Outside of the racing component I learned a lot.

  1. The courteousness of John stopping to help me reminded me of remembering to give to others and to give back. He was selfless at a moment when it was and should be all about him. What he did for me will come back to him someday. Hopefully, not in a flat tire in the ironman but in another wayJ Thank you John.
  2. My friends and family that put up with me, showed patience and cheered and were happy with me no matter what the outcome made my day easier. It made me realize that support is the key to being successful at anything. My friends and family do not judge me based on performance. They are proud no matter what. I had no idea the amount of support I had until this race day. Thanks to everyone. And I hope to return the support to help your dreams come true.
  3. This event taught me to just keep smiling. It makes the day go by just that tiny bit quicker. In all reality there is a part of you that doesn’t want it to end, just as much as you want it to end.
  4. I also learned more about patience and perseverance. The time and energy you put towards something will pay off. It paid off on this day, as it allowed me to cross the finish line, get back on my bike after a LONG flat and push hard on the way home. And although my time and place were nowhere near expected, it is part of the process is getting me to where I really want to be in this sport.

Thank you to all my sponsors and support:

InewMed: to Peter, Brian and William for helping me through all my aches, pains, nutrition and hydration. You could always make me feel better!

Road Runner Sports: For the wide variety of shoes to match each outfit and of course the variety for the race course. My mizunos are the perfect feel when getting ready to run a marathon.

Blue Seventy: Thank you for the amazing Helix wetsuit that helped me come out on top at my races. And the speedy Point Zero 3+ that led me through to be the top swimmer in my age division at Kona.

Hammer Nutrition: For the fantastic product. I think I went through an entire bottle of endurolytes at Kona and the Raspberry Gu is my favorite!

Richard Dizon: For his weekley stretching and massage work to keep me moving and healthy.

Montaland and McGrath Chiropractic: Thanks for helping me with my hip and putting up with me on a weekly basis.

Rudy Project: For the speedy aero helmet for the short races and the perfect team helmet for Kona. The vents were excellent in keeping my head cool. And the sunglasses stayed on for the run too!

Herriott Sports Performance Tri Team: Thanks to all the cool people I get to work with day and in and day out and for the cool party and motivational book you all put together. Not to mention the great training facility I have to train in every day! Thanks everyone. And to Natalie who helped me get ready for Ironman CDA, I couldn’t have done it without you.

Kainoa: My coach who put up with me all year, all my worries, fears, crazy ideas and most importantly for keeping me calm. Thank you.

Mom and Chris: Thanks for cheering all day long (Shana and Allan and Bri too) and helping me get through my race.

Mark: Thanks for everything. Everything you do, everything you helped me through. For putting up with me. And for sacrificing your time to make sure I was ready to race. I appreciate you.

What’s next? Many of you are asking. I am going to rest up, get this nagging hip healed as I want to run again, something I have not been able to enjoy in a year due to the torn obturator femoris. At the same time heal up my gut, as ulcerative colitis is much more challenging when you add in the additional stressors of training, supplement consumption and lack of rest. Then, I will be back at it. This year I want to race, race a lot, since that is what I love doing. Then in another year I will return to Kona, stronger than ever, faster than ever, and ready to go!

“You vow, you curse, and you chant. I’m done. No way. Never again. Then the crowds, the lights, the medal. The pain is all forgotten. And you hope you’ll get the chance to do it all over again.” –30th anniversary Ironman book


Shawn and Tracy said...

Wonderful race report, poetic even. without the flat hmmmm???? Those women better learn your name cause next time they won't be so lucky ;-) Next year I know we will be cheering you from the lead in the swim to the finish again. Congratulations on your first Kona but far from your last!

Mark said...

Teresa and I were lucky enough to ride with Lifesport coaching one day. We just so happened to pick the day they were riding a 20 mile out, 20 mile back section to a place called HAWI??? Little did I know that was what I thought was know, the turn around! On the climb up I thought my eye balls were on fire...and on the way down I wanted to get off my bike and cry the wind was so bad. Come to find out that was what they called a CALM day!!! MY GOD. So a super, super job well done to TERESA and all of the other athletes. I really don't think I could have done it!!!

ScottG said...

Stud. Congrats Teresa. Great race report. Looking forward to training with you in the future. And of course I'm excited to see you race in Kona too!

LaVonne said...

Thanks for the great race report. You rock!

Lisa said...

You are amazing!!!