Aloha from Hawaii - where I am unwinding and recovering after racing Honu 70.3 over the weekend. I am happy to report that I came away with the WIN - !!! - But I sure earned my bacon on Saturday. There was nothing easy about this race, but it sure was a lot of fun.
Before I get into the dirty details, I have to give a big Mahalo to the Mauna Lani Bay Resort. I came out to Hawaii about 10 days before the race to cap off a big training block as I head into two 70.3 events and then Ironman Austria on July 1st. Staying at Mauna Lani left me feeling like Princess and the Pea. You should check out this video to get an idea of what is all about here. I put in some good work (with Mark & Teresa from Seattle - thanks!!) that I am looking forward to using over the next few months. I headed into the race relaxed and ready for a big effort.
This was the first time I have raced the Honu 70.3. I have heard nothing but rave reviews about the event, and it lived up to all its hype. Lance Armstrong was racing - which brought a ton of hype, energy and crazed fans = excellent people watching. My biggest observation was how much more chilled out the environment was versus Ironman in October. People are just excited to be on a race-cation.
I knew going into the race that it was 99% likely we were in for a really tough day. Basically every training session out here for 10 days was ridiculously windy. I also had a few choppy swims (hello body surfing!) and some pretty toasty runs.
We enjoyed spending the few days before the race with my purplepatch friends - Mike, FK and Super Jax! They helped keep things fun & relaxing. I just may have eaten my weight in Pirates Booty while basking pool side in the days prior. Thanks, guys! And then it came: race day and the epic winds. The winds were ripping, just howling, at 4:30 a.m. We were in for a day.
The swim takes place at Hapuna Beach: gorgeous white sands & crystal clear water. So beautiful! I am pretty gosh darn happy about my swim. I have really been working hard on this and I am now 4 for 4 of coming out of the water with a good pack of women. Luckily we were given a separate race start - I love all 2,000 of you that raced on Saturday - but I was not looking forward to the mass start. So, a 3 minute head start we were given, the gun went and swim swim swim. Turn over turn over turn over. Breathe breathe breathe. Repeat. I made the first turn still in contact with a group. Had a mini celebration. Into the big chop we went. It felt like I was in a washing machine and I knew I just had to swim swim swim, turn over turn over turn over, breathe breathe, breathe. We made the turn for shore and I was able to get an idea of where I was at and where the competition was and I bridged the gap to the group in front. Another score for me!
I was most looking forward to the cycling portion of this race. It takes part on the more challenging part of the Ironman Hawaii course and I love challenging courses. I knew the strong winds would play into my favor. I did not feel excellent from the onset, but this is a bit normal for me. I tried to settle in for the first 10 miles before we began the climb to Hawi and not think too much about how I was feeling. The 15 mile climb to Hawi proved to be an epic one. The winds were just ripping - head, side, tail - all directions. Then came rain & slick roads. What more was going to be thrown at us? There was a beautiful rainbow out over the ocean. I took the lead about 10 minutes before the turn around in Hawi and knew I would be rewarded with a big tail wind, so I committed a big effort to the turn and went for it. The conditions were so ridiculous all I could really do was just laugh and focus on staying upright. I just kept thinking that the head winds would at some point turn into a tail winds and they did. I averaged 32 mph coming down those first few miles from Hawi.
I was happy to have opened up a lead heading into the run as I really had no clue what the run course was like. I had heard hilly, grassy and hot.
The run proved to be more challenging than I was anticipating thanks to the wind (once again). I really think I could love the run course here, but to be honest - it was one foot in front of the other on Saturday. I felt far from magical. Running the long stretches into the head winds and on grass took forever. It was defeating. I felt like I was standing still, going nowhere. Miles 8-11 take place in “Hells Kitchen” a long downhill into a stiff wind - very similar to the famous “Energy Lab” at Ironman Hawaii. Luckily, you turn around at the bottom and we got a nice tail wind up. I have to say the cheers and support on the run helped a ton as I felt a bit like doggie doo for most of the 13 miles.
And then it appeared: the finish line. I was really happy. Really tired. And really hot. And I had won! I didn’t know what the course record was at the time, but the big bonus is that I broke the record set by Michellie Jones in 2005. I really have to thank the ripping tail winds on the bike for that one! A huge congratulations to everyone that battled the conditions on Saturday. If it had been sunny, 70 and calm winds - we wouldn’t remember the day quite like we did. We all battled through the adversity on a day that will be one for the books.
A big thanks to my support network, training partners, Matt Dixon, friends and family. The biggest thanks of all goes to Chris. My triathlon journey wouldn’t be nearly as satisfying without him alongside each step of the way.
My tan lines and memories from Saturday will remain - but my focus now is onto my next challenge: Boise 70.3 on Saturday. This will be a fun one as I love this event and my family will be in tow: mom, dad, sis, baby, bro-in-law #1, bro-in-law #2, and Bree!!! Plus many friends!
Until then - my feet are up enjoying Hawaii.