Well, Ironman Hawaii is done and dusted. Another one in the books.
Someone asked me after the race, as I was sitting under a palm tree, why I was smiling so big (when clearly I didn’t have the result I knew I was capable of). I was smiling because I finished, when several times during the day I felt like giving up. Like every Ironman, it always seems to bring out the best (and worst) in all of us.
Here’s how it all went down:
I had one of the best lead-ups into the Ironman to date. I arrived with no drama’s: was healthy, happy, mentally prepared, rested, ready for the effort, and most importantly – I was excited!
Race morning came and we found ourselves floating in Kailua Bay doing the usual jockey-ing around for positions. The National anthem was being sung and I got goosebumps. Some races you just go through the motions, and others you have great feelings about. I was truly excited and felt that something magical was about to happen.
Something magical did happen. I had a shocker of a swim. My worst swim to date. The cannon blew, I set out to swim my best 1k ever – ready for a hard strong effort to put me in the sub-1-hour swim pack. I had a controlled start, was swimming strong, doing all I was set out to do. There were many orange and red caps around me, I figured I was in a good place. I slipped onto the feet in front of me and the pace dramatically dropped. In an instant the pack was gone and I was not moving at a pace I wanted. There I sat for the next hour and 4 minutes. Shocker, I tell you!
That’s pretty much all she wrote. With the new dynamics of the race (a smaller field), if you come out of the water off the back, you are working over-time all day long to catch up somewhere in no-mans-land. My cycling had been quite strong leading into the race and I gave my best effort to close some gaps. I executed the plan my coach and I laid out for the bike, it just left a bit more to be desired.
Onto the run in 15th place and I felt strong & steady. I thought, “keep it here Corbin and you can run your way into top-10: perfect! “ At the top of the Palani Hill, about 10 miles into the race, I passed Sam Warriner who was having a solid vomit on the side of the road. Poor girl. Like I said, this race brings out the best in all of us. About a mile later I was stopped dead in my tracks, hands on my knees, projectile vomiting into a nice patch of black lava. Hmmmm, this is something new! Never have I been sick in a race before.
With 15 miles to go I made the choice to puke and rally. I made a rule before my first marathon in 2006: no walking, no matter what. Always move forward in the best run-like fashion possible. I am proud to say that I waddled my way (no walking) down the Queen K and into the Energy Lab. The Energy Lab is the turning point in most people’s marathons in Kona. Here is where you hit mile 18, it’s hot, nobody is in there, the little voices tell you it’s okay to walk, and it’s pretty much an all-time suffer-fest. Amazingly, I turned the corner in there. Another first! After several miles of water and coke only, my legs came good and I was back to my 3 hour marathon stride. Unfortunately the effort came a little too late.
The highlight of my race had to be that I kept moving forward when everything was telling me not to. The bonus was that I turned the corner and came good. Imagine that! I certainly didn’t. So, what kept me motivated out there?
First had to be Chris Corbin – who has given and given and given when it comes to me chasing this dream & career. Chris never wavers in his support for me. In fact, I think if you asked him as I was puking, he would tell you I still had a shot at doing well!
Next were all the competitors. I am a huge fan of the sport, so I spent my energy cheering on the competition, rooting for friends and offering up a few high-fives. Much respect for everyone that was out there on Saturday. IM Hawaii is no joke! It chews you up and spits you out with little chance for survival.
I also thought of all my supporters. From my family, to my friends in Montana who were huddled in front of the computer, to my long-standing sponsors. Although I race as an individual, ultimately I can’t get where I am going alone.
When you’re racing well, things come easy. You are in pain, but never question completion, or how you are feeling, or what you are doing. Pain feels good and you can push yourself to new limits. Nobody likes it when things aren’t going your way. It’s easy to sit there, throw the worlds largest pity party and throw in the towel. But this is my job. My biggest work day of the year was on Saturday. I was certainly not pulling the plug. I had to work overtime to motivate and get through when things weren’t playing out how I wanted, and for that I can hold my head up high and be proud of myself.
Needless to say, I’ve got fire in the belly after a very sub-par performance that left me with more to be desired.
Finally, I will be racing Ironman Arizona in 6 weeks, and might as well make a catered long-run out of it, right?
Thanks for reading, and I am already counting down the days (360 to be exact) until I can settle the score. Until next time – mahalo !