Ironman Hawaii 2005

We as we all know, the Ironman World Championship for 2005 are now in the record books. It was a tough day at the office for me. After 15 years, I have experienced the gamut of emotions and performances out on the lava fields. There are those great days, there are those good days, and then there are the days like I had on Saturday. Here is a little account of how things went on race day.

The swim is the part of the race that I get most nervous about. I have never had a great swim in Kona – not one that I feel I am capable of. Fortunately, the race has never been won in the swim. With a few minutes to go to the start, the swim marshals start to bring the athletes back to the line and ready for the start. For some reason this year, some of the athletes mistook a comment by someone on the pier as the signal to start, and away they went. Assuming that the paddlers would bring them back, I watched as they swam away. To my dismay they did not bring them back and about 5 seconds later the cannon went off, and the race was officially underway. Lesson #1, if you see people start swimming – start swimming yourself!!! After the physical contact of the start, I was able to settle into a pace and find the feet of Lisa Bentley to draft off of. Lisa tends to have good consistent swims here, so by being on her feet, I thought I would be in pretty good position. We exited the water in a relatively slow swim time, but I have learned over the years that the actual time is not all that important, but rather how far behind the leader is more relevant – it was time to focus forward.

I was off on the bike through the Kona town loop before heading out on the Queen K. I felt OK starting the bike, I could tell however that it was going to take a little while before my legs started to come around. I rode as fast as I could based upon what my legs would allow me to do on the way out. From all accounts, I was losing time to the leader Michellie Jones pretty consistently. Learning to never get discouraged, I kept plugging along. After the turn-around in Hawi, I could feel like I was coming into my own, and the time gap pretty much stayed the same on the way back. We really had incredible weather conditions on the bike ride. There were very few sections that we had a headwind, and never had the terrifying crosswinds of past years. It was going to be a fast day out there!!!. I felt strong all the way back into town and kept picking off some athletes along the way. I got off the bike just outside of the top ten, and I had the fastest bike ride that I have ever had here – 5 hours and 9 minutes – this was very encouraging.

Now the fun was going to start. I was now in my domain, the run segment of the race. If I could have a consistent run, realistically I could move my way up through the field and a top 5 finish would not be out of the question. I started the run not feeling too great, but that is quite normal for this race. I ran the first 9 mile segment of the run very consistently, making up small amounts of time on the girls ahead. Something was just not right however, I didn’t have that bounce in my step that I normally do. I needed to stop at a couple of aid stations to try and regroup and see if I could get my energy level to where it needed to be. Things only continued to go downhill from there. By the time I reached the highway at about 10 miles, I had slowed to a jog and stopped again at the aid station. I can’t say for sure what was going on, but it was becoming clear that for once my run was going to let me down. I have always said that there would be a race somewhere, sometime when this was bound to happen, but I hoped it wouldn’t happen here. My focus changed from trying to move up through the field to trying to keep forward momentum. With about 7 miles to go, I met up with Michael Lovato. Michael was having a rough day as well with some GI distress, so we decided that misery loves company and we made our way towards the finish. We would make little plans along the way – walk for 3 minutes and then run for 7, walk to the next power pole, and then run to the 5th. I must say that it was nice to have the company on what was a disappointing day on the lava fields. I have way too much respect for the race and for the forces of the island – that dropping out was not even an option. If someone like Sara Reinertsen (the first female leg amputee to compete in Ironman) can be out there competing and overcoming the hurdles she has to be there, I can certainly continue on and get across the line as well. I have always been under the opinion that all athletes, pros, age-groupers and PC athletes are all out there with the same goal – to cross the finish line. Today it became clear that this is not something to take lightly or take for granted.

I did cross that finish line and I did get my finishers medal. It may not have been in the fashion that I had envisioned but I did it and I am proud of that!!!! Often times, we learn the most about ourselves on those days when we have to deal with adversity. I did learn a lot about myself out there on the lava fields, and while I can’t say that I am not disappointed with my performance, I am focusing forward and can’t wait until next season. Now I am ready for some quiet time and a much welcomed holiday!!!

Thanks to all of my incredible sponsors and support network. Your continual, unconditional support is greatly appreciated and does not go unnoticed. Without this support I could not continue to do what I love to do.

Heather