Words by Alan Hartley
Three days have passed since the big day, here’s my take on the events of the day and the day as a whole. Race morning in filled with nervous anticipation, anxiety, dread, hope, expectation and trepidation. When I’m asked how I feel the question is too difficult to answer as ones being is a confluence of so many varying and conflicting emotions.
Swim start will snap you out of any malaise or lethargy lingering in your body. At the cannon, 1600 adrenaline filled hyper competitive world class age groupers surge forward and attempt to find clear water or fast feet. Good luck with that! I was immediately mobbed and mauled for the first 50-100m. What a difference a year makes! Last year I was barely touched……
I stayed surprisingly calm and settled into a good rhythm. I thought my swimming had improved but my swim time of 1:17 was 7 min slower than last year. One of the best feeling swims with an unsatisfactory result. 33rd out of the water.
The bike felt strong, consistent and to plan all day. 6 bottles of nutrition and 3 water bottles from aid stations supplemented with 12 salt tablets. Coming off The halfway point in Hawi a rare event! No wind! No trade winds have been present for the past month and race day was no different, not a zephyr of a breeze was felt as I negative split the bike leg. However many others took advantage of the benign conditions to also push the limits on the bike. My 5:24 time had moved me into 15th and I felt great heading out on the run.
I felt confident that my goal of being able to run a marathon would come to fruition. Although there was no wind the temperatures were still in the 30’s with 80-85% humidity. I’d consumed all I was capable of putting into my body. Water, electrolytes, Blok chews and gels. For 10km I was running to goal pace of 5:15/km. I walked Palani as planned and continued to run along the Queen K towards the Energy Lab. At this point I’d run into 11th place and I was now running between aid stations and walking quickly through them. Once in the Energy Lab my energy evaporated and I came to an abrupt slow down and had to walk jog. With 12 km to go it was a battle to continue to move forward. Everyone around me was suffering as no one at this point of the race is feeling good.
I battled back to Palani and spent the last drops of effort to finish as strong as possible. I finished! 11hrs 10min. 32 min. faster than last year but 14th place which was also replicated last years position.
After finally receiving my finishers towel I proceeded to feel very light headed and passed out. 2 1L bags of saline and I was feeling better 2 hrs later! I’d lost 8lbs or 3.6kg and was dehydrated……not as bad as some.
My takeaway from the race. I made no real errors on the day. I don’t believe my body is suited to hot and humid conditions. I know that I lose 2200mg of sodium (salt) per hr at these temps. I had 3900mg in my electrolyte drinks. I supplemented this with 12 salt tablets which is another 3420mg. So 7320mg on the bike alone. Combining the swim and bike I’ve now lost about 14000mg so a deficit of around 7000mg starting the run.
This is the riddle I’ll have to solve to do better in these conditions. Thank you, thank you, thank you for everyone’s support and encouragement these past few weeks. I did all I could do and feel in my heart that I did my dad proud.
Kona is a beast even on a benign day. No everyone has a physical makeup to conquer the challenge but all things considered I did all I could do. Thanks Debra Kirkham, Mike Bosch, Mark Washington, Mike Gee, Rob Pouw. Just a few of you that added value and assistance to my journey.