Within a minute from starting, I heard a rumble of drums start, getting loader and more intense with every second. Mike Reilly was giving us the count down and then the drums stopped...
Usually the first 20-30 minutes is complete survival mode, ponying for position as other athletes struggle too keep pace while others are feeling the need to destroy everyone in their path. That would include pulling and pulling you out of sync. Kona was completely different. I felt like I constantly had a lane and other swimmers were aware of boundaries and knowing when it was time to give room for someone else to pass or to move aside when a faster swimmer was trying to make a move.
The most incredible part was seeing sea turtles and random fish throughout the swim course. It was a great distraction and often forgot that I was racing in the Ironman. Hugh difference from swimming in Tempe Town Lake, having zero visibility.
When I climbed up the stairs they have a few tents with hoses being dangled above pouring out fresh water. WOW, if there was anything that was more refreshing than having fresh water at that point, I don't know what it could have been. I probably spend more time than necessary, but it was nice.
I was met by Lindsey with a sugar fee Red Bull (which might have been against the rules) and a little hug...again, a much need boost to make it back to Kona.
I don't know if it was the Red Bull or tail wind I felt, but for the next 3-4 miles I was able to bust past 30 mph for a sustained period of time. I was again short lived because the 500 foot downhill was met with a head wind that not only physically wore me down, but it really affected me mentally. The headwind only got worse the last 30 miles of the bike ride.
As I saw more and more commercial buildings, I knew that I was getting closer to Kona. The only challenge was the wind was picking up and I didn't realize that my fueling was being effected...substantially! I didn't realize that my stomach was tightening up, even thought I felt my energy level was okay.
The first 50 yards was up a small incline where I heard a familiar voice, so I gave Lindsey a happy anniversary kiss and made my way. The next 10 miles of the run was on Alii Drive, the place where I spend most of my Hawaii training...small inclines, no wind, great crowds, and a very beautiful vistas. Putting a small strategy into play would help me make it past the 6 mile hump, so I found another athlete that I felt like I could use as a rabbit so I paced myself with her and tried to stay strong mentally.
As I made it past the 2 mile marker, my body was drawing on fumes, but I didn't want to hurt my body by over fueling or under fueling. I "cruised" into mile three where I picked up some more fuel and made a cardinal mistake by taking something I had never trained with in the past...a powerbar, even worse is was a cookies ~n~ cream powerbar.