triathlon training

Hawaii Ironman Triathlon-The Bike

In order to keep the whole day in perspective, I constantly try to remind myself that I'm at the Ironman World Championships and there are 1400 athletes that were probably neither chain smokers nor alcoholic drug addicts like me. And that it's a miracle I got to the starting line, let alone the finish. But I don't deserve or want any special treatment because of that. I do have a desire to stand out it's true, but only in terms of being funny and getting a laugh. And while I do make mention of it here, it's only to encourage others that might still be in the grip of an addiction or unhealthy situation to say,

"Hey, he did it, so can I!"

The transition goes smoothly as I shower and gather my thoughts. They hand you your bike bag as you exit the water and point you to the showers. Then you go to the change room for men and there's benches. There's attendants to help you change and I put on my singlet with numbers on both sides. . And you need to either have your shoes on here or have them attached to the bike, I chose the former. I'll attach my leis to my singlet outside at the bike and that, with two Speedos, the underneath pair having a bike shorts crotch sewn in, will be what I'll wear for the rest of the day. I have a bright new fancy pair on top.

Someone is at the ready with some sunscreen and he rubs my face, ears and shoulders. Again, there is no shortage of help here. It's just amazing. Someone tries to rush me off on my bike but I need to attach my leis. I ask for time and the young guy says "sure, take your time, but walk your bike to the end and then get on it."

"OK" and I'm off.

There's a speed bump at the end of the pier and then the crowds, people are everywhere. And it's that way all the way up Palani Drive which is steep and maybe six blocks long. I stay in my smallest ring and seat and just spin up it. Somehow I sense this will be the last crowd until Hawi 56 miles away and try to capture some of the energy.

I start to drink some exceed from my recently bought Jetstream water system. I also got the mesh pack that installs with it to hold my GU and other food stuffs. When I get to the top I pull out a GU and squeeze it into my mouth. One thing that was given to us as a remedy for littering the Highway with empty food packets was plastic squeeze bottles. But they only hold 5 or 6 GU and besides, I want to know exactly how many calories I'm consuming at a time. And of course I don't throw out empty packets except at aid stations.

The first aid station comes up before I know it and I make sure my bottles are empty so I drink real fast. I get responses about my leis and I know it's going to be a good day. I look at my HRM I notice it hasn't come down to the 140 range I would like and proves to be an annoying 160 all day until it stops working altogether at around the 75 mile mark. I put new batteries in it but I guess the heat got to it. Dave Scott had suggested at a lecture that one mustn't run away from the HRM and to go for it on the perceived effort scale instead. At this point I agree with him and try not to worry.

The draft marshals have made their presence known by buzzing up and down on little rental scooters. There's one who seems to be assigned to our particular time frame and passes out a citation to a guy who passed on the right and took more time than he should have I guess. Anyway, I thought it sucked and told the poor guy but he mumbled something like it was OK and sped off. I saw one more person get stopped and have his number marked with a black marker and that was the only other citation I saw for the day. The marshal would stop and take notes from time to time. I made real sure I never got to close to someone. He seemed like a real strict control freak and I wasn't taking any chances.

The road is long and straight all the way to Hawi with only a couple of turns. It's not too windy and the landscape is as barren as they say with an exception, you can see the ocean. For me this is a true gift. I always thought the course was too far inland but I never lost sight of the sea the whole way except maybe once or twice for 10 minutes. It's a real charge to have that beautiful blue body there to renew me.

Another exception to the barrenness is the many coral rocks people have arranged to make signs. There are hundreds of them ranging from small names assembled with 15-20 small rocks to large signs of hearts with names and arrows inside. Some are Hawaiian petrographs that resemble stick figures. Some date back years and others are new according to the dates put on them. It's an acceptable form of Hawaiian graffitti.

And the occasional resort area on the coast is fashioned from the moon-scape like an oasis in the desert. With some water, multi-millions from investors and the not so occasional tourist willing to spend 600 per night, these places add a surrealistic charm to the dark brown lava fields. Out in the middle of nowhere and completely self-supporting, they live in a world of their own.

I also always thought of the Queen K highway as a flat expanse, nothing could be further from the truth.There are hills after hills, mostly long and gradual so you can't gain enough speed going down one to coast up the other. Rather, you pedal down one hoping to get going fast and then sit and spin up the other side of it. The wind always being a factor on how much time is gained on the downhill. And the only relief on the uphill is the wind blockage.

My strategy for eating and drinking along the way are simple. I need or can burn 350 calories per hour so that means 3 GU (100 cal each) and 1 bottle of fluid replacement drink per hour, in addition to another bottle of water for hydration. I plan on taking GU at the 20, 40, and 60 minute marks and wash them down with Exceed, the given drink, or water. Since I average only 15 miles per hour than means I was getting a GU in just before the aid stations and having more than enough fluids to wash them down. I would take the water bottle which is offered first, skip the cola offered second, and skip the bananas and oranges third, take a bottle of Exceed, and then there's always a last chance station with water and grab that and pour it over my head. Since the GU costs $1.00 each I use theirs whenever possible. They had vanilla which I like, and chocolate which seems to thick for me. Luckily I didn't get too many chocolate.

When I'm not racing, which is almost always in a triathlon, I thank every volunteer I can. In road races I don't always have the breath to waste, but here I've plenty.

"Mahalo plenty, eh Brah?" is what I chant most often. Some of the volunteers are from the mainland and don't appreciate my local jargon so I thank them in the customary fashion.

"Nice leis!" a woman says.

"Nice face!" I retort on an instant. It always seems to get a laugh.

I can't wait for Hawi and finally after the Hawi turn and a scenic change in the course I see a returning tri-geek. And man, is he moving. I really want Dave Scott to win and am disappointed when he's about 25 back. I look at all the athletes on their way back and don't notice any woman. They are all hunched over and it makes it difficult to tell who is who. I can only hope the turn around comes soon and I'm not far behind. No way Jose. It takes me another hour.

The highlight of the bike comes when some local teenage girls are gathered on a blanket and shout nice leis.

One of them hollers "let me give you a real lei", in a loud sexy insistent kind of tone. I'm not sure if a 42 year old guy belongs in a Speedo on a bike but now I feel it's OK. And I've never ridden 112 in one so that's why I did. And if the race director wants sameness, here it is.

My 7:30 finish isn't apparent to me at the time. But the head-winds are, it's blowing 30 MPH and I've got 50 more miles to go. The ocean isn't white-capped so I know it's not as windy as last year like I heard it was. That's no consolation as I wish it was a training ride and there was someone to draft. The ride requires as much mental discipline as physical stamina. Apart from the occasion word or two from passing or being passed it's a quiet conversation-less day. There's no chance of riding side by side of anyone with the marshals buzzing back and forth.

I keep hoping the Airport is over the next hill but it never comes. And this course is not flat.

It's amazing to see how many people have made to the Energy Lab on foot by the time I get there on my bike. The whole field is spread out before me and I wonder it I'll even get to see any of the winners. I do pass Dave Scott just before the turn down Palani into town. But I don't get to see the winner, he has already finished. It's nice to see the crowds again, but they are focusing on the runners and I'm just a slow guy.

The main road through Kona and on to Keahou is called Alii Drive, it traces the shoreline and is plush with greenery and hotels perched on the waters edge.

There aren't many spectators and the good news is I'm almost done. It's only 5 miles from Kona to Keahou and the transition area and I'm feeling home free. There's one more steep hill and then a screaming downhill conclusion to this very long, hot and windy day. There's lot of volunteers checking and re-checking my number as I turn into the transition area. They take my bike and I try to stand up straight. I half run bent over and to the changing tent. Two down and one more event to go. I look at my watch, 3:54, I can only hope for a fast marathon to redeem myself.

The Run

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