Written by Jono Tucker
In one word – WOW!
In the lead up to the trip, I had those feelings of: “Is it really worth it?”, “What if I don’t enjoy it or I race badly?”. As soon as I got there, those feelings had long disappeared! 27 degrees with a little humidity? Bring it on!
Having left Melbourne at 11.30am on a Saturday, we arrived (3 planes and 2 shuttle buses later) in Kona at about 9.30am! Closest thing to time travel I’ll ever get! Having not slept much on the plane, I was awake for about 34 out of 36 hours! So when it came to the body clock, it had some catching up to do!
Alright, I’m going to do some massive editing of my 2 week trip, or the story would last a few pages… Oh yeah, and I’ll be wishing I was back on those glorious beaches relaxing in the sun with Margarita’s…!
The conditions were described as the toughest they have ever had for the half ironman. The heat picked up during the day, but it was more the gusty winds that wreaked havoc! I heard it was up to 70-80km/hr! When riding down a hill at 60-65km/h. gusty winds were literally trying to throw us off our bikes! They even had the Coast Guard on the phone with the Race Director to postpone/cancel the swim… But then the gun went off and it was too late! The buoys were moving and we had to swim further than expected.
I got out of the water in 28th for my age group and 257th overall (1.9km in 33:49mins). While I wasn’t overly happy with my swim, I wasn’t going to let it upset me. What did upset me, was putting a hole in my tri suit in the first transition (swim to ride) trying to put gels in my back pocket… see the picture below for sunburn results!!
10k’s into the ride, and the water bottle on the front of my bike came off. If it were cooler conditions, I would’ve left it there. But not inHawaii. 2 water bottles required! So I stopped to pick it up.
I was very happy with my ride, and I knew I had picked up a lot of places. There is a challenging section for 26 kms, which is rolling hills, but mostly in an upward direction! This is where the wind was at its worst. Coming down was a combination of excitement, and been scared witless! Did I mention the roads weren’t closed to traffic? I completed the 90km ride in 2hrs 35, which lifted me to 18th in my category and 114th overall.
Finally, time for the run; my strong point. This was by far the hardest 21km run I’ve done! Half of it was on a golf course, so running on grass is slower than on road! But the surface was up to 15 degrees cooler. Golf courses aren’t flat! Subtle hills when playing a round suddenly become nasty when trying to run quickly! Finding a rhythm was extremely difficult.
I strongly believe being a good runner is the most enjoyable way to do triathlons, as it means you spend the run passing people; which is great for the confidence!!! I did the run in 1hr31.52, which was 5th fastest in my category and 37th fastest out of the entire field! This elevated me to 9th in my category and 68th overall!
I didn’t really know what to expect as I’ve never raced in the USA before, and it is known as the toughest half ironman in the 70.3 series. I also didn’t know how my body would have recovered from the full ironman I did in March. But I did have the confidence in what I had done, and I also believe I pushed myself the hardest I ever have in this distance. So while the body is in desperate need of a break (1 week inHonolulu helped, it felt like a month), I am really looking forward to the next couple of seasons to see where I can go!!
This trip I’ve just had, was by far the most amazing experience I’ve ever had for a sporting event! If you ever get an opportunity to travel for an event (be it triathlon, running, hockey, netball or anything), go for it! Make the most of it!! There was 15 of us there, and I really hope I can return to Hawaii. The long term goal is to qualify for the full Ironman in Kona. While I’m a little way off that at the moment, I know I can challenge in the future!!!
I’m not going to talk about the after party, as that story is longer than the race! Basically, 7 days inHonolulu was amazing! A well earned break.
Next half ironman is planned for November… Slightly less scenic destination of Shepparton! Oh well, looking forward to giving it hell…!!!