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Race Result

Racer: Reid Kiser
Race: Honu Half Ironman
Date: Saturday, June 2, 2007
Location: Kohala Coast, HI
Race Type: Triathlon - Half Ironman
Age Group: Male 30 - 34
Time: 5:32:44
Overall Place: 223 / 958
Age Group Place: 25 / 84
Comment: Why did I pick this for my first 70.3? Tough and rewarding and just great fun.

Race Report:

First of all, CONGRATS to Shawn and Tom on completing their first half's. Not only did you survive, what great times you guys put up on the boards!

I really seem outta touch being on vacation for too long and 6 hours behind, I meant to get to this sooner and here I am trying to get to sleep. Beware, this may be long but it’s packed full of great memories and I need to place this one in my scrap books:

Time Recaps:
Swim - 38:51 (overall rank 494 - 1:57/100m - 40 minutes or a 2 min pace was the goal)
T1 - 3:36 (long running transition from the beach)
Bike - 2:44:37 (overall rank 183 - 20.4 mph - less than 3 hours was the goal or avg 20 mph if possible)
T2 - 3:36 (included a short stop to the latrine)
Run - 2:02:05 (overall rank 264 - 9:20 min/mile - ran faster pace (<8:30’s on the Garmin when running, I really took my time and enjoyed the aid stations and thanked the volunteers at every stop - goal was 2 hours not knowing what was in store for the last 5km)

Where to begin… It was a great 4 days in Maui prior to coming over to the Big Island. Took it easy and enjoyed our 2nd anniversary present with my wife. Got my base tan hoping that would help mitigate bad burns during the race. Ended up with 826’s burned into each arm.

Thursday - checked into the Mauna Lani resort, assembled bike and checked in for the race. This was the first time I have traveled with a bike and done the bag check in with your running gear as the two transitions are in different locations. Makes you really think hard about what you put in there and what you may be forgetting. As I came out of check in, I noticed a guy who look familiar but not super familiar. It was Pete Coulson, Michellie Jones' husband. Then I noticed Michellie right next to him. I had no choice if I was to exit to say "pardon me" and walk between them. All week my wife and friends asked me if I was nervous about the race, and I wasn't until the reality hit me in realizing who is at this race and within arms reach. I highly recommend this race if you are looking for a destination vacation with a steep discount at a 5 star resort and you want the most incredible race vibe atmosphere. Basically the resort is taken over by Triathletes from all around the world. It's a little bit funny in that you would think some of these folks don't own any other clothes besides singlets, bike shorts, running shoes and sports bras/tank tops. I saw Michellie at least 7 times and she always had her race kit on (after the race she did put on a skirt). Newtons were also the rage. My sunglasses helped with all the bright shoe colors. I took the bike out for a spin on the Queen K to see what all the hype is about the lava fields and winds. It was extremely sobering. Within the first mile of my ride I am heading downhill at 35 mph only to get tackled by a crosswind. I was in the aero position at the time and managed to keep the rubber side of the bike on the road. For the rest of that ride I rode the bullhorns and didn't pedal on the downhills. It takes a little getting used to and anticipating when they come and you do literally lean into the winds at about a 15-30 degree angle to keep from falling. Needless to say, I made it back without any problems, but realized it was going to be a hot day for racing on Saturday and just make it to T2 in one piece. We had a great pasta dinner with some east and west coast friends at Cafe Pesto and had a couple of flights of the local beer. Nice and tasty, but my friend's were a little surprised that I was drinking two nights out. They probably had a point, but why not live in the moment when you are randomly on the other side of the world. Besides there's another day to get hydrated, if one ever does in this place.

Friday - Friday morning Mary Beth and I headed to the other side of the island to Hilo for an incredible helicopter tour of the volcano and water falls. It was an unusually clear day in Hilo and we had spectacular views and a great way to take my mind off the race. This week has been a good way to taper, since you don't feel obligated or pressured to squeeze in some junk miles. We came back from Hilo and drove up to Hawi to see the top part of the bike course. I thought I had seen hills and wind on my Thursday ride, but this took it to another level. I further realized I had my work cut out for me, but now knowing it would be a fast ride back to T2 (or one would think). Checked in the bike at T1 and once again here comes Michellie who is parked right behind us with her entourage. More doses of reality of what I have gotten myself into for my first 70.3 and where I am and with who. We proceed to check out the swim course visually and the conditions look good, not as windy as on Thursday. The transition is a long uphill run and the timing mat is about 100 yards from the water exit. Realizing this isn't going to be 1 minute transitions, this help set the tone to take every moment you can to take your time, relax and save energy for the bike and run. We get back to the resort for the pre-race meeting and scurrying through the grounds is Samantha McGlone of 70.3 fame (eventually winner over Michellie) and she comes up and asks where the meeting is and I say I am trying to find it as well. We locate someone who knows and proceed over. It's amazing how much open access there is here and how approachable the athletes are (pro and age-groupers). I made lots of other friends and one who will hook me up with a bike next time in Minneapolis. It's like a dream and nothing seems real including the conditions I am about to face in less than 24 hours.

Get up, have my cup of coffee with Clif Bar and head for the shuttle bus. We proceed to get on the elevator and a guy carrying to prosthetic legs comes down the hall and then I notice Rudy Garcia-Tolson. He's still half-asleep. Apparently he flew in the night before from a swim competition in Germany. He ended up swimming a 28 minute swim, but missed the bike cut off. By the way he looked when I saw him, if I was him I would have still been in bed asleep. I am glad he made it, it really made my day to see this guy. What an inspiration in reading about him, it's another actually seeing him and how he is really a normal person with some challenging circumstances. As we proceed to the bus line, a short shuttle bus pulls up dropping people off to get on the big bus to T1. I make a comment to Mary Beth about if they are shuttling people into here from the sister property to get on this bus instead of having a directly shuttle from both properties. You take a shuttle to the swim and T1. The guy standing next me says in an Australian accent "yeah, that's stupid." Holy s#%t! It's Chris McCormack!!! In line with me getting on the bus. So I ask him if he thinks he will win today (stupid question I know), he replies "I hope so." (he ends up setting course record at 3:57) We tell each other good luck and get on the bus. We get to sit behind him on the ride and now I am really getting shaky and week in the legs. Here I am relatively new to this sport chatting and sitting with my favorite Pro. I have to say this guy is real and genuine. Not a worry in the world and isn't afraid of people (this was the first of 3 good interactions I had with Chris McCormack). My wife and I got the complete opposite impression of Michellie, but this was our impression on how she carried herself over these particular sightings and to be honest it was more of what I would expect from a top pro athlete in this generation. So anyway, set up T1 gear and head down to the beach for body marking and a little warm up swim.

Open water swimming where you have 50+ feet of visibility is very nice and salt water really helps with buoyancy. Reduces the need for sighting and you know where the other bodies are. The water is a toasty 79 degrees and no wetsuits. We line up for the start, me being a weaker swimmer line up in the back right. My goal for the day was freestyle all the way and keep plugging along no matter what. I tend to get a little panicky in a crowd of swimmers or if there's water in my goggles or I can't see anything. Two of the three would happen and I stayed relaxed keep going. I breath bilaterally in the pool, but when stressed I found out it's very difficult to breath on the left, so today I would just go every right stroke take a breath and relax. Fortunately the glare was only an issue for once section and did breathe some on the left, but found I wasn't getting good breaths so the anxiety levels would sky rocket. I fought it out knowing I could do this. We are waiting for the cannon, but it a mass false start occurs. They let it go and say the race has started. A little confused we are, but we get to swimming. I found a good rhythm after the second buoy and on the straight away and was so ecstatic to the each buoy seemed to be coming to me. In the past, it always felt like the buoys would never ever get there. It was also good to feel some really good strokes and really passing people (even though I ended up in the middle of the pack on swim, then again last year I was a BOP swimmer). I get to the final buoy and I am on top of the world realizing that I have just swam 1.2 miles non-stop freestyle. Even in the pool I do open turns, so never really feel like I swim continuously. I break my 40 minute goal by a little over a minute. There was an inkling of confidence I would do this in 35 minutes, but back to an article Dave Orton gave me on pacing your first 1/2 was very clear that 2 minutes faster on the swim can equal 20 minutes slower on the run. That really helped me take my time and relax and just enjoy the swim for once. I truly enjoyed the moment and this was the highlight of my race. I went through the day just soaking it all in and enjoying myself (ironic one enjoys the conditions later on).

T1 - Feeling like I am playing with house money knowing that I can do the bike and run, well in NOVA conditions. I am feeling that this is going to be a good day. I take my time and let the heart settle and get out onto the bike not truly knowing what the conditions will be like for the next 5 hours.

I'll try to keep it short here. My goals before getting to Hawaii was a sub-3 and possible a 2:45 bike. After getting here and seeing the course and feeling the conditions, I sobered up to a 3 hour goal and with the goal to save your energy and fluid for the run. I didn't want to be FORD (found on road dead). I get out on the bike and try to get my heart rate down. I am in high Zn3 and getting into Zn4. It was very crowded riding on the shoulders and trying to pass and not draft (technically it's an impossibility if you ask me in a crowd of 900 using narrow shoulders). Each time I saw an open spot ahead with the legal 4 bike lengths, I would shoot for it since I was so paranoid about having to sit in the penalty tent for 4 minutes for something out of my control. It took about 45 minutes and some good hill climbs for the crowds to thin. Good thing is there were lots of race officials on the course warning people. However, they were mainly warning about staying to the right of the white line. Finally, my heart rate monitor stopped barking at me. I finally got down to Zn2 and some Zn1 and got on with my nutrition plan. This was another piece I picked up from the article Dave sent me. I pretty much drank every 10 minutes (Gatorade and water) with 3 Endurolytes each 30 minutes and Accel gels every 45 minutes. I threw in half a Clif bar in the first 30 minutes but it jumped out of my pocket at some point. I didn't panic knowing that I had plenty of gel and this was just something extra I had for if I wanted something solid to eat. The ride to Hawi was a b$&ch (not a beach). Pretty much a long gradual (understated on gradual) climb for 19 miles with a few rollers and lots of wind and what I thought was heat (later I find out what heat really is). I am a decent climber, so I was able to pass many people and get good separation for the fast ride back down the hill. This did lead to some elevated heart rates, but figured the ride back would be on the low side. It was a learning experience doing the bottle exchanges at the bike aid stations. I dropped a Gatorade at one and had to go with just water for a stretch. Once again, I didn't panic and just stuck with it. This is another reason for hitting every aid station. You never know what can happen or not happen at the next. I make the turn at Hawi and the fun begins. As much as I love climbing, I love to get some speed (as long as it's controllable). I fly down the hills at 40mph, I didn't feel like pedaling to go any faster for the stats, so I would rest my legs and tuck into a tight aero position and just go. Remember the cross winds? Here they come and they are scary at this speed. Once again you start to lean into them at what seems like 45 degree angles, but probably is 30 or less. I am enjoying this as I enjoy downhill skiing at speed, but remember that just as dangerous as skiing is, you have minimal skin coverage and asphalt does more damage than hard packed snow. Finally, I get to the final turn back to T2 which is an 8 mile stretch at the bottom and all I feel is massive heat. Further amplified on the short climbs. I also got to experience the feeling of not moving. I am pedaling and all seems fine, but it feels like I have double flats. I look down at the tires and all’s well, what’s the deal? Anyway I just ignore the feeling and move on with my ride and eventually things are normal again. Now it's time to start spraying the ice water into the helmet and down the back. I approach the final turn into the resort which will be a 2 mile stretch with NO PASSING allowed. There's a person 50 meters ahead as we begin to approach (1/8 mile) so I say to myself it's either go or get stuck for 2 miles. I put the hammer down and as soon as I pass, karma gets me. I get a bee or a wasp or something in my helmet and receive a nice sting to the temple (still a quarter sized welt on my head as of 6/5). As people are cheering at the turn and waving me to the right for the turn, I am pounding my helmet and trying to get this thing out. It must have been a funny sight. Fortunately, it takes multiple stings for me to have a reaction even though I did get a little tightness in the left side of my neck. Also, the adrenaline helps and blood flow helps clear the venom. By T2 the pain and neck cramp was gone. Plus seeing my wife and friends was a huge boost and high.

T2 - went great, except they moved the racks around over night. In the past years, they had "bike catchers" but this year they didn't. No big deal to me since, racking my bike is the only thing I know. I had to make one decision with putting my shoes on at the rack or the changing tent. This was the only thing I would fix next time. I finally decided to take my run gear bag to the tent and sit down to put on socks and shoes and load up my gels and salt caps. I did take a potty break which lasted longer than what I was anticipating, but well worth it in the long run. I forgot to lock the port-o-jon and was interrupted. I thought the transition bag in front of the door would be a clue to others as I walked out. I proceed on to the tent and hand my bag to the volunteer and say “you can chunk this, there’s nothing left.”

I head out on the run onto the golf course and around the resort. OMG!!! It is FREAKING HOT!!! How will I ever survive? I know, don't think about put your head down and ignore everything outside of your body. That worked for 2 miles. I felt some minor cramps coming on, so popped 3 Endurolytes and amazingly they subsided within minutes (could have been placebo effect or could have been real - but am sold on these things - you cannot overdose in these conditions). I had this occur a few times through the run, but never had to stop. By mile 2, I know I can do this. It’s only 13 miles and my plan is to chunk the run into 4 5k runs. 1st 5k is to find my running legs, 2nd 5k is to get to the half way point, 3rd 5k is to remember it’s almost over and 4th 5k is decide to hammer or enjoy the moment. The chunking process of project management worked, but not as expected. Aid station by aid station I make my way through the run running on grass, cart paths, asphalt, concrete, sand and some crushed lava rocks. The 1st 5k was just mental toughness of dealing with the fact that it wasn’t getting any cooler so stay hydrated, stay cool (more mentally than physical – physically it would have been an impossibility). I quickly learn to pack my race top with ice down the back and sponges under the cap cooling my head. I looked like the Michelin Man at times with ice defining my waist line. I also learned a secret about stomach cramps and the sounds of blocks rumbling in the gut. The 2nd and 3rd 5k’s were cruise control and working to ignore the heat broken occasionally by an ocean breeze. Then out of no where we make a turn into hell. The last 5k is like nothing I have ever experienced in my life. It was a death walk down a black top service road surrounded by piles of lava rocks with no end point and there was nothing to see – complete sensory deprivation. There were the walking dead, the dry heavers and the people that didn’t like being passed but couldn’t muster another ounce of energy to catch you if they tried. I wouldn’t say I was surging but my pace was steady and solid knowing that everything would soon be history. What I thought was mile 12 when I started the last out and back was really only mile 11. This was par for the course, but hey I can make it 2 more miles, right? Sure enough, I start making my way to the final turns and pass a couple of other guys and look down at the GPS and I am hitting 7:30 miles for pace with plenty in the gas tank. I get to the final stretch and turn around to see if anyone is coming from behind and a volunteer says “don’t worry there’s no one near, you’ve made it.” I cruise through the final chute to the finish with a great crowd’s welcome and break my wife’s wrist giving her a high five (I didn’t really break it, but she’s been letting everyone know about). I get out of the chute and my friends and wife come over and I push them away as for I cannot breathe because I am hyperventilating in excitement as I was when I completed my first marathon. WOW, what an awesome experience!!! I have to be honest, all I could think about during the run was why did I pick this as my first 70.3? I honestly have ZERO interest in The Ironman given what I learned from this. I can’t imagine still being on the bike at the time I was finishing this race. It is so hot and I know hot growing up in Texas. I have great admiration for those who compete and complete The Ironman in Hawaii. It’s absolute insanity and a great achievement in human physiology. Okay, so I missed my run goal, but played it safe, smart and beat my goal of 6 hours overall. This was one of the biggest “highs” of my life in many ways, yet I don’t know if I would repeat it and that makes it that much more special. I’ll do 70.3’s and a 140.6 one day, but never again in Hawaii. Hawaii is a place for other things. However, I do recommend this race for those who want to train for Kona or may not ever qualify for Kona and want to live the experience. It’s a magical place and is like a very strange and rewarding dream (but only 1/2 the dream of doing the full Ironman). Cheers to those have done it!

Post Race:
Quick shower and head to the pool side bar to debrief with friends. So as we are walking to the table where my friends are, I pass Macca and he is warning everyone that his friends “get a little rowdy on the grog”. I say to him “but you never do?” He says, “No, I am a quiet one” and we laugh and I proceed on. The guy is real, not cocky like the Ironman broadcast interview he defends. So, we finish lunch and hang by the pool waiting for the awards ceremony at 4 drinking our calories back on. I didn’t get one of the 70 spots, but I have to say regardless of how many slots go to local residents there is no other better predictor or qualifier for Kona’s conditions. I can never describe the conditions fully and I am sure there are more hilly courses with stronger currents, but this was insane as I find out later from Chris McCormack. So after Chris gets his award and gives his speech he comes off stage and walks over to where I am standing with my wife, so I ask if I can’t get a picture. He says sure, let’s go outside. We go outside and get the pic and he genuinely asks how I did. I tell him it was my first and I was only 90 minutes behind him. He says “That’s awesome. Are you hooked and ready to do full Ironmans?” I tell him, I am not sure now that I know how hot it is out there. We chat some more about what I can’t remember. All I am thinking when he is going to brush me off and go. I say “Chris, I want you to win Ironman this year” and he replies “I am going to try but this heat is really tough, I don’t do very well in this heat”. Now I know what he is talking about and I wish him the best and hope he pulls it off this year. What an incredible person he is. I can’t imagine Norman Stadler being as receptive and Michellie Jones definitely was not, eventhough she did seem to want to be noticed wearing her endorsements. Like I said, I can’t knock her since I didn’t try to interact with her, but let’s hope that Desiree wins this year.

I can’t wait for October even though I will not be there. Hopefully, some of you Super-RATS will!

Good luck and Mahalo,