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IM Hawaii IM 70.3 2023 Race Report

Created: Friday, 12 January 2024
There’s no more beautiful place to race than Kona, Hawaii! The big island. This was my first 70.3 distance race since Panama City Beach Florida, 2021. I entered the race under trained due to a couple of last minute trips to see my parents and work travel. A race in paradise can’t be bad! Thankful that my father was out of the hospital, I was glad to be able to focus, and proud to dedicate this race to them.
My wife, Stephanie, and I arrived on Wednesday, checked in on Thursday, checked in bike and gear on Friday, and raced Saturday. When I reassembled my bike, my front wheel was bent. I fixed it myself, and it was all good for race day.
I met up with my Zoot teammate, Derin Pitre for some pre-race preparation. Saw some other teammates and training partners. Everyone was race ready!!

Swim 1.2 mile

The water looked calm on race morning. That was huge relief, because it was rough with a strong current during the afternoon practice swims. The course was a left turn, swim parallel to the shore against the current, 2 right turns, swimming with the current, then a right turn back into the shore. It was a rolling start, with 2 swimmers every 5 seconds. That made for a very slow start, but kept everyone spaced out. The fast swimmers are already finishing by the time I got to the starting gate.
The running beach start felt good. The water was crystal clear. I didn’t feel much of a current. My goal was not to be the slowest. Many races I am, or amongst them. The fish and coral were beautiful. Almost distracting!
It wasn’t long before I was heading back to the shore. The lava rocks and reefs were very shallow! I saw some folks standing and pushing off the reefs. I swam as far as I could go before standing up, but it wasn’t on sand. I had no choice but to stand on the softest ground I could find under me. I started running out then “Ouch!” It felt like a sharp pebble was stabbing my toe. I made it out with a great ocean swim.
Goal: finish above 95th percentile I’m age group.
Results: 83/99, 84th percentile
Time: 0:50:17
Pace: 2:18/100 yd
That’s an excellent ocean open water pace for me. Still lots of room for improvement.

T1

They had a shower to rinse off the salt water. I dipped in and out quickly. Seemed like others were thinking they were at the spa. Grabbed my bike transition bag and dumped everything out. I tried to find the pebble that was on my toe, but nothing was there. I left my shoes clipped into my bike, so I ran barefoot. Mounted my bike, and I was off!
Time: 7:09
Distance: 0.51 mi

Bike 56 mile

The first 3.5 miles were slight rollers, but everyone knew what awaited them. After a long slight incline, began an 18 mile climb to the town of Hawi. The terrain varied from steep to gentle, but no relief. Always climbing. The closer we got to the peak, the more the ocean wind picked up. A crosswind was expected but it was more of a head wind. I felt great, and zoomed past everyone around me. It was cool to ride a portion of the same course as World Championship. At mile 30 was the turnaround.
On get downhill return, I knew the wind would be a major factor. The faster I went, the more the wind catch me. I got up to 38 mph, and wind turned my front wheel while I was in an aero position, causing my front wheel to fish tail! At that speed, I just knew that would be the end of me, and I would flip over my handlebars. I maintained control, but slowed it down. Better to finish safely. I saw others also get caught by the very strong wind gusts, but didn’t see any crashes. I heard there were plenty though caused by the wind.
Near the end, I knew there was a left turn at the gas station from previewing the course. The volunteer was yelling at the cyclists to stay right. And pointing to the right. The 2 cyclists in front of my turned right! I followed them, and we all had to turn around to complete the left turn. There was a lot of frustration at that volunteer, but I should have followed what I knew was correct.
The sun was blazing, but I wore arm coolers and felt I managed the heat well. The views were spectacular.
At mile 47, there was a steep incline, which is a shock after a long descent. Then it was the turn back into town. I enjoyed a very fast bike leg considering the long climb and brutal wind gusts.
Place: 45th!!! I passed nearly half my age group on the bike! Crushed it.
Goal: 165 Watts (power)
Result: 141 W, long descent kept it low. 170 W average on the 1st half of the ascent.

T2

I loosened my shoes while biking, preparing for a fast transition. After a quick left turn, the transition line was on me faster than I expected. I only had time to remove one foot out of my shoe!! I just had to laugh at myself. After dismounting, I hand carried my other shoe, racked my bike, then grabbed my run bag to prepare for the last leg. I tried again to remove what felt like a pebble embedded in my toe. I felt loose skin. I had cut myself on the coral getting out of the swim. Oh oh, bad sign to begin the run.
Time: 4:17
Distance: 0.24 mi

Run 13.1 mi

I had a great race thus far! But everything quickly fell apart. My legs never loosened up for the run. They were tight, and eventually started cramping. I literally never have cramps anymore after switching to Hammer Nutrition. But I did not resupply for this race. The lack of brick workouts and race training certainly showed.
This run course was CRAZY!! Half was on a golf course. I don’t play golf, but I just imagined the course was flat. Actually, only a little of it was flat! Very punchy ups and downs repeatedly. Off and on the grass and golf cart trails. Then a run through “Hell’s Kitchen”, a trail surrounded by lava fields that radiated heat. And a climb up and down a long access road. It was a hot and tough course. My legs didn’t like it, so I just held on through the finish, not worrying about keeping a fast race time or my race placement.
Goal: Simply Finish!
Result: 2:49:52
Slowest 70.3 ever for me I’m sure.
Overall: 7:00:48, 70th place AG of 99.
The finish line was unique and special. Instead of the traditional inflatable arch, it was a flower-laced arch.
This was supposed to just be a long training day for me in paradise, but this race brought a lot of challenges. Definitely worth it. In 4 months, I’ll be racing my big race this year, IM Barcelona.
 
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