Alright- finally I have a bit of time to get my race report done- I must apologise for getting this to you all so late but I have been a little busy flying over to the mainland and then all the way across to the other side of the country- I honestly had no idea just how big this country actually was! But I am now settled in Woodbury, Connecticut- I have replaced the heat and humidity with the cool and dry air and the mongoose with the squirrel and am trying to get my head around the fact that I am going to be out there racing again on Sunday. My good friend Hillary does 'the double' like it is nothing, and by the double I mean double ironman. I, however, am about to attempt my own version of 'the double'- the double half-ironman. I am definitely expecting to hurt but I am going to enjoy the challenge that is for sure. I think I am just so happy to be back racing again and happy that my surgery is finally behind me and I am well on my way back to full fitness.
OK- now for Honu- I have to start by saying that I honestly had the BEST time training in Kona. It is such an amazing island and the training is as close to perfect as you can get. I really believe it helped me on race day as even though it was definitely hot on the run, I never felt like it was getting on top of me. I would be lying if I told you I was confident going into this race- I was as nervous as if it was my first time racing. I really wasn't sure exactly how my form was- yeah I was fit but was I race fit? My surgery was on March 10 and even though I knew I was fully recovered from the procedure, I was unsure if I was actually 'race-ready'. Honu was the perfect race for me to test this. I had a great swim, not such a great start but after about 400m I started to get into my groove and exited the water with Sam. Once we got to T1 I could see local favourite Bree wee leaving- she had a great swim but it was good for me to have someone to chase. I caught Bree early on in the bike ride ( I later found out that she had been sick before the race and had to eventually pull out but I know she will be back just as strong as ever). I felt good on my new Ceepo- I had only done a dozen or so rides on it but it felt perfect. I did notice that I was definitely lacking a little strength on some of the inclines and during the later stages of the climb into Hawi (we had a shocker of a head wind up there), but other than that, I felt pretty good. I have not been able to do much strength work since my surgery so I did expect to suffer a bit but I will be based in Boulder from next week so plenty of time for some serious strength training.
I dismounted the bike in first place and wanted a lead of about 5 minutes- that is what I predicted I needed to hold off Sam. Unfortunately I did not have the cushion I wanted. As I left T2 I could hear them calling Sam in off the bike- she was only about two odd minutes back. I won't tell you what I muttered under my breath but it wasn't pretty- nobody wants the likes of Sam McGlone that close behind them and even though she is still on the comeback after injury, I would never discount her- she is a World Champion, an amazing athlete and above all, a really great chick!
So, if I wanted this title I was going to have to fight for it on the run- not something I usually like to do or something that I am particularly good at, but I have been doing a heap of training with Luke McKenzie and he has really helped me to not only improve my fitness on the run but also my confidence. Justin has also been getting me to do a lot of running time-trials over different distances and this has definitely improved my running. At every turn I could see that Sam was making up small amounts of time on me and each time I would try and run a little bit faster. It was honestly one of the toughest run courses I have ever done. Most of it was around the golf course so not only was it incredibly hot as there was no shade, but it was also unbelievably humid as they had watered the greens that morning (just to make it that little bit harder for us all). You just could not get into a good rhythm- up and down, over grass, onto paths, back onto grass, loads of turns, through a couple of dark tunnels, we even had a switch-back to contend with but I think this actually worked to my advantage in the end as the run was more about strength, stamina and survival rather than pure running speed.
I was actually able to open my lead up by about the 10th mile. I now had about a 4 minute lead so was able to enjoy the last few miles- I always love being able to relax a bit towards the end (not that it happens all that often) and really take in the atmosphere and the crowds- it was so much fun. It felt great to cross the finish line in first place and to have the fastest run split of the day- now that never happens. It was a great race and one that I definitely want to return to again next year but only if I can snare the same homestay as this year- they were awesome and made my stay in Kona unforgettable.