The Big Kahuna Triathlon - Sept 7, 2008

This half-Ironman length race has become a popular destination for elite triathletes tuning up for the world championship at Kona, Hawaii. So it's good to go in with realistic goals. My goal was a PR swim and then a decent bike. No run for me - my running recovery doesn't yet include 13 mile races. Rick Ferrell hoped to break 5 hours, and of course place and get a trophy (scary looking tiki's again this year).

I got up at 6:11am and scrambled around getting myself together. Freebies from the last race - hmm, what's this Neuro stuff? Well, moca java flavored; maybe it's got some caffeine. We'll try it. Hmm. Let's also do the usual banana/soy chocolate smoothie breakfast. And a B-50, and a Ca/Mg/Vit D. Let's slice up 3 powerbars, Oh, and these "legs" sound good for the bike pouch. And a Joint Juice for after the swim. It all took too much time and I was one of the last to arrive at the Depot Park transition area, locking my bike to the fence. Into my wetsuit, and ran down to the beach, where I saw Ferrell and joined him, walking the waters edge scoping out the placement of the bouys. The water was warm, the sun was just above the horizon, and our wave went off at 7:35am. At the gun, Rick and I had the same idea - start at the front of the wave, dash to the left 30 yards and then hit the water. I felt good, but the thought of the 56 mile bike to follow was a bit intimidating and I decided to keep a little something back. I focused on form, and relaxing my legs. Felt good and I expected a good time. It turned a bit longer than I thought - at 36:40 as I hit the timing mat - but later on I heard others including Ferrell think that they felt better than their times reflected and that perhaps the course was a bit longer than usual. Rick's in great shape but his swim time was over 2 minutes slower, and mine was 4 minutes slower than last year.

Got on the bike and all that toe-pointing flipper'ing my swim legs left me a little tight. And breathing pretty heavy after running the long sidewalk from the beach to the park barefoot. I enjoyed my first time back on the bike in a long, high-quality race... was humbled too. I had a great swim and I figured I'd have many of those 45-and-older people would pass me on the bike. But not quite so soon. A parade of cyclist zoomed past me even though I didn't feel THAT bad. Took me 20 miles before I hit my stride and starti\ed feeling pretty good, and even passed a few riders. But I knew I've got a long road to climb back from my hip surgery and many years of crippledom. Its all good, and I drank my cytomax and was in a good mood despite the growing headwind as the day wore on. And grateful I was not joining the fallen soldiers and the broken detritus of the other warriors - tire tubes, bike tools, jammed chains, even a squashed rattlesnake. One poor guy lost both his waterbottle cages and bottles. How did THAT happen? I hoped I wouldn't find a crumpled bike and rider off in the weeds a moment later. Then I saw Ferrell on his way back in, at Ano Nuevo, and cheered him on. An even better mood booster was arriving at the Gazos Creek aid station and being well cared for by the extraordinarily lovely ladies handling the water bottles. wow.

At the turn, we had the wind all the way in. Although my bike time was not very competitive - I felt good and never bonked and put in the best race my training allowed. 3:34:41. Then, I locked up my bike.... to find that my U lock literally fell apart. How did THAT happen? Brought a second lock, luckily. Grabbed my camera and ran to the finish to wait for Rick to finish his run.

The run finishes on the beach, packed today with families, and at a rising tide

A lei! to congratulate the finishers

and a tiki necklace, quickly handed off to the happy kid

Rick hallucinated footsteps behind him and gritted a hard sprint on the beach to the finish

Ferrell forces a smile (a grimace?). A 5:05 finish - excellent!

Rick is really....



After some bagels and cream cheese, the smiles return

A couple'a burritos later and everyone was even happier

The support crews were all terrific

and the hula girls

Waiting for the official results...Ferrell konks out

Congratulations! - 2nd place in the 50-55 age group in a very competitive race



My Race

1.2 mi Swim 36:40
Transition 6:20
56 mi Bike: 3:34:41