Racing in the hurt box….
You may think that due to the title I came un prepared to race, on the contrary, I came to race a solid event and do a few personal best times yet circumstances leading up to my 12th Ultraman Hawaii were less than perfect and mentally were very challenging.
So by the time I was standing looking out over the Kailua-Kona 6.2 mile swim start I was to say having a little mental discussion with my self! “ I know that I have done this 11 times before, but I was questioning myself whether I could get through it today due to dental issues and lack of training” The Triton Trumpet marked the start of Ultraman World Championships 25th Anniversary! We were off, women in pink caps men in green. Every swimmer having a kayak escort, I soon found Raffa who is my escort and every 30 minutes he would stop me I would fuel up on Endurolytes and Hammer Gel, I knew the coast line pretty well, and there was a favorable current, yet my 35 to 40 minute mile would put me in the Hurt box at mile 5, were I was 3 hours into the swim, yippee I thought I will finish in under 4 hours! Yet the last 1.2 miles took me 85 minutes!! Every time I took a breathe I would inhale salt water! I was truly miserable! Even the bottle nosed dolphin that had appeared could not boost my failing spirits! I rounded the buoy into Keauhou bay I could see the finish buoy, I stopped swimming and Raffa asked what was wrong! I was so tired and just as I thought I could not take another stroke I was wobbling on a green carpet as my hubby Al helped me up the mat! Good news was 4 hrs 25mins,I was faster than last year!
Had a really fast transition, and soon was on my way on the climb up the King Kam, My crew AL and Chuck met me at the top of the first hill, I was complaining of a pounding headache and stomach problems from the salt water, I stuck to my plan, and re hydrated well, I was on Perpetuem, and trying to feel positive! The most important thing is to keep moving forward, Al gave me Excedrin, and my head was pounding! I saw a zebra and I thought of the movie racing stripes! It gave me a little surge as I pretended to be a race horse! Soon I was 35 miles into the ride and starting to feel better when at mile 40 just before a huge downhill, it started to rain lightly and a horrendous headwind began which would not stop until I had reached the Volcano Campsite another 50 miles!! I talked to my new Cannondale Synapse she looked so fast and the new Williams wheels were putting on their race face, all I had to do was keep it together, my stomach was still gurgling but I had the wind to concentrate on and did not want to fall! The last 25 miles were uphill, and they were long! What with the wind, cold and my left foot cramping along with my stomach it really was a mental game of digging deep, I soon saw other cyclists suffering as I was, and other crew cars all giving support to all the cyclists!
As I approached the Day 1 finish line I was extremely tired and cranky! I was cold and was snapping at my crew as they were telling me x amount of miles and was really another mile away! But that’s normal in these events as the mental state starts to play games! As soon as I crossed the line Al was there with my warm Hammer Jacket! Brrr it was wet and cold and my teeth were chattering! Am I really in Hawaii?? I was given a bottle of recoverite and we went to find our hotel room. It was raining and dark, the good news was everyone would make day 1 of the bike.
After a restful night at the Volcano House, which was toasty warm my crew worked busily trying to prep me for the 171.4 miles of cycling left! On Day 2 I was dressed as if I was cycling at the Antarctica! I had so much warm clothing you would find it hard to believe I was in Hawaii! Meanwhile Ann Heaslett from Wisconsin had tri shorts and thin top! We exchanged a joke about the weather and went to the start line. The first 25 miles are downhill, given the wet slippery conditions and to me cold, I was not the fastest cyclist I guess as you get older the thought of a crash seems more imminent! I was slower this year than in years past but kept on moving forward! As we turned into Pahoa a crowd of people were cheering on the Ultras! Was kind of cool and lifted the spirits!,
As I approached the Red Road I could not help to notice to my right the plume of the active volcano and it made me realize how blessed I was to be apart of such a great event here on the Big island! For the next 17 miles my blessing were quadrupled! As I began the unaided section of the course which with its lavish foliage and breathe taking views of lava, surf and palm trees it helped me forget about my aches and pains and focus on the beauty! Soon I was connected with my crew and refuel with fresh Hammer products, before long I was heading into Hilo and had done 100 miles! I took off my leg warmers and Booties, while drinking hot coffee and eating french fries! (For some reason I always seem to crave these they may not be healthy but sure tastes good!) My left toe was cramping badly so Al took off my shoe and tried to bring it back to life! Sprayed my shoe with Kool n Fit! Only 71 miles left I took a second cycling wind and started cycling strong I just love the rolling course along the Hamakua coast line and the gulches with there steep wynding descents and uphills, I passed Llamas, and even saw a bird swoop down on a rodent!
The sun had made a brief appearance boosting moral! Nearing Wiamea there starts another 10 mile climb into Wiamea and as soon as I get to the ranches my spirit lifts, it is raining and cold, the road is like a skating rink. I take the Perpetuem and endurolytes, and before I know it I am on the Kohalas climbing the 8 miles to the top, today the wind is in favor of the cyclists as it sort of pushes from behind and no nasty crosswind I climbed cautiously and soon was descending faster than I was comfortable into Hawi( I tried to avoid looking at my Polar Monitor )and soon I was rolling through day 2 finish chute! I had a white knuckle grip on the handlebars but I had finished in a respectable time…
In Hawi, after eating a meal of pasta I was soon relaxing listening to a deafening rain storm! Better now than tomorrow I thought! We were all tired and soon sleeping dreaming of the finish line!
On the morning of the run, we all seemed in pretty good spirits after the race brief all the racers and crews headed over to the start to form a friendship circle, the Triton trumpet is blown 3 times a blessing is said and then the runners take off in the semi darkness to start the journey of 52 miles. I kept thinking it is only 1 mile 52 times, take it easy, do not race any one else’s race. There are no listening devices allowed but you are allowed one pacer, it was a peaceful morning as I listened to the patter of my feet in my Ravenna Brooks shoes! I needed to keep hydrated and started on gel and water, as the new day dawned the sky changed colors I looked out over the Ocean maybe lucky enough to see a whale! AL & Chuck kept me entertained as I made my way to Elvis Presley’s Blue Hawaii!! My pacer Michael joined me at mile 17, and soon I was passed Kawaihae and heading onto the Queen K! I was smiling and keeping a steady pace AL joined me for a mile and before I knew it I was at the half way point, great only 26 miles left, It was actually getting warm and the Ocean Potion sun care was sprayed on my legs arms and back!
At mile marker 82 my friend Janine would join the crew to run a while, it seemed forever getting to that marker and was happy to see my friend. We ran and I listened to her tell me about the history of the island, At mile 40 I began to realize that I was having trouble going forward like I have never experienced before. It was almost as if my legs were made from lead, I was sweating and not feeling too good! Gosh only 12 miles left, I thought of Paula Newby Frazer crawling to the finish line and drew energy from that, I took Perpetuem and was well hydrated, I had been taking regular supplements from Hammer Nutrition, my problem today would be I was racing in the hurt box, lack of conditioning will do that, but I am as stubborn as a mule and I had a job to do! I kept on moving forward to mile 47 that is when I started to have issues, I even tried to put my aching body into the ice cooler! When that did not work I knew I was heading towards trouble! I began vomiting it was not pleasant, Al took my hand and said that’s it! We will walk if we have to! And that is exactly what we did! Hand in hand, husband and wife we walked 3 solid miles together! Then Janine walked one, and Chuck. I cannot tell you how many athletes passed me in the final miles, but I kept on walking head held high, I was going to finish strong and my crew would walk with me, All dressed in our Ocean Potion visas we walked as a team across the finish line to a crowd of spectators cheering us on! We crossed the line and I had a wide smile but my Rudy Project glasses hid the tears in my eyes! Tears of joy and mixed emotions, oh so grateful for family and friends! Cameras flashed embraces followed this was it, my 12th Ultraman Hawaii completed and a very tired crew and athlete!
To conclude, It had been a difficult race this year racing in the hurt box I do not recommend! My friend CJ Ong had ripped off his toe nail 5 days before the event started and was unable to begin the journey and defined the Ultra athlete mode and gave his spot to another athlete, while giving support to the athletes during all three days, while another athlete had 8 stitches in his foot and still completed the event! There were a couple of athletes who did not finish but I know they will be back next year!
I hope to be back next year and hope number 13 is not as painful! A huge thanks to Ocean Potion Sun care, Hammer Nutrition, Williams Racing Wheels, Brooks USA, Kool N Fit, Polar USA, Profile Design, Serfas, Rudy Project USA, Cannondale, Fuel Belt, Tri all 3 sports and most importantly AVON of Puerto Rico As with this race I have raised over $61,000 in the 4 years I have been raising money for the Breast Cancer Crusade!
Now it is time to relax, scuba dive and enjoy the Big Island! I have my Koa wood finishers award safely packed and a beautiful ceramic tile done by Ron and Capi at Unison!
It would not have been possible without the hospitality of Chuck and my friends on the Big Island and of course Al for crewing and being there! Next year I hope to return with a dazzling smile and not race in the hurt box!
photo Getty Images
photo Getty Images
photo Getty Images
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