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Ironman World Championships 2008, Kona Hawaii

When Lardman first broke the news to his wife that Kona 2008 was on, it was met with "I thought you weren't doing any more?".  It's a huge financial commitment to take the entire family to Kona, but after a few phone calls Lardman managed to recruit family friends to look after the children for 8 days, so the wife can come to Hawaii, relax without the children and enjoy the peace.
All of a sudden, the idea of a return to Kona is welcomed...
The word 'Race' has never applied to me, but I always strive to do my best.
My preparation for this event was not the best, the wet NZ winter meant that the volume of long bikes rides was not as it should have been and the injury that prevented me running meant only a handful of long runs.  Swimming however kept me fit and I was confident I could do my family/friends and myself proud.  A virus 10 days before the event knocked me for six, but a quick short dosage of some 'medicine' managed to help me recover.  I remember race registration and signing my acceptance to drug testing form thinking 'I hope those drugs the doctor gave me were ok?'.
The warm up in Kona was just as it was last year, most people excited that there were dolphins in the bay swimming alongside you during training, but for those of us from NZ, we knew it was just another day in the sea (only this time the sea was warm).
Kona is a very exciting race, lining up alongside all the great athletes, so the start is always a nervous affair.  I took the same strategy as last year, but I think this year, so did everyone else and I've never been kicked and punched so much in any race for so long.  I have an amazing amount of respect for all the age group athletes and to draft off a 65 year old women for half the swim is testament to the quality of the athletes taking part (or maybe I'm not as good a swimmer as I'd like to think)
The turn around seemed to take for ever to reach, so I guess the currents were a little harder than I thought, with many people not attaining the swim times they expected.  The waters were not as clear as last year, but as always it's great the exit the swim and say 'one leg over and done'.
Whilst changing in T1 (Transition 1), I lost my timing chip, so the bike leg had very few recordings (so much so that many spectators over the internet thought I'd dropped out and some websites even had me down as a DNF).
The bike leg sets the scene for the rest of the race and after starting along the Queen K after 10kms of riding the memory of the swim was a distant memory and the heat on my back and the headwinds made me think 'this is going to be a long day at the office'.  After 50kms I was doing well I even sat up on my bike and thought this is going to be a good day, I'm averaging over 32kmph and I feel fine.  Famous last words, at 55kmph the winds picked up and I was pedaling down hill in the small chain ring going 14kmph fearing if I didn't pedal I would be blew back up the hill.  This was followed by a 30km ride up hill to Hawi.  At the turnaround I was thinking of being blown home to Kona, but by the bottom of the hill it was apparent that the trade winds had changed and it was going to be a long ride home.  The windsocks along the road had 'hard ons' and the winds just destroyed me.  At the 125km point I wanted to get off my bike and call it a day.  I had nothing left and got home slowly thinking 'only a marathon to go now'.
It was at this point I could have easily cried, but lack of energy and tears was the only thing stopping me.  I started the run and actually managed to 'shuffle' along for the first 15km with the odd stop (usually around aid stations).  One athlete said to me, it's acceptable to walk through an aid station and an aid station lasts as long as you have that paper cup in your hand, so I immediately thought 'is it possible to carry a cup between aid stations?'
As soon as I left Kona for the run along the Queen K to the Energy Lab and back I was well and truly broken.  I was exhausted, sun burnt, blistered and pretty down.  I wanted to again throw the towel in but that damn Ironman Creed of 'Fight to the Finish' came back to haunt me and I just knew I had to soldier on.  The blisters on the feets were causing me great pain.  I remember calculating that towards the end I was walking at the pace of one mile every 28 minutes.  Usually when running a marathon you see a sign saying 23 miles and think 'nearly there'.  For me I thought 'shoot, that's one and half hours to go'.
Well I managed to fight to the finish.  Whilst extremely proud to represent NZ, I decided to run down the shoot with good old St George.  What a great decision that was, as I was greeted across the line by Chrissie Wellington (one of those Ironman moments) and then I just crawled behind the tents and had a lie down.
One of my very good friends told me that Ironman is like Heroin.  'Some fixes are good, some are nearly gonna kill ya'
Thanks for all the emails and support, especially the wife (Sally) who was there to scoop me up and take me home once again.  
Will I do it again?  Who knows!  I always say that running an Ironman is the closest a man will ever get to understanding child birth.  As soon as the race is over you vow never to do it again, but later you forget about all the pain and want to do it all over again.
Kona Results (this year and last)







 2008  1:25:53  7:11:40  6:48:57  15:34:25  1570 of 1736

 212 of 230

 2007  1:22:23  6:33:20  5:32:38  13:37:16  1466 of 1778

 220 of 240

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