Lavaman Race ReportPosted: April 16, 2014
The first race of my season came early for me. I was invited by More Than Sport to race the Lavaman Wiakoloa Olyimpic distance race, in Kona Hawaii, so my wife and I jumped at the opportunity. This was easily the most beautiful place I have ever been much less raced, and although there were some painful times I absolutely loved every minute of the experience.
The days leading up to the race I was able to spend a ton of time with the guys behind More Than Sport, and I can’t say enough how proud I am to be a part of this organization. I volunteered me time at the expo working the table, helping spread the mission and goals of More Than Sport. I met a ton of athletes from all over the world, many of which who were interested in doing more.
The night before the race I went through my usual routine of laying out all my gear, making sure that I had everything that I needed and packed it neatly in my transition bag. After checking the tire pressure on my Specialized Shiv with custom SRAM S80 wheels, I made my self a bottle of Base Performance Amino and Salt to drink while on the bike (I should have made 2, but more on that later). After that I kicked my legs up and relaxed with my wifey till it was time for bed.
The morning of the race I was up early and ready to go. The excitement starts for me the moment my feet touch the floor. I am never hungry the morning of a race and today was no different, but good clean calories are important so I had a Core Power Chocolate Protein Drink and a banana, then relaxed a bit till it was time to leave for the race.
We arrived at the race venue with plenty of time so I was able to set up transition without rushing and make sure it was exactly as I wanted it. With about 45 minutes till the start of the race, I drank down an Eboost Berry-Melon Energy shot, headed out for body marking and then down to the swim start where we met up with the rest of the More Than Sport team. Triathlon is absolutely an individual sport, but it is so great to be part of a team that actually cares about each other and the cause they are racing for. There are a ton of tough moments during a race, its in those times that its great to know that you are representing something bigger than yourself and that there people cheering you on to do your best.
Enough about all the prep, on to the fun stuff, the race itself. The start of the race obviously is the swim, which means I start with my worst discipline first. This year however I have armed myself with a new weapon, the Roka Viper SwimSkin. Between my dedicated training and the Viper, for the first time I was entering the water with a renewed sense of confidence and a can too attitude.
In the swim corral, I positioned myself in the middle of the pack of Age Group swimmers and more to the outside. The thing I hate most about the swim, is the congestion with everyone on top of each other fighting for the same space. Its funny, for as large as the ocean is, it seems that its impossible to get your own space. The water was amazingly clear and I found it very calming, allowing me to enjoy every moment of the swim. I felt strong, smooth, and fast in the water and was shocked as I swam past people, which if you know me is a bit of a rarity. Before I knew it I had rounded the final buoy and was riding the current through the final stretch and in to shore with a new swim PR.
<SWIM TIME – 28:10>
I ran up the beach and into transition stripped off the Roka, took a bit of a breather, slipped on my bikes shoes, through on my helmet and shades, grabbed my bike and I was off to tackle the Queen K. The bike portion of the race has recently become my favorite part of the races, I feel that I am getting stronger and stronger in this area and it is very exciting. The fact that we were racing down part of the Ironman World Championship course made it even more fun for me. I got on the bike and started working right away.
This was my first race on my Specialized Shiv and I only wish that I would have gotten it sooner. Some people complained about the strength of the wind, but I didn’t really notice it. I felt extremely comfortable and was able to stay down in the aero bars and hold my line, it was like I was slicing through the wind no matter which way it was blowing. I have to thank Karrie at Lucky Brake Bikes in Crystal Lake for helping me achieve the perfect fit for my body. After the turnaround there is a decent climb and then there is a few fun downhills on the way back into transition where I topped out at 35 mph. I have to admit I was a bit scared here, I mean to me, thats really fast on a little bicycle. I honestly could have been going much faster but I was doing a bit of coasting instead of pushing the pace, again I was a bit scared of the speed. My cautiousness meant I was easily passed by few people missing the fear gene, these guys were screaming down the hill and on this day, I just didn’t have that kind of courage. As we came to the end of the bike course and into transition I hopped off my bike knowing that I had done my best and was ready to finish this baby on the run.
<BIKE TIME – 1:12:22>
Into transition and the usual drill shoes off, shoes on, helmet off, grab visor and I was off to the run. The run course is very untraditional, and starts off right away with a bit of a challenge, by running through a lava rock trail. Even with this terrain the first 100 yards or so I thought I felt great, then as we hit the pavement and I started to pick up the pace, I realized very quickly that I hadn’t drank enough on the bike as my quads tightened up something fierce. In Chicago we have had the worst winter ever, and I was not prepared for the heat of Hawaii and failed to plan accordingly. So for the next 5 miles, at each aid station I would grab a cup of water to drink, a cup to dump on my head, and a cup of ice to put down my shorts to cool my body temp and ice my legs at the same time. It seemed to help quite a bit. Then somewhere around mile 3 I realized that there was no point in punishing myself, risking injury and ruining the rest of our trip. Instead, I should appreciate where I was, and what I was doing. This was an experience that many will never have, and one that I may never have again. I decided that for the remainder of the race I would do my best, but walk when I need to, express gratitude at every moment and admire my surroundings.
That is until the final .25 miles of the race. For last mile I was step for step with another guy and we had chatted a bit, trying to lighten the mood as we plodded along. We became race buddies as we tried to block out the heat and the pain and get to the end of the race. That being said, there was no way I was going to let him finish ahead of me. The last quarter mile of the race is as beautiful as it gets as it takes you along the ocean on the beach. I put my head down, cleared my mind and powered through to the end as hard as I could. Then just like that it was over…
<RUN TIME – 50:45>
<FINAL TIME – 2:35:22>
<FINAL STATS – 139/987 OVERALL | 13/58 AGE GROUP>
There was something very special for me about this race. I think that it was a combination of all the things that went into this experience. It was the fact that I was racing for a cause that I believe in. All of the amazing people that I met throughout the week leading up to this moment. The love and support from all of the people that helped make it possible. It was clear that God was with me, and I am grateful that he allowed this opportunity to happen. I only hope that I am lucky enough to be able to do it again next year.