This was a TOP race and I can't recommend it enough.
The flights out are cheap, easy and frequent, and all 6 of us arrived with bags and bikes intact, and looking forward to some dumplings.
My prep for this race was very patchy (man-flu continued), and I had a pretty average race at Husky, so I didn't really know how I was going to go. What I did know, was that I didn't want to have a swim like Cairns, where the self-seeding was a total joke, and I was swept up by triathlons answer to a water-born zombie attack ... breaststroke style.
So, it was with intense trepidation that I followed Nathan's advice, and lined up in the 30-35 minute section (I swam a 47mins in South Africa). However, it wasn't long before I was being amused by an irate American demanding if all these overweight Chinese blokes in buggie-smugglers could swim sub 25mins, as they pushed to the front. Nathan was right!!! Sod it! I joined the scrum with more confidence after that.
The swim was totally glassy with tide assistance and I was overtaking the sub-25min breastrokers pretty soon into the race whilst being careful to keep my mouth shut in case my teeth dissolved in the acid blue coloured water. I have a tendency to swim left, and that took me wide, but I quickly realised the tide-ride was even faster out there, and flew past people to do a 31.38 min swim. It seems that wetsuits tide swims are perfect for questionable swimmers. I was over the moon as I hobbled out of the water (I fell off the pavement whilst looking at a stray dog the day before the race, and hurt my ankle) to a ridiculously long 520m transition. So so long. Seriously they should have had an aid station in the transition area.
The ride was bliss. It was 500m vertical but I've never cycled on roads that smooth in my entire life. They closed a 6 lane highway to ride on; the pros got the fast lane and we had the other two lanes. I cycled as hard as I possibly could and it was a wonderful feeling being able to get your bum up, head down, and not worry about hitting a pothole or gravel. I wasn't too worried about blowing up, because I wasn't sure if my ankle would make the run so I gave it everything I had. Conditions were perfect with no wind, and a light rain that washed all the smog out of the air. We really couldn't have asked for better. I got a PB on the ride too.
The run was hard. My ankle had been pretty painful just running through transition, but out on the course, everytime it hit the floor, it sent needles through it. The run looked flat, but it was a constant gradient. This meant I was running slowly up hills (I'm just slow up hills) then slowly down them too (my ankle shooting became unbearable). Then, much to NO-ONES delight, the bloody sun came out and turned the run into a steam room. Welcome to 100% humidity.
The support was amazing, the ice bath cold sponges were heavenly, and I really wanted my PB. I could run, so there was no point worrying about my ankle hurting. I pushed on as best as I could, but every time I went up or down a ramp, my ankle would wiggle and try to collapse. My run involved lots of lemon sucking faces and inward swearing. Damn it, I wanted my PB!!
I did it!!! Knocked over 20 mins off my best time. I couldn't walk away from the finish line without Ben's help, but I did it.
If you want a Kona slot. Race here. It's cheaper then doing a full IM, 5 star accommodation costs peanuts and its fun. We saw everything from people wearing rain coats at the swim start (to stay dry?) to one bloke who ran the half marathon in his bike helmet!
Coach Miller has been superb throughout my troubled lead-up into this race. I really appreciate how he tailored the training to the situation at hand. Cheers coach.