IM Hawaii race report Oct. 2009 (By Ben DISTEL)

October 18, 2009

pic1-bendistel PRE-RACE: We (Monique and I) arrived in Kona on Monday afternoon after spending 2 days in luxury at the Hyatt in Honolulu. Staying there for 2 days was fantastic as it allowed for some flight recovery in total luxury. We stayed at the Castle Kona Bali Kai on Alii Drive, some 5K from the start. It is a condo place where all units have their own kitchen: I highly recommend to have this before an IM as it allows you to cook your own food when you want. Also condos tend to be larger than hotel rooms so you can spread all your gear around. In the week leading up to race day we cycled the course, ran up and down Alii Drive, Kuakini Highway and Palani road (learning that that hill is not to be underestimated), and swam the course a few times.

I felt good the whole time, but I was a bit nervous before my first swim. Probably a bit scared for swimming that far into the open ocean, a first for me. The sea is gorgeous, while swimming you see coral, fish and the occasional turtle.

Waking up race morning at 4 am I usually feel nauseous, but this time is felt good, so I had my usual breakfast of wheat toast, honey, banana, juice, coffee and a “morning banana” gel. Then the pre-race nerves kicked in and my bowel started moving, overdrive, as usual.

: The swim is notorious for the hundreds of age groupers who think they can win the thing, hence, the start is rough, I lined up way left on the advise of David Sims who raced here last year and that was a great suggestion. I had none of the madness and was able to swim relaxed pretty much the whole way. I planned to go much easier than I normally do but still came out pretty ok: time 1hr 15, yet that’s a full 14 minutes slower than my time in New Zealand.

47958-087-034fView of the swim start from the Helicopter covering the race

T1: was the usual wet mess but with the help of tons of volunteers all was smooth. Put on HR belt, long sleeve top number belt and off we go.

BIKE: The bike starts with a short climb to the Queen K highway, when back down on Palani to the Kuakini Highway. A stretch of about 3K that climbs non stop. I really focused on staying in my zone but it is hard not to get excited with thousands of people cheering you on and lots of bikers passing like you’re standing still. Then back down Kuakini to the Queen K where the race really starts. My HR was still very high and it took me the better part of an hour to get into the zone where I wanted to be. I also figured out quickly that my nutrition was not working, I felt bloated right away and thought I’d had to stop at the first toilet, massive GI problems. So I dumped my Perpetuem and switched to Gatorade and took in as much gel as I could. The first 110K went according to plan (6 hour bike), with a steady ride to the start of the climb to Hawi. Then the winds hit me hard on the climb to Hawi which made for a very slow 16K uphill. Then the same 16K screaming downhill with the wind gusting from all directions. It’s a seriously scary thing –particularly for the chicken descender I am- to go close to 60K and be jerked left and right by the wind. :Then coming back to the Queen K the WIND hit me straight on and the next 50K or so were sooooo slow. At many stretches I was doing no more than 15K/hr. I honestly thought it would take me 3 hours to get back to transition. I’ve never experienced such winds and talk in town was that these were the strongest winds in years. Just my luck. When reaching the airport the direction of the road turns a bit and the wind came from the side so the last 15K or so I was able to return to normal speeds. When passing the Energy Lab I saw Faris, Macca, Relaert and Crowie duking it out in the heat on the QK and also say Smiling Chrissie just turning into the Energy Lab. Time 6:24

T2: One sentence: Putting on compression socks when tired and wet is not easyJ

47958-418-026fMARATHON: The plan was to run 30 mins 5K’s with the first 5K a bit slower, hoping to be able to speed up in the end for a 4:10 run time. When reaching the first aid station I realized that I forgot to bring salt tablets from T2, so I decided to take pretzels all the way. The first 5 were hard, I walked quite a bit, It was searing hot so I dumped ice water and ice at every aid station, then slowly I found my groove. Then, after 90m minutes of running: clouds, mercy! I cooled down quickly then and I started to feel much better. I walked up Palani to save my energy and then entering the QK again it is just a long, desolate, never ending shuffle and knowing you have to go all the way back too. The Enery Lab was a welcome change of scenery,  made extra nice because the sun was just about to set.. Out of the ELab, with 12 K to go I sped up trying to beat 12 hours so I ran a fast 5K and paid for it on K35-40, then all out to the finish. Passed lots of people in last 15K. Running the last K to the finish was goosebumps all the way, so many people cheering me on, hearing Mike Reilly and Whit Raymond announcing you is an unforgettable moment. In my previous 2 IM’s I ended up in the medical tent, this time I felt great and went straight to pizza and ice cream. Time 4:23, 13 minutes faster than New Zealand on a much, much tougher course in much more difficult conditions. Overall time 12;13.

MY TRAINING: Most importantly, Fluro tought me to understand my zones and stick to them. Also learnt to be able to change my plan when necessary and deal with the things that get thrown at you. You can plan everything to perfection but things may not work out. Also, your mind does not work all that well after hours of racing, so you got to keep your plan as simple as possible. Lastly, understanding that after 20K on the marathon it is all about mental strength made me deal with the pain much better. Of course you’re hurting: blisters, sore ankle, sore muscles, it’s all part of the game, everybody is suffering. Ignoring it is the trick. To be able to keep running most of the way and speed up in the end was the best feeling ever. Overall time not great and well off my PB but it was the best I could do on a tough course in insane heat and ridiculous winds. Now, after almost 16 months of non stop training for IM NZ and Kona I am going to give my body and mind a good break.

Big thank you’s to Monique of course for putting up with all the hours of training and never being there on weekends.

Paul Fleuren for being my coach. Paul, you’ve taught me so much, I can’t begin to describe. Coaching is so much more than just writing a training progam. Gettting your weekly emails with training tips and what to work on were invaluable. For all who think about doing IM and fork over 300-500 USD for expensive online coaches……forget it, Paul is your man.

The Tokyo training group and in particular Dave Sims for the swim sessions and general tri and trash talk. Keren, your come back and motivation has been inspirational and has pushed me through tough times. Eric, Ricky and Mary, thanks for your trust and positive vibes.

Last but not least: David and Megumi have a great wedding weekend!

One day after the race we’re sitting by the pool after pigging out all day on American Breakfast, Burgers Beer and Football (the American kind) and Chinese takeout, the soreness is setting in. Amazingly the legs feel ok-ish but my neck and shoulders are in pain, I guess from being tucked in on the bike on the Queen K. Life is good though, sitting by the pool at 9pm with Corona and Hawaiian music in the background. Tomorrow we fly to Maui for 5 days of nothing but sun, sand and sea.

For Paul, the splits:


1)               1:02 HR 146
2)               0:56 HR 136
3)               1:05 (climb to Hawi) HR 139
4)               1:01 (Descend from Hawi and first part QK) HR 136
5)               1:10 (QK) HR 139
6)               1:06 HR 138


1)               32.22 HR 145
2)               32.20 HR 142
3)               29.58 HR 144
4)               31.55 HR 144
5)               32.54 HR 139
6)               31.39 HR 140
7)               28.57 HR 146
8)               33.40 HR 139 (payback for lap 7!) 8.25 HR 146 finish 1.6 K


Report from Ben Distel


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: