IM Kona RR '15: Post-race

After receiving my medal and swag, I waited and waited around the food area for Karel. 

Karel and I typically don't have a "meet-up" place after an Ironman because by the time Karel crosses the line ahead of me, gets some food/drinks and possibly changes into clean clothes (from his pre-swim bag), he is waiting for me to finish.
But this time around, Karel did his normal post race to-do's.....

Smile for the camera for his sub-10 hour, IM Kona debut performance of 9:55
2.4 mile swim - 1:13:47
T1: 3:36
112 mile bike: 5:06:50
T2: 4:04
26.2 mile run: 3:27:12:29
57th AG (35-39)
252 Male
271 Overall

And almost pass-out.

After Karel waited for over an hour, he heard from a friend that I had DNF'd soon after the energy lab (as that is what it showed on the IM tracker).
Karel became very worried about me and he went to the timing people inside the Queen K to figure out what was going on with me.

The timing people had no answers as to why I DNF'd (at this time, Karel did not know that I was walking and having a rough time on the course) and Karel insisted that he find out where I was - but they were no help as they didn't know what happened to me.

Then Karel went to the medical people to see if I had been pulled off the course. I was not there and Karel became even more worried.

The medical people told him that the athletes who are extremely ill or seriously hurt, go to the hospital and not to the med tent.

Now this worried Karel even more.

Poor Karel - instead of enjoying his accomplishment, he was "running" all around trying to find out what happened to me. He did not have his phone (as he left it in our condo) so he was simply relying on others to find out where I was.

Since almost two hours had passed since Karel crossed the finish line, he went back to our condo as he was going to head to the hospitals to try to find me.

When he got to the condo, he looked at his phone and saw a text from me "I'm in the food area."

Not knowing what happened to me, my finishing time or any other details, he immediately called me, beyond worried, and felt so relieved that I was ok.

I felt so bad about his post-race stress.
He was just happy that I was ok.

He later told me that he knew I would not quit as he knows I like to overcome obstacles and I can be a bit stubborn when it comes to finding a way to cross a finish line, so that was why he was so worried because he knew it had to have been something very serious for me to DNF.

Luckily, it was an error on the IM tracker that showed DNF and it was eventually fixed.
Sorry if I worried everyone!

Once I heard from Karel, I hobbled my way back to the condo. I was greeted by a wonderful sign on our door from Trimarni athlete Cindy and her son Austin (Thank you!)

Karel gave me a big hug and at that point, I was so numb to how the entire race day and post race went down that I headed straight to the couch and just collapsed.

I didn't really want to talk about my race but I really wanted to hear about Karel's race (as I still didn't know what he overall time was or how his foot held up) so I just laid on the couch (with my eyes closed - too much energy to keep them open) and listened to Karel tell me about his day. 
I was so happy for him. I just love exchanging war stories post race and Karel had plenty of them. 

It was nearing 8:30pm when I finally got into the shower and had a little food (milk and leftover pizza - two of my fav things post race) and afterward, I recorded my post-race video.
Around 9 or 9:30pm, we headed back to the transition to pick up our bags and our bikes. 

But before getting our bags, the hunger started to kick-in so we had pizza, ice cream, french fries and sugar-coated doughnut holes. They were all simply amazing.
And some water to wash down everything.

We picked up our bikes and then our gear bags and then stood in a short line for the volunteers to check to make sure all of our numbers matched up and then we slowly headed back to our condo (thank goodness the Kona Plaza is only a block away from the race).

We bumped into a few friends who wanted to know how we did - honestly, this helped to talk about it rather than to keep my feelings inside. Being able to say "I finished" and have a medal to show for it, outweighed the struggles I had on race day.

My chest and neck was still a bit tender but not as bad as before. Looking back, I wonder if I should have just stopped on the side of the road and waited it out for 5-10 minutes to see if the feeling would pass instead of trying to keep moving?
Even as a coach, I have to admit that as an athlete, it's so hard to make good/wise/smart decisions on race day.

It was pretty special to walk around after the race as the spectators make every athlete (even those who don't finish) feel so awesome.

Karel even got a beer from someone who was passing out local brews to the finishers. 

After dropping off our gear in our condo, we laid around until 11pm, reading all of the nice words on social media to us and then headed back to the finish line to cheer on the final finishers. 

I love the last hour of an Ironman but in Kona, it's pretty spectacular to see the crowds and the hundreds and hundreds of people who support those final finishers. It's seriously a huge party!

It was also cool to hear that at IMKY, they were broadcasting the final hour of IM Kona (11:30pm Kona time = 5:30am Kentucky time) in the IMKY transition area. Talk about some instant motivation!

Well, there you have it. A recap of racing 140.6 miles in Kona at the Ironman World Championship. We did it. 
We are 2015 Ironman World Championship finishers. 
Perhaps the #1 goal was accomplished as every Ironman athlete wants to finish, prior to thinking about place or time goals.

I still have unfinished business on that island and I am ok if it's never finished. It's truly a great experience to be there, knowing that qualifying is far from easy these days. 

I learned a lot from this race. Although I felt defeated at times, I am proud of my body for allowing me to cross that finish line - I suppose things could have been a lot worse.
I am proud of my body for staying injury free for over 2.5 years now and without sickness for over 8 years.
I feel lucky that I could share this journey and experience with Karel and extremely lucky to now be a 10x Ironman and 4x Ironman World Championship finisher. 

It's very easy to write a race report when everything goes well.
It's extremely difficult to find the words when the outcome is far from what you, as the athlete, anticipated and trained for.

For athletes who race and feel as if the outcome does not match the commitment to training, all the training, investments (monetary and emotional), time and focus can feel wasted.
However, that is far from the truth. 

I will not let this race performance doubt my previous training. 
As an athlete and coach, I understand we can't expect for our body to always be at our best or to perform at our best, all the time.
It's important to feel prepared going into a race and to race with a smart plan but the most obvious unknown on race day is how your body will perform in the race day conditions and on the course.
And I think that is one of the best parts of racing in an extreme event like an Ironman.....feeling prepared but having the strength, skills and determination to overcome obstacles. 

By reflecting on this race, through a race report, I now have something to look back on. Great race performances are in my future but I'm sure the not-so-great ones will happen again and I will continue to learn about the sport.

My mission remained the same from the start to the finish -  I never gave up during the race because it was always my #1 intention to get to the start line with a healthy body and to cross the finish line. I never take an Ironman start or finish for granted. 

I will not let one race define my current fitness or override previous racing accomplishments.
I will continue to train with a great passion and dedication as I still have a deep desire to continue to seek personal growth and improvement in my sport that keeps me happy and healthy. 

Thank you for reading.