This is the fifth and final part of a number of posts describing my day at the 2015 Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. Previous parts are pre-race, swim, bike and run. I am planning on creating a little video about my day but you’ll have to wait for that. So without further ado, here’s how my day finished off and what I have planned for 2016 and beyond.
Once I’d shown my ‘catchers’ that I was able to walk without assistance I headed to the post race recovery area. I found a table where coke was being offered so I had a couple of lines. Er, I mean cups.
I then headed to the table where I could get my pre-race bag (containing my GoPro, a t-shirt in case I didn’t get a finishers t-shirt and some shoes). You also get your finishers medal, trucker cap and t-shirt here. At the finish line you get a lei – here you get your medal.
The medal was a monster. Just like last time. I love it.
I didn’t have a great deal of energy. The balls of my feet were burning. My legs were aching as if I’d just finished a marathon (funny that) but I was so bloody happy. I found a bit of space on the grass and sat down, reflected on a damn fine effort and fumbled around trying to get photo of my medal.
After about three attempts I was able to stand up with the aid of a nearby tree and got myself over to the post race photo people. I’ve paid for my race photos in advance (over a year ago!) so got a couple of photos. They’re a bit tacky. I’m never going to get one framed but they’re part of being at Kona.
Whilst I was standing I decided to take advantage of my new found mobility so found some protein based recovery drink. Or as I like to call it – chocolate milk. I then found some food – there’s pizza and ice-cream on offer. For some this is probably a fine post race treat. I eat sh*t like this most days! Hmn, that’s probably why I’m packing a few extra pounds of weight this year.
Anyway, pizza was consumed. More gallons of milk and then I got myself back on my feet and headed back to transition – wearing my new finishers t-shirt and cap.
Not because I fancied another 26.2 miles. I wanted to get my bike and head back to Sharon.
I collected my transition bags and bike and then awkwardly tried to get out of transition. Volunteers check that your race wristband number, bike number and transition bag numbers all match and then it’s a bit of a crowded shuffle back onto Ali’i Drive. Whilst stood with about 20 other people clutching bikes and too many bags to hold at once the smell of sweat, piss covered bikes (you do realise that most people don’t stop during the 112 mile bike ride to do their business) wafted over.
I’m thinking right now that my bike shoes are going to need a bloody good airing when we get back to the condo.
I headed back towards Sharon and the others and when she spotted me came over, had another (slightly less sweaty) hug and admired my Mr. T. bling around my neck.
It took me about an hour from crossing the finishing line to getting back to Sharon. I spent bloody ages just sat on the ground in the post race area just trying to find energy to stand up!
We all then headed slowly back along Ali’i to where Andy and Emma were staying (about a quarter of a mile away). We cheered people coming in along Ali’i about to finish. I know exactly how they’re feeling.
Pretty damn good.
Our car (wagon) was parked nearby so I got my bike thrown in the back and headed to Andy and Emma’s for a shower and sunburn inspection. The shower was lovely, the sunburn red and the cold bottle of Longboard lager that Andy presented me with was bliss. Thank you.
Once I was freshened up we headed back into town for the party of the year – the Kona finish line party.
Sharon went and bought some drink refreshments (a round-trip to the post race area for me would probably take 30 minutes – a combination of my slow hobble and the crowds is the only reason) so it was easier to just go to a shop.
We then found ourselves a little home for the next few hours – in the spectator stands about 50m away from the finish line. We then just enjoy the music, cheer on the runners coming in to finish and generally have a great time – with a few hundred like minded people.
Every now and then (more now than then) I’d sit down as I was just shattered. At times I could have just fallen asleep. No matter how tired I just had to stay here and have fun.
One thing Sharon and I are proud of is that at every Ironman race I’ve done we’ve hung around until the final finisher has made it across the line – normally around 17 hours after they started. It’s the least we can do. When it’s dark, the streets are quiet and cold (well, it’s not cold here but it was a bit chilly in Wales last September) I want to try and do my little bit and be at the finish line to cheer and support these people as they finish their race.
It could easily have been me. Especially today.
Because of the split start for men and women the final cut-off was changed to 16 hours 50 and not 17 hours. There’s a great gallery of final hour finishers at Ironman.com.
One chap from Japan, aged 83 years old, missed the official cut-off by six seconds…
During the final hour the winners of the race – Jan Frodeno and Daniela Ryf are at the finish line and present the finishers with their leis. I love that they do this. This happens at most (if not all) Ironman races that I’ve been to over the years.
Once the final cut-off time had been reached the traditional fire-dance takes place followed by the singing of the song Hawaii Aloha – the anthem of the native Hawaiian people.
The crowd then dispersed and we all slowly headed back home. Although beyond the cut-off time we saw three or four people running to the finish. Spectators stopped, clapped and cheered them as they ran/jogged to the where the finish line is. Whatever happens at the finish they will not be registered as official finishers in the results.
Sharon and I headed back to the condo. Sat down. Relaxed. Had a drink. Smiled. Smiled some more.
I’m never going to be near the front of the field here in Kona (with my finishing time of 11 hours 41 I’d need to be in the 65-69 age group to finish in the top 10!) but I’d love to have a race that I can look back on and say that I performed to the best of my ability that day. Right now my race in 2013 is by far closest to that race, but I wasn’t on top form that day either (albeit an hour and ten minutes quicker than this time).
In 2009 when I took part in Ironman Switzerland the idea was that I would do one Ironman. A few days later you have thoughts like “that finish was amazing” and the really dangerous one – “I’m sure I could go a little quicker if I did another one.”
This is the problem. You always want to have a better race.
For me I think my perfect race and one that will be very hard to top will be Ironman UK in 2013 – the race where I ‘accidentally’ won my age group and qualified for Kona. And ticked off a sub 10 hour finish time on a pretty tough course.
I’d love to have a better race in Kona. This is the problem… Not in 2016, not in 2017. Maybe after that…
I’m certainly not going to do an Ironman in 2016 (or probably 2017). I want to relax a little, run a bit more, not get injured, go windsurfing, go sailing, enjoy living by the sea. Oh, and get some home improvements done that were ignored this year.
I’ll probably do some shorter races – I certainly plan to take part in the Bognor Regis Triathlon (my only other triathlon this year) and probably some other local events. I just can’t be bothered to go travelling far and wide to race at the moment.
I love the sport. I’m an avid follower of the sport. I just want to step back a little from the long distance races right now.
I think I have a pretty good idea of what I need to do to be fit, fast and in a position to try and qualify for Kona if I decide to go for it again anytime soon. In fact it’s interesting as I looked at my Ironman UK race blog from 2013 and I said the following:
“Before you think it all sounds cushy, I’m putting in the hours don’t get me wrong. Since 1st January this year I’ve averaged just under 14 and a half hours of exercise (swim, bike, run) each and every week. I’ve managed a couple of weeks just over 22 hours (one of those was on holiday in Lanzarote at the end of April). Clearly my cycling has been getting better this year and I’ve averaged just over 150 miles each week this year so far. Run mileage has averaged just over 25 miles a week. Anyway, enough about my training.”
Compare that to this year and it’s perfectly clear.
Right now I just don’t want to put myself though it.