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Last week we profiled three age group athletes preparing to step up to the start line at the Ironman World Championships. This week we follow up with Temple Hayles, Kevin Robson and Angus McGilvray describing their race experiences in Kona, during what were arguably the toughest race day conditions athletes have faced in several years on the Big Island.
Temple Hayles (read Hayles’ pre-race profile here)
Finish time: 11:10:27
All in all, I’m proud of myself and my efforts, not only on race day but all season long. I had an incredibly successful season and I am grateful for each race experience as I continue to learn from every single one of them. I was thrilled to beat my previous Kona time by 59 minutes and I was faster in all three events this time around. That includes a four-minute penalty that I got on the bike. (I really wasn’t blocking! Grrr…) It was a very tough day out there and I had to dig deep – really deep. The six-week turn around from Ironman Canada was challenging both mentally and physically. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, as no Ironman is easy, but to regroup and wrap my head around the distance again and then carry out the effort in extreme heat and headwinds on the bike all day long was more than difficult. There were certainly dark, lonely moments but I used those times to really focus on the people and talents that I am truly thankful for.
I am so grateful to have such a supportive family and network of friends, including my students, that support and encourage me nonstop, both on and off the course. Before I left for Kona, my students made a special lei for me out of construction paper flowers. Each of the brightly colored flowers had special messages of love and encouragement from my students. I took pictures of me with the lei throughout my trip and even got a picture of me with it right before the swim start of the race! I’m excited to get back to school to see all my kiddos and share my Kona adventures with them through various pictures and stories of my time in Hawaii. Ryan and I flew in a helicopter with my brother and his wife above the Hilo side of the island and we flew right over the top of Kilauea and took awesome pictures of the volcano and the various lava tubes. I really think my students are going to love seeing that. Looks like we’ll be learning about volcanoes!
Kevin Robson (read Robson’s pre-race profile here)
Finish time: 13:42:03
The swim start was super fun. It was exactly the way I envisioned it. But I was shocked by how big the waves were and how bad the currents were. It was really eye opening for me. I got to the halfway point and I thought I was OK, but I realized shortly thereafter that I had either swallowed too much seawater or I was seasick. I had this vision of grabbing a surfboard and vomiting, but there were all these cute girls in bikinis on surfboards volunteering and I thought: That wouldn’t be very cool. Maybe if I just keep swimming it will pass. I kept swimming and it was kind of getting worse, but I was getting closer to the pier. Finally I just got a little seawater in my mouth and it was all over. I was thinking: I’m going to climb up the steps out of the water and throw up and NBC’s going to make that a shot that everybody will see! I honestly didn’t know when I was seasick how that was going to end for me. That was my first bad moment of the day.
Before the race I prepared myself by thinking: Imagine the worst possible winds. Well, I live in a windy area and I thought I knew what bad winds were like. But I’m used to sustained winds in one direction – not gusty winds that are coming at you from totally different directions. And I swear I went through several climates out there! In Kawaihae the side winds were enough to knock you completely sideways. I was up on my hoods the whole time. My hands hurt so bad from being up on the hoods that I couldn’t shift. I was shifting by hitting my gears because I didn’t have enough hand strength left, and if I had to shift up I used both hands to pull the lever. Heading to Hawi the headwinds were just ridiculous! And then it started to rain, and the rain was hitting me so hard it hurt. But I just thought: This is all part of the experience. The tougher it is, the more epic it is, the more memorable it is. To have my friends who are long time Hawaii veterans talk about how tough the conditions were really means a lot to me.
I had a hot spot on my foot as I got off the bike and I had to walk the whole transition to get my foot working. It’s a long transition area and all the volunteers were super supportive, yelling at me, “Run, run! You’ve got to hurry!” I was just thinking: I’ve got to get my foot working so I can run! But I told you before the race that I wanted to feel like I could run, and I did. I felt great. When I ran out, my dad and my friend John both said they were trying to slow me down because I looked like I was going too fast. They said, “Just calm down, you’ve got a lot to run.” I felt really good through the first 15 miles and then of all things I over-hydrated. All of a sudden it hit me and I got dizzy so I decided I’d better shut it down and walk for a few miles. I was feeling really loopy and didn’t want to hurt myself. So I walked in the Energy Lab, but by then it was dark and the Energy Lab wasn’t that hot! By the time I turned around I was able to get running again a little bit and my last mile was super fast by my standards. I think the tracker said it was 7:24. By the way, it’s longer than it looks from Palani to the finish line! Even though it’s downhill it’s the end of the marathon and it’s a long ways.
Honestly, I didn’t know how I’d feel when I crossed the finish line. A couple of times I got choked up during the race, thinking about what it would mean to me to finish. And it means a ton to me, but by that same token when I crossed the finish line I was just happy. I was just super happy! I had my friends Ryan and Morgan right in the VIP seating and they gave me big hugs. Then my family stormed into the athlete area. We were taking pictures and the poor volunteers could not get my group out of there!
Angus McGilvray (read McGilvray’s pre-race profile here)
Finish time: 9:41:23
What a race! First I got bashed for two full kilometers in the swim. Then I got out of the water, came around the corner, slipped and nearly pulled my groin. Then we started riding and I thought I was going to die several times because of the wind! About 45 different times I thought I was going to die. Then at one hour and 30 minutes my trip computer ran out of batteries, so I was flying blind. Then my GPS watch data was full, so that was gone after an hour and a half of the run. So that was everything that went wrong, but I loved it! I absolutely loved it!
The consensus was it was windy on the bike. A friend who has done 20 of these told me that when you’re riding out and you look along to the ocean on the left, if you see whitecaps you’d better brace yourself. We were riding along and I looked out to the left and what did I see? I saw whitecaps. I saw a lot of whitecaps! And I braced myself for the pain. But it was the same pain for all of us – everyone has to deal with it. I walked one or two aid stations on the run just to make sure I got everything I needed. I stuck to my plan on the nutrition front and that all went great.
I raced by feeling. I was conservative, just because I did not want to blow up and die. I didn’t want to die! I wanted to get there. It was hard. It was tough. It was windy. It was insane. It was everything it was mean to be – the whole package. And I loved it! And now I’ve done the Hawaiian Ironman! There’s a big box next to the Hawaiian Ironman on my bucket list and there’s a tick in it for Angus McGilvray. I’m stoked!
Fore more from Kona visit Triathlete.com/Kona2012.