Thursday, November 6, 2014

Lisa Luckin's Kona Report!!!

Our little Lisa Luckin reports on her Kona Outing. A talented athlete, A twin (sorry Lisa we all know Mark), A designer, A Cat lover (that's you Andy) a Boxer owner and an awesome Human!!!

My journey for Kona started after qualifying from Mandurah 70.3. A half distance race. I had not completed an Ironman. 4 weeks later I took part in my first ironman, Busselton Ironman where I mentally reassured myself I had earned my spot with a time of 10.00.56.
I was consumed in Ironman yes, but tried to limit this only during the times of my training sessions. 
Work, home life, family, Henry all took their priorities and I tried not to let this completely consume me as I believe balance is important. 
I am a first time Kona qualifier and 1 time Ironman finisher. I wanted to enjoy the journey and the ride. It was a roller coaster but I did exactly that.

Race day started like all others. I woke, got dressed and ate breakfast rather quickly. We drove down to the start but struggled to find a park. I jumped out the car with mum and Kate and grabbed all bags and rushed off leaving Dad and Andy to park. As we reached the body marking I checked my bags for my special needs. I laughed to myself as I grabbed the snorkels bag that was in the car from yesterday. Could be useful for the swim I guess?!

I met with twinny in transition before finding the GKE crew and finally the family. I was extremely nervous at this stage. As my eyes filled with nervous and excited tears I got my good luck kisses from everyone and I was off.

Being with fellow GKE athlete Andrea from the start of the race significantly calmed my nerves. We entered the water and I headed straight for the front. I was never going to lead but desperately wanted some fast toes right from the start! Elbows and glares were dished out by the dozen. I cast my eye to soak up the unfriendly and intense atmosphere but I wasn't letting this intimidate me.

Without warning the cannon fired! We were off and this over whelming feeling came across me. The race I had been waiting and training for almost 10months had started! I swam hard. Super hard and got on the front pack of girls. It seemed to split into two groups, side by side but split  down the middle. I was racing the Ironman World Championships.
The Swim was surprisingly rough. It didn't take long before we caught the slower men who started 10mins before us. Once we made the turn around at the boat there were men everywhere. This really split the group and made it difficult to navigate to the finish, losing toes, pace and constantly sighting.
Im not sure why everyone seemed to swim wide back into the pier but I took a direct line and stumbled up the steps to transition.

I ran as fast as I could into transition. A volunteer grabbed me and lead me into the tent. "Lisa" she said. Confused I looked up. "Hi! I checked you in yesterday"! And to my surprise she had! I ran to my bike pushing my way past others taking their time. I reached my bike a little deflated as she was easy to spot with the surrounding bikes having already left transition. This made me a little more determined to get moving!

Out I ran, mounted my bike and had a glanced at the deep support that seemed to last forever. There were 100's of people. I don't know why I was so surprised!
A fellow athlete Janine Willis passed me and I immediately decided to follow her pace through town. 
As we turned onto the Queen K I sighted Andy and my family for the first time before disappearing back into town for a quick loop then back onto the Queen K.
Once I passed supporters again I smiled to myself and just thought this was insane! I looked ahead and saw the long trail of athletes all fighting for their spot in the race, looking like ants in the distance.

Approx. 30kms in a large pack formed right around me. It was manic. Then right in front of me a male cut in front of a young female and they both came crashing down. Like a car crash I could not look away after dodging the incident and bike pieces that scattered across the road.
A short time after I was introduced to Madame Pele. I opened my big mouth in an interview prior to race day. 'It’s not windy at all' I said. And the truth is it had not been the 10days or so prior to race day. 

Everyone told me, this is how the day should be. Hard, hot, humid, windy. You want it to be tough. Its meant to be hard. With this in mind the next pedal I took the heads winds blew. Oh my lord they blew. At one stage I think I could have run faster. But this somewhat made me just laugh and get on with it.

The climb to Hawi I was confident. Until one particular gust blew me from the far right of the road over to the center lines. I know im light weight but I couldn't believe that just happened.

I gripped my bars so tight I think I could have crushed the carbon. Once I reached the turnaround I was already intimidated by discomfort on athlete’s faces that were already on their decent but there was no avoiding it. I watched the Mexican wave effect of cyclists in front of me being blown all over the course and prepared for it as it hit me. I looked out to the ocean for white caps as Andy had told me. It looked like the ocean was snowing! I sat up and descended slowly. I was intimidated by the decent with the cross winds. I snailed it but I wanted to make it off the bike in one piece. A decision I regret now as I know this is where I lost soo much time but one I told myself I would comfortable with that decision.

Back onto the Queen K I felt lonely. It was hot. The long trail had petered out, the head winds did not ease and I was desperately longing for the sight of the airport. It felt like it never came!
Finally I made it to transition and parted ways with my bike knowing it would be a good two weeks until i even contemplated riding her again! 

I cannot believe the support the volunteers provided on this day. They were outstanding. Amazing in the transition tents, realising the importance of your race and did anything and everything to assist. One drew my attention to the burns on my lower my back, my tramp stamp of Kona as she applied more sun screen on me.

I ran out of transition feeling somewhat fresh and legs not trashed. It felt like forever until I saw Andy who through some much needed words of encouragement before letting me know Mum, Dad and Kate were just up the road. It’s always great seeing them. 
Through Alii I had mixed feelings. My body felt good, muscles not too sore but my stomach soon turned. I tried to ignore but with the vivid memory of the male runner finishing his race with number two's present down his legs I vowed not to make the same mistake and finally stopped at the aid station. A little convincing from Andy also helped as i let him know my stomach was not too good! Nothing, so I continued on. I could not shake this feeling of an upset stomach. 
I reached Palani and the man on the mike referred to me as the chick with the big smile and cheeks. Of course I ran up here to quick but couldn't dare fade in front of the crowd so kept going. Hello Queen K again. Support from Andy was awesome out on the run. I stopped at 6 aide stations before deciding the last one would be at the entrance to the energy lab. It rained lightly as i entered the Lab. I ran through and started to feel good. Finally I ran like I felt like I should have. Like how I had been training and what I felt like my body and months of hard work deserved.

Support from Wes, Jono and Andy drove me home as I motored past others struggling. Finally I was counting down the final few km's occasionally converting km’s to miles as the number was less and made me feel better. I could smell the finish line and at this stage was running like a fat boy runs for cake.
I ran too fast for my own legs down Palini. The final stretch back to Alii never ended but finally it was there.
The crowds grew in numbers the closer you got and deeper and deeper. It was AWESOME!
Hi-Fives to my Mum, Dad and Kate and most importantly I was Andy down the line also.
I don't remember crying as I usually do but I concentrated so hard to hear the words 'You are an Ironman' after zoning out in Busselton and never hearing them.

I crossed the line and couldn't slow down. I was power walking and my catchers couldn't keep up until finally I just let go and slowed down. I was finished.

I was in and out of the athlete area after the race. I searched for the area to get your medal. I could barely stand let alone walk. My legs ached. I rushed out to desperately find Andy and the family... then i cried.

15th Female 25-29 AG.
88th Female

I pulled up surprisingly well after race day. Of course I was sore, I had chafe that made me walk like I had a nappy on, I will part ways with my big toe nail, I have burns on my back that are Kona stamped to match my twin and tan lines of a triple choc chocolate bar. I was disappointed I was not sorer! But I think my body had let go and I was very sick for a week. I didn't need to be strong anymore and was just run down!

As ungrateful as this may sound, my honest feeling, Kona has left me feeling empty. I trained, like all others, for months. Dedicated to the sport, my program. I hardly missed a session and if I did it was for a legit reason. Most of my sessions were solo. I felt good. Fast. Fit. Confident.

I was, at the time, pleased with my race. Seriously, I just finished the Ironman World Championships! But then, you have time to think, assess and look back on the day. I wish I rode faster. I should have been more confident on the decent and takes for me, a risk. I wish my guts didn't hate me on the run. I wish i didn't stop at the toilets as sit was for nothing anyway. I know I am capable of more and I feel my result no way near reflected the hard work and all I sacrificed for this one day. Kona stole my happiness.
Then I told myself what I tell others. It’s just a race. I'm not changing anyone's life. This was for my own satisfaction and that's exactly how I should remember this relentless, brutal and unforgiving day!

I raced Kona. And it was awesome to race this with my twin, Mark. What an experience! I did not have the fastest splits, break records or podium but I lived the dream many will never achieve and it will stay just that, a dream. 
I earned my spot at Kona, I am thankful for that life experience. Nothing will ever compare. I know look back at my results and I am proud.

It’s time now for me. My family and most importantly FiancĂ©. 

It has now been two weeks since race day. I have not done any more than run 150m with my boxer Henry. I am a little lost. A little bored. I go to bed and don't set the alarm for 4.40am. But I still wake up then! 
I wore heels, and have done for 4 days straight. I had my hair done and spent time in the morning actually doing it before work! I feel like a girl! 

I have plans to race next year. Big plans! But for now it’s time to enjoy life, appreciate what I have and live each day as it comes.

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