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Hawaii Ironman 2008 « Donna Phelan's Blog

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Hawaii Ironman 2008

Well, I’m still in daze, after traveling last Tuesday from S.Korea to Kona, racing Ironman on Saturday, and here it is Tuesday again and I’m back “home” in San Diego. In the span of a week, I feel like I entered a magical world on the Big Island – so much energy, so many people from around the world, and the experience of racing the Hawaii Ironman, which I’ve watched on tv for so many years and only dreamed of one day doing, was completely unbelievable.

I can’t even begin to describe the energy at the start of the swim. This was my fifth ironman, my third this year, and nothing I’ve ever experienced comes close to the energy that was in the air with helicopters flying overhead, over 200 pro men and women inching forward at the start line while kayakers did what they could to hold us back, thousands of spectators lining the shore, and then finally, the cannon going off to start the race. My plan was to start next to some pro men in hopes of stealing their draft, but 30 seconds into the swim, I felt like I was taking part in a boxing match. Eventually, things settled down, and although not in the pack I wanted to be in, I came out of the water in 13th place for the pro women.

About 20km into the bike, I felt like something wasn’t right as I felt a searing pain on the inside of my left quad. I kept pushing on the best I could until about 90k when I knew something just wasn’t right with my bike. I looked down and saw that my seat post had slipped down, and the tape used to mark my seat height was now only party visible. I stopped on the side of the road to fix my seat, and this time really tightened it down. Although my quad still wasn’t the happiest of campers, the second half of the bike was much better for me, as I re-passed some of the speedy age group men and a couple of pro women that had passed me on the way to Hawi. It was another 12 bottle bike ride, but I remembered the heat in China earlier in the year, and I knew that being a camel now would pay off later in the marathon.

I started the run feeling pretty good, but knew I had to pace myself because of the heat and the limited run training I had done the couple of months prior due to a groin injury. The crowd support in town and heading up to the Queen K highway was unbelievable – thousands of people from around the world yelling and screaming. It was especially motivating to see my fellow TeamTBB ironchicks (and Stephen, the ironchicken:) at the turn-around on Ali’i Drive and heading out of the energy lab. I knew how hard they had worked all year and how much they deserved to have the great races they were having. Coming back into town was like a huge party – I was spent but somehow felt like I was being carried along to the finish line with the energy from the crowd. So many people screaming and yelling, and I was so happy to cross the finish line, knowing I had done my best, but having learned from the race and knowing that I could do better.

I have to say a huge CONGRATULATIONS to Chrissie, Erika, Bella, Belinda, Hillary, Stephen and Steve for great races, and for giving their best out there. They have all been a huge inspiration to me this year, and have become more than just team mates, but also close friends. I also have to thank doc for being the best coach in the world, and for giving me this opportunity that I could only have dreamed of. I often questioned whether I could come back to ironman after 5 years off with injuries, and last year, frustrated with the sport, watched the Hawaii Ironman on tv, and wished that perhaps one day I could be there. 12 months and 3 ironmans later, a thank you does not seem nearly enough. And of course to Alex, a huge thanks because without you, none of this would be possible.

See you all next year! Mahalo!

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