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Chris Rancie Kona report
CBD Cycles - 17/10/2014
Who would have thought race day would actually arrive......

Like usual I was a bit scared about the swim as I am far from comfortable in water and certainly not comfortable in hectic open water swims and on top of that I find it very difficult to push myself for extended periods of time in the water.

I hoped today was a different story and I would be able to push myself.

Last Friday (8 days before the race) I swam the course on my own easily in about 1 hour and 20 minutes then the following day there was an official training swim where they provide an event for athletes to swim the course in a race style atmosphere. I managed to do it in my speedos (slower than wearing a swim suit) in 1 hour and 8 minutes, which I was very pleased with and was a promising sign for next Saturday’s race.

Prior to the start I was positioned about 75metres from the pier and 2nd person back, I was expecting it much more difficult to get the position I wanted but everyone seemed pretty chilled about the whole thing and there was no real rush to get to the swim start more than a couple of minutes prior to the start.
When the cannon went off there was a mass of kicking feet, swinging arms and white wash. It was certainly very hectic but at the same time most people I was around were not overly aggressive and on a few occasions when I swam into other swimmers it seemed like each time we would both veer the other way to give each other a little bit of space. I’m sure that it wasn’t the same story for swimmers 5-10+ minutes further ahead.

I didn’t feel that there was a need to overly sight for the buoys rather just the feet in front as there were just so many people in front and around me for the whole swim.

It didn’t take long until I realised I had arrived at the boat which was at the half way mark, I had to do a double look to make sure it was the turning point. I was excited to be half way and heading back towards the swim finish.

For the majority of the swim back to the finish I felt like I couldn’t swim as fast as I would have liked and just decided to sit on some people’s feet even though I wasn’t working very hard. For those who don’t realise there is a big advantage swimming right behind someone opposed to swimming on your own so I decided that it wasn’t worth the extra effort trying to swim hard on my own as I probably wouldn’t make up very much time but exert much more effort so I just told myself to sit here and relax and that it would all be over soon (well the swim anyway).

After what felt like an eternity I finally hit the steps and exited the water and I saw 1 hour and 6 minutes, I didn’t think too much of the time other than it was probably a bit slower than I would have hoped/liked but at the same time it certainly was not a big deal.

The transition tent was so busy, people everywhere, I just chucked my bag on the ground and sorted myself out. It took longer than it should have and it was close to the perfect ‘how not to transition’.
Running to my bike I hear a “Go Chris” from Dave Ferrier, was nice to hear a familiar voice and heading out of transition up the slight rise were a lot of my family members all spread out and all making a lot of noise. I’m pretty sure I pushed the first few km harder than most, I had to tell myself to just stay calm and don’t go too hard too soon.

I didn’t really know what my bike strategy was going to be and I honestly hadn’t given the specifics of it a whole lot of thought (maybe I should have). I guess my plan was to ride steady and just see what happens.

In saying that it was clear that most people’s strategy was to push the start of the bike course as the winds on the big island can be blowing one way one minute and then two seconds later just switch direction, so the earlier you can get up the road the better (I didn’t really understand or appreciate what that meant).

Once I began I figured that initially riding a tad conservatively (despite the first 10minutes where I went pretty hard) would be ok as the ride is a long way and then add the marathon to that there would be plenty of time to hurt the body.

Also playing on my mind was my ride from the weekend before the race where I went out and rode the final 50km of the bike course.  It was so hot and I felt like rubbish so this was another thing that was playing on my mind and that it wouldn’t be until I actually started riding would I really know how I would handle the heat and how my legs would feel.

Heat minimisation and fluid intake were critical and this is one things that I think I did well, rarely on the bike was I hot or uncomfortable due to the heat. At each aid station I would initially grab a water and pour it all over my body, then I would get another water and put it in a bottle holder next was a sports drink and finally I would get another water and put in the other bottle holder. This allowed me to drink my sports drink as needed and over the next 10km or so until the next aid station and I was able to pour more water over my body to keep it cool.

Before I knew it we had done the little loop around town, gone up Palani Rd to the Queen K Hwy, rode passed the airport up towards the 50km mark, despite riding conservatively I was consistently passing people and it went by quite quickly. By now it was clear my race strategy was to ride strong up the hills and pass a whole bunch of people on each climb then let a few stronger boys come by on the downhills or flats and let them pace me to the next climb where I would over take them and many more. This was repeated over and over throughout the whole day and it seemed to work very well for me.

It was around the 50km mark where suddenly out of nowhere we got this headwind like I have never experienced. I just tried to keep ploughing through it. I remember thinking that the wind was just so loud and it reminded me of being up the Summit of a mountain in the alps on a windy day, the shrubs on the side of the road were flying, it really was quite amazing.

From the 50km mark all the way to the turn around which I believe was close to kilometre 95 we had strong headwinds and crosswinds that were un-relentless.

At the turn around before going back down the hill I grabbed a red bull, had a few gulps and I swear it must have given me wings or my bike is so fast because I proceeded to pass rider after rider like they were standing still. I didn’t quite understand what was happening, for those of you who use strava I clocked up the 6th ever fastest time on the 7.6km descent which only has an average gradient of -2% so it is not steep downhill and I did it at 59.6km per hour.

An example of the winds was another strava segment which is 4.1km and I did it at an average of 62km per hour, a pretty strong tailwind.

I continued to ride home and by now there wasn’t much more than 40km to go and I was still feeling really strong, my legs had plenty in them and I kept riding solid up the hills always very controlled. By now the riders were starting to thin out, I was still passing lots along the way but there certainly were not as many around like the first few hours. By now I think I had average about 37km p/h for the ride so I new I was close to 5 hours which wasn’t a goal time but more of a benchmark.

The final 40km were pretty uneventful, I rode hard and felt awesome, I figured it was ok to push a bit more now and I didn’t believe it would hurt my running legs at all.

While on the bike I had 10 gels, one powerbar, about four litres of sports drink, probably half a litre of water and 400ml of red bull.

As I jumped off my bike I stopped my speedo and it showed 4hour 59minutes and 40seconds, so I figured my time would be just over 5 hours and turns out it was about 5hours and 30 seconds, would have been nice to break five hours but in reality it’s pretty irrelevant. My Giant Trinity had done it's job and delivered me safely and quickly to the finish of the bike course.

Jumping off my bike it was great to hand it straight to a volunteer and to not have to think about it. I started running around the pier and my legs were a little ginger but at the same time there were no sore muscles or anything like that which was pleasing. I made my way around the pier to my run bag and the change tent, I got through this transition much quicker than the first.

I made my way out onto the course and almost instantly I saw a whole bunch of my family, it was nice to hear and see some of them. I checked my Garmin and I was running at sub four minute km pace and I just told myself to slow down a bit and relax, I felt great, my lower legs had no niggles, my neck and shoulders were loose and so I was relatively happy. In saying that I had only been running a few minutes and I was hanging out for an aid station just to get some water and ice over my body.

The run course runs south along the coast for about 8km and then turns straight back to town and from there we go up a short steep hill and then head out north on a freeway for about 12 km then finally turn and head straight back to town to the finish.

It wasn’t too long before I saw about 10 members of my family on bikes, I had a little laugh to myself as they all rode along in their own little bike gang. They knew not to talk directly to me or offer me anything along the way and try to be discreet as they rode near me.

I would randomly hear shouts of “We love you Chris” “You’re my hero Chris” “You’re my inspiration” “Go Chris” “Go Aussie” “Go CBD” and so on……They were awesome!
I was super relieved to finally make it to the first aid station, my aid station strategy for the majority of the stops went something like this:

Go straight to the sponge bin and fill up my hat with ice and water and dump it on my head, next I would essentially stop and drink  either one or a combination of the following; sports drink, coke and red bull then I would get 3-5 cups of ice and drop down my top and shorts then grab a few cups of more water and throw on my face and finally grab 2-4 sponges to keep my hands cool until the next aid station (the sponges were only good for about a minute, the problem was you are not allowed to litter so I would have to store them in either the front or back of  my running top until I could ditch them at the beginning of the next aid station).

I generally felt that after about a minute of leaving the aid station and despite have lots of ice still in my hat and down my top and shorts I was still hanging out for the next aid station to cool my body down as it was still just so hot.

The run out to the first turn around and then back to town I felt really strong and in control, I was glancing at the pace but that it no way affected my pace, I was just running at an effort which felt about right and that I hoped I could sustain.

I was trying to zone out and run as relaxed as much as I could while also managing my stomach which had started growling and sloshing about with fluid and gels from the bike ride. In my two rear pockets I had gel flasks which both had 4 gels, I eventually threw a full gel flask away and probably only had 3 gels from the other container over the course of the whole run. The times which I did take a sip of the gels it was very forced and I hoped my stomach wouldn’t worsen. Because of this I knew I had to keep drinking the sports drink, coke and red bull to make sure I was getting in some energy even if it wasn’t as much as I had hoped.

I finally got to the dreaded Palani Road hill and I saw some people walking up it but I felt strong and just put my head down and worked my way up. I was now on the Queen K Hwy. Tuesday before the race I had ran from this point to the turn around point and on the weekend before the race I ran from the turn around to the finish so I felt somewhat confident at this point knowing that I had ran the remaining part of the course over the previous week and that there wasn’t too much to be worried in regards to the course terrain, there was however the factor of my growling stomach, the heat and the fatigue which was building and building with every minute.  

My bike gang were all still around just observing and making the odd comment hear or there, often going ahead and then stopping further down the road and then screaming at me as I went by. 
Eventually my gang along with every other spectator were stopped and we had to run the next 12km or so on our own, it was quiet, lonely and hot. As I entered the energy lab I remember having the thought that in 3-4 days this whole thing will be a distant memory, you will be back at work living the same old life you were living prior so suck it up, work hard and get to the end. 2-3 km down the road we turned around and I knew I had approximately 14 km or basically an hour to go. I thought about all the hour runs I had done and that was all I had left.

Must have been less than a km down the road and suddenly I was tired, my legs were losing their drive and they were starting to get sore and to add to it I needed to go to the toilet and I needed to go quick, anyway I averted total disaster and will spare you the details. I started having thoughts of this could be a long way home and despite it only being 12km it is still 12km which is a long way when you are knackered. Prior to this point in the run I can’t remember more than a few people pass me and now when I am feeling off my feet I start getting passed by guys and I was starting to get worried that this could blow out real bad real quick.

At the energy lab exit there was a big screen where they were playing  pre-recorded video clips from family and friends, some of my family members had done a clip and all I really remember is this loud roar of “GO CHRIS!!!!!!!!!!!” I had a little chuckle to myself but that was short-lived.

Now I was on the Queen K, plodding home, I tried my best to just keep going forward with some pace. I continued the aid station process making sure to get coke and red bull, if I ever needed wings now was the time. I got passed by some more guys and guys who I was previously gaining on were now pulling away.

Must have been with about 10km to go two guys came passed me and I told myself to get on, so I jumped onto their heels and stayed there and told myself just get to the next aid station, it will be over soon, you can hurt yourself, keep going.

One of the guys dropped off and I moved up to the next guys heels and stayed there, the only issue was that all day I was taking the aid stations really slow so now I would still go to the water/ice bin and fill my hat but I couldn’t stop for as long to drink my coke and red bull or else he would pull away too much so I had to adjust my aid strategy slightly to keep with him. By this stage my bike gang were back but not saying much it must have been pretty obvious I wasn’t happy or comfortable. I continued to sit on his heels and do what he did. I had to keep talking to myself and telling myself to hang tough, on countless times I almost dropped and it wasn’t to do with my body and I knew it, I knew I could physically stay with him but my head was done, my head wanted it over.

I finally got to about 300metres from Palani Rd which is a very steep downhill section and was about 2km from the finish. My quads felt ok considering and I decided I was going to go hard down the hill so I kicked and I’m not sure why I kicked so hard but I did, I stormed down the hill smashing my quads to pieces, I got to the bottom turned left and realised I still had about 1.5km to go and I was like ohh crap but I kept pushing and told myself it would be over in less than 5minutes. 

I only had 2 more right hand turns and it would be over and at that stage I saw a guy I know just making that turn about 150 metres ahead, suddenly I had a rabbit to chase and I passed him on the final turn onto Alii Drive which was about 400 metres from the finish. I was running so hard not really sure why, I looked around and couldn’t see anyone but kept running hard all the way I hit the carpet still running hard, half way down the carpet I hear family and I quickly throw out an arm to high five them but kept running hard to the finish (my final two km were 3:54 and 3:40 per km). 

Finally at the finish I stopped and I was delirious, white as a ghost, I took a couple of steps and I think the volunteers realised pretty quickly that I wasn’t in a good way and they grabbed me luckily they did because I was about to collapse, I just so wanted to be off my feet. For at least the next 10 minutes one of the volunteers walked me around kept asking how I was feeling and not letting me sit which was annoying as that is all I wanted to do.


Then suddenly I saw Jess and she had somehow got into the finisher area, she came over and the volunteer placed me in her care and finally I could lay down

 Post race...obviously!

It was done, I was so relieved and pleased to have finished such an epic event and that the day basically went as good as I could have hoped. Most of all I was super proud of how I hung tough during the last hour when things got super tough and all I wanted to do was stop. I will be back not sure when but one day I will go tackle the beast again. I had the most amazing experience which made all the hard work and early morning worth it.

Thanks babes you rock, I know i'm a big grump, thanks for putting up with me.

I have to thank all my family and friends who came over to support me and to those who couldn't, it was incredible to have so much support on race day and during race week.

Poster made by the owner of the house we stayed in + my support crew

Thanks to Sean Foster for getting me to race day in tip top shape, my results speak for themselves, I couldn't have done what I have done without you or your squad.

Finally thanks to CBD back home for their support and to Anth while on the Big Island, I went and visited him four times during race week to get my bike all sorted. I would have been a stressed boy without your expertise and support.

Interesting stats:
SWIM     1:06:29    -   1.43 per 100m
After the swim I was 629

BIKE      5:00:21    -   36.00km per hour
After 7km on the bike I was 617
After 11km on the bike I was 599
After 16km on the bike I was 592
After 48km on the bike I was 518
After 71km on the bike I was 447
After 95km on the bike I was 390
After 120km on the bike I was 322
After 144km on the bike I was 267
After 180km on the bike I was 217

RUN     3:09:35   -   4:30 minutes per kilometre
After 5km on the run I was 180
After 11km on the run I was 172
After 16km on the run I was 143
After 21km on the run I was 130
After 26km on the run I was 122
After 30km on the run I was 112
After 36km on the run I was 112
After 40km on the run I was 103
After 42km on the run I was 99
99th overall
89th male
11th female 
17th in my age group
58th age grouper
4th Aussie in my age group
15th Aussie age grouper
9th fastest bike/run split in my age group (shame it's called triathlon)

Chris Rancie.