Tuesday, April 11, 2006


5am - Alarm goes off. Time to wake up, have some breakfast, and get down to the hotel lobby by 5:45. Our hotel is so big, it takes 15 minutes to actually get to the lobby! After everyone is checked in, our 82 person team will take off on our bikes for the transition area. A transition area in a triathlon is where you keep all your gear. After the swim, you run to the transition area, grab your bike stuff, bike, come back, put your bike back in the bike rack, and start off on the run. By the time we get there at 6am, the music is pumpin, and the announcer is getting everyone psyched. Only an hour and a half till race time. I later learned that Dave Scott, a 6 time Ironman champ, and partly responsible for the growth of triathlons was our announcer!

Between now and the start, everyone usually uses this time to set up their transition area. This usually means setting up all your bike/run gear in the perfect spot to make the transition times fast. One example would be to keep your helmet on top of your bike so you don't have to bend over to pick it up or keeping your sunglasses already open, in your helmet, so you don't have to later. Little things like this add up in a sport decided by seconds.

7am - We took the group photo, and then had a little group meeting where coach did what coach does best - prepare us. A man that has done 256 triathlons knows what to do before a race. We gathered around, closed our eyes, and envisioned the entire course, which was previewed in days previous. Imagining the swim, getting to the bike, biking, coming into the transition area, getting our run stuff, doing the run course, and finally, the pose when we finish! During the entire 5 month training course, I was picturing myself having a lot of anxiety right before race start. The reality couldn't have been farther from that. I was calm as can be, and very excited. I started warming up on the swim, came back to shore, and was ready. When you have done 256 tri's, you become obsessive, but that's good, because I don't think I could have been more prepared for this race.

7:30 - 3.... 2.... 1..... GO! The gun went off, and away we went. Again, I was imagining all this excitement leading up to the start, but I was calm as can be. The water was a beautiful 80 degrees. The swim was tough though. One mile is no easy feat, but drafting in the swim of a triathlon is legal, whereas on the bike, it isn't. This actually makes a huge different to draft someone - since they are doing a lot of the work! My first lap of the course was a little fast - a little bit more than 13 minutes. When I finished the first loop, I realized that I felt more tired than normal, so I eased it up, and found someone else to draft off of. My final swim time was 28:59, which I was happy with (anything under 30 minutes was my goal). I was a little discombobulated when I got out of the water (as noted by my PICTURE) but now it was bike time - my favorite part of the race!

I came up to bike, got everything on except my singlet (top) and was having trouble. Thankfully, coach recognized this, and came over to help me get it on. I would probably still be putting it on if it wasn't for him. Putting on a tight shirt on a wet body is damn near impossible! Now I was off to the races. I got out to the main road (Queen Ka`aumanu), and realized my legs felt tired. This was surprising since I typically don't use my legs a lot in swimming. I became frustrated, and starting wondering if there was a head wind. Then I realized there wasn't one! Ugh, what is happening! After 5 miles, my legs got warmed out, and I started picking up the pace. I then realized that it usually takes me 5 miles or so just to get warmed up on the bike, so it all made sense. The Queen K had rolling hills, and surrounded by nothing but lava fields. I really felt like I was racing on the Moon! By 10 miles into the course, I had already put down one drink (water, gatorade, and electrolyte tablets to help prevent dehydration), and was already thirsty for another. (PICTURE) It was only 8:30 or so, and it was starting warm out, especially with no clouds. I got to the bike aid station, and there was a godsend of an icecold water bottle exchange, and I grabbed one, and poured it through my helmet to cool off. It was unbelievable. I was now fully warmed up, cooled off (Imagine that), and ready to kick it into overdrive. I started back on the course, and really picked up the pace. Up ahead, I could see that I was going to pass someone. In triathlon rules, you have to leave 3 bike lengths between you and the next bike, and you only have 15 seconds to pass. I could see that I was going to pass him, so I yelled the universal sign to pass "On your left". He veered right, but must of had something wrong w/ his chain, and didn't realize he was veering back to the left! The only I could do by not hitting this guy and causing more danger than he, was to actually enter traffic (with me going 30 mph no less). I passed him successfully, yelled a few choice words, and continuted on my way. Shortly after, someone passed me and said "Nice reflexes, you probably saved your life!" I am amped at this pointand just flew to the transition area. I jumped off the bike, got my run stuff on, and I was out of there. I later learned that I had one of the best bike-run transitions in the entire race!

As I was heading out of the transition area, I heard someone yell "Denner!" It was my good friend Dave on the team. Overall, I am better at swimming, he is better at biking, and we are even with the run, so it was perfect that we happened to start the run together. At this point, we were both feeling relatively good for just having swam a mile, and biked 25. But the run is never fun at this point. So we were chatting for the first mile, and had a few laughs with some other contestants, and by this time at 9;15 or so, it was starting to get pretty warm, and pretty humid. Thankfully, there was aid stations (water, gatorade, gels, etc) at every mile of the run. Each time, I would grab 2 cups of cold water, and just pour them over my head to keep cool. Finally, at mile 2.5, we started running through lava fields again, and it was really warm here being surrounded by black rock and all. We made it through that aid station, and were on our way to the 4th aid station, and shortly before it, I said to dave "Hey, take 2 cups to the domepiece". What I really meant to say was "Pour 2 cups of water over your head because it feels really nice!" About 20 seconds later, he finally realized what I meant. and then, I don't know what happened. We came up to the aid station, and I don't know what was going on my head, but somehow, for some reason, I yelled at the volunteer "Let me holler at 2 cups of that H to the izzo". (if you were born before 1975, you may have no idea what that means, but it just means "I am interested in 2 cups of water" if you were born after 1975, you are probably doing a combined laugh and shaking of your head in awe) Folks, I don't know what came through my mind, but honestly, that's all I could process at the moment. Dave said he saw the reaction on the volunteer's face, and said it was priceless. I guess he just started laughing uncontrollably. Mile 4 was running through the Hilton resort area, so seeing the reactions of people who had no idea there was a triathlon happening was pretty funny. At this point, I am soaked from head to toe (PICTURE), and at mile 5 came one of the most difficult parts of the course. For the next mile, our run was on coral and lava rock - pretty much unstable ground. It was challenging, but fun, since it provided some variety, and a trail run feel to the monotonous asphalt and sandstone earlier. We finally passed mile marker 6, and now there was only 200 meters to go - ON SAND. Dave said to kick it up a notch, so we did. I was feeling it at this point. My body was getting really warm, I was trying to go faster, and as we came up the last 50 meters, we noticed there was someone in front of both of us. We looked at each other, dropped the hammer - I passed him on the right, dave passed him on the left, and we both finished at the same exact time - ultimately having one of the best finish poses of the race!

After crossing the finish line - I could only do 2 things. 1.) grab a water from a volunteer, and 2.) run into the ocean to cool off, so of course, I did just that. I ran back into the water, hat/shoes on and everything, jumped, splashed, and just floated there for 5 minutes. It was heaven. I was oblivious to the world at that point. People came in to congratulate me, and I could barely acknowledge them.

Overall, I finished faster (2:37:22) than my fastest projected time (2:40:00) The overall times are listed here:

Due to popular misconception, this was an OLYMPIC distance triathlon (1.5K swim (apx 1 mile), 40K bike (apx. 25 mile bike), and 10K run (6.2 miles), and not and IRONMAN (a much more psychotic 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile marathon run). But, our course was done on part of hte bike course as the ironman championship.... so, ... one day, hopefully I will be there, back on the Kona coast of the big island going for the super bowl of triathlons!

It was a phenomenal race, phenomenal coaching and training, phenomenal
teammates (who I know I will be keeping in contact with), and phenomenal

In any sporting event, there is always competition. But, one thing that I found very cool and unexpected about the event is the cheering on from other competitors. On multiple occasions, if I was passed, or if I passed someone either on the bike or run, I'd hear things like "Nice work", or "Keep it going man", or "Go Team!". Of course there is that hidden competition, and when pass you someone, there is that feeling of accomplishment and confidence (especially if you are really pushing it, and not showing it to try to deflate your opponent!), but I don't think I've ever heard a defensive back in football yell to a running back "Hey, Nice run" when he just got burned for a touchdown!

The only thing left to say, sign me up again, and 2:30:00 is the time to
beat next year!

Thanks everyone for your support!

Ps- if none of the picture are working, going to http://www.printroom.com/pro/photoman/default.asp?group_id=21 and type in 0052 into the search box at the end!

Goals met or beaten:

Raise $4,800 - Beaten
Place in the top 100 - Check
Finish between 2:40 and 3:00 - Beaten

More photos: http://photos.yahoo.com/rcdenner147

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