Racing by Tim Hola
[caption id="attachment_13560" align="alignnone" width="199"] Running along Alii drive at mile 5 or so. Thanks for the pic Larry Rosa![/caption] Completing 15 Hawaii Ironmans, 25 total Ironmans , and turning 40 all happened in a few days of each other earlier this month. How does it feel? I don’t know. It still hasn’t sunk in yet. Just like that, Ironman Hawaii came and went quicker than anyone would have thought, and so did a birthday ending in zero. It’s is hard to believe that I have qualified and completed 15 Hawaii Ironman’s. I know there are only a handful of people that have done that many Kona’s, let alone full Ironman distance races. I feel so privileged to be able to race in the Big Island and truly see what I am made of. Racing 15 times in Kona does not come without a price. It’s no secret that I am racing with a different engine than when I first raced here when I was 25. I describe it as an onion where the layers are being peeled away. I just don’t ever want to get down to the core. However, the fire is still there to put myself to the test in some of the toughest conditions that an Ironman can dish up. [caption id="attachment_13561" align="alignnone" width="300"] Eric and I sharing a few Kona memories on the expo stage.[/caption] I did several interviews during race week: One with our own Dave Erickson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2_65ZajVrU&list=UUCbJaS79efzaDJGgiOI1obQ Breakfast with Bob Babbitt: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_DuZcAFzcY#t=9228 And one on Bob's radio show: http://www.babbittville.com/babbittville-radio/tim-hola/ I got asked the following question several times, “What makes Kona so special?” It’s hard to exactly put my finger on it, but there is a draw to that island that gives me a sense of self improvement unlike anything else I’ve experienced. It makes you realize how fragile we are. Like many of us out there, we want to become better people, learn more and make good choices. The entire Hawaii Ironman process helps me do this. After several media commitments during the week, I settled into my room on Friday mentally prepping for the race the next day. My mom and dad came out again to watch me race – they’ve never missed a year—and I could tell they were excited for yet another year of watching the race. [caption id="attachment_13562" align="alignnone" width="300"] One of the reasons why I love this race so much...moments like this.[/caption] Saturday morning came and I headed down to the King Kam Hotel at 4:45AM when transition opened. I got everything set up, said hey to a few of my pro friends and chilled out in my hotel room at The Kona Seaside, the same hotel we’ve stayed at for the last 10 years. I eased into the water right after the pros went off and swam over to the Timex crew to say thanks for all they do for me. Now that I work for Timex full time, the brand certainly has an even more special meaning to me. [caption id="attachment_13569" align="alignnone" width="300"] Excited for the swim![/caption] I then swam over to see my parents sitting on the sea wall, the same spot they have watched the race for the last 15 years. I said my goodbyes and swam on my back for a minute or two looking at the clouds to soak it all in. The gun soon went off and I was on my way. It is always hard to find space in the swim, so I did my best to swim hard at the start to get away, then settle in to my rhythm. After the turnaround, I was at the front of the lead pack, with just a few solo age group men swimming ahead of us. I am very confident in my swimming and knew that on a good day with the right conditions, I could swim 53 min. Today was 56 min, but still felt good heading into T1. I enjoyed every minutes of the swim like I always do. Mom, thanks for putting me into swim lessons at the Fort Dodge, IA YMCA in 1980. [caption id="attachment_13563" align="alignnone" width="300"] Heading out to Hawi..the wind was not the kindest to me.[/caption] Everything went smoothly coming out of T1 and felt solid on my Trek Speed Concept – the fastest bike I have ever ridden. The first 5-10 miles always get a little sketchy since we do some very fast technical riding through town. I know the race really starts once we are past the airport. I got a lot of cheers through town and was happy to begin the trek to Hawi. All systems were go for most of the ride, body felt strong, nutrition was going well. I really don’t know where to begin about the wind. I always go into this race expecting the wind to be horrible. This year was the one year where I’d be cruising along at 27/28 MPH, then like a flip of a switch, I was going 16. The good news was that it was temporary, but man, it hit all of us hard. There is never a good time for headwind in this race. With 34 miles to go at Kawaihae, we got a nice tail wind, then the head wind started at 26 miles to Kona. I just cleared my head and remember all of the times I’ve done this before. I cruised into T2 with in 5:07, a ride I was happy with. After a quick porta-pottie visit, multiple water dousings over my head, and a quick look at my legs telling them to “shut up”, I began the marathon. I always start running with short strides to get the muscles ready. I tried to reflect on the countless brick runs I’ve done all year where I’ve felt good, although you can’t really expect your legs to feel that great after 6 + hours of hard racing in Hawaii. I had a goal of running close to 3:00 on the marathon as I’ve done before. According to my new Timex Run x50 watch, my pace started at 7:00 min miles and I was feeling OK, but knew it would not last. [caption id="attachment_13564" align="alignnone" width="199"] Keeping my focus in the opening miles of the marathon.[/caption] I hit the mile 5 turnaround at St. Peters Church where I got engaged almost 13 years ago to the day, grabbed a little energy from the man upstairs and headed back to Kona. There are so many people yelling at you, but I put my head down and try to ignore it and focus on my pace & energy. I saw numerous Timex teammates on the out & back, Chris, Roger, Matt, Dave Erickson shooting video of us, just to name a few. Lots of good Timex Mojo on the course this year. As I headed out of town, I saw Mom and Dad on Hualalai Rd. cheering me on which lifted my spirits. I like running out on the Queen K. I feel like it’s my time since there are not that many people out there to cheer. It was at mile 13 or so where a feeling came over me where I simply wanted to be done. I was not slowing down too much, but knew that the sooner I completed this, the happier I’d be. The feeling to be done and out of that type of pain was just so strong, none like I remember in my prior 14 races out here. Persevering, not stopping, sticking to my plan, finishing what I started, and pushing on allows me to become a better person. That’s exactly what I did. I ran for a bit with several of my friends on the way back to town: Adam Zucco, BJ Christensen, Ryan Guliano, all incredibly talented athletes that I have raced against for years. [caption id="attachment_13565" align="alignnone" width="201"] Happy to be done![/caption] I took the famous right turn on Alii drive and could not be happier. I finished in 9:28, a respectable time for the day, but was hoping to get my run dialed in better. [caption id="attachment_13566" align="alignnone" width="300"] Thanks Timex and PowerBar![/caption] A HUGE thanks to Tristan Brown, Timex, Trek, Shimano, PowerBar, Blue Seventy, Nathan, Tri-Swim, for making this another memorable trip. Congrats to all of my teammates who completed this special race. It will be with us forever.