Thursday, October 6, 2022

IM Hawaii-Robin-2022

Oct. 6th, 2022 – Kona, HI
Swim 2.4miles – Bike 112miles – Run 26.2miles

6:22:37 (1:14:06 – 8:33 – 6:46:45 – 7:49 – 4:33:12)


113 W45-49 (out of 187)


Diana Hassel, Jane Pilger, Jason Ford, Joyce Burch, Mike Pirnat, Stephen Horan

Waking up on race day..  so surreal.  It's been a long wait for this day and now it doesn't even seem real.  My family is up and ready to roll.  Troy has breakfast for me and Anna heads out to get a spot on the sea wall.  

I think back to the Iron Prayer and my Facebook post from the other day.  Today is all about Jesus.  I truly believe "I don't got this" race but that Jesus has got this race.  There is no guarantee I'm going to cross that finish line or that I won't go through major physical suffering.  But I can give my best for Him no matter what.  He is the reason I do this.

IMG_20221006_052306999Ariel and Troy walk me down to transition.  I have to say goodbye for a bit as I go turn in my special needs bags and check on my bike.  I am so thankful that my tires are still inflated as I get to my bike. Thank you Lord!

This year the swim start is by age groups which are staged along the finish line area.  I find my corral and Troy!  It's a spectator friendly area!  And there is my friend, Jane Pilger.  She and I both qualified at IM Coeur d'Alene last summer. 

The girls come over and give me hugs.  They are super excited.  It's so hard not to be with all the excitement!  It is quite a show!

Soon it's time to go.  Last hugs to Troy. 

Our wave heads over to the start.  Jane stops and has us pray.  We pray for each other and that the Lord be glorified.  I pray that Jane's knee won't bother her today.  

IMG_20221006_061446074Our corral of 45-to-49 women is being let onto the beach.  It’s starting to feel real now.  I swim out to the starting line and gather with the other blue caps.  Mike Reilly reminds us from the pier that we are the largest age group of women. I'm wearing a speedsuit given to me by a dear friend, Patty Stokes.  I hope it helps me glide through the water better.  Last time (2007) I wore a jogbra and tri shorts and felt a drag the whole time.  I seed myself towards the front of the pack… while realizing I'm surrounded by the best in the world and might get run over.  It’s also important to get a draft so I hope I can get in with a good pack.  The most important task I have today is to glorify Jesus.

THE SWIM   [ Goal: 1:13  (1:40 pace); Actual: 1:14:06 (1:55 pace) ]

IMG_20221006_070612300_HDRReady, set, go!  I get a great start and feel a good rhythm.  I struggle to find a consistent draft for the first 500 yds.  I’m happy to see a 8:24 split. I enjoy looking at the sandy bottom and even see some fish.

I eventually find a few girls to follow.  I have to pick it up to catch up with them. I feel great through 1000 and 1500 yds with splits of 8:16 and 8:17. Thank you Jesus!

I feel fatigue setting in and I feel my speedsuit chafing under my armpits.  Just 700 yds more to the farthest point at the iconic Body Glove boat. I have found a pretty good draft but have to keep adjusting as we catch up to other waves of age groups. I have swallowed salt water on accident while sighting and it's making my throat burn.

I am so relieved to make it to the boat. I'm halfway but ready to be done already. I usually enjoy the swim at this point but today I want to be done. I'm glad to make the turn to head back. I'm catching up to many swimmers now which makes it hard to keep a draft.  I am able to follow a few blue caps for the next 1000.

It seems more choppy. As I sight, I take in some more salt water and my throat burns more.  I try to blow out air as I look up to sight now to keep that from continuing to happen. The chafing continues to bother me.

My pace is slowing and so is my motivation. Please Lord, help me to persevere in this.  It will soon be over so help me keep my eyes on you and stop focusing on the negative.

293_d-2869244-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-5045_020749-19667536At the pier now!  Just keep pressing on!  It's hard to push but I try.  I can hear Mike Reilly's voice again so I'm getting closer.  I try to latch on to a blue cap all the way in to the stairs. 

I finally make it to the stairs and am so relieved.  Thank you Jesus!

TI [ Goal: 5:00; Actual: 8:33 ]

I rinse off with the hoses as I exit, grab my gear and head to the changing tent.

I'm glad to be heading out on the bike but I am concerned about bathroom breaks while out there.  They can eat up time, as I've found these last few crazy months of training.  I'll need to relax.  But thanks to God that it has gone well in the halfs I've done this year.  Lord, please help me with this so I can just focus on racing for you.

I can tell my transition is going to be slower than expected. It's huge and we all have to run the entire length of it. I put on my jersey, socks and also a pair of bike shorts over my tri shorts for extra padding (An idea from our friend Pastor Lincoln Murdoch).  I've successfully tried out the extra shorts in a few halfs this year.

FB_IMG_1665090552080I dip my hand in a vat of sunscreen and rub it on me.  My race number tattoo is coming off!  I carefully rub it to keep the rest intact. 

I run out to my bike with shoes in hand. I put my shoes and helmet on.  I also put a half sweet potato I cooked last night in my back pocket.  I'm off!

THE BIKE [ Goal: 6:40 (16.8mph); Actual: 6:46:45 (16.59mph) ]

I exit transition with my bike.  I hear someone call out my name and it's Sena Minshew from Yuba City.  She's volunteering today!  She cheers as I exit.  I hear Troy and the girls cheering for me and I mount my bike, smile and wave.  I'll see them soon again as I ride the quick loop through town.

289_3rd-2863826-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-5045_048967-18697035We ride towards the old airport and then through a new shopping area and up to the Queen K Hwy.  Back towards town and then down steep Palani Road. 

I hear Troy cheering as I turn on Kuakini Hwy. I head towards our condo.  I hear the girls cheering and I smile.  It's an out-n-back.  My legs feel tired already climbing up Kuakini.  It's only the beginning.  Help me look to you Lord!

Mile 5.  15.1 mph ave. Off my goal pace but trying not to be concerned. I have many flatter miles ahead of me on the Queen K.  

I head back to town and start the steep climb up Palani.  There are so many spectators!  It's such an exciting vibe to be here.  I see Troy and the girls cheering.  This will be the last time I see them for a long while.  I smile and try to thank them.  I love their support!

I turn on the Queen K.  Ok, this is where the mental race begins!  The scenery is not going to change much along here, just a plethora of lava rock to see!

Mile 15.  Passing the airport.  16.6 mph ave. Almost on goal pace.  I'm getting passed like crazy here.  It's hard not to let it affect me.  I feel the Lord reminding me that my worth isn't dependent on my placing.  He reminds me that it is a great blessing just to be here. 

293_3rd-2863826-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-5045_069394-18697039Mile 25.  I approach an aid station & get water.  I'm concerned about taking care of business, praying it goes well and it does. What a relief.  My nutrition is working well.  I'm drinking Vitargo for this first half.  I've enjoyed a Go-Go squeeze and now I pull out my sweet potato. Yum!  Troy put some sea salt in it and it's so good!  I save a little bit for later. With such a long day, it's so nice to have things to look forward to.  I'm making sure to grab 2 waters at each aid station: one to fill up my aero bottle and one to keep on hand to cool off and rinse off.

There has been a noticeable headwind going out but thankfully I've still been able to bring up my mph because of the flat road.

My jersey is riding up on my back and exposing my skin.  I'm so glad that Troy encouraged me to bring some sunscreen!  I pull it out and rub some on the spot.

I reach back to grab the rest of my potato and it's not there.  Oh dear! It fell out of my small pocket!  I hope it was at an aid station somewhere behind me!

Even though the highway is generally quiet besides us competitors, every so often I'll pass a community where spectators abound. It's a nice boost to see smiles and hear cheers!

298_3rd-2863826-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-5045_101544-18697044Mile 40.  I'm at 17.1 mph ave.  Yay! This is where we turn off the Queen K and climb up Akoni Pule Hwy all the way to the turnaround at Hawi.  I notice a shipping yard here.  This is must be where all the goods come from the main land.  I also notice several bars.  I guess that is for the sailors.  A section of the road is covered in dirt as if there were a recent flood.  I can tell that a good effort was made to clean up the area and it doesn't affect my ride at all.

Now I find myself passing more than I'm being passed.  My strength on the bike is climbing hills.  It's a nice mental boost.  Thank you Lord for legs that can climb!

I start to notice the pro women coming back. They are so far ahead…it's amazing!

I actually enjoy the climb up to Hawi. I'll get my Special Needs there.  I'm about done with my Vitargo and will switch to Perpetuem on the way back.  I'm able to stay ahead of my goal mph up until Mile 55.  The last 5 miles get steeper and tougher.  I watch riders coming back screaming down the hill.  That will be me soon! 

I roll into Hawi at 16.5mph.  Not bad!  Thank you Lord for sustaining me!  At the turnaround there are tons of spectators.  Again, a great boost! 

Before I leave town, I pull over for my Special Needs bag. It takes longer than expected for the volunteer to find it and they apologize.  I tell her it's no problem and "God Bless you".  She returns the blessing!  I had frozen my Thermo bottles of Perpetuem inside freezer bags filled with water. The water melted but is still cold. That worked pretty good!  I pull out a few more Go-Go squeezes and a ?????? Bar.  I hand the bag to the volunteer and roll out of town.  Then I remember I forgot the other half of my sweet potato in the bag. Oh well. 

Mile 60. I enjoy the 5 miles of downhill now. I pedal hard to capitalize on the free speed of gravity!  My average creeps up to 17.1! 

It's not all downhill here as I remember it wasn't all uphill along here going to Hawi.  The rolling part of the course is noticeable now and makes it mentally challenging. 

353_3rd-2863826-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-5045_243900-18697099Mile 80. By the time I turn back on the Queen K, I'm averaging around 17mph.  I'm noticing a headwind coming back!  The is the Big Island for you!  I'm feeling more fatigue set in now.  Lord, help me remain joyful! You have really given me a boost by giving me needed relief from an issue I prayed about! 

Mile 90.  Still at 17mph but my speed is creeping down.  Mentally it's a struggle but I find comfort in Christ.  Excited to be getting close to 100! 

Mile 100. 16.7 mph average now.  Headwind is tough.  Less than an hour to go.  I can finish this Lord with your strength!

Mile 105.  I pass the airport and am holding the 16.7mph average.  I'm going to see my family soon and I can get off this bike and run!

I see some pro women running towards the finish from the Energy Lab already!  Wow, they are just a few miles shy of the finish and I haven't even started the run yet!  I look for the moto camera crews and helicopter which would indicate the top pro.  I start to see some young 25-29 age group men. For some reason they are racing with the women today, rather than Saturday.  Also racing with the women are the 50-54, 60-64, 65-69, 70-74, 75-79, 80-84, and 85+ men.

I finally see a woman surrounded by a camera crew but the helicopter is further away.  She's probably the 2nd or 3rd woman.

Mile 110. I finally turn off the Queen K and head towards the old airport.  So close!! 

IMG_20221006_145715180Thank you Jesus for sustaining me today and for the miracle of having some relief from an issue I prayed about.

Mile 111. I see Troy!  I smile and wave. So glad to see him!  I'm sure the girls are close by

As I approach Palani, I pull my feet out of my bike shoes and place them on top.  I make the turn and hear the girls. I also hear Mike Reilly announcing the winner! "Welcome our Ironman Champion Chelsea Sodaro!".  Wow, that is humbling to know that I still have a marathon to run and the top pro is already finished!

I dismount and run into transition.

T2 [ Goal: 5:00; Actual: 7:49 ]

I feel surprisingly good!  There are no longer bike catchers so I have to run my bike back to my spot.  I have a little trouble putting it back in the stand but finally get it done.  I run the whole loop of the transition area again over to my run bag and then enter the changing tent.

A nice volunteer asks me if I want a wet towel and I say yes. She brings over a pretty big towel and drapes it over me. Ah, that feels great! I remember seeing a women on the Queen K with a towel like this around her neck. It's pretty big, but I'll give it a try.  I have a scratchy mesh bag I was going to use for keeping ice around my neck but this seems like a better alternative.

So glad to pull off these bike shorts and yucky socks!  I use the restroom and try to apply more sunscreen but it's like water on my skin and so hard to rub in.  My race number is rubbing off more but it doesn't really matter since I have my race bib on now. 

I tuck the towel into the neckline of my jersey and head out of the tent, grabbing water on the way. Time to run!

THE RUN  [ Goal: 4:38 (10:37 pace); Actual: 4:33 (10:19 pace) ]

I feel good exiting transition.  I run a bit up Palani and turn on Kuakini Hwy.  I see Troy and the girls cheering.  Yay!  I smile and wave.  I tell them I'm doing well.  

I soon turn and go down to Alii Dr.  I'm excited to run right past our condo. 

Mile 1.  9:33 pace.  I feel great and am tempted to pick up the pace.  I'm well ahead of my goal pace but know I have a LONG way to go.  Better to ease up and save my energy.

I am unsure how far down Alii I have to go. I should have studied the map. I'll just see where I end up.

I feel a little self-conscious with this large towel on my neck.  I start to think my race pictures will look funny and this stretch of Alii is so beautiful I don't want to see the towel.  I decide to ditch it at the next aid station.  I risk getting overheated without it because it can hold ice, but also risk getting overheated with it.  To keep cool I decide to put ice in my jersey instead.  It 326_3rd-2863826-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-5045_186533-18697072works pretty good though it doesn't stay on my neck.

I see Jane coming back.  She looks great and has a big smile.

Soon Troy comes biking by.  I'm so happy to spend a little time chatting with him. 

Mile 4. I'm feeling great as I near the turnaround. I'm averaging 9:50 pace!  I see a bathroom at the turnaround but it's too hard to get to. I ask Troy if he can check ahead to see if the next porta potty is free.  It's not but he finds another one and gives me the thumbs up. Great!

I lose some time and am now averaging 10:08 pace. No prob. I'm still well ahead of pace!

I hear someone call my name and see Lance Durst from Iron Prayer.  He's racing today too.  I tell him good job.  I'm praying for the other's from Iron Prayer who are racing today like Aubrie Yarbrough and Mike Pirnat.

Mile 6.  I see our condo.  As I get closer I hear Anna (on trumpet) and Ariel (on flute) playing for me.  I love it!  So cool they have a front row seat to all the action!

319_3rd-2863826-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-5045_177581-18697065Mile 7. It's not long before I'm climbing the steep Palani hill.  I continue to feel great and praise God!  I can't stop smiling.

I turn on the Queen K.  Just beyond is the Mile 8 marker.  I'm averaging 10:12 now after the hill but continue to feel amazing. I run past a cheer station.  They are playing music and dancing.  I pump my arms up and down as I run by. This is the last excitement for a while!

Mile 10.  Suddenly I have a decline in energy.  I am still able to stay under pace and still can't stop smiling.  Thank you Jesus for your help!

Mile 12.  I’m averaging 10:13 pace.  Very happy with that especially since it feels like I keep going uphill!

Troy bikes by.  I tell him I'm doing great despite the dip in energy.  He reminds me that when I come back here I'm going to push this 3 miles stretch that I ran 2 days ago.

I'm not far from the Energy Lab (EL) now and my special needs.  A beautiful sunset is forming.  I'm glad I put a headlamp in my special needs bag, I'm going to need it!

I grab water at an Aid Station and see Diana Hassel's husband, Dane. I ask how she is doing and he says she's having a tough run.  I tell him I'll pray for her and I do.

358_d-2869244-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-5045_198149-19667601Mile 14. As I turn toward the EL, I hit the porta potty once more.  I'm averaging 10:21 pace after the break.  Still ahead of pace!  Thank you Jesus!

Mile 15. As I continue to head down to the EL, I see Jane walking.  I stop to walk with her and pray for her.  I pray for God to give her energy and to bless her for spending every mile of her Ironman runs praying for others.

I make it to the Special Needs which is on the opposite side of the road and ask for my bag.  I can see I need to continue to run a bit further so I don't grab it yet. I'm looking forward to getting my favorite potato chips that I packed! 

Mile 16.  Turn-around.  I didn't realize how much further I had to run before turning back to my Special needs again! Mentally it's getting hard and I have to remind myself to smile. For God's glory!

Mile 17. I make it back to special needs.  I put on my headlamp and pull out my chips and 1/2 bottle of Vitargo. I walk for a little bit as I chug the bottle.  Now I've got to get back to work!

Mile 18.  Troy is waiting for me.  I tell him to pray for Jane.  He reminds me that it's almost time to pick up the pace for the 3 mi section (Mile 21 to Mile 24) we practiced. He also reminds me that I ran 8:20 pace that day but today will shoot for 9:20. I prepare myself for this.  Right now my pace has creeped up to 10:30.  Still under pace but not by much.  If I am able to go faster, it's going to be because of Jesus.  Though I feel joyful, I don’t feel energetic. 

IMG_20221006_181846989_HDRI exit the Energy Lab area finally.  It's getting dark now so I turn on my headlamp. Troy encourages me one last time as he speeds ahead into the dark.

Mile 20.  Yay! Pace is 10:33 now.  Yikes!  Please Lord help me to push it.  I believe I can do it in Your strength!  I feel more energy flowing as I prepare for the next mile.

Mile 21.  Ready, set and go!  I begin to pick it up.  I'm pleasantly surprised that I can do it without a big struggle.  That's you, Lord!

Mile 22.  9:18!  Awesome!  It's getting harder to push but I smile and keep trying.

Mile 23.  9:31. Close enough! Thank you Lord!  Just one more mile and I can back off going up the last "climb" to Palani.

Mile 24.  9:30.  Praise you Jesus!  Two more miles until the finish!  Yahoo!!

I hit the "hill" and press on at 10:22 pace. 

IMG_20221006_191740637Mile 25. I hit the top of Palani, it's 1 Mile to go! I'm tired but amped.  I can hear the girls and Troy cheering for me.  I cannot wait to hug them!

I turn onto Kuakini and push to the "hot corner".  Now I'm on Alii!  Last stretch!

Just before I hit the red finish carpet, I feel such great joy!  I shout out "Thank you Jesus" over and over again.  Some volunteers say "Amen". 

I smile and point to Jesus as I approach the finish.  It is only because of Him I can do this! 

Then finally, my last steps and I'm over the finish! Mike Reilly says "Robin Soares, you are an Ironman!" Wow, thank you Jesus!! 

410_d-2869244-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-5045_307481-19667653404_d-2869244-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-5045_307475-19667647367_d-2869244-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-5045_233554-19667610 - Copy420_d-2869244-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-5045_345828-19667663

I see my sister-in-Christ Flor Hodges. She's volunteering and helps me walk to get my medal and food.  Another wonderful blessing!  Thank you Jesus!

THE FINISH [ Goal: 12:42; Actual: 12:50:22 ]