I am also a little in fear here of repeating what is in my book within this blog, although my book will go into a lot more detail. I do however owe the readers of my blog particularly the ones who have been there since the beginning an account of what is the most infamous triathlon race of them all and the one I had personally been leading up to...and what a day it was! Here is part 1...
I travelled to Kona alone on the 24th September, 16 days before the main event. It was decided that all I was doing was waiting in Lanzarote to go, so it made sense to travel out a further 10 days before in order to acclimatise. This notion was agreed by friend and qualifier Aled and we luckily found a lovely apartment for little money on Ali I' Drive. I had competed in the Ironman Lanzarote 70.3 the weekend before flying to Kona which I am going to run over as it was a truly awful race. Despite a podium it didn't help me mentally as I hoped it would and I struggled on the bike and run. The months off in the summer after my operation had not boded me well. However, I only wanted to finish Kona, there was no pressure and no expectations. I had already proved myself.
The flights to The Big Island were long, over 20 hours in total, but I was ecstatic to be going. It was only until I could feel the plane prepare to land into Kona that I began to get emotional. As the lights of Kona came into view 'Love you 'Till the End' by 'The Pogues' played through my ears. I cried and wiped away the tears rolling down my face. The reason as to why I was there hit me hard and the journey I had been on flashed though my eyes. Rosie was the only thing on my mind but I had to remain strong - I was there for her.
Kona airport is tiny and as I walked off the plane into the open airport the heat and humidity even at 9pm took me away. I was sticky and uncomfortable within minutes. Aled had arrived half an hour before me and despite a car hire issue we were on our way. It was a surreal feeling being in Kona and we both kept saying to each other, "I can't believe we're actually here". It was a moment we had dreamt about for so long. Our apartment was perfect and we soon made it home. The 10 days before my other friends arrived, including Nathan, were spent training, sleeping (I was always tired due to jetlag) and exploring downtown Kona. The first breakfast at Lava Java café was so surreal. I had heard so much about this popular spot. I still could not believe I was there and even looking back on it I cannot believe I was. It was a truly magical moment and I had to have a moment where I sat on the wall overlooking Kona Bay. We had really made it Rose, I felt like I was going to wake up from a dream.
|First breakfast at Lava Java|
|The bay from Lava Java|
|In my swim skin at Digme Beach|
Running took a bit longer to gain confidence and I only got out because I decided to go early one morning, 6am early, in the hope of avoiding many athletes. I was surprised by the amount of people out but it didn't deter me and I enjoyed my run and was going quicker than my usual splits, saying hello to everyone I saw. It was however stifling, even at 6am. The humidity actually took my breath away. How was I going to do a marathon in this? I came back absolutely drenched. I went out for longer runs, including 2 hours worth but always going away from town. There was no way I was running past Lava Java, a spot where I knew I would be assessed and in my head judged.
Exactly a week before the race there was a practice swim of the course. I ended up finishing in 1h17 which I was pretty disappointed with as I was at the halfway mark in 30 minutes. I knew on the way back I was doing some shocking sighting but what was I doing for 47 minutes? However, it was still a non wetsuit swim which is said to add 10 minutes on and the currents were definitely evident. It was however only practice and I could only hope I could improve in a weeks time.
I greeted my friends from the airport that night and it was amazing to welcome Nathan who I had missed. During my moments of low confidence I knew I could have confided in him and he would've helped me through my feelings with me. He has been a huge support to me when in Lanzarote, more so than anyone can understand. I'm not the confident, loud and happy Hollie everyone sees and his belief and love has helped me through the past year, quickly becoming part of my family.
|Two of my girls|
|Just a start|
|Me with the legend Dave Scott|
|With the 2014 Ironman World Champion|
|The Underpants Run|
I also took part in the parade of nations were I stood proudly with the GB members meeting up with friends and walking along downtown Kona with our tshirts on and flag raised high.
|My mum and I|
I had registered on the Monday where I received my Ironman World Championship rucksack which is probably the most expensive bag ever but it really is priceless.
Soon enough it was the day before the race. I had some homemade pasta and went to bed. I didn't feel nervous as such I just wanted it over. There were so many unknown's; the heat, the terrain, the wind. I honestly couldn't be bothered to race. Although I wasn't nervous of the race as such I was scared of not finishing and letting people down, mainly Rosie. I didn't feel any pressure from others but I felt pressure on myself just to finish. I feared it as much as I did before my first Ironman; just like then (and actually before any Ironman) there were no guarantees I would finish and this consumed me. What if I crashed on the bike and all my hard work was over? I had to stay safe no matter what and not get ahead of myself. All I knew is that I could not fail. I just couldn't. The day I had been waiting for for 2 years was imminent. The blood, sweat and oh so many tears was under 24 hours away...(to be continued).