‘Keep eating and moving forward`. When all my race plans had become meaningless, when there was 90k to go on the bike and I am working with blown legs, when I know things will probably become darker before there is light, my answer was to keep things simple- `Keep eating and moving forward`.
It had started of so well with the swim. Life had been easy then, 3.8k in relative comfort and hitting dry land at the front with the leaders. Just like the plan.
Over the next 2 hours I rode well in the pace line of the front group. I had been feeling good, even when the usual big pace surges had happened like they always do at the start in Kona my body had reacted good. I was growing in confidence as the kilometres passed.
Then it was over. Just like that.
I have had my share of explosions in the past but never so early or so spectacular in a race. For it to happen at the World Champs when I felt like I was in peak shape was a tough pill to swallow.
This is where the mental battle begins, physically you are temporarily broken but you can always win the mental battle if your prepared. However when your 90k from transition on and out and back course it`s a hell of a battle. So telling myself simple things like `Keep eating and moving forward`, `You never know what can happen` are the tricks I use.
In Kona most people fall apart at some stage, if you can keep motivated when most people would give up then you can salvage a respectable position.
I made it to T2 but my legs had nosedived even further. I shuffled towards the change tent with my bag in hand not really knowing what to do.
My lasting memory of Kona 2016 will probably be of the volunteers in the change tent. I was broken and they could see that. However their passion and shear enthusiasm to see me get out on the run course had me slipping on my Sketchers and hitting the tarmac.
Last year I had the fastest run split in Kona, within the first couple of steps I knew there would be no repeat performance. I ticked of the first couple of miles at nothing more than a fast jog. However as the miles ticked on I finally found my second wind and going into the final 2 hours of racing I felt like I was back. Even if I found myself in 30th place.
You can make a lot of progress in the closing stages of an Ironman, especially in Kona when you are running on the highway in the afternoon heat. It is brutal. 15 miles of highway, followed by the infamous `energy lab` section before the return leg on the highway. You see many broken people here, physically and mentally. Pure emotion on show.
I locked into 6.10 minute mile pace and just tried to hold it. It felt like I was flying. Very quickly I passed guys who were going through their own version of hell. Some walking, others cramping up and some just stopped at aid stations trying to get enough energy on board to make it to the end.
Over the remaining stages I climbed my way back to 13th and became the fastest Brit ever in Kona. Somehow finishing of with a 2.49 marathon split.
I gave it my all, it was not the performance I had hoped to produce but this is Kona and it can destroy even the best prepared athletes. Till next year.