Edward Hawkins, GBR
Place in Ag 35-39: tbc // Finish Time: 10:16:38
Swim: 0:55:40 // T1: tbc // Bike: 5:17:43 // T2: tbc // Run: 3:55:35
Race report – Ironman South Korea, 3/7/2011
Race reports are funny things I think. I always enjoy reading them when other people write them, but I always struggle to write them myself (maybe it’s because I’m just a PE teacher). So, here’s my effort, sorry if it’s crap, but as per normal I’m writing from the heart. Oh and sorry if it’s long and I waffle on, I didn’t know I knew so many words, let alone how to put them together like this.
I am now sat on the plane on my way home from South Korea, yes South Korea. I never thought I would ever have gone to South Korea. In the space of 7 months I have been to the UK, South Africa, South Korea and then to the UK again. I understand that for some of the people on the team this sort of traveling is the norm, but for Sarah and I, teachers, this is mind blowing and I never want to take it granted. I enjoy traveling, but I haven’t really had, what I would consider, too much opportunity compared to many others, so to have visited to South Korea with my wetsuit, bike and running shoes is just amazing.
My flights early on with Air China had been cancelled, so Sarah had rearranged for me to fly with Korean Air. This was a master stroke from her, as it meant that I would be travelling with Capt Carl, Noel and Marshie. We only had one stop off too, which was a real bonus, as I had two stops with Air China and if I am honest, I wasn’t really looking forward to traveling on my own, as it’s always more fun with friends and I was worried about losing my bike or bags if I had more than one stop too.
After being raped in the backside by Korean Air in Dubai for traveling with a bike (top tip always try and agree a price with the airline before you travel if you can for your bike) we boarded for Seoul. The journey to the resort Seogwipo, where the Ironman was held, was pretty uneventful, apart from sleeping, chatting to the guys and watching movies, all the normal things you get up to whilst flying.
We arrived in the early evening, got to our rooms, explored the wonder of the ‘electric toilet’ and then we popped out for something to eat. We chose a traditional Korean restaurant, which if I’m honest I wasn’t too convinced with. However, it turned out to be a great choice by Carl, Noel and Marshie, as the food was good and it was a great experience if a little worrying one, as I wasn’t too sure what the meat was we were eating. Later that evening, my room mate Benny arrived and I was pretty happy to be getting some shut eye, as I was feeling quite tired by this time, even if we did both commence our epic iPad game sessions that evening!
In the morning we woke to rain, yes rain. It was amazing, as I haven’t see or felt it since Christmas. It was still quite warm and humid, but it was just so good to feel the rain again. We chatted as a group and decided that we would register, expo it and swim today, as we didn’t really fancy the idea of riding in the rain for a number of reasons. The group quite rightly didn’t like the idea, because the roads were greasy, but to be honest I just didn’t want to get my bike dirty. Later that day, we registered and popped to the expo to spend some cash. The Bike Boutique were in charge of the main stand, where we met Alex Bok who is the manager of the business side of things for TBB. He seemed a nice guy and he was very welcoming to the team who had been and raced in Phuket. The swim practice was interesting to say the least, it was like a very choppy JBR day. We walked down to the beach underneath the hotel, this was not where the official start was going to be, as it was the open sea, but it was near to the hotel, so we were happy. After about 20minutes or so of fighting with the waves, or should I say swimming, we went back to the hotel to relax. Some of the group including myself weren’t hugely happy at the thought of the swim being like that, but I kept telling myself it’ll be the same for everyone racing.
The next two days were spent getting ready for the race. A small ride on the bikes, which resulted in one of the more sweatiest sessions I’ve had at such low temperatures due to the humidity. Getting the bike and bags packed and in T1, a recce of the bike course (via a very slow bus, where the wheels on the bus go round and round) and a small run on the course. All the normal things you do on taper pre race week.
As the race day rolled around, I was becoming nervous. It seems that there had been lots of athletes switch across from when IMChina was cancelled to Korea and while the race had been awarded an extra 25 Hawaii slots making it 75 in total, the most an Asian race has ever had, it also meant that the standard had also been raised, as it had in China last year. I was a little worried. I got a good nights sleep the penultimate night, however, the night before was no go. Sleep didn’t really happen and instead the iPad got a bit of a smashing, either Facebook, Twitter, emails or this driving game that Benny and I had downloaded. All good fun and it took our minds off the race ahead the next day.
I woke about 3am and I did all the normal things I do on race morning. Breakie was made up of Frosties (they’re grrrrrrreat!), Starbucks cold coffee (!?) and orange juice. Everything was pretty standard to be fair, apart from one thing, I really struggled to have a good number two!! It’s one of my nightmares racing and needed to go. A wee is fine, as you all know (well, Didge and Janey do), I’ll pee myself any day of the week especially in my wetsuit when training and racing. The thought of pooing on the course isn’t something I really like to do, hence I was a little worried.
My lucky number is 8. I believe in fate and without sounding silly if you add my race numbers together 233 – it totals 8. I like the number 8, my sporting hero,Ian Wright, the Arsenal footballer always played in the number 8 and it’s also like 0 that like me has lost weight and can now wear smaller jeans 😉 (think about it!) It’s also regarded a lucky number in the Far East …. so things were looking good.
Carl, Noel, Suz, Marshie and I took the bus to the start and got ourselves ready early. I like getting to the start early doors, as it means if anything has gone tits up you’ve got time to sort it. I checked the bike, everything was fine and then I sat ready to get myself sorted and ready to race. Poor Marshie was having a mare with his bike and I really felt for him. This is also my complete nightmare on the morning of a race and I have to say I was so impressed with the way in which he dealt with the situation. I know I would not be as calm or forgiving, what a T2A legend!
I felt a bit over this race at the start to be honest. You guys all know how I wear my heart on the sleeve. You see how I’m feeling whether I’m happy, sad, tired or on form etc. I was finding it difficult to really get up for it, I really felt I had a devil on my back and I wanted rid of him big stylie! I also had a headache, bang goes the pain killers down my throat and I crossed my fingers that it would disappear, fortunately they did the job- it must have just been nerves.
The swim was two laps out and back in the sea. To my relief it was calm, not like the other day, think JBR on those beautiful days when you know you’re going to get beasted by Coach, but at least you know that the sea is on your side as it’s as calm as a pond. I started way across to the left hand side away from the pros and away from, in my experience, is normally the fighting area.The gun or fireworks went off and we were on, as I always say ‘like donkey kong!’
The first lap of the swim was a breeze, nice long strokes and I felt like I was moving pretty well. I got out and saw Benny and Noel in the crowd shouting. My garmin had cocked up, so I wasn’t too sure what my time was for the first lap, but I had Benny shouting 28mins…..oh my god, that went well, I thought. I ran round and onto the second lap. In South Africa I read in the race magazine that as an age grouper you always tend to swim 2minutes slower on your second half of an Ironman swim and I did that there. Potentially in Korea then I was looking at a 58min swim for an ironman and I’d take that any day of the week, as it would be the pb I was looking for. But it turns out I was faster. It felt faster, but I’ve been in the same position before where I’d got out of the swim only to be disappointed with my time so I wasn’t going to get excited until I saw the clock when I got out the water. The second lap I pretty much swam on my own apart from the very beginning and the final 200m, it felt fast. Exiting the second lap I ran into T1, got my stuff and headed out for my bike. Benny was stood with Noel and Jordo, he was shouting something out at me and I assumed it was to do with my swim time. After two or three shouts from him I understood what he was saying..56mins for the swim Ed! 56mins swim mate! Wow I was blown away, not 2mins slower as I thought might happen, but 2mins faster?! I knew I was swimming well in training, but I have always wondered about putting it together in a race, I’d never done it before. This time I had and it had set me up for the day ahead (in fact in turns out I did a 55.40 swim on a course that I thought was short, but was pretty accurate on Benny’s Garmin).
I got out on the bike and I had one word on my mind, control, control, control. All day long I had to control my efforts, control my power. I sat the whole of the first lap under 200watts and I can tell you it was hard to just sit there while watching others who I felt and knew were no way near as strong on the bike were riding away from me. I wasn’t really enjoying it, but it was nice to see different things other than the ‘White Walls of Longtoot.’ There were some long climbs on the course, which due to the areas where we ride we hadn’t really had too much of a chance to train on, so limiting my power output on the bike made it even more important for later on in the race. The first lap I was again pretty much alone as I watched many guys ride past me. “Control” I kept telling myself, “control.” On the first turn around point of the second lap I hit a stone in the road (a great tip if you don’t want to hit something don’t look at it as you generally end up moving in that direction on the bike if you’re looking at it, that is unless your name is Craig Jordan, then probably not looking where you going anyhow and either adjusting your brakes or actually aiming for bushes/road work signs, hey mate?). On the Crowie camp back in November the same thing happened and it resulted in a flat, damn, I couldn’t believe it, I thought I’d got a flat! I quickly stopped and checked the tyre, spinning the wheel, listening, nothing, mmmmm maybe not, I’d chance it and carry on before I started the rigmarole of changing it. I carried on nice and steady, no sign of the flat, thank you to the Ironman gods!
On the second lap I started to ride a little more like I know I can and I upped my power by 10watts and I completely smashed the downhills, my top speed on the bike computer was 85kmph. I’d noticed on the bike that there some big packs forming and there was a fair bit of legal drafting taking place, with 50km to go on the second lap I found myself in between two packs that had formed. I made the decision to join one of the packs and work with a group. I dropped the hammer in order to catch up with the pack in front. After about 15mins or so I was with them, but sat at 7m as I didn’t want to get a penalty. Once with this pack, I hoped my watts would drop, as too my heart rate and if I was able to stay with them then it would nice and easy for the last 45km home to T2. This is exactly what happened and I rode with the group dropping off the bike into T2 feeling pretty fresh and actually really looking forward to the marathon. My Garmin was still screwed, so I dumped it in my run bag and decided to run on feel, ‘Coach would be so proud’, I thought to myself.
Heading out onto run I could instantly feel the heat way more than I did on the bike. There was no wind as I was heading out to the World Cup stadium and because of this I took the first kms of the run steady. Control was what I kept telling myself on the bike, slow and steady was what I was going to tell myself on the run. I had decided to run with a Camelbak, because in past races I have become bloated and struggled to keep fluid down, because at the aid stations I tried to consume too much too quickly. A Camelbak allowed me to sip away throughout the run so hopefully I wasn’t going to bloat and start to feel sick again. I was over taken by a couple of athletes on my way out on the first lap, but I was also overtaking a number, however most of the athletes I was overtaking were 70.3 ones with a green number and it was starting to frustrate me. I held my pace and kept saying my mantra, slow and steady, slow and steady. I saw Benny, who was on his way to the finish, he looked like he was flying and very comfortable. Next up was Jordo, who also looked very much in control and was smashing it, get running from the both of them and even better biking from Craig I thought to myself. I hit the World Cup stadium and the turn around. Back the way we came and into the wind….ah, that was better, there was a bit of a head wind and it did make a different, not much, but a difference. For the first time in an Ironman race, I wasn’t holding out for the aid stations thanks to my camelbak. The aid stations were good to see as it meant that I was getting closer to the finish line and I enjoyed the coke (magical, wonderful stuff) and the ice down my pants (the Korean old ladies thought that was ‘fery fery phunny, wuff you wong time, 15 dollar!!!! So the aid stations weren’t the be all and end all in the race whereas they had been in past. I saw Milan and Aja a couple of times. Aja was having a monster race, really tearing up the run course and Milan was looking really strong too. Then there was Marshie, poor bloke, what with all his problems at the start he then told me that his Di2 had packed in and he’d ridden for 175km with one gear, what else could go wring for the guy! Well, as it turned out he also got really burnt! All I can say is again, respect Marshie, plain and simple respect to you, I know I could not have done that.
I was hoping to see Benny as I came onto the second run lap, so I could find out where I was in my age group from Ironmanlive.com after he had finished his race. However, due to the course not being like what we thought it was I thought that I’d missed him. But then came the cavalry, 10minutes into starting the second lap I heard a bike coming up from behind me, BOOM…..here’s Benny! Great, some news from either ironmanlive.com or from coach via text/email/chat room. Ok, mmmmm maybe not, the bloody website was down and there were no live timing splits, so Benny told me he didn’t know anything, but I was looking strong and to keep going at the pace I was working to. Running blind without a garmin, running blind without timings, well done WTC, hey good job! Still it was probably doing me favour, I just had to get on with it and enjoy the day, it was the same for everyone. I kept on trucking, slow and steady I kept telling myself, slow and steady then I hit the turn around again for the second and last time. At this moment, I was in a pretty dark place and I was struggling to be honest. For the first time in an Ironman I took in some gels on the run and as if by magic within 10mins I’d perked up and I felt so much better. It was back on and I was running well, picking the pace up to 13kmph in places. I had about 5km to go and one aid station left. I had to just keep putting one foot in front of the other, keep the turn over going and I’d be done, my 7th Ironman finish, but there were still a few hills to climb first. These hills seemed as though they were going on forever and I really started to doubt where the last aid station was. Just as I started to wonder whether I’d able to either carry on at the pace I was running at or even carry on for that matter…. I saw the last aid station. Approaching it I remembered what Macca had done in Kona last year, where he had missed it in order to smash the last few kms in order to grab the win. While I obviously wasn’t in that position, I knew I wanted to finish strongly and I had a renewed spring in my step knowing I was so close to the finish, so I grabbed a coke without stopping, threw it down my face and top, missing my mouth completely (even if it is big) and picked up my pace again. Suddenly, there in front of me was the left turn down to the finish area. Looking ahead I could see a group of runners making their way to the finish also, one of them was in my age group, however I didn’t know if they were on their first or second lap. I could hear Benny shouting encouragement and I knew I had to go for it. All I could do was to throw my Camelbak, ‘400m’ he said, ‘400 bloody metres’ I replied! I had a wee sense of humour failure, 400m wasn’t that far obviously,but still I wasn’t too happy as I was really moving and my thighs were cramping up. I’d already traveled 225.6km, but 400m seemed just a little too far, what a dickhead Hawkins step back into reality! Turning into the finish area I was sprinting as fast as I could (not as fast Marshie’s sprint finish, mind that was awesome), right up on my forefoot, Newton Running would have been well proud. I felt like Usain Bolt. Crossing the line, arms up in the air, I’d done it again, another Ironman finish in the bag!
Once I’d got my finishers medal, tee shirt, drink etc I walked across to where Benny and Noel were sat down. I was mostly happy with the performance I’d given. I’d raced hard, but more importantly for the first time I felt I’d raced intelligently. There was nothing more I could do, it was now in the hands of the Ironman gods, however as there was no live public timing splits, there was no way of finding out how I had done. Benny and Jordo had qualified for Vegas and I was over the moon for them. It was awesome. Benny went and got some local Cass beer and I was on it, ka boom! Oh, how it tasted good, I loved every minute of that beer it had been over 3 months since I’d had a beer I really loved that first one. Aja was next in, she’d smashed it, winning her Age Group, 3rd Age Group chick overall and in turn qualifying for Kona, amazing and good for her, as I said she’d really torn up that course. Next up, Milan was in and straight into the medical tent, he was in a bad place, but as right as rain after an IV drip. Then Suz finished, who also had a stormer of a race……… but Carl was still out there and we were all getting a little worried, as he should have been home some time ago. News filtered through that Carl had struggled during the run due to a lack of energy, but he only had 2km to go. He had kept on trucking all the way home to the finish. Let me tell you, he is a warrior and a real star of T2A. He has his own story to tell, but let me say just how easy would it have been for him, one of the best 55-59 age group athletes in the world to have dropped out, but no – this guy just kept on going, he was amazing and in that single race he epitomised everything that we as Ironman Age Group athletes stand for. He is such an awesome role model for all in the team and to everyone he meets. It is people like Carl who inspire me to train, to race and I hope that when I get to Carl’s age I am as active as he is. He is simply an inspiration to all. Thank you Carl.
By now it was getting late and I still didn’t know how I had done, so I popped up to the race office by the finish area to have a word. I spoke to the Head of WTC Asia, Murphy and he pulled me into the office to have a look at the unofficial results with the Race Director. As they opened them up on the laptop screen, it seemed to take forever for the excel spreadsheet to boot up. Firstly, the programme was there, then the results. They scrolled down towards my age group…it all took forever….18-24 males, come on!……25-29 males, come on!…..30-34 males, come on!……..35-39 males, right here we go…….
There it was:
Edward Hawkins –
Swim – 55:40
Bike – 5.17.43
Run – 3.55.35
Total – 10.16.38
Age Group place: ?????
Murphy asked, “How many Hawaii slots in your age group, Ed?”
“9”, I said.
“Yep, 9”, confirmed the Race Director!
“Well you can go and have another beer Ed …… you are definitely going to Kona, you came 8th in you age group.”
OMG, OMG, OMG OMG! Stay calm, stay calm, I walked over to Benny and Suz not knowing what to say, at first I was quite chilled, but then suddenly ….. Kona, Kona, Kona, Kona just came out! I was off to bloody Hawaii!!!!
Unbelievable, just unbelievable.
As I said I believe in fate. My race number added up to 8, I came 8th in my Age Group and the Hawaii Ironman will be my 8th race, it takes place on the 8th October (which also comes from the old Roman latin word, ‘octo’ meaning 8 and October was their 8th month in their calendar, rather then their tenth as we now know it ), 8….8….8……8 it must have been fate, pure and simple!
Well, from this race what have I taken from it that in turn I hope that maybe you will learn from it too? That’s easy…….planning, preparation, patience and pleasure!
Plan your race down to the very smallest detail, but remember if things don’t go your way be prepared to be flexible and have a back up plan. Be patient, Ironman racing is a long old day and you have to be prepared for that. Embrace it, pace yourself early on, as so many people go hell for leather and blow ‘BIG’ style either in the second half of the bike or in the last 15km of the run, because they didn’t eat enough on the bike or because they pushed the pace too early. You won’t have to force it. Enjoy the race, you’re doing it for fun, you’re not a pro, none of us are going to be, so remember to take time out and enjoy the people around you, the location and the fact that you are so fit compared to the general population. We forget this as we surround ourselves with people who think it’s also normal to get up and ride 150km on a Friday morning at 4am, run 20km after work or swim 4km in the pool before breakie! Well, I’m sorry to break this news to everyone, but IT IS NOT NORMAL, so enjoy that fact you’re amazing for doing what you’re doing and where you’ve come from in terms of starting out in this crazy sport. Enjoy the moment, it’s special and priceless!
Marshall sit down at the back and stop taking the piss out of me please 😉
Where could I have improved on this performance……? Well that’s simple, while I’m happy to have qualified for Hawaii, I still have never nailed an Ironman run in my opinion. I’m owed a sub 3.20 marathon at some point off a controlled bike leg. Maybe it’s a nutrition aspect – not enough gels going in to my body therefore I still struggle at 20/25km into run or is it just self belief in my abilities? I’m not sure, but you can bet it’s something I’ll strive to correct? I’d still love to go sub 9.30 one day (sub 60 swim, 5.05 bike and then a 3.20 run making sub a 9.30 ironman, fast course anyone? I’ve heard Austria is pretty fast, hey Marino?).
Right so onto the Oscar style thank yous……
Thank you to my sponsors, Naomi and Guy (who had a stormer of a race in the 70.3 coming second pro) at www.blueseventy.com, Adrian at www.probike.ae and Toby at www.asiabikefit.com. Without your help over the past months I wouldn’t have got to the start line, let alone race as well or as comfortably as I did.
Thank you to my colleagues, you have supported me at work, covered for me when I’ve not been there and also listened to me go on and on about Kona and Ironman. I know, I’m boring.
Thank you to my bosses at work. Without their support and understanding I would not be able travel, train and then race. It simply wouldn’t work or happen without your support.
Thank you to all the team. I understand that the team has been there for me, to support me, to help when things have been difficult and when results in the past haven’t gone my way. You my team have been my cradle to catch me and pick me up when it’s been hard. Sessions like 2.30 on a Friday morning and I’ve got 200km to ride down in Longtoot with a run off it or we’ve another lap of those pissing boats to do at JBR and I’ve swallowed so much bloody sea water I feel like a desalination plant, or a Coach dirt on Saturday evening and we had to smash the last 5km at sub 4min per km. Ouch! I thank you all for that. I also understand, so I’ve been told, that at times I’m ‘not very approachable’ and if this is the case and I’m a moody git, then I’m truly sorry, I don’t mean to be and thank you all for putting up with me. Maybe I need more sleep, maybe I just need to be nicer to people, but thank you again for all your patience.
In particular there have been a number guys who have been there for me when I’ve had specific sessions, either in the pool, in the sea, on the bike or on the many, many runs I have done over the past two years, you know who you are and I thank you. I simply could not have qualified last Sunday without you and your efforts over the last months. I’m so glad that I can repay the faith you have shown in me by getting to Hawaii.
Jason is my coach and my triathlon master. I hear at times from within the team occasional moans about him with reference to this and that and this can be fully understandable and more importantly justifiable. However, I’m not entirely sure that the team fully understands just how much he cares that we all do well in our races and in our lives outside of triathlon. Almost three years ago, when I found that Sarah and I might be moving to Dubai I emailed Jason with a load of questions just after the first Crowie camp and he emailed back a slightly odd email where he used my original text and answered the questions underneath in red so he didn’t have to write a full email. Mmmmm I thought, fair enough, slightly economic with the use of the keyboard, but I noticed what he wrote was to the point and made a lot of sense to me. Jason knows his stuff, it maybe old school, he may not go on about power etc and there can be times when he gets it wrong (Jay’s race time in South Africa), but 99% of the time the Aussie bastard is always right. How many times have we received an email on a Sunday morning where he calls a result 20km into a race only for that person to hit the time or be a couple of minutes either side? The answer is, all the time. That’s not luck, that’s knowing your athletes and what they can do and are capable of. Thank you Jason, while we haven’t always agreed I trust you completely and I thank you for the faith you have shown in me and your guidance. I will always value our friendship.
I wasn’t sure if I was going to write a race report for this one, but I have now for a number of reasons. I understand that people learn loads from them and it’s good to see how things went etc for different athletes. When I read other team members race reports I’m always interested to see where I can learn new ways of doing things and then in turn maybe race better or more importantly faster. But for some reason this race seemed way more personal than any race I’ve ever done before and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to share that with everyone. There’s possibly number of reasons for this. Firstly, maybe because I hit the goal that I’ve been shooting for for awhile. Secondly, maybe because I felt it was it’s pretty obvious how I was going to feel about the result of this race and I didn’t want to insult anyone by going on about it. Thirdly, maybe because I simply want to keep some of my feelings secret about the race, because for once I wanted to keep those feelings to myself and Sarah. However, lastly and probably the real reason why I thought about not writing race report was that I’m so gutted for Carl and Noeline. I’m so happy to do so well and get to Kona. While Jason is my coach, Carl is my mentor. I look up to him, I respect him. I’ve only ever wanted to race Kona, but I only ever thought I’d be doing it with Carl along side me, doing it on my own didn’t fit into the equation. I can not say how disappointed I am for him not to reach his goal and in October come race morning I will be thinking of him and everything he and Noeline have done for Sarah and I since our time in Dubai. On Saturday 8th October in Kona, I will be racing for Carl Luitingh as well as myself. Carl and Noel you are more than just friends to Sarah and I.
Lastly, I must thank my Sarah, the other half of Team Hawkins. Thank you babe, I love you xxx
In reading this race report I hope that my actions each day may inspire someone to become more active, maybe not triathlon or Ironman racing ….. it’s not for everyone, but some form of exercise that they enjoy. I really hope that the children that I teach, the parents I speak to and other people that I meet on a day to day basis see what I do, question it and then in turn question their lives, their actions. Are they healthy? Are they fit? Do they take part in active physical recreation? Are there some very simple changes they could make to their lives in order to be more healthy and in terms have a better quality of life for themselves and their loved ones?
I really hope that my example inspires people to do that.
Right next stop Kona, Hawaii and the Ironman World Championships 2011.
Game on donkey kong, I’m all over it!
Cheers guys, thank you and be safe,