1354 Edward Hawkins, GBR

1354 Hawkins, Edward GBR
Place in AG 35-39: 169 // Finish Time: 10:41:55
Swim: 1:05:20 // T1: 5:46 // Bike: 5:24:41 // T2: 7:14 // Run: 3:58:56

Coach’s remarks: Below is Ed’s Kona Race Report, been waiting on this for a while, it’s a great read and gives a nice insight on what it takes to get to ona, that being hard work!!!!! Many thanks Ed

What’s the first question you get asked when folks first find out you do triathlon?

Have you been to the Hawaiian Ironman?

Well, I have and you what the first question they asked after finding it was the first time I was going there after trying to qualify for 4 years was?

How are you going to feel after finishing Ironman Hawaii?

The answer now is easy – I feel empty, but satisfied. Why such mixed emotions? To be honest, as a race this was possibly my worst ever but as an experience this was up there with the best I have ever had. I met so many amazing people from so many different walks of life and countries. Hawaii, as a place, is simple stunning …magical. It feels almost like a mystical home. Life moves so slowly there, people seem to be so easy going and their bodies tick to a different clock there compared to the rest of the world, especially the clock that we from Dubai beat to on a daily basis.

It was great to see so many stars from the Ironman and ITU world. Crowie, Macca, Norman Stadler, Dave Scott, Mark Allen, Chrissie Wellington, Mirinda Carfrae, Jan Frodeno, Gomez, Tim Don, Simon Whitfield, Emma Snowsill, all world champions or gold medalists. It was simply amazing to be rubbing shoulders with them down on the legendary sands of Dig Me beach.

The race itself is hard, that’s it … hard. It’s hot, it’s windy and it’s never ending and unforgiving. There were a number of times where I could simply have just sat down by the side of the road, relaxed, chilled and watched the day go by. I was not in a happy place for the majority of the day, in fact from when the canon went off, but it was the world championships, the Ironman World Championships. I had chased this dream for at least 4 years to be where I was right now. Sarah and I had made many sacrifices to get to the start line. I did not want to waste the opportunity or be disrespectful by not finishing. I aimed to finish in the day light.

The swim was one of the hardest I have done to be fair and the bit I was most nervous about. It seemed to go on and on, you know what it is like. It was physical too, it was just so difficult to get a rhythm. For the first four hundred meters I do not think I put my face in the water and equally there was one or two athletes that had their fair tries at trying to either borrow my goggles, speed suit or timing chip, which was nice, but again we all know what it is like. The biggest bonus of the swim is the view you get. The ocean was so stunning and clear. It was a real honour to be able to swim that far out into the Pacific Ocean, you would never do that on your own. A couple of guys I spoke to said they saw dolphins, I didn’t but it would not surprise me. The ocean is so full of life, it is so different to the Arabian Gulf, it is like the Disney film Finding Nemo.

The bike course was the first race I had done where it was one single lap. I was not too sure how I felt about this, it was the unknown and you always hear about the infamous trade winds of Hawaii. At first it was not too bad and I was almost enjoying being passed by countless drafters, until about 20km from Hawi. I saw Crowie and the pros through. Then boom! There she was … Hawaii reminding us we were there and the winds could blow, ouch, it was hard, but it was the same for everyone. Once at the turn around in Hawi, the wind was with us for a stretch and it was great, 65kmph, flying for a while. We hit the turn onto the Queen Ka and I was thinking I was almost home, nah, there was still legs in this ride. There was at least another 50km and the wind had turned. This was going to be a hard one all the way home. Suck it up this is why we’re here.

The run was ok. It was hot, but nothing I really noticed until my back started to hurt due to the sunburn. The hardest part was the mid section out on the Queen Ka at 21km in. It seemed to be so far and mentally I was really struggling. I was going from aid station to aid station, just surviving. I met up with Flanners at the bottom of the Natural Energy Lab and chatted to him for about 10 minutes. I thought he looked good as he had all day, but he told me otherwise. We both decided we were going to cross the line together and celebrate, that was until we saw Aya and we both thought there was no way we wanted to get chicked by her as we would never hear the end of it.

The rest of the race was just as hard, run, puke, run, aid station, walk, run, puke, run, aid station, run, there was a type of rhythm going and in any normal race it wouldn’t have been that enjoyable, but this was Kona, Ironman Hawaii, so it really was a case of sucking it up and enjoying it, as these opportunities do not come knocking everyday. Finishing was great, as always,  you get a surge of energy from somewhere that you wished you had throughout the run. Going down the chute and over the line to Mike Reilly’s chorus of ….”Edward Hawkins, a teacher from the UK, now living in Dubai. You’re an Ironman” , was great and something I will remember for the rest of my life. It was great to take the Union Jack over the line, something I have never done before. I’m proud to be British and I am proud to have had this opportunity, like Jay says it’ll be one to tell the kids and grandkids about.

This isn’t the Oscars and even if it was, I didn’t win anything in Hawaii except my dream but there are a few people who need to be acknowledged for their help and support over the last 4 years in getting me to Hawaii. As always thank you to T2A. Guys when it looked like I was not going to be able to go the Hawaii, you all clubbed round and offered. I was so humbled. Once Sarah and I sat in our apartment in tears due to the kindness of you all. Jason has built an amazing team here and much credit goes to him for that, but it is you who day in day out are T2A. We welcome new members into the team and see old ones move on and then welcome some back. As a group we are without a doubt and race results aside, the best triathlon group in the Middle East. You are all infectious and we all work off each other to improve, develop and get faster. I take my hat off to you all from the fastest to the slowest you are all equal in my eyes.

An extra special mention must go to my training buddies, Ben and Neil especially, cheers lads. Not long for you now Benny, you know where I am mate. Goowie, Mr National, simple mate … thank you, you were brill! Jason, two years ago we sat having a coffee and Hawaii was the goal, we reached that and publicly thank you coach and friend. Thank you to my sponsors (Adrian at Probike, Richard at Sport in Life Dubai, Toby at Bike Fit Asia, Mike at Newton UK and Julie at Blue Seventy UK) as it have would been so much harder to have got where I did without you. Thank you to work and the guys in the PE Dept for being understanding especially Simon Gray. I really appreciate your work and without you I would not be able to do what I have done, so thank you. Equally, I have worked for a boss in the past that does not appreciate what you do outside of the office and I can tell you now it makes a huge difference, thank you Jason, Mark and Jonathan.

Mine and Sarah’s (my) family in the UK, all those times we had get togethers planned during holidays only for me to ‘pop’ out for a short 2 hour run or ride, thank you!

Lastly, and most importantly, thanks Sarah, we did it didn’t we babe, love you 😉

To be honest this is actually a pretty crap race report. Why? Because I can’t explain my feelings well enough, I can’t put them in to words. My main feelings in retrospect about the race is that I’m so disappointed with the performance, as I didn’t perform. I was sick a number of times and all day long I felt tired, no strength and deeply fatigued. It was five Ironmans in 18 months done, it’s got to take it’s toll. However, as an experience the day, it was amazing and I loved every minute. Did the performance detract from the experience, possibly, maybe, but not to the point that I am going to dwell upon it.  At the end of the day I really am an Ironman, a Hawaiian Ironman finisher in Kona.

On a side note, I understand that the WTC are in the process of changing the rules regarding the lottery system and they are looking into rewarding those who have completed 12 or more WTC Ironman races. An interesting move and one that on face value seems to reward the athlete that is loyal to the WTC. What do I think? Let them do it, if it works it works, it certainly means money in the bank for them. Interestingly, would I have taken a slot if I had qualified through the old lottery system or the new proposed one. The answer is simple, no. It’s not for me and I urge you to take time and think why do you compete in the sport of triathlon and moreover Ironman. Is it for the easy success? If it is then walk on by and get your goal of a lottery slot in Hawaii. You will go there and have the best time ever. I’m pretty sure however, that in a couple of years I’ll see you taking part in a different pastime away from the office. If something is worth working towards, it’s got to be worth doing properly. No disrespect to the guys who qualified to race Hawaii in a 70.3 this time round, but I truly believe to race in Hawaii you should qualify in an Ironman distance race. Jonny Brownlee does not rock up at the Olympics for a medal, having only done a sprint event. Equally with that thought in mind, if you want to do Hawaii, I urge you to work at it. Please don’t take the easy option and just settle for a lottery slot to collect your ticket. Train, put the effort in, put the time in, make the many sacrifices and qualify. Now, I’m hearing you say, what if I can’t do that? Well, my answer to that is simple, that’s life. I know there are many things in life that you can do that I can’t and I possibly will never able to do. It’s simple, it’s a hard lesson in life, but it’s true. However, how will you ever know if you didn’t try first, don’t just settle for the easy option. Put it out there, make a statement, put your balls on the line and if it doesn’t work out then learn from it. That’s how we develop as people, that’s how we grow. It’s all a life experience, you only get one shot at it. As i said before many know I disagree with the WTC for offering Hawaii slots in a 70.3 race, but putting it on the line is exactly what Neil and Marshie did. They put it out there and went for it. Look where it got them and you’ve got to respect them for it.

Don’t ever go for the easy option, it’s not an easy sport, take pride in what you’ve done and what you going to do. That way you can hold your head up high, when you get to where you want to be. You’ll be able to walk as tall as everyone else because you have earned the right, you’ve not ultimately been given it by someone else. It will taste so much sweeter.

If you have a dream, go for it and never give up. Its better to regret something you did rather than something you didn’t.

Where do I go from here? I don’t know really there are many things I’d like to do and I’m going to have a crack at them. A sub 3 hour marathon, a 1 hour 20 half marathon, a sub 9.30 ironman, the Norseman sounds good too! I will continue to represent my sponsors in the best way I can. Hell, even have a crack at going for an ITU age group title one day maybe, all the above are possibilities.

However, you know what really does sound appealing to me and that is to be a Dad. That’s got to be the best prize of all, hasn’t it?

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