Ko Aloha la ea – “keep the love”

Posted: October 15, 2011 in Uncategorized

Sitting at the table having breakfast the morning of the race I started to read the welcome speech written by the race director, titled: Ko Aloha la ea – “keep the love”

“Each athlete has a vision, one representing strength and courage that begins with a dream and is filled with love.  The love that surrounds you and what is within you has brought you here.  No matter what challenges you face, no matter who you are or where you come from, with love you can surmount anything.  I encourage you to reflect on the journey that brought you to Kona and what it has taught you.  It is time to call upon your knowledge, inner strength and determination.  Embrace the power of the Big Island, conquer this championship and fulfil your dream.  As you continue your journey, embrace the purpose of competition.  Competition is not the domination of others, but rather the pursuit of excellence within you.”

The journey I have been on over the last 17 months was summarised there in that welcome speech.

Starting with the crash in Lanzarote and what followed.
I would have never made it to Kona without the amazing support of my friends, family and most significantly my truly legendary girl friend, Carli.  The weekend before the race we ventured over to Maui and on black rock, a lava headland, with the surf crashing all around us I asked her to marry me.  She said YES!  So for me, sitting there at 3.30am eating my breakfast, the reference to “love” in the welcome speech really did hold extra special significance.

The race its self was certainly one hell of an experience.  The swim was tough and like nothing I have ever done before.  The intensity and aggression of all the swimmers was crazy.  You would have thought it was a 100m sprint not the start of an Ironman.   I felt like I was doing OK so was pretty surprised to see my clock read a slow 1hr 01 mins when I exited the water.

Much like the swim, it felt like the bike was going OK.  I started out at a controlled pace and was feeling good.  It felt like I was slowly moving up the field and at the turn around point I don’t think I was more than a 5 minutes off the leading age groupers.  The return leg was always going to be where the damage would be done.  As the sun heats up the lava rocks, they in turn heat up the air around them and this then gets blown into your face by super strong head winds. I knew what to expect having checked out the course at the same time of day the week before.  However, at race pace effort I found myself overheating.   Backing off the pace slightly helped and I made the call not to try and push but find a comfortable pace in this heat, which was a disappointingly slow pace.Chris Goodfellow Kona Bike

I came into T2 in 5hrs 03 mins.  As with the swim, this was slower than I would have expected but I was hopeful I would still be able to run well.  It was immediately obvious that this was not going to be the case.  I could not even hold 5 mins / km.  People were flying by me like I was standing still.   The heat was just sapping the energy from me and the situation did not seem to improve.  This is what I was afraid would happen out here.  I know I suffer in the heat and I had hoped that the heat training and acclimatization might help.  After this race I don’t think any amount of heat training can help me.  I am just not designed / built to race in the heat.

Despite all of this, my mind was still in a good place and I was feeling surprisingly positive. I have become good at gauging the effort level needed for the run section of an Ironman.  So I just locked in on that and walked the aid stations.  The time was going to be bad, I knew that, but I just focused on trying to enjoy as much as I could of what was left of the day.  The run time ended up being an embarrassingly slow 3hrs 57 mins.  Probably one of my slowest ever Ironman runs.  Still as I crossed the finish line I felt honoured to have been part of what is truly an amazing event.

My finishing time was 10hrs 08mins.  Not a great time for me, but if you asked me what went wrong, I honestly don’t think anything did.  I always knew that for me, heat was going to be the limiting factor.  Given the conditions on the day, this was the very best my body could do.  Looking over the results I was 535th overall and 100th out of 171 in my age group.  The competitive side of my nature kicks in at this point and I cannot help feeling disappointed with my performance.  Then the other half of my brain reminds me that I gave my all and this was the very best my body could have done under the conditions on the day.  Honestly, part of me will always feel disappointed I was not able to perform to the level that I know I am capable of, but that is just the way things go sometimes.

Later on that evening we went back to the finish and watched 60, 70 and even 80+ year old men and women finishing the race.  Truly inspirational stuff.  I repeatedly found myself holding back the tears as athletes crossed the line.  This whole day has left me feeling very humble.  There are some truly amazing athletes competing in this event and I feel honoured to have been out there competing with and against them.  It has been an awesome experience and in the words of the race director, Ko Aloha la ea – “keep the love”.

Hawaii Sun Set

  1. Adam Moore says:

    Hi Chris,

    Been following your story for a while since your crash in Lanza. I remember getting the news a few days later from Ruth and Steve Mckeever on what had happened and the condition you were in. I continued to follow a few of your post to see what kind of comeback you could make. I enjoyed the story about the dude lending you the cash to enter Kona (your right it does sum up the people in this sport and the kind nature they have) and found the article in triathlete Europe very inspiring!

    When I saw you were on your way to Kona it did put a smile on my face and despite not knowing you that well I felt my self really egging you on to have a good race. So despite the fact you are not entirely happy with the result (when are we ever!) I think on this occasion you don’t need to worry about it, because in my eyes you have won.. because after this incredible 17 month journey, you got to kona, completed the race and got the girl!!! 🙂

    Look forward to seeing you smash out some big results in 2012

    Good luck

    Adam (team) Moore

  2. Kerry jones says:

    Well done chris we are so proud of you x glad you enjoyed the experience keep going love kerry xx

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