Trek Ambassador Race Report: Kym Jaenke at Hawaii Ironman
Kona 2012 – What An Experience.
Race week was unbelievable, the atmosphere and vibe of Kona was exciting but I remained focused on what I was there to achieve on race day. I rode and ran various parts of the course in the week leading up to the race and swam in the ocean nearly every day.
I woke on Saturday morning more nervous than I had ever been. I felt nauseous, anxious and concerned about the unknown of the day ahead.
After entering transition to pump my tyres, get my nutrition set up and do a last time walk through of the transition I was feeling a little more relaxed. A few family photos with Peter, my parents & family who had travelled to watch the race, and then I was set to race.
I had seen the mass start photos, seen it on TV and I knew I wanted to be in the water and settled somewhere near the front for the race start. I entered the water at about 6.45, did a few swim throughs and then made my way to the front line. Treading water there among hundreds at that time was a bit surreal, an amazing feeling to be part of it. Looking underwater you could see photographers & cameramen amongst the fish trying to get those great shots you see following the event. The hundreds treading water became a couple of thousand closer to the race start.
The canon failed to fire so it was a mass start before the big bang, but once we were off, there was white water, arms, legs, torsos everywhere. It did not take me long to settle down, find my own place and water and swim hard trying to stay on men’s legs and wash for the first 400 metres or so. It was an amazing swim, the reef fish below, the patches of nothing, swimming towards the turnaround yacht. What a marvellous turning buoy, no one could say it was not clear where to turn from a long way out. Swimming back to transition I was focussing on keeping the shortest possible line, closest to the buoys, taking advantage of swimmers in front of me to sit on their feet when I could. Finally, I was in line with the pier and it was a great feeling to swim along beside it and to know one leg nearly done, time for the cycle.
The first few kilometres on the bike were “busy”. I was somewhere in the first five females out of the swim so was surrounded by alot of male cyclists in the early stages. I used that time to eat my protein bar, drink alot of fluids and set me up nutrition-wise for the day ahead. I was pleased to feel a tailwind out on the highway but knew it would not last all day. After Waikola the headwinds and the crosswinds started. I really had to fight the crosswinds at same stages. I stayed relaxed, I was even surprised to see I was passing riders on the uphills, I remained seated and just churned the pedals over thinking just let the bike glide through the winds, maintaining consistent effort and power. The headwinds grew as I approached Hawi and I was glad to see the turnaround. Coming home, I felt like was riding faster than I ever had, I felt strong, the extra bike work I had done was paying dividends. Then I hit the dirt.
I was on a descent at around the 120km mark. A gust of wind came across my bike and I tried to push into it. I couldn’t. I felt myself heading towards the side of the road to my right and could do nothing to stop the sideward motion. I am not sure what happened once I hit the dirt until the thud of my helmet hitting the ground. I think I must have been really relaxed and kept my arms in the aero position because after lying there momentarily I got up and despite being sore was somehow fine. Yes, I could continue.
I used water from drink bottles to clean wounds on my shoulder and face. My head hurt but I could think straight, I was not concussed and I was going to finish this race. I must say I rode conservatively for the remaining 60kms. That may be why I ran a faster marathon than ever before. I couldn’t stand up in the saddle as the pain in my arm and shoulder was unbearable. My muscles tightened and my back seemed to stiffen as the race went on but I used water from the drink stations to remain cool and pour over my legs and back at any chance I had. As long as I was moving forward I had a chance....
I was relieved to come into town and give my bike to a handler at transition. In my head I said “you are fortunate to be back at transition Kym, the run is yours to lose now.”
I knew I had 10 minutes to run until I saw my mum for the first time and then even if I was hurting I had to look like I wasn’t for her sake! Corey, my cousin, had a bright yellow singlet with the words “It’s All About Kym” written in Nikko, it stood out in the crowd & I gave him a really poor effort at a smile and wave in the first couple of kilometres. The turnaround on Ali’i Drive seemed to take a long time to appear, when it did the slight uphill on the way back into Kona seemed a struggle. I saw Peter at this stage and whatever his words of motivation and encouragement were at that stage; they were what I needed at the time. Running up Palani Road hill was very satisfying, it was by no means a fast run but it was quicker than a walk which is what everyone else seemed to be doing. Once up the top and a left turn onto the highway I knew I was in my comfort zone.
A benefit of doing long runs by myself is that I was mentally ready for the next stretch of highway running, surrounded by hot bitumen, dead grass, black lava and not much else until the drink stations appeared on the horizon. I passed quite a few runners on route to the Energy Lab; I felt strong and was keen to see at the Energy Lab turnaround how many females were in front of me. After my fall from the bike I had no idea how many passed me, how far in front they were and if I was losing or gaining time. I could see maybe six or seven girls in front of me, one was in my category and the others were in younger age groups. From what I could tell I had a fair gap back to the next person in my category. Out of the Energy Lab and back onto the Queen K highway home. Only 10 kilometres left I told myself – stay focussed. I spotted Peter in the distance riding towards me on the other side of the highway. Again, he yelled words of encouragement, not only to me but other runners around. He was yelling to the guys to stay with me, not to let a girl get ahead of them. It picked them up as well on a long, lonely stretch of bitumen.
I was picking the runners off one by one that were in front of me. I felt like I was getting stronger, I definitely was not dropping off. Then my dad had made his way out to the highway. I could tell he was proud and he was cheering and saying motivating things like never before. That was when I let myself for the first time think “I could place here today.”
Running down Palani hill was painful, every fatigued muscle hurt, my right knee hurt but I didn’t care, not long now. Turning into Ali’i Drive I saw a girl in front of me, I had to beat her to the line, she may be in my age group. I did pass her and kept running strong. I couldn’t turn back and see if she was my category or if she was responding as I thought I may fall over. (She wasn’t)
I could see my family along the finishing chute with their flag – what a feeling. I had made it. Smiles & cheers to them and then I made my way up that ramp to be told “You are an Ironman”. What a feeling!
Well done Kym on 2nd in 35-39 Women at the Ironman World Championships!