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Thu 18th Jul 2019
Kona report: Louise Collins
Posted by: Editor
Posted on: Saturday 16th October 2010

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Great Britain had one Age Group Champion at the Ford Ironman World Championships this year - Louise Collins. Considering she was 14th after the bike - having 'crashed' before she had even got onto it - a fine effort. Still, that is what a 3:11 marathon in Hawaii can do for you. So, a great year for Lou - second overall at Ironman Lanzarote and an Age Group World Championship in only your second Ironman race. Here is her Kona story.

Check out our other Kona race reports on these links:

Hawaii Ironman race report – its not over till its over!!

I sit here writing this feeling awful. I have swollen legs and feet, a cold and after 25 hours of travelling I'm not sure what day it is!

Ironman plus traveling halfway across the globe is not friendly on the body!

My race on Saturday was a real mixed bag of highs and lows. Starting with the swim; I had been warned that things could get a bit rough so I was nervous about this section of the race but actually when the gun went off I had some clear water for a while; I was thinking this is great, what's all the fuss about! Five minutes later I thought I was going to drown; people were swimming over me, into me, punching me, kicking me. Only one thing for it, join in!!

The rest of the swim continued like this where I would get five minutes of relatively clear water and in my mind I would think, ah this is ok I can get into a rhythm and then the next minute I would be nearly drowning again!

Towards the end of the swim I spotted another pink cap alongside me (girls had pink caps, men had orange). I recognized her style of swimming. Yes after 3.8km and despite starting in different positions, Lucy (my TFN team mate) and I were swimming alongside each other!! I was quite comforted by this as after the rough swim. I felt like I had conserved quite a bit of energy and swum well within myself which was my aim – a good start!

The world championships are quite special as when you get into transition you get your own helper who puts sunscreen on, helps you dress and so on. As usual I was pretty slow getting my stuff on, however it's a long day out there and I prefer to take my time at this point and make sure all my kit is on and I haven't forgotten anything. I grabbed my bike and ran out of transition to the mount line.

I remember hearing a marshal call out ‘MIND THE…….' Next minute I am lying flat on my face! I got up quickly in a bit of a state of shock; where is my bike? – it's strewn on the pavement. Yes I managed to trip over a carpeted speed hump before even getting on my bike. How embarrassing! The bike looked ok so I jumped on without thinking.

The first part of the bike is an out and back section before getting on the Queen K highway. I had been looking forward to the bike leg all week as I love time trials and this course is time trial heaven!

As I climbed the hill out of transition I could hear a creaking/grinding noise and pedaling was feeling like pretty hard work even though I wasn't going very fast. Even at this point some girls sped past. I told myself that this was ok and that my legs are probably just a bit tired after the swim and continued on.

We get out onto the Queen K highway and things didn't improve. I was working pretty hard but reams of people flew past me like I was standing still! The creaking noise continued and I tried to look at my back wheel – did I have a puncture?

The tire looked ok but the seat was still vibrating under me. Should I stop? No I didn't really want to stop and lose even more time; I told myself its fine, it's just your legs – get on with it – stop being pathetic!

The bike ride to Hawi continued like this, me getting passed by what felt like the entire field, unable to hang on to any of the girls that went past. In hindsight I should have stopped and taken a proper look at the bike however sometimes when racing your mind gets a bit clouded and the last thing you want to do is stop at any time!

Closer to Hawi I realised something was definitely wrong so I stopped just after special needs station and tried to loosen the back wheel and brakes but it wasn't obvious what was the matter so I just jumped back on confused (after the race upon proper inspection it appears that when 'under load' the back wheel was rubbing and vibrating against the frame and brakes hence why it felt like I was riding with the brakes on) Although things felt a bit better and I was now re-passing a few girls I had missed all the main groups going out so it was a lonely road back into Kona, particularly into the headwind.

At this point I though my bike split was going to be awful and my chances of a good result were gone. I felt quite calm nevertheless and kept thinking of Cat Morrison, who just beat me in Ironman Lanzarote after a major mechanical failure. I was going to have to run the best marathon of my life.

So out of T2 I set out at 3-hour marathon pace even though most years only one or two pros ever manage to run the marathon that fast. I felt like I had nothing to lose so continued at suicide pace. At this point most runners were in survival mode, shuffling forwards. I was flying along by comparison.

I started passing a lot of people. I wondered how many girls I could pick off. Up Alii Drive I got a lot of support from the crowds. Most people looked like death at this point so I must have been looking good in comparison!

It was mid afternoon and hot but the aid stations were fantastic and I got into the familiar routine of sponge, water, ice down the front and back and a sip of energy drink at each station. I also religiously took my High5 Isogels which are fantastic for getting energy down whilst running.

Up onto the Queen K and around mile-14 I started to suffer pretty badly due to my fast early pace. I was still moving past a lot of people though so I just put my head down and embraced it.

Lucy passed me in the other direction coming out of the Energy Lab. She looked strong. I was very proud of her – I know what she has put into training for this race and she was doing amazingly!

Through the Energy Lab I got some stomach cramps but I tried to relax and I could still see girls ahead so pushed on, hunting them down one by one. A few of them try to put up a fight but I was determined! I tried not to look back and I was soon running flat out. It felt like I was sprinting even though I was probably just doing 7-min mile pace. Even in the last 400m I could see a girl in front and sprinted past.

Everyone told me beforehand to enjoy the finish chute but I had just overtaken another girl and I couldn't let her back past so I sprinted like a lunatic down the finish chute. Not pretty!!

Lou Collins with her World Championship Umeke

Over the finish and I was wrecked but immensely proud. I may have had problems however I did not give up and I attacked until the end. I was then told I had won my age group – I couldn't believe it!

What a race! I can certainly learn a lot from my experience here. This was only my second full Ironman and I feel that I have a lot of room for improvement.

Now it's time to recover (at the moment I am sick and feel like I have been run over by a bus) and spend some time with the people that I have neglected during the training build up.

Training for Ironman is almost harder than the race, not just for the person doing the race but for their friends and family and I appreciate all the support from everyone back home.

Lou's splits

Age Group
Age Group Position

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