There are good days and then there are great days. Lavaman Waikoloa was the latter of the two. Between getting to know the race organizers, the Team in Training athletes, and swimming, biking, and running in Waikoloa, winning my pro debut was truly the icing on the cake. Here’s how the day played out:

While treading water waiting for the gun to go off, Dave Scott says to me “Race with confidence.” A simple encouragement, but it really resonated within me the entire race.

The swim was chaotic as the first turn buoy was no more than 75 meters from the start line. Unless you were John Flanagan, finding space to swim was difficult. Even after rounding the far turn around buoys, I was still making contact with people and coincidentally got hit in the face and took on water in my goggles.  Couple that with swimming into the rising sun and I doubt I swam all that straight heading in.

Heading onto the Queen K, I was unaware of where I stood and about how far back I was. Regardless, I knew I had to push it. Relatively speaking, the winds were calm, but we did face a bit of headwind on the way out. No matter the conditions, my Cannondale Slice and Rolf Prima TdF 58 SLs were perfectly suited for the course. My accelerations were felt instantaneously on the climbs and the bike and wheels were incredibly stable in the winds. Heading in, I got within 10 – 15 seconds of a pack of two riders ahead (Marr and a relay rider), but was never able to bridge the gap.

The run course

Coming out of T2, I was in 3rd; seconds down from Marr and about 1:47 down on Flanagan. Almost immediately out of transition, the run course goes through a lava field, which is where I passed Marr. From there we ran on Waikoloa Drive, which was where I knew I had to push the pace, because the King’s trail is a lovely mix of sand, lava rock, and coral. Around the first mile marker, I spotted Flanagan and eventually passed him for the lead just before the 3-mile mark. From there, I kept the pace as high as I could and entered the hotel grounds, where the technical sections began. Running along that trail must be reminiscent of an Xterra event, because it’s anything but easy. From there, we zig-zagged through another hotel’s grounds, since the tsunami washed away a good chunk of the beach where the run used to take place. As I ran onto the beach one last time, it was then that I finally realized that this race was indeed mine and enjoyed the finish chute.

All in all, I couldn’t of asked for a better race week. Nor could I have imagined a better one. I owe several thanks to so many people; Gerry Rott, the race director for putting on such a great event and all her assitants/volunteers, the Hilton Waikoloa Village for their generous hospitality, the Team in Training Silicon Valley Chapter for adopting me into their group, and my sponsors for their support and providing me with the best equipment.