I have had a week to think about Kona 2014 and a day that didn’t go to plan. Going into the event with high expectations after finishing second in 2013 I guess only a repeat result (or one better) was going to appear a success.

In the days post race it was a little frustrating that people kept saying to me “sorry you had a bad race”. I know it wasn’t a win, a podium or top ten but I also think that 15th on a rough day isn’t all that “bad” at the Ironman World Championships. On a day where over 20 pro men didn’t finish it was satisfying to fight and not take the easy option. I owe more to my family, friends, sponsors and supporters than to quit simply because I wasn’t contending for the win.

The truth about my day was I never fired. My swim had been struggling all year and I thought I had addressed issues there to get it back to where it should be. Clearly that wasn’t the case and I started the bike three minutes behind the front group. I looked around at the beginning of the bike and felt confident I was still very much in the race. I worked with Sebastian Kienle early to pull back the deficit but I soon realized I wasn’t feeling myself and I was struggling. About one hour into the ride I got gapped by Sebi and a few others, including Maik Twelsiek and Marino Vanhoenacker. They quickly jumped around me and left me in no mans land. I kept the faith that my body was going to come good and the front group would splinter in the strong wind. One by one I caught and passed casualties from the relentless pace Sebastian was setting but I still dangled two to three minutes behind the main group all the way to T2. Very much de’ ja’ vu from Challenge Roth earlier in the year.

The trend continued at the beginning of the marathon and I kept moving up the placings passing another athlete every few miles. By the time I entered the Energy Lab I was up to 11th place and I hadn’t lost hope of a salvaging a top ten. I did however have a strong group of runners right behind me and I would have to fight hard to hold them off heading back to town. I was able to up my pace for a few miles to run with Craig Alexander when he passed me. On the last hill up to Palani road I hit a rough spot and soon after Paul Matthews passed me.

It was bittersweet running down Alii Drive not having the day I had hoped but proud I fought through the day to finish my 8th Hawaii Ironman in 15th place. I still kept my eight starts for eight finishes record intact (four of them in the Top 15).

Now it’s back home to California to decompress from a busy year. 2014 wasn’t my best year of racing and I have some areas to work on moving forward but at the end of the day coming home to my baby daughter Wynne still makes this year one to remember.

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Author Luke McKenzie

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