An account of participating in the Tinman Triathlon, put together from several actual occasions. The Honolulu Tinman Triathlon--A Personal View

The Tinman Triathlon

Part 1. Getting Ready

Friday afternoon. Let's get home early and not wait till Saturday to start converting the bike from a commuter to a racer this year. At least get the rack and fenders off, replace commuting wheels with racing wheels. Don't forget to shift the speedometer sensor magnet to the new wheel.

Saturday. Finish the bike. Put the makeshift platforms on the pedals for riding with running shoes. Tool bag, with tire tools, sunscreen, house key pinned in, on back of saddle. Oh! Put the pump on. Try it out, once around the block to make sure everything is tight and adjusted right, but don't get a flat! Fasten the bike race number to handlebars as per instructions.

Make sure we have bananas.

After an early dinner, re-read last year's notes and start lining things up. Small towel, swim cap, sweat band, elastic band with running number, foot rinse bottle and "bike" bag into back pack, "run" bag into small section of back pack for easy retrieval. Water bottle on table ready for quick fill of Gatorade in morning. Shoes and socks downstairs, tri-shorts and T-shirt hanging in upstairs bath.

Shower; check toe-nails extra carefully out of consideration for swimmers who may catch up from behind. To bed about 9:30. Set alarm for 3:45. Eighteen minutes of doze-off music; shouldn't even hear the radio click off (unless remembering things I forgot to do puts me in a wakeful state)...

Sunday. 3:45?! Oh, yeah! Hope my bowels cooperate with me on this early call to duty. OK, but tuck a yard of tissue into waist of tri-shorts in case of later need. Downstairs, half of one banana in mouth, other banana in back pack, water bottle filled and onto bike. Shoes and socks and gloves and backpack and helmet on, rest of first banana in mouth, and roll bike out the kitchen door. It's just after 4:00am.

Wow, the bike wants to fly with the usually heavy-laden rack empty, everything on my back! But take it easy, don't want to waste a lot of energy getting to the race; only four miles and plenty of time. Hope the headlight batteries are good for a half hour. Couple of cars pass with bikes mounted on top or on back as we head down Kapiʻolani Boulevard, and a few bicycles start to meld into my route from the intersections.

I arrive at check-in just about 4:30, not much of a line yet. Get empty "run" bag out of small pocket on backpack--it has to be checked in, empty or not. Line up to get race number written on arm and leg, then off to rack bike. Plenty of good places left near swim exit; I'll put it here and use that tree as a guidepost.

OK, helmet on aerobars, banana in helmet, running number looped over seat, ditto sweatband. Towel draped over seat tube. Off to drinking fountain to fill foot-rinse bottle. Put it down between the wheels. Remove shoes and socks, open socks as much as possible with their toes inside shoes; line them up between the wheels. T-shirt off, into back pack. Bike headlight off bike, into back pack. Make sure bike odometer and chronometer set to zero. Tuck swim cap into tri- shorts, and I guess we're ready. Kill some time wandering around and seeing who else I know is here.

Part 2. The Swim

About time to trudge down the beach to the swim start. Trudge, trudge. Trudge. Only 800 meters, but might as well be half a mile. Trudge.

BOOM! Must be 5:45. The elite triathletes, male and female, and the men 20-29 are off and swimming. The 30-39 men start getting in the water to warm up and find a good start location. BOOM! That was a fast 10 minutes! There they go, and the women move to the water. I pull out my bright yellow swim cap. They've stopped providing them as part of the race packet, but I like the idea of being easy to spot if necessary in the dim morning twilight. See if anybody in line for the restroom wants the tissue I'm not going to need.

It's not what you'd call cool, this July dawn. Why do I keep quivering like this? BOOM! The cannon sends the women off. Can still see the last group of men, way down the course.

Time to get my feet wet. I'll save my warm-up for the race itself, just want to find a spot where I can get up reasonably close to the start line, but not have a bunch of under-20 and 40-and-over men behind me and swimming over me.

There's the cannon! I press the start button on my watch. I don't hear it beep; hope I pushed hard enough.

Wish I'd done more swimming to prepare for this, but I'm better off than last year, when I only got in two swims in the week or so before the race after months of nothing. Let's see, want to head for the left side of the Ilikai hotel. Sun's rising, enough to make it a little hard to see, but there's a lot of blue sky between the Ilikai and the building to the left.

The ache in my shoulders is starting to ebb, and I'm finally beginning to get into a more relaxed, smooth stroke. On my left ahead I see the building that will mean, when I can see its other wall behind me, that I've gone a long way and only have a long way to go. How can 20 minutes take so long? I'm even with the building now. ... I'm past it! Half way done with the swim! Don't think about swimming, think about what you're going to do when you get to your bike.

I get thrown off my stroke a bit as my arms tangle with the legs of someone cutting diagonally in front of me. Isn't this the same guy who cut across in the other direction a few minutes ago? My target patch of sky is still directly in front of me. Hey! I can see the big orange beach buoy that marks the exit lane. Won't be too long now. Don't cut too close to it--there'll be a lot of guys making last-minute course corrections from the left, and it'll be crowded. I'm by it; guys a few meters ahead of me are on their feet.

And at last my right hand touches sand, and I stand. Sort of. Let go of my legs, water! I want out! But it's still hard to run, even as I head up through the exit chute on the sand. I remember to hit the "lap" button on my watch as I cross the official finish line. Why are these swim tags always so hard to tear off? I get it off just as I reach the spindler and don't have to stop and waste any seconds this time. Grab a cup of water as I pass the table and drink it on the run. Or "on the stagger," I should say.

Hardly need the tree to guide me to my bike, it's one of the very few left. I've got to try to hurry. I just barely remember to press the "S" button on my cyclocomputer, to turn it on. Every year at this point I'm so relieved to be done with the swim that I relax too much, and my official bike time is five minutes longer than my actual time on the bike. At least I remember to pull off my swim cap, and I shove it immediately into my "bike" bag. Big bite of banana, swig some water from the foot rinse bottle, then rinse one foot, towel off the sand, slip it into sock-- come on, sock! ...OK, into shoe, and go with the other foot. Run number belt on over head, down around waist, sweat band around neck for now. Cram rest of banana into mouth, helmet on...I knew I'd have trouble with the buckle!

OK, left glove on; remember to hit both the "S" button to start my cyclocomputer timing and the lap button on my watch, and mount up. Still got to find a garbage can for the banana peel I have in my right hand. Then put the right glove on as I ride. What! Bob Terukina is ahead of me again? He's 85, and one of the few people who swim much slower than I. Was I five minutes putting on my socks?

Part 3. The Ride

Bikes are pretty much spread out going through Waikiki; easy to get by them. There's the bike/run finish line, on the other side of the median strip, as I get to Kapiʻolani Park. I'll see that two more times, from the other direction.

Heading up the hill around Diamond Head, ocean side, I pick off a number of bikers who obviously don't like hills. Several of them are riding mountain bikes or something, with those fat tires; that can't help much. But before I reach the top, here comes a biker from the opposite direction. He started 30 minutes ahead of me, but has increased his lead to nearly an hour! I wonder if he's the leader, or is there someone on the run already?

As I crest the hill, I shift into my highest gear, just for a temporary change of pace, and take a swig of Gatorade (Runners World says eat nutritiously and drink water instead of sports drinks, but the taste kind of cheers me up).

The downhill doesn't last long, and I shift down a gear. Don't want to blow it all this early in the race. About six miles down, 18 to go, and the next seven will be more-or-less into the wind.

As I turn right past the golf course onto Kalanianaʻole Highway, I'm only a quarter mile from home, but not even tempted. They've got one lane coned off in addition to the bike path, so even when I come upon clumps of riders, they're not hard to get by.

Before long I reach Hawaii Kai and turn up Lunalilo Home Road. One year it was rainy, and I didn't quite make the left turn, falling across the sidewalk, and having my chain come off, but I fly around on the dry road now. This next mile is the worst of the wind, then another left turn, and the wind will be from behind most of the way back to Kapiʻolani Park.

A right turn back onto Kalanianaʻole, and I start to pick up speed with only nine miles to go. Hey! Is that cop directing a car to turn left across my lane? Get ready to STO-O-O-P!!! We both manage to, but I bet the driver is as shaken as I. What does the cop think he's there for? No time to ask; as I get rolling again, several bikes I had passed in the last couple of minutes get ahead of me once more. But I'm soon back up to speed, and should be able to stay close to 45 or 50 KPH from here to Kāhala.

We only have the bike lane on this side of the highway, so where it's narrow I have to watch for a break in traffic to pass other bikes; even where it's wide, if two are riding (against the rules) side by side.

Left turn in Kāhala onto Kilauea (a quarter mile from home again), and less than a mile later, left onto Elepaio (quite a few runners to watch out for already), then right, to head uphill around Diamond Head once again (this is where I first used my highest gear on the way out). And now one good downhill ("On your left!" "On your left!") as I pick up as much momentum as I can to carry me to Kapiʻolani Park.

Around the curve by the fountain, and I can see the finish less than half a mile ahead. The runners are thin along here, but the winner probably finished about 15 or 20 minutes ago. I finish off the last drops of Gatorade as I slow down, dismount, stop the cyclocomputer, and press the lap button on watch. They tear off the bar-code strip as I head across the grass to rack up my bike. Now to run. Wait! Take off your helmet and gloves, you idiot!

Part 4. The Run

Run? Who said "run"? You need legs to run, and I don't seem to have any. I hit my lap button again as I wobble-globble to the start-of-run water station. Now I reposition my sweat band from around my neck to my forehead as I wobble-globble along the side of the zoo--it's going to be very important for the next fifty minutes. A couple young women who must still have legs pass me, but not very fast.

After I turn and run down the back side of the zoo, then turn left on Monsaratt Avenue toward the hill around the back side of Diamond Head. The bone is starting to recongeal in my legs, and I feel sort of like I'm running. Even start to pass an occasional other runner as we go up the hill. They used to have hula dancers at the aid station at the top. I wonder if women runners griped about it? There haven't been any the last few years. (But I've never heard of any women complaining about it being the "Tinman.")

A little bit of down hill for a while, then a little rise, and by golly, we're half done with the run. A few runners have passed me, but I've passed more, including some of the ones who passed me early on. Downhill along Elepaio, taking care not to get in the way of tired cyclists 21 miles into their ride; you wouldn't think there would still be any.

Right turn, and once again we're looking at the hill where I first put my bike into high gear. Now we're looking at it from the other perspective for the second time, and this time it looks long and steep. But it's only a mile and not really steep.

There's an aid station where it first levels off a bit, and I walk while I drink. Finally it does get sort of steep, but the good news is, it's downhill! Just remember to take short steps for a while--more than once I've cramped something awful on the start of this downhill. It won't be long until Kapiʻolani Park comes into view. And I soon head around the curve past the fountain, and I should be able to see the finish line. But the banner is so small in the distance, still a half-mile away, the same distance it took so long to trudge to the start of the swim, a long, long time ago.

Eventually I stagger across the finish line, get some refreshments, start to feel better, even good, as I meet friends and go over the race, verbally, with them.

Let's see. It's about 9:00. I have five days and 21 hours to recover for next Saturday's Kolekole Pass Half-Marathon.

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