Onno de Boer: IRON MAN Triathlon World Championships Hawaii

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Onno de Boer - Hot Corner Marathon

Every Xelvin Consultant has a yearly sponsoring budget available that he/she can spend on a personal goal. Last year when I heard about the challenge that Onno was going to face this year there was no doubt about where my sponsoring budget for this year was going!

I'd like to start with a big congratulation to IRONMAN Onno de Boer, last week Saturday he participated in the IRON MAN Triathlon World Championships and he achieved an amazing time of 10:05:37 hrs!

This blog will be the last blog of IRONMAN Onno de Boer, this week he will tell us about the race day. How did he experience this day? How does he look back on the race? Is he happy with his achieved time?

We are certainly very proud of this, for us impossible, performance!!


"It is done, I have accomplished it and it was not easy. Saturday October 11th 2014 will remain the day that I got to do something that always seemed unattainable. After having watched this race on live stream for 4 times, I now passed all these familiar places myself. I felt what it is like to race on Hawai’i, the most sacred of races in the present triathlon world, and get to a result that would be unthinkable for most people even at 15C on a flat road. This is my story and the most important ups and downs during the day. But first of all I would like to thank you, my followers, because knowing you’d be reading this and maybe even watching the athlete tracker made me put in my best effort and you actually helped me through race day and to this result.

Before we start with race day I’d like to take you back to the Friday before, where the last update stopped. That is because the race actually starts the day before. That’s when I put my transition bags and bike into transition, which is common with races over this distance. A system has evolved over the years that allows athletes to transition between the race legs without being in each others way too much. This means you can only leave a couple of things with your bike, but you put your stuff in personal numbered bags which you can pick up on big racks while running through the transition area. In this particular race there is no acces to the transition bags after they have been turned in, so you need to prepare properly. In bag 1 (swim/bike) I’ve put my coolsleeves, which are white single layer arm pieces that help you cool down when you keep them wet and a bottle of water to scrub off the salt after the swim from both mouth and clothes. My shoes and helmet are allowed to stay on the bike and a paper bib number is not obligatory during the swim and bike. In bag two (bike/run) I packed my running shoes, socks, a hip bag with ORS (just the powder) and a race number attached to a belt. There are no prepared drinks in my second bag because the drinks would go bad after a night on the warm pier.

On arrival at the pier a friendly personal volunteer is waiting to show me around the transition area. I’ve never experienced that before. My bike is racked with just a little air in the tires against overheating. Bike shoes are stuck to the pedals for a quick mount after the swim and the helmet lies on the handlebars. There’s a small container behind my handle bars with the 13 gels for the bike leg. The plan is to take 1 gel every 27 minutes starting from the bike mount and I take 1 spare. The bags are placed in the numbered racks after a thorough last check. From this point halfway the afternoon the physical preparation through changing eating patterns starts as well. By taking less fat and fibers I take care of empty bowels on race morning. Since big amounts of gels can have a laxating effect it’s a necessary precaution. And of course a lot of hydration is needed of course.

On race morning we get up at 4AM and immediately eat breakfast, white bread with marmalade and a glass of water. It is quite late to have breakfast, since it should be eaten at least 3h before the start. After putting on sunscreen I apply chamois balm against scrapes from the bike saddle. Four of my bottles get filled with sports drink, 1 with water and two and I prepare two little bottles with ORS. Two of the bottles will be placed on my bike, the other two travel with the organization to the turnaround at 95km, again in a numbered bag. We gather the bottles and take the pump to get to transition. We park at Walmart and walk 1.5 mile to transition. But first I need to go through some checkpoint to get prepared for the race. First the special needs bag for the bike turnaround is handed in, after that I go through body marking, where volunteers put my race number on my shoulders. After that I get weighed, I was seldom this lightweight, and I can finally get to my bike. I check my brakes and chain and get the right gear on for mounting the bike. Tires get pumped and drinks are mounted. I put one of the bottles of ORS in my helmet to drink during transition. After that I walk back to Karin and experience the beginning of the race and the start of the male professionals (pros). Meanwhile I drink 400ml ORS and eat a gel with a few sips of water 20 mins before my start. After the American national anthem I say goodbye to Karin and after a quick pitstop I’m ready to get in the water.

After analysing previous Youtube video’s I decided to position myself close to the pier. It is relatively quiet there and besides it is the shortest route. The ocean is unusually turbulent and the ebb tide pushes the athletes over the starting line. Because of this we have to keep swimming backwards until the start which causes for a lot of underwater kicking. BOEM!! The canon goes off and after 1 or 2 seconds I can start swimming. I collide with a race official on a surfboard who was guarding the start line and need to readjust my goggles. The water is indeed not so crowded here and after about 10 strokes I can find some space and try to pick up my pace. Despite the fact that there are still plenty of limbs flying around I can keep up with the group. After passing the first three buoys on the wrong side, which doesn’t matter that much because we are swimming straight ahead, the officials start to push us back to the left. I suspect this is related to the pro men coming back. Despite the feeling that it takes a long time to get to the swim turnaround I feel quite comfortable swimming up to the boat for the turnaround. The only annoyance is a progressive pain in my neck caused by looking up in order to navigate. We usually use Vaseline for that when swimming in a wetsuit, but I didn’t realize it would also be necessary without wetsuit. Before swimming back I checked my watch and see I’ve been swimming for 33,5 minutes. Swimming back feels a lot longer, but it always does. In the last 300m I get kicked around by the talented female age group swimmers who caught up despite starting 10 minutes behind the men. In 1 hour and 14 minutes I can exit the water. The ebb flow clearly helped on the way out, but I still got out within the 75 minutes I hoped for.

During transition I deliberately take it easy. I walk through the showers to get rid of the salt which can chafe and causes faster sunburns and I get in to the transition tent with my bag. I get my shoulders and neck rubbed in with sunscreen by one of the volunteers. I exchange my goggles and swim cap for my bike gear and walk to my bike. I usually get through transition faster than my fellow athletes, but this time I’m not in a rush. I drink my bottle of ORS and put on my helmet to start the bike leg.

On the bike it’s apparent that you’re participating in a WC. Everyone is eager to get going. Despite the fact that most athletes will spend longer out on the bike course than I will but in these early stages they are all passing me left and right. I properly tighten my bike shoes and take my first gel. I take my time to get into the cycling rhythm. The loop through town is about 8 km and in every corner it’s obvious that the athletes around are not the best cyclists and I have to brake way too often. There are lots of cheering crowds in town, especially on the hot corner where the athletes pass 4 times on both the bike and the run. After the 3rd passing of the hot corner during the town loop we climb the famous Palani Road and take a left onto the Queen K. This is my queue to start overtaking people. This is an easy thing to do during the first 30 km, but after that there are a lot of groups originating. Unfortunately even during a WC not all athletes respect the drafting rules which don’t allow participants to ride closer than 7 m successively, so they can get better times, but after 45 km that changes. The winds rotate and we get strong headwinds combined with crosswinds.

The weather is similar to the Thursday of Karins cross country tour which means no clouds, warm (35 degrees) and mountain winds caused by temperature differences. At Kawaihae I managed to leave the big groups behind and I’ve overtaken a lot of athletes. I can continue doing this until the end of the bike leg. On the climb to Hawi I see the first pros riding back and I see a lot of burned out faces already. As opposed to our course exploration there’s a strong headwind on the climb to Hawi. This makes it a tough part of the bike course, but apparently I’m better at that than most of my fellow athletes and on top of the climb I can get a sports drink refill from my special needs bag. On the way out I emptied 2 750ml bottles of sports drink and a bottle of Powerbar Perform provided by one of the aid stations. I actually stop for a moment to get the new bottles in their cages, so the wind won’t blow the bag into my wheels. On the downhill I’m flying even faster than during the course exploration. With the tailwinds I average about 65 km/h and the crosswinds at the bottom of the climb force me to really hover over at my current speed. At Kawaihae I take the short but steep incline where the sun is really burning at an easy pace. The winds have not calmed down yet so the first part of the Queen K I’m flying back to Kailua. I don’t need to get out of my biggest gear and for about half an hour I can average 50km/h. After that you close in on the Hualalai, de 2500m high volcano in the desert. This makes the wind turn around and the last 30 km to the Kailua airport are headwinds again. By this time the pain in my feet begins to become unbearable. The heat makes your feet swell up and cycling shoes don’t stretch. I try to stick to my plan and use some of my water to cool down my feet, other than using is for getting the gels down and keeping the coolsleeves wet. After the airport the wind calms down for the final kilometers and I’m out of fluids by now. I’m expecting another aid station, but somehow it is not there. In the confusion caused by the heat and the lack of a cooling sip I don’t pay attention to a participant swirling to the left right in front of me. Because I don’t get upright and hold back straight away I get red card for stayering. This is a 4 minute time penalty that I need to wait out in transition, but the frustrating part of it is that the athlete that cut into my line of cycling also gets a penalty, for blocking another athlete. By doing that the jury actually acknowledges that the guy in front of my was hindering me! After some contemplation I decide to pick up my pace to make up for some of the 4 minutes of the time penalty and after 5 hours and 5 minutes I get to transition.

At the entrance a volunteer takes hold of your bike and you’re free to run right into transition. Halfway is the penalty box where I report for my penalty. At the moment I don’t really care, my bare feet get some time to cool down and the two volunteers in the penalty box are very friendly. Doing nothing for 4 minutes feels like ages, but at last I can continue and go through transition at the same easy pace as the first time. I grab my bag and get into the tent to put my shoes and running gear on and put my helmet back in the bag. While leaving the tent I fill up my bottle, get a few sips and let another volunteer put sunscreen on me again. At the aid station outside the tent I throw some water over my head and get going. Just 42.2 km of the marathon to go for my finish.

Out of transition you hit the hot corner right away and with a small detour you head for Ali’I Drive. This part of the course is slightly uphill and soon it’s clear that I can’t find my rhythm today. I’m looking forward to the first aid station on the run, but it takes longer than expected to get there. Out on Ali’i Drive I notice that I’m heating up. In hindsight I think that might have been caused by the lack of fluids all the way from the airport to transition on the bike. It’s a real pity, cause I had carefully planned and prepared not to let this happen. At the aid station it turns out I’m indeed overheated. I put ice cubes in my clothes, use sponges to stay wet and drink water and coke for hydration. After every aid station I feel better for about half a mile, but the aid stations are 1mile apart. Therefore I keep fighting this feeling of overheating, which is not easy on this course with the rolling hills. Despite that I can hold on to a reasonable pace. I get rid of my coolsleeves after 2 miles to let my body breathe a bit more, because the skies have now become cloudy and it’s very humid. I don’t stop running not even once on Palani Road or in the dreaded Energy Lab. The mixed up weather circumstances make even the Energy Lab a windy place so it’s not as hot as it can be. Running back towards the finish over the Queen K seems to last forever, but on top of Palani Road I finally know I got this. I’ve been dreaming for a long time about this last victorious mile, and I make it exactly that. At the bottom of Palani Road my GoPro camera is handed to me by the people in the GoPro booth, sponsor of the WC. As you can see in this weeks movie I have been able to tape this last mile and I’m able to give you a sense of what it’s like. After a 100m Karin is there cheering and after a quick hug it’s enjoying the last mile. The last couple of 100 meters on Ali’I Drive are amazing and with everyone cheering it’s hard not to get emotional. At the finish line there’s the Voice of Ironman, Mike Reilly, waiting to pronounce those four liberating words, “You are an Ironman!!”, the real one this time! After 10 hours and 5 minutes my race clock has stopped and after a short emotional moment the volunteers at the finish line are looking after me. I get some good treats and get to pick up my finisher gear and presents. The reunion with Karin and my parents is great, at that moment they are even more proud of me than I am.

Looking back it is a pity that I made a nutritional mistake before the second transition. I could have done better than the 3 hours and 35 minutes I needed for the marathon. But fighting the heat for over 3,5 hours on the run was incredibly hard and I gave all I had. Knowing that has put things in perspective and I’m now really happy and proud that I have been able to put in this great result despite having a very high sweat rate.

Onno de Boer"

Twitter: @TriOnno

Onno de Boer - Filling the drinking bottles Onno de Boer - Marked Onno de Boer - Still Smiling Onno de Boer - Start of 3.8 KM Swim Onno de Boer - 180 KM Fietsen Onno de Boer - starting 42.2 KM Marathon Onno de Boer - Hot Corner Marathon Onno de Boer - Best Support there is Onno de Boer - Almost there... Onno de Boer - Just a few steps left to the finish... Onno de Boer - HE MADE IT!!!


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