Kaua’i Ironman smiled ‘the entire way’

Editor’s note: Melissa Hall, a noted triathlete on Kaua’i, shares her experience at this year’s World Championships of Ironman Triathlon

My first-ever Ironman Triathlon was awesome, one that I will remember and cherish forever.

When I got into the sport nine years ago, I knew that one day I would be racing at Ironman Hawai’i.

After four years of attempting to qualify, 2005 was finally the year. With the passing of three of my grandparents this year, this race was dedicated to them.

Years in the making and many months, days and hours of training finally produced a perfect day at the annual Ford Ironman World Championships on Oct. 15.

Sporting the logos “Kaua’i, the Garden Isle” from the Kauai Visitor’s Bureau, KFD and Da Life Outdoor Gear, I was honored to represent Kaua’i at such a large international event.

The race started at 7 a.m. in the water off the Kailua-Kona pier on the Big Island.

The energy, nerves and music were all raging when the cannon shot off to start the event. The 2.4-mile swim was all about “survival of the fittest!” There just wasn’t enough room to race the swim; it was “sardine city” the entire way. I just had to “go with the flow,” finishing the swim in 1 hour, 10 minutes and 29 seconds.

My 112-mile bike time was right on as predicted in 6 hours, 7 minutes and 10 seconds.

The low winds and excellent conditions allowed many of us to have a great bike ride out to Hawi and back to Kona. Well into the race I realized I was still smiling, so I made it my goal to smile the entire the way.

Before I knew it, the ride was over and I was onto the 26.2-mile marathon.

My legs were fatigued at the start of the run with some shin cramping which eventually went away as I trotted on. With only 8 miles left to go on the run at the Natural Energy lab turnaround, the day was concluding magically.

The sun was beautifully setting into the ocean with a bright orange glow, while the almost full, pale blue moon rose over Mauna Kea as I headed toward the Ali’i Drive finish line.

The finish was amazing! With a predicted time to finish between 121/2 hours and 131/2 hours, I finished the race 15 minutes ahead of schedule at 12 hours, 15 minutes and 34 seconds. Coming down the finish shoot smiling and high-fiving spectators along the way, emotions ran high as the announcer announced my name.

You could feel the energy radiating from the thousands in the stands with thunderous applause, bright lights and loud music. I felt like a superstar!

My support crew was incredible! Many were following me online. My fiancé, Dave, mother, best friend from California who made a surprise visit, and friends from Kaua’i were racing around town following me and cheering me on.

I want to thank all my sponsors, friends and family for their financial and emotional support.

I also would like to personally thank Fran Acoba with Skintique and Valerie Wilson, who both were there to support me and the other 1,800 athletes by volunteering at an aid station on the bike course.

I’d also like to thank the following businesses and sponsors for their contributions toward my quest to become an Ironman: Da Life Outdoor Gear in Koloa, Kauai ATV Tours, Kauai Athletic Club, Buddy Wilson with Malulani Fishing, Kauai Visitor’s Bureau, Andy Vea with Kauai Appraisals Inc., Katy Otsuji of Appraisal Services Kauai, Ann Alo with Island Pacific Mortgage, clients of Just Add Water Swimming and coaches and staff of Kaua’i High School.

Thank you for helping to make my day so memorable. I can’t thank everyone enough for your support in helping to make my dream come true! I am an Ironman.

Mahalo!

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