Ironman World Championships ~ Kacey’s Kona Race Report

Ironman World Championships KC race report

Today’s Hawaiian Ironman World Championships race report has come from my great friend Kacey.  Enjoy it, I know I did. Cathx

Early this month I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to be able to complete for the second time at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. I had a 21 week program for this race, one of the longest preps I have done in a lead up for a race.

My preparation for this race was close to perfect. I didn’t miss a session and all sessions were executed perfectly. With working full time it meant that mornings started as early as 3.30am and nighttime sessions finishing about 7pm. This made for some long days. The last 21 weeks have been train-eat-work-eat-train-eat-sleep REPEAT. But I loved it, every minute of it.

Last year when I raced Kona it was classed as a ‘lucky’ year. The winds were extremely kind and the heat was bearable.

I remember as soon as I finished I knew I wanted to come back and experience what the island is known for.

I was lucky in the lead up that I had a friend who lives in Hawaii who was giving me the heads up regarding the heat this year. He had been studying the winds and I guess in a way preparing me for the worst. I think his exact words were ‘looks like you’re going to get your typical Kona day’. I was excited to hear this.

An Ironman is challenging and rewarding enough but to be able to compete in Hawaii on a tough day was something that I had thought about for the past 12 months.

I arrived in Kona a week before the race. For me, this was more than enough time. I get kind of edgy and excited by the end of race week. The weather in the lead up week was HOT and windy and the water was choppy.

Once I racked my bike I could relax.

Hawaiian BIke check in

Bike and transition bags are in and it’s back to my room to put my feet up and relax in the air con secretly jealous of Bel, Cath and Jen who were by this stage onto their third happy hour location {no way, we were just pool deck  Cathx}

Race eve required a ‘serious’ chat (believe it or not) between Cath and I under the gorgeous Banyan tree on Ali’i Drive. We sat in silence before Cath tried to speak but just burst into tears {C’mon Kacey ~ BURST into tears.  Ok, maybe a little choked up 🙂 cath }.

It’s moments like this that make not only racing but our friendship so special. She didn’t need to say anything, she just ‘gets’ me {Nawhhh}.

But what she said was what I needed to hear….. My biggest worry and fear was being in the water ‘alone’ without my training buddy. One thing she said to me ‘when it’s windy out there just smile. It will be Bel and I just letting you know we are with you. Just smile and thank Madam Pele and embrace the challenge’.

I don’t think we have ever cried so much, people were walking past staring at us balling our eyes out and trying to talk but then start laughing because we sounded so ridiculous {it was rather funny.  The people walking passed watching us sobbing thought something was wrong – nope – we just love this shit.  AND lets face it, I was SUPER proud of Kacey for even getting to the start line.  There was nothing she could do or not do to change that.  We were all so proud.  Cath }

The night before the race I always sleep really well and this race was no different. I woke to my alarm at 4am on race day, excited, nervous, scared but pumped knowing I was so much fitter and stronger than what I was last year.

I ate my normal breakfast before heading down to the race start. This race felt strange as I heading in to get numbered all by myself. I normally have at least one training buddy racing with me.

When I was getting numbered I experienced my first panic/anxiety attack. I started sweating, getting dizzy and wanted to either throw up or pass out. It was a weird feeling and after sitting down for a while I proceeded to my bike to pump up my tyres and get ready to race.


Race day- Swim 1:12:28

The swim this year was divided into male and female, this meant the female group was less than half the competitors. For the first time I was looking forward to the swim, I felt confident given all the extra time I had spent in the pool.

The first half of the swim was great. I was comfortable and swimming at my pace and in a STRAIGHT line (different for me). I got to the turn around in 30min and I was pumped to think I’d be close to the 1:05:00 mark that I was aiming for. I was half way home when I caught the back end of the men and they were thick, not like thick-thick, but swimming close together thick (sorry all those men reading).

I decided to go through the middle the best I could. I felt my watch beep for the 3km mark, I looked up and I still had a long way to go. Feeling disheartened I picked up the pace a little, I just needed to get home. My watch beeped for 4 km and still nowhere near the exit. The swim back was tough, rough, and maybe long but hey as pissed as I was when I saw my watch I had the thought that everyone was swimming the same course.

The bike- 5:44:37

It took me 45min to get into the right headspace on the bike after my swim. Once I had a little ‘Kacey pull your head out of your arse, its just a swim. You have 180k bike to worry about now.The Swim is in the past- Get over it’ chat, I was ok.

Riding after the swim
Riding out of the swim a bit angry… it was time to refocus

About 40km into the bike the wind hit.

The headwind was something that I had never experienced before. I was struggling to keep my bike upright, which meant it was hard to take in my nutrition and drink fluids. The wind didn’t ease, people were getting blown all over the place.  I loved it, I felt strong and I was having the time of my life. This is the shit that I wanted to experience.

I remember riding up to Hawi (man it was blowing so damn hard up there) and I passed a guy and he said ‘you are riding strong’ to which I replied ‘this is Kona baby, embrace this shit!’. By the time I got to the 90km mark I was expecting the wind to turn into a tailwind… I was wrong. The whole way home was a headwind which made for an extremely tough ride. I kept thinking to myself, ok Cath I know you’re with me -ease up with this crazy arse wind.   {Deep down I’m a real hippy and I secretly think Kacey is too. Cath}

Ironman Hawaii bike ride
Loving the challenging bike

I absolutely loved riding with my power meter. Throughout the whole ride I never knew what speed I was doing, I was riding to my watts and making sure that my IF and TSS numbers were spot on (sound like I know what I’m talking about don’t I). I honestly think it saved me and allowed me to have the run that I did.


The run- 3:33:51

By the time I got onto the run the temperature was sitting nicely in the high 30s with no wind and no cloud cover. I was hanging to see Cath and tell her how excited I was with the ride and how crazy the wind was and how much I loved it.

The first 4 km I was suffering from cramps but they soon were flushed out after drinking loads of water and electrolytes. I had just gone through the 8km mark and I saw (hang on I HEARD) my support crew coming towards me on their bikes. Seeing them was such a lift. They were amazing. They nearly got themselves killed by taking selfies and jumping off their bikes to have a jig at aid stations but all of this made me laugh and helped take my mind of the pain.

Ironman Kona
15km into the run. Support galore

The first 18km on the run was good, the crowd was great and I felt fantastic until I ran up towards the Queen K. The 20-25km mark was probably my lowest point of the day.

I was tired, really tired. I just wanted to sleep. I started to get all teary and my body just wanted to stop. I had had enough. I reached the sign that said ‘NO SPECTATORS PAST THIS POINT’. I lost it at this point in time, I burst into tears and said to my coach Bruce  ‘Im not ready to be alone yet, I still need you guys’ (yep still tearing up as I write about it).

It was so hard to block out the bodies literally lying in the middle of the Queen K, people throwing up and people struggling to even walk.  I was unaware of how my body was going to keep going, the only thing that was keeping me smiling was my pace. I couldn’t get over my run pace. By the time I had reached the energy lab I had prepared myself for the worse.

running along Alii

As I started to run down into the Energy Lab it started to rain. I smiled and continued to run.

As I was running out of the Energy Lab I ran over a timing mat which triggered off a pre recorded message from the gang. I cried again and got goosebumps but seeing their faces on the big screen was awesome and it gave me the second wind I needed for the 10km run home.

The 10km trip home had it all, great pace, walking through aid stations, cramps, dancing past speakers, tears and lots of smiles. One moment that is crystal clear in my head is the short moment that Bruce was riding along side me as I was running up  ‘Dave and Mark hill’. The mountains in front of me were so clear, it felt like it was just him and I. I looked over at him and he said to me ‘I am so so proud of you’ and as he finished his voice cracked and yep…. He cried too. I looked back and said “toughen up you big pussy and I’ll see you at the finish line”.

Running along Ali’I Drive for the second time was even better than the first (although I missed my family not being there). I cannot explain the feeling… words just wouldn’t do it justice. My smile says it all.

 KC kona 2

Total time:  10:36:06.

What’s next… At the moment I am enjoying some downtime. My body was completely emptied. I’m enjoying the lay ins, wine and having a social life. I will line up at the start line of Ironman Australia in May alongside a heap of my training buddies. Secretly, I am looking forward to the training with these guys especially Jen and Mel who will be attacking their first Ironman.


KC Kona 6

Train safe

Kacey x


Thanks KC.  Loved it.  We a bit of a teary mob  aren’t we.

A BIG CONGRATS from all the Ironchicks – to you and all the Ironchicks who competed in Kona.  You inspire us all to be the best we can be.  Thank you 🙂

Catherine Thiele Ironman Ironchick triathlon
Cath xxx

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12 thoughts on “Ironman World Championships ~ Kacey’s Kona Race Report”

  1. Geez Kacey, I’ve been waiting for your race report for ages…and boy do you know how to deliver!!! Bloody awesome, young lady. I love your honesty and detail of how felt, good & bad. I’m so ultra proud and happy for a insane finish time. And I must say that your photo of you running along the finish chute is amazing 🙂

    1. I agree. Even the random guy in the chute is happy for KC. Kacey has an infectious happy spirit…… a bit like you SARA xx

      1. I’m pretty sure one of Kacey’s supporters also yelled out to me ‘this is what you’ve come here for, embrace this shit’ while I was running along the queen k in the stifling heat! Seems like ’embrace this shit’ was the team motto 😉
        very honest report of what the day was like. I raced there in 2011 and 2013 and people loved mentioning ‘oh those were the easy years’. It’s nice to have raced 2014 where it was really tough, its the world champs, it should be tough!!
        Thanks for sharing your experience 🙂

  2. Thank You…thank you for sharing Kasey and Cath for running IronChicks. I needed to read that! I love this sport… I just feel like it keeps kicking me – stories I’ve this keep me motivated, to see the bigger picture… Helps me see myself getting there!
    I hope to have another crack at Ironman Oz next year… See you there! xx

    1. That’s what we love to hear JO. It can definitely be a love/hate relationship and I think we all experience that. I’m glad some of Kacey’s crazy arse Ironman love has helped motivate you! Cheers, Cathx