I was a little disappointed that I did not get to run the marathon on Maui because we all wanted to play it smart with the Tsunami warnings, but I used that energy to start day 5 on the right foot.
Kona! Some people would give anything to race this course. I’ve been lucky enough to do this course before. And now with a little extra morning rest because of two flights to get here I was ready.
We arrived at the pier and prepped ourselves for our final swim. When you race Ironman Worlds there are many markers in the water as well as large amount of paddle support and even a floating barge with a car on it! Without all of that it can be hard to sight and we only had two paddle supports. We grouped up on the beach and began. I stayed with the support to my left and used him as my guide. It felt long by the time we finally got to the turn around and headed back. When I got out I saw Colin with his camera and he let me know that I was first out of the water! I had a feeling that I was, but it was good news and got me out on the bike with a burst of energy.
I made it all the way up to the Queen K Highway before the Pep and Sebastian caught up with me. By that time I also was joined by Joe Barcia - He is Amy’s brother and he lives in Hilo; He drove over to ride the course with me! Thanks Joe!
It was a good ride. It was hot, but nearing Hawi and the turnaround I was getting a little cold and put a jacket on as the sun was setting. We put our lights on the bikes and kept at it. One after another my lights began to die, but the Queen K is pretty well lit and the moon was bright.
We also had a tailwind that let us cruise around 28-29 mph with a pretty minimal effort. I was getting tired and losing energy fast. I tried gum, espresso, different foods and none of it was taking. I had Joe around me and the car was always close as I started closing my eyes and swerving around before shaking my head and continuing down the road. I was falling asleep while riding almost 30 mph down the road.
I was dangerous and incoherent. My crew kept asking crazy questions and getting very limited responses in return. I had one more small cup of coffee and a little bit further down the road I started getting some chest pains……no more caffeine for this guy. I kept riding, but continued pretty dangerously down the road. The crew car moved out from behind me and drove along side of me to keep me from riding into the highway. We were so close to transition and I remember closing my eyes one more time and crying a little and telling my crew that I just wanted and needed to be off the bike. We pulled into T2 and I was so happy to be done with the bike.
Then Colin and Amy told me that Sebastian who was out on the run course already had been hit by a car and was rushed to the hospital. I was pretty fragile already and this news pushed me over the edge, which is why they didn’t tell me while I was still riding. I stood in the lobby of the hotel in the middle of the night and sobbed a bit. I thought how bad I was out there and my crew was doing everything they could do to protect me from myself and Sebastian who’s family was doing the same thing for him still got hit. It was dangerous to be on the highway at that time of night. I was in need of rest. My mind was toast. They got me up to the room and told me that once again, the decision was that we were to decide for ourselves if we wanted to run the highway or change the course, but no matter what I was to sleep first. With all that had happened that evening, It was actually a very easy decision to not run. Safety first. Thankfully Sebastian was okay and the news of his recovery was getting better with every hour. I am so very satisfied with my efforts at EPIC5 this year. My sportsmanship, my performance athletically and mentally went above my original expectations.
Photos from Colin Cross of Hawaii Race Photos
I’ve never had a bad time on Maui (Some rough times maybe) and I always prefer to keep it that way. Our flight was changed so we flew into Kapalua instead; no difference to me except I got to nap a little more on the slightly longer drive.
We arrived at Kamaole Beach for our swim -My Aunt Sue and Uncle Steve just happened to be staying in Lahaina at the same time so they came out to see us. It was nice to see their smiling faces! Now off to swim another 2.4 miles - 7 laps around 3 buoys - Not bad. It gets obviously deep at some points and on the last lap the wind picked up and it got all sloshy and out of control. It was like a washing machine. Overall though for day 4 I felt really good - It was easy to get started and my friend Lindsey Dymond flew over from Oahu to ride and run with me. Awesome for him to do that for me considering he had his own Ironman race a few weeks from then!
Another Home field advantage - It is not my first time riding with Lindsey on Maui - We had an awesome time. At first I had a little stomach trouble after the last part of the swim, but Sue and Steve bought a pizza for us and we almost ate the whole thing throughout the ride. It saved my day! We rode well into the night and stayed strong!
Then things got a little wild. Tsunami warning sirens stared blaring while we were just finishing our miles for the bike. Multiple earthquakes in Canada set off water level warnings for certain areas of Maui and evacuations were ordered. We almost got hit by 10 cars within 1 minute because of the panic it caused.
We went back to our Hotel room, which was the new transition area and tried to stay loose while figuring out what to do now since our run course was being evacuated.
Some crew tried to stay down on street level and were told to leave by the police. We even found that we were not supposed to be in our hotel. We first thought to check if the hotel had a treadmill. Then we checked all of the other races going on in Hawaii at the same time and they all cancelled to be better safe than sorry, and we agreed. There was no official race decision. We were told that the decision was to made by the athletes and that we could run along the highway which we didn’t like the idea of because it was the evacuation route. So no marathon and no matter. The Tsunami warning caused a lot of trouble, but as usual, and thankfully, it never actually occurred. I rested just as much as usual and in the morning we were to be off to Kona.
Photos from Colin Cross of Hawaii Race Photos
Molokai is a pretty intense day - Get past it and you are more than halfway done. The swim was to be held on Papohaku Beach also known as 3 Mile Beach - The current is so swift that the swim can be done rather quickly. So quick that last year most of us were still having our bikes assembled when we exited the water. There was a swell that was to bring in unsafe tides and we switched to the pool at the center of town. 2.4 miles in a short course pool. The nice part was getting to keep a bottle at the end of your lane.
I jumped in and did what I had to do and then got out onto the bike. Molokai can be very windy and we got lucky this year. Unfortunately we got heat instead. At first it seems like there is not much there, but it was an awesome ride. Heading down the coast with Maui as your view! And then a climb that certainly has you earn your descent, but then you get out to the other side of the island and it’s you and the open road. No cover from the sun on a long uphill journey, but when you turn at the other end you know that you are in the home stretch and you just have to be patient.
I already had a plan for my run by the time it came around. I was going back to walking a minute for every four minutes that I ran while keeping my heart rate right where it needed to be the whole time.
It got dark real quick because we start later each day. I don’t mind the dark - I prefer to run in it. I feel it changes my perception of distance. All was going well and then we got about 15 miles in when I lost my groove. I was just tired. I grabbed some music and my crew gave me some space and I kept moving. I became frustrated with some of the mile markers because they seemed to be inaccurate and it turned out that I was right, but it spoiled my motivation and I walked in the last 5 miles or so with Amy. I took a little longer that way, but I knew that I was not going to get much sleep anyway. I was okay with walking out my legs and letting them feel better from it.
It was late and there was no welcoming party at the hotel, just headed right to the room and showered before bed and was ready to head off to Maui in the morning.
Pictures from Colin Cross of Hawaii Race Photos
With an Epic first day in the books it was time to start our second day with a home sweet home advantage….And feeling fresh after day 1, I didn’t want to mess around. We arrived at Magic Island and met with my paddle board escort Kathryn Taylor. This is not my first distance swim with her as my lead out so I was comfortable and knew that all I had to do was focus, relax and swim steady. That is exactly what I did and things went very well.
I transitioned and headed out on the bike course with my two friends Eric Koolai and Rick Klobuchar Jr; both great riders who were willing to spend their day helping me get through mine. (Thanks guys!!) Even though Oahu can be tough to ride around with far much more city riding and general traffic than all of the other islands we still had a blast and rode strong! Eventually we found our circle island tour winding through down town and heading back to where we would start our marathon.
The Run course is a slightly modified Honolulu Marathon course. I headed out through Waikiki and up over Diamondhead where I met Karl Mench, Bill Connolly and Kelly Sutcilffe; my crew for the evening who would all take turns driving and running along side me.(Many Thanks!) With planned frequent stops I had a good pace, but about halfway through the run my stomach started giving me trouble and I found myself overheating. I switched to a jog/walk through the back section of Hawaii Kai because there are so many crosswalks and stoplights that it is tough to get into any groove. Once we finally turned and reached the highway I requested to run by myself and focus on getting home. I found my groove and once we reached Diamondhead I decided to walk a little and enjoy the full moon. It all finished up nicely as I ran through a late night Waikiki and back to the finish where I wanted to go home immediately and get rest for day 3.
Photos from Colin Cross of Hawaii Race Photos
*Cracks knuckles, thinks about writing, gets distracted, walks away and comes back 10 minutes later*
Ahhh Kauai…. In my mind one of the most beautiful spots on the planet. And here I am again waiting for EPIC5 to begin, but this time I am different. I have grown so much as an endurance athlete since EPIC5 2011. I have learned so much about myself. Last time I wandered blindly into the unknown and the experience opened my eyes to many things. I was the youngest and least experienced and I let that play out. I watched and learned lessons…good and bad, and I was inspired by things that I never saw coming. It was one of the greatest adventures in my life to this day and I took all of my newly acquired knowledge and transformed my being. I cut back to the basics while recovering from injury and I rebuilt my training around all of the qualities I wanted to see in myself. I was calm, patient and focused.
With a full day in Hanalei before the event started we found a bar and I enjoyed a few beers with my friend Colin Cross of Hawaii Race Photos. He was coming with us not only to photograph the entire journey, but to be our head bicycle mechanic. It was nice to chill out and not discuss the upcoming week. Then we headed back to the lodge to meet with my solo crew Amy Harpstrite to whom I owe the entire week! She took care of me before taking care of herself most times and I thank you Amy! This kind of event is 90% crew and 10% athlete.
Day one is different because of time constraints. We fly out the same day and have to be finished by a certain time, which means we run first, then swim and then bike. Our morning started on the dark streets of The Princeville Resort in Hanalei Bay - Athletes and crews joined hands at 3AM for a prayer circle lit by headlamps and car headlights before heading out on the marathon course. The temperature was perfect and the stars lit the sky. I had an awesome run and entered transition to swim at Hanalei Bay, which was the most enjoyable swim of the week with it’s stunning scenery, great water temps and great company as Amy swam with me. We had a paddle boarder that led the way so sighting was easier. There were ice cold pockets of fresh water every 10 yards out by the turn around and all I started thinking about was how I wanted all of my drinks for the rest of the trip to be that ice cold and refreshing.
The bike course is a trip across the island and back halfway to the airport cell phone waiting lot where you pack up and leave for Oahu. I really forgot how beautiful Kauai is and I also forgot how hot is can be. Every stop on the bike I had ice cubes put into the vents on my helmet and topped off my bottles with ice cubes too. There are many hills in Kauai and I loved every second of it. Hills build skills and I’ll take them any day over flat ground.
I finished the bike and felt leaps and bounds from where I was last year. I felt strong and ready for the next day. Everything went just how I wanted it too. I had a better perspective on my own event and played everything smart. I managed my fuel and energy properly and it payed off. The hard part is that you are eating for the next day without over doing it for the current moment, but now I was hungry so I shared a beer and some dinner with my crew and helped pack up for our flight. We flew back home to Oahu where I got a couple of hours of sleep in my own bed!
Planet Sun Sunscreen - All 5 days in the hot Hawaiian sun with full protection and not a single trace of sunburn!!!! Thanks John!
Hawaii Race Photos - Day 1
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Tomorrow I begin The EPIC5 Challenge. 5 Days, 5 Islands - each day consisting of a 2.4mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2mile run. Sleep deprived, coffee fueled adventure. To say the least it is a challenge that I am ready for this year. Last year there was an unfortunate turn of events that prevented me from completing every day in the challenge, but allowed me to gain such a greater knowledge of myself and what I am capable of achieving and a drive and desire to rethink and rebuild my gameplan. Why I want to try again? It is best summed up by iconic adventure racer Ian Adamson who was with us last year and he described it as such: mental, physical, emotional and spiritual - All the experiences that you go through in one year - If you take that and compress it into a week you are going to have immense highs and lows and everything and in between : that’s kind of what you feel during these races and people get addicted to it.
And it is true. I am here - I am ready - I am fit - I want it - I refuse to fail.
It is also not possible at all without my dedicated one person crew (Thank you Amy!) and all of the volunteers and race staff who are about to embark on the same journey. There is no turning back, but there is no need to. It’s time to take it one step at a time and you can follow my journey at the following sites
Instagram - MFLARTEY
The Cat is out of the bag……..
I am participating in The Epic5 Challenge again this year! It begins Wednesday Oct 24th.
The EPIC5 Challenge is an unprecedented athletic and spiritual journey which begins on the island of Kauai before traveling on consecutive days to O’ahu, Moloka’i and Maui and concluding in Kona. 5 Iron distance triathlons – 5 consecutive days on 5 Hawaiian islands
Each day will entail a full iron distance triathlon — 2.4 mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2 mile run
I participated in last year’s Epic5 Challenge and had to pull myself from the challenge early due to injury and only continue from then on with partial days.
Each athlete is also encouraged to raise money for a charity of their choice and I am choosing Jason Lester’s Neverstop Foundation
Last year I was able to raise a great amount of money and this year I would like to try again.
I am not asking for much at all - How about $5 for each day that I finish? That would only be $25 ,although there is no max or min if you would like to help in any way. Just mention my name on the donation form so they know it is in my honor.
Any amount would be fine and posting and forwarding this to your friends and family would be great too.
Sound good? Details and links can be found on www.EPIC5.com
You can also track the event from these feeds
Donate and Support The Never Stop Foundation!
The Never Stop Foundation is committed to improving the opportunities of challenged youth by addressing their unmet needs and supporting them to overcome the obstacles they face in achieving their potential. Using the platform of athletic and artistic endeavors, the team members and community of the Never Stop Foundation seek to raise awareness and funding for programs that will effectively address those needs. Children are provided a structured, challenging, integrated curriculum and are encouraged to use their gifts and talents to improve their own lives and the lives of others.
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