Race Report: 2023 Ironman World Championships in Kona, HI

5 weeks before the Ironman World Championships, I crashed on my bike and wasn’t sure how my final push to Kona would look. I tore my labrum, sprained my deltoid, and bruised my ribs.


It took me 1 week to be able to bike, 2 weeks so be able to run, 3 weeks to be able to swim at all, and 4 weeks to be able to swim freestyle.


By race week, with the help of a ton of PT, massage, and a cortisone shot, I felt good physically. Mentally I was a bit of a mess because I missed my biggest 2 weeks (5 and 4 weeks out) of my training. I kept telling myself I have a lot of experience (this was my 20th Ironman distance race and my 3rd time in Kona) and every day I went through a list of why I would be fine.


I rode 1,000 total miles in August


I swam a 5k OWS in August


I did a 22 mile run in September


I got 2nd place in the race where I finished after I crashed!


I would be ok!


My original goal was top 25%, but I was having such an amazing year, I changed my goal to top 10%. Then after the crash I looked at the time I thought was realistic to get, and changed my goal again to top 25%. I guessed there would be around 200 women in my age group so that would put me around 50th place. Last year the 50th place woman in my age group had a 12:10. My Kona PR was 11:52 in 2017 when I was in the best shape of my life and training a lot (pre-Coura). That year I was 40th out of 80 women. The first time I did Kona in 2014, I went a 14:06 and ended up 84th out of 90 women. I knew there would be more women here since it was the first all women Kona world championships. So I had my goal set at 12:00 and 50th place.


I went into the race super relaxed. I knew it would be my last full Ironman and last time in Kona, and I knew I would do my very best on the day of the race.


I slept 7 hours the night before the race, the most I had slept since I got to Hawaii a week earlier. My mom took Coura to Volcano National Park the day before the race so I could pack my bags and prep without having to “mom” for the day. thank you mom!!! And Ashley kept me grounded and worry free while turning in all of our race gear on Friday. thank you Ashley!


Race morning I felt calm and relaxed. I expected a long hot windy hard day and was ok with it. I expected my neck and crotch to hurt on the bike. I expected my joints and muscles and GI system to be tortured during the run. I was hoping to have a great day like I visualized every night for the past month, but was expecting the very worst.


A few days before the race, I practiced swimming with my race kit and swim skin and it was all too tight on my ribs and I couldn’t take a deep breath without pain. I panicked and I had to keep stopping to go vertical in the water to relive it. I decided I would just wear my swimsuit for the swim and change in transition. I practiced again 2 days before the race and I started getting used to the feeling. I practiced again the day before the race and it wasn’t too bad, so I decided to stick with the swim skin.


Race morning the water was calm and the swim went off without a hitch. My time for the swim was 1:08, which is slower than my usual Ironman swim but was faster than I had anticipated coming back from my crash. My shoulder and ribs didn’t start hurting until we had about 15 mins left. I ended up 24th in my age group on the swim.


T1 was uneventful, about 6 minutes.


My bike plan was to ride easy to moderate for the first 62 miles up to Hawi because in the past, coming back was 50 miles of windy rolling desolate lava fields and I always had trouble making it back. It was easy to stick to my plan because we had a lot of tailwind going out, which I didn’t push with, I let it push me and stayed relaxed. I was a little nervous on my bike from my crash, but assured myself that my bike was fixed and race ready!


My neck was the first thing to go, about 10 miles in . I had been ignoring my neck (degenerated discs) the past 5 weeks to heal my ribs and shoulder for the race. Oops! Just grin and bear it was my only option . The way down from Hawi had its usual crazy island winds, but the mildest out of the 3 times I have done this race. It was hotter than my 2 previous races here, but I stayed soaking wet from the first aid station through the last. I could definitely tell my longest ride on my tri bike in training was 75 miles. Everything was chafed and raw and I couldn’t wait to get off that thing! I ended up with a 5:58 bike, 54th in my age group.


T2 also uneventful, about 4 mins


I was so happy to be off the bike and running. I knew the first 10k would be easy as it was on Alii Drive lined with spectators and Coura would be waiting for me at the turnaround about 5k in. I kept myself iced and wet and stayed on my nutrition plan. Once out on to the Queen K (about 8 miles in), it got harder, but I still felt strong and cheered on the cyclists still coming in – mostly because I was so grateful to be off my bike and on the run. I ran with a woman from Argentina for about 10 miles. We didn’t talk at all, just ran side by side. I only knew her name because I looked up her number from a photo I saw after the race. She kept me pushing. I stopped at mile 18 to poop and lost her . Last year, my only goal was to make it out of the energy lab before the sun set because it’s pitch black in there. When I exited the energy lab this year, I looked over at the horizon and saw about 30 more minutes of sunlight. I was elated! This kept me moving as I thought to myself “however far I get before the sun goes down, is how much of a PR I will have on this course”. I don’t race with a watch or any technology, so I had no idea what my times were for the race thus far.


I made it about 3 more miles before the sun went down, and I was thrilled! I was definitely slowing down, but I knew I could get through the last 5k. Luckily, the last mile or so of the race is all downhill. Turning onto Alii Drive for the final half mile is an amazing feeling. It’s like no other race I’ve ever done before. There are so many people all going crazy cheering and shouting. Even thinking about it now, my eyes fill with tears. I ended up with a 4:05 marathon, 27th in my age group.


I had an amazing day in Kona. I loved being part of the first ever women’s only Kona race. I loved seeing the pro women alone biking and running on the Queen K without being mixed into the top age group men. I loved the energy before and after the race. I think Ironman did the right thing by separating the races. I ended up with an 11:22 race time which put me 22nd out of almost 300 women in my age group. My fastest Kona time and the top 10% of women in my age group in the world. I am extremely proud of myself.


Every single person racing has to put in the work to even get there. Every single woman in Kona that day made sacrifices and overcame obstacles to start the race. And every single person who finishes an Ironman has spent the past 8-17 hours fighting with everything they have to get to the finish line.


There’s no way I would ever be able to accomplish this alone. My friends and family are the most supportive and non-judgmental people I know. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to train the way I need to for a result like this. They make me believe I am amazing and worthy and strong af, even when I’m not feeling it.


Thank you from the depth of my soul for all of the other people who make my life more valuable just by being in it. Thank you thank you thank you!!