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Woke up like a 3am on race day. As I did in Ironman Florida I decided to repeat the same breakfast: 3 pouches of instant oatmeal with water, 2 slices of bread and water. I was still full from the night before so in a certain way I had to push myself to eat. I had to remember that this was in a certain way the last meal I will have for the day. I slept with my Rocktape tape on my left knee and right ankle, so that part was covered, and continued to dress up. 

Ali and Gabe continued to get ready while I was just relaxing and double checking everything. Double checking my swim goggles and race cap, my bike nutrition (which was prepackaged in the bento box), a liter of water which I was zipping and use to fill my aerobottle on the bike, bike pump, I left freezing my Hammer Perpetuem bottles overnight and the special needs bags for the bike and run which only had nutritional items, since they don’t return these bags. 

After clearing the pipes several times and getting all the stuff ready we headed from the hotel to the King Kamehameha Hotel’s race site. Gabe drop Ali and me and we headed to athlete’s check in. I said good bye to Ali, and proceed to body marking. My friend Shannon was volunteering at body marking and give me a shout to come over. After making the line he helped me with my body marking. It was funny to see numbers stamps on the table and how clean the numbers had to be on your skin. First on a race for me, they clean your skin and then proceed to put your number on your arms, and if there’s any flaw they would pass a black marker so the numbers could be perfect.

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At body marking with Shannon

After chatting with Shannon and finishing body marking I proceed to transition. Before entering transition, some volunteers were weighting us. This is a first for me, I was a bit surprised. I weighted 140 lb, which meant I put 5lbs of weight while in Hawaii, interesting. Inside transition there’s a special corral were all the pros bikes are. You could see the TV crews filming and some pros preparing themselves. I got to see Mirinda Carfree and Leanda Cave. After having a look at the pros, I continued to where I left Lightning the day before. Placed the prepacked bento box, the nutrition bottles and fill the aero bottle with water. Pumped the tires and put some baby powder on the clipped bike shoes. My aerohelmet was on top of the aerobars, double check the items on the bike and proceed to head out of transition (but made another stop to clean the pipes)

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Mirinda Carfree on the right and Leanda Cave on the left, in the pro transitionMore PRO bikes!View of transition in race morningView of transition in race morning

Ali and Gabe were waiting for me around the pool of the hotel, I met with them again and sat around. They helped me put some M-DOT temporary logos on my arms and continued to sip the liter of water. Ali decide to get a got spot in the swim start so I said good bye to her and she left. 6:30am and I decided to better clean the pipes one more time. I opt to go to the restroom in the lobby of the hotel since I thought they would be less crowded.  While walking to the restroom, a girl starts to call me, and it was Kitty, a girl that I meet thru Instagram. She’s an Aussie cheering for her teammates and it as good to meet her in real life. After having some words I continued my way to the restroom. They were indeed less crowded, but for some reason people were taking LONG to use the restroom. I overheard the speakers giving the signal for the men pro start (6:40am) and then for the woman pro start (6:45am). Finally clear up at 6:50am and headed back to see Gabe, grab my swim cap and goggles, said good bye to my bud and finally headed to the swim start.

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Everyone entering the water in Kailua Pier!Ready to start the 2012 Ironman World Championship!

The swim start was crowded and walking to the beach seem eternal. As I looked around me, I was finally living what I saw on Youtube 3 years ago on the 2009 Ironman World Championship. That famous swim start, the crowds, the flashes of the cameras, the over flying helicopter, the sun rising over the mountains, I really was there. As I walked thru the beach I felt the inner peace that I found  before coming to Hawaii and I was ready to start. Took everything in. Started to walk to the water, I pee a little (this is signal that I was well hydrated ;) ), and swam a little until the start line.  I was kinda close were the announcer of the race, Mike Reilly, was. Not really on front thou… a little more to the backpack. I noticed the scuba divers with the cameras underneath us while we were waiting. I prepared my Garmin to start the pain and noticed it was pass a little over 7am. I was thinking “what the heck?!, no cannon?”. All of the sudden Mike Reilly says: “The cannon is not working!, just go GO GO!!!”. I said “Here goes nothing”, and started swimming. Suddenly, after 30 seconds I hear a BOOM!. The cannon revived and the sound wave just passed over the top of me. Continued swimming. Since I was kind in the back pack things were not so crowded, since everyone are insanely faster than me, the action was up front. I thought the beach start in Ironman Florida was way worse.  Back then I remember getting kicked in the face, people swam over me, etc. Here was a bit more chilled, I guess people with more swimming education in a certain way to say. I just felt people swimming on my feet,  but that’s about it. First meters probably were the worse, but as I continued and getting my muscles warm, I felt better. Ironman swims are just beautiful, you see the sunrise, and it lights up all these people around you, it is a priceless view and the best part is that you are in the middle of it.  The swim was full of swells, and there were times that I swallowed water, but the hint here is just to keep calm and keep the pace going.  All of the sudden I start feeling some pain on my left under arm. “Great, I’m chaffing!” and I haven’t even got to the turn around buoy. Embraced the pain and continued. Swim felt crowded until the turnaround buoy, but this is were the crowds started spreading. The turnaround involved a big sailboat as a signal turn. Continued the swim, and kept 4 strokes and breathing to each side as Juju thought me. Try to draft as much as possible, but in the way back people started drafting me! This made me feel like if I was a strong swimmer or something LOL. If I was chaffing under my left arm, at this point I was chaffing under my right arm too. It was weird since I did put Body Glide under my arms. Embrace the pain part duex.

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View of transition area and swimmers getting back!

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Exiting the swim and heading to T1!

Finally got back to the pier, and the people were running wild cheering, felt great! Entered transition, passed by the showers to clean up a bit the salt water, headed to grab my bike bag and entered the changing tent. Took my sunglasses, 3 Cliff Bars which I placed on my jersey and bottom pockets, put some sunscreen on my face, grab my Compressport shin guards and told a volunteer to help me put them on and push them on my legs, put my Special Edition Kona Compressport wristband on my right wrist and took off the changing tent. While running to get the bike, there were volunteers putting sun lotion, stopped and 4 of them started spreading lotion everywhere, said thank you and continued to try to localize Lightning. Entered the the racks and to my surprise all the racks were almost empty! I saw Lightning standing alone in the rack, jumped thru one rack and got to her. I put my helmet on and start running with Lightning to exit T1 and mount.

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Exiting T1

Hop on Lightning and the first thing I see… a steep hill on Palani Road, pass thru that and head over to town via Kuakini Highway. Grab some time to put my feet on my shoes and zip some water from the aerobottle. Already felt some headwind coming down from Kuakini Hwy, but I remembered what coach Marcelo told me, to keep cadence between 85-90 rpm and heart zone in Z3. People pass me like crazy, and I just have to build patience to let them just pass me. Kuakini Hwy have some rolling hills, and to my mind came, this is just the beginning. Turn around, came back thru Kuakini and made a left to grab the steep Palani Road again, and finally made a left on the legendary Queen Kaahumanu Highway aka Queen K . Now the race really started!

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Starting the ride, up Palani Road!

So what is the Queen K really? As I came back I received a lot of questions about it. The Queen K is a highway that takes you from Kailua-Kona to the intersection that starts the climb to Hawi. This is what you see on TV, that portrays the lava fields, which are sharp black rocks, that if a wind gust gets you, you will be very sorry for falling on top of them. It encompasses around 40 miles of rolling hills and some flat areas. Due to the black lava rocks, the heat index raises a little more than 5 degrees, which makes a really hell of a ride. The wind starts playing a factor, having insane side winds, that at a time I was riding diagonally against the wind in order not to be pushed from my bike. If sidewinds starts playing with you, the headwind makes another story, especially when you start the climb to Hawi via Akoni Pule Highway. So imagine riding with wind hitting you from the sides and front at 20-25mph (with wind gusts of 30mph+), climbing and being hit by heat wave of 95F+ (I was told that at a point it reached 129F)… yup, welcome to the toughest one day endurance event in the planet.

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Assaulting the Queen K!The legendary Queen K. Notice the lava fields on the back!

My research told me that the first thing was to conserve as much energy as possible in the first part of the ride. I was lucky to ride the bike course in car on Tuesday and I understood why. The climb to Hawi would take a lot of strength and patience. Climbing a mountain with a headwind is no fun at all. That day I became master of gear shifting on the bike while going from the big ring to small ring and vice versa. I just kept remembering to keep the cadence on 85-90 rpm, but there were times that I would be in the smallest gear on the bike and I would be hitting 70-75rpm.  In this part is where I saw the pros coming back with the caravan of TV cameras and helicopters. As you get close to Hawi the climb gets stepper and for our luck it started raining. So now it was the headwind with water hitting us like bullets. At least we were not hot anymore LOL. There were times were I was saying, “WHERE THE HELL IS THE TURN AROUND???”, I was hitting mile 55 and nothing yet. The turn occurred around mile 60. Finally the headwind will become tailwind and I will have a break of the pain. The tailwind converted me into a rocket and the max speed that I was holding on Lightning was 42mph. Although I was flying I still had to deal with the side winds; a fall at that speed would have been game over for me, but at the same time I didn’t care... just wanted to make for some time.

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Aloha!Turn Around at Hawi, notice the wet road from the rain

I was getting worried that I hadn’t pee yet, but on the way down of Hawi I clean the pipes. This is good indication that you’re hydrated. My nutrition plan was to have 250 cal/hour as Melissa recommended. I managed this by having a Cliff Bar (250 cal) at the beginning of the bike, one half way thru and a third 15 miles before finishing the ride, having 2 gels (1 gel = 100 cal) per hour and sips of Hammer Perpetuem. Every hour I would have e-pills to have the sodium levels up. Hydration was managed with alternating sips of water and Perpetuem very 15 mins. To keep cool from the heat, each aid station had cold water bottles, so I would grab one, and pour it over my head, neck, knees, arms and whatever was left I would drink it or put the bottle on one of my cages.

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Getting down of HawiAnd this looks like an ad of Cervelo, LOL

After finally getting down of Hawi, we had some nice hills to climb in order to get to the Queen K again. Past that and back on the highway of legend. 40 miles to go and the Queen K had a final surprise… an insane headwind that put me to my knees. For the rest of the ride I had to go to small ring and stay there. This is where my energy levels started to suffer. Probably I push a lot on the Hawi climb and I could started to feel it on my legs. 40 miles to get back to town was a lot, and I thought a lot of things during these eternal miles. “Why I’m punishing myself like this?... I just want to have a nice girl, get married, have 2 kids and be fat!” would be one of the thoughts. Started to remember the bike trainings and saying that I would never complain in a workout, or about the wind in Key Biscayne. I was not prepared for this! Flat Miami didn’t prepared me to be climbing for 112 miles! (The heat part was covered thou! LOL). While in my suffering, I started to see messages on the Queen K, until I saw one that completely broke me down.

"Beto... believe in you, because we believe in you".

It hit me hard. I forgot that Ali and Gabe wrote messages for me along the Queen K. I was a mental mess and started crying. Never thought I would hit the mental state before the last miles of the marathon, but I did it early before on the bike. It was just so hard. But the true was there on the asphalt of the Queen K, I have to believe in myself and just suck up the pain for my friends and everyone that helped me get to Hawaii. There were so many of them that helped me one way or another. I remembered Macca’s “Embrace the suck” and I could hear Ali’s voice saying: “believe in you, because we believe in you.” I cleared my mental distress, wipe my tears away and focused to finish the bike.

Finally got back to Kona, dismounted, gave my bike to a volunteer and headed to T2. Grabbed my Run Bag, took out my helmet, put my visor, my race belt, socks and shoes, and spread some Icy/Hot on my legs. I’ve put some tape for my chaffing under the arms, a volunteer put me some sunblock again, sip some water in the tent and headed out of T2.

The same climb on Palani Road, and turn right on Kuakini Highway, as the bike. The difference is that you make a right in Hualalai Road and then make a left on Ali’I Drive. So far so good, the run was survivable, good pace and I was stopping at every aid stations to have water, Ironman Perform or gels. The tape under my arms started falling off so I just took it away. I would grab sponges or ice, to put on my chest. I passed by Java Lava and my friends were there! What a blessing to see them, shouting, taking photos and getting crazy! Smiled and my spirits were up! I made another pit stop to clean the pipes and continued, got to the turn around and headed back. I started feeling the soreness of the legs and I was not even 6 miles in. Needed to continue. All of the sudden I saw an angel riding a bike with a pink helmet, she was shouting, “Go! Keep it up!”, and I said “Oh my God!!!...Chrissie…!!!”. It was Chrissie Wellington riding a bike and cheering everyone on the run!!! Wow!!!

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Ali next to me on the run!Trying to keep my Crowie pose for the cameras... FAIL!

I heard someone shouting my name, and it was Shannon! "Keep it up mate!". I passed my friends again, leader spectathlete Mickey shouting “C’mon Beto you got this! Less than 20 miles!”, I was trying to keep it up for them not to see my pain. From Ali’I Drive made a left on Hualalai Road, left on Kuakini Highway and right on the steep climb of Palani Road, and finally a left on the Queen K. The Queen K becomes a progressive climb which started affecting my legs. At this point my pace was being absurdly affected and decided to not watch the Garmin anymore for pace or millage. As the sun started to go down and the wind continued to blow it was a signal that I eventually will start to get cold, since I was all wet from the sponges and ice that I was putting on top of me. Now I found the need to go to the portables, since my stomach was acting up and there were times that I wanted to throw up. Found a portable but as I enter the thing, it was nasty! with crap on the walls everywhere! I got out of there and decided to wait for the one next in the other aid station (there were only one portable per aid station). Finally got to the other one, release the pain and continued.

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Still feeling good!Looks like I'm floating!

The sun was completely out and the night arrived. On the aid stations, the volunteers started to give glow sticks and for one reason. There are no lights along the Queen K. The highway becomes a pitch black road, and the only lights that you see are the ones on top of you, the light that stars will provide you. I was carrying my Rx sunglasses, but I had to take them out and I couldn’t really see a thing (for me is really hard to see on the dark). Along the road I would see flying glow sticks and as they come closer I would notice that there were athletes coming in the other direction. I finally got to the Energy Lab, which received me with a brutal headwind which gave me goose bumps. I got to appreciate more the stars while in the Energy Lab, guiding me to my personal victory or close demise. It was so pitch black inside there that I almost tripped and fall, because I couldn’t see where I was stepping.

Finally got to the turn around that indicated that it was time to go home. As I got out of the Energy Lab I saw our new friend Kim volunteering on the aid station, and said hi. Later she reported that to Mickey via a text message that I was still alive and running LOL. Going down the Queen K, help a bit… I just wanted to get this thing done and didn’t want to stop. I was shivering cold, my knees felt like they were about to explode, started to have pain on my right hip, I started to feel my bad ankle, and my calfs & hamstrings were burning.

Three to two miles from the finish, I heard a voice saying “You got it man! So close Beto!!”, I was thinking to myself “I hear Mickey… Oh! It is Mickey!!!”. Mickey started running with me, but I was an iron zombie. She encouragued me and stayed with me, we hit the down hill of Palani Road, and people will start to gather together and support me. I asked Mickey “Are you running with flip flops?” and she will say “Don’t worry about me, just continue running!!!” Left on Kuakini Highway and right  with another down hill on Hualalai Road, and finally right on Ali’I Drive. Finally meet everyone there, Ali, Ryan and Gabe which he finally gave me my Ecuadorian flag, and I just started regaining my pace. All of them were running with me and people started to cheer like crazy. Some of them tried to give hi-fives but I was just with the last bit of strength and will left in me, that I ignored them (sorry!), I just wanted to finish.

Finally saw the light, the finish line down at the end of Ali’I Drive. Mickey was shouting “the only one from his country, the only one from Ecuador!”, and I entered the finish shute. So many lights on top of your face that you cannot really see much and everything became a blur for me. I just needed to do my signature finish move, a flying kick (My flying kick has several names: the Kick of Justice, the Iron Kick, Spider Kick, but the most popular is the Kung-Fu Panda kick!), at the finish line and I was done. Let a guy pass over me, he was enjoying himself giving hi-5 and everything, I had just to  prepare for the Panda Kick. The guy in front of me finished and it was my turn. Got to the ramp, grab some impulse and my “Special Signature Move” was done. I did a flying kick to finish the Ironman World Championship in the greatest and most beautiful finish line in triathlon.

"From Miami by way of Ecuador, Alberto Navarro, YOU are an Ironman!!!!"

So many feelings together, but so tired to even think!. And that was it. No energy left. Only 0.1% available to walk and breathe. They put me a luau, gave me a towel and a catcher grabbed me.

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Follow the light!Kung Fu Panda Style at the finish line!0.1% energy left

We started walking together and he said if I was ok. Almost dropped but got my posture again… “Yeah, I’m okay… “ I replied. Another guy starts walking with me on my right hand side. He says: “Hey, I liked that kick out there, how are you feeling?”, “Thanks, I’m walking so I guess I’m okay… haha”. The guy continues, “can you talk?, do you mind giving some words to NBC, we have a small booth here on transition”, I was thinking “TEEVEEEEE!!!”, “sure!, why not?”. He said that I had to answer a basic question, which was “Why I’m doing the Ironman?”. They put me on top of a box, put a camera on my face, asked me to tell my name, spell it and followed with the question. I basically replied that I was doing this for all the people that helped me to get thru here, all the support received and that I was the only person from my country doing it. Finished talking my small improvised speech and followed to the finish area they had. So there was a chance that I would have appear on the Ironman TV special, but it didn’t happened L. My friends started shouting at me and I waved at them. I picked up a bag that had my medal, the finishers t-shirt and cap. Went to take some photos with the medal and my flag and saw a massage tent at the end of the area and went there. There was a line (luckily with seats) and started waiting. Saw some people having pizza, but at the moment I couldn’t have anything, my stomach was destroyed and completely shut down. I was starting to get really cold and saw some people with wind breakers, I asked another finisher to save my seat and went to grab one at medical, but they were out of them. I went to see my friends and and asked them to give me my flip flops and Ali gave me a cover that she had. I told them I was getting a massage and that I would be back. Got to the line again, and finally got a 10 min complimentary massage. Felt much better and almost fall to sleep in that massage table. Walked to the food and had 2 slices of pizza. That was enough as my stomach was hurting.

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With my flag and the big ass medal

Got back to my friends Ali, Mickey, Gabe and Ryan. So happy to see them! I think they saw a zombie standing in front of them. They told me about the day they had, about the tracking of the race, about how Allison did, who won the race, etc. I told them it was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. Ali mentioned that Mike Reilly quote one of her messages written on the Queen K. They asked if I saw them and as I started replying them I burst into tears “As I was heading back to town (sniff), and the wind was hitting hard (sniff), I saw: Believe in you (crying, and having difficulty finishing the sentence), because we believe in you… (buuuuuaaaa!).” After that, I started crying with my head down for a while, and trying to cover my face… “It was just so hard” I said.

After the human breakdown show, Ryan asked what I wanted to do, to go back to the hotel, eat or what… I said that we should stay until the last hour of the race. For me, that is the most important part of the Ironman, were the Champions of the day come back, start receiving the last finishers and it becomes a big party, they just have to live that experience! They listened and we went to the finish line. Allison and Kelly later joined us, and watched the last finishers come by. With 30 seconds before the 17 hour, the last finisher passed the finish line and the 2012 Ironman World Championship was officially over. Some fire dancers came to the finish line to give the ending of the race a big ending, a Hawaiian chant was made and everyone started singing together. With the race over, we walked to the car and head to the hotel.

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Kona Party Time!

The Numbers:

Total Time: 14:25:56

Swim Time: 1:27:48

T1 Time: 5:20

Bike Time: 6:48:45

T2 Time: 6:50

Run Time: 5:57:13

156th out of 170.

Around 1am, got to the hotel, had a shower and got to bed. Checked my phone and I was heartbroken to see so many people following me via Facebook and Instagram during the race, and giving me infinite support. Having most of my friends and family back at the east coast, they stayed up until 4 am, which was the time when I crossed the finish line in their time zone. I really want to thank all of you that stayed up all night, just to see me jumping that finish line or checking on your phones my stats to see if I was alive or not. There’s a part that my splits didn’t show in the marathon, probably I missed the timing mat, because it was so dark out there, and the combination of me not having glasses didn’t help at all to see where I was running, haha. I want to thank too, the people that believed in me and helped me financially to get to Hawaii in the first place. It is certainly not a cheap trip, but I promised I will get thru hell, carry your logos proudly and finish the race, and I did.

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Some of the love that I received via Instagram! I love the cool collage Elena did! And thank you Arlene for following! Thank you girls!

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Mickey's representation of IronBeto!

I’m no pro, elite or top age grouper. I got into Kona via the Kona Lottery, where I was lucky enough to get one of the 100 slots available (lucky, since around 8000 people worldwide apply every year!). But luck apart, there were a lot of set backs getting to Kona. If you read the blog, you know what I’m talking about. I started a 15 week training plan with a sprained ankle, being in complete stop for weeks, starting to train swim and bike with lost endurance while going to physical therapy, and finally being able to start “running” just 8 weeks before the race… it was not easy. Two weeks before the race, I had to move out/work/train all at the same time. I had times that not only my body was injured, but my state of mind too, and some people know that I was a pain in the butt too (I’m sorry!). When I got back from Hawai’I someone wrote me the following:

“You truly are an inspiration to have overcome an injury, trained hard by yourself (most of the time during the long workouts) while working & moving! I don’t think 0.00000001% of the population could have done what you did! It truly takes a man with a certain personality with discipline, passion & commitment! And you did it!”

I don’t think I am an inspiration at all, I just try to do what is correct. But if it inspires others… is all good :). You know who you are, and my last thank you goes to the people that with the smallest of acts, words of encouragement (not only verbally, but via Facebook, text messages, videos, etc ),  and support helped me to get through the intense training and my injuries. I did the race that inspired me to become a triathlete, the one-day toughest endurance event in the planet, the Ironman of the Ironmen. I not only became an Ironman again, but a KONA Ironman, a dream became true and it all was because of you! THANK YOU!

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