It just hit me that in less than one week I will be in Hawaii.
It’s really getting closer. It’s really going to happen. I will really be out there in Kona doing Ironman Hawaii.
As it’s getting closer, I thought I would take the time to announce my Kona-bound cheering squad. It’s an all star cast that will surely pull me through what will be a very long day.
First and foremost, there is Chris, my devoted husband who has endured over 3 months of my Ironman talk, training, madness. He has expressed several times that he is very excited for me, and in fact seems much more giddy than I am at this point. But then again he gets a normal wife back after October 21st and I probably get a bundle of aches and pains. Traveling with Chris is always a hoot as he often does something somewhere that is unexpected and worthy of a laugh. Like losing his drivers license along the century ride in San Diego a few weeks ago. Or the time he lost his credit card in New Orleans. Or when he left his sunglasses in Lake Placid and tried to blame me for it. Or the night before in Lake Placid when he tried, in a drunken stupor, to open the hotel room door with his drivers license after I had practically carried him from the elevator to the door. Or the time he laid down on the street in front of Cesar’s in Vegas to take a quick nap after a few too many drinks at Barberry Coast. Not only does he not handle his liquor well, but even without liquor he tends to leave pieces of himself across the globe. So I am bringing him to Hawaii for purely entertainment reasons, and the fact that he can assemble my bike better than anyone else.
Then, there’s Meredith, sister of Chris, sister-in-law. Perhaps there is no other way to describe Meredith than diva-like but down to earth, eccentric but totally normal, talkative but pensive, world-traveled, fearless, funny, eat a cheeseburger for breakfast kind of girl that has a strange addiction for purchasing shoes. We all have our addictions, and shoes are as addictive as anything else, but I am going to put my foot down and say that Meredith you only need two pairs for Hawaii – flip flops and a back up pair of flip flops when the other pair blows out.
Tim will also be coming along. He lives in Minneapolis/St. Paul and knows Chris from Ragbrai. He’s the only guy I know that can ride faster than Chris and pull the line on Ragbrai without a moment’s rest all while drinking one water bottle and a beer through the entire day. He is most likely to drop pants in random parts of towns but never get caught while the guy next to him that just tried it for the first time gets hauled off in a squad car in smalltown Iowa.
He is also bringing his girl, Christina, who is quiet but I am sure that even she will shout for me next Saturday. She will be the voice of reason, a beacon of sanity, the gatekeeper of my husband and Tim while I am out on the race course because it is probably not wise to leave them unattended on an island with their bikes while wearing those blue jerseys.
And lastly, there is Bert, whom we call the Nimble Vagrant. Because he is a nimble vagrant. For example, you might find yourself in Riceville, Iowa on a warm summer day late in July with 20,000 other cyclists when Bert walks up from behind you, out of the blue, carrying a Subway sandwich. And you hadn’t seem him since earlier that morning, 50 miles away, and you’re wondering how on earth he found you at that place at that time. I could share endlessly entertaining stories about Bert, about my trip to Interbike with Bert, about how he crossed the US border and got absconded by border police, or his hometown in Texas, or bikes, or pit bulls, or motorcycles. Basically anything with wheels and anything south is off limits in conversation with Bert. But he’s had a hard life recently, and we felt that bringing Bert to Hawaii was the right thing to do and he’s probably my one of my biggest fans.
And, I almost forget, Mr. Pickles, my stuffed monkey who adores traveling, and Mini Pickles, his Minneapolis/St. Paul fingerpuppet counterpart that currently resides with Tim but does not have nearly an impressive travel resume as Mr. Pickles.
The rules and requirements for being on my cheering squad were simple – get yourself out to Hawaii and I’ll take care of the rest, like finding a car, finding a place to stay, and entertaining them on Saturday for upwards of 17 hours. In exchange, I expect them to cheer and – one more thing – wear their blue Hibiscus jerseys, our Ragbrai uniform, so they can be as brightly obvious and obnoxious to me no matter where I am on the course or how clouded my head or vision gets.
The other day Meredith asked what I would like them to shout or not to shout along the way. I thought about it for a minute and said anything goes, just shout it while wearing the blue jerseys. And, for Tim, to keep this jersey and the rest of his clothes on since he has a penchant for running loose, ragged, and clothes-free through the streets on sunny days. I politely suggested that perhaps the Big Island wasn’t ready for such a sight. At which he said I had no business speaking on behalf of the island like that.
The only other rule was that in the days leading up to the race, me and Mr. Pickles get the bed beecause someone is going to have to take the floor or the chair on the lanai and it won’t be me. In fact, I get anything I want in the days leading up to the race – silence on command, foot massages, coffee at my beck and call. My cheering squad doesn’t know this yet, but it was in the fine print and they should have read closer.
I have thought of things I might say along the way if I see them but then realized I should just let the day play out as it may. I may be happy, I may be mad. I may throw a gel packet at Chris for letting me do this. I may be so wrapped in my own pain that I don’t even recognize them. But when I cross the finish line I will be very happy that they have shared the experience with me.
And, there’s one more thing I’ll need them to do. When I cross the line, amped up on caffeine, sugar, and endorphins, I need one of them to slap me if I happen to say that I can’t wait to do another Ironman.