Before you think there’s something very Aloha going on in the Waterstraat house, let me explain. No we are not secret training for Kona. Tonight we went to a luau.
Chris’ grandmother lives in a community that had a luau tonight. All things Hawaiian have a very special meaning to the Waterstraat family. You see, his grandparents would overwinter in Hawaii each year. Growing up they spent many a family vacation in Hawaii and there are stories of hikes in Haleakala, the seven pools of Hana and hula pie.
So the luau was very special to attend. Of course Chri walked downstairs wearing his hibiscus shirt. He got that shirt at the Gap outlet back in 2001 when we were in Lake Placid for a race. Or maybe it was 2000. I just remember he came out of the store with that shirt and I think to myself what have I gotten myself into with him. That was back when we were dating. Not that I had a fashion sense – but work with me here. Look at that shirt.
One flowered fool deserves another I suppose. And yes those are matching leis. It was my idea to bring Boss along and an even better idea to dress him in his own Hawaiian shirt. It’s important to note that the shirt Boss is wearing actually belongs to Mr. Pickles my stuffed monkey. Since it was designed for a stuffed bear Boss did have some trouble actually moving in the shirt.
The luau itself was very festive. All of the Waterstraat’s were wearing Hawaiian shirts. Boss fit right in. We were given leis and enjoyed some luau delights. The real fun was when the entertainment began. Hula girls, conch shells, drums, a man in a flowered skirt and the group singing of the infamous Don Ho song – Tiny Bubbles. Singing along (I’ll admit it – I sang along), I decided that my next dog will be named Tiny Bubbles. Bubba for short.
As I watched the entertainment I couldn’t help but think this was the closest I would get to Kona training. As much as I know the Ironman training is exhausting and all-consuming – there is something about it that makes you feel a little more alive. Spending 7 hours in the saddle. Running 18 miles. Ah, the Ironman training days. Nothing like them. But I won’t complain. Eating pineapple while singing Tiny Bubbles is not all that bad. And there are a hell of a lot less baggies and jars of Vaseline involved.
The songs, the drums, the grass skirts made me want to be in Hawaii now. Made me realize – once again – how magical the islands really are. Whether you are hiking the cliffs of the NaPali Coast, the curve of the land meeting the ocean in Waipio Valley, the barren lunar landscape of Haleakala – even thinking about it is breathtaking. Soon enough I will be there watching the Big Island fill with restlessly fit and driven athletes from all over the world. Considering this on a day I divorced triathlon well…this thought made me want to reconcile.
I went swimming today and got out after 28 minutes. Sat in the hot tub and cried. Not for myself nor my failure but just for….for no other good reason at all. Maybe because I’m sad. Disappointed. Tired. I realized somewhere in the middle of a lap that I had never failed before in my life. I’m not saying all of my efforts this year have been complete failures but they have certainly fallen short. And I have never fallen short of my goals. I’ve always nailed them every time.
And I guess that is why I cried. The realization that I am vulnerable. That sometimes even working hard leaves you short of your goal. So short that it looks like you weren’t even working towards it at all. I realize if I walk away with nothing else this year I have great perspective on the full circle of athletic success and I suppose what you would call…struggle? Maybe it was just my turn – to learn that lesson. To make me a better athlete. A better coach. I can now say I have experienced 360 degrees of triathlon. I have won. I have come in last. I have DNF’ed. I have done Ironman. I have been pulled from water. I have peed myself. I have given myself poison oak and – this past weekend – poison ivy from squatting in the woods. I’ve lost sleep thinking of how to carry salt tabs. I’ve lost sleep from being so wired from power gels. There you have it – 360 degrees of triathlon.
But then I got home. Loaded up that picture of Boss and Chris in their Hawaiian shirts. Thought about going to Kona to cheer for my husband, to train some with Sherpa Thomas & Jenni K, to spend time with my friends. About how exciting it will be to swim in the ocean, to ride my bike, to run along the Queen K (yes there is pleasure in that). To drink real coffee, eat fresh fruit and relax in life on the island. I realized I don’t have to race something to enjoy it just like I don’t have to nail my goals to validate my tries. Learning lessons is valuable even if we can’t see it at the time. Learning is a part of growing and growing takes time.
I’m so glad we went to the luau.