On Wednesday, I woke up at 4:55 am.
The sky was already starting to light up over the giant volcano. Within 30 minutes, the sky became a paler shade of blue over the ocean. I watched the day wake up on the lanai. And by 6 am, the doves were making that sound.
What is that sound, Chris asked.
That is the sound of Hawaii.
(unless you are in Kauai, then the sound of Kauai is the cockadoodledoo of feral chickens)
I’ve missed Marit. Last night sat on the lanai last night talking – nearly two years of talk that we’ve missed. The last time I saw Marit she was healing. Now I see her stronger – in many ways. She is nervous but prepared. Anyone who comes to race on this island without a little trepidation in their voice is not prepared. And far too confident. Marit is ready. She knows this race is not about speed or even fitness. It’s about hydration and heat management. It’s really not a race to race.
We started this morning by heading down to the pier for a swim. Compared to last year, Kona feels crowded. Not so much with athletes but with spectators and puppets. I call them puppets because they are the guys walking around pushing the bikes but not riding them. They are the guys decked out in full ______(insert brand name x) apparel to promote their sponsor. As Chris said, they serve a purpose but somehow they feel like unnecessary fluff.
Kona has become more brash in its marketing attempts. Not that the island has been colored the bay red in support of the M-dot but there are signs everywhere. Logos, sponsors, signs are pervasive like the heat out here. It still doesn’t make me want to buy their products but I get the point. They are trying to make money. Because when it all comes down to it, money makes this sport go around and money makes this happen.
But what about the people? Totally out this year: anorexia. Ironman seems to have taken an extra serving of potatoes at dinner because people are looking healthier, a little more balanced. People are buzzing all over Ali’I Drive. Athletes, non-athletes, sherpas.
This morning in tri-hottie spotting: Michellie Jones on a run, Hillary Biscay at Lava Java, Mark VanAkkeren in arm cast, Heather Gollnick in water, Bree Wee running with may I say a big snap in her step along Ali’I, Normann Stadler and entourage.
Can we talk about that?
Every year he’s here with a full entourage of about 10, 20 (?) others all dressed the same. It got me thinking about my own entourage. If I were to bring an entourage to Hawaii, here is who I would hire:
1 – My husband, bike mechanic.
2 – Sherpa Thomas, hands down the most valuable Sherpa alive but noticeably missing since the start of one serious relationship with one very hot girl.
3 – Personal midget, to apply sunscreen to hard to reach areas.
4 – Chimp. What’s more fun than a chimp?
5 – Barista with portable espresso maker.
We headed down to the pier at 7 am. Walking there we see a lot of coconuts. Marit informs us that you are more likely to die from a falling coconut than a shark attack.
I have missed these types of Maritisms.
The pier was packed. But once you get beyond the first buoy (I’m still convinced 99% of the athletes just swim back and forth to first buoy), the bay opens up more spaciously.
Chris, Marit and I swim together. Below us a colorful assortment of fish swim too. We stop at the major buoys to chat for a moment then swim on. We swam to one of the farther buoys – at times it felt like I was totally alone out there though I had Marit’s bubbles in front of me. The ocean was deep. The water was so clear. The way back was quite choppy but that’s what kept it fun and challenging.
After the swim, Marit headed off to registration and we went off to Lava Java. Sure, it’s a scene but all I see when I sit there is the ocean and my husband. Nevermind that everyone around me is fitter, leaner and tattooed with an IM logo. That has nothing to do with me. Or at least I don’t let it. I drink overpriced coffee because it’s good. I people watch because it’s fun. I look out at the ocean because it’s relaxing.
The condo we are staying at has a spectacular view. Chris and I headed down to the ocean to walk on the lava rock. Small pools with fish and sea urchins were scattered all over. A sign posted warned us to never turn your back on the ocean. And I wondered why the ocean would betray someone. A reminder of it’s awesome power that as much as we try – man can never control.
After a few minutes, a worker told us to step away from the ocean because there was a tsunami warning! Marit’s husband looked it up and discovered there had been an 8.0 earthquake in Vanuatu – which was…3400 miles away.
We sat on the lanai watching the ocean. Marit talked about the things you talk about before Ironman; affixing items to the bike, gels on the run course, special needs bags, sunscreen, Carbo Pro. Speaking of Carbo Pro: Marit, why is there a book in the freezer? It had something to do with Carbo Pro spilling all over the book, Marit washing the book and then putting it in the freezer to dry.
In the late afternoon I went running. As I walked out the door Chris said, have a good run. I told him they are all good runs now. Sure I have a plan for each run but I won't beat myself up if I don't follow it. Right now I’m just running because I love to run.
I ran in what can only be described as the sweater vest of Kona. Of course the first half of the run felt great. Going slightly downhill. With a tailwind. It was when I turned around that I had to walk 30 seconds after each pick up just to get my HR to drop below 5 beats ABOVE threshold! It was then that I wondered to myself, how did I ever run a 3:30 marathon here? Moreover, how did I do that both times I was here!?!?!
I was doing a series of short pick ups at a pace that I believe Craig Alexander opens up the first mile of his marathon. It struck me then the true awesomeness of that on this course. Here I was holding that pace for 45 seconds, a pace he could hold for miles….after a 112 mile bike! Sometimes you mistakenly hear people say if I only had more time to train I could be a pro. Listen, what the pros do has nothing to do with time. And you realize that on a course like Kona. It has everything to do with innate ability, superior biomechanics and a bit of headstrong. Because I can’t think of any other personality trait that would help you grit your teeth and ignore the woolen feeling of running the Kona marathon.
Sitting now on the lanai I see the sun is beginning to go down, and the wind is dying down too. Evening is about to arrive. Chris is out for a run and Marit is saying she is hungry.
I’m not sure what the evening holds but that’s the fun of it. It doesn’t matter. I did tell Chris at some point I would like to be holding a fruity drink in my hand.