Kona: Day 2

Got up and went to the swim start a little before 7am.  On Saturday, the race will start at 7am so it was helpful to get a feel for what the light situation will be.  Again, the surf looked pretty rough.  I didn’t have issues yesterday, so I knew I would be fine.  I wanted to head out further than I had yesterday.  Yesterday my main goal was to just get over the mental barrier.  Ryan and I started out.  The coffee boat is only 8 minutes away and I wanted to go out for 15.  There were a ton of people swimming as far as the boat, but not so many afterward.  That was the only time I had a little moment of tiny panic.  At one point I looked up and I could see someone about 50 meters in front of me, Ryan was about 25 meters back  and I was about 300 meters from shore.  You’re in the freaking ocean.  I had a moment where I thought I saw a shadow.  I didn’t panic physically at all, but I just had to remind my brain to stay calm.  5 seconds of worry, no more.  Keep swimming.  There were definitely some larger swells.  It was crazy because when I was breathing to the beach side I could feel my body go over a big swell and then I could see the spray of large waves hitting the beach.  It’s ridiculous to be swimming in it.  We made it to the turn around, hit the coffee boat quickly and headed in.  Another success.

We got out of the water later than I had hoped.  There was only 15 minutes to spare before the Underpants Run and the line to get your checked bag out of the swim practice was about 10.  Bust.  Ryan threw a pair of boxers over his shorts and ran down.  I changed where I was and waited for the group to run by, but never connected with Ryan.  I did walk around a bit in my skivvies with the group, but  I’ve been having so much pain when I run and walk lately that I decided to just head over to the A.R.T. tent for treatment while the line was short.

I’ve been having a lot of issues lately with the top of my right hip.  I’ve been told by many people that it’s an issue with my gluteus medius and my QL.  The woman I had yesterday was amazing and really helped with some foot and calf pain I was also having, but my hip had been flaring up since the morning.  Really, really bad pain.  Some of the worst I have ever experienced.  I found her again and she manhandled me.  It felt loser, but still the second I start to run it hurt again.  She brought in another guy who worked on me and again, it felt loser, but still hurt.  He brought in another woman.  Same story.  Each time a little better, but still significant pain.  Finally they brought over the head ART guy (there are now 5 ART people standing around me who have been working on me for about an hour) who is also a doctor.  (Note: I found out later that this was the originator of ART and is Chrissie’s ART guy).  He said it sounded like it was a nerve issue caused by a tightened muscle.  He worked on me and said it should start feeling better throughout the afternoon.  He went on to say that a certain ultraviolet light machine would help with the inflammation and that the inventor of the machine was right here. 

“Okay, that’s great, “ I’m thinking, “but, I’m not buying an ultraviolet light machine.”

                “Do you have some time?” He asks.

“Sure.”

                “Follow me.”

Listen up ladies, do not do what I proceeded to do next.  So, I follow this guy into the host hotel.  I have no clue where I’m going.  Thankfully, my new ART friend, Lisa, asked to tag along.  We make our way to this guys hotel room where he has this light contraption and puts the treatment pads on my hip and back.  I’m laying on a strange guys hotel room bed.  He was saying that it also had been used for treatment of mood.  “So, I should put one on my head?”  I joked. 

“Yes.” He says  Next thing I know there’s another one of these pads on the back of my head.

It’s was a 20 minute treatment.  He was incredibly nice.  The man was definitely on a schedule though.  I guess he needed to make sure he wasn’t running late for one of his afternoon appointments, Chrissie Wellington.  Perhaps you’ve heard of her?  She’s been going to this guy all week since she’s been here to treat her issues from the bike crash she was in a few weeks ago.

I’m not exactly sure how I qualified for such first class treatment, but I’m not asking any questions.  I’m not so sure if the hip is any better, but there was definitely some mood altering that took place.  For the rest of the day I was uncharacteristically mellow.  Happy and mellow.  Ryan is ready to buy this machine. 

The next item on the agenda was to drive the bike course out to Hawi Town.  I couldn’t get over the barrenness of the terrain.  It is just unbelievable.  Within 10 miles you go from being in a pretty tropical looking town to completely desolate fields of lava.  It’s emptiness is striking.  It is really unlike anything I have ever seen before.  The area looks like an end of the world scene could be filmed on it.  You don’t see birds or animals or anything green.  It’s just black.  Amazing. 

And then there are the infamous winds.  There were many times when we could feel the rental Jeep moved by the cross winds.  I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t getting a little nervous at this point.  I had wanted to do the last 10 miles into Hawi where I would meet Ryan and my Mom for lunch.  It had started to rain a bit, but, fortunately, stopped before I started riding.  They pulled over to drop me off and away I went.  It felt so perfect to be back on my bike again.  I had shipped her over the 3rd week in September, so it had been a long time.  Lil’ Roo fits me like a glove (thanks, Andy).  The 10 miles into Hawi are definitely uphill and definitely windy.  I felt myself having to lean slightly into the cross winds, but it didn’t feel any worse to me than a really rough day at Eagleman.  The headwind sucked a little, but was also manageable.  I was happy when I spotted Ryan on the edge of town.  He knew I had been having a ton of hip issues and was eager to ask me how it went.  I could see he was relieved when I flashed him a thumbs up.  I actually had no hip issues at all on my bike.  I was also really relieved to feel that.

We had lunch in Hawi town.  It’s about 2 blocks long and reminds me of a town in the old west for some reason.  There were students from a local college nearby talking about a test they had just taken and I found myself beginning to wonder what it must be like to call this place home.  My favorite line from eavesdropping was when a 20 something guy turned to his friend and asked, “Who’s Steve Jobs?”.  These people don’t have Iphones.  They don’t need them.  They appear to have found a way to be happy without technology clutter. 

We arrived back into Kona in time to shower, change and head to the Welcome Dinner.  There were two lines waiting to get in, a general admission line and an athlete line.  At 6pm, they opened the athlete’s iine first.  We had gotten there early (thankfully) and I was the 4th person in line.  I was expecting to just walk and get three seats for us.  Boy was I wrong.  They let the first guy in and he started running like a crazy man.  A few of the other racers and I looked at each other and joked that he was in a hurry.  Then, all of a sudden people from behind us started running.  Maybe they know something I don’t?  I started running after the first guy.  He clearly had done this before.  The welcome dinner, I learned is much like  the running of the bulls.  You have to sprint for the best seats.  Thankfully, I caught on quick and we ended up with front row center right behind the VIP section.  Again, I kept turning to Ryan and saying, “We are at the freaking welcome banquet in Kona.”  My mind still has been having trouble processing it. 

What a show!  The first 20-30 minutes was a performance from a local Luau group.  Amazing!  The Hula and Fire dancers were just awesome.  I had no idea that we were going to get this much entertainment.  The other two welcome banquets I’ve gone to were great, but they were all speakers and videos.  This was amazing! 

At my other two Ironmans, they have shown a montage of Ironman footage.  It’s always predominantly Kona footage, so it hasn’t really been all that personal to me.  This time, though, when they showed the Kona footage, I got choked up.  Even with months to prepare, I got choked up watching the Ironman video.  It shows footage of the legendary swim, bike and run at Kona.  It’s kind of hard to believe that this isn’t a vacation.  Soon, I would be on that course to make my own history.  It just defies words.

Also, as is typical, Mike Reilly called up the youngest and oldest participants at Kona this year.  The youngest?  A young lady from RESTON!!!  Whoa!  I’ve never even heard of her.  She’s a 19-year-old that goes to West Point.  It makes you think, “What the hell was I doing when I was 19?”  As ridiculous as that was, the oldest was even more astounding.  I had been sitting across a women I had recognized from previous Ironman footage.  She was there with around a 20 person entourage of family.  As it turns out, she was Harriet, the oldest women ever to complete the Kona Ironman.  It was just astounding to see her.  You would never guess she was a year over 60.  In fact, she is 76!  Imagine starting an Ironman while toeing the line with your grandmother!  It’s truly awe-inspiring. 

Then, Lew Hollander was called up.  He is 81 years old.  EIGHTY ONE!  He is typically the only person in his age group at Ironman races.  When Mike Reilly, the famed Ironman announcer asked him if it was nice to be the only person in his age group, Lew took only a second to respond. 

                “No!  I got into this sport to race and I want a race!”

Can you imagine?  It’s such an inspiration to me to see what these folks are going through and still doing.  Really, it is just indescribable.  I can only hope that I will blessed enough to do this a fraction of the time that they are.  Can you imagine the strength it takes mentally and physically to pull this off at their ages.  There is nothing more motivating to me.  I hope to be blessed with their strength and longevity.

Unfortunately, after the talk with Harriet and Lew, the skies opened up at the awards ceremony.  A monsoon-like rain hit and they had to cancel the rest of the show.  While I’m sorry for what I missed seeing, it was nice to get some additional rest that night.

It had been a great day.

 

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