Friday, October 15, 2010
My Kona Adventure
Stepping off the plane at the Kona airport in the nearly pitch black is a feeling I always look forward too. It is warm humid and often smells really good like flowers. This was the 4th time I've stepped off the plane there. On this trip I was looking forward to hooking up with my friend Jenny Marine who is now a local resident of almost 2 years and taking off on many island adventures, as well as do some training and of course support Adam and our other MSM friends racing.
Day 1 Jenny and I headed to the beach and just chilled. We swam along a reef and saw amazing fish and an eel. We hung out and chatted. I don't talk to Jenny much throughout the year but it is becoming a tradition seeing her once a year on the big island and its like I saw her yesterday. It is interesting to hear what her life is like on the island, especially when Ironman is not in town. Kona is a much different place.
This day was also was the first my arms have swum a stroke since the Chicago Tri! What a great way to get back into it. I also saw a Honu and was on such a roll with swimming I went again later with Adam and some friends at the Kona Athletic Center. Who can beat swimming outdoors in a beautiful huge pool. I certainly wasn't swimming too fast, but the cool thing is that it didn't feel completely foreign to me.
As each day gets closer to the IM, Alii drive becomes more crowded with triathletes, more structures start going up that comprise of the actual finish line and long stretch you see athletes running down at the end of their day. Also as each day goes by you see that serious, focused look become more intense. The same holds true for Adam, but I must say it was the most relaxed I have seen him going into this race. I knew and he knew he would have a spectacular day.
I had dinner 1 night with my client Sarah Arnold and her husband Jim out at the Four Seasons. What and amazing place and beautiful place. They are a very fun couple and Sarah was getting in some solid training for Clearwater.
Because I was without a bike to train on, I was doing a lot of running. 1 day I had hill repeats on Palani. Um, this is a long tough hill. I got up early and ran the 2 miles down to the hill and proceeded to do the hill repeats. Of course some must of thought I was nuts, but it was a good hard workout. The 2 mile run back home I was hurting pretty good. And what better way to recover than going stand up paddling later in the day! Adam's coach Jim and I rented stand up boards and paddled out into the ocean. Trust me this isn't a super easy thing. Think wall squat on a bosu ball while paddling, and with Palani hills in my quads, my legs were shaking the whole time.
Later in the week I had a longish run to do and was really getting bored with Alii Drive and all the compression socks, M dots, and logos. Jenny had told me of a trail up the hill and away. To get there you had to run up the mountain a good 3 miles, once on the trail it is a long gradual uphill along the side of the mountain with spectacular view of the ocean. When you see the ocean and coast line from up there you really see that you are truly on a rock in the middle of the Pacific.
The night before the race I cooked Adam's traditional pre-race pasta. Nothing special or fancy, and left him to chill,and finish packing his stuff. I headed out with Jim,Yuri, Joe, Trevor and others to a party called TGINR.........thank god I'm not racing!!! LOL It was hosted by Competitor Magazine and attended by many supporters, pros, elites etc not racing. They had open bar, buffet, right on the edge of the beach. They even had baseball caps made up with TGINR on it. They also had good mai tai's!
But we didn't stay out late because as anyone who cheers and spectates knows it is a very long day and in Kona.........it is hot, tiring, you don't get to see as much as other Ironman. Race morning I was nervous, I had butterflies like I was doing the race. When the one you love puts so much into an event you just want everything to go right and have it pay off. We found a good spot to watch the swim. There is so much energy at the start. The athletes are nervous, they have to tread water for quit a while before the gun goes off and you are just waiting anxiously. The Hawaiian drums and chants start it gets pretty intense waiting for the cannon. You can't see much at the start but it is always worth it to me to get down there and feel that energy. The cannon goes off, and they are on their way.
AFter getting MORE coffee, I made my way over to Palani Hill. I like to watch the start of the bike there because they are slow and climbing. I saw Adam and he looked great, focused and climbed it fast, and after that I cheered on the rest of our friends, then had several hours to kill. I had kept getting texts from home with Adam's splits. He was doing so great at each time check and I knew things were coming together for him, and before long I realized he was going to break 5 hrs on the bike! I usually watch the run on an out/back section on Kuakini Hwy. I found my spot and watched the pro's start the run. Before long, though the top age group men starting coming. Adam finished the bike 4th in his AG. I yelled this to him as he started the run. He looked fast. I could see it in his face, and knew that it was his day. After he comes back on this spot it is about mile 10 and he still looked great. This is where I grab a bike sprint up palani and ride out onto the Queen K. I like to do this for selfish reasons too. It gets hard just standing there in the heat. Hopping on the bike and riding out there you can see more athletes, cheer, get off your feet and feel a breeze. At mile 13, Adam was still flying, and he yelled out 1:32! I told him he was only a little more than 2 min down from Tim Hola who is an amazing racer in Kona. I road on to the energy lab. At the entrance you can not go in, only the athletes. So I cheered like crazy as he headed in, then parked myself on a rock. The athletes coming out of there looked horrible. Not many were running, those who were....shuffled. The women pro's were coming out some looking bad. Some of the top guys in front of Adam were looking rough. I told him it was getting ugly in front and to get it going. He told me he was on a mission, was going to dig deep, was fine, and head to the finish line.
I found myself a spot close to the finish, but where there were no barriers in the way. It wasn't until then that I finally looked at the clock to see what time it was and what his time might be. I had to count backwards because I leave my watch set on Chicago time. (I'm a dork I know, its a mom thing wanting to know what time it is at home. I had to do it several times to check myself. When I looked and figured it out it was 9:08 into the race.....and Adam was so close to the finish. Tears started rolling down my face because I knew this was going to be amazing. He high 5'd me hard flying down the finish and Mike Reilly said same very cool stuff,as I sprinted around all the barriers and people to get to the post race area. Is is messy back there and I have usually found him near the medical tent. When I found him he was already eating pizza, looking like no big deal!!!!
All the hard work paid off and I am so proud of him. Watching an event and performance like that leaves you pretty motivated. The next day I said good bye to Jenny and told her we'd most likely be back next year :)