The month of miniature kit-kat bars and bags of skittles. The month my second baby was born. The month of the Chicago Marathon I won't be attending. The month of the half marathon I will be PR'ing. Breast Cancer Awareness month. The month of the Ironman World Championships.
And speaking of which, today is the day the lottery for Kona entries opens.
I saw the link for the lottery on Ironman's facebook page today. I couldn't help but wander over. Five full months for entries, only 200 slots available. It's a shot in the dark that's for sure. An expensive one at that (up to $90 for two entries, non refundable if you don't get in) . And from there, I couldn't help but wander on over to the FAQ's, read them start to finish, and start to day dream.
Kona. From the time I first knew what an Ironman was, I pictured Kona. The ocean swim. Riding for hours over highway surrounded by hot lava fields. Running down alii drive (not to be confused with chasing down a leaky drive. There's a funny story behind that one, I promise) . When I think of Ironman, I think of this
And I dream of *THAT* race.
But what will it take for me to get to that race? Could I EVER qualify? I never say never. But as a brand new triathlete, the idea that I one day could does seem slightly far fetched.
I see so many triathletes scoff at the idea of the lottery. On the facebook page, one guy says
"A nice idea. However, I will only do this by earning a spot. That's how a championship race should be entered".
I can't say I blame him, as I feel similarly about the Boston Marathon. I'm all for the charity runners, and many many kudos if you've run Boston through a charity group. But for me ? I will only set foot on heartbreak hill as a runner when I earn my right to be there with a 3:40:00 marathon. That's my stubborn side talking.
But Ironman is so much more than *just* a marathon (sorry , you know running will always hold a special place in my heart, but you know I've already jumped the fence to the dark side that is triathlon). Picture busting your ass to qualify for Boston....but then doing the same for a 2.4 mile swim and a 112 mile bike ride. As some others on the facebook page said
" Earn schmern. This event was built on the stories of people overcoming adversity to even get to the start line. .... Lottery, random draw, qualifying at a 1/2 distance . Who cares. We are all there for the same reason"
"I love to see all those single athletes with no children talk about how lame the Lottery is. Try to train while working 40 hours a week, getting your 3 kids to school and keeping up with their homework and activities"
I'm not one to let the kids ever be an excuse...but...valid point here.
Another difference between Boston and Kona is the qualifying process. For Boston, all I have to do is hit a certain finishing time, and make sure I get on the internet to sign up before all the spots are full ( a race in itself it seems!). Kona, however, is elusive. Qualifying is not only being fast, but being lucky. There are only so many available slots that you must qualify for at other races (half or full Ironman distance). And so you either win one by being the best out there, or you luck out that no one faster showed up (technically meaning you are still one of the best there) or in the roll-down process all of the chicks (or guys) ahead of you decline their spot or already earned one somewhere else. It's a much bigger guessing game than just hitting a specific time goal.
And not to doubt myself, but...a 3:40 marathon, with some focus and dedication seems doable. An Ironman , period, never mind an age group podium finish at an Ironman, intimidates me.
It's funny that I have so much to say about a race of a distance I have only dreamt about. I am but a mere (yet eager) sprint-triathlon fledgling. With really big dreams. One day.
At the end of the day, the founders of the Ironman race created the lottery with the idea that it would give the opportunity for the every-day athlete to race amongst the elite at a race they otherwise may NEVER had the opportunity to attended. This is what they wanted. And at the end of the day, the charity money raised by those who run Boston without a qualifying time does fantastic things for wonderful organizations. All cover the same 140.6 miles or 26.2 mile course respectively as the professionals and those who "qualified" to get there. All are to be respected.
And one way or another, I hope one day my feet get to cross both finish lines.
What are your thoughts on Kona (and/or Boston) Entry by qualification only, or lucky lottery/charity runners welcome?
(for what it's worth, I may gamble on a lottery entry for my Christmas present. Just for the thrill of the gamble, sort of like a trip to the casino. Or a power ball ticket. And then completely freak out if I actually got in. What a way to enter the world of 140.6, ha!)