Today I walked along Ali’I Drive noticing all of the blue. There is the blue gray of the clouds that rise up over the volcano. There is the blue green of the shallow water in the bay. The line on the horizon where the turquoise of the ocean meets the pale blue of sky.
Along with the blue, the sky is also filled with humidity. Last night it was reached an uncomfortable level that has lingered through today. Winds are low today but you can sense something is rising – the heat, the anticipation, the nervous energy.
Starting with Marit.
Marit is popping with nervous energy. This morning she voted herself off of the island. I keep telling her she is ready. She knows Ironman. She knows what lies ahead at mile 90 of the bike or 22 of the run. Her muscles have memory. But this is the strange twist of Hawaii – you don’t know Ironman, really. The Queen K is like a black hole of confusion for heart rate, power, speed. It has no rhythm. You think you’re on a flat stretch only to look behind you to see you’ve just climbed an incline. Even Ali’I Drive is deceptive. It appears flat at times until you realize you are running downhill with a wind at your back. Which you only realize once you’ve turned around.
Speaking of Ali'i, I started the morning with a run along the drive at 6:20 am. You can count on one hand the number of times I have gone running before 7 am in the past 10 years. But in Hawaii if you want to do anything outside without suffocating in the heat and your own sweat, you get up at 6 am. You have a small window from 6 to 9 am for things like running – comfortably. After that is like running in the oven. And after 6 pm, the sun goes down. It’s like this all year round, I think. The sun rises around 6 am and sets at 6 pm. 12 hours in darkness every day of the win. I think the midwest wins this one. Some days in the summer we get daylight from 5 am to 9 pm. We call it summer. It lasts about 21 days.
Hottie spotting: Lisa Bentley, Faris Al-Sultan, Peter Reid, Lori Bowden, Desiree Ficker. And Bob Scott. At age 78 going on 79 Bob is once again at Kona to compete. This will be his last year, he tell us. Why? He does not want to be known for being 80 and competing at the Hawaii Ironman. When I ask him why not, he says how am I going to get a date if everyone knows I’m 80?
Good point. Better point is that Bob is married and totally joking.
He tells me there are other things he wants to accomplish. It’s time to branch out. When you’ve done Kona 11 times I suppose it’s easy to feel that way. Or maybe he is tired of exploring the same 140.6 miles year after year. There are many new miles to explore. He talks about other races he wants to do, when he is 80. Where will you be when you're 80? And will you have biceps like I notice ripple out on Bob Scott's arms?
After the Power Bar breakfast, I met up with Jen from my Ironman Wisconsin training group. We headed out into the bay for a swim. There were only a few other people out there. The ocean is different when you are mostly alone. It is bigger and it opens up more space for fear. We swam far left and what felt like too close to some coral. The illusion underwater is that the coral is right within reach when it’s probably many feet below you. Maybe it was the fact that someone saw a shark out at the turnaround this morning but I sped up, grabbed Jen’s foot and said “WE’VE GOTTA SWIM BY THE BUOYS!” She led the way over there and then we swam back. Afterward, she told me that as we swam by that coral she thought to herself it would be a great place for a shark to hide. I got the chills!
We went over to Lava Java for some coffee and people watching. Meanwhile, Chris headed out to ride his bike on that damn highway. Somehow, Rob Chance talked him into driving out to Waikoloa and then riding out to Hawi. I can think of easier ways to get to hell. Like cursing at your mother or stealing candy from a baby.
I ran into one of my STL boys at Lava Java! Seiichi, his wife and Dr. Bill sat with us and we enjoyed coffee.
It was my third cup of the day.
Later in the afternoon, I went snorkeling by the little blue church with Gail and Jen. Small world that Gail was actually staying with Jen. I’ve known Gail for years – she’s on the TriSports.com team and she was one of my favorite memories from my first time at Kona. I remember being so nervous before the start of the race, sitting and waiting for the cue to get in the water. Gail calmed me down. She’s the one who told me that when things get rough on the bike on the way out, just look left. And then on the way back, look right. In both cases, that would be the direction of the ocean.
We swam out into the cove and the colorful fish swam beneath us. We were in search of turtles. We got a bit too far out when we realized again the water was too shallow and Gail ended up with an anemone in her hand. So we went out in the other direction and it paid off. Turtles. Three of them.
For awhile we just floated with them. And watched them float along too. Occasionally they came up to the surface for air and then dove back down to eat off the coral. Meanwhile, we were doing the world’s most enjoyable hypoxic set, coming up for air, taking a big breath, then going under to watch the turtles. I believe it was Gail who mentioned that the turtles could be a metaphor for life. They don’t fight the water, they just float with it. They don’t swim against the current, they just let it pull them along.
On the way back down Ali’i Drive, we made an emergency stop for hottie spotting. Oh yes my friends Terrenzo Bozzone was running. Not only was he fantastically tanned but he was showing a bit of plumber butt.
Unlike most plumbers, when you see a 24-year old pro triathlete with plumber butt, you learn not to look away. In fact, you pull over to the side of the road, roll up your window so you don’t look like a psychostalker and watch the show.
In doing so I also realized that he cannot be my boyfriend. Yes, he runs fast enough but I could never be with someone who’s leg is smaller than my arm. I want to hand feed him a cinnamon bun from Lava Java. Mangia, Terrenzo, mangia your skinny little (tanned) ass!
I spent a lot of time walking today. From the condo to the town is about 2 miles. It was viciously hot but peaceful enough that I could get lost in my own thoughts. I thought about triathlon.
I've been getting a lot of questions about racing. I love coaching, I love the sport but with racing I just wasn’t having a good time. Rather than force it, I’m waiting for the itch to come back to me. One day I will feel ready to ask myself what if again. Until then, I’m giving myself permission to just relax and go with the flow.
I’d make a good seat turtle.
I was sitting on the lanai today, listening to Marit talk about the race. She was somewhere between fear and excitement while talking about Saturday. I sat there eating a persimmon and just smiling. I was smiling because I realized what I was feeling – totally calm and relaxed. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt that way. There is no pressure, nothing I have to do, no race bags to pack, no sacrifices to make. If I want a mojito I can have one. If I want to eat mocchi balls – 10 of them – I can. If my butt gets a little bigger, I’m still a good person. I’m in a very relaxed place right now. A place where putting on goggles and looking at fish counts as a workout (really, it does, you can log it into Training Peaks). A place where breaststroking in the water is totally acceptable (better for fish viewing).
It is a very good place.
Watching the athletes buzz by on Alii Drive, focused, fit and filled with I’M GONNA CRUSH IT! energy, I realized that while I don’t miss racing (yet) I do miss the feeling of being on top of my game. That feeling of confidence and preparation – and when those two factors meet opportunity, you are in for a very strong race. I miss the rush of that feeling more than anything else but I am certain one day it will come back when the mind and body is ready.
Until then, I eat papaya, I watch the afternoon rain fall with the backdrop of palm trees and the ocean from the lanai. It’s late afternoon and Chris is still riding on the Queen K. Marit is pre-race jittering. And I’m just sitting here. I guess you could say I’m doing nothing.
You would be right.
Regardless, I’m logging in to Training Peaks today. I’ve done a lot of things that count and I’m pretty sure I’ve burned at least 100 calories.