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Touched

Posted Oct 13 2009 10:06pm
I touched a world champion today.

What did you today?


Before I tell you about that, let me tell you about the rest of the day.

Let’s start by clarifying this very obvious point: Kona is hot.


Hotter than in years past I don’t remember feeling the air this stifling and the sun so hot. Last night there was barely a breeze moving through the condo. And when you are sleeping in the loft that is not a good thing. I don’t think I’ve ever broken a sweat just laying in bed. I actually had to sleep on my side so my back could breathe. I felt like I should have taken a salt tab at midnight just to get my electrolytes in check.

I woke up every hour during the night. Finally at 6 am I woke up for good. The sky was clear, the sun was shining. Paradise is perfect, isn’t it? But what if you lived here every day. Would you get complacent? Would you no longer notice the separation between days or would they all blur together in a mix of hot sun and warm winds?

Once the day got started, I was full of energy. Though I’m pretty sure I lost 5 pounds while sleeping. Chris headed out for some training while I walked down to the pier. First up, a swim with Kris and Tina. They are two of my athletes from California and Kris is doing the race. In the ocean, the water rolled in a long rhythm today. It wasn’t choppy, it just undulated. It actually made me feel a little sick! As we got out of the water, I saw Joy! Joy is one of my athletes from Memphis who has done Ironman – oh – 100 times or so? This is her fourth time at Kona and she’s ready for another go!

After talking race stuff at Lava Java, I walked back to the condo. It was about 12 pm and the sun was pressing in such an evil way. I’ve been here three times and I don’t recall it ever being this hot and humid. I got back and just stood on the lanai in the breeze to cool off. Then I watched Marit pack her bags. And count out salt tabs. And attach things to her bike.

Ironman requires so much planning!

Around 3 pm we headed over to the bike check in. This is actually one of the best places to score free stuff. Most of the bike companies have reps standing there ready to give out free things to athletes with their bikes. They will also give free things to poor little athletes who are just there to spectate a race but have one of their bikes at home. That is how I scored not one, not two but three shirts from Cervelo.

One for each of my bikes.

Walking back to the car I started bonking. No joke. I think I have sweat so much in the past few days; I’ve been running, swimming and walking, plus sleeping (or not really sleeping) with no air conditioning….I don’t even think I’m recovering. I’m the kind of person that loves to sleep in the cold. The only time it has ever been too cold was one year when we were camping at Yosemite. It was 22 degrees. That is too cold for sleep. 90 degrees is too hot for sleep. Add to that 70 percent humidity and I think I’ve been awake for the past 3 days.

Know what the perfect cure for that is? A run. I have been waiting all day to do my hard run. Note that I do not have to do a run, I just want to do this run. If I want to do it, I will do it no matter what. This was my run, my time.

Problem was that it was fucking hot. And humid. And the sun was still two hours from setting. But then I remembered that about a quarter mile up the road there is a place with a treadmill. I know this because we stayed at this place last year. Hmmm…I ran over there and sure enough the door was open. Some would call this crafty, sneaky…I call it resourceful.

I love doing speedwork on a treadmill. It keeps you honest and for some reason I can go faster on it. I put on my headphones, started the treadmill and realized one thing:

It was right in front of the window with the sun blazing. Is there anywhere on this island that doesn't feel like the center of a volcano?


Within 5 minutes my iPhone flew off the back and just as it did I shouted FOR THE LOVE OF GOD! Right at that moment a young guy walks in, asks if I’m ok then hands me the iPhone. YES I’m ok. It’s just these damn headphones never stay in my ears and I’m already sweating a storm five minutes into my hour long run. He started lifting weights and I started my workout.

It was a hard one. I did a series of intervals on this wretched old treadmill that shook any time I went over a 6:00 per mile pace. The heart rate function didn’t work and every minute it beeped. Somehow I got through the first set of intervals and then took some recovery. Right then, a very fit and skinny chick walks into the room and starts talking to the guy. I realize that it’s Linsey Corbin. She talks for a few minutes then walks toward the door. And right before she walks out, I notice in the reflection of the window that she turned and looked at the treadmill.

She was totally checking me out.

Part of me wanted to turn around and shout, I’M COMING FOR YOU CORBIN. But then I realized I was running 7.4 mph in my rest interval. That’s not a very zippy speed. But I was resting, I swear! If she had just stayed 90 seconds later she would have seen me rocking the ‘mill. Instead she probably walked out thinking I could walk that pace.

She’s probably right.

Anyways, the run kicked my mainlander ass. I did it with no music, no fan, just me baking in this damn window on a treadmill from 1983. Finally it was over, the treadmill still in one piece and I left to cool down on Ali’I Drive. Except the moment I walked outside I walked right into a wall of thick air.

There is no cooling down here.

I ran along Ali’i Drive at a pace that was embarrassingly slow but that’s the best speed for cool down. After a few minutes, I stopped, stood on the shoulder and turned around. A girl was running toward me. It took me a moment but right then I realized who she was and the look of child-like excitement and I think I just shit my pants came across my face. Chrissie Wellington. In her signature TYR outfit, running toward me. My face lit up, I started clapping and shouting GO GO GO! A wide smile spread across her face, she reached out her hand toward me, grabbed my hand and said thank you!

She ran a few more steps then walked in toward a driveway where I assume she was staying. I, on the other hand, just stood there. And realized that I had just touched a world champion.

I’m never washing my hand again!

I ran right inside and touched Marit. She stood at the sink with a look in her eyes like, Liz, why are you touching me? I told her she was just touched by a world champion. And then I licked my hand.

Ok I didn’t but that’s just the magic of Kona. You never know who you are going to run into here. Of course to most people these people are nobody. I mean, really, who knows about triathlon? Not too many. But to us they are stars and seeing them is so exciting. Today I saw Kate Major, Catriona Morrison and Marit saw Luke Bell.

Race start is less than 12 hours away. I’ve got the camera. My orthotics are in my shoes. A few bottles of Gatorade and definitely a lot of coffee. Friends, it’s world championship spectathlon time. I'm ready. Are you?
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