Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Randomness

Random Kona stuff....
I don't care what anyone says.....mai tais are the best way to start offseason.

Stalking Crowie at our hotel the day after the race.  Thanks for posing for us!!  
After a week of just OK sunsets, the day after the race finally brought a great sunset to Kona.
Ouch.  Just ouch.  Kids....don't try this at home!  You can tell where I put on the sunscreen and where I thought I was already covered.  
My beautiful girls!!
A week in Maui was exactly what was needed for Ironman recovery!  Although I couldn't do much since my toe and feet were a wreck.  Too bad our condo was on the 5th floor.  And the best way to get to the beach/pool involved climbing/descending the 5 flights of stairs (88 total stairs in case you were wondering).  But, I'd huff and puff, take some aid and finally reach the top of the stairs.  I was expecting Mike Reilly there each time saying something like...Michelle ford, you just walked up 5 flights of stairs 2 days after your Ironman!!!!
I really had no idea I booked a plane this small.  So small they couldn't fit my bike.  Hmmmmm.....UPS Cargo took care of that little problem!
The girls are at such a fun age!  They could play in the waves all day every day.  They learned to boogie board and body surf.  Got wrecked by a couple of bigger waves.  They snorkeled.  And when they weren't at the beach, they were in the pool.  All in all lots of fun.  This vacation marked another first, I read an entire book while on vacation!!  The last time that happened was about 9 years ago:)
A good day playing in the waves - asleep before dessert!

Where's the next wave?


So what have I been doing since arriving back in Colorado?  There's been a bit of this and that but for the most part the answer is.....not much.  I swam once more in the ocean before leaving Hawaii and haven't been in the water since.  My dog is VERY happy since we've been going on lots of walks together.  I even went for a little jog - twice.  My bike is patiently waiting for me but, well, it just hasn't happened yet.
No purpose of this sunset picture here.  Just love looking at it.
Today brought a yoga class which was, well, embarrassing for me.  You see, I haven't lifted a weight or done a lunge or even a warrior pose for what seems like 9 months or so.  OK, it's actually been longer.  So I'm a bit wobbly, weak, and unbalanced.  And what I discovered today is that my core strength is OK, but I have lots of weakness in my right arm and shoulder.  Total bummer since that was the area the shingles targeted back in July.  The doctor had warned me about this but since I was swimming just fine, I thought she didn't know what she was talking about.  Oops. Turns out, I do have some weakness in that area.  Oh well.  Another thing to add to the "work on during winter" list.  
Another sunset picture.  
I've been cooking lots more too (family is very happy).  Trying new recipes and ingredients.  But last night was a first.  I had to throw away the entire batch of black bean chile I made!!  Apparently, I read the recipe wrong and added 1/2 can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce - the first time I have cooked with them.  The recipe actually said 1-2 of those hot little suckers.  Anywho, the chili was so spicy hot that I started sweating, my lips were burning and my sinuses completely cleared out.  Michael was a trouper and tried to eat it......and then put up the white flag!  You can't underestimate the importance of reading a recipe correctly or at least understanding the heat content of the peppers you are using!!

My closet is waiting to be cleared out and I have all of my garage/bike/run stuff to go through at some point.  Basically cleaning up the remnants of the 2011 season and getting my life back in order.  But I am relaxed.  I am happy.  I am NOT stressed about NOT working out.  I am doing the things I want to do when I want to do them.  There is no compulsion.  No anxiety.  I think that for the first time in years, I am actually enjoying an offseason!

Of course, all things come to an end and 2012 planning is in the works!!  And, my daughter reminded me the other night.....mommy, if you keep eating candy corn and drinking wine you won't race fast next year.  Dang, that coming from my 6 year old.  Off season will come to an end soon.  But not until I finish that bag of candy corn:)

Friday, October 21, 2011

1111

The case for #1111......

A few weeks before the big race, I checked bib numbers online and found mine.  #1111.  I loved this number!  I mean, c'mon, how cool is that number?  At the time I figured with that kind of number juju, only good things would happen on race day.  Makes sense right?  Check out the numerology on 1111 (thanks Karlyn!)!!

On race day, I was never really alone out there - I had so many comments on my number.  Cool number, lucky number, awesome number, even one - that was my number last year and I had a great day!  But I really didn't expect the number to foretell my race time.


11:11:11 (enter freaky, spooky twilight zone type music)
See, if I had known that race number = race time, I would have calmly contacted the Ironman officials and told them that there was some sort of mistake.  My number should be somewhere in the 1030 - 1058 range.

You want to know something else a little strange about the number 1111??  Hubs' birthday is November 11.....11/11.

Weird.

Monday, October 17, 2011

IMKona: The Run

Affectionately called...the ugly.

The green carpet/astroturf leading to the change tent in T2 seemed to be extraordinarily hot and the bottoms of my feet immediately felt like they were blistering.  I'm sure it happened on the ride (socks next time) but I only noticed on the run in. From a short jaunt around transition to the tent?  Seemed unlikely but as I arrived in T2 my feet needed to be off that carpet ASAP.



The tent was busy and I needed to take a seat and get my sh*t together.  Compression socks on, yes to sunscreen, shoes on, change of sunglasses, hat on....nothing else to do but run out and start the marathon.

Legs were OK right away but my head wasn't quite right.  Dizzy?  Lightheaded?  Hot?  All of the above.  I tried to ignore it and just get my legs moving.  I'm not gonna lie.  That first mile sucked.  It was awful.  But with the streets lined with encouraging spectators I ran on.  Peter yelled at me coming out...run your own race.  I could see the faces of worry on Keith and Nancy - I must've looked bad.  Sonja's family encouraged me to go.  My family was at mile 1 and I was hurting so bad I just wanted to stop and have my mommy take care of me.  I kept running.

But promptly at 1.5 miles, I stopped.  Passing out seemed like a good option and I had yet to pee.  (as a reminder, roughly 7 hours had passed and not 1 drop of urine had escaped my body.  After 8 bottles on the bike.) I walked.  I jogged.  I walked.  And I got through those first 5 miles.  KE teammate Kendra went by on the way back to Palani and she looked awesome.  I had seen KE teamie Grant sometime before that and HE looked awesome.  Sonja passed and gave me a low five, she looked like she may have been hurting but she was running.  I tried to cry but no tears....
As much as I didn't want to show this picture, this was reality.  Not pretty and you can see me throwing down a sponge.
Aid stations were my refuge.  Sponges, water, ice, perform, coke, water, ice, sponges.  Every mile.  There was no way I was completing a marathon.  I was absolutely NOT going to walk a marathon.  How does one even drop out of an Ironman I pondered at mile 4.  I hit the turnaround and started jogging.  And it felt OK, well not OK but not as bad as I had been feeling.  Clearly, Coke was going to fuel this marathon.

The deal was made: walk the aid stations and run to the next one.  Take as much aid as possible - ice down the top, in the shorts, water over the head, in the top, in my mouth, sponges everywhere, coke.  I somehow had managed to bring myself back from wherever I had been going and at mile 7 I finally peed. Oh sweet pee....thank you!!  And I knew that I would finish.  The look of concern on my parents face as I passed was obvious and I tried to let them know that I would be OK.  That I would finish even though it was going to take me a lot longer than I had anticipated.  My family was around the next turn and all I remember is Isabelle yelling with complete excitement "I love you Mommy"!  Oh sweetie, I love you too!!

 I don't mean to be negative but when I turned onto Palani I thought to myself....what kind of stupid cruel joke is this?  It was the steepest hill I'd ever seen.  With spectators lined up on all sides yelling at you to keep going.  Really??  Have you looked at this hill?  My feet had been hurting since I left transition and I knew I had some quality blisters on the bottoms of both my feet.  I had dealt with that pain as best as I could but on the downhill after Palani my left foot screamed out and forced me to stop again just as I thought I was gaining momentum.  I walked/limped to the bottom of the hill and then started to jog again.  It wasn't as bad on the uphill so I ran again.


Trying to smile....
This was reality.
Mile after mile, run.....where's that aid station?  And I'd see the sea of yellow shirts in the distance and knew I could get there.

Aid. Walk. Jog. Run.  Rinse and repeat.  But I found that I was able to run the uphills (not Palani style) fairly well.  Fairly strong.  So I went with it.  Keep running.  Suddenly (exaggeration) I was at the Natural Energy Lab and that awesome downhill.  Aid. Walk. Jog. Run.  Special needs where I picked up my sports beans.  I looked up that hill out of the NEL and was determined to run it the entire way.  And so I did.  Get to the aid station.


10k left and it was just time for me to give everything I had.  I started walking less at the aid stations.  And running more.  It was aid from just the first half of the station (just sponge, water, ice, coke), jog, run.  I started tracking down athletes in front of me.  A woman from France was with me and we started running together.  And encouraged each other.  She couldn't speak English but knew enough that she would look at me and say 3 miles left.  If we keep running maybe make 11:15?  Mile 24 sign.  Just 2 miles to go.  If I got ahead, I would look at her and she would catch up. Same story if I fell behind.  Right before mile 25, the blood blister on my right foot  burst and made me stumble.....she waited for me.

I could hear Mike Reilly announcing names and I knew I'd see the finish line.  I was on Palani (as a note: running downhill with blisters was almost as painful attempting to run up that darn steep hill) with my new best friend (that I'll never see again).  Onto Kuakini.  There's Henry.  There's the next street and OMG there's Hualalai.
No arms up.  No jumping.  Just a smile and a finish.
Even though I had not come close to my goal time, I couldn't help but smile ear to ear.  I had perservered.  I kept going.  I righted myself when I was listing badly and didn't think I could/would finish.  My last 9 miles were my "fastest"!!  Running down Ali'i Drive was everything I had imagined - glorious, beautiful Ali'i Drive.  My family went absolutely bonkers went I went by and I high fived them and heard my dad say....she's smiling!!!

Run: 4:20

Total:  11:11:12, 31st AG  (no worries, next post will be on 1111 thoughts!!)

My catcher immediately was in my face and trying to assess how I was doing since I had stumbled, weaved and bobbed after I stopped running.  He was great - asking me my name and where I was from and just assessing my coherency.  All I wanted was to sit down but he wouldn't let me - too great a risk for passing out apparently.  It is still surprising that the instant after crossing the finish line, I couldn't walk another foot.  Helen (Sonja's mom) took over from my wonderful catcher and  hugged me while I cried.  Then I saw Sonja and she led me over to the water - my legs were throbbing and I felt like I was on fire. Of course, as soon as I got in the water I started to shiver.  The end of an Ironman is not a pretty sight.
So happy to finally sitting down

My own family reunion was fantastic and with a doctor (dad) and nurse (sister) in the family, they were all over me making sure I was OK.  Or at least as OK as you can be after Ironman.



It's been more than a week since I crossed that glorious finish line.  Lots of time to think about what direction I want to go from here.  Am I doing another Ironman? It wasn't too long after crossing that finish line that I knew the answer.  Though I had the "one Kona and done" thought in my head between miles 1-5 on the run, I now know that my Ironman career is not over!  I want to qualify and race Kona again!  It's not unfinished business, but it is a desire to do better.....I just know I have a better race in me.  Not to mention, I'm 2 for 2 in flatting in an Ironman and I'm quite curious to get through an IM bike without a flat!!  (I'm not sure where/when the flat happened, I just know that the front tire was pancake flat when the bike was retrieved from transition)

Of course, this post (and this season and this Ironman) wouldn't be complete without thanking my supporters and my sponsors.  My family has been incredibly supportive of the training this year - without them, none of this is possible!  Kompetitive Edge and TYR for keeping me looking good!!  Quintana Roo for the fastest bike EVAH!  Justin's Nut Butter and Love Grown Granola for fueling this hungry athlete, Nuun for keeping me hydrated, and First Endurance for the fantastic nutrition products.  And Ron at Punk Rock Racing!!  Of course, the guidance of my coach Chuckie V led me to Kona in the first place and I've got my fingers crossed that he will guide me there again:)!!

 A huge hug for my Partner In Crime Sonja - we have been friends for years now and all I can say is that training and racing with her is an absolute privilege:)  Here's to our next adventures!!

Mahalo everyone!

So there it is, Kona 2011 is in the books and I'm looking forward to a great off-season and then the planning for next year!!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

IMKona: The Bike

We'll call the bike the "not so good" rather than the "bad".  Grab a beer.  Or a smoothie.  But you won't need a 6-pack for this one:)


Coming out of T1 I immediately saw my family (parents, sister, hubs and kids) - thanks to those awesome Kompetitive Edge red shirts - and waved and said Hi!  And those 2 seconds were going to have to last me for the next 5++ hours.  Left turn on Kuakini, feet in shoes, hit big bump and for the first time ever in a race, I lost a water bottle.  Crap.  I didn’t dwell on it but in the back of my mind I knew that my First Endurance EFS bottle was around 150 calories and had 3x the electrolyte count as the Perform on the course.  Not a big deal right?  
Hello everybody!!


My heart rate was right about where I knew it would be coming out of transition and starting out with the crowds - it is just so darn exciting that I really have to work on keeping my heart rate down.  Michelle (Mama Simmons) came up from behind me and I asked her what time we got out and she reported an hour.  Meh.  Not bad.  Not great.  I passed Nalani too pretty quickly and saw a couple of other girls I knew were fantastic swimmers so to be in the same zip code as them on the swim.....I’ll take it.  Once out of town I applied some sun screen where I could - arms, shoulders, tops of thighs.  Then I tried to grab a bottle and it slipped right through - hadn’t thought of that.  


On the Queen K I could not believe how many people (mostly guys) passed me in the first 20 miles.  It was stunning and I hadn’t really prepared myself for that.  but that's what happens when you are at the World Championships right?  The best of the best.....if you think about it the majority of athletes had to win their age group or be top 3 or 5.  It made sense to me that these guys gunning for 9 hours were passing me:)  But it still was a bit of a strain on the 'ol ego.  Plus, the power tap on the rental wheel was only working intermittently so my power numbers were plummeting and I wasn’t getting an accurate reflection of my output.  


Now here's the dirty little Kona secret that nobody ever talks about......the Kona draft-fest.  I was SHOCKED at the drafting.  There were big groups and small groups.  Mostly men but lots of women hanging on the back.  At one point, a group of 25-30 went by me as did a ref on a motor bike.  I wondered exactly what that ref was going to do.  And no one in the pack seemed compelled to back off or get out of the draft zone.  But there it was - Clearwater-esque drafting.  All I could hope was that I'd see a full penalty tent in a few miles.  
.   
On the way to Hawi
Of course, when I went by the penalty tent there were only a handful of athletes in the tent rather than the hundreds that should have been in there.  And so it went from there.  I kept thinking I was super-duper slow but was in my appointed HR zone and I wasn’t going to blow up that zone.  I was right on my nutrtion plan through two hours and finally felt like I had legs at the turn to Kawaihae.  The climb to Hawi is just my sort of climb - gradual, not too steep but something I love to power up.  A few miles outside of Hawi we encountered a wicked head wind that slowed me down to what felt like 6 mph.  Argh.  But I just smiled to myself and enjoyed what Madame Pele had to offer....I was in Kona!  At that point there were a couple of crosses that I decided to not be in aero and sit upright.  I wasn’t comfortable with reaching for a bottle so I went for a bit of time without drinking and/or nutrition.  I didn’t think that was a big deal at the time.  I also remember thinking what Keith had told me.....pee before Hawi.....and I did not have to pee.  No worries though, I'm sure I'll have to pee soon.  Right?  (for those counting.....under caloried at breakfast, lost an EFS bottle, and didn’t take nutrition for 20+ minutes, no peeing)
On the way back!
Special needs seemed to be a clusterfk and they didn’t have my bag.....c’mon!!  Where’s the bag?  Of course, I had tossed all my empties in anticipation of my bag (note to self:  don’t do that until you have said bag in possession) and was starting to panic - what if they don’t find it?  Finally a volunteer came running up with it and I loaded my bottles, grabbed some sport beans and left.  All told, it was probably only 1.5 minutes but it felt like forever.  Downhill and WHEEEEEEEE an amazing tailwind that I continued to pedal through passing people on the left.  I had a Sonja sighting on Kuakini a couple of hours earlier and I was excited to see where PIC was now at the turnaround.  She was only a minute or two back and caught me right before Kawaihae.  As she passed we connected, had a brief update of each other's day (VERY brief) but I always get an emotional lift when I see PIC on course.:) 


All of a sudden (as if 4 hours is all of a sudden) I was at mile 80.  I’d felt decent through this point although I knew I wasn’t having the bike of my life.  But the realization that I had been drinking regularly and had yet to pee....I knew that was trouble.  I was trying to will myself to pee but it just wasn't happening.  Not good Michelle, not good.  And like a light switch turning off, I felt like crap.  My back was tight and sore and I had to sit up a bit more often to try to loosen it up.  I didn’t feel strong anymore and was kind of weaving along the Queen K, feeling, well, not quite right.

It was hot.  Now, don’t get me wrong. I knew it was going to be hot but I don’t think there is any way to really prepare for Kona hot.  You can overdress as much as possible but in September in Colorado even if it is 80 or 90 degrees, you know it's just not as hot as July.  There is a chill in the air.  The sun was radiating off of the black top and it felt like I was riding my bike in a sauna.  With a horrible hot blow dryer in my face.  The head wind was getting on my nerves and I wasn’t thinking too positively about Madame Pele anymore.  Where I was laughing into the wind up to Hawi, I was now cursing it.  I felt weak and my speed decreased considerably.  And now I really starting getting passed.  And passed. And passed.  The last 12 miles took forever.  My goal time was going down the drain.  I also noticed what looked to be a wicked sunburn on my right forearm - apparently I had missed a spot.  My skin on my back felt hot (remember the sunscreen denial in T1??) and I was thirsty even though I was taking in every possible liquid I could.  


And then I was riding towards transition - complete sensory overload with all the crowds, handing over my bike and running to the change tent.  The bike was over, I was 2/3's done with my Kona race.  
As a final note on the bike, I felt pretty lucky having the race number 1111.  If I had a dollar for every time someone said - cool number, great number, lucky number - I tell you I'd be staying at the King Kamehameha hotel:)  Thanks everyone for the shout outs!!  


Bike: 5:42, 13th AG

IMKona: The Swim

The swim AKA the good.....grab a cup of joe for the first installment of my race report!  If I wrote it all down in one post you'd need an entire pot of coffee.  

One week ago, I entered the water at the Kona pier to start the Ironman World Championship.  I couldn't believe that I was finally here!  That a race that I had qualified for 11 months before was finally here.  I woke up before the 4am alarm ready to go....but I was pretty nervous.  Everything was ready to go, we just had to wait.  I had my normal pre-race breakfast but was unable to stomach the bread and almond butter (about 400 calories).  Sonja and I made the decision to just get to the race and find a "quiet" place to hang out around there.  

As I got body marked, I had a moment - it was one year ago that I was in the place of the body marker- the volunteer.  I had yet to do an Ironman and Kona was really just a big dream.  I had no idea at the time that I would be back on the other side of the table just a year later.  Thinking of this I got a bit choked up and my lovely body markers gave me a hug and some wonderful words of encouragement.  By 5:45 I was body marked, weighed (yikes glycogen stores!), special needs bag checked, tired pumped, and had bottles on bike.  It was time to go.  Except it was 5:45.  Sonja, Jen and I did find a pretty quiet place to hang out and then made our way towards the pier to watch the pro start.  Boom....they were off.  
Race morning sunrise
It was time for 1800 age groupers to get in the water!  I entered the water with probably 20+ minutes before the start, looked around at all the spectators on the sea wall and swam out to the place I thought I wanted to be.  I looked up at Mauna Loa or Kea (???), it was a beautiful morning.  I looked at the pier.  I looked at the athletes.  I was calm and ready, gave Madame Pele a thumbs up for letting me be here in Kona and racing on this beautiful island.  

My swim spot - just left of the car - initially looked great - not many athletes around and I found pink capped friends.  But then again, I was in 20 minutes before the start.  With 10 minutes to go my little space got more crowded and I wondered how exactly this was going to shake out.  This can't be good.  All I could see in front of me were 2+ rows of blue caps.  I had tried to stay out front but it seemed to be impossible and there I was buried in a sea of blue caps....ugh.  Beth Shutt (blogger/twitter friend) was to my left and we wanted to stay together - I figured she wasn't going to intentionally beat the crap out of me and even if she did hit me she only weighs like 90 pounds so I figured I could weather that.  All of a sudden Nalani (swam with Nalani on Monday) was around too - she's a fast swimmer and another pink cap to my right, if I could come out even close to her I would be sooooo happy.  Oh please, oh please, oh please.......BOOM!  
Can you see me?  I'm in a pink cap middle to left!
And the race was underway.  It was chaos.  A whitewater washing machine.  I did my best not to swim over anyone or hit anyone but that wasn't the same idea for others.  I kept lifting my head up wondering when the madness was going to end!  A few hundred yards out, it seemed to get a bit thinner and I had just a bit of clear water - or at least I wasn't crammed next to someone and I wasn't right on someones feet.  That only lasted for a minute or two.  All of a sudden it was madness again and I had no idea why.  Then I figured it out.  The group I was in had swum right immediately to get on the buoy line and thus merged with a bajillion others.  Crap.  I looked up and the buoy was right there!!!  NOT where I wanted to be and I was trapped.  It was till a whitewater washing machine.  I just smiled since I wasn't getting brutalized too badly and kept swimming.  Probably halfway through to the sailboat, the whitewater ended and it felt like I was in a group of 10.  May have been 50, not sure.  And, I was trading places with a guy.  Our hands kept hitting.  I was all over his feet.  He was all over mine.  We really got to know one another because we literally swam next to each other the entire time.  There was a pink cap in there too and I thought maybe it was Mama Simmons (blogger/twitter friend) because her stroke was so pretty - I was on her feet, she was on mine.  As we approached the boat turnaround, I got stung on my left cheek!!  Must have been a little jelly and it hurt but I wasn't about to put a hand to my face to check and lose my group.  It stung for the next 10 minutes!

After the turnaround, I had hoped to pick it up just a bit. I had settled into a good pace after the initial sprint and my breathing was exactly what I had planned.  The swells were BIG though and I was taking in saltwater every few minutes.  Even though I wanted to pick it up, no one else in my group wanted to and the group also wouldn't let me pass.  Grrrrr.  The pier got closer and closer.  I started feeling a bit sick because of the waves and had to talk myself down (you're fine, don't feed the fishies).  What I didn't know was that the most violent part of the swim was coming up!  The funnel into the pier.  Soon, the peeps to my left were swimming me into the peeps on the right.  I took a right hand into my left eye and my goggles filled up.  Had to stop momentarily to fix that.  I was getting swum over.  It was full contact swimming.  Finally, finally, finally I saw the stairs and swam right up till my arms hit sand.  Whew.  That was done!!  And as bad as it may have seemed, I really enjoyed it.  
Me and my new best friend coming out of the water....

Up the stairs and to the shower.  And somehow I missed my time!  I heard Mike Reilly announce I was out of the water but I had no idea what kind of time that swim produced.  I found a chair in T1 - there weren't that many gals in there and denied the sunscreen (bad bad bad decision) since I thought what I had put on earlier would be good.  I ran around the pier to all the cheering volunteers and located my bike - and it looked like all the bikes from my age group were still there.  Yeah - must have been a decent swim!

Swim time:  1:00:53, 3rd AG

Friday, October 14, 2011

We interrupt the race report....

It's not that I'm avoiding writing a race report, there are just so many other things to do right now!!  We (my parents, sister, kids and hubs) headed to Maui on Monday for a post-Ironman vacation thingamajig.  And we've been having a blast.  I rarely look at email but have made sure to keep up with my athletes.  I check twitter every now and again but my youngest has learned my phone password and has "adopted" my phone.  My mangled toe has kept me from doing some fun stuff - like playing in the waves - but I am loving the snorkeling with my girls.  They are also now old enough that we can just let them play in the pool while we relax on chairs reading....without watching every single move they make.  Wow - 9 years in the making!!  In addition, I have been reintroduced to Stella, Longboard, and Cakebread.  And oh chocolate how I have missed thee!!!

So, the race report is coming......but basically I swam, then biked, and then "ran".  My little brain has also been thinking ahead, like do I want to do that again?  And I have answers.

Aloha:)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

IM Kona: Pre-race

Where to begin.....where to begin?  At the beginning I suppose but where exactly is the beginning?  This year Kona was an all-week event for me with lots of fun highlights but I was in Kona for a reason.  To race. So I guess I'll start with Friday!

PIC and I woke up early as usual - PIC had a pretty restless sleep and I woke up feeling less than rested as was the case all week.  It's not that I wasn't sleeping well, I just wasn't sleeping long enough.  By Friday morning I had dark circles under my eyes!  Son tried to make me feel better by saying it was because my glycogen stores were all loaded up but c'mon.....I don't think so.  And, it was raining when we got up.....it had been raining all night......it had rained out the welcome dinner!!  I know that was weighing on my mind.  What if.....it's pouring race morning?  What if.....it rains the entire day....what if what if what if..
The rained out welcome dinner.  In Hawaii when it rains it's like a faucet from the sky opens up!
It was 24 hours before cannon time and I felt oddly relaxed.  It was strange - I even commented to CV about it.  But soon enough nerves settled in.  All I needed was to start packing my bags and the "gravity" of the task at hand became painfully obvious.  It was no longer fun and games and running around in my underwear.....it was GO time.

Shoot, I knew I forgot to pack the kitchen sink along with everything else 
Nancy did an amazing job decorating my bags!
In a kind of cool/surreal twist, PIC and I had our own personal photographer following us on Friday.  Courtney and AJ work with Tri-Magazine and are putting the first print issue out at the end of the year.  They asked if they could follow us and document age groupers preparing for Kona.  So in our tiny apartment, there were 7 of us:  Uncle Norm, Keith and Nancy, Courtney and AJ, me and Son.  It was great though. The conversation was light and the 5 of the non-racers were helping us out!

The sun finally came out and it was time for our pre-race warm-up.  We headed to the pool (no ocean swimming after all that rain...who knows what's in that run-off) and got a great 20 minute swim.  Back to the apartment for our jog and then the last check on the bikes.  Everything was a GO!

A little breaky at Lava Java, a few kisses to my wonderful family and then it was time to go chill alone and get ready to put our game faces on.......for bike check-in.
Sonja heading into the madness
Now, if you haven't heard about bike check-in at Kona, well it's like nothing you have ever experienced EVER!  It is complete madness.  There were throngs of people, family, athletes, supporters and gawkers everywhere.  And they all seemed to be looking at us...but really, our bikes.  As we entered the walkway, you are checked for your wristband.....and then it's time to strut your bike down the "runway".  Industry peeps are sitting in lawn chairs checking you your bike out.  Number count!  I had the song "I'm too sexy" rolling in my head and even though I was all nerves and shaking on the outside, I managed to strut just a little bit:)

My bike passed the safety test and a lovely woman named Bearte greeted me at transition and escorted me to my bike spot.  I hung up my bike and run bags and that was it!
Glad she hung out with all the other bikes in transition on Friday.  She was tapered and ready to go fast and was kind of getting annoying with all her nervous energy.
Special needs packed.  Bike and run bags turned in.  Bike in transition.  Ready to go.  But it's only 6pm. Dang.....the waiting IS the hardest part (well not really).

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Another Day In Paradise

Today was just another great day in Paradise!  ONe of the benefits of not sleeping in is the early morning run on Ali'i Drive.  Is there any better way to wake up then to see scantily clad, incredibly fit athletes running and riding their bikes?  I think not.  

What else have I have been up to?

Well, there was the swim clinic with Karlyn Pipes-Nielson.  She is an incredibly fast swimmer and an incredibly good teacher!  We talked swim strategy and swim start logistics.  We did in-water drills that looked pretty silly but were very effective.  We swam on the break and watched the surfers on the waves.  It was a great couple of hours in the water and I'm pretty excited that I am finally confident in the position I will be starting at on Saturday!  And yes, I am not telling!

By the way, Karlyn is coming to the Denver area at the end of the month - if you are near the area I highly recommend you attend this clinic.  You and your swimming will benefit!!


Then it was registration time!!!  It's all fun and games until you get to registration and realize that Saturday is just getting closer and closer and closer and closer.....
All fun and games.......

I got a little case of the "nerves"
Ohhhhh, the wristband!  (that I will wear for the next month:)

After registration, PIC and I hit up the Basik Acai Cafe.  Holy moly this place is good.  Think healthy superfood smoothie in a bowl with yummy fruit and nuts.  I think we'll be here everyday.


A little bike action in the afternoon, an Ironman Focus group discussion (sorry, signed a NDA can't talk about it), and  dinner with KE teamies Kendra and Grant and that about wraps up the day!


Monday, October 3, 2011

Kona!

Finally, finally, finally I am in K to the Ona!  Traveling is always just a bit stressful for me - or at least getting ready to travel.  But with some help of a good pack list and a good husband I got it all done in plenty of time.  It was just time to go!  Michael and the girls and the dog Kona dropped me at the airport yesterday morning and as soon as I sat down on the plane - I smiled, looked at the window and completely chilled out.

PIC met me at the airport with a couple of fragrant lei's!  Yes, it's true.  I got lei'd.  Hardy har har....giggle giggle.  The sun was setting as we drove back to the condo on Ali'i drive and even though it was Sunday, there was definitely Ironman in the air.  People riding their tri bikes, sprinting jogging down Ali'i, swimming at the pier.

I managed to stay awake until almost 9!!  But I was up at 2 with a silly little cough that my cold last week has left me with.  Stupid cough kept me awake for an hour.  But, I fell back asleep and stayed in bed til 5.  Not bad for the first night in Hawaii.

This morning had some serious fun!  PIC and I met up with some twitter/blogger friends at the pier for a swim.  This was so cool - first just to meet these great gals (Michelle, Beth, Nalani, Katie, Libby) in person and second, to swim the course in a group!  We held a decent pace on the way out but I was just so happy to be surrounded by these women.  Out in the middle of the ocean:)  The water is so clear that you can see bubbles and feet all around.  I let the other gals do the spotting and I just settled into a nice groove and looked at the fishies really concentrated on my stroke.  The current was against us on the way back and we just had to make sure not to run into any of the outgoing swimmers.
Michelle, Katie, Beth, Me, Sonja - Thanks TYR for the Kona cap and goggles!!
Sunrise in the water!

No real purpose of this picture EXCEPT to show how CLEAR the water is!

Same with this one.
Post swim with Peter
Add caption
After a nice breaky I went for a little jog and started dripping sweat about 45 seconds into it.  Then it was adventure time!!  We needed to procure a pineapple and figured a road side fruit stand was the best way to accomplish this - success!!   You put da lime in da coconut and drink it all up!!
Most of the other runners were running sub 6:30s down Ali'i.  I did not.  But I had my own photographer!
There's my photographer!
Breaking open the coconut - he seriously squeezed a lime into it.  Delish!



Snorkel time!

Puffer fish


A south swell moved in early this afternoon and snorkeling was a bit murky.  But we saw a honu and all was good.  A spin, some yummy dinner at Lava Java, froyo and the day is complete.  It's almost 8 and I'm ready for bed.  Hmmmm.....how long can I stay up tonight?