Friday, October 9, 2009
Hello..um... HOLY COW!
Well folks, its just about that time.
Yesterday I was all in favor of voting myself off the island. For real. Luckily there wasn't a button to press, because I surely would have deposited myself back in California. Or Minnesota.
Yeah - that sounds nice.
A tropical island with no Ironman.
I can safely say, that this has been the longest short week and shortest long week of my life. Nathaniel and I arrived late Saturday evening, and after waiting for the next Hawaiian Airlines Flight from Honolulu to touch down, all of our luggage (and bike!) arrived. Intact. Alive.
Now THAT is cause for celebration.
Save for the demolished Carbopro 1200 bottle...that spilled over...nearly everything. Lucky our condo has a washer and dryer, along with a fantastic view. The third floor balcony (ahem - lanai...but being from Minnesota, I can't bring myself to say 'lanai'), is just high enough to provide a fantastic view of the ocean on one side, and mountains on the other.
The cross breeze is pretty neat as well, though it won't do me much good during the race. The HARD part will be passing by our place at 1.5 miles and then 8.5 miles into the run, knowing that comfort, food, shelter, cold beer is only three floors up and on the other side of the tennis courts.
Elizabeth and Chris arrived Tuesday, and though they are both very supportive, I feel that they're secretly delighted to NOT be racing. I keep hearing snippets of conversation when I'm in the other room. Words like 'hot' 'hills' 'wind' 'gross' 'uncomfortable' and - my personal favorite - 'hell', don't inspire much confidence.
However, they are both living testaments that surviving the race IS possible and most likely probable. And in the end, it truly is a life changing experience. Their advice and help has been great, and listening to their stories does much to calm my nerves. I am so happy they are both here.
In the days leading up to the race, I've spent more time exploring Hawaii with Nathaniel than we ever thought we would. Going against the advice of our resident tour book, we completed a whirlwind clockwise tour of The Big Island. My favorites were the sea turtles at Punalu'u, one of the many black sand beaches that line the coast. Nathaniel loved Volcanoes National Park.
I did point out that IF Kilauea blew up, Ironman probably would get canceled. Along with a lot of other things. But I digress.
On a different trip we explored Kealakekkua Bay, where Captain Cook first came ashore and was later killed, had a tour and went coffee tasting at Bayview Farms, visited the Painted Church (dating back to the 1800s. Between 1899-1904, Father John Velge dedicated himself to painting frescoes on the wooden walls. Simply stunning and too beautiful for words), and lastly visted the Pu'uhonua o Honaunau (place of refuge).
Now say it 3X fast!
But I have to say - the history of this island is incredible, and rushing past sights the way we've done doesn't do them true justice.
To top it off, spending time with good friends from Pensacola - Ryan and his wife Melissa and daughter Teegan - has been great. I know Ryan is nervous for the race, probably just as nervous as I am. But it comes across differently. He just makes me laugh, and that is a GREAT thing. I can safely say I NEVER though I would hear a grown man discussing his boogers at the dinner table - but Ryan is a different breed all unto himself.
I'm looking forward to seeing him - dressed ALL IN WHITE - on race day. He will do great and it'll give me a boost (and hopefully a little laugh) just seeing him out there.
Overall I'm trying to hold myself together as much as possible. I AM nervous, and I keep going between excitement to more nerves, to questioning what the hell I'm even doing out there in the first place. True - everyone looks so intense, like they're in great shape, tanned, fit, toned. And then there's me - wearing compression socks NOT to compress my legs or to aid recovery, but to keep my cankles from swelling.
You know - the fat ankles that people get. Well, I get them. And nothing says 'cankles' like walking around in the Hawaiian heat. Post race they should be delightful. No pictures, I promise.
But in all reality, I keep reminding myself that the hard part is done, the work has been put in time and time again, and that tomorrow is purely a celebration. A few months ago I was certain that I wanted to hit X time, or race at Y pace. But now I feel different. I just want to finish, to get through it all, to survive. I can only go as fast or as hard as my body will allow, and if its one thing I've learned - speed is NOT something that I do well anymore. Instead, the focus is 'strong' 'steady' 'solid'.
Later on tonight, I know I'll go through some more panic, and there will most likely be some tears. But in the end I'm here. I GET to do this. I have this incredible opportunity and absolutely no pressure to perform. I get to spend a day swimming, biking, and running - with the support of thousands out here and even more people online. I know it will be hot, hard, uncomfortable. And I'll probably have flash backs to Father Velge's fresco of 'hell'. But no matter what, no matter if it takes me the entire damn 17 hours to finish, rest assured, I'll do the best that I can to keep moving forward
And THAT makes me smile.
Well, that and the promise of a freak volcano eruption. Hey - you never know.
Thank you to everyone for your incredible support, kind words, thoughtful messages, and inspiration. There are so many out there...and I am grateful, and truly lucky.
So - with that, number 1774 signing off.
GOOD LUCK TO ALL RACING AND SHERPA-ING AND CHEERING! Grab a cold one and saddle up!